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Virtua Receives Credentialing as a Ventricular Assist Device Facility and Opens New Advanced Heart Failure Center in Camden

February 01, 2024 - Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is now credentialed as a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Facility.

February 01, 2024

Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is now credentialed as a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Facility, a next step in the evolution of Virtua’s advanced heart failure service. The designation was announced by DNV, a global independent certification, assurance, and risk management provider.

VADs are commonly placed in the heart’s left ventricle, its main pumping chamber. An LVAD (left ventricular assist device) helps the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. LVADs are usually implanted in patients who have reached end-stage heart failure to help the heart maintain function while the patient waits for other treatments, such as a heart transplant, if eligible. LVADs can also be implanted to permanently help the heart pump blood.

DNV credentialing affirms Virtua’s readiness to provide the full spectrum of VAD Program services – diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and patient and community education – and provides clear metrics to evaluate program outcomes.

“VAD Program credentialing confirms our commitment to providing the best possible care for LVAD patients,” explained Tolulope Agunbiade, MD, medical director of Virtua’s Advanced Heart Failure Program. “Credentialing validates all the effort we have put into this program to ensure the health and safety of our patients.”

LVAD implantation is an integral component of Virtua’s new Advanced Heart Failure Center, which serves as both a hub for advanced heart failure care as well as an additional outpatient site. The recently opened facility joins Virtua’s established heart failure centers in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties. Importantly, the new center expands access to heart failure care for individuals who reside in Camden and surrounding towns who previously had to travel to receive care.

More than six million Americans live with heart failure, meaning the heart does not pump as well as it should. A weakened heart is unable to deliver oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the cells in the body, which can result in fatigue, shortness of breath, and excessive coughing. Everyday activities, such as walking and climbing stairs, can become exceedingly difficult.

Managing heart failure requires medication, changes in diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and monitoring and tracking one’s weight and fluid retention. Some patients with advanced heart failure may require an LVAD.

“Our goal is to help patients with heart failure live their healthiest possible life. Our care teams work collaboratively to ensure they receive appropriate guideline-directed medical therapy and pursue any additional diagnostic or therapeutic interventions that can help improve their condition and health,” said Dr. Agunbiade. “We like to say that we deal in heart function, not heart failure.”

Virtua’s heart failure centers collaborate with patients to help them understand and manage their condition so they can live a full life. Heart failure is projected to grow in complexity and prevalence over the next 15 years among those ages 65 and older – further cementing the need for the new center.

Prior to receiving the DNV credentials, Virtua cared for patients with existing LVADs and participated in “shared care” of LVAD patients. This means patients diagnosed with end-stage heart failure were referred to a regional implanting center and then returned back to the care of their cardiologist.

“We are excited to be able to perform LVAD implantation right here at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes now,” said Theresa Rowe, Virtua’s administrative director of heart failure.

“Virtua has been caring for heart failure patients in southern New Jersey for many years,” said Dr. Agunbiade. “Opening our Advanced Heart Failure Center and receiving credentials for LVAD implementation enables us to improve access for those living with heart failure while providing a base for our expanding LVAD program.”