The Joint Commission Certifies VAD Program

September 2011

The Joint Commission (TJC) has awarded Emory's ventricular assist device (VAD) program Disease Specific Care Certification for Destination Therapy for the second time and identified no requirements for improvement.

"Congratulations to the heart team for a superb team effort," says Dr. David Vega, surgical director of the program. "TJC commended Emory for the scope and depth of its VAD program and the team's commitment to heart failure patients and consistently maintaining such a high standard of care." Dr. Duc Nguyen is also a surgeon with the team, which includes two VAD coordinators that are both nurse practitioners, Ann Pekarek and Kris Wittersheim.

TJC first awarded the VAD program certification for destination therapy in August 2009. This approval is necessary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue providing reimbursement for the care of destination therapy VAD patients at Emory Hospital.

Emory implanted its first left ventricular device (LVAD) in 1988 and began using the HeartMate II in May 2007. Destination therapy is a treatment for heart failure patients who need LVADs as permanent therapy rather than as a bridge to heart transplantation or to candidacy on the heart transplant waiting list.

The VAD program is currently providing care to 27 patients who have received implants for final destination therapy and an additional eight patients who have received implants as successful bridges to transplants. Emory implants the HeartMate II and HeartWare devices as a bridge to transplantation or destination therapy.