UHealth Vascular Access Center Opens in Palmetto Bay

When kidney failure patients in south Miami-Dade County face vascular access complications, such as clotting, stenosis or other related emergencies that impede their dialysis treatments, they can now seek help from a highly skilled UHealth – University of Miami Health System team of interventional nephrologists – right in the neighborhood.

Designed to extend the most advanced vascular access care to patients, and serve as a prototype for how UHealth and Miller School physicians can collaborate with community physicians, the UHealth Vascular Access Center opened its doors at 8770 Southwest 144th Street in Palmetto Bay last month and, on July 6, UHealth officials celebrated the grand opening with the center’s faculty physicians, nurses, staff and referring physicians.

“For the many patients in this part of the county who need these services, this is a wonderful undertaking for UHealth,” said William O’Neill, M.D., executive dean for clinical affairs at the Miller School and chief medical officer for UHealth. He also described the problems that can plague dialysis patients and how the Vascular Access Center is equipped to help.

Center physicians will perform angiography and angioplasty procedures, de-clotting, vessel mapping, and all tunnel catheter procedures for patients on maintenance hemodialysis.

David Roth, M.D., medical director for kidney transplantation and clinical director of the Nephrology and Hypertension Division, said the expertise of UHealth’s interventional nephrologists – Arif Asif, M.D., professor of medicine and director of interventional nephrology, and Loay H. Salman, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and medical director of the center – positions the program as a leader in the growing field of interventional nephrology. Donna Merrill, R.N., is the center’s nurse manager.

For the better part of the last 50 years, dialysis patients relied on radiologists and surgeons to manage complications with dialysis access. However, during the past decade, Roth explained, a growing number of nephrologists pursued advanced training in performing angioplasty, stent placements, de-clotting and other procedures for treating damaged or blocked dialysis accesses.

“The vascular access is a lifeline for the dialysis patient,” Roth said. “Having available well-trained nephrologists like Drs. Asif and Salman, who are also familiar with all of the issues patients with end stage renal disease must deal with, will be a tremendous resource to the patient population. Dr. Asif is a recognized leader in the field with extensive research and publications and I am confident that the new center in South Dade will set a very high standard for the care of these dialysis patients.”

The goal of establishing a state-of-the-art vascular access center, which could potentially serve a thousand patients a year, was realized with the support of community nephrologists who recognized their patients would benefit from their partnership with UM experts, and a number of UHealth entities, particularly University of Miami Hospital (UMH) and the Department of Medicine’s Nephrology and Hypertension Division.

“This represents a great partnership which allows us to expand the UHealth commitment to more patients,” UMH CEO Anthony Degina said in his welcome remarks delivered under a white tent pitched in the center’s parking area. “Together we have brought a great resource to this part of town.”

Current and future patients may also benefit from research that could come from information gleaned from treating a large cohort of patients with similar dialysis-related issues. Signaling its commitment to the program, the Miller School also launched a fellowship in interventional nephrology, selecting Mauricio Monrroy, M.D., who recently completed training in the nephrology program, as the first fellow.

Jochen Reiser, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chair of medicine and chief of the Nephrology and Hypertension Division, stressed the importance of the collaboration between UHealth’s academic-based physicians and referring physicians from the community.

“This is an amazing day to witness what we have created from scratch,” Reiser said. “This collaboration between the University and practicing physicians in the area is an example of the relationships we can build. It’s a real team effort that is going to serve our patients exceedingly well.”

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