Metro Health-University of Michigan Health likely will proceed with seeking state approval to perform open-heart surgery in Grand Rapids, a move that would bring more competition for the procedure to the local market.
In a filing last week to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Metro Health indicated it may pursue regulatory authority to launch coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac valve repair or replacement, repair for birth defects of the heart known as septal defects, and “other identified appropriate services.”
Metro Health would spend $3.2 million to renovate and remodel space at its Wyoming hospital to perform heart surgeries, according to the Oct. 8 letter of intent to the state.
The move comes nearly four years after Metro Health was acquired by University of Michigan Health System and Michigan Medicine, its academic medical center in Ann Arbor.
“Michigan Medicine is world-renowned for cardiovascular care. This new program will bring that expertise to West Michigan, giving patients choice and access to the most sophisticated treatments and world-class cardiovascular care. We are proud to help make this a reality,” Metro Health President and CEO Peter Hahn said in a statement to MiBiz.
The letter of intent to the state signals a care provider’s interest in seeking a certificate of need (CON) to launch a new clinical service. Care providers typically will file a letter of intent that places them in line for state review during that quarter as the provider makes a final decision on whether to proceed.
A final decision on proceeding with a full CON application should come by the end of the month, said Keith Dickey, chief strategy officer for Michigan Medicine. Dickey said “it’s highly probable” Metro Health would proceed.
“We’re actively doing the planning and assessment right now,” he said. “We are really talking deeply across our clinical leadership there and here to make sure that we have a high degree of confidence that we can stand up a really successful, strong program.”
Metro Health has long sought to offer open-heart surgery. More than a decade ago, the health system unsuccessfully sought state approval to form an open-heart program. The state rejected the bid when Metro Health failed to meet volume standards that were in place at the time under CON regulations.
Since then, Metro Health has steadily built up heart and vascular services and was acquired by University of Michigan Health System. The state panel that oversees Michigan’s CON standards also seven years ago adopted quality measures that care providers must meet to perform open-heart surgery that replaced a volume-based metric.
If Metro Health were to secure state approval, it would launch an open-heart surgery program in Grand Rapids that competes primarily with Spectrum Health, which for more than two decades has operated the lone open-heart program in the local market.
Grand Rapids is the largest market in Michigan without competing open-heart programs, Dickey said.
“It’s awfully large to have a single open-heart program,” he said. “Choice and competition in the market is a good thing for patients and employers. I think it creates value and forces everybody to up their game.”
Other open-heart surgery programs in Western Michigan are based at Mercy Health Muskegon, Bronson Methodist Hospital and Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, and in Lansing at Edward W. Sparrow Hospital and McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.