Local Hospitals at Odds Over Bill that would Deregulate a Common Heart Surgery - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local Hospitals at Odds Over Bill that would Deregulate a Common Heart Surgery

YAKIMA, Wa -    A new bill in the state legislature would allow hospitals without heart surgery programs to perform an angioplasty in non-emergency situations.

Right now, anyone who needs this surgery in Yakima can only get it at Regional Hospital.  Memorial Hospital can only perform an angioplasty if a patient is taken to the ER.

The politicians who introduced the bill argue that it improves access to care for heart patients.

Memorial Hospital says many states have already passed similar legislation.

"There's a lot of data out there from a patient perspective doing a procedure in a non-open heart hospital is just as safe," says Russ Myer, Chief Operating Officer of Memorial Hospital, "There are currently 33 states that allow elective angioplasties to be done in non-open heart hospitals."

Memorial hospital does not have a heart surgery program like Regional.  Administrators at Regional are against the bill.

"Because we've made a big commitment to the community we operate in," says Jay Finnegan, Chief Executive Officer of Regional Hospital, "And to allow a lucrative procedure like an angioplasty to be done in a non-surgical setting economically is unfair and it also exposes a patient to unnecessary risk."

Finnegan says there's no need for Memorial Hospital to perform elective angioplasties because access is not an issue.  He says the two hospitals are just few blocks away from each other.