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November 8, 2004

Health Center Helps Waterbury-Area
Hospitals Develop Cardiac Program


Heart patients receiving cardiac care at Waterbury and St. Mary’s Hospitals will soon be treated by professionals who have honed their skills at the UConn Health Center.

The two Waterbury-area hospitals are cooperating to form the Waterbury Area Heart Center. The Health Center is helping the hospitals launch their program, acting as consultant, collaborator, and educator. The Health Center established its own interventional cardiology program in the early 1990’s, and cardiology is now one of its three Signature Programs.

“The Health Center has agreed to work with Waterbury Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital to help them develop a full-service cardiovascular program,” says Paula McManus, associate vice president for clinical planning, managed care, and decision support at the Health Center.

Citing the fact that earlier intervention saves lives among people experiencing “emergent heart conditions,” the state Office of Health Care Access approved an interventional cardiology and open heart surgery program for Waterbury. Formerly, patients from the area needing cardiac intervention were transported to hospitals in New Haven and Bridgeport.

Cardiac catheterization laboratories in Waterbury are being designed to resemble the Health Center’s lab, shown here.
Photo by Peter Morenus

Health Center clinicians and technical staff will help staff of the Waterbury Area Heart Center establish its program, collaborating on facility and equipment planning and acquisition; development of staffing models, policies, procedures, and protocols; and the education and training of clinical staff.

The state’s approval calls for the program to be up and running by July.

“Things are moving forward in a timely manner and I’m looking forward to our continued association with the two Waterbury hospitals,” says Dr. Bruce Liang, chairman of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, holder of the Ray Neag Distinguished Chair in Vascular Biology, and professor of vascular biology and cardiovascular medicine.

“This is a mutually beneficial collaboration,” he adds. “It’s a good opportunity for the Health Center’s cardiovascular clinical enterprise, and I believe it holds the potential for possible other collaborations in the future.”

The effort is being coordinated by Jeanne Lattanzio, who recently retired as director of nursing and associate vice president of operations. She was the clinical coordinator of the Health Center initiative that established its interventional cardiology program.

“I’m pleased to be involved with the program,” she says, “We have the capability and we’re the state’s medical school and a teaching hospital, so we have a higher level of community responsibility to help other institutions provide care for the public.”

Lattanzio says the plan called for “seamless” integration, meaning the operating suites and cardiac catheterization lab will have the same layout and equipment as the Health Center, so that the surgeons will be familiar with the environment.

Staff training and team building activities for Waterbury personnel will take place at the Farmington campus. Nurses will be trained to provide acute, post-cardiac surgical care, and also care during recovery, patient education, planning, and discharge.

“Our collaboration is a great opportunity to work with these two community hospitals,” says McManus. “We do not historically have a relationship with hospitals in the Waterbury area, and it’s important that we have opened the door and can improve our future relationship. It’s a fabulous opportunity to achieve the outreach goals of our cardiac signature program.”