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Encino Hospital Plans Major Cardiac Unit Expansion

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Encino Hospital is embarking on a $12-million expansion of its cardiac institute, the latest escalation of the intensifying battle for San Fernando Valley heart patients.

Ground is scheduled to be broken in September for the new San Fernando Valley Heart Institute, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The institute’s present one-story building behind the hospital in the 16200 block of Ventura Boulevard will be demolished to make room for the new three-story structure, executives said.

Heart surgery is an increasingly competitive field for hospitals that have come under growing financial pressure in recent years.

Attracting cardiac surgery patients, who run up large bills and are usually well-insured, has become a top priority for institutions that lose money on emergency medical care.

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St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank attracted widespread publicity several months ago by announcing that an acclaimed heart surgeon, Dr. Taro Yokoyama, and his team had moved there from the renowned heart center at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Encino Hospital has also attracted a surgeon from the St. Vincent cardiac team, Dr. Mohammad Gharavi.

A top heart surgeon such as Yokoyama can bring glamour to a facility trying to develop a reputation as a center of heart surgery. Touting the skills of their new surgeon, Encino Hospital executives boasted that the mortality rate for Gharavi’s team on first-time coronary bypass surgery is 0.7%, one-seventh the average.

Encino Hospital’s new building, with 40,000 square feet of space, will house a 20-bed, state-of-the-art intensive care unit on the top floor, according to the plans announced this week. Each patient will be in a private room and will be constantly monitored.

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The second floor will have 22 beds for patients awaiting or recovering from surgery. The present facility houses 15 beds in all.

The first floor will house an auditorium and facilities for testing patients to determine whether surgery is necessary. There also will be a pharmacy and respiratory care unit.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by October, 1992.


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