For Immediate Release July 06, 2021


Bill Seiler:

Accreditation Highlights Best Practices and Quality Patient Care

After more than a year of extensive external reviews and detailed documentation, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) has awarded the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) the first-in-Maryland Transcatheter Valve Certification an affirmation of the hospital's commitment to saving lives, expertise in preventing irreparable heart damage and improving the quality of life for cardiovascular patients.

The voluntary certification focuses on a minimally invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an alternative to open-heart surgery. The aortic valve controls blood flow from the heart's left ventricle to the aorta, the main artery in the body. TAVR replaces a damaged or faulty valve with a new valve made from tissue, by using tiny tubes or catheters inserted in the leg to move the valve toward the heart.

"When we started the certification process in 2019, it was almost like going on a scavenger hunt as we traveled throughout the hospital to assemble all the requirements, ranging from CVs for all of our care team members, checklists of safety equipment, patient discharge and follow-up procedures, and even the exact dimensions of our operating rooms," said Rachel McCumbers, MS, CRNP, FNP-BC, UMMC's TAVR Program Manager, who led the certification process. "When COVID-19 arrived in 2020, the process stalled as we focused on our patients and the evolving demands of the pandemic. Ultimately, we completed the 180-page application last month."

The ACC Transcatheter Valve Certification is designed to help hospitals identify quality improvement opportunities and optimize outcomes. The certification process incorporates recent guidelines and expert consensus statements on the care of patients requiring transcatheter valve therapies. "The process involved taking what we already do for our patients and put it on paper as an actual tangible process. In the end, the ACC reviewers said our program was an exemplary, long-standing, foundational program that required minimal changes to achieve certification," said McCumbers.

UMMC's TAVR program started in 2012; more than 1,200 devices have been implanted in patients to date. "TAVR provides many benefits for our patients, who often go home in just a few days after treatment and recover more quickly than an open-heart procedure," said Anuj Gupta, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), clinical Co-Director of Cardiovascular Medicine, and an interventional cardiologist at UMMC. "This is significant since we are the referral center of choice for patients who are sicker with complicated cases, who are at high-risk for open-heart surgery and may be predisposed to a poor outcome."

Gupta credits the expertise of the TAVR multidisciplinary team with the success of the program. "Our team not only includes interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, but also specialized radiologists, nurse practitioners, neurologists and anesthesiologists, all coming together to ensure the best outcomes for our patients," said Dr. Gupta. "Additionally, as an academic medical center, we are teaching TAVR techniques to a new generation of caregivers and participate in a number of TAVR research studies."

George R. Gracie, Sr., of Pasadena, Md., benefited from TAVR at UMMC. "My heart valve was getting worse and worse and after ten years I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without shortness of breath," said Gracie. "I was told I'd have to get the valve replaced. I thought that would mean open-heart surgery, and months of recuperation. But when I got to UMMC in December 2020, I was shocked to learn they could replace the valve through the groin and even more shocked with the instructions – don't drive for three days and don't work for ten days. That was like taking a vacation."

Gracie, 74, said he's back to work at full force. "I'm extremely pleased with the result, feel much, much better, and can walk up a couple flights of steps without any problems. Plus, the care at UMMC was excellent, respectful and pleasant," said Gracie.

"Congratulations to the TAVR team for attaining this significant ACC accreditation," said Bert W. O'Malley, MD, UMMC President and CEO. "This joins several other certifications awarded to the UMMC Heart and Vascular Center as we continue on multiple fronts to provide start-of-the-art, compassionate care for our patients throughout the region."

About the University of Maryland Medical Center

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is comprised of two hospital campuses in Baltimore: the 800-bed flagship institution of the 13-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) — and the 200-bed UMMC Midtown Campus, both academic medical centers training physicians and health professionals and pursuing research and innovation to improve health. UMMC's downtown campus is a national and regional referral center for trauma, cancer care, neurosciences, advanced cardiovascular care, women's and children's health, and has one of the largest solid organ transplant programs in the country. All physicians on staff at the downtown campus are clinical faculty physicians of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The UMMC Midtown Campus medical staff is predominately faculty physicians specializing in diabetes, chronic diseases, behavioral health, long term acute care and an array of outpatient primary care and specialty services. UMMC Midtown has been a teaching hospital for 140 years and is located one mile away from the downtown campus. For more information, visit