The construction of the 154,000-square-foot, crescent-shaped glass building was phase II of a $50 million project.
John McGreevy, chief executive officer at the heart hospital, also noted that Phase III, a $10 million project, also is under way.
Administrators touted the facility's sleek, new-age features and its “calming effect,” adding that it was “built like the space shuttle.”
“It wasn't to raise the cost of health care,” McGreevy said. “It was built based upon patient-centered care.”
The facility features 72 intensive care unit-capable beds, five new cardiac, vascular and thoracic operating room suites, onsite cardiac rehabilitation center and digital connections to the electronic medical records system.
“This hospital has a high-tech digital circuitry in the way it's been designed,” McGreevy said. “Physicians anywhere in this hospital can pull up your medical records. They can see your electronic records at home or on vacation and will be able to access the care that's being transmitted.”
He said hospital officials had the whole family in mind and aimed to eliminate the anxiety of caring for a family member who has a heart event. The facility will be open to families around t
The heart hospital also features a modified universal bed model, one that allows more tests and procedures to be done in patient rooms. Dr. C. Fagg Sanford III, chief of cardiology at Mother Frances, said it eliminates having to move patients to numerous departments across the hospital.
“Every time you make a move like that, there's potential for error,” he said. “There are huge amounts of wasted time because hours are lost in every one of those transitions. This is a 180-degree approach to that. … They can have their entire episode of care in that one bed.”
The model was designed after administrators toured other freestanding heart hospitals across the country.
“We basically took the best of the best and eliminated issues that they were having — efficiencies and effectiveness,” McGreevy said. “We listened to them, learned from them and brought that back to Tyler.”
ADDRESSING A DEMAND
Sanford attributes the demand for more heart health services to an aging population, rising obesity rates and unhealthy lifestyle habits that are a norm of East Texas culture.
Although more East Texans are experiencing cardiovascular disease, the mortality rate is improving, Sanford explained. With advancements in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, which includes emergency catheterization, mortality rates are much lower than two decades ago.
And while people are surviving cardiovascular episodes, they are vulnerable to other events later. Sanford said congestive heart failure is on the rise and is the No. 1 cause of hospitalization in the Medicare-age population. He said most are heart attack survivors.
“They're often now susceptible to other cardiac problems like congestive heart failure, rhythm abnormalities,” Sanford said. “The survivors aren't cured of heart disease. We've helped them live through an event and we're going to do everything we can to give them a better quality of life moving forward.”
McGreevy said there will be new technologies and more preventive care added to the facility, including an arrhythmia center and heart valve center. These centers will be designed to seek potential problems in the heart that began earlier in life.
McGreevy said many of these problems can be treated with medication, reducing the risk of heart episodes and health care costs. He said the hospital will soon introduce in the spring of 2013 the transluminal aortic value insertion, a non-invasive procedure similar to a heart cath.
Officials also will open a pulmonary medicine clinic in the years to come, which addresses pulmonary issues that arise from cardiac episodes.
“We viewed it as part of our comprehensive heart hospital vision under the broad umbrella of care we try to provide,” Sanford said.
Louis and Peaches Owen, the hospital's namesake who donated $18 million to the project in 2010, were on hand Thursday to welcome guests and tour the facilities. They said the final results were far beyond what they imagined for the building and humbly credited those who made it possible.
“We never dreamed in a million years that anything like this would happen in our lifetime,” Mrs. Owen said. “We're very proud of it. … We supplied some means, but we didn't do the work.”