Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery Now Available Locally
Nov 3, 2020 Share

(ST. JOSEPH) – Patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis—a hardening or narrowing of one of the heart valves—now have access to the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure locally due to a new program established at Spectrum Health Lakeland. The TAVR procedure replaces a diseased aortic valve with a new tissue or biologic valve and is an alternative option for traditional open-heart surgery.

Lakeland cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons have been performing the procedure since 2012 in Kalamazoo through a collaboration with Bronson Healthcare. Based on changes to Medicare guidelines and demand for the procedure, the health system is now able to offer the minimally invasive option at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph.

“We are proud to bring this program home to Lakeland, which provides patients access to one of the most advanced heart treatment techniques right here in Southwest Michigan,” said Dennis Disch, MD, director of cardiovascular services, Spectrum Health Lakeland.

Emily Milliken, NP, joins Lakeland as the TAVR program coordinator. Milliken earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Goshen College. She is board certified as a family nurse practitioner from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Prior to joining Lakeland, Milliken served as a registered nurse on the surgical intensive care unit and a nurse practitioner in cardiothoracic surgery in Mishawaka, Indiana.

As services at Lakeland Heart and Vascular grow, the team has welcomed several new providers already this year. Visit to learn more about cardiologists, Dale Lefler, DO, and Ogubay Mesmer, MD; electrophysiologist, David Rhine, MD; and providers, Jaclynn Jackubowski, NP, and Milliken.

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