In Good Hands: The Northwest Region’s Top-Rated Cardiac Care

Dale Stickney was healthy, or so he thought. He worked out vigorously in the gym every day, ate a healthy diet, drank enough water, and got plenty of sleep.

There was just one problem: fatigue. “I didn’t have the energy I once had to do everything I wanted to do,” says the now 49-year-old tech entrepreneur.

A checkup with his Kaiser Permanente doctor detected a whooshing noise between Dale’s heartbeats, instead of the steady thrum of a healthy heart. Further tests allowed his care team to diagnose a leaky mitral valve — one of four valves that control blood flow to and from the heart.

Dale would need a surgery called “minimally invasive mitral valve repair” to treat “regurgitation,” a serious condition in which the valve’s flaps don’t close tightly, allowing blood to leak backward into the left atrium.

Over time, a poorly functioning mitral valve can lead to diminished quality of life, heart failure, and eventually, death, according to Thomas Lampros, MD, a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon.

“We often see otherwise healthy people who have no medical history of heart disease,” Dr. Lampros said. “It’s hard to know why some people’s mitral valves need replacing or repairing. It’s a common, fixable problem.”

A nationally recognized cardiac program

Dr. Lampros, along with William Shely, MD, and Yong Shin, MD, perform mitral valve surgeries and other life-saving cardiac procedures at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Heart and Vascular Care in Clackamas, Oregon.

Their work — and the work of their team located at Kaiser Permanente’s Mt. Talbert Medical Office and Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center — was awarded a 3-star rating for mitral valve repair and replacement by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Kaiser Sunnyside is the only rated participating hospital in the Northwest to receive the highest rating. 

Kaiser Sunnyside is also the only Northwest site to earn three stars (the highest) for two other heart surgeries — and has done so consistently for the past nine years:

Sunnyside is also the only Northwest site to earn three stars (the highest) for two other heart surgeries — and has done so consistently for the past nine years:

  • Isolated coronary artery bypass grafting
  • Isolated aortic valve replacement

Accolades such as these affirm the high-quality care that Kaiser Permanente members receive. However, the most gratifying reward is when doctors and nurses witness the results of their work: When the marathon runner with a repaired mitral valve can pound the pavement again. Or when a 74-year-old woman can jog a couple miles without running out of breath.

Or, in Dale’s case, when he was once again able to “burn up” the StairMaster at his gym, and also have the energy to launch a new business and thrive with the most important thing in his life — his son, Connor, age 11.

“Those are the real rewards,” said Dr. Lampros. “That’s why we became doctors.”

The heartbeat of success: a team of experts 

Dr. Lampros attributes the Center for Heart and Vascular Care’s quality outcomes to, first and foremost, a team approach.

“As in sports, every member needs to turn in a consistent, strong performance, from top to bottom,” he said. “Those layers of knowledge and skills enable us to ‘win’ on behalf of our patients and their families.”

Twice daily, the entire team checks on cardiac patients at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center. That means surgeons, anesthesiologists, hospitalists, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, care managers, dieticians, social workers, and anyone else involved with the patient’s care come together to make sure the patient receives the very best care available.

“It’s gratifying to know that all the extra things we do pay off in more years and better quality of life for our patients,” said Dr. Lampros. “If needed, this is where I would want my friends and family to receive care. It’s simply the best.”

His patient, Dale, agreed. “I’ve had a wonderful experience with Kaiser Permanente. They went out of their way to make me and my family feel comfortable.”

He was particularly touched when his son, who was eight-years-old at the time and understandably nervous, asked if his dad could take Smith, the boy’s favorite Lego character, into the operating room with him.

“They put Smith in a sterile package and attached it to my IV pole,” said Dale. “I carry Smith in my laptop bag to this day as I travel throughout the country on business. It’s a constant reminder of my son, why I am committed to continued good health, and the awesome care I received at Kaiser Permanente.”

