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Oregon Health & Sciences University ( Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Oregon Health & Science University has placed its heart transplant program on hold indefinitely while leaders try to replace four cardiologists who announced their departures in the past few weeks.

The heart transplant program announced Friday it will go dark after Sept. 30. That leaves Oregon without a heart transplant center for the foreseeable future, meaning local patients must now travel to Seattle or San Francisco for care.

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Remaining heart transplant cardiologist announces resignation from OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University will lose its last cardiologist on the heart transplant team. A fourth doctor announced her departure Wednesday.

Three cardiologists resigned in the past two weeks and will leave by the end of September. Dr. Jill Gelow left previously. OHSU leaders decided last Friday to suspend the program for 14 days.

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According to an internal memo sent to The Oregonian/OregonLive, the Southwest Portland university will not accept new patients for heart transplants for 14 days.

There is now no date on when — or if — the program will restart.

Gentle Souls Gentle Black Souls Black While the heart transplant surgeons are still at OHSU, there is now no one to follow up with new heart recipients.

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OHSU said Friday that all 20 patients on the wait list either have referrals to different hospitals, or have decided not to transfer.

However, the suspension also touches patients who need follow-up care or evaluations from heart failure specialists.

An OHSU statement said that 327 post-transplant patients are working with the university to figure out where they will receive care.

Previously, Chief Medical Officer Renee Edwards said patients would be the first to know if the 14-day period were extended. So far, all patients have been notified of the change in status by email, but calls are still going out, the statement said.

A cardiac care hotline at 1-833-674-8236 will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday until Sept. 7. The hotline could stay open after that point, if needed. Patients and families of patients can also email cardiaccare@ohsu.edu with questions.

OHSU will have to consult with federal authorities to restart the program, if officials are able to rebuild the cardiology team.

Patients who don't need transplants or long-term heart pumps — such as people who need complex cardiovascular and heart failure care — can still attend OHSU as they would normally.

The development comes amid a report that OHSU's chief of cardiology has been named in a lawsuit filed by doctor who left in 2017. Dr. Rupa Bala, a cardiac electrophysiologist, has accused Joaquin Cigarroa, the university and its chief of electrophysiology, Charles Henrikson, of violating her civil rights on the basis of gender and race.

OHSU sued by former cardiologist on claims of sex discrimination

A cardiac specialist has accused Oregon Health and Science University and the head of its cardiology department of forcing her out of a job in a civil rights lawsuit.

Souls Black Souls Gentle Gentle Black -- Molly Harbarger

mharbarger@oregonian.com
503-294-5923
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Providence Health & Services, which has its main Oregon campus in Northeast Portland, is one of the health insurance providers that would benefit, at least in the short term, from the freeze of the risk-adjustment program. Providence was scheduled to pay more than $31 million into the program this fall. Today, a week since the feds put the program on hold, it is unclear whether Providence will have to make that payment.

In the wake of Oregon's only heart transplant center shutting down indefinitely, hospitals in Oregon, Washington and California are preparing to absorb an influx of patients.

Oregon Health & Science University announced Friday afternoon that all 20 patients on its heart transplant wait list have started the process to transfer to other hospitals or have chosen not to. OHSU has indefinitely suspended its program, with the last of the cardiologists on its heart transplant team leaving Sept. 30.

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Oregon's only heart transplant program now stopped indefinitely

Oregon Health & Science University has indefinitely placed its heart transplant program on hold while leaders try to replace four cardiologists who announced their departure in the past few weeks.

The program will remained shuttered until OHSU can find new cardiologists to ensure patients receive adequate care.

Providence Heart Institute sent an internal memo to staff this week to prepare them for an increased workload. Providence already has an active heart failure program with five heart failure specialists, offering everything but transplants.

Dr. Jill Gelow, who recently quit OHSU's heart transplant team, now works at Providence.

Providence ran a heart transplant program that shut down about 10 to 15 years ago after deciding that the area only needed one facility.

Dan Oseran, executive medical director of the Providence Heart Institute, said he and other hospital executives had preliminary conversations about possibly restarting their program. However, that would takes months, if not longer.

"Both institutions are committed and feel that having an outstanding, sustainable heart transplant program in Oregon is a priority and how that shakes out in the future, we'll have to see," Oseran said.

