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Members of the team responsible for the Heart & Vascular Center at Maimonides Medical Center present the flag in honor of National Heart Month. At left is Dominick Stanzione, executive vice president and COO of Maimonides. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

Maimonides Medical Center, recognized by the federal government as one of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S. for cardiac care, marked National Heart Month by raising a flag to honor the work done by doctors, nurses and medical teams to save the lives of patients.

February is National Heart Month in the U.S., designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise awareness of the importance of preventing heart disease.

Maimonides officials held a ceremony in the main lobby at 4802 10th Ave. Friday morning to raise a flag in tribute to the Maimonides Heart & Vascular Center, a medical facility housed within the hospital that offers cutting edge treatments for patients suffering from cardiac and/or vascular diseases.

The red flag, containing the words “Maimonides Heart & Vascular Center,” was actually raised on a flagpole across the street from the main lobby. But with Arctic temperatures outside on Friday morning, officials held the ceremony indoors.

Dominick Stanzione, executive vice president and COO of Maimonides Medical Center, said the key to the successful outcome for patients is teamwork. “Communities, health professionals and families all need to work together,” he said.

The ceremony provided an opportunity for the doctors and nurses who work in the Heart & Vascular Center to take a bow for their efforts to save lives and give their patients a good quality of life.

The center is led by Dr. Jacob Shani, chairman of the center; Dr. Greg Ribakove, director of cardiothoracic surgery; and Dr. Robert Rhee, chief of vascular and endovascular surgery. The center treats thousands of patients a year. The center was one of the first medical institutions in the country to offer a groundbreaking procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) in which cardiologists replace faulty heart valves without putting the patient through a major surgery.

The Heart & Vascular Center has helped Maimonides maintain a solid reputation for cardiac care, according to hospital officials.

Officials at the hospital point out that the federal government’s annual report on 30-day mortality rates showed that Maimonides Medical Center ranks among the nation’s top 10 hospitals for positive patient outcomes in heart attack and heart failure.

And according to the New York State Department of Health, Maimonides ranks first in the state in providing the best patient outcomes for angioplasty and heart stents.

At the ceremony, Ribakove credited the collaborative atmosphere at the hospital with the success of the center. The dedication to teamwork “leads to great patient outcomes,” he said. “If you follow any patient who has heart disease or vascular disease you’ll find a whole group of amazing people.”

Dr. Steve Konstadt, chief of anesthesiology, agreed. “Everybody pulls together,” he said.

Maimonides Medical Center’s reputation as a great hospital for cardiac care is well known in health care and academic circles, according to Dr. Robert Rhee, chief of vascular and endovascular surgery. He recalled attending a recent reunion at his medical school, the University Of Rochester School Of Medicine, and how impressed a former teacher of his was when he learned that Rhee had come to work at Maimonides.

“Did you know that Adrian Kantrowitz did the first heart transplant?” Rhee’s teacher asked him. Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz performed the first heart transplant in the U.S. at Maimonides in 1967.

Rhee said he was looking forward to “the next phase of our growth.”

The care and concern that the medical professionals in the Heart & Vascular Center have for patients is a reflection of the way the entire hospital look at patients, according to Louise Valerio RN.

“We are committed to cardiac patients. We are committed to patients in general. That’s our theme here,” she said.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) stopped by to congratulate the doctors. “It’s great to know that in our neck of the woods, we have a top cardiology center,” he said.

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