Allegiance seeks to add Open Heart
June 6, 2006
Jackson, Mich. — Allegiance Health is seeking approval through the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) process to provide enhanced cardiovascular services, which includes open-heart surgery. If approved, the CON will allow Allegiance to perform interventional cardiac catheterizations in addition to the diagnostic catheterizations it already performs. Allegiance would also be able to offer angioplasty services to non-emergency patients. It began providing angioplasty to emergency patients earlier this year.
“This is the right thing to do for our community. People are suffering serious complications because they do not have access to cardiac surgery services in Jackson,” said Allegiance President Georgia Fojtasek. “There has been a gap in our local system for too long, and we are pleased to be in a position to pursue this expanded service on behalf of our community. We have been building the infrastructure to support this level of care for the past 10 years.”
If approved, the addition of cardiovascular surgery will require Allegiance to invest $5 million in specialized surgical equipment, but construction beyond the hospital’s current surgery expansion project will not be necessary. Specialized training of staff also will be necessary.
With the closest cardiac surgery services available in Lansing and Ann Arbor, Fojtasek noted that precious time is lost when a patient needs to be transferred to one of these facilities due to the critical nature of their condition. Patients must be assessed and prepared for transfer via helicopter or ambulance, and in the meantime, more heart muscle is often damaged, especially if a patient is having an active heart attack.
“There is a saying among emergency department staff that ‘time is muscle,’ meaning the more time before interventions occur, the more heart muscle that is damaged,” Fojtasek said. “In many cases, there just isn’t enough time to get these patients to the nearest cardiac surgery program safely.”
Allegiance’s plan calls for the addition of about 50 jobs initially, with another 30 jobs being added over the next four years. This would increase the city’s payroll tax base.
Allegiance submitted its initial CON application on May 1. A decision from the state is expected by September 30. If approved, the program is expected to be operational within one year.