Jubilee of Trees to support ‘long and strong history and tradition in heart services’

ST. GEORGE— Dixie Regional Medical Center is kicking off the holiday season Thursday with their 35th annual Jubilee of Trees event. This year’s theme is “A Healthy Heart for the Holidays,” and all proceeds from the event will go to the Intermountain Healthcare Foundation to benefit DRMC’s heart services.

Read more: 35th annual Jubilee of Trees holiday event to benefit heartwarming cause

Besides the numerous holiday-themed activities and entertainment at the jubilee, there will be a “cause section” that will recreate an operating room for visitors, with life-size cutouts of medical staff and accompanying information about the history of heart services at the hospital from past to present.

Dr. Jason Bowles, medical director for cardiovascular services at DRMC, told St. George News that Dixie Regional has been nationally recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 heart hospitals five times and has been listed as a top hospital by Thomson Reuters, Becker’s Hospital Review, Consumer Reports and Modern Healthcare.

Dixie Regional has also received the highest rating by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and has been identified in a Brown University research project as one of a few hospitals that excelled in mortality rates and for re-admissionable heart failure and heart surgery.

“For the marks on both heart surgery and in heart failure, we are among the highest in the nation in terms of our outcomes and our results,” Bowles said.

However, Southern Utah residents haven’t always been so fortunate. Back in 1988, before DRMC’s heart services program, cardiologists had to travel from Salt Lake City to perform heart catheterizations. In 2001, the first local interventional cardiologist began offering percutaneous coronary intervention, and coronary disease was first treated in 2002.

When the DRMC River Road campus first opened its doors in 2003, Bowles said the ability to start performing open-heart surgery was one of the most noticeable changes. This practice was founded by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Roger Millar and represents the origin of the hospital’s heart services, Bowles said.

“We’ve got a long and strong history and tradition in heart services,” he said.

Today, the hospital treats coronary artery disease and performs bypass surgery and a full complement of valve surgeries. Two new vascular surgeons were recently hired to be able to offer new surgeries, including endovascular surgery.

An aerial view of the Dixie Regional Medical Center River Road campus, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George News.

The hospital also continues to offer new heart services, including a new structural heart program. During the recent hospital expansion project, a new hybrid angiography suite was added for less-invasive heart procedures, including transcatheter aortic valve replacements.

As opposed to the traditional method of cracking open the patient’s chest, which is a far more invasive surgery with a longer recovery period, a transcatheter aortic valve replacement allows a surgeon to replace heart valves using a catheter inserted through a person’s upper thigh.

Bowles called the procedure a “new and exciting avenue that’s opened up.”

Approximately 135 TAVR procedures have been performed since they first began offering them last year, helping people who otherwise may not have been eligible for open-heart surgery.

But not wanting to rest on their laurels, Dixie Regional has their eyes on the future as well, and the 35th annual Jubilee of Trees will help them on this path, with the money raised going to support and advance heart services in a variety of ways.

“I get to see the good work that we do, the impact we have on people’s lives,” Bowles said, “and I can also see things out there that elsewhere that we’re not quite doing here yet.”

Hospital officials said the proceeds from the jubilee may go toward building upon services already in place, supporting new surgeons, supporting patients and expanding their structural heart program to include new surgeries such as the minimally invasive mitral valve procedure.

This 2015 file photo shows a tree thematically named “I’ll be Home for Christmas” designed by Judy Jolley and her son Trevor, a veteran of the Iraq War, at the Jubilee of Trees, St. George, Utah, November 2015 | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare Foundation, St. George News

“I think bringing those things to our community and providing new services, doing things in better ways than we’ve done before, that gives us a lot of job satisfaction.”

Besides the amazing trees, the jubilee consists of shopping, entertainment and children’s activities, as well as several other events throughout the week, including a gala, teddy bear picnic, a St. George Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon and a fashion show.

The jubilee will take place at the Dixie Center St. George and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children younger than 15.

Those who are unable to attend but still wanting to make a donation to DRMC heart services can do so through the Intermountain Foundation either online or by calling 801-442-3323.

Written by MIKAYLA SHOUP, St. George News.

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