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Ascension Via Christi St. Francis chosen by Abbott as center for global training in structural heart

Ascension Via Christi St. Francis has been selected by Abbott, a leading healthcare company and medical device manufacturer, as a global training center of excellence for its structural heart business.
Through the program, the Ascension Via Christi Structural Heart team at St. Francis will be sharing their expertise in treating patients with a wide range of structural heart conditions with specialists worldwide. 
"Being selected as a worldwide training center for one of the world's leading medical device manufacturers is an honor and testament to the consistently excellent outcomes our program continues to achieve using a wide range of available therapies and technologies," said structural heart specialist Bassem Chehab, MD, the program's medical director. 
Ascension Via Christi and Abbott will utilize new technologies that enable physicians to learn new structural heart procedures remotely. While this critical need is evident during a global pandemic, building expertise with this new program will facilitate training and education for all structural heart procedures into the future. 
“We are pleased to partner with Ascension Via Christi’s structural heart team on this important initiative to facilitate global learning,” said Monique Caruth, director of global medical education for Abbott’s Structural Heart business. “Ascension Via Christi has built a team that exemplifies best practice in effectiveness and efficiency for the patients they serve in need of structural heart therapies.” 
Ascension Via Christi’s nearly 8-year-old heart program is led by Dr. Chehab in partnership with cardio-thoracic surgeon Brett Grizzell, MD, of Wichita Surgical Specialists; cardiologists Richard Steckley, MD, and Aziz Maksoud, MD, of Cardiovascular Consultants of Kansas; and physician assistant Richard Allenbach. To date, they have performed more than 1,700 structural heart procedures in the hybrid operating room at St. Francis designed specifically for this purpose, including nearly 1,200 transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures and nearly 500 transcatheter mitral procedures for mitral valve repair and replacement. 
During that time, the Ascension Via Christi Structural Heart team has become known on a national and international level for its consistent and predictable outcomes using a wide range of therapies and technologies to treat patients with conditions including aortic and mitral valve stenosis; aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve regurgitation; atrial fibrillation and stroke; congestive heart disease and heart failure; coronary artery disease; and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
"The key to our success has been the multidisciplinary team's commitment to teamwork, with the same core group of physicians and supporting clinicians who helped launch the program still in place today," said Kevin Strecker, chief operating officer for Ascension Via Christi. "That has allowed them to stay focused on the patients and families they serve and to continue to break new ground in the field of structural heart." 
Abbott's selection of St. Francis as a global training center builds upon previous work with the Ascension Via Christi Structural Heart team. In July 2018, St. Francis was the first participating site in a pivotal clinical study of Abbott’s first-of-its-kind Tendyne transcatheter mitral valve replacement, or TMVR, system for treating mitral regurgitation, also known as leaky heart valve. Abbott subsequently launched a separate feasibility study of its Tendyne system in patients with severe mitral annular calcification, or MAC, for which Via Christi's Structural Heart team was the first to participate. 
Currently, the Ascension Via Christi team is participating in 20 active major investigational clinical trials through the Food and Drug Administration. 
"These are studies of cutting-edge technologies that likely will shape the future of structural heart therapies for the next decade," said Dr. Chehab. "As such, our patients have close-to-home access to the latest technologies as they are being developed."
Dr. Grizzell agreed, adding, "Our Wichita program increasingly is becoming a center of choice for out-of-state patients with heart disease.”
About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.