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Press Release: Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center at University Medical Center New Orleans Receives National Accreditation

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center (CPHC) at University Medical Center (University Medical Center) New Orleans has won top-tier accreditation from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), becoming the state’s first Center of Comprehensive Care for the rare and complex condition that affects the arteries in the lungs and heart.

The designation from the PHA, the world’s largest and oldest pulmonary hypertension association, signifies that a PH program has demonstrated a dedication to making proper diagnosis and the capacity to appropriately and comprehensively manage PH patients through a set of criteria established by the PHA Scientific Leadership Council – 28 global leaders in the field of pulmonary hypertension.

These criteria have also been developed with input from many PH stakeholders including physicians, allied health care professionals, patients, and PHA leadership, and are considered essential to delivering high-quality care for these complex patients.

Only a select and a limited number of PH Centers will be accredited nationwide. The accreditation cycle is three years.

Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is a relatively rare, life-threatening condition that causes high pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs. It is different from regular high blood pressure and requires advanced methods for diagnosis and novel treatments usually offered only in specialized centers.

“We are honored that the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) has given its highest accreditation to the Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center (CPHC) at UMCNO,” said Dr. Bennett deBoisblanc, Professor of Medicine and Physiology at LSU Health Sciences Center and CPHC Co-Director. “This partnership of physicians, nurses, researchers, respiratory therapists, and social workers from LSU, Tulane, and UMCNO offers hope where there was none to patients from the entire Gulf South region.”

Dr. Shigeki Saito, CPHC Co-Director and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tulane University, said, “There is an urgent need for medical institutions to accurately diagnose, treat and provide support for PH patients. Our hope is that the PHA accreditation raises our profile to help us as we work with healthcare professionals throughout our community to ensure that more people living with PH receive the right diagnosis early and accurately and that they will get the very best care available.”

Gregory C. Feirn, the acting CEO of University Medical Center New Orleans and CEO of LCMC Health, said, “I am excited about the PHA accreditation of the Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center and the partnership it represents. With our academic partners at LSU Health Science Center and Tulane University School of Medicine, we are working to develop world-class programs and services like this to improve the lives of many more patients.”

With symptoms that include breathlessness, fatigue, dizziness, and chest pain, many pulmonary hypertension patients will see three or more physicians before they receive an accurate diagnosis. The survival rate for PH patients who go untreated is less than three years.

The CPHC’s team comprises physicians who were established and recognized PH clinicians prior to the creation of the Center. Dr. Lesley Ann Saketkoo, a Tulane rheumatologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Immunology, is co-director of research at the CPHC. Dr. Matthew Lammi, a pulmonologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at LSU Health Science Center, is co-director of research. Dr. Vijayendra Jaligam is a cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at LSU Health Science Center.

The CPHC at University Medical Center New Orleans offers PH care, nursing support, access to PH research studies and patient support groups, and inpatient care should patients need to be admitted. Patients receive care from a team of three LSU and Tulane pulmonologists, a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, social workers, respiratory services. The CPHC provides dedicated multi-specialty care for patients with scleroderma and other connective tissue diseases at risk for developing PH.

Faculty and staff also provide education and community outreach efforts such as a PH patient support group and patient education programs focusing on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, supporting the PHA foundation in efforts to increase awareness of PH.

The academic faculty of multi-specialty LSU and Tulane physicians will ensure that the CPHC becomes a training site for physicians, staff, fellows, and others.

The advantages and benefits of the Center include:

  • An integrated clinic model that will provide ongoing co-management services with other outpatient clinics.
  • A streamlined admissions process to increase response time and improve care with available on-site inpatient services.
  • An academic faculty of multi-specialty physicians from LSU and Tulane will ensure that CPHC becomes a training site for physicians, staff, fellows, and others.
  • Patient education programs focusing on nutrition and healthy lifestyles and community outreach to increase awareness of PH.
  • Research initiatives to advance the study and treatment of PH.