Family's gift helps YRMC Heart Center grow
PRESCOTT - The heart center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center will expand and grow to offer nearly any service a heart patient could need.
The heart center, now in its third year at the hospital's west campus, will be named The James Family Heart Center, after a $1 million pledge from the Harold James Family Trust.
Ron James, Prescott-area philanthropist and president of the trust, said the new facility will fill a need in the community for state-of-the-art heart health care. In the past, the trust has donated to YRMC for heart programs, as well as to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Phoenix. James' uncle had heart problems so "that's really how we came about it," he said.
Tim Barnett, YRMC president and CEO, said the center has developed into "a premier heart program" in three years. The center boasts two nationally known heart surgeons, Dr. Pierre R. Tibi, medical director of cardiothoracic surgery, and Dr. Vincent Lee.
With the relocation of maternity and obstetrics to the Family Birthing Center on the hospital's east campus, the space freed up will be used to expand the heart center, Barnett said.
"It gives us the place to expand and keep pace with the community's heart health needs," Barnett said. Area demographics show "a clear and very strong need for heart care," he added.
"I think our community is trying to say, 'We've grown up,'" said James. "Prescott is not the little Prescott anymore. We need the services that Dr. Tibi and his staff can provide. We can save a lot more lives here. It's faster than if you fly them down to Phoenix. It's a 20-minute ride sometimes. That's the difference between life and death."
Surgeons at the center perform about 150 open-heart surgeries - mainly bypasses and valve repairs - each year and about twice as many lung surgeries, Barnett said.
After renovations are completed, the heart center's progressive care unit will increase from eight to 14 private rooms. With centralization of the heart center, patients undergoing procedures in either of its two heart surgery suites or its two cardiac catheterization laboratories will stay at the heart center for all their hospital care.
According to Tibi, the Heart Center's "volume is consistent with most hospitals in Phoenix and many urban centers in the Southwest."
"The support of the Harold James Family Trust allows us to take the heart center to an even higher level," Tibi said in a written release. "When we launched the heart center, it was with the commitment from all involved that our program would be equivalent to the best open-heart programs anywhere in the United States. This gift allows us to continue that commitment. We're proud that YRMC's heart center will bear the James name."
Tibi, who was chief of cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgery at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, was named as a premier heart surgeon in U.S. News and World Report, Barnett said. Tibi "helped establish the program" here, and wants to continue it, Barnett said. Lee brings expertise in thoracic surgery, Barnett added.
The heart center is now "one of the few facilities in the state with two cardiac surgeons," said Barnett. In addition, the center provides vascular surgery, cardiac catheterization and angiography, interventional radiology, cardiology, a cardiovascular intensive care unit and cardiac rehabilitation and preventive medicine.
The doctors at the center also coordinate with the Mayo Clinic for heart transplants, Barnett said. An artificial heart can be used until a transplant can occur, he said.
"We really try to design things around what is in the best interests of the patient," Barnett said.
The Harold James Family Trust, founded in 1985, has supported numerous YRMC projects and other Prescott-area organizations such as the Elks Opera House, the Harold James YMCA Community Center and the Phippen Museum.