Dr. Hooker serves on transplant committee

April 18, 2009
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A Grand Rapids doctor and proponent of establishing a heart transplant program at Spectrum Health has been appointed to a committee that will review state transplant standards.

Dr. Robert L. Hooker Jr., of West Michigan Cardiothoracic Surgeons PLC and a system board member at Spectrum Health, is one of a dozen people recently appointed to the Standards Advisory Committee by Certificate of Need Commission Vice Chairwoman Norma Hagenow.

Also appointed were Dr. John D. Serini, of Gastroenterology Consultants and Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming, and Jeanette Prochazka, an administrator at Borgess Health in Kalamazoo.

The committee’s first meeting is set for Thursday in Lansing. It has six months to review a set of questions from the commission and provide recommendations regarding Michigan Department of Community Health standards governing heart, lung and liver transplants.

Currently, heart transplants are performed only at Henry Ford Hospital, the University of Michigan Health System and Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Another half-dozen heart transplant programs are located in Chicago, two in Indianapolis and one in Fort Wayne, Ind.

In letters to the CON Commission last fall, Spectrum Health and West Michigan supporters urged members to consider locating a heart transplant program at the Meijer Heart Center in Grand Rapids. 

The committee will review six Michigan standards covering heart/lung and liver transplants. Those standards include:

  • Is continued regulation necessary?

  • Consider establishing a needs-based methodology to determine when new heart/lung transplantation services are necessary.

  • Recommend a way to regulate the number of heart/lung transplant programs in the state.

  • Should the cap on heart-lung transplant programs be continued or amended?

  • Should the existing cap methodology be altered to modify the number of programs, or the planning area designation rules be changed, or standards for comparative review changed?

  • Recommend changes for outdated and inconsistent language.

Friday marks the deadline for those interested in serving on a Standards Advisory Committee that is reviewing rules for bone marrow transplants in the wake of Spectrum Health’s interest in them. The Grand Rapids health system already provides bone marrow transplants for children, but has filed a CON proposal to add the service for adults.

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