Hospital To Open $350M Center

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a major teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), will be holding an official ground-breaking ceremony today for a new $350 million center dedicated to the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center—named after the donors who contributed $25 million—will completely revamp the way cardiovascular patients are treated, according to Kenneth L. Baughman, director of the advanced heart disease section at Brigham and Women’s.

“This will be the first time that all cardiovascular services will be represented in one building,” said Baughman, who is also a professor of medicine at HMS. “The key here is the integrated way in which care will be delivered.”

For instance, an outpatient who needed to see a surgeon would be able to do so on the same visit. Previously, the patient would have to schedule an additional appointment.

“Everything in the service line will be patient centered—doctors representing each mini-department will determine what is the most appropriate tests to run for a patient,” said Baughman. “Because all the doctors are located in the same geographic region, the patients will also have the benefit of multiple opinions.”

According to Baughman, the cardiovascular center will increase the standard by which hospitals around Boston, and across the U.S., measure care-giving.

“Many other places have great facilities dedicated to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, but none will have such a seamless, integrated way of treatment like ours,” he said. “We see competition as a very good thing because it keeps you on focus and keeps you good at what you are doing.”

Brigham and Women’s move toward a new cardiovascular center reflects the teaching hospital’s long-term goal of targeting and integrating treatment services in five disease areas: cardiovascular diseases, oncology, musculoskeletal diseases, neurosciences, and women’s health.

In fact, the idea for the new cardiovascular center predated hospital CEO Gary L. Gottlieb in 2002, but was completely scrapped and reworked because the original plan allocated space only to outpatient, but not inpatient, services.

Along with the new facility—slated to open in April of 2008—Brigham and Women’s has planned to outfit the new center with the most powerful diagnostic tools on the market.

“It will be difficult to make sure that the hospital will have the best equipment when it opens because technology progresses so quickly,” said Baughman. “We are trying to work with our manufacturers so that we are building the right sized walls, doors, and corridors to keep up with what is currently being developed on the market.”

And just to be safe, additional unused space has been set aside just in case a breakthrough in technology—such as the development of therapeutic nanotechnology—comes while the building is still being constructed.

As most of the cardiovascular services move out into the new facility, unused space in the main Brigham and Women’s building will be used to restructure other services within the hospital. Extensive renovations for cancer treatment centers, for example, are already being planned.

The number of Brigham and Women’s beds dedicated to cardiovascular disease has increased to 136. This change corresponds to a 50-bed hike across the hospital, bringing the final bed count to over 750.

—Staff writer Risheng Xu can be reached at xu4@fas.harvard.edu.