Heart health is getting a boost in a big way, as Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital formalizes it's position as a member of the UK Gill Heart and Vascular Institute Affiliate Network.
The two entities held a special celebration Wednesday at LCRH, with representatives from all sides describing the advantages for both hospitals.
Those representatives all seemed to agree the main benefit would be to keep more heart patients close to home.
The goal of the Gill Heart and Vascular Institute Affiliate Network is to enhance access to high-quality cardiovascular care, explained Dr. Rick McClure, the medical director for the UK Gill institute.
That is accomplished "primarily by partnering with local community hospitals such as Lake Cumberland, making sure that their patients get the right care in the right place at the right time."
Corey Clarke, director of cardiovascular services at LCRH, said that means local patients would be better served through the direct line of resources that LCRH can access through UK, while keeping most patients here.
"A lot of people aren't necessarily able to travel to UK, so this is going to give us the opportunity to better serve those patients here at Lake Cumberland," Clarke said.
McClure said, "Networking hospitals can also benefit by collaborating with the Gill physicians to ensure patients receive local care for as long as possible. This benefits patients and families by reducing the stress and costs associated with having to travel to a bigger center."
And if patients need to travel to Lexington, the partnership allows both ends to "streamline our processes," Clarke said.
"It allows our patients that are of higher acuity to go on to UK to be treated."
McClure added, "We have experts on all kinds of cardiovascular care - and that can include nursing, it can include pharmacists, all these different areas that we have that smaller hospitals may not have - so for us, it's part of our mission to help those community hospitals give the best care to their patients they possibly can locally. On the other side of that, the other high-end, complicated types of things they don't do here - for example transplants - then our relationship helps us facilitate patents that need those kinds of care."
LCRH CEO Robert Parker said, "Ultimately, this is about taking care of our friends and family in this area."
He paid tribute to those who have worked the past several months to make the partnership possible.
"I think it opens up an unlimited amount of resources with UK and Lake Cumberland, and I think patients in our community are going to be better served in the cardiac realm, now that we have a direct line to UK," Parker said.
LCRH is the 16th hospital to become an affiliate member, and the fourth LifePoint Health hospital.