Our Commitment to the Community’s Heart Health

By John P. Erwin III, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine and the Louise W. Coon Chair of Medicine

NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) has a long and storied history in cardiology. Evanston Hospital became the first hospital in the world to participate in a groundbreaking gene therapy study for the treatment of heart disease—angiogenesis, a promising alternative to conventional bypass and angioplasty. And in 2003, Evanston Hospital performed the first mitral valve clip procedure.

For years, our hospitals have been on the cutting edge of providing outstanding patient care, and now it’s time we become a destination center for cardiovascular excellence in the region.

With the construction of the new NorthShore Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) pavilion at NorthShore Glenbrook Hospital, we’ll have state-of-the-art facilities and offer the newest techniques to make the patient experience front and center of what we do and how we work.

It is critically important to address heart disease, which is the number-one killer of Americans for both men and women. Most of us will have a heart problem at some point in our lives. The new pavilion is dedicated and designed to meet the growing needs of our diverse and aging communities.

By providing specialty cardiovascular care in a centralized location while maintaining exceptional routine cardiovascular services at our community hospitals, NorthShore will help patients achieve the best outcomes for their heart health.

This “hub and spoke” model of cardiovascular care will benefit our communities immensely. It will enhance the personalized cardiovascular care that our community-based providers and hospitals provide. For example, if a patient suffers a cardiac episode, they’ll still be seen at their nearest NorthShore hospital Emergency Department, and those hospitals are well equipped to provide emergency cardiovascular care. Afterwards, the patient can continue to receive outpatient care at the community level.

If that patient should experience complications that require advanced cardiovascular surgery, they can be transferred to the CVI pavilion where a team of multidisciplinary caregivers will help address their issues. In the past, some of these advanced heart cases would have been scheduled out-of-state, but now they can be provided in our own community close to home.

What’s new at the NorthShore Cardiovascular Institute?

I was pleased to moderate a robust discussion with some of our top cardiovascular physicians to share more about the Cardiovascular Institute. It was also a wonderful occasion to gather in person for the first time in three years!

During the discussion, we heard from Gregory Mishkel, MD, MBA, the Allstate Foundation/Judson B. Branch Chair of Cardiology, Division Head of Cardiology and Co-Director of the NorthShore Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Mishkel shared how the new CVI pavilion will help NorthShore shepherd our resources and provide the best care to our patients. This is critically important as the population is aging and developing more cardiovascular needs. Additionally, Dr. Mishkel reminded us that cardiology is more than just care of the heart. The field has expanded to become collaborative with cancer care, diabetes and other health issues.

We also heard from Mark Ricciardi, MD, the Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Walgreen Jr. Chair of Cardiology and the Director of Interventional Cardiology and Structural Heart Disease Clinical and Research Programs. Dr. Ricciardi’s particular expertise in interventional cardiology helps us care for patients with the most complex cases.

Dr. Ricciardi emphasized that it’s equally important to train physicians and allow them to conduct clinical trials and research to advance the field of cardiology. As a teaching hospital, promoting research and education is one of NorthShore’s core obligations. Research and inquiry take our clinical care to the next level, and the CVI pavilion will only enhance our ability to care for those patients with complex heart health cases.

Our third speaker at the event was Rupa Krishnaswamy Patil, MD, a physician whose areas of focus are clinical cardiology and the newly established subspecialty of cardio-oncology. In recent years, she has also worked to expand and improve women’s cardiology programs at NorthShore, as heart disease affects women differently than men.

Dr. Patil often works with patients who are undergoing cancer treatment, as those cancer-related medications might affect their heart health. By working closely with the NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center, Dr. Patil coordinates the patient’s care—assessing medical side effects—with the goal of minimizing any interruption of their cancer care. The new CVI pavilion will include a state-of-the-art imaging facility that will help us see what’s happening to a patient’s heart during cancer treatments so we know what kind of interventions to recommend. This will help us keep our cancer patients healthy.

Building for the future

While building the CVI pavilion will give us an enhanced physical presence in the cardiovascular space, we must also build on the strength of our cardiovascular care teams. The CVI pavilion will be the bricks and mortar to help us attract and retain the best team members, our greatest strength.

To that end, NorthShore is investing in our communities to teach the future healthcare workforce through programs supported by the Community Investment Fund. For example, we’re partnering with Oakton College to offer a program in stenography and creating pathways for high school students to train for healthcare careers. Students who never would have considered a career in healthcare can now see themselves in those roles in the future.

I look forward to seeing NorthShore’s legacy in cardiology grow from a regional center of excellence to a national center for excellence. With the strength and expertise in our heart health teams, we’ll be able to provide exceptional care for our community—and also for the country.

We’re taking a bold step forward in cardiovascular care for our patients, for their families, for our caregivers and for the future. Join us on this journey!

Masthead Photo (left to right): Mark Ricciardi, MD, Gregory Mishkel, MD, MBA, John P. Erwin III, MD, and Rupa Krishnaswamy Patil, MD

Photo Credit: Jon Hillenbrand