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Thursday, August 12, 1999

Sharon Regional announces $18million, 3-phase capital improvement plan

Open heart surgery program major phase one

Officials at Sharon Regional Health System today announced a $18 million, 3-phase capital improvement plan that includes the development of a Heart Institute with an open heart surgery program as part of phase one. Other improvements in the first phase include the addition of three new operating rooms for general and specialized surgery, a post-surgery critical care unit, and a second cardiac catheterization laboratory. Completion of phase one construction and initiation of open heart surgery is projected for July, 2000.

The remaining capital projects, part of phases two and three, would be completed over the next three to five years. The projects include a new outpatient surgical area, additional space to meet the increased demand for medical/surgical beds, and additional construction above the Emergency Care Center for expanded critical care areas.

The capital improvement plan is in direct response to the continuous increase in utilization and growth in services Sharon Regional has experienced over the past several years. Since 1994, the Health System has grown steadily in an era when a significant number of other hospitals in Western Pennsylvania and across the country have downsized or eliminated services, experienced significant staff reductions, or due to financial difficulties have been forced into mergers and acquisitions by large out-of-town institutions and as a result have lost local direction and control.

Since 1993 Sharon Regional has experienced a cumulative increase of 28% in admissions, 209% in cardiology procedures, 512% in cardiac catheterizations, 26% in surgical procedures, plus significant increases in other areas as well.

"More and more people are choosing Sharon Regional for their care and we are responding to their needs by providing the advanced technology and services here that they require," stated Wayne Johnston, president and CEO of Sharon Regional. "First we’ll be adding three additional, large operating rooms to the eight we already have," Johnston outlined. "At the same time, we’ll then begin preparing for the most significant medical advancement Mercer County has ever seen . . . the addition of open heart surgery capabilities."

"Heart disease is the number one killer in Mercer County, and the number one reason that people seek treatment at Sharon Regional," Johnston explained.. "The population within our service area is aging, and more and more people will require complex cardiovascular procedures like angioplasty and coronary artery bypass surgery. Sharon Regional has a long tradition of excellence in cardiac care. This is the next logical step in our evolution as we strive to meet the changing medical needs of our community," Johnston explained.

The Health System plans to transition its existing Heart Center, which has been in operation for the past eight years, into a highly advanced Heart Institute that will offer complete open heart surgery, angioplasty, and a second cardiac catheterization laboratory saving patients and their families significant and often disruptive travel to other cities.

The addition of open heart surgery capabilities is the next logical step in a consistent progression of cardiology services that has grown steadily since the opening of Sharon Regional’s Heart Center in 1992, according to James P. Landis, Jr., M.D., cardiologist and medical director of the Heart Center. "Our cardiology staff made a commitment when we started the Heart Center to develop the region’s premier facility for heart care," Dr. Landis stated. "Through the development of Mercer County’s first cardiac catheterization lab plus the first Chest Pain Center, Pediatric Cardiology Clinic, Congestive Heart Failure program, cardiothoracic surgery clinic, heart research/clinical studies, and many more new clinical programs, we’ve succeeded in doing that," Dr. Landis said. "The development of the new Heart Insititute at Sharon Regional along with the open heart surgery program takes us to the highest level of heart care, providing our patients and their families total heart care right here in their own community," Dr. Landis stated.

The open heart surgery program will be directed by George Magovern, Jr., M.D., senior member of the world renowned surgical group Cardio-Thoracic Surgical Associates. The group performs about 2700 open heart procedures each year including 1500 at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and another 1200 open heart procedures in community-based open heart programs. Dr. Magovern and his group’s reputation are already well known to many area residents through the cardiothoracic surgery clinics they’ve held regularly at Sharon Regional for the past four years. Now, supported by all of the resources and advances provided by Dr. Magovern and his associates, patients will be cared for by surgeons and specialists who will reside in the Shenango Valley.

The Heart Institute at Sharon Regional will include two new open heart surgical suites, a cardiovascular recovery and intensive care unit, waiting areas for patients and families, and a second cardiac cath lab. Sharon Regional currently performed almost 700 cardiac caths last year. In addition to open heart surgery, Sharon Regional will be the only hospital in Mercer County capable of performing low risk and high risk cardiac catheterizations and angioplasty.

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