Improving Critical Care for Cardiovascular Patients

From Kansas City Medicine, Third Quarter 2020
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Michelle M. Haines, MD, has provided innovative leadership to help advance critical care medicine at Saint Luke’s Hospital. She has been on staff since 2008 and became medical director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) in 2013. She is the recipient of the 2020 KCMS Innovation Award.

Among her accomplishments has been development of the adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program at Saint Luke’s. Although ECMO had been used on a limited scale elsewhere since the 1970s, primarily with infants, it was not until 2009 that improvements in circuit technology and the H1N1 influenza pandemic enabled ECMO to emerge as a successful treatment.

“A team of us at Saint Luke’s decided to bring this mechanical support modality back with the innovations that made it safer,” recalled Dr. Haines, who also is medical director of the ECMO program. “We had our first case in June of 2009, a young college male that developed a form of acute heart failure.

ECMO saved his life. Since then we have put hundreds of the sickest patients on ECMO and saved the majority of these lives.” ECMO today is used for patients suffering from severe heart and/or lung failure as a bridge to recovery, device implant or transplant.

“There is nothing more gratifying to see patients that would have otherwise died who go on to live full lives because we could offer ECMO support,” Dr. Haines added.

Dr. Haines also developed a 24/7 ICU intensivist model involving a cohesive team of physicians, advanced practice providers, bedside nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists with a very structured and clearly defined chain of command.

“The most talented and qualified providers are available 24/7 to patients with no delays in care. Patients get expert care, exactly when they need it. This vision could not have been realized without the help of my nursing partner Beth Lee,” Dr. Haines said.

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