The first heart transplant program on Long Island
Equally important is a change that impacts Long Islanders. This month, Northwell Health, which accounts for 40 percent of the heart transplant cases referred to NYC, received state approval to perform heart transplant surgeries. It's a first on Long Island, and a lifesaver for a population of 7.5 million people who were otherwise forced to travel to Manhattan or the Bronx to undergo this complicated surgery. To the uninitiated, traveling to New York City for life-saving care might not seem like a big deal. But ask any Long Island family whose loved one has received a new heart and you will begin to understand the significant burden placed on both patients and caregivers.
That's because post-transplant follow-up care is more than a little overwhelming. In the first month after transplant surgery, weekly visits are required of the patient; for the next six months or so, monthly follow-up appointments are considered standard. The addition of an hour or two of commuting time, and the expense of travel, put an unnecessary burden on Long Island's heart transplant patients and their families.
Thankfully, Long Island heart failure patients can now receive transplant services here at home.
Proximity to high-quality care also means access to the latest technological advances, which means good things for those suffering with advanced heart failure. That's because doctors are using not only cutting-edge tools to perform the procedures, but also they are employing advanced programs to better identify potential donors.
That's important because the sooner doctors can identify candidates for donation, the greater the chance they are able to save the life of a patient.
This op-ed also appeared in Newsday.