Cardiac Care Lauded By Highmark BCBS

April 02, 2016

Penn Highlands Healthcare is proud of its system-wide approach to providing residents with easy access to cardiac diagnostic testing in all four hospitals, as well as the advanced cardiac interventional programs available at The Heart Center of Penn Highlands DuBois.

Highmark BCBS has designated The Heart Center as a Blue Distinction® Center+ in the Blue Distinction Centers for Cardiac Care program, part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. Blue Distinction Centers are nationally designated healthcare facilities shown to deliver improved patient safety and better health outcomes, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community.

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac Care designation, a hospital must demonstrate its expertise in delivering safe and effective cardiac care, focusing on cardiac valve surgery, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) episodes of care. A hospital must also have earned national accreditation at the facility level. In addition to meeting established quality thresholds, these hospitals must also demonstrate better cost-efficiency compared to their peers.

“Having a skilled and experienced heart care team is a true asset to the communities we serve,” Penn Highlands Chief Medical Officer Gary DuGan, MD, said. “Our cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons continue to exceed expectations in the delivery of care to our patients. Penn Highlands Healthcare is excited that The Heart Center is recognized by Highmark BCBS for meeting the rigorous selection criteria for cardiac care set by the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.”

Quality is key: only those facilities that first meet nationally established quality measures for Blue Distinction Centers were considered for designation as a Blue Distinction Center+.

“This award represents all of the hard work that is put in by our primary care physicians in educating their patients, recognizing the early signs of heart disease and trusting the advanced specialty providers to take great care of their patients when cardiac interventions are needed,” DuGan said. “As one of the system’s leading service lines, this is truly a system-wide recognition.”

The Heart Center brings comprehensive, 24-hour specialized cardiac care to the region. Backed by state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and a full range of inpatient and outpatient services, The Heart Center can perform life-saving, advanced cardiac procedures.

Located on the fourth and fifth floors of Penn Highlands DuBois West Campus, the cardiac unit features two cardiac operating rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab, 12 cardiovascular intensive care patient rooms, non-invasive cardiology areas and a cardiac rehabilitation unit.

The Heart Center’s cardiologists, surgeons and medical professionals work collaboratively with primary care physicians throughout Penn Highlands Healthcare to provide prompt follow-up and ongoing communication regarding the patient’s progress. The cardiologists of DuBois Regional Cardiology Associates who work at The Heart Center see patients in all four Penn Highlands hospital locations.

“Blue Distinction in Cardiac Care confirms that exceptional measures are put forth by all members of our Heart Center team,” Heather Franci, service line director for The Heart Center and Cardiology at Penn Highlands Healthcare, said. “It also makes the community aware that they will receive quality and efficient care at The Heart Center.”

“The Blue Distinction also motivates our team by recognizing their commitment for providing high quality compassionate care,” she said.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming more than 610,000 lives—1 in 4—each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.1 By 2030, 40.5 percent of the U.S. population is projected to have some form of cardiovascular disease, and the cost of cardiac care is expected to reach $818 billion by 2030—an increase of almost 300 percent from 2010, according to the American Heart Association. The Blue Distinction Specialty Care program seeks to reduce this burden by empowering patients with the knowledge and tools to find both quality and value for their cardiac care.

“Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield extends its sincere congratulations to The Heart Center of Penn Highlands DuBois for their dedication to quality, patient safety, and transparency that is required to achieve this great distinction. With consumer driven healthcare programs like Blue Distinction, and the significant effort of our partner practitioners and facilities, Highmark can now enable our members the opportunity to make wise, value-driven healthcare decisions”, said Dr. Mark Piasio, Medical Director, Provider Strategy, Highmark Inc.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, maternity care, spine surgery and transplants, while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver.

Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, facilities designated as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac Care are 20 percent more cost efficient in an episode of care compared to non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated healthcare facilities.

For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit