By R. Mark Burke, MD, FACC

Most are aware of the burden heart disease can impose on a person and on a family. What many may not realize, however, is how much of a role it plays in the larger community and in the cost of health care. Nationally, of the top ten reasons for admission to the hospital, exclusive of pregnancy related issues, coronary atherosclerosis (the disease that causes heart attacks) is number one. And of those top ten reasons for admission, six are for cardiovascular issues.

On top of all of this, the organization and structure of the delivery of health care in the United States is undergoing dramatic changes. Health care is approaching 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP). By contrast, the military accounts for roughly 5% of the GDP. The US spends approximately $8,000 per person every year on health care. This economic impact has driven many changes in the health care marketplace, including the recognition that the delivery of care needs to be more efficient and better organized and that the focus needs to be on both treatment and prevention.

Mark Burke, MD
Mark Burke, MD

In line with these needs and in recognition of the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the community, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital is excited to announce the Center for Cardiovascular Health. The Center is housed in the Richards Building and consolidates the practices of Dr. Michael Cohan and Dr. R. Mark Burke, both board certified cardiologists, under one roof. Bolstering the team is Phaedra McDonough, APRN, a nurse practitioner, who is highly skilled in managing cardiovascular devices, clinical evaluation and in cardiovascular testing.

The final member of our provider team is Dr. Dan Walsh, a vascular surgeon based at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Many of our patients also have peripheral arterial disease (also known as PAD) and diseases of the veins (for example, varicose veins). Dr. Walsh is skilled in the diagnosis and management of these problems and has office hours at the Center every other Monday.

In our new Center, scheduling is consolidated both for visits with the doctor and for diagnostic services, which makes it easier for you and for your doctor to get you the care you need. And, with the help of our electronic health record (EHR), communication between doctors is rapid and effective. The EHR also automates medication prescriptions to reduce the chance of interactions and errors.

The Center incorporates many heart related diagnostic services, such as stress testing, echocardiography, Holter monitoring, event monitoring and electrocardiography (EKGs). A key tool in the diagnosis of vascular disease is ultrasound. As part of the development of this service, our ultrasound technologists, already highly skilled in echocardiography and ultrasound techniques have received additional training to provide the high level of skill needed to help Dr. Walsh diagnose and manage peripheral vascular disease.

The Center also has specialized clinics for the management and evaluation of cardiac devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators. As we move forward, we will be developing many more specialized clinics to address the specific needs of our patients.

Most important of all, the Center promotes a personalized approach to your care and to the care of your loved ones. It puts the patient at the Center. As health care expands its focus from taking care of the ill to preventing illness, the Center will remain at the forefront of prevention and wellness.

Come join us at our open house on September 18th between 5:30 and 7:00PM. Along with a tour of the Center, hors d’oeuvres and an art opening sponsored by the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center will be featured.

R. Mark Burke, MD, FACC is Medical Director of Cardiovascular Services and Medical Director of Population Health, is a board-certified cardiologist practicing at Brattleboro Cardiology, and a member of BMH Physician Group. He can be reached at 802-275-3699.

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