“If you think this relationship is rare, you are absolutely right.”
That’s what Dr Michael Argenziano, chief of the adult cardiac surgery department at Columbia University, says about the long-standing and ever-expanding association between the Ivy League school and Stamford Health.
In the final chapter of this partnership, the Heart & Vascular Institute in Stamford offers treatment and expertise from the staff of cardiac surgeons at Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Specifically, five of these surgeons will see patients and perform operations at Stamford Hospital.
Stamford Health has worked for nearly a decade with the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia as an affiliate teacher, explained Dr Michael Coady, chief of the cardiac surgery department and co-director of the Heart & Vascular Institute.
“Colombia actually selected me and hired me as a chef,” Coady noted. “They have long been involved in overseeing our programs from a quality standpoint as an affiliate teacher. As the programs developed there was an opportunity to partner with Columbia in more inventive ways.
“This allows these surgeons to be present here seven days a week,” he continued. “Dr. Argenziano is here on Mondays and the others are scheduled throughout the week.
Argenziano noted that he and the other four surgeons at Columbia are not “only” specialists in cardiology, but that they are leaders in each of their fields. Dr. Isaac George is Surgical Director of the Heart Valve Center in Columbia and Surgical Director, Structural Heart Disease in NewYork-Presbyterian; Dr Yuji Kaku is a specialist in thoracic and cardiac surgery; Dr Hiroo Takayama, director of the school’s Cardiovascular Institute; and Dr. Koji Takeda, director of his pulmonary thromboendartectomy program.
Coady said a benefit to patients in Fairfield County is evident. “These are patients who would otherwise be operated on in New York,” he said. “Now they can have an operation closer to their own community, where they reside. “
This proximity will also eliminate the need for further trips to New York for assessments and follow-up procedures, he added.
Not only that, said Argenziano, “but over the past two years in particular, new techniques have become available, including advances in robotic heart surgery. We consider Stamford Hospital to be one of our closest affiliates – we share the same ideas – and this is one way for us to further help with monitoring and counseling.
“It really became a natural part of our discussion,” he continued. The thought was, ‘Why not offer some of these same services here at Stamford Hospital? As it stands, they have some of the best results in the country. “
Indeed, in August, Stamford was recognized as a high performing hospital by the US News & World Report in four areas: chronic lung disease, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke care.
And in October, its Heart & Vascular Institute received two gold awards from the American Heart Association and one from the American Stroke Association, for its treatment and care of these patients.
“Few hospitals in the area can operate at the Stamford level,” Argenziano said.
The latest expansion will help Columbia “to further diffuse some of the techniques and technologies that would otherwise only be available in certain centers,” he added.
Argenziano said Columbia would also benefit from the expansion of the partnership. “We can only take care of a limited number of patients” on site, he said. “Now we’re going to be working shoulder to shoulder by introducing these different techniques and helping all these surgeons to be able to perform these types of operations anywhere in the world. “
And that hands-on experience won’t be limited to surgeons, Argenziano added. “Nurses, radiologists, other technicians – everyone will be on board. “
“We basically bring the mountain to Mohammad,” he joked.
The net result, according to the two practitioners, will be more efficient care, faster recovery times, fewer trips to and from the hospital and, ultimately, more lives saved.
Coady noted that in addition to Columbia, Stamford Health has a professional relationship with Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) Orthopedics at Stamford Health and the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center’s collaborative partnership with Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.