- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville has shut down its open heart surgery program.

Hospital officials tell the Delta Democrat Times (http://bit.ly/1jaQS1z ) the cardiac catheterization unit is unaffected.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer J. Stansel Harvey said the open heart surgery program has been underused in recent years and was easiest to eliminate amid declining hospital revenue.

“Last year, we did 16 open heart procedures. That’s 1.3 a month,” Harvey said. “That low a volume affects clinical competency. We were doing 120 a number of years ago.”

The cardiovascular surgical team performed 65 open heart procedures in 2011, 46 in 2012, 16 last year and just one this year, in January.

Harvey said Delta Regional continues to do a robust business in cardiac cauterizations, having performed 2,483 such procedures in the past 10 months alone. The hospital has five cardiologists on call to perform catheterization procedures, both diagnostic and therapeutic.

Harvey said Delta Regional Medical Center lost about $1 million last year due to the costs incurred in operating such a program, given salaries and related overhead, with the sharp decline in volume.

Now, the nearest hospitals where such procedures are performed are in Jackson, in Little Rock, Arkansas, and in Memphis, Tennessee.

Harvey said Delta Regional has a transfer agreement with Baptist Hospital in Memphis to treat patients who may require open heart surgery.

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Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, http://www.ddtonline.com