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Covenant Health’s Heart Surgery Program Receives Highest Ratings from International Thoracic Surgeons Society

August 13, 2014

Aug. 13, 2014

Debby Saraceni
Vice President, Marketing & Physician Services

Teresa Gross


Covenant Health’s cardiac program has received the highest quality designation from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), an organization dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung and esophagus. The society represents nearly 7,000 surgeons, researchers and allied health care professionals worldwide.

Based on data submitted from Covenant Health’s elite heart hospitals – Parkwest, Fort Sanders Regional and Methodist medical centers – Covenant’s cardiac program received a three-star quality ranking in the STS Adult Cardiac Surgery Database, regarded as the world’s premier clinical registry for adult cardiac surgery. About 95 percent of U.S. programs that perform adult cardiac surgery participate in the database, but only about 10-15 percent of participants receive the three-star designation.

The cardiac team was recognized for quality outcomes for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), a surgical procedure to create new paths around narrowed and blocked arteries to allow blood flow to the heart.

The quality designations are based on data measures for U.S. hospitals in several areas related to CABG surgery, including survival and complication rates, use of surgical techniques shown to deliver better outcomes and appropriate use of perioperative medications. Covenant’s cardiac surgery team performed above national averages in overall composite scores for the study.

“Covenant Health’s heart hospitals have received many accolades for excellence, but the STS quality designation is particularly meaningful,” said Tony Spezia, president and CEO of Covenant Health. “The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a worldwide organization of medical experts who are specifically dedicated to achieving the best outcomes for patients. Recognition from this organization means that patients can trust Covenant Health when it comes to cardiac care.”

“I’m especially proud of our cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac nurses, and the other professionals who care for our heart patients,” said Jim VanderSteeg, executive vice president for hospital operations. “This recognition is a tribute to their expertise, experience, and commitment to being the best.”

Covenant Health hospitals offer heart services such as high-tech diagnostics and testing, interventional and surgical procedures and cardiac rehabilitation programs. Facility innovations include a hybrid operating room that combines advanced surgical and imaging capabilities for specialized procedures, such as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) for patients with aortic stenosis. The heart hospitals have been recognized for excellence by numerous organizations including VHA, Inc., the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and others.