Ventricular Assist Device Program | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Ventricular Assist Device Program

Norton Audubon Hospital, winner of the Heart Care CenterTM: National Distinction of Excellence from the American Heart Association, is accredited for ventricular assist device implantation. Norton Heart & Vascular Institute is built on a legacy of innovation that includes the world’s second artificial heart transplant.

If medication is no longer controlling your heart failure symptoms, you may be eligible for mechanical circulatory support such as a ventricular assist device. The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists in the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Ventricular Assist Device Program implant the mechanical pump alongside the heart to help it pump blood more effectively.

Once used primarily as a temporary measure for those awaiting a heart transplant, ventricular assist devices have made many heart transplants unnecessary. The ventricular assist device now provides long-term support that helps patients go on with productive lives.

Ventricular Assist Device Program Team

  • Your cardiovascular surgeon implants the ventricular assist device.
  • Your heart failure cardiologist provides care before and after the ventricular assist device placement.
  • Your highly trained perfusionists manage your ventricular assist device during and after your surgery.
  • Ventricular assist device coordinators answer your questions, help with education before implantation and work with the cardiologist to manage your care before and after surgery.
  • A social worker helps with patient and family support.
  • A financial coordinator works with you to coordinate insurance approvals and financial matters for the ventricular assist device and related medications.
  • The palliative care team provides support for long-term care decisions.

Additional Providers

Susan Spayd, R.N.
Practice Manager
Ventricular Assist Device Program Coordinator

Sharon A. Bailey, R.N.
Outpatient Ventricular Assist Device Coordinator

Gregory T. Bell, R.N.
Transplant Coordinator

Sarah Del Busto, R.N.
Nurse Navigator

Cynthia Gardner, R.N.
Recovery Coordinator

Susan C. Hutcherson, R.N.
Nurse Navigator

Jon Kennedy, LCSW
Social Worker

Tony Cromer
Perfusionist

What to Expect as a Ventricular Assist Device Candidate

Consideration for ventricular assist device placement includes a series of tests to make sure it is the right treatment for you. The testing includes bloodwork, ultrasounds,  echocardiograms, cardiac catheterization, pulmonary function tests and meeting with a dietitian, social worker, financial coordinator, cardiologist, surgeon and palliative care provider. Our team will work to coordinate these steps over just a few days. If you’ve been admitted to the hospital, these tests and steps will be completed during your stay.

A multidisciplinary meeting of the Ventricular Assist Device Program team will review your test results. Then, the team members will discuss their recommendations with you and your caregiver.

What to Expect From Ventricular Assist Device Surgery and After

A ventricular assist device is implanted in an open heart surgical procedure under general anesthesia. The surgery usually takes four to six hours.

Once the VAD has been implanted, you will be transferred to the Norton Audubon Hospital open heart recovery area where nurses will monitor the ventricular assist device and help you recover from surgery.

Once the initial recovery period is over and your condition is stable, you will move to the step-down unit, known as a progressive care unit. There you will complete your recovery from surgery, become familiar with the ventricular assist device and resume daily activities such as getting out of bed, eating and exercising.

You and your family will learn more about the ventricular assist device in a class for you and your caregivers to gain in-depth knowledge about the ventricular assist device and daily care.

Going Home With a Ventricular Assist Device

It will take some time for you to get used to living with a ventricular assist device, and we will be there to help you along the way.

Some of the tasks you will have at home include:

  • Daily driveline exit site dressing changes
  • Daily weight and ventricular assist device readings
  • Knowledge of your medications and discipline in taking them properly
  • Being available for home health visits
  • Going to the lab for bloodwork when asked
  • Calling when you have any of the issues discussed before you were discharged
  • Coming in for all clinic appointments
  • Taking care of the ventricular assist device equipment as you were instructed before you were discharged

Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.

Connecting Hearts Support Group

The group provides education and support to individuals after a heart attack, living with a heart condition or at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health Screenings

Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.

Classes and Events

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers classes about once a week on a broad range of heart health topics including cooking classes, atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and heart failure education workshops, and more.

Norton Healthcare Heart and Vascular Institute

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists treat more people for heart and vascular conditions — about 250,000 every year — than any other provider in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

  • Norton Healthcare’s four adult-service hospitals are American College of Cardiology accredited Cycle VI Chest Pain Centers — the highest level of expertise to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.
  • We have more than 50 board-certified cardiovascular physicians and 35 advanced practice providers. Through training and years of experience, they specialize in areas such as cardiologyinterventional cardiologycardiothoracic surgeryelectrophysiologyadvanced heart failure and vascular surgery.
  • We offer same-day new patient appointments.
  • We have 27 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 clinical sites in the region.
  • We have the experience, expertise and easy access you’d expect from the largest cardiovascular care provider in Kentucky.
  • Norton Healthcare is the only health care system in Kentucky to receive the prestigious Mission Lifeline: Regional Trailblazer Award from the American Heart Association for being an innovator in creating a system of care for ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attacks —  the most severe type of heart attack.
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