URBANA — About a month after ending birthing services for expectant parents, OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center has been taking steps to position itself as a regional go-to hospital for cardiology.
The cardiac case volume at that Urbana hospital has already been rising — up 35 percent over the last year — and that’s expected to keep growing, according to hospital President J.T. Barnhart.
By 2030, baby boomers in the U.S. will all be 65 or older — the age range when the prevalence of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke becomes higher.
“As the need expands throughout the region, we want to be a really strong partner for all things cardiac,” Barnhart said.
OSF Heart of Mary discontinued births about a month ago, due to declining demand for that service at the Urbana hospital. Births were resumed at OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center, Danville, where Barnhart said the need for obstetrics was greater.
There were five babies born at Sacred Heart from Sept. 6-30, but the number is expected to pick up, according to OSF spokesman Tim Ditman.
“In 2021, the last full year the Sacred Heart birthing center was open, there were 399 births,” he said.
Meanwhile, two procedures for patients with the irregular heartbeat condition atrial fibrillation have recently been added at OSF Heart of Mary.
They include the Watchman implant, a minimally-invasive procedure intended to reduce stroke risk for patients who can’t tolerate blood thinner medications, and laser ablation, a minimally-invasive procedure intended to be a long-term fix for irregular heart rhythm.
OSF Heart of Mary currently has 13 cardiology providers in Urbana, 10 of them physicians, along with two advanced-practice cardiology nurses and a physician assistant in cardiothoracic surgery.
While they’re based in Urbana, Barnhart said, they are also commuting to see patients in Danville, Mattoon and Watseka.
He also said the hospital is in the process of expanding in some other specialties by adding providers in gastroenterology, cardiothoracic surgery and pain management, and is promoting timely access to care.
In most cases, he said, patients can be scheduled within a week.
“One thing we see in specialties in the community is long wait times,” Barnhart said.
There is also a new pain and spine clinic under construction in the hospital.
“We’re really focused on those services where patients are waiting to see providers, where we can recruit and offer timely care,” Barnhart said.