On Sept. 6, cardiac surgeons from USC Cardiac and Vascular Institute (USC CVI) performed the first collaborative surgery between Keck Medicine of USC and USC Arcadia Hospital (USC-AH) personnel since the hospital’s new affiliation.

“Our longstanding aim has been to bring top-quality, advanced care to patients across Southern California, right in their own communities,” said Vaughn Starnes, MD, executive director of USC CVI. “This partnership is an exciting step toward that goal.”

Two Keck Medicine cardiac surgeons, John Chen, MD, and Robbin Cohen, MD, performed a triple bypass surgery on a 65-year-old patient, in tandem with nursing and operating room staff who have worked at the hospital since before the affiliation.

“We’re all committed to making sure that we provide a very high standard of care for our patients,” Chen said.

Following a heart attack in early September, the patient underwent tests that revealed blockages in the arteries of his heart, as well as other comorbidities, including chronic renal failure.

Those additional health issues carried added risk for the patient, but his open-heart surgery was a success.

“With meticulous management in the intensive care unit afterwards, he recovered without needing dialysis,” Chen said. “In fact, he had an uncomplicated hospital course after surgery.”

After one month of outpatient recovery, the patient is now preparing to return to work, said Chen, calling the outcome “a real feather in the cap for the whole team.”

Prior to the affiliation with Keck Medicine, which was announced July 1, the Arcadia hospital was staffed by community physicians who rotated amongst USC-AH and other area hospitals. Now, with USC CVI’s presence, USC-AH will have regular, full-time cardiac surgery physicians on-site. The collaboration between new and longtime team members will also continue.

To create a full-time cardiac surgical program, Cohen and other Keck Medicine physicians prepared the USC-AH intensive care unit, blood bank and laboratories. Meanwhile, nurses from USC-AH observed cases at Keck Medical Center of USC to prepare for Chen and Cohen’s surgery.

“Getting this program going was a true collaboration,” Cohen said. “Having a full-time surgical presence enhances our ability to take better care of patients.”

— Michael Juliani