Pulmonary Docs Thrilled with CMS Certification for Lung Transplant Program

The organ-transplant program at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson is regaining strength, signaled by its recent federal certification to offer adult lung transplants.

Jennifer Morales, who got a double lung transplant in March, exercises at her midtown apartment. Read more about her and revitalization of the entire transplant program at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, which also just completed its 100th kidney transplant, in this Oct. 30 Arizona Daily Star article (Photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star). 

Jennifer Morales, of Yuma, is the symbol of a revitalized and recertified Adult Lung Transplant Program at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.

“I just feel great,” she said.

The 18-year-old received a double lung transplant at Banner – UMC Tucson (BUMCT) in March 2015. She moved to Tucson last week after being accepted to the University of Arizona.

Kudos to Banner – University Medical Group (BUMG) providers in Phoenix and Tucson, whose collaboration over the past 18 months led to certification by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the BUMCT Adult Lung Transplant Program.

Monica Kraft, MD, chair of the UA Department of Medicine, which includes the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine (PACCS), and Division Chief Ken Knox, MD, congratulated everyone involved in the recertification. “This is just one area that requires a multidisciplinary approach and a team effort all around to ensure the best care for our patients,” Dr. Kraft said. “Thank you all for your hard work.”

Dr. Knox added, “We especially want to thank our Tucson provider team of Drs. Steve Knoper, Scott Lick, Sam Kim and Josh Malo, as well as physician assistants Hossai Shah and Chris Prescott, for their all-hands-on-deck approach, devotion to the program and excellence in patient care. All transplants were performed at Banner – UMC Tucson, where this team is based."

The hospital’s once-active lung transplant program withdrew from CMS participation and relinquished its certification in 2014. After Banner Health acquired the hospital in 2015, Banner began rebuilding the lung transplant program and submitted an application to CMS for certification following BUMCT’s 10th successful lung transplant. The program underwent a site visit this past spring and late this summer was notified by CMS that the program had met all certification requirements.

The lung program recently transplanted its 16th patient, and currently has three patients on the waiting list for the procedure. The majority of these patients are from outside Tucson, referred to the program by Banner clinicians statewide.

“That is one of the benefits of being part of a large health-care network. Without the Phoenix referrals it would have taken our Tucson program much longer to meet the minimum 10 transplants required by CMS for certification,” explained Deborah Mauer, the statewide transplantation administrator for Banner – University Medicine.

“This hard-won CMS certification is the fruit of wonderful coordination and collaboration among our physicians and clinical staff to develop a care model between Banner – UMC Phoenix (BUMCP) and BUMCT focused on patient convenience and access,” she said, adding that BUMCP offers pre- and post-lung transplant services to support Phoenix patients.

Scott Lick, MD, UA professor of surgery, is the surgical director of the lung transplant program and Rajeev Saggar, MD, UA clinical associate professor, executive director, BUMCP Advanced Lung Disease Care, and chair, Clinical Medicine, BUMG, and Steve Knoper, MD, UA assistant professor in pulmonary and critical care, are co-medical directors.

Dr. Knoper said the recertification took a lot of hard work from transplant professionals in both Tucson and Phoenix: “We took a short break from active lung transplant surgeries and CMS participation while a new surgical director, Dr. Lick, was recruited in 2014, but continued to see post-transplant patients from past years. Similarly, we have been fortunate to partner with the highly talented and experienced lung transplant pulmonologists who are our Phoenix area partners, Dr. Saggar and Dr. Tony Hodges, whose guidance and wealth of transplant knowledge has immensely strengthened our program. We emerge from this break with a cohesive and stronger Phoenix and Tucson lung transplant program poised to provide an option for patients with end-stage lung disease in Arizona and the surrounding region. Additionally, the administration of initially the University of Arizona Health Network and now Banner Health has been incredibly supportive, motivated and invested in allowing us to achieve this milestone.”

Tucson lung transplant team member, transplant pulmonologist and UA Assistant Professor Joshua Malo, MD, added, “The CMS certification is part of a longstanding and ongoing mission to provide the best care possible to people who suffer from advanced lung disease, and we look forward to continuing to serve patients throughout Arizona with a multidisciplinary center that offers expertise in lung transplantation and all forms of advanced lung disease care.”

For community physicians, patients or others wishing to learn more about lung transplant referrals at Banner – University Medicine, please call toll-free 800-524-5927 for Banner - UMC Tucson or (602) 521-3400 or 521-3208 for Banner – UMC Phoenix.

The original article for the above appeared in the Oct. 20 BUMG Wildcat Connection e-newsletter. Click here to see an archive of those newsletters.

“After hiatus, Banner-UMC is doing lung transplants in Tucson” | Arizona Daily Star, Oct. 30, 2016

[Photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star]

Release Date: 
10/21/2016 - 9:30am