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Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital celebrates 25 years of care, historical milestone

photo of Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital
Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital doctors, including Dr. Timothy Byrne, have been on the forefront of bringing Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) to a wider patient population in Arizona. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital: first Arizona hospital devoted to cardiovascular care
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital celebrated its 25th anniversary, recognizing its place in healthcare history as the first hospital in Arizona exclusively devoted to cardiovascular care.

When Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital opened in 1998 it was one of the first hospitals of its type in the country; meanwhile, many of the original nurses and staff are still providing care and support for patients and their loved ones.

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital physicians have treated patients experiencing heart attacks, valve disease, arrythmia, heart failure and a host of other conditions, often with life-changing results, noted hospital Chief Administrative Officer Nathan Worley.

One of those patients was Marcie Westwater of Phoenix. She hadn’t been feeling well and told her husband to take her to the Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital, where she went into cardiopulmonary arrest in the parking lot.

Interventional cardiologist Dr. Akil Loli was on duty and quickly assessed and diagnosed Ms. Westwater’s condition. She had suffered a spontaneous coronary artery dissection — a condition that can be fatal if not quickly diagnosed and treated.

“If you have a heart problem, that’s where to go,” said Ms. Westwater, who now is back to an active life. “I felt like I was getting individualized care, and very nurtured.”

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital’s participation in research offers patients opportunities for better outcomes, said Dr. Timothy Byrne, medical director of cardiovascular services.

Doctors at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital were first in Arizona to perform a new heart valve procedure as part of an early study of the Intrepid Transcatheter Tricuspid Valve Replacement system for use in patients with severe, symptomatic tricuspid regurgitation, which may lead to eventual heart failure or death.

Abrazo has also introduced new technology for treating cardiovascular patients.

In September, it was first in Arizona to implant the new Watchman FLX Pro device, designed to reduce stroke risk and serve as an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem.

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital doctors have also been on the forefront of bringing Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement to a wider patient population in Arizona.

Founded by the late Dr. Ted Dietrich, many of the heart hospital’s original nurses and staff are still providing care and support to patients and their loved ones. Lorrie Schack, RN, was the first charge nurse in the Intensive Care Unit. Having served in many roles over the years, today she is Patient and Family Relations Coordinator.

“Being a part of a specialty hospital that is innovative, including the cutting edge technology, gives you a proud feeling, especially to know Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital maintains high patient satisfaction scores,” said Nurse Schack. “The one constant has always been the commitment to the hospital and the empathy we all share for our patients.”

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