Thanks to a state-of-the-art heart procedure, a Spring Lake Heights couple is back to their active lifestyle.
Judy Van Benschoten, 78, is always on the go. “I’m the type of person who gets up in the morning and doesn’t sit down again until I go to bed,” she says. She does yard work and plays golf near her homes in Spring Lake Heights and Jupiter, Florida, with her husband, Charlie. Last year, all of that changed when Judy became so sick that rolling over in bed felt impossible. Judy has a heart condition called aortic stenosis. It occurs when the valve that allows blood to flow from the heart into the aorta — the main artery that transports blood to the rest of the body — narrows and the heart has to work much harder to pump blood.
A New Kind of Valve Surgery
Thirteen years ago, Judy had surgery to replace her aortic valve. However, Marcia Liu, M.D., her cardiologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, determined that the valve was failing and she’d need to have it replaced. Fortunately, a state-of-the-art procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is available at Jersey Shore. “Previously, a patient would have to have the old valve removed and replaced with a new valve, which requires open heart surgery,” says Nelson LaMarche, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Jersey Shore. “With TAVR, we’re able to use a catheter and go through an artery to the heart and place a metal stent that’s held in place by the old valve.”
In preparation for TAVR, patients undergo a comprehensive series of tests to examine their heart. Earlier this year, Brett Sealove, M.D., performed one of the procedures, called a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), in which he guided an ultrasound probe through Judy’s esophagus to her heart to take pictures of it. Normally, TEE is an outpatient procedure. However, Dr. Sealove found that Judy’s heart was in so much distress that he admitted her to Jersey Shore in order to undergo TAVR earlier than planned.
Teaming Up to Treat Patients
Dr. LaMarche, along with Brook DeJene, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at Jersey Shore, performed the TAVR procedure. “We work as a team to give patients the best possible outcome,” Dr. DeJene says. “TAVR is a very specialized procedure. The doctors as well as the hospital staff go through extensive training in order to perform this procedure on some of the sickest patients.”
After recovering in the hospital, Judy went to Hackensack Meridian Health Subacute Rehab at Wall, where she received physical and occupational therapy to help regain her strength and endurance. She regularly follows up with Dr. Liu to make sure her heart is functioning well. “I feel like myself again,” she says.
A Second Round of TAVR
Unbeknownst to the couple, Charlie would have his own experience with TAVR about a year later. At 90 years old, Charlie had been under the medical supervision of a cardiologist for general health monitoring. When the doctors noticed the start of stenosis in his heart, they kept a particularly close eye on his health.
Despite the fact that Charlie didn’t have any symptoms, his condition progressed enough that the doctors determined he needed an aortic valve replacement. His age ruled out traditional surgery, but he was a candidate for TAVR. In October 2016, Doctors Lamarche and DeJene performed the TAVR procedure on Charlie, who went home from the hospital in just three days.
Both Judy and Charlie credit the entire team involved with their care before, during and after surgery. “The TAVR coordinator, Bonnie Smith, and cardio-physician assistant, Rich Hulse, were so engaged and provided tremendous assistance,” says Judy. Today, Charlie and Judy are ready to get back to their active lifestyles and hit the golf course now that warmer days have arrived.
I often encourage our team members to “Be better tomorrow than we are today.” The past year set the bar high, and we have a lot to be proud of and even more to aim for in the future.
One of the most notable accomplishments of 2016 was Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s financial performance. At a time when many other hospitals are struggling, we experienced a record-setting financial year with an operating margin over 11 percent. This type of financial success makes it possible for us to reinvest in our team members, facilities and technologies.
A relentless focus on quality and service was a priority last year. We improved our quality outcomes by showing a 50 percent reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), and 65 percent reduction in central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI). Patient satisfaction scores saw improvements in HCAHPS, particularly in the important areas of “Likelihood to Recommend” and “Staff Responsiveness.” In addition to getting feedback from clinical data and patient surveys, we turned our attention to online reputation management. Efforts to monitor and engage the public using social media resulted in a 25 percent increase in Jersey Shore’s reputation score, and we’re excited to see this trend continue in the future.
These and the following accomplishments were made possible because of the people who are part of the Jersey Shore family. Our team members, physicians, volunteers and supporters all share a common purpose and have had a role in our achievements. I am thankful for their dedication and enthusiasm and look forward to the exciting year ahead.
