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DiGiorgi and Hummel also train sur­geons in na­tional pro­grams for min­i­mally in­va­sive mi­tral and aor­tic valve surgery.

“I re­ally like the min­i­mally in­va­sive as­pect. With min­i­mally in­va­sive your prob­a­bil­ity of hav­ing side ef­fects be­comes a lot less. It doesn’t take years to re­cover and so you re­ally get to en­joy life,” says Ship­ley. “It’s not enough to sim­ply live a long life. It’s more im­por­tant to live an en­joy­able one.”

The Ship­ley Cen­ter will also in­clude a com­po­nent of health ed­u­ca­tion to help pa­tients un­der­stand how to stay healthy and po­ten­tially avoid surgery. Heart dis­ease is the num­ber one cause of death with more than 375,000 deaths per year, and heart surgery is the most com­mon ma­jor surgery per­formed in the United States.

“We see th­ese very ba­sic prob­lems, smok­ing, hy­per­ten­sion, di­a­betes, but at a very ad­vanced stage; and so we have a vested in­ter­est, even as sur­geons, to make sure that th­ese things are bet­ter cared for in the com­mu­nity—whether it’s public ed­u­ca­tion, ed­u­cat­ing re­fer­ring physi­cians, or mak­ing things work bet­ter in the hos­pi­tal, and even new tech­nol­ogy at the op­er­at­ing level,” says DiGiorgi.

He be­lieves it’s all about look­ing at the pa­tient as a whole per­son; not just sin­gling out a spe­cific med­i­cal is­sue, but delv­ing deeper to find out why it’s hap­pen­ing.

“Why is a 40-year-old with out-of-con­trol di­a­betes now in need of by­pass surgery? Where have we dropped the ball? Un­for­tu­nately, I see a lot of that, and so I’m will­ing to step out of the op­er­at­ing room and work with the com­mu­nity to try to fix that prob­lem,” says DiGiorgi. “For me it’s ex­cit­ing. You typ­i­cally don’t see heart sur­geons do­ing public health things.”

Also of spe­cial in­ter­est at the cen­ter will be re­search into frailty screen­ing to give an in-depth un­der­stand­ing of each in­di­vid­ual pa­tient’s risk fac­tors, co-mor­bidi­ties and per­sonal health needs prior to surgery, and pro­vide pre-hab ther­a­pies to re­duce risk for com­pli­ca­tions.

“I think it will co­or­di­nate care in a way that will en­hance out­comes,” says Beck­with, who was ex­cited to hear about the new cen­ter. “Th­ese times are so over­whelm­ing for the pa­tient as well as their fam­ily. By co­or­di­nat­ing the care in one cen­ter, I’m hop­ing it will make the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence less frag­mented, less dif­fi­cult.”

“One of our big pushes is pre­op­er­a­tive op­ti­miza­tion,” says DiGiorgi. “It’s a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary kind of team ap­proach to work with each pa­tient to re­duce their risk of sur­gi­cal com­pli­ca­tions rather than just whisk them off to the op­er­at­ing room and ac­cept the con­se­quences.”

The cen­ter’s vi­sion is to com­pletely trans­form the way we do med­i­cal care in South­west Florida, and serve as a model for na­tional health care chal­lenges that ex­ist.

The Ship­ley Cen­ter’s work will be en­hanced by an In­no­va­tion Com­mit­tee com­pris­ing na­tional and lo­cal clin­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive lead­ers, work­ing and re­tired, with ex­per­tise in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, med­i­cal de­vices, tech­nol­ogy and fi­nance ar­eas of health care who are in­ter­ested in lead­ing-edge care, re­search, ed­u­ca­tion and pa­tient care op­ti­miza­tion. Out­comes re­search will also

be shared with the med­i­cal com­mu­nity lo­cally, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally through med­i­cal jour­nal pub­li­ca­tions and sci­en­tific pre­sen­ta­tions.

“The ed­u­ca­tion goes hand-in-hand with the re­search ef­forts,” says Ship­ley. “Hope­fully we’ll have a good col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort here and peo­ple are go­ing to learn from each other.”

TAVR has been a na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized pro­gram. The team hopes to build on that ex­pe­ri­ence by con­tin­u­ing the min­i­mally in­va­sive valves, but also work­ing with other com­mu­nity part­ners such as physi­cian as­sis­tant and nurs­ing schools to do sim­u­la­tion labs and other ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams with them.

“We’ll have the space to do that now, and the lab space to do it,” says DiGiorgi. “We’re also in talks, with In­tu­itive, the Da Vinci ro­botic com­pany, to be the only sim­u­la­tion cen­ter be­tween here and Or­lando. There’s a lot of op­por­tu­nity.”

“You have doc­tors com­ing, in­ter­na­tion­ally, look­ing at the tech­niques they’re us­ing, so ba­si­cally what you’re start­ing with is a cen­ter of ex­cel­lence. When you start with that and you have doc­tors that are pas­sion­ate about what they’d like to ac­com­plish in the way of in­no­va­tion, that’s a pretty good for­mula for suc­cess. Re­sults do mat­ter and they mat­ter a lot,” says Ship­ley. “It’s not like this is a brand-new startup. They have the cen­ter of ex­cel­lence in place; they’ve al­ready hit the ground run­ning.”

Though many of the pro­grams are al­ready un­der­way, con­struc­tion of the Ship­ley Cen­ter must wait un­til the new chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal is com­plete. Plans call for con­vert­ing 10,000 square feet of space cur­rently used for pe­di­atric ser­vices on the first floor of HealthPark Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

“The phil­an­thropic goal is $6 mil­lion, to which the Ship­ley Foun­da­tion has de­voted $2.5 mil­lion. Ship­ley’s dona­tions will be sup­ple­mented by en­dow­ments es­tab­lished for Ed­u­ca­tion & Train­ing and Pa­tient Care Op­ti­miza­tion; re­search grants, pri­vately funded and gov­ern­ment funded; and other donors that have lined up along the way,” says DiGiorgi.

“I think this is prob­a­bly the first time that Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem has moved into some­thing like this, and it cer­tainly won’t be the last,” says Ship­ley. “I think the ca­pa­bil­ity ex­ists there; with great lead­er­ship there’s no rea­son we can’t do more. We’ve given it a good jump-start, and I hope my con­tri­bu­tion and our be­lief in th­ese ef­forts will en­gen­der a lot of sup­port from the com­mu­nity.”

Those who are in­ter­ested in mak­ing a do­na­tion should con­tact the Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem Foun­da­tion at 239-343-6058 or foun­da­[email protected]­

Though many of the pro­grams are al­ready un­der­way, con­struc­tion plans for The Ship­ley Cen­ter for Car­dio­tho­racic Surgery In­no­va­tion, Ed­u­ca­tion & Re­search call for con­vert­ing 10,000 square feet of space, cur­rently used for pe­di­atric ser­vices, on the first...

Samira Beck­with suc­cess­fully un­der­went tran­scatheter aor­tic valve re­place­ment (TAVR) in Oc­to­ber, 2014. TAVR is an al­ter­na­tive to open heart surgery that uses a catheter to ac­cess the heart through an artery.

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