After a several-month delay, a program that will reduce the number of heart patients who must travel outside the city for treatment is on track to open this fall.
Gene Meyer, president and chief executive officer at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, told the hospital's board of directors Wednesday that a program to allow the hospital to do angioplasty and other similar procedures will begin Nov. 1.
Meyer said the program, which originally was scheduled to begin this spring, is now moving ahead following the hiring of Dr. Don McSweyn, of Las Vegas, to help staff the new department.
The program will mark the first time any facility in Lawrence has been able to offer angioplasty procedures, which are an increasingly common way to open clogged arteries. Patients currently needing the procedure are frequently forced to travel to hospitals in Kansas City or Topeka.
"This should have a dramatic improvement in our ability to limit the amount of damage that could be done by waiting," Meyer said. "Time is of the essence in many of these cases."
The hospital in September signed an agreement to partner with Kansas City, Mo.-based Cardiovascular Consultants to offer the new heart services. Cardiovascular Consultants will provide doctors to staff the program. The company has had a Lawrence office since 1993 but has not been able to perform angioplasty procedures in the community. McSweyn will join four existing Cardiovascular Consultants physicians in Lawrence - Michael Zabel, John Hiebert, Stephanie Lawhorn and Michael Hajdu.
The hospital will pay Cardiovascular Consultants $60,000 a year to provide management, medical and administrative services to the department. Meyer said he expected the program to serve about 200 people in its first year.
Meyer said McSweyn is in the process of moving his family to Lawrence from Las Vegas. Meyer said the hospital was pleased to attract McSweyn, in part, because he already is familiar with the area through a fellowship he served at the Kansas City, Mo.-based St. Luke's Hospital.
In addition to its offices in Lawrence, Cardiovascular Consultants manages the Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke's.