Premier Cardiac Rehabilitation Program and State-of-the-Art New Physician Office Strengthen Delivery of Superior Care from Wellmont in Bristol

SEPT. 7, 2017 | BRISTOL, TENN.

Patients who would benefit from a comprehensive approach to address their heart disease will now have access to the Bill Gatton Center for Advanced Cardiac Rehabilitation, one of the nation’s premier programs, on the Bristol Regional Medical Center campus.

The community will also experience even more convenience from the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute with the opening of The Heart Center, a new state-of-the-art location for the rehabilitation program as well as physician appointments. Parking will be close to the front entrance, offering easy entry and exit for the building, which is located at 271 Medical Park Blvd.

Due largely to a $1 million gift provided in 2016 by Gatton, a local businessman and philanthropist, the second floor will primarily house the equipment for exercise and cooking demonstrations, as well as hands-on workshops and additional educational areas for the Gatton center. The first floor will encompass space for patient visits with physicians and provide capacity for cardiovascular physicians to perform a few minor procedures.

“We’re thrilled to make this investment in Bristol to further demonstrate our commitment to a broad spectrum of care that puts our patients on a path to long-term health,” said Jerry Blackwell, M.D., the heart institute’s president. “Mr. Gatton’s generosity enables us to achieve those goals through his innovative center, and our new office provides the space for our patients’ diverse needs. This win-win scenario reinforces our position as the premier cardiovascular health management organization in our region and as a national leader in delivery of high-quality care.”

Leaders of the heart institute, Wellmont Health System and Bristol Regional gathered with Gatton to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, Sept. 7. Physicians will begin seeing patients Tuesday, Sept. 12, on the first floor, and the Gatton center will have its first appointments Monday, Sept. 25.

The heart institute has provided patient office visits and cardiac rehabilitation for years inside Bristol Regional. However, the relocation to the new facility will accommodate the need for additional space for physician appointments, work flow and a transformation in the way the heart institute provides cardiac rehabilitation.

This is the second Gatton center to be constructed in the region, with the first opening in 2016 at The Heart Center in Kingsport. Wellmont plans to develop several of these centers in the region, each of which will be named for Gatton.

“It is gratifying to see Wellmont embrace this program so it can partner with patients to improve the quality of their lives,” said Gatton, who is a heart institute patient. “Wellmont is experiencing great success with patients in the Kingsport facility, and I anticipate those who use the Bristol center will benefit from this program as well. I am confident this program will continue to make a difference in our region.”

Todd Norris, Wellmont Foundation’s president and Wellmont Health System’s senior vice president for system advancement, said donors such as Gatton are making a profound difference in the organization’s care delivery.

“The beauty of philanthropy is not only donating funds but also seeing the short-term and long-term effects of that gift,” Norris said. “The success we will achieve with these centers is a testament to the foresight by Mr. Gatton to recognize how one person or organization can impact a whole region. We will be able to make a significant dent in heart disease, which affects far too many people in our area, thanks to his insight.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is a standard follow-up for patients who have suffered a heart attack and had a stent inserted in an artery or have undergone procedures such as balloon angioplasty or heart bypass surgery.

Like the Kingsport center, the Bristol facility is a certified Pritikin ICR (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation) location. They are the only such centers in the region, and the heart institute opened one of the first 13 sites in the nation.

With a referral from a physician, patients participate in as many as 72 rehabilitation sessions. Traditionally, cardiac rehabilitation consists of 36 sessions focusing solely on building physical strength, but the Pritikin program offers another 36 to provide customized, classroom-style education by registered nurses and dietitians and lessons by computer so patients can make appropriate lifestyle adjustments. Medicare covers the 72 sessions for patients who have qualifying conditions.

Pritikin focuses on a holistic approach to health improvement and prevention through its three pillars of healthy eating, regular exercise and a healthy mindset. For example, patients and their families learn how to cook tasty, heart-healthy and affordable meals in the kitchen area of the facility.

They also learn tips about shopping smartly for groceries, ordering wisely in restaurants and managing weight using science-based skills. Other topics addressed are smoking cessation, stress management and improvement in personal and professional relationships.

To build heart muscle, the Bristol center features a wide variety of exercise equipment and a small walking track. The facility also has a room for yoga classes, which give a patient greater body flexibility.

David Beckner, M.D., an interventional cardiologist who will see patients in the new office and serve as medical director of the Bristol Gatton center, said this facility is a game-changer.

“The cardiac rehabilitation center provides an exceptional support system complete with practical advice and basic lifestyle modifications so patients can transform their lives,” Dr. Beckner said. “Having studied the Pritikin program in depth and met with many of its thought leaders, I am convinced it is an ideal model for connecting our patients in meaningful ways to a new method of living. The guidance they receive and physical strength they develop will serve them well as they proceed with the next chapters in their lives.”

The first floor of the heart center will feature 20 patient exam and consultation rooms, three more than are available in the present office in the hospital. It will also contain two small rooms, which can be used by the cardiothoracic surgeons and peripheral vascular surgeons for minor procedures.

Procedures such as cardiac catheterizations and all surgeries will still be performed inside Bristol Regional.

“As Bristol’s largest employer, our hospital contributes significantly to the economic vitality of the community with a number of leading-edge services, including our exceptional cardiovascular program,” said Greg Neal, Bristol Regional’s president. “Our delivery of superior health care with compassion will be even more evident with the launch of our expanded cardiac rehabilitation program and the opening of a new clinical facility that is patient-centered and ready to address one of the more prominent health issues in our region.

“These are exciting developments and additional evidence Bristol Regional continues to seek ways to excel in all aspects of heart care.”

Bristol Regional has been named among the top 10 percent in the nation for the last four years in medical excellence for heart attack treatment by CareChex, an information service of Quantros Inc. In addition, the hospital was selected in 2017 to receive the ACTION Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award from the American College of Cardiology in recognition of its delivery of the highest quality in cardiovascular care.

Success has also come to other elements of the hospital’s cardiovascular service. Bristol Regional’s heart bypass surgery program was twice picked among the best in the nation for heart bypass surgery by the nation’s leading consumer magazine.

“Bristol Regional performs tremendous heart care, so philanthropic organizations and individuals understandably see the value in supporting its needs,” said Bart Hove, Wellmont’s president and CEO. “The hospital’s future is bright with the addition of this exceptional cardiac rehabilitation program and new facility, all designed with our patients in mind. We will continue to look for additional avenues that will take our heart program to the next level of excellence.”