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McClatchy-Tribune  07/30/2014 12:01 AM ET
DMC unveils $111-million Heart Hospital [Detroit Free Press :: ]

July 30--The Detroit Medical Center unveiled today the first newly constructed hospital in Detroit in nearly two decades -- the $111-million DMC Heart Hospital.

The six-story brick and glass building and adjoining parking garage are on the south end of DMC's main Midtown campus, on the former site of a parking lot.

It is the crown jewel of DMC's cardiology department, which has grown from just three cardiology specialists to about 30 since the 2004 arrival of Dr. Theodore Schreiber, one of the top heart specialists in the country. He is credited with reviving DMC's expertise in the field.

The Heart Hospital represents 13% of an $850-million capital investment pledge made to Detroit four years ago by DMC's new for-profit parent company.

The promise -- now more than half fulfilled -- was part of the sale deal that transformed the long-struggling medical center out of being a nonprofit.

DMC's buyer, Vanguard Health Systems of Nashville, Tenn., was itself acquired last year by Dallas-based hospital chain Tenet Healthcare, which inherited the $850-million commitment for renovations and construction.

Scheduled to officially open Monday, the Heart Hospital will be home to the DMC Cardiovascular Institute that has been spread across various floors of Harper University Hospital and off-site locations.

Until now, the Heart Hospital has existed as a DMC brand identity rather than an actual building.

"Only very simple procedures could be done when I arrived 10 years ago," Schreiber said. "Now there is nothing that's being done anywhere else in the country that we're not doing here."

Today's unveiling ceremony included a visit by Tenet's top executive, Trevor Fetter, and remarks by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who was the DMC CEO in 2004-12.

Duggan stabilized the eight-hospital system's finances in the aftermath of a $50-billion 2003 bailout from state, county and city governments.

Duggan also recruited current DMC chief Joe Mullany.

"DMC is now in much better shape because it's part of one of the largest health care systems in America," Duggan said. "All you have to do is look around this campus at all the new facilities."

The mayor recalled how it was a decade ago that he cold-called Schreiber in an attempt to convince the doctor to leave Beaumont Health System and join the DMC.

"So I called him up, we went out to dinner, and I said, 'I want you to leave that gig you have at Beaumont making all that money with all those patients because the real need for heart health is in the city of Detroit,' " Duggan said. He continued: "And wouldn't it be a great thing if you would come down here and build a heart hospital and build one of the finest cardiology programs in America right here in Detroit?' "

As Schreiber's arrival attracted more specialists and patients, the number of yearly cardiology procedures at DMC grew from less than 300 to about 7,000.

Schreiber said about two-thirds of DMC's cardiology procedure patients now come from the suburbs.

However, about 90% of emergency room visits for heart ailments are by Detroit residents, who typically arrive with weaker hearts and more overall health problems than suburban patients, he said.

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or jcreindl@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.

 

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