Medical Centers Explore Possible Merger of Open-Heart Surgery Programs
John Muir and Mt. Diablo medical centers are exploring the possibility of consolidating their open-heart surgery programs, the Contra Costa Times reports. A committee of doctors and others from the two medical centers, part of the John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System, is exploring the consolidation to help "streamline and strengthen" the joint system's cardiac care, the Times reports. J. Kendall Anderson, president and CEO of Muir/Diablo Health System, said that the system's board will not consider changing the cardiac units at the two medical centers until the committee and a consultant report to the board at the end of the month. After hearing the recommendations, the board will take several months to decide how to proceed, according to Anderson. "If you had to guess," performing open-heart surgery programs at just one of the medical centers "could be one of the options," Anderson said, but he added that it is possible that no changes will be made. Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, said that it has become common for hospital systems to consolidate open-heart surgeries because the rate of such surgeries may not justify maintaining two teams and equipment at each location, the Times reports. In 2003, Mt. Diablo surgeons performed 305 open-heart surgeries, compared with 158 by John Muir surgeons. However, critics suggest that moving all open-heart surgeries to Mt. Diablo could make it difficult for John Muir to attract quality cardiologists, according to the Times (Sanchez/Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 3/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.