Piedmont Transplant Institute, Piedmont Healthcare’s service line that performs abdominal transplants (liver, kidney and pancreas), set an internal record for the private, non-for-profit organization by transplanting 325 organs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 – an increase of more than 17 percent over Piedmont’s previous high. In FY 2016, Piedmont transplanted 277 organs.
Piedmont Healthcare ranks in the top 15 percent in the country in organ transplant volumes and ranks among the nation’s busiest non-academic transplant hospitals. Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, where all of the transplant procedures took place, has the highest Case Mix Index (CMI) of any community hospital in the nation, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data released this year. This means Piedmont Atlanta takes care of the sickest patients of any non-academic medical center nationwide, ranking in the top 10 for all hospitals.
“The quantum leap that Piedmont Transplant Institute made in the number of organs that it transplanted in the last fiscal year is a testament to the quality of healthcare that Piedmont Healthcare delivers,” said Charles L. Brown III, M.D., CEO of Piedmont’s Healthcare’s Physician Enterprise. “We are thrilled that we were able to make such a positive difference in so many more lives than we had anticipated through our abdominal transplant program.”
Eric Gibney, M.D., and Harrison Pollinger, D.O., serve as Co-Program Directors of Piedmont Transplant. They said the department had set a goal of transplanting 280 organs for FY 2018. Dr. Gibney and Dr. Pollinger attribute a variety of factors for the sizable increase, including community and physician outreach, rapid appointment times, clinical practices, and the talent of staff and personnel.
Dr. Gibney and Dr. Pollinger noted that Piedmont’s strategic growth, including mergers in recent years with Piedmont Athens Regional, Piedmont Columbus Midtown and Piedmont Columbus Northside, has given the organization greater visibility throughout the state, enabling it to serve larger populations. Piedmont Transplant Institute also has satellite clinics in Albany, Macon, Athens, Savannah and Dalton. Piedmont Healthcare served more than 2 million patients in Georgia in FY 2018.
Several years ago, Piedmont Transplant responded to an increasing number of offers of organs occurring on the weekends by assigning more surgeons to be on-call at this critical time, which has helped lead to the increase in activity. Piedmont Transplant also has become more aggressive in organ acceptance, incorporating best practices from leading transplant centers and implementing steps from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s (OPTN) Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (COIIN).
Dr. Gibney and Dr. Pollinger cited new surgical and medical directors as providing key momentum, with the addition of Marwan Kazimi, M.D., Surgical Director of Liver Transplantation, Jonathan Hundley, M.D., Surgical Director of Kidney Transplantation, and Christina Klein M.D., Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation. In addition to their leadership, physicians and surgeons have strengthened Piedmont’s offerings in liver disease, pancreas transplantation, and clinical research, all of which contributed to the growth of the program. Dr. Kazimi performs living donor liver transplant procedures, which Piedmont sees as a vital offering in the Southeastern United States. Piedmont Transplant Institute’s management team, led by Executive Director Chris Fowler, and strong clinical and office support staff provide the strategic and operational excellence that makes the program possible.
Piedmont Transplant continues to maintain outstanding outcomes for liver disease survival, kidney and liver transplant outcomes, and maintains key expertise in living donation. More than 40 percent of kidneys transplanted at Piedmont come from living donors, a key factor for better long-term outcomes. Since 1986, Piedmont Transplant has been recognized as one of the nation’s most successful transplant programs, performing more than 4,400 transplant surgeries for kidney liver, pancreas and heart recipients.