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Stony Brook Ventricular Assist Device Program Earns National Accreditation

Originally Posted: March 08, 2011

Arthur Plowden, 42, of Amityville, calls himself “half man, half amazing.” He invented the phrase a few weeks after he became the first patient ever at a Long Island hospital to receive a HeartMate II left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The high-tech mechanism is attached to the heart and aorta to assist the pumping of the heart’s left chamber. Before the April 6, 2010 surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Plowden had late stage heart failure and was running out of medical options. With Plowden are members of the SBU Heart Center team, from left: Hal Skopicki, M.D., Director, Heart Failure Program; Kathleen Newton, R.N.; Allison McLarty, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon, and Karen Garland-Smrek, R.N. (Courtesy Photo: Stony Brook Heart Center)

Stony Brook - The Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program in the Heart Center at Stony Brook University Medical Center is not only the only VAD program on Long Island, it is also now the first VAD program on Long Island to receive national accreditation from The Joint Commission after an intensive two-day review by a team of Joint Commission surveyors. The inspection of the VAD program occurred February 28 and March 1. The program's "certification of distinction" is for a two-year period, with a performance review at the end of the first year.

"Accreditation is a seal of approval that signals to our patients that they are in a quality program and are in capable hands when they come to Stony Brook," said Todd K. Rosengart, MD, Co-Chair of the Heart Center, and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery for the Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

"This is an outstanding achievement reflecting on a total team commitment to providing quality care to patients requiring ventricular assist devices as 'destination therapy,'" said Margaret Duffy, MS, RN, NEA-BC, Associate Director of Nursing for Cardiac Services at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Destination therapy refers to VAD as the final treatment option for select patients whose hearts require mechanical assistance to pump blood. Once used as a temporary device for heart failure patients awaiting transplants, VAD now helps more patients extend and improve their quality of life.

To achieve accreditation, VAD programs are evaluated on standards in The Joint Commission's Disease-Specific Care Certification Manual. Programs must demonstrate conformity with clinical practice guidelines or evidence-based practices. They are also required to collect and analyze data on at least four performance measures related to clinical practice guidelines until more standardized performance measures are identified.

Accredited programs must also:

 • Provide VAD destination therapy to an adult population.
 • Have facilities with the infrastructure to support VAD placement, including adequate staffing and facilities to perform and recover patients after cardiac surgery.
 • Be an active continuous member of a national, audited registry for mechanically assisted circulatory support devices that requires submission of health data on ventricular assist device destination therapy patients from the date of implantation throughout the remainder of their lives.
 • Include a board-certified cardiac surgeon has placed 10 ventricular assist devices (VADs) in the last 36 months with current activity in the last 12 months.

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