Learn more about cardiac care at Kaiser Permanente at

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Kaiser Permanente Northwest Rated Among Top Heart Surgery Programs Nationwide for Key Heart Procedures

PORTLAND, Ore. — Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center has earned a distinguished three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for its patient care and outcomes in aortic valve replacement (AVR), coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and mitral valve repair/replacement (MVRR). The three-star rating, which denotes the highest category of quality, places KSMC among the elite for these surgeries in the United States and Canada.

“The bar for achieving a three-star rating is exceptionally high, and to earn it nine years in a row, as our program has, requires that every one of our doctors, nurses and staff is vigilant about providing the highest levels of quality, safety and compassionate care — for every patient, every time,” said Yong Shin, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at KSMC. “The STS three-star rating is widely considered the most prestigious in our field, because the STS database is largest of its kind with rigorous statistical analysis that is peer-reviewed.”

Historically, approximately 6-10 percent of participants receive the three-star rating for isolated CABG surgery, and approximately 4-8 percent of participants receive the three-star rating for isolated AVR surgery. This is the first time STS has published a rating for MVRR surgery.

The STS star rating system is one of the most sophisticated and highly regarded overall measures of quality in health care, rating the benchmarked outcomes of cardiothoracic surgery programs in the United States and Canada. The star rating is calculated using a combination of quality measures for specific procedures performed by an STS Adult Cardiac Surgery Database participant.

The latest analysis of data for surgery covers a three-year period, from July 2015 to June 2018 and includes nearly 2,300 participants.

“The Society of Thoracic Surgeons congratulates STS National Database participants who have received three-star ratings,” said David M. Shahian, MD, chair of the STS Council on Quality, Research, and Patient Safety. “Participation in the database and public reporting demonstrates a commitment to quality improvement in health care delivery and provides patients and their families with meaningful information to help them make informed decisions about health care.”

The STS National Database was established in 1989 as an initiative for quality improvement and patient safety among cardiothoracic surgeons. The database comprises: the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database (ACSD), the Congenital Heart Surgery Database (CHSD), the General Thoracic Surgery Database (GTSD), and the mechanical circulatory support database (Intermacs). The STS ACSD houses approximately 6.6 million surgical records and gathers information from more than 3,800 participating physicians, including surgeons and anesthesiologists from more than 90 percent of hospitals that perform heart surgery in the United States. STS public reporting online enables STS ACSD participants to voluntarily report to each other and the public their heart surgery scores and star ratings.

Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s approach to cardiac care.

About STS
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) is a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 7,600 surgeons, researchers, and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The Society’s mission is to enhance the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest quality patient care through education, research, and advocacy.

*User note: An STS National Database “participant” is a cardiothoracic surgeon or group of cardiothoracic surgeons who agree to submit case records for analysis and comparison with benchmarking data for quality improvement initiatives. At the option of the surgeon or surgical group, the Participant can include a hospital and/or associated anesthesiologists (ACSD and CHSD).

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to


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Our Northwest Docs Are Tops

Northwest Permanente and Kaiser Permanente Northwest topped Portland’s Top Doctors & Nurses 2019 list — published by Portland Monthly — with more Northwest Permanente doctors on the list than any other health care organization or physician group in our Northwest region.

This year, 148 Northwest Permanente physicians, 10 physician assistants, 6 certified registered nurse anesthetists, 4 nurse practitioners, and 4 midwives made the list for a total of 172 “Top Physicians/Clinicians” in all. Oregon Health and Science University placed second, with 117 clinicians on the list.

More than 12,000 votes were submitted across 75 medical specialties. Clinicians could nominate up to 4 clinicians in each specialty and answer the question: To whom would they trust the care of their loved ones?

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote, recognize and shine the spotlight on our remarkable colleagues and friends, and to showcase our pride in one another as Permanente physicians and Kaiser Permanente clinicians,” said Imelda Dacones, MD, president and chief executive officer, Northwest Permanente.

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