The $456 million institute, on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, combines diagnostic and treatment technology with features such as natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows and 167 private rooms. It formally opened on Feb. 26, and Scripps held an open house on March 1.
“Starting today, people from San Diego County and beyond can receive care at the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, a hub for innovation that was designed around our patients and their needs,” Scripps president and CEO Chris van Gorder said. “This hospital brings together leading researchers, world-class physicians and staff from one of the best heart programs in the nation.”
The 383,000-square-foot tower of glass, brick and steel, rising seven stories off Genesee Avenue, is named for Conrad Prebys, a real estate developer, philanthropist and longtime Scripps donor, whose $45 million gift helped create the institution.
Physicians, nurses and technicians moved heart patients from the original hospital tower on the Scripps La Jolla campus to the adjacent Prebys Cardiovascular Institute during the morning. Lydia Johnson, of Spring Valley, was the first patient to make the trip, which came only two days after the retired university executive assistant underwent quadruple coronary-artery bypass surgery.
“Coming over went very smoothly,” Johnson, 75, said as she sat in her new room in the intensive care unit on the third floor. “It was a comfortable ride in a new bed. And I had the most wonderful people taking care of me. They were very attentive, always wanting to know if I needed anything.”
Her favorite part of the room was the expansive window looking out over a verdant landscape of hills and distant mountains. “It’s fantastic,” said Johnson, who describes herself as an avid hiker. “It lets in a lot of light. I’m an outdoors person, so the outside means a lot to me.”
Each patient was accompanied on the short trip between buildings by a clinical care team made up of two nurses and a respiratory therapist. A physician joined the teams that moved patients in critical condition.
The institute combines cardiovascular programs from throughout the Scripps system and Kaiser Permanente. Each year, more than 76,000 patients receive their cardiovascular care from Scripps, making it San Diego County’s – and California’s – largest heart care provider.
Scripps is the only heart care provider in the region consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best in the country. In 2014, U.S. News ranked Scripps 18th in the nation, the highest rated program in San Diego County.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming about 600,000 lives each year and accounting for one in every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In San Diego County, nearly 4,000 people die of heart disease each year, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.