Erlanger Health System unveiled its new $16 million Heart and Lung Institute on Thursday with a unique ribbon cutting. Dr. Larry Shears, a renowned heart surgeon who was recruited for the center, used the Da Vinci robot that he often operates with to clip a ribbon by remote control.
The "hospital within a hospital" is on the fourth floor of the Baroness Erlanger campus on E. 3rd Street.
CEO Kevin Spiegel said the public hospital assembled an elite team of experts from across the country "to pursue a new vision for heart and lung care."
He said the specialists "represent a full spectrum of fellowship-level specialties – from advanced heart failure to the region’s only sports cardiology program. Working in close collaboration, our team is transforming care by offering more minimally-invasive innovations for better outcomes and faster recovery."
He added, "Erlanger is the region’s only academic heart and lung program – teaching tomorrow's innovators, developing new therapies, and conducting research that improves lives."
Dr. Charles Campbell, center director, said most hospitals separate heart and lung care, but Erlanger is melding both into one center. He said doctors and nurses throughout the facility emphasize that they are working as one team.
He said, "Our world-class team of cardiologists, pulmonologists, and surgeons work together as one group to find the best treatment for you. Patients are often surprised that open heart surgery isn’t the only, or best, option. Even for complex valve replacements, advanced procedures like TAVR can restore healthy heart valve function without surgery."
Officials said the Heart and Lung Institute is one of only a few elite centers in the nation able to perform major heart surgeries like coronary bypass without cutting open the chest. Through minimally invasive robotic surgery, patients experience fewer complications, far less pain, and faster recoveries. Most patients return to their normal activities in days, not months, it was stated.
The center puts patient rooms, a cardiothoracic intensive care unit, cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology laboratories, hybrid room, and dedicated cardiothoracic surgical suites all in one patient-focused area, officials said.
Several speakers praised Mr. Spiegel for having the vision for the world-class center and carrying it through.