Providence Alaska Medical Center among elite hospitals for heart surgery

June 9, 2023 Providence News Team

The Anchorage hospital’s performance in three cardiac surgical categories earned the highest rating possible from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Providence Alaska Medical Center’s adult cardiac surgery program recently earned the highest rating possible from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) in three separate cardiac surgical categories. The surgeries include coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) – the most performed heart surgery in the U.S.; mitral valve replacement or repair; and combined aortic valve replacement and CABG surgery.

The three distinct, three-star ratings place PAMC among the most elite hospitals for cardiac surgery in the nation.

The star rating is calculated using quality measures and data housed by the society’s Adult Cardiac Surgery Database – the world’s premier clinical registry representing more than 95% of the physicians and groups who perform cardiac surgery in the United States. The rating system is meant to allow for comparisons regarding the quality of cardiac surgery among hospitals across the country.

“To receive three stars in even one single STS category is widely considered to be the marker of superb achievement in the world of cardiac surgery,” said senior cardiothoracic surgeon Tony Furnary, M.D. “But, to receive three stars in three separate categories is an extraordinary achievement, as it indicates that PAMC is in the top 3% of all cardiac surgery programs in the nation, based on STS historical data. These ratings serve as a testament to the exceptional care Alaskans receive when they are treated by the caregivers and physicians who make up PAMC’s cardiac surgery program.”

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons describes CABG surgery (commonly pronounced “cabbage”) as a surgeon taking a “healthy blood vessel (artery or vein from the patient’s body), usually from the leg, arm, chest or abdomen, and using it to ‘bypass,’ or go around, the diseased or block portion of the coronary artery, creating a new path for blood flow to the heart.” Aortic valve replacement surgery involves a cardiothoracic surgeon replacing a patient’s failing aortic valve with a mechanical or biological heart valve.

Combined CABG and AVR surgery is a complex procedure, for which only 4-7% of participating surgeons and surgeon groups receive the society’s three-star rating. Approximately 20% of society participants receive a three-star rating for CABG surgery.

PAMC’s three-star ratings are based on data from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2022. During this time, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, PAMC leadership and care teams renewed their focus on meeting top-tier quality and safety metrics for adult cardiac surgery.

“Everyone at the Providence Heart and Vascular Center has worked diligently and in strong collaboration to earn this highly sought-after distinction,” said Sarah Skeel, chief administrative officer for PAMC. “Their steadfast commitment resulted in the program’s national recognition.” 

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