State of the Heart: The East Carolina Heart Institute

"Reinventing Cardiovascular Care" Video Transcript

Title: East Carolina University presents "Reinventing Cardiovascular Care"

Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood: The East Carolina Heart Institute is not only a concept, it’s not only two buildings, but it’s the people and the doctors and nurses within the building working together along a specific group of diseases. Taking care of patients with cardiovascular diseases in particular.

In bringing all practitioners that take care of one disease process together it is avante garde. In the past cardiology resided in the department of medicine, cardiovascular surgery in the department of surgery, but what we’ve done is we’ve aligned the incentives, we’ve aligned the care process, into a new department of cardiovascular sciences. It makes sense.

Dr. T. Bruce Ferguson: We’ve thought—as have others—long and hard about how to optimize the care delivery process for patients who have cardiovascular disease. From a patient’s perspective, which is the most important perspective, patients don’t really care whether it’s a cardiologist in medicine and a surgeon in surgery, they care that the disease that they have is treated in the most optimal way across all of those areas.

Title: Physician Training and Continuing Education

Dr. Wayne E. Cascio: The East Carolina Heart Institute was conceived with the mission that it would not only provide health care for the people of eastern North Carolina, but also would serve an educational mission in assisting primary care physicians as well as other health care providers in the latest and best ways to manage cardiovascular disease as well as to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood: We certainly want to keep the physicians who are taking care of heart patients—the family practitioners, the internists, and the cardiologists—to take care of the patients in their community, but we want to provide a resource for those patients who have very complex disease and need to be handled at a specialty center.

Dr. L. Wiley Nifong: We are very fortunate here and we’ve been able to do things here that we could not have done in other places. So we were fortunate in writing and running a lot of the FDA trials that led to the approval of these robotic devices. And as hospitals and institutions buy these devices then they have to be trained to use them safely, and so they come here to learn these techniques.

Dr. Anthony D. Cassano: It’s obviously the long-standing history that Dr. Chitwood and Dr. Nifong have had with robotic surgery that brought us down here today. As our procedures get more complex, as we get more minimally invasive, there is going to be a need for continued training throughout all of our education and I think these centers are going to be more and more popular.

Title: Improving Care Through Technology

Dr. Wayne E. Cascio: Technology has been an important component of the care of cardiology patients for many, many years. Starting with the stethoscope, cardiologists have always depended on new technologies to increase their senses and awareness of disease and to be able to not only diagnosis it, but also to treat it. Today we have a number of very exciting technologies that we routinely use, and also newer technologies that are on the horizon, and that will be a feature of this new institute.

Dr. William M. Bogey Jr.: In the heart institute we are focused on vascular disease, be it heart disease or peripheral vascular disease, and we have that critical mass that’s necessary to allow us to have the technology available to us to make the diagnosis appropriately. And just as importantly, we have the physicians here who have the expertise to know when to use that technology and when not to use it.

Title: Serving the Region

Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood:
Eastern North Carolina has one of the highest instances of cardiovascular disease in the United States. So the patients in eastern North Carolina will certainly benefit probably more from the direct clinical care that we can give to them. But even more than that, the basic research we do will help all North Carolinians as will the prevention plans we plan to develop.

We already had a well-established reputation both at East Carolina University and at the Pitt County Memorial hospital. It’s called East Carolina Heart Institute but it’s really two different institutions working together in a close alliance as far as recruitment of physicians, as far as distributing care, developing a health care system for the region, it’s a natural synergy. I think this is very unique, a public university—medical center—working with a private hospital. It’s really the way I think we should do things.

Dr. T. Bruce Ferguson: It is a tremendous responsibility. It is a humbling responsibility to think of really altering the natural history of cardiovascular disease in eastern North Carolina, but that in fact is the mission of the institute and we will absolutely be successful in doing that.