The Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Program at Maimonides Medical Center, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, has received advanced certification in Destination Therapy from the Joint Commission. This groundbreaking new form of treatment is offered at just over 100 hospitals in the nation.
“This is an important milestone for our program, and terrific news for our patients,” said Dr. Paul Saunders, Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Maimonides who is co-director of the LVAD Program. “The Joint Commission accreditation affirms our commitment to providing the finest care possible for patients with heart failure.”
The comprehensive Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) program at Maimonides has long been known for outstanding care and patient outcomes. Ranked among the best in the nation for over a decade, this program now has a new and exciting surgical component.
An LVAD is a surgically implanted pump that takes over the function of a heart weakened by congestive heart failure (CHF). LVADs have historically been used to “bridge” patients to heart transplant. A new approach, called “destination therapy,” serves as an alternative to heart transplant for those patients with severe CHF who are unable to receive a transplant.
The new certification received by the Maimonides LVAD Program allows doctors at Maimonides to use LVADs as a form of permanent treatment, in accordance with new FDA guidelines. With this device in place, patients can live longer and more productive lives, no longer having their activity restricted by end stage heart failure.
“I thought, okay, I’ve got six months – I’ll make the best of it,” said Gene LaFerlita, who had been suffering from debilitating CHF for many years. He underwent LVAD implantation at Maimonides and now says, “It’s like a new life for me, a good life. I’ve got my independence back. More people need to know about LVADs.”
As LaFerlita and others can attest, the LVAD procedure is a life-changing experience – one with the potential to restore heart failure patients to active and fulfilling lives with friends and loved ones. This is one of the many advanced cardiac programs only available at tertiary cardiac centers like Maimonides.
To earn the distinction of LVAD certification, a program undergoes an extensive on-site evaluation by a team of Joint Commission reviewers every two years. That evaluation uses national standards to assess clinical processes and the ability to evaluate and improve care, and includes interviews with patients and staff.
The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare that evaluates more than 19,000 organizations and programs in the United States.