KentuckyOne Health to boost heart and vascular institute

The newly formed health-care giant will tackle Kentucky’s worst health problems

The state’s new health-care giant, KentuckyOne Health, has announced it will invest an additional $30 million in its Heart and Vascular Institute. That comes on top of the $100 million the system says was already committed in that area across the state over the past 10 years.

“Kentucky ranks among the highest in the incidence of coronary, lung, valvular heart and peripheral vascular disease, as well as in smoking and obesity. The list goes on and on,” said Dr. Robert Salley, executive director of cardiovascular services in the Lexington market for KentuckyOne Health.

Last January, the Saint Joseph Health System and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare came together to form KentuckyOne Health. Salley has been at Saint Joseph since 1996.

“We have to bring to the people of Kentucky the very best cardiac and vascular care we can provide. That will take resources. We must stay on the cutting edge of many of these technologies,” added Salley. “We have the opportunity to be the point of the spear in the Lexington and central and eastern Kentucky market. We can do that with the influx of money and resources.”

The KentuckyOne Health system includes hospitals, clinics, specialty institutes, home health agencies, satellite primary care centers and physician groups. It encompasses more than 80 locations, 2,500 staff physicians and more than 13,000 employees across Kentucky and southern Indiana.

KentuckyOne’s five-county Lexington market has three principal hospitals, including Saint Joseph Main and Saint Joseph East, both in Lexington; and Saint Joseph Jessamine in Nicholasville. In addition, there are smaller Saint Joseph hospitals in the Kentucky cities of London, Mount Sterling and Berea. A branch of the Saint Joseph Heart Institute also has opened in Berea.

John Smithhisler, market leader of Lexington and president of Saint Joseph Hospital, took over his duties in late July.

“From the short time that I have been here, it has become quite clear that cardiovascular service lines at Saint Joseph are exceptional, not only in Kentucky but also within Catholic Health Initiatives and KentuckyOne Health. It shows we should continue to support this service line and be a leader,” Smithhisler explained.

Saint Joseph has been the market leader in cardiovascular services, easily surpassing the market shares of Central Baptist Hospital and University of Kentucky HealthCare. However, UK HealthCare has poured millions of dollars into its cardiovascular service line, more than doubling its market share since 2004, according to UK officials. Could a rivalry be building?

“I think they are chasing us,” Smithhisler quickly countered. “We’ve been the leader for quite a while. I think the question to them is why they would spend all of the money they are spending when there is already a nationally known heart program [here].”

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