Eric Wang

The Reader’s Digest named Yale New Haven Hospital the best heart hospital in Connecticut in a Feb. 11 article listing the top heart hospitals in every U.S. state.

Yale New Haven Hospital, founded in 1826, currently functions as a large health care system that encompasses several hospitals scattered around the state, including Greenwich Hospital and Bridgeport Hospital. The YNHH Heart and Vascular Center’s role as part of such a large network of organizations contributes to its continued success as Connecticut’s premier heart center, according to Henry Cabin, professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and medical director of the center.

Cabin explained that the integration of the School of Medicine, Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System has allowed the Heart and Vascular Center to operate at the highest level. The three entities have worked together for more than 10 years — all of the doctors that care for patients at the hospital also work as full-time faculty at the medical school.

“It was a very defining moment because instead of functioning in two separate worlds even through we existed in the same world, we decided to form this group organization: the Heart and Vascular Center,” Cabin said.

The Heart and Vascular Center was the first such entity in Connecticut. Historically, the hospital’s purpose was to take care of patients, while the medical school focused on teaching and research. Cabin said that by “bring[ing] together the hospital and school into a [closer] alliance, the hospital begins to adopt a recognition that the other missions are important.”

Another aspect of the Heart and Vascular Center that contributes to its success is its ability to develop and implement the latest technology due to both its affiliation with the School of Medicine and its role as arguably the state’s most influential hospital system.

Joseph Brennan — a professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program and director of inpatient cardiology services at Yale New Haven Hospital — embodies the three missions of the Heart and Vascular Center: education, research and patient care.

According to Brennan, the size and influence of the center “allows [it] to have incredible sway in purchasing power.

“We can always get new technology … [and] also have the medical school across the street — think of the technology and ingenuity that comes out of that. And as you know, they’re all interlinked,” he said.

A 2018 U.S. News report rated YNHH’s cardiology and heart surgery program “excellent” for patient services, another defining feature of the hospital.

To help hospital patients have a better experience at a hospital visit, hospital leadership attend seminars on patient care, Brennan noted.

“YNHH really prides itself on patient care,” he said. “[The seminars] teach you how to interact with patients [and] how to deal with difficult and, unfortunately, dying patients. Then, those in leadership positions can instruct their underlings on how to do that.”

The hospital seeks to continue to develop advances in technology and better patient care, according to Brennan.

This goal is reflected in the Yale School of Medicine’s Cardiology Fellowship program and its ability to use a diverse patient base to teach future cardiologists firsthand — allowing them to gain an unprecedented amount of experience after a fellowship in New Haven, according to Yekaterina Kim, a clinical cardiology fellow at the School of Medicine.

“The strength of the YNHH Heart and Vascular Center is that it is a tertiary referral center; therefore, we serve a large and very diverse patient population in Connecticut and offer a wide array of cardiac and vascular procedures with state-of-the-art care,” she said. “Our faculty are world-renowned leaders in the field of cardiology.”

The fellowship program also ties into the three-pronged mission statement of the Heart and Vascular Center. School of Medicine faculty provide mentorship to fellows of the program, who can apply their skills to patients in the hospital.

“The faculty and educators in the cardiology department are dedicated not only to exceptional patient care and research, but also to focusing on providing the best set of training opportunities for fellows,” said Eric Brandt, a third-year cardiovascular medicine fellow.

The YNHH Heart and Vascular Center employs over 100 doctors to care for patients from across the state.

Phoebe Liu | phoebe.liu@yale.edu