Greater competition in the West Michigan health care market for cardiac surgery has arrived with University of Michigan Health-West performing its first open-heart procedure.
Surgeons at the health system performed coronary artery bypass graft surgery on Oct. 3 on a male patient in his 60s who went home days later and has been recovering well, President and CEO Peter Hahn said. University of Michigan Health-West has performed two more coronary artery bypass surgeries this week, Hahn said.
The health system launched open-heart surgery after two years of planning that continued throughout the pandemic and amid restrictions and surges in patients with COVID-19. The health system launched open-heart surgery as part of a cardiovascular care network in West Michigan with Ann Arbor-based parent University of Michigan Health and Trinity Health.
“If you just think of all we’ve been through in the last year, it’s pretty incredible,” Hahn told MiBiz today. “It’s been an incredible achievement for the teams and for the network.”
University of Michigan Health-West secured final state certificate-of-need approval in March 2021 to perform open-heart surgery. The health system soon afterward formed the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan, a joint venture with Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center in Ann Arbor; Trinity Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids; and Trinity Health Muskegon.
Until now, heart surgeries in the Grand Rapids area were performed only at the newly named Corewell Health (formerly Spectrum Health) in downtown plus on the lakeshore at Trinity Health Muskegon. Grand Rapids for more than 20 years has been the largest market in Michigan with a single open-heart program.
By launching a competing program, University of Michigan Health-West hopes to bring down costs in the market for open-heart surgery and to provide greater choice for patients, Hahn said.
“Competition makes everyone better,” Hahn said. “We truly intend this program to be the premier open-heart program in West Michigan.”
The initial heart surgeries at University of Michigan Health-West’s hospital in suburban Wyoming are performed by surgeons with the University of Michigan Health’s Department of Cardiac Surgery in Ann Arbor. Dr. Himanshu Patel serves as executive director of the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan.
Care through the network includes coronary artery bypass graft surgery, aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery, treatment of aortic aneurysm, and cardiac ablation procedures.
In collaborating on the cardiovascular care network, University of Michigan Health and Trinity Health operate as a single program in West Michigan and aim to offer “seamless” continuity of heart care regardless of where a patient seeks treatment, Trinity Health Muskegon President Gary Allore said.
“That’s going to be a good part of this network. We’re going to be able to keep people in the same network, same system, and that’s so important for cardiac care,” Allore said.
Trinity Health Muskegon in 2021 performed 286 adult open-heart surgeries, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Trinity Health Muskegon recently brought aboard a third surgeon, and Allore expects volumes in Muskegon to grow.
Corewell Health, with the second-largest program in the state to University of Michigan Health in Ann Arbor, performed 1,757 adult heart surgeries in 2021 and 156 pediatric surgeries at the Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center in downtown Grand Rapids.
University of Michigan Health-West expects to perform about 100 heart surgeries in the first year, starting with lower-risk patients, and quickly progress within a year or two to 500 procedures annually, Hahn said.
“We’re being very diligent about patient selection and making sure we’re focused, obviously on quality and safety, and then things will ramp up accordingly. We’re sort of purposely going at it slow in the beginning,” he said. “It’s really a matter of you want to walk before you run.”