HOPE Tower Reaches New Heights
The HOPE Tower project is a great example of investing in the future at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Construction moved along throughout the year, and we watched day by day as steel was erected to create one of the tallest buildings in the area. A topping-of-the-steel ceremony in November marked the completion of the framework, and as windows have been put in place, the full size and scope of this incredible project is now clearly in front of us. In January 2017, we opened the new HOPE Tower Garage, which offers plentiful parking for team members and a spectacular view of the ocean from the upper levels. By the end of the year, many of our physicians and team members will be preparing to call the new tower “home.”
Investing in Facilities and Technology
Amazing transformations took place in two old areas of the medical center. The original kitchen received a significant make-over as a 4,100-square-foot MRI suite was constructed. The suite features a dedicated outpatient reception area, four bays for inpatient waiting, separate male/female changing areas, an interview room, an induction/resuscitation room, a nursing station and a new 3.0T MRI. This leading-edge MRI system combines a 70 cm patient bore with a 3.0T magnet strength, offering a faster scan at higher resolution for neurology, urology, oncology, cardiology and orthopedic exams.
Equally exciting was the transformation of the old Emergency Department into a new endoscopy suite. The $5.5 million investment created a dedicated entrance for improved outpatient access, four procedure rooms with state-of-the-art technology, a negative pressure room, 10 private patient cubicles for pre- and post-care (including two isolation rooms), a private consultation room and a designated physician area for dictation and charting. The stellar amenities, spacious layout, convenient location and unique décor truly set this endoscopy center apart from others.
Another great complement to the advanced technologies at Jersey Shore is the daVinci Xi® Robotic Surgery System. Robotic surgery has changed the surgical experience, both for patients and physicians. It is one of the most effective, least invasive surgical treatments available, with patient benefits of less blood loss, smaller incisions, shorter hospital stay, less need for narcotics, and a quicker return to activity. This new model is optimized for highly complex, multi-quadrant surgery. Enhanced features include a 3D, high-definition view of the surgical site, giving surgeons greater visualization; smaller, thinner arms with joints that provide a larger range of motion; and a camera lens that can be placed at the tip of any of the four arms, providing better visibility of organs and tissue. The da Vinci technology has ushered in a new level of innovation, including the ability to treat complicated thoracic, gynecologic oncology, colorectal, hepatobiliary, hernia, esophageal and spine cases.
Strides in Academics and Research
Physicians from Jersey Shore have been fully engaged in the development of the Seton Hall – Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and have even hosted two visits by Dean Bonita Stanton, M.D. It is exciting to see the program evolve and even more encouraging knowing that it will have tremendous impact on the academic program at Jersey Shore.
The academic program at Jersey Shore continues to become even more robust, and we received approval to start our own General Surgery residency program and our own Cardiology Fellowship Program. Ours is the seventh program in New Jersey out of 40 teaching hospitals to earn this distinction. We were also very fortunate to launch a new tissue biorepository as part of our research program, and even received a $1.9 million contract to bring researchers one step closer to understanding cancer biology and finding cures.
Raking in the Rankings
In addition to perception that is framed by personal experiences, many people consider third-party recognition and endorsements when choosing a health care provider. One of the pinnacle recognitions in 2016 was U.S. News & World Report ranking Jersey Shore University Medical Center #4 in New Jersey and #13 in the region. We were also the only hospital in the Monmouth-Ocean market to receive the National Research Corporation 2016-2017 Consumer Choice Award. Our team’s commitment to service and outcomes earned Jersey Shore reaccreditation from The Joint Commission, as well as disease-specific accreditations for palliative care and joint replacement. The accolades continued as we earned Comprehensive Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, as well as Trauma recertification by the American College of Surgeons.
Kenneth N. Sable, M.D., MBA, FACEP
Kim Carpenter, M.D., FAAFP
Vice President of Clinical Effectiveness & Medical Affairs
Vice President of Operations
David S. Kountz, M.D., MBA, FACP
Vice President, Academic Affairs
Co-Chief Academic Officer, Hackensack Meridian Health
Donna Ciufo, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, NE-BC, CCRN
Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive
W. Timothy Foley
Vice President, Physician and Business Development
Medical Staff Leadership
Michael Lospinuso, M.D.
Brian Erler, M.D.
Eric Costanzo, D.O..
Andrew Blechman, M.D.