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Metro Health Receives State Approval to Perform Elective PCI

Metro Health has received approval from the state of Michigan to perform Elective Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, or PCI, services in its cardiac catheterization laboratories at Metro Health Hospital.

Metro announced today that it has received approval from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to perform this life-saving service, restoring blood flow through heart vessels by using catheters with balloons and stents, without on-site Open Heart Surgery (OHS) services. The decision clears the way for Metro Health to expand services for its patients throughout West Michigan.

For more than a decade, Metro Health physicians have been performing the procedure on the most critical patients, those suffering a heart attack when they enter the hospital. Now, Metro Health will be able to offer this service to its patients who enter the hospital with chest pain or other conditions prompting diagnostic procedures which lead to elective, or scheduled non-emergent, PCI.

Previously, Metro Health patients requiring elective PCI had to be transferred to facilities that also offered back-up OHS services. A change in state regulations, prompted by quality data showing that PCI programs without OHS services in other states and Europe have quality indicators as high as those programs with OHS services and acceptance of the practice by the American College of Cardiology, made it possible for MDHHS to approve the Certificate of Need, or CON, request.

“Being able to offer elective PCI to our patients without transferring them to other institutions is a win for patient care and something patients have asked for,” said Paul Kovack, a cardiologist at Metro Heart and Vascular. “This decision will help us keep patients in their medical home and provides choice to patients. Additionally, it will cut down on unnecessary duplicate testing, costly ambulance transfers and delays in care, making care more timely and less costly.”

The MDHHS decision comes after a long effort to update Michigan PCI regulations to mirror those of other states and countries that have long allowed elective PCI without OHS backup.

“The CON process is valuable in holding down costs for Michigan residents, but it can be challenging to update regulations to reflect new medical research,” said Michael Faas, president and CEO of Metro Health. “It is a delicate balancing act to keep up with medical advances and hold down healthcare costs. We are pleased with this patient-driven decision and know that Metro Health patients will benefit from this update and our ability to provide the services they need, when they need them.”

PCI, also known as angioplasty, is a non-surgical procedure that uses a thin flexible tube, or catheter, to access blood vessels in the heart which are narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, and reopen them. The procedure is performed by an interventional cardiologist who gains access to blood vessels in the heart through the femoral artery in the groin or the radial artery in the wrist. A small balloon is then inflated to push away the plaque, thus opening the blood vessel for blood flow, and a stent can be placed to keep the plaque pushed to the walls of the blood vessel, thus maintaining the blood vessel open for blood flow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 600,000 deaths each year.

The PCI procedure lasts from 30 minutes to several hours and provides patients with a number of benefits:

  • Increased blood flow through the blocked artery
  • Decreased chest pain
  • Increased ability to be physically active


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