LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-Veterans Medical Center halted its open-heart surgery program last week because almost 10% of its patients were dying. That's more than twice the national average mortality of 4.4% for veterans medical centers. Of 162 heart-surgery patients between April and September 1996, 16 died. For the six months ended March 31, 12 out of 135 heart patients died, or almost 9%. The Veterans Affairs Cardiac Review Board reviewed the high death rate in the first six-month period; when it continued during the second period, hospital Director George H. Gray Jr. decided to suspend operations. Hospital officials don't know why so many patients are dying, so a team of heart surgeons and technicians is visiting the hospital to look into the matter. The Little Rock heart unit treats patients from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Patients will either be sent to other hospitals in Little Rock or to other Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country. Some 40 VA hospitals offer heart surgery.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-HealthCor Holdings, a Dallas-based home-care company, said it has acquired CareNetwork of Little Rock. CareNetwork provides pediatric nursing, Medicare nursing and hospice-care services through Arkansas outlets in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs and Little Rock. HealthCor said CareNetwork generated $16 million in revenues during 1996. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. HealthCor provides nursing, respiratory therapy, home medical equipment and infusion therapy services in nine states, primarily in the Southwest.