The north-side Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute will stop seeing patients Nov. 7 and re-route them to St. Mary's Hospital west of downtown.
Carondelet Health Network officials have not yet decided the future of the Heart & Vascular Institute's 93,000-square-foot building, which the network owns, on North Stone Avenue near River Road.
The facility is familiar to many as the Tucson Heart Hospital, which was its name from 1997 to 2010. Carondelet purchased 80 percent of the hospital in 2006 and changed the name in 2010 when its ownership went to 100 percent. Carondelet announced in April that it would be vacating the hospital and moving services to St. Mary's.
Officials say they want to do something with the hospital building "that brings benefit to the local community."
While the old location is closing, a new Heart & Vascular Institute is scheduled to be completed on the campus of Carondelet St. Mary's by May 2013. It won't be a free-standing hospital anymore, but Carondelet officials say it will offer the same services.
Despite recent operating losses at all four of its Southern Arizona hospitals, Carondelet says it will invest $17 million into building the new heart and vascular facility at St. Mary's. Its official name will be "Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Mary's Hospital."
The old heart hospital employed about 200 staff members, and nearly 140 are transitioning to St. Mary's, said Carolyn Erenberger, a vice president with the Heart & Vascular Institute.
The other employees have taken clinical positions within the Carondelet Health Network, or they are looking for other jobs within the network, officials said.
The new space will closely match the old in terms of size, at 92,000 square feet, Erenberger said.
Officials are refurbishing existing space in St. Mary's Hospital and stressed they will create a separate Heart & Vascular Institute with its own lobby, which patients will access after entering the main hospital, Erenberger said.
The lobby portion of the project won't be ready by Nov. 7, but other improvements are expected by then. This month and next, officials say crews will be working on completing 21 dedicated private rooms for cardiovascular patients on the third floor of the hospital and a 12-bed cardiovascular intensive care unit on the first floor.
Carondelet officials say surgeons, clinicians and care teams from the Heart & Vascular Institute will be set to perform their first open heart surgery at St. Mary's by Nov. 7.
The new location at St. Mary's provides advantages for patients and their families, including easier access from the interstate, helicopter access for emergency cases and new technologies, officials say.
The new facility is to include inpatient and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation services, new cardiovascular operating suites, new cathe-terization labs, electrophysiology, an operating room for minimally invasive surgery and a cardiac testing area.
Erenberger emphasized that the physician practices and medical clinics located in RiverStone Plaza next door to the current Heart & Vascular Institute are not moving.
"These offices will remain fully functional and will continue to provide care to patients," she said.
The 60-bed Heart & Vascular Institute recently posted operating losses of nearly $9 million, according to a 2011 report filed with the Arizona Department of Health Services.
But the capital investment of $17 million into a new Heart & Vascular Institute is "forward-thinking and critical to meeting the need of the community we serve. We see it as an investment in the future," said Alan Strauss, Carondelet's chief financial officer.
Strauss said the recent losses are not totally unexpected, given the current economic climate.
In December, the network announced a plan to cut nearly 5 percent of its jobs as part of a company restructuring. Carondelet also closed a long-term care facility in Nogales, Ariz., and an 11-bed hospice in Tucson.
BY THE NUMBERS
Carondelet Health Network's 2011 operating losses
Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute:
Source: 2011 Uniform Accounting Report, Arizona Department of Health Services
Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4134.