Hoag Takes Cardiac Care to Heart With New Center

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian is boosting its heart care offerings with an eye toward keeping patients in Orange County.

The hospital’s Newport Beach campus will open the new William and Nancy Thompson Cardiovascular Center on March 23.

“We’re pretty excited about it. It’s really going to be the first truly integrated cardiac center in Orange County,” said Hoag’s chief executive, Robert Braithwaite.

He referred to the concentration of heart doctors and services in one location.

Services at the center, which is named for philanthropists William and Nancy Thompson and located in the original Hoag hospital building that opened in the 1950s, include clinics that offer preoperative and postoperative care for patients with replacement heart valves, congestive heart failure and arrhythmias.

Features, Cost
The facility houses 11 examination rooms and six offices for surgeons, as well as work stations for nurses and technicians.

Braithwaite declined to give a specific cost for the project, but said it was in the “multimillion-dollar” ballpark.

Hoag officials talk up the center’s location in particular, noting that many of the work areas for doctors and staff face the ocean.

“The geographic location of the center is perfect. … It was a really nice piece of real estate,” Braithwaite said.

He also noted that the center is offering services such as vascular disease treatment that previously were “sent up to Los Angeles or referred out of the county. Our ability to deal with more complex vascular-related conditions in Orange County has increased and will continue to increase as we develop that center.”

Hoag brought the building where the center is located up to modern earthquake standards. The property once served as a psychiatric ward and an extension of the emergency department, among other things.

It also remodeled the building’s interior in a soothing neutral design, with updated information technology and other features. The exterior bears the hospital’s original red clay roof.

Center officials emphasized integration as an important part of the vision for the facility.

“It’s about efficiency. We’re all together—we can share staff, we can share equipment, and we certainly can share space,” Tom Lonergan, operations director of Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute, said during a tour of the center last week.

“What we’re trying to do is to consolidate all of our services. We have a much more efficient operation to address the current healthcare environment, where cost is a very important factor,” he said.

Lonergan pointed out a new blood-drawing room in the center that eliminates referrals to a medical laboratory.

“This is primarily an outpatient center, where we’re going to do what we call our noninvasive testing,” he said, giving examples such as electrocardiograms, stress testing, cardiac and vascular ultrasounds, and placement of event recorders and Holter monitors.
The center is, however, close to Hoag’s inpatient cardiac unit, which has operating rooms and catheterization labs.

“We’re bringing the surgeons together with the cardiologists together with the staff that actually make the valve center operate—one united, collective team in one location,” Braithwaite said.
Hoag, which also owns Hoag Hospital Irvine and works with Irvine-based St. Joseph Health on the St. Joseph Hoag Health delivery network, has emphasized heart and vascular disease treatment for years.

It was one of a handful of U.S. hospitals that got an initial designation as an implant center for Irvine-based Edwards Lifesciences Corp.’s Edwards Sapien less-invasive heart valve after the device gained Food and Drug Administration approval in late 2011.

Sapien has “had a major impact” on Hoag’s cardiovascular programs, Lonergan said.

“This type of procedure is at the forefront of where medicine’s going. These types of patients are very unique. These are very, very ill patients who have no other options.”

Braithwaite said the center will target doctors and patients in its marketing, including educating physicians about the cardiovascular programs.

He gave an example of how Sapien can potentially change cardiac care: “Heretofore, [doctors] medically managed these patients because surgery wasn’t an option for them.”

With Sapien, however, Braithwaite said the center is going to educate cardiologists on several matters, including “being very, very careful in the screening criteria to make sure that they don’t refer a patient that’s not a candidate.”

The center, which carries the name of the retired Pacific Investment Management Co.’s chief executive and his wife, has been in development for roughly five years, Braithwaite said.

“We phased each component in,” he said, explaining that some services were developed in inpatient settings in earlier years.

The center is part of Hoag’s heart and vascular institute that bears the name of the late Jeffrey M. Carlton. Hoag received a $53 million donation from Carlton’s estate in October 2013, $15 million of which was committed to the institute.