At the heart of it: MidMichigan Health’s new $30 million heart and vascular center

While many people know of Midland as the headquarters of Dow, Diane Postler-Slattery wants to spread the word that it’s also home to world-class heart care.

MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland, which was recognized last year as one of the nation’s top 50 cardiovascular hospitals by Truven, is in the midst of a $57 million construction project that includes a $30 million Heart and Vascular Center.

“For this region, this is a significant new development, and we’re pretty excited and we know that in the long run it’s going to save lives,” says Postler-Slattery, president and CEO of MidMichigan Health, a Midland-based nonprofit health system that serves 22 counties in central and northeast lower Michigan.

The project carries special significance to Postler-Slattery, who served as a cardiac nurse early in her career.

“I’m very passionate about this,” she says.

The hospital’s heart and vascular services are currently spread across several different sites, so a patient may have to go to multiple consults at various locations during the course of their care. The new 160,000-square-foot Heart and Vascular Building will bring together cardiology offices along with non-invasive cardiovascular testing, interventional surgical heart and vascular services, as well as laboratory and diagnostic imaging. The new building will be located between the Midland campus’s emergency department and main hospital.

Other heart-related services, such as cardiac catheterization laboratories, are located in the main hospital close to the new center and will remain as-is.

The center will help the hospital provide more seamless coordinated care, Postler-Slattery said. With offices located next to each other, there should be improved communication among nurses, practitioners and physician’s assistants along with more clinical efficiency, she said.

“Not only will it bring services together, but it’s also designed to be a place where you can come and feel like it’s a healing place all in and of itself,” says Postler-Slattery, noting that the building’s interior will include trees and features that exude warmth and a feeling of well-being.

The medical center demolished one of its older buildings, known as the original Midland Hospital, in July to make room for the new facility. The old building dated back to the 1940s and 1950s and most recently housed administrative functions as well as the mental health department, which moved to a newly remodeled wing for mental health patients.

Construction on the project’s first phase started this fall and should open in late spring 2019. It includes the north side of the building which will house diagnostic services and advanced cardiac imaging. Work on the building’s south side, which will include the new Heart and Vascular Center, will begin summer 2019 and should open by late summer 2020.

The medical center also plans to partner with Michigan Medicine, the health care division of the University of Michigan, to open specialty clinics on the new building’s third floor. MidMichigan Health is affiliated with University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine.

Specific clinics aren’t yet designated, but the hospital is looking at opportunities for additional services to offer patients, Postler-Slattery said.

The Heart and Vascular Center accounts for $30 million of the $57 million total project cost. MidMichigan Health is seeking $15 million in philanthropic funding for the center. It has already secured more than $12 million in commitments, including $8 million from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, $3 million from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation and $1.25 million from The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation. The three Midland-based nonprofits are all in honor of former Dow Chemical Co. executives.

“Our namesakes (Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow) knew that the people of Midland and residents of rural communities benefit with access to quality care,” Mike Whiting, president of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, said in a statement. “We appreciate being able to carry on their vision by supporting this project that will offer world-class clinical care in a patient and family-friendly environment.”

The initial foundation commitments came in fairly rapidly and now MidMichigan Health plans to go out into the community to seek support from more donors, Postler-Slattery said.

“There are many people who have experienced heart disease or who have family that have experienced heart disease and their willingness to give to a new facility is always quite amazing to me,” says Postler-Slattery.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It accounts for about 610,000 deaths each year, or one in every four deaths.

Hospital officials hope to save more lives by serving heart patients quicker and more efficiently. MidMichigan Health has been growing its cardiac program in Midland since it began performing open-heart surgeries 10 years ago. It has more than 30 physicians and advanced practice providers working in heart care, with plans to eventually add another 25 to 30 after the new center opens.

Heart and vascular care is the medical center’s largest service line. While it doesn’t perform heart transplants, it offers most other heart procedures with the “same level of advanced technology found at large academic medical centers,” according to the hospital.

MidMichigan Health physicians performed 215 open-heart surgeries this year through November and more than 1,800 catheterization procedures, among many other cardiac services.

MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland includes a research department that conducts clinical trials, a heart failure clinic, heart valve clinic and structural heart program. The Midland campus also participates in a special program where emergency response workers are trained to identify patients suffering from the most serious kind of heart attack and bring them straight to the hospital’s cath lab, bypassing other possibly closer ERs that aren’t as well equipped for severe heart attacks.

“All of our processes are in place to get people to the place where they need their care the quickest,” says Postler-Slattery. “So yes, this is going to help the city of Midland tremendously, but it’s also going to help the region that we serve for getting people quicker into the higher level of care that they need.”

MidMichigan Health’s service area reaches as far as the northern tip of the lower peninsula. In the past, patients may have had to drive for hours to receive care from hospitals and clinics in Ann Arbor or Detroit, but they’re now able to find more extensive services in Midland, she said.

“Our cardiovascular services have been growing significantly and there’s more procedures that we’re looking at so we can continue to enhance the services that MidMichigan Health offers,” she said.
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