In the meantime, he said, the focus is to make sure Providence can handle the influx of patients at its current size. He said that patients who need implants as a precursor to a transplant are also welcome.

"I think we can handle it," Oseran said. "We have to handle it. One way or another we will take care of these people."

Those people who need transplants soon have already started to transfer to out-of-state hospitals.

The University of Washington in Seattle has already taken eight patients from Oregon. Dan Fishbein, medical director for heart transplantation and a professor of cardiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said his department could take more.

Patients who transfer to out-of-state hospitals will retain the time they have already been on a waitlist. Fishbein said his staff uses the time on the list, plus how sick someone is, to determine who gets called next.

He also emphasized that not everyone who transfers to Seattle or San Francisco will have to move. The heart transplant team works with each patient to create a plan for how quickly they can get to the hospital when they get called.

Black Gentle Souls Gentle Black Souls While someone in southern Oregon might have a harder time, someone in Portland could have enough advance notice that a three-hour drive is no problem.

"The old days of need to be there in three hours or one hour is not really true anymore," Fishbein said.

The University of Washington's heart transplant program is the third largest in the country, replacing about 75 hearts last year.It has about 40 people on its waiting list at any given time, said spokesman Brian Donahue.

"Our primary commitment is to patients," Fishbein said. "A state line doesn't mean we're any less committed to people who live in Oregon than who live in Washington."

San Francisco hospitals also will likely be taking on Oregon patients. A spokesman with the University of California San Francisco did not immediately have an estimate of how many.

-- Molly Harbarger

mharbarger@oregonian.com
503-294-5923
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Carolyn is away. The following first appeared on Jan. 18 and Feb. 1, 2004.

Dear Carolyn:

My wife and I don't have kids yet (hopefully soon), so I don't want to throw stones at people dealing with a stress I have yet to face. But we have friends who do have babies and toddlers, and who often are making (we think) bad choices for their children: junk food, hours of television, letting the kids run rampant in restaurants, etc. I feel bad for the kids, because it feels like they're being socialized into bad habits.

Do you have any tips for how one could helpfully intervene or at least relax so that I don't spread unpleasant judgmental vibes? 

-- Want to Be Decent, Not Sure How

Hax: Oh I'm sure how.

Do nothing. Doest not a thing. Doay squatus.

Truly. Unless the friendship is awe-inspiring or you're all too mellow to register pulses -- or you want fewer friends -- there's no way even for other parents to tell friends how to raise their kids. Even when they're right.

And non-parents? Heh.

Until you get there, resist the temptation to think you can do better. The easiest way not to wax judgmental is to find good reasons not to judge. You have great ones.

For one, these kids are hardly in immediate danger [though running loose in restaurants is unsafe for kids and staff]. Twenty years from now, they could well evolve into serene, taxpaying nutritionists while your own little hyperactive darlings are still lobbing Skittles across the classroom.

And you're talking babies and toddlers -- i.e., creatures of rigid routines -- whom you're probably seeing only on social occasions -- i.e., out of those routines. Even uber-parents see their TV and cheesy-poof limits collapse under the weight of excitement.

You can help by anticipating the stress and planning accordingly. Suggest kid-friendly restaurants, plan outings with running room and no TV, offer to visit post-bedtime. And sing "I don't know / What it's like" to the tune of the Barney song, softly to yourself, as needed.

)Dear Carolyn:

I'm not in a romantic relationship and I'm fine with that -- maybe too fine. My feeling is that I am building a life without one and then if it happens, it happens. My concern is that if it doesn't happen, am I missing out on one of the great things in life? (I do have great, long-standing friendships.) 

-- Ann Arbor, Mich.

Hax: Yes, you are missing out on one of the great things in life -- walking through time by someone's side. And couples are missing out on one of the great things in life -- living utterly and completely on one's own terms.

We choose, we sacrifice, we covet other people's toys, and we hope for the best. The definition of "best" is different for everyone, but I imagine we collectively hope to minimize the number of times we long for the things we gave up. You're asking, but you don't seem to be sighing that much.

Meanwhile, you're stockpiling the commodity every one of us needs, no matter which choices we make: self-reliance. Never second-guess that.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 9 am Pacific each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group