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The Five Non-Negotiables When Considering Heart Surgery

Heart surgery is serious business – and the decision to undergo surgery is rarely taken lightly. If circumstances allow you to choose a surgeon or where to have heart surgery, it’s critical to do your homework.

So, what do you look for in a hospital when considering heart surgery?  We’re glad you asked – here is our expert advice, courtesy of the WakeMed Heart Center.

5 Non-Negotiables When Considering Heart Surgery

#1 – Experience & History

Practice makes perfect and when it comes to your heart, perfection is what you need. That’s why it’s important to ask questions.

Does the heart center you’re evaluating have expertise and experience performing the specific procedure you’re having? How many of these procedures do they do per year and how does that compare with other facilities? Since performing Wake County’s first open heart surgery in 1968, the WakeMed Heart Center has long been a leader in cardiovascular surgery – bringing new and innovative procedures, techniques and treatments to those who need heart care.

Over the past decade, we’ve introduced new specialty procedures in areas such as advanced heart failure (in partnership with Duke Health), structural heart, peripheral vascular disease, complex arrhythmia and thoracic surgery. We are one of the highest volume heart centers in the region, ensuring exceptional patient outcomes for you or your loved one. After all, when it comes to matters of the heart – we ALL deserve the best.

#2 – Exceptional Recovery Program

Patients have long feared heart surgery – and for good reason. Historically, recovery has been intense – up to weeks or more in the hospital, months of recovery – often with many complications and bumps along the way. That’s why it’s important to make sure your heart center has implemented a proven, evidence-based protocol for recovery known as ERAS Cardiac, which stands for Enhanced Recovery After Cardiac Surgery.

The WakeMed Heart Center is the first facility to implement this pathway, which has been recognized nationally as the first ERAS Cardiac Center of Excellence in the country.

ERAS Cardiac aims to improve recovery and prevent complications by standardizing the care of heart surgery patients – before, during and after surgery.  Comprised of more than 20 individual steps that may have minimal impact on their own, but once combined provide significant improvements in the recovery process for surgery patients.


#3 – Ratings, Accreditations & Accolades

What awards, accreditations or honors does the facility have as it relates to heart care and/or surgery? A few agencies to look for include: The Joint Commission, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines program, Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and even many insurance companies offer recognition for exceptional outcomes and value.

The WakeMed Heart Center has been honored with more than a dozen national accolades for its excellence in cardiovascular and surgical care.

Most recently, we earned a distinguished three-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) specifically for excellent patient care and outcomes in isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures. The three-star rating denotes the highest category of quality and places WakeMed among the elite for heart bypass surgery in the United States and Canada.

#4 – The Personal Connection

Connecting with your surgeon is important – you need to be sure he or she is a good listener, understands your concerns and answers your questions. Research indicates that good communication between patients and physicians can lead to better outcomes. That’s why WakeMed’s entire medical staff is undergoing a unique training program called Relations for Healthcare Transformation which is designed to help foster excellent communication between providers, patients and the entire health care team.

In addition, the WakeMed Heart Center team is comprised of hundreds of specialty-trained nurses and experts who are lauded for their compassionate style of patient care – our patients tell us time and again that our caring staff make all the difference in keeping our patients comfortable and relaxed during a stressful time.

#5 – All The Comforts of Home

Finally – when having heart surgery, you want to be comfortable and surrounded by the people you love. Unlike any other Heart Center in the state, we are pleased to offer the Heart Center Inn, an on-site hotel located on the top floor of the Heart Center for patients and their families – allowing them to be with you and also get the rest they need to stay by your side throughout your stay. The Heart Center Inn offers discounted rates to patients staying before or after their hospital visit. This allows your loved ones to be just an elevator ride away from our patient rooms.

The WakeMed Raleigh Campus also features an on-site cafeteria, Au Bon Pain café, gift shop, free wi-fi, numerous lounges, a beautiful courtyard and free parking for Heart Center patients – all designed to keep our visitors comfortable throughout their stay.

Learn More About the WakeMed Heart Center

For decades, the WakeMed Heart Center has been the top destination in the region for heart surgery. To learn more, take a virtual tour, request an appointment with a surgeon – or stop by anytime. Our caring staff would love to meet you!

About Coleen Hanson Smith

Coleen Hanson Smith is a freelance healthcare writer with 20 years of editorial, PR and marketing experience. She’s passionate about doing work that matters. As such, Coleen’s specialty areas are aligned with her personal passions which include: healthcare/hospital/physician practice/health & wellness; technology/B2B; parenting; and philanthropy/non-profit.