UCHealth Memorial Hospital recognized for excellence in heart care

Hospital is first in Colorado and 14th in nation to receive American College of Cardiology HeartCARE Center designation.
April 18, 2019

UCHealth Memorial Hospital is the first in Colorado – and only the 14th nationwide – to achieve the American College of Cardiology’s elite HeartCARE Center designation.

Dr. Brad Mikaelian

The designation is the highest recognition given by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to hospitals that meet criteria that demonstrate a commitment to providing exceptional cardiovascular care. To become a HeartCARE Center: National Distinction of Excellence facility, a hospital must meet specific criteria, including at least two other cardiovascular accreditations and participation in quality improvement programs that enhance patient care and outcomes.

“Attaining this designation underscores our commitment to provide the very best cardiovascular care to the community,” said Dr. Jose Melendez, UCHealth Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer. “We have met all of the rigorous elements – and more – to receive this award. I am proud of our forward-thinking cardiovascular team and thank them for dedication to excellence in heart health.”

Dr. Peter Walinsky

Memorial’s achievements to receive the HeartCARE designation include:

  • Accreditation by the ACC for its Atrial Fibrillation program. AFib – an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia – can lead to heart failure, blood clots, stroke and other complications. Patients with AFib are offered treatment options including medication; atrial and ventricular ablation; pacemaker and defibrillator implantation (ICD); and the Watchman device.
  • Accreditation as a Chest Pain Center at the highest level possible. Memorial is able to offer the most advanced care and treatments available for cardiac arrest, including coronary artery chronic total occlusion repair; balloon catheter and stent placement; and x-ray exams of the coronary arteries and heart chambers.
  • Participation in the National Cardiac Data Registry, which measures the hospital’s heart care outcomes against other hospitals nationally. The registry ensures health care facilities provide evidenced-based care to improve patient outcomes and include data from complex heart procedures such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, valve preservation and aortic root replacement.
  • At least two specialists designated as “CV champions” – those who are recognized as leaders in cardiovascular care. Among those recognized at Memorial are Dr. Peter Walinsky, cardiac surgery; Dr. Mark Boulware, Chest Pain Center/cath lab; Dr. Brad Mikaelian, arrhythmia; and RN Dawn Lovejoy, manager of the cath lab.
Photo of Dr. Mark Boulware
Dr. Mark Boulware

“Our quality data – in addition to showing excellent outcomes for our patients – clearly illustrates that we are sending patients home on the right medications and with the right resources to help them stay out of the hospital in the future,” said Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of Memorial Hospital.  “Memorial exceeds national benchmarks for cardiovascular procedures, and we are constantly using data to make improvements to our program to both increase patient satisfaction and better our outcomes.”

Memorial’s quality data, for example, shows its door-to-balloon time – the time it takes for a patient to get from the Emergency Department to the cath lab and have a vessel blockage opened – is half that of national guidelines.  The American College of Cardiology guidelines recommend an artery be reopened within 90 minutes for the best outcomes; Memorial’s average for March was only 46 minutes.

Other quality data shows 98.4% of procedures in the hospital’s Watchman program for stroke prevention were complication-free vs. a national average of 92%. In addition, outcomes for the hospital’s transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program are superior to the national averages for the nation’s highest-volume TAVR centers.

“This honor is a result of incredible hard work and outstanding performance by the UCHealth Memorial heart group across the entire spectrum of heart care,” said Walinsky, the senior director of cardiac and vascular surgery at UCHealth Memorial. “It recognizes that we have come a long way in our journey to becoming a destination referral center for cardiology and cardiac surgery.”


About the author

Cary Vogrin is a media relations specialist for UCHealth. She joined UCHealth in 2015, coordinating media stories and responding to media requests for UCHealth hospitals and clinics in southern Colorado.

Prior to joining UCHealth, Vogrin was a newspaper reporter and editor, having worked at The Fort Dodge Messenger in Fort Dodge, Iowa; The Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, California; The Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado; and The Gazette in Colorado Springs, where she covered health care.