Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center recently received two major commendations highlighting the high level of heart care continuously provided to patients—putting Wellstar Kennestone among the top hospitals in the nation. The Marietta-based heart care program received:

  • A distinguished three-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and outcomes in isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). This is the highest category of quality, placing Wellstar Kennestone among the best programs for heart bypass surgery in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark for Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification, which means Wellstar Kennestone is the only hospital in Georgia to raise its total cardiac program to the elite level.

“This community is where we live, and when we care for our patients, we’re caring for our neighbors and friends—that’s why pursuing excellence is such a high priority. We feel it’s our duty to provide the highest level of care possible.” – Steve Cermak, Executive Director of Wellstar Center for Cardiovascular Care & Hospital Operations at Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center

Three-star STS rating

The three-star STS rating for CABG procedures is the highest rating given in relation to quality. Fewer than 20% of hospitals across the U.S. and Canada receive this top-tier rating. The rating applies specifically to patient care and outcomes in heart bypass procedures.

“This rating is proof patients can trust Wellstar Kennestone to deliver care that’s among the best in the country,” said Steve Cermak, executive director of Wellstar Center for Cardiovascular Care & Hospital Operations at Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center.

CABG is commonly performed to treat people having a heart attack or other conditions including coronary heart disease with chest pain, multiple blocked coronary arteries or serious heart failure. The procedure is performed by cardiovascular surgeons at Wellstar Kennestone—Dr. Theresa Luu, Dr. James Burke and Dr. Richard Myung—who work as part of a large multidisciplinary team to give every patient the highest quality care at every step of the process, from diagnosis through surgery and recovery.

“Going beyond the surgery itself, STS ratings include outcomes over the next 30 days, fully encompassing the care provided after surgery,” Cermak said. “That means it involves the care provided by the whole team, which includes advanced practice providers, nurses, rehabilitation specialists and many others. It’s truly a multidisciplinary, team-based effort.”

Cermak estimates the surgeons will perform 1,300 heart surgeries in 2023 and about 37% will be CABGs.

The Wellstar Cardiovascular Center for Health offers patients care close to home across Georgia communities at more than 20 cardiovascular locations. Wellstar also has one of the largest cardiac rehabilitation programs in Georgia, which helps patients improve their long-term outcomes.

“STS is the gold standard, and we’re honored to receive their highest rating for our CABG surgery but, at the end of the day, our goal is always to ensure the best care for all our patients,” Cermak said.

Certification by The Joint Commission

On the heels of the STS three-star rating, The Joint Commission awarded Wellstar Kennestone with a Gold Seal of Approval in conjunction with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark and certification as a Comprehensive Cardiac Center for the third consecutive time.

“Comprehensive Cardiac Center Certification recognizes healthcare organizations committed to fostering continuous improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” says Deborah Ryan, MS, RN, interim executive vice president, Accreditation and Certification Operations, The Joint Commission. “We commend Wellstar Kennestone for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for cardiac patients.”

Wellstar Kennestone underwent a rigorous, unannounced onsite review on June 6 and June 7, 2023. During the visit, a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with related certification standards including evaluating the care of the cardiac patient at every touch point in the cardiac care continuum with ongoing process improvement. Health promotion for patients as well as the community. Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with healthcare experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The reviewers also conducted onsite observations and interviews.

The hospital first received the two-year certification in 2017. This recertification makes the third cycle—or sixth year—it has remained in place. Wellstar Kennestone was the first hospital in Georgia and remains the only one in the state to hold the comprehensive certification.

“We congratulate Wellstar Kennestone for this outstanding achievement,” says Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “This certification reflects its commitment to providing the highest quality of care for cardiac patients.”