The Power Of Collaboration

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky, but if patients aren’t able to travel to Lexington for care, they can still count on the advanced medical expertise and technology of the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute through its affiliate network.  

The Gill Affiliate Network

Created in 2014, the Gill Affiliate Network enhances cardiovascular services throughout the Commonwealth, delivering support and education for cardiac programs at 16 Kentucky community hospitals. Affiliates have access to a broad range of benefits and services, including:  

  • Administrative, clinical and network support. 
  • Professional education and training. 
  • Program development. 
  • Community outreach, marketing and public relations. 
  • Cardiac program quality reviews. 
  • Access to treatment protocols to help improve quality of care. 
  • Support in developing targeted educational programs for affiliate providers and staff. 
  • Help in developing policies and procedures.  

Soon, affiliates will have access to a digital warehouse with Gill Affiliate Network information, including patient education materials, marketing tools, and events and provider education. Providers at our affiliates also receive free or reduced-cost professional education and training at Gill. 

If affiliates want to start a new cardiovascular program, Gill provides assistance with program development. For example, Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) in Hazard is considering opening a women’s heart clinic, so their doctors visited the Gill Women’s Heart Health Program for several days to see the program in action. Doctors spent a day in the Echo Lab and another two days in the clinic, seeing patients and speaking with staff. Staff at ARH said the visit was a good first step in the process of planning for a women’s clinic.  

Impact of training

Popular intensive mini-fellowships offer affiliate providers an immersive experience in a particular area of cardiology as well as exposure to the latest therapies in the field. Recent mini-fellowships covered advanced cardiac imaging, cardiovascular pharmacy and cath labs.  

Affiliate clinicians at a mini-fellowship in heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation said the program helped them understand when to refer potential LVAD (left ventricular assist device) and transplant patients. "The hospital rounds were a very effective format. Seeing how real patients are being managed was very useful,” said one participant.  

A two-day echocardiography conference included lectures and hands-on scanning, giving affiliate providers the chance to see the newest imaging and scanning equipment in action and receive updates on current national standards.  

Gill also holds an annual affiliate network meeting that brings providers, administrators and clinical staff from all the affiliates together to discuss opportunities for collaboration, supporting the network’s mission that Kentuckians should receive the highest quality cardiovascular care in the right place, at the right time.