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Friday, March 13, 2009 - VCU Pauley Heart Center receives Gold Seal for ventricular assist devices

The VCU Medical Center has earned the Gold Seal of Approval™ for health care quality. The Joint Commission awarded VCU Pauley Heart Center the Disease-Specific Care Certification for ventricular assist devices.

“The Pauley Heart Center pursued this comprehensive, independent evaluation to confirm that the safety and quality of care we provide is second to none,” said the center's director, Dr. George Vetrovec, chair of the Division of Cardiology. “Because Joint Commission standards are regarded as the most rigorous in the industry, we’re proud to achieve this distinction.”

To earn this distinction, a disease management program undergoes an extensive, unannounced, on-site evaluation by a team of Joint Commission reviewers every two years. The program is evaluated against Joint Commission standards through an assessment of a program’s processes, the program’s ability to evaluate and improve care within its own organization, and interviews with patients and staff.

“The VCU Medical Center has excelled in a very exacting examination of its delivery of this very technical, specialized care,” said Dr. Richard Cooke, associate professor in the Division of Cardiology specializing in Heart Failure. “I would like to thank the ventricular assist device team, including the entire staff of the Pauley Heart Center, the physician leadership with Dr. George Vetrovec, Dr. Vigneshwar Kasirajan and Dr. Michael Hess, the operating room personnel and VCU Life Evac to name really just a few. It is my great privilege to be involved with this very dedicated group of health care professionals.”

A ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump that helps a heart that is too weak to pump blood through the body. The device does not replace the heart. Instead, it works with the patient’s own heart to pump sufficient blood throughout the body. It is sometimes referred to as “a bridge to transplant” since it can help a patient survive until a heart transplant can be performed.

“The certification is very important as it recognizes our program for excellence,” said Wanda Miller, nursing director for the Pauley Heart Center. “Certification is further evidence of the commitment to quality patient care for the Pauley Heart Center and the VCU Medical Center. We have a long, distinguished history of excellent outcomes in the care of patients requiring ventricular assist devices. We have a strategic focus on heart failure and the ability to diagnose and treat these patients with a variety of escalating therapies that includes these devices and transplantation.”

The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 health organizations and programs in the United States, launched its Disease-Specific Care Certification program in 2002. It is the first program of its kind in the country to certify disease management programs.

“This certification means the VCU Pauley Heart Center does the right things and does them well for ventricular assist device patients,” said Jean E. Range, M.S., R.N., C.P.H.Q., executive director, Disease-Specific Care Certification, Joint Commission.

Visit for more information about the VCU Pauley Heart Center.

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