Monday, October 30, 2000

Open-heart surgery comes to small cities

By Roger Alford
The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE, Ky. — Once limited to large urban hospitals, open-heart surgery continues to spread to smaller cities across Kentucky.

        Pikeville Methodist Hospital, in an eastern Kentucky town of about 6,500, performed its first such surgery late last week.

        Camellia Sue May was recovering from double-bypass heart surgery, said her surgeon, Dr. Rowland Daley Goff Jr.

        “She's doing remarkably well,” Dr. Goff said.

        Although open-heart surgery is done in the eastern Kentucky cities of Ashland and London, the 3 1/2-hour operation Friday was the first performed in Kentucky's most mountainous region.

        “This is the beginning of a new era in eastern Kentucky,” said Dr. Greg Hazelett, chief of staff at Pikeville Methodist.

        It also is a continuation of a trend among small-town hospitals to begin offering open-heart procedures.

        Of Kentucky's 10,472 open-heart surgeries last year, 3,171 were performed at hospitals outside Lexington and Louisville. They were done in places such as Ashland, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Paducah.

        An annual report from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services showed Western Baptist in Paducah performed 554 of the surgeries last year, the most of any hospital in the state's smaller cities.

        Joann Anderson, chief operating officer at Pikeville Methodist, said her hospital had to prove a need for at least 400 open-heart surgeries a year before it could get approval from the Cabinet for Health Services to begin a heart program.

        “I have no doubt we'll meet those numbers,” she said. “I expect we'll exceed them.”


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