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The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute's Heart Failure, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance Programs: Exceptional Programs with Exceptional Clinicians

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July 18, 2009

Chicago -

Behind every exceptional program is a group of exceptional clinicians, and the clinicians at the Heart FailureHeart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance programs at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Center for Heart Failure are no exception to this rule.

“The tremendous success that our Heart Failure, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance programs have achieved is a reflection of both our dedicated patients and the committed group of clinicians that make up these programs,” says the medical director of the Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance program at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute’s Center for Heart Failure,  William G. Cotts, MD. “That is why we are exceptionally proud of the four clinicians who recently received awards that reveal their remarkable dedication and clinical skills in the areas of heart failure, heart transplantation and mechanical assistance.”

Gina Ferguson, RN & Elizabeth Schupbach, RN

Heart Transplant Coordinators – Inpatient
Heart Transplantation Program
Recipients of the 2009 Excellence in Patient Education Award

The Excellence in Patient Education Award honors the work done by Gina Ferguson and Elizabeth Schupbach to educate patients about heart transplantation, from pre-screening tests to post-surgical recovery. An example of their work is the Transplant Multidisciplinary Patient Education Tool, or MPET, that they helped develop which allows staff to assess each patient’s level of understanding as the education process unfolds. Also, they recently helped author and presented two abstracts at the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) conference in Paris, France earlier this year. The two abstracts were titled “Impact of Virtual Crossmatch on Outcomes in Heart Transplantation” and “Development of Metabolic Syndrome During the First Year after Heart Transplantation is Associated with Transplant Vasculopathy.”

“It’s not just their passion for details that earned them the award; it’s their passion for patients,” says Magdalyn Patyk, MS, RN, BC, program manager of Patient Education at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “Gina and Liz are true patient advocates.”

Kara Howell, APN/C-NP

Advanced Practice Nurse – Nurse Practitioner
Heart Failure and Heart Transplantation Program
Recipient of the 2009 Excellence in Clinical Service Award

The Excellence in Clinical Service Award honors the work done by Kara Howell for heart failure and heart transplantation patients in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

“Kara Howell’s expertise in managing very complex heart failure patients is directly related to her extensive knowledge of heart failure and heart transplantation and her ability to translate that knowledge into excellent patient care, to her very effective communication with multidisciplinary team members, and to her use of a holistic approach to patient care,” says the administrative director of the Center for Heart Failure, Kathleen L. Grady, PhD, APN/C-CNS. “She has a deep sense of caring, commitment and responsibility to her patients and their families as both a clinician and an educator.”

Kara also worked to develop the first ever Heart Failure Discharge Clinic for heart failure patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. This innovative clinic is based on Kara offering continuity of care to heart failure patients within seven days of discharge from the hospital with the goal of decreasing hospital readmissions for the heart failure patient.

Edwin C. McGee, Jr., MD

Surgical Director, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance
Assistance Professor, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine
Recipient of the 2009 Excellence in Clinical Leadership Award

The Excellence in Clinical Leadership Award honors the leadership and guidance that Dr. McGee has demonstrated in the initial and continued development of the Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance program.

“Dr. McGee is an outstanding cardiac surgeon whose leadership and commitment has been paramount in the creation and continued success of the Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance programs,” says Dr. Cotts. His unrelenting perseverance in patient follow up, his genuine concern for patients, and his ability to create a nurturing environment that allows an exceptional clinical staff to further grow and learn are all a reflection of his commitment to excellence and to these programs.”

Heart Failure, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assistance Program Highlights

  • Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute ranks better than the U.S. national rate for 30-day mortality for heart failure patients.
  • Our Medicare-approved Heart Transplant Program, a Blue Distinction Center for Transplants and an Optum Health Center of Excellence, is ranked as one of the top 20 programs in the country and as the No. 1 program in Illinois.
  • Our Medicare Destination Therapy Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program has been awarded a Certificate of Distinction from The Joint Commission as a result of our VAD procedures volume, patient care, exceptional level of expertise among specialists, and excellent outcomes.


Media Contact:

Kris Lathan, Director
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011