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Bernie Marcus gives Piedmont $20 million for heart valve reference center

The Piedmont Heart Institute has received a $20 million grant from the Marcus Foundation to establish a heart valve reference center at Piedmont Hospital. As a regional reference center, the Marcus Heart Valve Center will be a one-stop shop for patients with heart valve problems as well as for physicians wanting to learn the latest advancements in treatment for these complex patients and increase access to care.

“Atlanta is the perfect place for this unique center and Piedmont Heart Institute is the organization that will make it happen,” said Bernie Marcus,  philanthropist and one of Atlanta’s biggest ambassadors, from co-founding Home Depot to the building of the Georgia Aquarium. “We have an international airport, a great hospitality industry and excellent medical expertise. My goal is to enhance the latter and  provide our experts with new tools and capabilities needed to help more people across the country.”

The Marcus Foundation, dedicated to Jewish causes, children, medical research, free enterprise and the community, has funded many enhancements to  healthcare in Atlanta, including neurosciences at Grady Health System and The Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “We take this charge very seriously,” said Charles Brown, M.D., interventional cardiologist and chief medical officer, Piedmont Heart Institute.  “It energizes us more than ever when we earn the trust of philanthropists willing to lend their names to heart care at Piedmont.

It started with the late J.B. Fuqua after whom the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta at Piedmont Hospital was named, and it grows with  Bernie Marcus’ trust that we will build a valve center worthy of the Marcus name.” The Marcus Heart Valve Center will provide a seamless patient experience and package services into a time frame that is most convenient for them  and their families.

A patient navigator will walk them through treatment while a multidisciplinary team of cardiovascular specialists create individualized treatment plans for these complex valve patients who often have multiple medical conditions. Lower mortality rates are one of the many benefits of this patient-centered, integrated-care model. The center also is expected to draw more renowned surgeons and other specialists to Piedmont in Atlanta.

As a regional reference center, it will  be the nation’s first comprehensive valve center for care, training and research regardless of the valve in which the damage occurs – aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valve - or the reason for it - congenital or acquired. Piedmont Heart Institute is developing an academic relationship with one of the nation’s most experienced valve experts and teaching centers to create  the education component for practicing physicians and patients and establishing best practices in care.

“This center fills a void in the community and region by offering a coordinated and integrated care model,” said Sidney Kirschner, president and  CEO of Piedmont Heart Institute. “Most importantly, it improves the quality of life for patients and their families. Once created, the rising demand for services and the Piedmont Heart business model ensures long-term sustainability of the center.”

According to the American Heart Association, mitral valve regurgitation is the most common type of heart valve insufficiency in the United States.  Because prevalence increases with age, the growing population of people over the age of 65 will create an increased demand in an area that is already undertreated according to well-respected cardiology journals. “The skill and experience of the surgeon are probably the most important determinants of whether repair or replacement surgery is performed,” Dr.  Brown said.

“Repair is the treatment of choice when surgical skill and expertise are available. Appropriate treatment results in better outcomes and quality of life for patients. “A program like this one will provide to the people of Atlanta, Georgia and the Southeast the opportunity to have the most appropriate surgical procedures  applied in heart valve repair versus replacement, thereby taking advantage of not being on blood thinners,” Dr. Brown added.

In addition to Piedmont Hospital being named Best in Atlanta for Overall Cardiac Care, Cardiac Surgery and Coronary Intervention by HealthGrades®,  a leading healthcare ratings company, Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians are leaders in many areas of heart care. Among many accomplishments, Piedmont heart specialists:

  • Provide patients with access to the Medtronic CoreValve clinical trial which involves implanting valves through a catheter versus open heart surgery, which is often not an option for older patients. Piedmont Hospital is one of 40 hospitals in the United States participating in the CoreValve trial.
  • Lead the nation in the treatment of chronic total occlusions of the coronary arteries. They host renowned cardiologists from around the world for onsite training  in this technique on a regular basis.
  • Offer the most experienced and successful adult ECMO program in Atlanta. ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is a life saving procedure that gives failing  hearts and lungs time to heal without harming critical internal organs.
  • Give people with heart failure a better quality of life through the latest heart assist devices and heart transplants.
  • Serve as one of the leading centers in the country for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, in particular catheter based ablation therapies. This common arrhythmia  frequently accompanies patients with heart valve disease.

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