Heart of the matter

By Wayne Bryan Published January 15, 2012 at 3:14 a.m.
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— Officials at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton and Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock announced a partnership Wednesday that will include a new cardiac clinic at the Benton hospital.

Arkansas Heart Hospital specialists are already helping the emergency department at Saline Memorial to offer around-the clock coverage for acute cardiac care.

Carla Robertson, interim CEO of Saline Memorial, called the partnership a “promising new chapter for Saline Memorial Hospital,” as she announced the new five-day-a-week clinic staffed by cardiologists from Arkansas Heart Hospital, as well as the expanded emergency cardiac coverage.

“This new partnership with Arkansas Heart Hospital, along with the existing services supplied by Saline Heart Group, will enhance cardiovascular care for our community,” she said.

Bruce Murphy, president and CEO of Arkansas Heart Hospital, said the partnership bucks the current trend for what he called “the super-consolidation” of health services under one corporate ownership.

“This will give us a competitive edge,” he told a gathering of medical personnel from both hospitals, Benton officials and members of the city’s business community. “We will want to give a little bit more and to do a little bit more for the patients.”

Murphy said the partnership is not only between the hospitals, but with the community, patients and collaborating doctors.

Murphy, who was formerly director of coronary care for Saline Memorial and began his career as a cardiologist at the hospital, described the partnership he helped create as a promise he recently made to “come back” to Saline County.

The clinic, which will be called the Arkansas Heart Hospital-Benton, will open in about 10 days, Murphy said, and will operate out of existing office space at Saline Memorial.

Cardiologists from Arkansas Heart Hospital will see patients in Benton, providing diagnostic, noninvasive testing and invasive services, according to an announcement released jointly by the two hospitals Wednesday morning.

The agreement will allow Saline Memorial patients to have what the announcement called “the seamless access” to specialty services at Arkansas Heart Hospital in West Little Rock, when appropriate.

Saline Memorial has two cardiologists on staff who will work with a team of health care providers from Arkansas Heart Hospital, including six cardiologists and three nurse practitioners devoted to the Benton clinic and hospital. The doctors from Arkansas Heart Hospital toured the cardiac facilities at Saline Memorial after the announcement.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.