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SoutheastHEALTH Announces Partnership with Washington University's Cardiothoracic Surgery Divison

Lindsey Grojean/KRCU



SoutheastHEALTH has announced a new partnership with the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. At a press conference Thursday,  SoutheastHEALTH President and CEO Ken Bateman said with the changes in healthcare, joint collaborations amongst health care organizations are needed.

“Healthcare is changing at a rapid pace,” Bateman said. “In the past, collaboration within a healthcare organization was essential -- today collaboration outside a healthcare organization with other providers is just as essential.”

The partnership will include education, training the next generations of cardiothoracic specialists, emerging technology, quality assurance, access to clinical trials, physician recruitment, and collaboration on complex or unusual heart cases.

Washington University School of Medicine’s cardiothoracic division was established in the 1930s, and was one of the earliest programs of its kind Bateman said. The division continues to be a leading international cardiothoracic surgery program.

While this is a leap forward for SoutheastHEALTH, Bateman said at the end of the day, “It's about our patients."

Dr. Ralph Damiano, Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Jewish Hospital, spoke about Washington University's excitement about the collaboration.

According to Damiano, SoutheastHEALTH will be able to utilize the expertise of 36 full-time faculty members currently in their division,  who span from cardiac surgeons to research scientists, with more than 200 years of accumulated clinical experience.

“Last year, we did over 4,500 major procedures, and our division is the number one funded division in the country in terms of research funding from both the National Institutes of Health and other national organizations,” Damiano said.

Washington University School of Medicine also has the largest surgical heart failure program in the world, and put more ventricular assist devices in over the past five years than anywhere in the world.

But Damiano said the goal of this partnership is to improve patient care.

“We really view this as a true partnership, and personally I have the utmost respect for the cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons here,” he said. “We feel like in many ways, we’re kindred spirits. And our groups really share the same goal, which is to deliver the highest quality and most compassionate care to patients.”

The collaboration will focus on four main areas: programmatic development, education, quality assurance, and second opinions in complex cases from Washington University School of Medicine.

While this partnership is still in its infancy, Bateman said this is only the beginning. With the emergence of technologies, Bateman said his goal is to bring more patient services to Cape Girardeau.

“They mentioned an advanced heart failure clinic, and a ventricular assist device clinic,” Bateman said. They’re going to be bringing clinics here with their physicians. So instead of our patients having to travel to St. Louis for a routine follow-up care, they’ll be able to get their routine follow-up care locally here.”