reprinted from Issue 12, Spring 2011 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)
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The Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center at Mission Bay opened in November 2010, providing more coordinated care for patients and bolstering collaborations between clinicians and scientists interested in cardiovascular health.
Cardiology services had previously been provided in three separate buildings on the Parnassus campus.
The new center’s footprint is about three times as large, and consolidates most outpatient cardiology services on the ground floor of the Smith Cardiovascular Research Institute building. The upper four floors house lab researchers focused on cardiovascular disease.
“We didn’t want to take the same clinic and just put it within new walls,” says Jeff Olgin, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiology at UCSF Medical Center. “This was an opportunity to create a very user-friendly clinic that provides a one-stop shopping experience.”
Ethan Weiss, MD, has served as the point person for much of the design and implementation of the new center. Weiss, Olgin, and practice manager, Brenda Mar, met with six community medical practices to gather feedback on improving UCSF’s cardiology practice. Among other changes, the Division hired referral coordinators to help new patients navigate the UCSF system, and divided the cardiology practice into smaller teams. Each team has a care coordinator to facilitate communication among patients, referring physicians and UCSF cardiologists.
Center for Prevention
One of the teams is led by William Grossman, MD, and focuses on prevention. In 2008, he received a $10 million gift from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation to launch what is now the Center for Prevention for Heart and Vascular Disease. “The Schwabs were there for us at the very start, and they clearly understood the importance of prevention,” says Grossman. “They were also very enthusiastic about our efforts to extend prevention to vulnerable populations.”
The Mission Bay clinic allows Grossman and others to more easily consult with his colleagues on clinical matters. “Here, if I’m seeing a patient with a complicated arrhythmia problem, it’s likely that I’ll be able to show somebody else in the arrhythmia group the EKG right away and get instantaneous feedback,” says Grossman. “That’s a definite advantage.”
Having lab and test facilities onsite reduces red tape for patients. “I saw a patient today, and after her visit we were able to get her blood drawn, have her stress echocardiogram done right here, and get the results without needing her to come back, or to go to a different part of UCSF,” says Grossman. The center will also partner with the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery to offer vascular testing onsite.
Connecting Clinical and Lab Research
About six years ago, Grossman – at that time the chief of the Division of Cardiology at UCSF Medical Center – first developed the idea of housing the Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center in the Smith Cardiovascular Research Institute building with Shaun Coughlin, MD, PhD, director of the institute.
“Shaun’s idea was to have these big open spaces where scientists who are working on different projects could have lunch or coffee together,” says Grossman. “We’ve only been open a few months, but you can see it – it’s palpable.”
These frequent, serendipitous interactions will also support the translation of laboratory discoveries to patients, and speed the feedback loop back to researchers so they can refine innovations. As part of this effort, the Division of Cardiology has established a clinical research program, directed by Gregory Marcus, MD. “The new clinic will allow us to centralize clinical trials and data collection of clinical cohorts,” says Olgin.
For example, eventually all cardiology patients will have the opportunity to donate blood and DNA and provide detailed family histories, and their outcomes can be tracked over time to better determine what factors contribute to heart disease. The resulting patient database and repository of biological samples will provide an invaluable resource for other UCSF researchers conducting research on the genetics and biology of cardiovascular disease.
Overall, the transition to the new clinic has been very smooth, says Olgin. “Universally, patients have loved coming down here,” he says. “Parking is not an issue, and the space is really beautiful.”