Getting to the Heart of Your Business

Dr. Yong T. Shin

Passionate, world-class talent drives Kaiser Permanente’s nationally recognized cardiac care program.

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 The statistics surrounding cardiovascular disease in the workforce are shocking. It is the number one killer of Americans, according to the American Heart Association. Employees with cardiovascular disease lose 56 more hours per year in productivity and cost employers $1,100 more per year in insurance. High blood pressure raises an employee’s health care costs by nearly a third and leads to $10.3 billion per year in lost hours.
Though daunting, these statistics can be improved upon. Kaiser Permanente is renowned for its preventive care — 88 percent of its patients successfully control their blood pressure versus the national average of 56 percent — but it’s when the stakes are highest that Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center’s Northwest Center for Heart and Vascular Care thrives: According to the National Cardiovascular Data Registry, Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s patients have a 96.7 percent survival rate after acute heart attack treatment. And patients who receive left ventricular assist device implants have a perfect survival rate after one year, 20 points higher than the national average.

According to Dr. Yong T. Shin, MD, “[Doing our work] requires tremendous pride in providing quality cardiac care,” said Dr. Shin, Chief of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery at Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center’s Northwest Center for Heart and Vascular Care. “We recruit and surround ourselves with people who share this passion, which allows us to achieve excellence.”

The Northwest Center for Heart and Vascular Care encompasses all aspects of cardiovascular health care under one roof: two operating rooms with dedicated support staff, a specialized intensive care unit for heart traumas, and a progressive care unit for follow-up treatment. Further, Kaiser Permanente’s reputation for providing high-quality care and securing successful patient outcomes has traveled fast among the small cardiac community, attracting some of the top doctors and surgeons from across the country.

Kaiser PErmanente surgeryDr. Yong T. Shin, above, leads a team in surgery at Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center’s Northwest Center for Heart and Vascular Care.

This shared passion has translated into consistent, demonstrated success. For the ninth straight year, Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s heart program has received the highest distinction from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), and is Oregon’s only hospital to get the highest STS rating for isolated coronary artery bypass grafting and isolated aortic valve replacement.

Former patient David Ford can attest to this efficacy. Ford was experiencing chest pain, and a series of tests revealed three plugged arteries. To fix them, he’d need bypass surgery.

Ford wasn’t any regular patient: He was CEO and President of multiple regional health insurance companies for over 20 years — most recently for CareOregon before retiring — giving him inside exposure to Oregon’s many healthcare providers. After the surgery, he described Kaiser Permanente’s team as having “an invisible magnificence” — a highly skilled team with an end-to-end coordinated system not seen by the public. “Here’s a team who not only listens and engages with its patients, but is technically and systematically competent,” said Ford. “That triple proficiency is extremely rare in medicine.”

Ford’s experience underlies Dr. Shin’s definition of success, which prioritizes not just high-caliber physicians and national praise but, most importantly, securing healthy and affordable outcomes for its patients. “Our shared goal is to do the right thing at the right time for every patient,” said Dr. Shin. “This vision allows us to accomplish things that may seem impossible.”

Cardiovascular disease remains a critical issue for employee health, and curbing these statistics is an uphill battle. Yet Dr. Shin and his team embrace the challenge; with a steady combination of talent, resources, and deep-seated passion, they see the “impossible” as merely the next outcome to achieve.


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