When Central Maine Medical Center announced plans in 2000 to build the region’s first cardiac services center, residents of central and western Maine came together to support the hospital’s bid to provide local access to advanced cardiac care.
People expressed their enthusiasm by initiating letter-writing campaigns, calling government officials and even visiting CMMC to pledge their support. When the hospital hosted an informational meeting, more than 400 people attended.
“It was truly gratifying to see the breadth and depth of the support for the cardiac center,” says Central Maine Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Peter E. Chalke, who was CMMC’s chief executive officer at the time. “In the end, I think it was very much the people of central and western Maine who made sure that the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute would become a reality.”
The reasons for creating the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute were identical to the reasons that Central Maine General Hospital was created 125 years ago: Need!
Back in the mid-1800s it had become clear that the increasingly populated cities of Lewiston-Auburn needed a central location to receive medical services. Under the leadership of Dr. Edward H. Hill, the Central Maine General Hospital was incorporated in 1888. The first patient was helped in 1891. (Click here to read more about the history of CMMC.)
Fast-forward to the mid-1990s, when former CMMC Chief Executive Officer William W. Young, Jr., and the CMMC and CMH governing boards recognized that CMMC was poised to become a tertiary care center capable of providing more sophisticated healthcare services. With a population of nearly 400,000 people living within driving distance of CMMC, it became important to identify the advanced healthcare services that could be offered closer to home.
Over time, when statistics revealed that many of the region’s residents were traveling long distances to receive cardiac and vascular care, the impetus began to create CMHVI.
In October 2000, CMMC’s Certificate of Need Application to develop the cardiac surgery and cardiac angioplasty program was approved by the Maine Department of Human Services. This allowed a team of physicians, nurses and managers at CMMC to start implementing a CMHVI service model that fused a state-of-the-art facility with an evidence-based clinical practice based on research and tested principles of care.
“The vision of CMHVI is straightforward,” Bill Young said about this new facility. “CMHVI will reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its complications within the central and western Maine region that it serves. CMHVI will expand and improve access to comprehensive cardiovascular services at all levels, including community-based prevention, education, diagnosis, treatment, and on-going disease management. The unwavering goal of CMHVI is to provide high-quality patient- and family-focused care.”
Since admitting its first patient in May 2003, CMHVI’s clinical program has grown to include a comprehensive staff of cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, cardiologists with subspecialty expertise, physician assistants, nurses and other care providers. Objective measurements of CMHVI's quality of service have consistently met or exceeded national averages.
Of special note is the outstanding emergent heart attack care program that CMHVI has developed in cooperation with the CMMC Emergency Department and regional EMS responders. This effort has resulted in some of the shortest “door-to-balloon times” in the United States, meaning that most of those seeking heart attack care at CMMC are getting the help they need well within the 90-minute safety margin that is considered the standard of care.
In 2009 CMHVI expanded its range of services to include vascular and endovascular surgery, with the addition of three surgeons.
In 2013, CMHVI marked a decade since it assisted its first patient in Lewiston. Today, CMHVI offers patient care in nine communities. For those who first expressed the vision of comprehensive cardiac and vascular services close to home -- it is a dream that has been realized.