Southside Medical Center approved for open-heart surgeries - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Southside Medical Center approved for open-heart surgeries

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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -

For thousands of families from South Hill to South Boston, a trip to Duke University Medical Center would be faster than traveling to Richmond for open-heart surgery. Now, Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg is approved to perform the sensitive operations.

The decision comes after a decade of skepticism, with previous Health Commissioners ruling that open heart surgeries allowed in Petersburg would diminish the quality of cardiac care in Richmond.

This week, a new commissioner reversed course, writing that denying Southside's request again would deny rural families access to life-saving surgeries.

"There's a golden hour where [patients] stand the best chance of reversing any damage to heart muscle," said Southside CEO Michael J. Yungmann in an interview Friday. "For some families, they're more than an hour from a hospital that can perform the surgeries, but that's going to change."

Southside is the primary medical center for more than 200,000 people, covering an area from Mecklenburg County to Colonial Heights.

The new decision will bring jobs to the Medical Center, with new surgeons and support staff hired to handle the operations. Open-heart surgeries will be available in 12 to 15 months, after surgeons are added and existing employees are trained.

"Right now, we are able to treat most cardiac emergencies," Yungmann said. "However, there is still a percentage of those emergencies that still may go on to require open-heart surgery."

The Medical Center is the largest employer in the City of Petersburg, with nearly 1,600 people. Southside's new cancer wing is currently under construction, with an expected opening in early December.

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