Attacking Heart Disease

Overlake's new facility is game-changing

Photos by Brian DalBalcon

Every heartbeat is a moment to be treasured. The adult heart — the size of a fist — will beat roughly 2.5 billion times during an average 66-year lifespan. David Hovind’s father was only 57 years old when he died of a heart attack in the 1960s — a time when cardiac care was primitive by modern standards. “If you had a heart attack, the best they could do was keep you comfortable,” said David’s wife, Shelley Hovind of Clyde Hill.

Times have changed. In 2002, Shelley’s father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. With the more advanced medical technology and the care he received at Overlake Medical Center of Bellevue, he enjoyed nine more years, until age 91.

Despite medical advances and education, heart disease still is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and on the Eastside. One person dies from it every day.

With all this in mind, the Hovinds donated $1 million to help Overlake Medical Center build the David and Shelley Hovind Heart and Vascular Center, which opened in August. David retired as vice chairman and director of truck builders PACCAR in 2004 after 39 years with the company.

“We’ve been blessed to have the ability to help on a project we feel so personally about,” said Shelley Hovind, who worked with the Overlake Hospital Foundation. “This is a nonprofit hospital. It needs community support.”

The 19,200-square-foot, $14 million center brings Overlake’s cardiac and vascular services together in one location and consolidates the most advanced cardiovascular equipment and technology available on the Eastside. The facility allows more real-time collaboration between physicians, facilitates consultation among physicians, patients and their families, and boosts the Eastside’s access to cardiac care.

Patient care was outstanding to begin with, and this will only improve it, said Henk Dawson, a former physician and retired physics professor, who had two successful heart operations at Overlake to remedy different types of arrhythmia.

“It is so high-end and so well thought out. It is the best thought-out unit I have ever seen,” Dawson said. “Even in the old setting, I felt really cared for. That in itself is very important, perhaps even more than the ambiance. But the new ambiance is very reassuring.”


The Hovind Center continues a tradition of quality cardiac care at Overlake, which became the first open-heart surgery center on the Eastside in 1987 and, 25 years later, is still the only hospital on the Eastside offering open-heart surgery. Nearly 40,000 patients received cardiac care at Overlake in 2012.

The national goal to treat a heart attack is 90 minutes from the emergency room door to a life-saving operation, also known as “door-to-balloon” time. (Balloon stands for a common treatment, the inflation of a balloon-tipped catheter to open a blocked artery.) The team at Overlake has completed “door-to-balloon” in 22 minutes and typically gets the job done in 60.

As the need grew over the years, cardiac and cardiovascular services expanded, tucked into corners and on different floors. During the last three years, the number of open-heart operations performed by Overlake physicians increased by nearly 35 percent. In the old setting, patients, family, physicians and lab results shuffled from unit to unit, floor to floor. When it became apparent in 2008 that Overlake’s old emergency room space would soon became available, Overlake saw an opportunity to offer better cardiac care in one place.

“We prepared a wish list, and we were able to get most of our wishes,” said Dr. Derek Rodrigues, an Overlake cardiologist. In 1997, Rodrigues started the electrophysiology program at Overlake, which included the ability to diagnose and treat complex cardiac arrhythmia. “It is exciting for us, and we are excited for our patients. It will make an excellent experience for our patients.”

The new center has several advantages. It has valet parking, a highly specialized team and its own patient care unit with 15 family-friendly, short-stay, pre- and post-procedure patient rooms.

There are two cardiac catheterization labs, two electrophysiology labs, a vascular interventional radiology suite and operating rooms, as well as nursing and administrative support space.

“We did it right,” said Steve Rowell, clinical director of Overlake’s cardiac services. “Most patients will come here, prep, walk to their procedures and then return to their rooms. … They will be isolated from critically ill patients.”

The operating rooms — expanded from 385 square feet to a minimum of 650 square feet each — are a sight to behold. Using boom technology, equipment is suspended from the ceiling and is highly maneuverable. Physicians can customize their operating room equipment placements to maximize efficiency and minimize fatigue. Super-size screens depict two-dimensional and three-dimensional images and video so physicians can see what’s happening inside the patient in real time.


“Some of the new functionalities are almost breathtaking. For instance, we will have 3D mapping of the vessels of the brain. You will be able to rotate the picture to get a better view,” said Dr. Joe Doucette, director of invasive cardiology at Overlake. “These procedures — where you open blood vessels from the inside — these procedures are taking off. In the old days, you would open the skull (or crack the chest open). Today, you enter through a blood vessel.”

This innovation has sponsors. Besides the Hovinds’ gift, the Overlake Medical Center Foundation & Auxiliaries raised an additional $1.1 million at the 2013 Bandage Ball, its annual fundraising gala and auction. To date, the foundation has received more than $4 million in donations for the new center.

This investment is made to last, said Rowell. “There is room in this center to grow and serve the Eastside for at least 20 years. We don’t know what the technology is going to be in 20 years … so we built flexibility into the design.”

Always Something New

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is a new, minimally invasive treatment for some forms of aortic valve stenosis — abnormal narrowing of the aorta. The procedure allows for insertion of an artificial valve using a catheter advanced to the heart through the groin artery. Patients who have TAVR typically have a small incision in the groin and are walking within 12 hours.


Cardiac Care at Overlake

• Nearly 40,000 patients received cardiac care at Overlake in 2012
• Top 10 percent in the nation for “door-to-balloon” time
• First open-heart operation on the Eastside in 1987 and, 25 years later, still the only hospital on the Eastside offering open-heart surgery
• First to perform acute angioplasty in the Puget Sound region
• First to perform endovascular repair of aneurysms on the Eastside
• Only electrophysiology labs on the Eastside
• First in the state and one of only 20 hospitals in the country to test bioabsorbable stents

Getting Back Your Rhythm

One treatment for non-life-threatening arrhythmia is called catheter ablation; it’s a fairly low-risk procedure in which high-frequency energy is delivered through a long, thin, flexible tube put into a blood vessel. The tube guides into a small area of tissue inside the heart that’s triggering the abnormal rhythm. The tip of the catheter heats up with radiofrequency energy, creating a small scar on the tissue so the arrhythmia can no longer travel through the area and thus no longer occur.

David and Shelley Hovind, Heart & Vascular Center

Overlake Medical Center, 1035 116th Ave. N.E., Bellevue
Opened: Aug. 5, 2013
Price tag: $14 million
Size: 19,200 square feet
Architect: TGB Architects
Mechanical designer: EEI Engineers
Electrical designer: Coffman Engineers
Contractor: GLY Construction
Plumbing: MacDonald Miller
Electrical: H&M Electrical

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