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Governor touts Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute
By Jon Weiner
HSC Weekly, April 20, 2007

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praises the healthcare he received at USC-and also the expertise of Vaughn Starnes (seated), chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and executive director of the Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, who performed his heart surgery 10 years ago. Schwarzenegger stated that all Californians deserve access to an equivalent level of care.California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger marked the 10-year anniversary of his heart surgery at USCs Health Science Campus by visiting on April 16 and saluting the new Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute (CVTI).

The new Institute at the Keck School of Medicine is waging war against the leading cause of death among American men and women-heart disease.

It was created under the leadership of Vaughn Starnes, chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Keck School.

"At the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, we are dedicated to improving the statistics concerning cardiovascular and thoracic disease such as those once faced by the governor," said Starnes, who serves as executive director of the Institute. "Our physicians offer advanced, patient-centered care to individuals whose health is threatened by cardiovascular disease, while our scientists are pursuing research that will lead to more effective treatment and prevention therapies."

Ten years ago at USC, Starnes led a team of three surgeons who repaired the aortic valve in then-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's heart.

The aortic valve prevents blood from flowing back into the left ventricle of the heart. Starnes implanted a healthy human tissue valve and said at the time, "This will not limit him in any way when he recovers."

Starnes said the screen star was born with the defective valve and decided to do the surgery while he was in good health.

In a luncheon program featuring remarks by the governor, Starnes discussed plans for the Institute's future building, which will house the clinical services.

The building will be located at the corner of San Pablo and Alcazar Streets on USC's Health Sciences Campus just east of downtown Los Angeles.

The new facility will provide state-of-the-art treatment rooms, outpatient clinics and labs all under one roof.

Opened to patients in December 2006, the Institute is currently being housed within the Health Care Consultation II building.

The Institute is a unique collaboration of cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, cardiologists, pulmonologists and basic scientists all working together without the boundaries of departments or specialties.

"We want our patients to know that whatever the level of care they need, our team will design and implement the health plan that works best for them," Starnes said.

According to Keck School of Medicine Dean Brian Henderson, the Institute is an important new initiative for the school, bringing clinicians and scientists together to work more collaboratively toward enhanced patient care, scientific discovery and excellent training of future physicians.

"The new Institute will allow our faculty to push the boundaries of their field," said Henderson. "And it will continue USC's push to expand our facilities here on the Health Sciences Campus, providing space for growth in our research and patient care programs."

Those programs include innovative robotic therapy and heart valve replacements.

At the same time, scientific faculty associated with the Institute are exploring new research opportunities in vascular biology and regenerative medicine. "Laboratory findings will be rapidly translated into patient care, thanks to the collaboration between our physicians and scientists, who share core facilities and other resources within the institute," Starnes said. "We are currently recruiting additional faculty to add to the exceptional researchers already here."

For additional information about the patient care services and public education programs of the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, call 1-866-764-CVTI.

In The News

The announcement of the Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute with Governor Schwarzenegger and Vaughn Starnes on April 16 brought numerous members of the news media to the Health Sciences Campus.

Covering the press event were: KTLA TV Channel 5, KABC TV Channel 7, KTTV TV Channel 11, KVEA TV Channel 52, Univision TV, KRCA TV Channel 62, Annenberg TV News, Associated Press, Sing Tao Daily, China Daily News, Metro Radio Network News, Southern California Physician Magazine and the Daily Trojan.

Related link and video: Governor Delivers Remarks at Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute

 

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"At the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, we are dedicated to improving the statistics concerning cardiovascular and thoracic disease such as those once faced by the governor. Our physicians offer advanced, patient-centered care to individuals whose health is threatened by cardiovascular disease, while our scientists are pursuing research that will lead to more effective treatment and prevention therapies."

Vaughn A. Starnes, MD
Executive Director
CardioVascular Thoracic
Institute

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