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News of LI’s first heart transplants as NY health report released

Two heart transplants were performed in February at

Two heart transplants were performed in February at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Credit: Northwell Health

Two heart transplants were performed this month at Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, the first ever on Long Island, coinciding with the release of a new state report on noteworthy achievements at several Long Island institutions that perform complex heart procedures.

The transplants were performed within days of each other and mark a medical milestone for the Island. The Bass Heart Hospital is the only institution on Long Island that performs the operation. The transplant program was approved by the State Health Department last year.

“We just completed our first transplants a few days ago and will have a news conference next week,” said Dr. Alan Hartman, senior vice president and executive director of cardiothoracic services at Northwell Health.

Hartman said the first of the two transplants was completed on Feb. 19 and the second one was performed six days later. He said the first patient is expected to be released next week and that Northwell will hold a news conference on March 8 to discuss the patient’s case.

In the greater metropolitan region, heart transplants are also performed at Mount Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and NYU Langone in Manhattan. The complex procedure also is performed at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in the Bronx.

Dr. Brian Lima, medical director of Northwell’s heart transplant program, wrote in Newsday over the weekend that “360 New York residents [are] awaiting heart transplants, making our state’s waiting list one of the longest in the country.”

The Northwell transplants dovetail with the release of a massive state report covering a range of open-heart procedures statewide from 2013 to 2015.

A 22-member independent committee, empaneled by the State Health Department, analyzed how individual hospitals and doctors fared in 60,052 individual cases. The analysis serves as a state report card on coronary bypass surgery as well as various forms of aortic and mitral valve operations.

The report can help patients choose doctors and hospitals with strong outcomes and low death rates following complicated procedures, experts said Tuesday.

“This report highlights the hospitals, and the dedicated doctors and nurses committed to ensuring high-quality outcomes for patients with heart disease and helps consumers make informed health care choices,” State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker told Newsday in an email Tuesday.

“Results from this report will be used to drive best practices and continued efforts to improve patient safety statewide,” Zucker said.

Dr. L. Michael Graver of Northwell’s Bass Heart Hospital, was one of four cardiothoracic surgeons statewide who had one of the lowest mortality rates among his patients compared with more than 140 cardiac surgeons evaluated statewide.

Also cited in the report for outstanding performance was Dr. Maksim Rovensky of St. Francis, The Heart Hospital in Roslyn.

Rovensky, a cardiothoracic surgeon, was recognized for having risk-adjusted mortality rates among his patients that were significantly lower than the statewide average. He practices in Roslyn and at St. Francis Open Heart Surgery Program at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.

Islandwide, the largest volume of heart procedures are performed at St Francis.

“Health care is a team sport,” said Dr. Ronald J. Gulotta, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at St. Francis. “One person cannot lay claim to the excellent results. One of the things that makes us stand out is our nursing staff.”

St. Francis also was recognized for performing the most transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedures on Long Island. The minimally invasive procedure is generally called TAVR for short. TAVR improves valve function without removing the old, damaged one. Doctors accomplish this feat by wedging a healthy bovine valve over the poorly functioning native one.

Dr. Newell Robinson, chairman of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery, said team work had helped the hospital stand out in the state report card for multiple assessment periods. “For the past 25 years St. Francis has posted consistently excellent outcomes,” Robinson said.