Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Hospital heart program on hold




By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Surgeons will not resume performing heart transplants at University Hospital until sometime this fall, at least three months longer than initially anticipated.

        In February, hospital administrators announced that Cincinnati's only heart transplant program would be suspended for three to four months so construction crews could renovate a post-transplant intensive care unit that had been contaminated with a common, sometimes dangerous fungus.

CAUTION THE KEY
  Some forms of Aspergillis fungus, found in University Hospital rooms used by transplant patients, can lead to dangerous infections in people with suppressed immune systems. Doctors said the species detected at UC was not dangerous, but caution prevailed.
        The renovations are complete, but the program still lacks a surgical director to perform the operations. A letter sent last week to insurance companies and patients on waiting lists states that job candidates will be interviewed beginning this month and transplants may resume this fall.

        Heart transplant programs are among the most prestigious high-tech services in all of medicine. Even a temporary halt in the program can be a blow to the image of a medical center.

        Normally, the UC program performs about 20 heart transplants a year. It performed 17 in 2000, but only four so far this year.

        Since the program was suspended, two patients went to Cleveland Clinic to receive transplants. Four others have transferred to other programs. As of Monday, 17 patients remained on University Hospital's heart transplant waiting list.

        Part of the program's problem has been related to Aspergillis fungus found during routine renovations in rooms normally used by transplant patients.

        The other part of the problem: personnel.

        Earlier this year, Dr. Tom Ivey, chairman of a group of doctors who performed heart transplants and other cardiac surgeries at UC, decided to move his practice to Christ Hospital, which does not have the necessary permits to perform heart transplants.

        Dr. Ivey has not been replaced but a new chairman of surgery at UC, Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, started his job this week. Among his first tasks will be bringing in the people needed to restart the heart transplant program.

       



3 city cops face scrutiny
- Hospital heart program on hold
Bridge name ideas span a who's who
Survey: 55% of CPS parents 'very satisfied'
UC medical dean to retire
3 banks hit by 3 different robbers
Kings Island to add 'Tomb Raider'
Robber getting more dangerous
Warren focuses on strengthening families
Holiday travelers: Watch out for these trouble spots
July 4th closings
Overturned trucks upend traffic
Rape suit seeks $75K
Holzberger taking hiatus to get pension
Local Digest
Miami student sentenced for possessing cocaine
Battle of the mine goes on
Chamber will endorse candidates
Drywall plant riles Silver Grove residents
Kentucky Digest
Search on in river drowning
Congrats
Driver seriously hurt
Welfare runs out for many
About 200 join to recall collapse of Lonz Winery
Police shooting called accident
Term limits' influence seen in budget fray
Township wanted RR signals where 5 died