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Chesapeake Regional performs its first open-heart surgery

Chesapeake Regional removed a sign advertising open-heart surgery coming to the hospital after performing the first open-heart procedure April 30.
Photo by Ryan Murphy
Chesapeake Regional removed a sign advertising open-heart surgery coming to the hospital after performing the first open-heart procedure April 30.

After applying to the state twice for permission for open-heart procedures, Chesapeake Regional performed its first open-heart surgery April 30.

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center performed its first open heart surgery April 30, a procedure the hospital fought for over five years all the way up to the state Supreme Court.

“This is the beginning of a new era for Chesapeake Regional,” Chesapeake Regional President and CEO Reese Jackson said in a press release. “An open-heart surgery program is a natural next step to complement our award-winning cardiovascular services. It also addresses a critical need in the region.

Edward Coleman, medical director of the cardiothoracic program, performed the bypass surgery with the hospital's open heart surgical team.

The procedure restores blood to blocked arteries and is a life-saving and “life-extending” procedure, Coleman said.

Coleman’s team used a special heart-lung machine that until his team’s surgery, was only used at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter in Norfolk.

“This is the first hospital for adult cardiac surgery using this equipment and the tool has been demonstrated to be very valuable,” Coleman said.

Chesapeake Regional, like all hospitals in Virginia, had to go through the Certificate of Public Need process to add open heart surgical procedures. The hospital submitted its first application to the state in 2017.

Sentara Healthcare disputed Chesapeake Regiona’s application and the state’s Health Commissioner at the time rejected Chesapeake’s application, saying their proposed heart surgery services duplicated existing services in the region.

Chesapeake Regional sued Sentara and appealed the state’s decision all the way to Virginia Supreme Court, which sided with Chesapeake. That meantthe hospital could apply again in 2022.

“This is a service this community needs. It’s a service the region needs,” Jackson said at the time. “We’re hell-bent to make sure it happens, and ultimately we’ll prevail. We’re never giving up.”

Coleman said being able to perform open-heart surgeries in Chesapeake helps more patients in Hampton Roads get treatment closer to home.

“And that makes a big difference in helping the patient feel more comfortable, safer, more oriented and reduces the possible complication of delirium and confusion that these patients are susceptible to after heart surgery,” he said.

Chesapeake Regional already has other open-heart surgeries on its schedule.

Ryan Murphy contributed to this report

Mechelle is News Director at WHRO. She helped launch the newsroom as a reporter in 2020. She's worked in newspapers and nonprofit news in her career. Mechelle lives in Virginia Beach, where she grew up.

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