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Loma Linda University Medical Center earns Joint Commission certification to treat ‘destination’ heart patients

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LOMA LINDA, CA – Loma Linda University Medical Center has become the first medical facility in the Inland Empire to receive certification to implant a heart assist device as destination therapy for patients with heart failure, similar to the one implanted in former Vice-President Dick Cheney before his recent heart transplant.

The Joint Commission Certification for Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) was granted to the hospital following a rigorous on-site survey recently. The certification authorizes the hospital to perform “destination therapy,” since the patients typically are not candidates for heart transplant and the device implanted in them is their “life destination.”

The VAD was in the news recently in connection with the recent heart transplant of Vice-President Cheney, who received an implanted heart assist device two years ago that helped keep him alive.

“The certification award recognizes our staff and our institution’s dedication to meeting all of the state-of-the-art standards in treating our heart patients,” said Dr. Liset Stoletniy, medical director of cardiomyopathy and heart transplant at Loma Linda University Medical Center. “Receiving this certification for destination therapy from the Joint Commission is a major step toward continually improving the care we provide our patients.

“Ventricular Assist Devices offer patients with advanced heart failure improved survival with a better quality of living,” said Dr. Anees Razzouk, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center. “The VAD team at Loma Linda University Medical Center is excited to provide this advanced technology to our patients with heart failure.”

At present, the only approved such device is HeartMate II, and Loma Linda University Medical Center is among the few institutions in Southern California to offer the implant procedure. Loma Linda University Medical Center has been implanting heart assist devices since 1994. This certification from the Joint Commission means the hospital’s program has been evaluated and found to meet national standards for implanting in an expanded population for destination therapy. The certification also paves the way for payment by Medicare for patients receiving the HeartMate II for destination therapy.

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