St. Bernards Receives Federal Approval for Advanced Heart Restoration Procedure

JONESBORO, Ark. – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently certified the Advanced Heart Surgery Program at St. Bernards Medical Center to implant artificial heart pumps on patients with advanced heart failure.

The pumps, known as left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), pump blood throughout the body, rather than relying upon a failing heart. LVAD technology offers a treatment option for heart failure previously unavailable in Northeast Arkansas. In fact, the program at St. Bernards is one of three programs in Arkansas and the first program outside of Little Rock to receive CMS certification.

Cardiovascular Surgeon Dr. Jay K. Bhama assisted St. Bernards in establishing the procedure. He said the urgency behind it stems from the prevalence of heart failure throughout the region.

“Our patients previously traveled to Memphis or Little Rock to have their devices implanted and receive ongoing care,” Dr. Bhama said. “We can ease that burden by giving them a more accessible, advanced support option.”

Patients who receive the implantable heart pumps have a multidisciplinary Heart Restoration Team at St. Bernards overseeing their progress. This team includes trained nurses, nurse practitioners, coordinators, social workers and physicians. These physicians, trained in both advanced heart failure and cardiac electrophysiology, work closely with cardiac surgeons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eastern Arkansas has the highest death rates from heart failure per 100,000 persons in Arkansas¹. In Northeast Arkansas, specifically, Lawrence County sits at number one (430.9), followed by Greene County at number two (373.2). Sharp (341.5) and Jackson (335.6) counties trail closely, at numbers five and six. The overall Arkansas rate is 235.6, the sixth highest rate in the U.S.

·        St. Bernards Healthcare, an independent, non-profit, Catholic healthcare system, serves 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri.
·        The corporate parent of a number of healthcare entities, St. Bernards Healthcare includes the largest hospital in the region, St. Bernards Medical Center.
·        As a regional referral hub, St. Bernards Medical Center offers a 440-bed acute care hospital, complete with the region’s most capable Level III Trauma Center and only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
·        Founded and still sponsored by the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters in Jonesboro, St. Bernards has provided trusted, comprehensive and compassionate healthcare services for 123 years.
·        For more information, please visit, or call the St. Bernards Healthline at 870.207.7300.

press release

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