Opening of Cardiac Direct Access Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Transforms Cardiac Care in New England

BIDMC Contact: Jennifer Kritz Phone: 617-667-7301 ; Email: jkritz@bidmc.harvard.edu

NOVEMBER 07, 2016

Outpatient unit seeks to avert Emergency Department visits and preventable hospitalizations


Cardiac Direct Access UnitBOSTON – The CardioVascular Institute (CVI) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has transformed the delivery of cardiac care with today’s opening of the new Cardiac Direct Access Unit (CDAc). The first of its kind in New England, the outpatient unit offers immediate evaluation and care, allowing many individuals with heart conditions to avoid preventable and costly Emergency Department visits.

BIDMC clinicians created the CDAc in response to the needs of people with heart disease, which can cause recurring symptom flare-ups and lead to frequent trips to the Emergency Department. The CDAc provides patients with a parallel path to efficient outpatient evaluation and care by experts in cardiovascular care, often shortening hospital stays or avoiding them altogether.

“Patients shouldn’t have to wait to see a specialist when it involves their heart,” said Peter J. Zimetbaum, MD, associate chief of cardiovascular medicine at the CardioVascular Institute, who has overseen development of the new unit. “The CDAc solves this problem by offering patients stream-lined, specialized access.”

Patients experiencing mild to moderate cardiac symptoms can be referred by their physicians to the CDAc for timely evaluation in an urgent care setting specially equipped to meet the needs of people with cardiac conditions. Staffed by experienced cardiologists, a nursing director, nurse practitioners and nurses, the unit offers advanced diagnostic technologies and treatment options. Patients also have streamlined access to the CVI’s advanced cardiac imaging and treatment facilities, including a cardiac catheterization laboratory and an electrophysiology laboratory noted for pioneering innovative procedures.

Typical CDAc patients may be experiencing chest pain, irregular heartbeat, cardiac syncope (fainting), swollen legs and high blood pressure. Because individuals with congestive heart failure frequently experience symptoms that require prompt attention, the CVI’s Advanced Heart Failure Clinic also will be located within the unit.

“The CDAc is a safe alternative for the majority of cardiac patients experiencing symptoms that are concerning but not life-threatening,” said BIDMC cardiologist Michael Gavin, MD, medical director of the CDAc. “Patients with severe, unstable conditions requiring ambulance transport should still call 911 and go directly to the nearest hospital’s Emergency Department.”

Robert E. Gerszten, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the CardioVascular Institute at BIDMC, said, “Cardiac Direct Access places BIDMC physicians and their patients in the forefront of medical innovation. People with heart disease will no longer be forced to seek emergency care when they experience symptoms that are worrisome but not life-threatening.”

The CDAc operates around the clock Monday morning through noon Saturday and is located in a newly renovated space on BIDMC’s West Campus. In addition to its expert staff, it offers five examination rooms, six observation beds, echocardiography, stress testing, telemedicine equipment and a diuresis bay for outpatient treatment of edema (swelling) in heart failure patients.

The CDAc concept grew out of a “combined care” program established in 2011 by BIDMC’s Emergency and Cardiovascular Medicine Departments to reduce frequent hospital readmissions of moderately ill heart patients. The success of the program led to the idea of creating a separate, dedicated facility that would function as an alternative to the Emergency Department for appropriate patients. Even with the establishment of the new unit, BIDMC cardiologists will continue to partner with colleagues in the Emergency Department with the shared goal of getting patients healthy and back home as quickly as possible.

To learn more about BIDMC’s Cardiac Direct Access Unit, visit www.bidmc.org/cdac.

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding.

BIDMC is in the community with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, Signature Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and the Jackson Laboratory. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.