By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer
An Akron couple is pumping millions of dollars of support into the Summa Cardiovascular Institute with the largest gift in the health system’s history.
Summa is using the record-setting $4 million donation from philanthropists Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin to construct a hybrid cardiovascular operating room at Akron City Hospital, the health system announced Tuesday.
When it’s complete in spring 2014, the Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin Hybrid Operating Room Suite will enable Summa to begin offering procedures that combine traditional surgical techniques with cardiac catheterization, said Thomas J. Strauss, Summa’s president and chief executive.
“We are so thrilled and grateful to the Hamlin family for their kindness,” Strauss said. “We believe the impact from this gift is going to be felt for many years to come. This will allow us to do some new procedures. It’s going to be state-of-the-art.”
Strauss estimates about 1,000 patients a year leave the Akron area for cardiac services that Summa will be able to offer in the new hybrid operating room.
“We’re very excited about this hybrid OR,” said Dr. Kenneth Berkovitz, medical director of the Summa Cardiovascular Institute. “It continues to allow us to offer a breadth of service so people in our area can stay in our area for cardiac care.”
Richard “Dick” Hamlin had a successful career in residential, commercial and industrial development and also specialized in acquiring, revitalizing and expanding manufacturing companies.
He was founder of the Reserve Group and the R.M. Hamlin Construction Co. He also was co-founder of the Brenlin Group, which he co-owned with David Brennan and James McCready. Brenlin was one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, according to a 1992 article in Forbes magazine.
The couple have been supporters of several nonprofit organizations throughout the region and have a hall named after the family at his alma mater, John Carroll University.
Summa is renaming its Center of Excellence building at 95 Arch St. on the City Hospital campus the Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin Pavilion in honor of the donation. The outpatient building houses many cardiopulmonary patient services and physician offices.
In a prepared statement, Hamlin said he and his wife “are pleased to make this gift to support Summa Hospital’s heart program.
“Akron is a great town, and Summa has done so much for the Akron community as well as our family,” he said. “Our family is extremely grateful for the care we received at Summa, and with this gift we are pleased to be part of Summa’s continued service to the greater Akron community.”
Strauss said the couple gave the donation because Richard Hamlin is “a grateful patient” of Summa interventional cardiologist Dr. William B. Bauman.
The new OR suite will allow Summa specialists to provide a less-invasive procedure that uses catheters rather than a large incision to replace aortic valves, Berkovitz said.
The approach results in a smaller incision, less pain, fewer complications and quicker recovery times than a surgical aortic valve replacement, Berkovitz said. However, the transcatheter technique can’t be used unless a surgical team is present.
“We need to have an environment where this can be done using the catheter-based techniques yet still have the ability to do surgical procedures should things go not quite as we expect,” he said. “Most of these procedures go very, very well, but you need to have the ability to convert these. At a moment’s notice, if there’s a complication, you need to be able to do a traditional operation.”
The new OR also will allow surgeons to offer a combination of bypass surgery and stenting of arteries if needed for some patients with coronary artery disease, Berkovitz said.
“By doing these types of hybrid procedures, you can revascularize all the arteries completely without making a major incision in the chest,” he said.
The hybrid OR is part of Summa’s ongoing efforts to boost its cardiology services. It will begin offering a cardiology fellowship to train specialists beginning in July 2014.
Akron General Medical Center also plans to open a cardiovascular hybrid operating room next year, spokesman Jim Armstrong said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.