St. Joseph’s Health Cardiovascular Institute dream team grows

By: Martha Conway

In late November, the St. Joseph’s Health Cardiovascular Institute in Syracuse expanded its award-winning cardiac surgery team by welcoming the return of Dr. G. Randall Green. Green left St. Joseph’s Health five years ago with hopes of building a cardiac surgery and surgery training program at SUNY Upstate Medical University, but resources came up short.

He returned to a team and a place he loves.

“St. Joe’s had a great program in the past and it has remained a great program in the five years I wasn’t there,” Green said. “I think the people who put the program together and ran it for 10 years being back together is a great story of Central New York having a resource that it deserves.”

Green said it took a long time and many people to get St. Joseph’s Health’s program to where it is now, and it’s done nothing but maintain its excellence during his five-year absence.

“To succeed at providing quality cardiac surgery services, one must have skilled partners like our surgeons Doctors [Charles] Lutz, [Zhandong] Zhou, [Ahmad] Nazem and [Anton] Cherney and our talented group of cardiologists,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Philip A. Falcone. “They are great clinicians, have worked with Dr. Green in the past and are here to collaborate with him to provide excellent cardiac care.”

St. Joseph’s Health Cardiovascular Institute encompasses cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular services. Robotic-assisted surgery leads to shorter recovery, less scarring and better overall health, and surgeons have expertise in all areas of heart surgery. The full range of services include:

  • Aortic valve surgery
  • Arrhythmia correction surgery
  • Coronary revascularization program (CABG)
  • Heart failure surgery
  • Mitral and tricuspid valves
  • Pulmonic valve surgery
  • Robotic valve program
  • Structural heart disease
  • Thoracic aortic disease
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
  • Valve repair

St. Joseph’s Health instituted the first Structural Heart Program in Central New York, resulting in better patient outcomes, lower costs and fewer readmissions.

Green said the experience of the team, historical record of excellence from its members and 100-percent focus on patients turn out consistently superior results.

“This means adherence to policies and procedures that have been developed over time and 100-percent commitment to what I will generically refer to as ‘customer service’ or being the kind of providers you would want for your husband or wife,” he said. “It’s communicating that way, empathizing that way and going the extra mile for each patient- the way you would want it done for your loved one.

“If that’s what we model every single day, nobody can beat us. That attitude – that commitment to quality and outcomes – is what defines cardiac surgery at St. Joe’s.”

Part of the total care experience requires dedicated primary care physicians and cardiologists, as well as proper discharge planning.

“Maximum medical management – that’s what makes a world-class program,” Green said. “If we didn’t have the greatest cardiologists and best primary care physicians aligned with St. Joe’s, we wouldn’t be world-class.”

St. Joseph’s Health quality outcomes for cardiology and cardiac surgery are well-documented. Earning three out of three stars in the most competitive database in the country, St. Joseph’s Health lands in the top 10 percent year after year.

“Anybody can put up good outcomes in one year – statistics often work that way,” Green said. “When you reach it in multiple categories over many years, something is being done right here.”

St. Joseph’s Health Cardiac Institute, established in 1976, continues to be one of the best programs in the nation, as evidenced by the many accolades and awards for quality and patient outcomes its program received over the past 46 years. Some of the hospital’s many recognitions include:

  • Healthgrades’ America’s 100 Best Coronary Intervention Award – 2022
  • Healthgrades’ America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery – 2021 through 2023
  • Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ Top 6 Hospitals in the Nation for Cardiac Surgery, having the top distinction in five out of five cardiac surgical categories
  • American Heart Association/Mitral Foundation Reference Center Award for Mitral Valve Repair for demonstrated superior clinical outcomes in degenerative mitral valve repair
  • Healthgrades’ Valve Surgery Five-Star Recipient 10 years in a row – 2012 through 2021

“This year, St. Joseph’s Health received the highest rating possible from STS, a national cardiac surgical quality group, which confirms our excellent outcomes and dedication to high-level cardiac care,” Falcone said. “These outcomes are the result of a very motivated and talented team of nurses, technicians and physicians, all focused on providing the best patient care.”

Falcone said St. Joseph’s Health cardiac care program continues to look to the future by developing advanced technologies including minimally invasive valve replacement, robotic cardiac surgery, new electrophysiology techniques and researching new cardiac vessel perfusion and stenting opportunities.

“We continue to expand our coverage and availability for patients from other hospitals in Central New York and beyond through our Care Flight helicopter and transfer programs,” Falcone said. “Our goal is to be the absolute best cardiac care center, period.”

Green said emerging technologies and potential treatments are growing more rapidly every year and that, while you want to be an early adopter, you want to adopt technology that’s been proven effective.

“There are so many competing technologies right now, it’s hard to know which one is most efficacious, easiest for the patient, etc.,” Green said. “Having several surgeons in one place with the breadth of clinical coverage and depth of experience to sit down and decide which ones to explore is an opportunity none of us has ever had before.”

“In our community, you don’t need to go to Cleveland Clinic or Columbia or Stanford,” Green said. “You can get really great cardiac surgical care right here in Syracuse at St. Joe’s.”

“Whether it’s an evaluation for heart disease, the need for urgent treatment of occluded coronary vessels or treatment for an abnormal cardiac rhythm, our cardiologists are prepared to render whatever services patients require,” Falcone said.

“I’m rejoining the best surgeons in New York and probably beyond,” Green said. “They’re really outstanding surgeons, but they’re also really outstanding people. When it comes to heart surgery, it’s a team sport, and this is a dream team.”

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