| After four years of talk, El Camino Hospital cemented the opening of a new Heart and Vascular Institute last week when it appointed three cardiologists to guide, define and implement the effort.
Dr. Dominick Curatola, a former hospital board member, will fill the role of medical director of the institute. And Dr. James Joye, currently the director of the cardiac catheterization labs, was appointed director of research and education. Curatola will receive $92,160 in annual compensation, and Joye $88,320. Both are contracted to work 32 hours a month on behalf of the institute.
Dr. Frank Galli, a former professor of cardiology at UC San Francisco, will chair the quality and outcomes committee. He will work 16 hours for the institute, receive $28,800 in annual compensation and be responsible for communicating research findings to physicians in the community, hospital officials said.
The three doctors will establish an advisory board in the coming weeks to collaborate in their work, officials said.
"I think it's a huge deal," Joye said. "Right now, like it or not, there's not a single health-care destination for cardiovascular disease. There's not one place you'd point to on the West Coast ... to get this work done."
That work involves getting together medical care professionals from different backgrounds -- such as heart surgeons, vascular care surgeons, engineers and nurses -- to figure out better ways to more efficiently and effectively deliver patient care.
Through the institute, the hospital plans to become the "preeminent provider on the West Coast for innovative, highest quality clinical care and outstanding service to cardiothoracic, vascular and stroke patients," according to hospital officials. Massachusetts General Hospital has an institute comparable to what El Camino's hopes to achieve, they said.
Joye said the institute is even being worked into the architectural design of the new earthquake-safe facility being built by El Camino.
The hospital plans to invest $6.3 million in the institute over the next five years, according to Diana Russell, vice president of patient care services. It is projected the hospital would break even financially after almost three years, with a 23 percent return over five years, she said.
"Anything after 2.7 years is a profit," she said.
A new chest pain center, a wound center, a primary preventative care center and a catheterization laboratory -- a lab that helps doctors insert devices into arteries -- will become part of the institute, Curatola said.
The institute will include people who can facilitate a more coordinated effort to share information and streamline services between departments, Curatola said.
"There will be a more uniform way of accessing, acquiring and sharing medical information regardless of which of the areas the patient is in," he said. "Everything now is geared toward clinical guidelines and a shared consensus approach to a given problem, so you don't have 14 people doing it 20 different ways."
Curatola said he wants the institute to implement more uniformity in heart attack treatments. Currently, when a patient comes into the emergency room complaining of chest pain, he may have to see a general doctor, a cardiologist and then the surgeon. But with the institute, he said, communication will be better facilitated, so that the patient may see a cardiologist right away.
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