Featured | Health News | Heart and Vascular

The VAD (Ventricular Assist Device) program at ECU Health Medical Center has recently undergone its fourth successful Joint Commission survey, receiving exceptional praise.

As the largest health care accrediting body in the nation, the Joint Commission emphasizes patient safety and quality of care. The Joint Commission surveys the program’s compliance every two years with more than 40 standards organized into six different chapters in the disease-specific care manual.

ECU Health Medical Center’s VAD program is led by a team committed to providing cutting-edge care for patients relying on ventricular assist devices. A ventricular assist device is a surgically implanted device that helps in the functioning of the heart‘s pumping mechanism. At the Medical Center, VAD patients are often cared for in the following specialized units: CVICU, CIU, CICU, ED and Medical Rehab.

A team gathers to discuss patient care at the ECU Health heart center.

The surveyors highlighted the VAD program’s holistic approach to patient care, acknowledging the dedication of the multidisciplinary team.

“The survey holds our VAD program accountable and ensures that we are providing the highest quality and safest care possible to our patients,” said VAD Coordinator Andrea Matthews. Reflecting on her own participation in the program, Matthews shared her appreciation. “Having the opportunity to be involved in this program and care for this specialized patient population is truly an honor.”​

VAD Coordinator Emily Knight echoed this sentiment and emphasized that the resilience of patients and their families is what makes her job rewarding. Knight shared that she’s excited to see what the future holds for the program.

“I am thankful that ECU Health is able to provide this care and treatment close to home for the patients of eastern North Carolina,” Knight said. “I am excited to see the program grow and evolve to reach more patients in our community.”

Since its inception in 2017, ECU Health’s VAD program has grown significantly. The program has successfully implanted 71 left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) and currently cares for 43 patients. Courtney Saunders, advanced heart failure cardiologist, expressed her gratitude for the exceptional individuals within the VAD team who play a crucial role in the program’s success.

“It has evolved into the program it is through the individuals recognized by the surveyor developing a gold standard of LVAD care,” Saunders said. The surveyors specifically highlighted Dr. Tae Joon Lee, Dr. Kari Kirian and Terrani Moore.

Jay Briley, ECU Health Medical Center president, joined the surveyors in commending the team for their hard work in this achievement.

“The Joint Commission survey results demonstrate the program’s dedication to excellence, teamwork and patient-centered care,” Briley said. “Congratulations to all the teams involved in the successful survey.”

The VAD program team at ECU Health Medical Center poses for a photo to celebrate their recognition by the Joint Commission.