2017-10-12 / Business News

HEALING HEARTS

Veterinary coronary center recognizes that pets are no longer just ‘pets.’
BY SALLIE JAMES
Florida Weekly Correspondent

When Giovanni Di Stadio’s beloved Shih Tzu Bella developed congestive heart failure, he searched everywhere for a veterinarian who could repair his dog’s faulty heart valve and possibly save her life.

But the surgical procedure she required was only being performed at two U.S. academic institutions and simply wasn’t available. Bella died nine months later and a grief-stricken Mr.

Di Stadio vowed to bring change to the veterinary industry.

His solution was to team up with Dr. Augusta Pelosi, the world’s only double-board certified specialist in veterinary cardiology and veterinary surgery. Together they envisioned The North American Veterinary Heart Center, a global center of excellence specializing in cardiac care for dogs and cats. The

“This was a giant leap of faith for all of us,” said Mr. Di Stadio, the center’s president and CEO. “We knew if we were going to do this it had to be the best in the world. Our goal is to provide heart patients longer lives while keeping families together.”


DI STADIO DI STADIO Their mission: To give the best chance of success to a patient that would not have any chance if treated elsewhere. The “Heart Center” will serve pet owners, service animals and law enforcement canines from around the world.

“The goal with certain procedures is to allow the dog or cat to be more comfortable and enjoy an improved quality of life,” Dr. Pelosi explained.

Two major elements distinguish the Heart Center:

• Exclusively focused on cardiac patients

• Only veterinary hospital in the U.S. to offer advanced cardiac treatment and surgery

Situated in Palm Beach County’s biomedical research and technology hub, the Heart Center also will serve as an incubator for research and innovative procedures, pharmacology and medical device creation for the growing global pet care industry.


PELOSI PELOSI Dr. Pelosi is the leader in open-heart surgery and mitral valve repair, the procedure that may have saved Bella’s life. At the time of Bella’s death, Dr. Pelosi was at Michigan State University (MSU), where she developed MSU’s veterinary open-heart surgical program under the instruction of Dr. George Eyster.

Dr. Eyster is renowned for leading a team of groundbreaking veterinary cardiologists at MSU and has probably done more open-heart surgery procedures than any veterinarian in the world.

“Our entire focus is on improved quality of life,” Dr. Pelosi said. “Some cardiac disease is successfully managed with medication. Certain other conditions — PDA, or mitral valve disease, for example — require surgical intervention, including open-heart surgery.”


North American Veterinary Heart Center, in Jupiter, will serve as an incubator for research and innovation for procedures, pharmacology and medical device creation for the growing global pet care industry. 
COURTESY PHOTO North American Veterinary Heart Center, in Jupiter, will serve as an incubator for research and innovation for procedures, pharmacology and medical device creation for the growing global pet care industry. COURTESY PHOTO According to Dr. Pelosi, medical cardiology accounts for only around 200 cardiologists who are board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. All veterinarian cardiologists are trained in medical cardiology but only a few offer interventional practices such as pacemakers and balloon valvuloplasty and less than five offer interventional practices and surgery, Pelosi said.

“Our vision is to fill a unique niche, making our hospital ultra-specialized as a global cardiac and heart surgery center of excellence,” Dr. Pelosi added. Their combination of medical personnel, top-notch training and state-of-theart medical facilities create an environment “very similar to what is provided in a highly ranked human hospital,” she added.

Prices are not for the feint of heart: medical procedures can range from $3,000 to $35,000, Mr. Di Stadio said. That’s why pet insurance is essential, he noted.

“Pets are no longer just ‘pets,’” said Mr. Di Stadio. “They have become family members.”

Pet patients come from hundreds of miles away as well as overseas. As a result, the Heart Center also has a concierge team that assists domestic and international patients with the logistical stress of travel, including transportation, lodging, childcare, pet care and emotional support.

“Owners traveling with their companion animals face unique challenges, having to identify pet-friendly lodging, childcare facility, restaurants accepting companion animals, pet sitting for other pets traveling with, etc.,” Dr. Pelosi said. “Whether the trip is short or longer, our goal is to try to reduce the additional stress that any pet owner may have and to coordinate as many elements of travel and lodging as possible.”

As specialty vet centers become more common, Mr. Di Stadio and Dr. Pelosi hope the Heart Center becomes recognized as an ultra-specialized global cardiac and heart surgery center of excellence, distinguished by its team, its facility, its equipment and Pelosi’s “worldwide recognition for being a rock star in the veterinary community.”

“All of that put together creates a recipe for excellence,” Mr. Di Stadio said. ¦

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