Vascular surgeons in need of room to operate

Vascular surgeons in need of room to operate

So hospital will raise money to pay for project

URBANA — Presence Covenant Medical Center is making plans to add a new operating room to keep up with a big boost in vascular surgeries.

The new space, expected to cost $3 million to $5 million, won't require a building addition. It's intended to go in existing hospital space, according to Paul Donohue, vice president of the Covenant Medical Center Foundation.

Driving the surgery increase and need for the new space is a five-member vascular surgery team that was hired by Christie Clinic this year, hospital officials say.

The doctors are doing nearly all their procedures at Covenant, and the number of those procedures can be expected to continue growing as the population ages and treatment advances continue to become available, said Christie Clinic vascular surgeon Dr. Jennifer Ash.

Before Christie Clinic opened its vein and vascular center with three vascular surgeons, an advanced practice nurse and physician assistant, some patients with vascular conditions were being sent out of town to other medical facilities for procedures and some were being managed with medications, Ash said.

But it's not just a matter of keeping more surgeries local at Covenant.

Having the vascular surgery team at Christie means more of these conditions are being found — some through screenings or in work-ups for other surgeries, she said.

Just one example of a type of procedure that has brought more vascular patients to Covenant, Ash says: Repairs for abdominal aortic aneurisms, a weakening in the wall of the aorta for which men 60 and older who smoke or have high blood pressure are at higher risk. Also called an AAA, the condition is often fatal if it's not caught and repaired before a rupture occurs.

The procedure, along with several other vascular ones, requires the use of a "hybrid" operating room, combining a catheterization lab and open surgery suite, Ash said.

Covenant retrofitted a catheterization lab for the vascular surgeons to use, she said, but the space isn't large enough for the best configuration of staff and equipment.

Plus, the vascular surgeons are competing for the space and already outgrowing it as their work volume has increased, she said.

Doctors at Covenant have been good about sharing the space, Ash said, but for patients, "depending on the case, it sometimes is a little bit of a wait."

Covenant spokeswoman Gina Marsh said the hospital is committed to the hybrid operating room project, but timing for building it isn't scheduled yet.

"We have to wait and see how the fundraising goes," she said.

The hospital hopes to raise part of the money, $1.1 million to $1.2 million, this year through a local donor campaign, and fund the rest with help from its parent system, Presence Health, Donohue said.

Local donors have already been generous to Covenant for other improvements, and 100 percent of money they give goes toward the project, he said.

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