Officials of West Virginia University Hospitals and Monongalia General Hospital signed an agreement today that renews and updates the joint open-heart surgery program.

WVU Interim President and Chair of the WVU Hospitals Board of Directors C. Peter Magrath, Ph.D., and Robert S. Maust, chair of the Mon Health System Board, unveiled the plan to the press and public Wednesday morning. WVUH and Mon General have had a joint program for more than 20 years.

We are proud to work with Mon General and to reaffirm our joint commitment to bring the highest quality treatment to people who are facing a life-threatening illness,Dr. Magrath said.

This joint program has served as an outstanding example of what can be accomplished when an academic teaching hospital and a community hospital work together in the interests of better serving the community,Maust said.

Under the new joint heart surgery agreement, WVUH and Mon General will have distinct surgery teams, with each hospital responsible for recruiting its own surgeons. Both hospitals will continue to work together to provide emergency coverage for each other, and all surgeons will have privileges at both hospitals. The Mon General surgeons will become adjunct faculty in the WVU School of Medicine.

Heart surgeons at both hospitals will collaborate to identify opportunities to improve access and enhance the quality of cardiac surgery services in north central West Virginia.

WVU has two practicing cardiothoracic surgeons on faculty and yesterday hired a third, who will start in April. Mon General currently offers open-heart surgery under an arrangement with a surgical group from Charleston. It expects to have its own team of two surgeons in place by the end of the existing one-year agreement with Thoracic and Cardiovascular Associates of Charleston in October.

The power of our partnership is more than a combination of resources by two outstanding health care providers. It is a symbol of the entire health care communitys commitment to giving West Virginians access to the best possible medical care,Magrath said.

The agreement was also signed by WVUH President and CEO Bruce McClymonds, Mon General President and CEO David Robertson, and WVU Interim Vice President for Health Sciences Fred Butcher, Ph.D.