The heart is considered the body’s generator. As the circulatory system’s primary organ, the fist-sized muscle is responsible for pumping blood throughout our vast system of vessels, delivering oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body while removing carbon dioxide and waste. It’s a tremendous endeavor and an essential function for life. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for one in every five deaths, according to the American Heart Association.

In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that one person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease in the U.S. is accounts for common to complex conditions of the heart, such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms), and high blood pressure, plus advanced heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Recognizing the urgency of this startling statistic, the state’s largest health care network has worked tirelessly to build a world-class cardiovascular program that offers Garden State residents access to the latest in diagnostics, therapeutic procedures, and minimally invasive surgical techniques in heart and vascular care.

Across 17 hospitals, Hackensack Meridian Health has an award-winning team of experienced cardiac surgeons, general and subspecialized cardiologists, and vascular surgeons with extensive experience diagnosing and treating common to complex heart conditions. The network’s latest step in forwarding the future of cardiac and vascular care was realized this March with the grand opening of the Dr. Robert H. and Mary Ellen Harris Heart &Vascular Center at Hackensack Meridian Ocean University Medical Center in Brick. The $19 million project came to fruition due to support from donors, members of the community, and the vast network of physicians and team members.

Cellini Spread

The project was named for a very generous contribution from Mary Ellen Harris, who founded the Golden Dome Foundation with her late husband, Dr. Robert H. Harris, to support clinical research and expand access to life-saving medical care in the Garden State. “Hackensack Meridian Heal this taking the lead in advancing innovation and transforming health care,” noted Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. ‘‘Ocean University Medical Center is on the cutting-edge of heart and vascular health, creating real change in patients’ lives by putting the patient at the center of everything to provide exceptional care.” Located above the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Emergency Care Center, the new facility stretches 17,750 square feet, doubling the size of the existing catheterization lab and offering patients access to leading-edge heart and vascular procedures on one convenient floor.

The center features three multi-purpose, state-of-the-art catheterization/vascular labs, allowing for quick diagnosis and treatment while fostering collaboration between physicians. Everyone involved in planning the new center agrees that it marks a new era of care in the community. “With the ability to have both diagnostic and surgical functions in one space, clinicians can diagnose cardiac and vascular conditions and offer immediate surgical treatment without delay,” said Frank Sharp, M.D., a Jersey Coast Vascular Institute vascular surgeon. “We continue to perform complex minimally invasive procedures such as Trans carotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) and Fenestrated Endovascular Aortic Repair (FEVAR) in a safe, technologically advanced environment to achieve the best patient outcomes.” “This is an extraordinary center that provides higher efficiency and safety for certain high-risk procedures, including elective angioplasty and stenting,” said Frank Citara, MBA, president and chief hospital executive of Ocean University Medical Center.

Last year, the New Jersey Department of Health licensed Ocean University Medical Center to provide elective angioplasty and stenting, a procedure employed by cardiologists to open clogged coronary arteries and restore blood supply to the heart muscle. According to hospital leaders, close-to-home access to this cutting-edge procedure is a significant gamechanger for Ocean County residents. Licensing for elective angioplasty and stenting was also issued for other hospitals in the network, including Bayshore Medical Center and Riverview Medical Center in Monmouth County, and Mountainside Medical Center in Essex County. “For years, we have been performing emergency stenting during an on going heart attack.

The addition of this scheduled procedure increases our patients’ access to another lifesaving intervention that can help prevent those very heart attacks,” said Ali Moosvi, M.D., an interventional cardiologist and cardiology section chief at Ocean University Medical Center. “Patients receive excellent care from a highly skilled team in a stellar facility and get home quickly to recuperate.” “The community needs access to the best care possible, and I am honored and humbled to be able to play a part in ensuring that it can be provided to those in need,” added Mary Ellen Harris. “I hope that this new center helps a lot of people.” The center’s launch is the next step in Hackensack Meridian Health’s ongoing pursuit to provide Garden State residents the best in world-class heart care. Patients now have even greater opportunity to speak with their physicians and choose where they want to receive care.

The network employs a full suite of diagnostic and treatment services and can tout more 2022-2023U.S. News & World Report-ranked hospitals than any other system in New Jersey. In addition to knowing that exceptional heart and vascular care is available close to home, New Jersey residents can take steps to understand their heart health risk through screening options available at Hackensack Meridian Health. Advanced screening options include Angio Screen, a thorough 15-minute test that determines the health of vessels in the neck, heart, and legs as well as monitors blood pressure and pulse. A CT Calcium Scoring scan is another easy screening, which searches for calcium-containing, hardened plaque in the arteries surrounding the heart.


Dr. Robert H. and Mary Ellen Harris Heart & Vascular Center at Hackensack Meridian Ocean University Medical Center 425 Jack Martin Boulevard, Brick Township
AngioScreen dates and scheduling are available at HackensackMeridianHealth. org/events. To schedule a CT Calcium Scoring scan or to find a cardiovascular expert, call 844.HMH.WELL