As part of its commitment as a leader in providing the most comprehensive and cutting-edge heart care to Eastern Iowans, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital is investing $25 million in expanding its Heart and Vascular services within the Nassif Heart Center to support the innovation and expertise of the largest group of cardiovascular providers and continue to offer the most advanced heart care in Cedar Rapids.
With over 40 years of leading heart care advancements, St. Luke’s was Cedar Rapids’ first hospital to pioneer open heart surgery in 1978 and has been a leader in bringing the latest and most advanced procedures to the community for better patient care and outcomes. This tradition of innovation and medical firsts will continue for UnityPoint Health’s 32 cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and advanced practice providers who, along with area vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists, offer the most comprehensive heart and vascular services in general cardiology, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, structural cardiology, vascular procedures, and cardiothoracic surgery.
The multi-million-dollar expansion will consolidate and enhance St. Luke’s heart and vascular capabilities into one comprehensive center, building upon an already strong foundation as the leader of heart and vascular services in Eastern Iowa. The investment and expansion will focus on several areas:
- A second electrophysiology (EP) lab will be added to the Nassif Heart Center. EP procedures correct issues with the heart’s rhythm, for example by providing what is called an “ablation,” which is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) to correct abnormal electrical signals in the heart. This expansion will allow for anticipated growth for these procedures and ensure St. Luke’s heart team is able to build upon its strong expertise in this field of cardiovascular care.
- Relocating and expanding St. Luke’s Vascular and Interventional Radiology Labs. Vascular procedures are used to treat problems affecting blood vessels, such as an aneurysm or other procedures to restore blood flow in blocked arteries or veins. St. Luke’s, in partnership with Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Vascular Surgery, is also pioneering the use of TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) to treat patients with carotid artery disease who are at increased risk for open surgery. By expanding the hospital’s lab capacity and technology, the heart and vascular team will be able to better serve Eastern Iowans. This expansion will also include dedicated space for pre- and post-op needs, providing optimal coordination and experience for patients.
- Building a dedicated cardiovascular hybrid operating room (OR), which will allow for more complex, advanced cardiovascular procedures at St. Luke’s. The new hybrid OR will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to support St. Luke’s multi-disciplinary team of cardiovascular specialists in expanding capabilities and improving patient outcomes. An example of a procedure performed in a cardiovascular hybrid operating room is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which is a procedure to replace a diseased aortic valve. St. Luke’s was the first to bring this procedure to Cedar Rapids in 2016 and is the first and only hospital in the state that has earned TAVR certification from the American College of Cardiology.
St. Luke’s Nassif Heart Center originally opened in 2000 and, at 98,000 square feet, is the largest and most comprehensive heart center in the area. Two years ago, St. Luke’s invested $5 million in equipment upgrades and renovations to patient rooms.
“St. Luke’s Heart Care is a long-time leader and innovator in offering complex, specialized cardiovascular care in Eastern Iowa,” said Richard Kettelkamp, DO, St. Luke’s Heart Care interventional cardiologist and medical director of cardiovascular services. “Our heart team is proud of this reputation, takes pride in this distinction and considers it our responsibility to continue to offer the area’s most advanced cardiac care. We have long been known as Cedar Rapids’ Heart Hospital and this expansion will continue our legacy and commitment to providing exceptional patient care and innovation.”
“Our expansion announcement signifies our commitment to our patients and community in continuing to offer complex, specialized cardiovascular care,” said Michelle Niermann, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital president and CEO. “We’ve offered exceptional, advanced cardiovascular care for over 40 years, and this is our response to the growing number of patients seeking heart care and needing St. Luke’s unique expertise for advanced heart procedures.”
Over the last 40 years St. Luke’s has been a pioneer introducing the latest heart procedures and treatments. Some of the advanced heart procedures introduced and offered at St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids include:
TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) is used to treat patients with carotid artery disease who are at increased risk for open surgery.
- Watchman for Afib (2017)
This is an alternative to open heart surgery and inserts a device that prevents clots from forming in the heart.
- MitraClip for Mitral Valve Repair (2021)
Catheter-inserted devise used to correct mitral regurgitation (a leaking mitral valve) and doesn’t require open heart surgery.
- Cardiac ablation procedures: These minimally invasive procedures use heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) to block the abnormal electrical signals that cause arrhythmia. This helps restore a normal heartbeat—sometimes permanently.
St. Luke’s has been recognized as a Watson Health’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospital six times and is recognized by the American College of Cardiology for “Platinum” performance for Chest Pain and earned the Chest Pain Accreditation.
The expansion will take place within the current Nassif Heart Center at St. Luke’s Hospital and construction is expected to begin Summer 2022. Watch a video about the expansion plans here!