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OHSU Hires Outside Experts To Learn Why Heart Transplant Program Imploded

<p>OHSU is going to bring in an outside team to look into why its heart transplant program imploded.</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

OHSU is going to bring in an outside team to look into why its heart transplant program imploded.

OHSU announced Monday that it’s going to bring in outside experts to figure out why it had to close its heart transplant program last month.

Four cardiologists left in quick succession and the teaching hospital now wants to recruit a new team. But few doctors could be expected to move to a program that imploded if there’s no explanation of what happened — and how it’s been fixed.

Health experts tell OPB it was a personnel issue, but OHSU President Danny Jacobs isn’t saying what the cause of the departures was.

“Rather than speculate as to causes, I think the key is to turn the spotlight on ourselves. To bring in external reviewers who will look wholesale at the program — that includes the personnel, the supervision of the staff members, dedication of folks that are not providers, as well as the providers themselves,” he said.

The review is expected to take several months, after which Jacobs wants to re-start the program as soon as possible.

“As president of the state’s only academic health center, it is my responsibility to ensure all Oregonians have access to the best possible care in a supportive environment,” said Jacobs.

“Building on the Heart Transplant Program’s history and legacy, this review will help inform our ongoing efforts to ensure the program is sustainable for the long term."

OHSU had Oregon’s only heart transplant program. Now, the closest one is in Seattle.

Investigations by outside experts are often used in health care. The process allows members of a team to provide their opinions and experiences while maintaining confidentiality.

OHSU said so far all 20 patients on the heart transplant waitlist who have requested a transfer to another center have been successfully connected. The university continues to work with other patients.

“We are fully committed to reactivating the state’s only heart transplant program for patients in Oregon and beyond. To that end, we are aggressively recruiting the specialists needed to provide the full continuum of care,” Jacobs said.

“Although much of the peer review process is confidential, we will share our progress with patients, employees and the community.”

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.