A Cleveland health system is expanding its transplant services in Summit County.
University Hospitals recently started offering initial evaluations and educational services for potential lung, heart and liver transplant patients.
The health system already has been providing care to kidney transplant patients at the Transplant Institute Education and Evaluation Center in Akron since February 2011.
“Our whole push for having this advanced treatment option more locally is so that they’re seeking this opportunity sooner, when they’re hopefully in the best condition to pursue transplantation,” said Janie Morrison, administrative director of UH’s Transplant Institute. “It’s never too early to have a conversation if you’ve been diagnosed with a disease that will eventually lead to organ failure.”
UH has been seeing between six and 12 patients a week at its Akron office, at 1 Park West near Interstate 77 and White Pond Drive, Morrison said.
Kidney specialists known as nephrologists, transplant surgeons, social workers and financial counselors from University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Transplant Institute have been offering appointments in Akron one day a week for patients from Akron, Canton, Youngstown and surrounding areas.
Twice a month, a liver transplant specialist offers initial consultations in the Akron location, Morrison said. Starting this month, heart and lung transplant surgeons also will have appointments available in the satellite clinic once a month.
Akron’s three major hospital systems — Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Medical Center and Summa Health System — don’t offer any solid organ transplant services.
Summa shuttered its kidney transplant program in 2008.
UH officials said the satellite office in Summit County is designed to make it easier and more convenient for patients with organ failure to seek care and evaluate their options.
“We take our ability to walk and travel for granted,” Dr. Robert Schilz, UH Case Medical Center’s medical director of lung transplantation and pulmonary vascular disease, said in a prepared statement. “Advanced lung disease profoundly affects a patient’s ability to perform these actions even in some cases, for evaluation of advanced therapies. We are pleased to extend our thoracic transplant services to patients closer to home in an effort to ease some of the significant burdens of advanced lung disease.”
Along with Schilz, UH specialists who are offering appointments at the Akron location include Dr. James Fang, director of the Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Center at UH Case Medical Center and chief medical officer of the Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute; Dr. Donald Hricik, nephrologist and co- manager of the kidney transplant program; and Dr. Edmund Sanchez, co-manager of the liver transplant and pancreas transplant programs.
UH plans to work with local physicians to coordinate care for those who might be candidates for transplants, Morrison said.
The actual transplant and initial follow-up care still will take place on the main UH campus in Cleveland.
“What we’re able to hook them into is more support as their organ failure progresses,” Morrison said.
Last year, University Hospitals provided organ transplants to 115 patients.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.