Cardiac Center Towering Presence

January 17, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Built to elevate cardiac care to a new level at Spectrum Health, the $137 million Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center represents more than a new medical center of excellence in Grand Rapids.

Many see it as the newest piece in creating a health-care cluster in Grand Rapids, which is betting its economic future on building a thriving bio-sciences sector that mixes clinical care, medical research and education.

All along the Michigan Street corridor northeast of downtown, anchored by Spectrum Health's Butterworth Campus, new medical facilities are envisioned for the future. Among those planned are a new cancer center and children's hospital for Spectrum Health.

"It's all in place. It's all lined up," Richard DeVos, a member of the Spectrum Health board of directors and a long-time benefactor, said during a November dedication of the Meijer Heart Center.

"Together this is going to be a powerhouse. You're going to drive through a tunnel of health when you come up here," DeVos said.

Spectrum Health opened the nine-story, 164-bed Meijer Heart Center on Nov. 29, consolidating all of its cardiac care into a single location on the Butterworth Campus, which should provide for a greater continuity of care.

Health system CEO Rick Breon called the dedication of the Meijer Heart Center "one of the most significant and historic events that has ever happened at Spectrum Health."

The Meijer Heart Center sits within a Michigan Street corridor that consists of Grand Valley State University's Cook-DeVos Center for Health Professions, the Van Andel Institute and an assortment of other medical-related facilities. DeVos and others envision Michigan Street filling up with additional developments in the years ahead that will house physicians offices and outpatient centers, furthering enhancing Grand Rapids' clinical base.

"It's an amazing facility," said Fred Meijer, who provided the lead donation to a public capital campaign for the heart center. "We will build on this."

The capital campaign netted Spectrum Health nearly $34 million from some 3,000 individual donors to help finance the Meijer Heart Center, which will serve 13,000 cardiac patients annually and perform 9,000 catheterizations procedures and 1,300 open-heart surgeries. Spectrum Health's cardiac patient volumes have grown 26 percent in five years and are projected to increase another 28 percent in the next decade within the health system's 13-county service area.

The Heart Center was built to accommodate a growing demand for cardiac care and consolidate Spectrum Health's heart services into a single, comprehensive setting that can better keep up with medical advancements. The center is equipped with the latest medical technology and designed to provide a greater continuity of care by keeping a patient in the same room for all or most of his stay as well as promote families' comfort and convenience.

"This is going to allow us to do (cardiac care) better and more efficiently and, I think, provide a better experience for the patient," said Richard McNamara, M.D., Spectrum Health's chief of cardiology.

"This building allows us to do what we know we can do," he said. "This is the start. This is the foundation we're going to build on."

And building on that foundation means bringing to town the best the medical profession has to offer.

Already ranked one of the top 100 cardiovascular hospitals in the United States, Spectrum Health will have a greater ability with the Meijer Heart Center to recruit and attract top physicians in cardiac care who can elevate the program further, Meijer said.

"It's not only the physical facilities but the people who are going to staff those facilities that are going to make them greater and greater and greater," he said. "That's when good attracts more good."    

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