AZ Cardiology hosted an open house Wednesday to introduce Flagstaff residents to its new location in northern Arizona.
The new clinic was started in response to a shortage of cardiac care in the area, said managing partner Dr. Kishlay Anand, MS MD.
“We enjoy the community, we developed the relationship with the patient base and we felt on the cardiovascular side that [there’s a] need,” Anand said. “There’s a long wait time and we wanted to make sure that people are getting the quality care in Flagstaff similar to any other place in the nation.”
The average wait time to see a cardiologist in Flagstaff is five months, according to Anand, a delay that can lead to worsening conditions and additional costs. His goal with AZ Cardiology’s newest location is to see patients within a week of their request and to treat them close to home.
AZ Cardiology has seven locations across Arizona where it offers cardiovascular and cardiac electrophysiology services, including in Cottonwood and Prescott.
Overall, Anand said, the goal is to provide “affordable, accessible” care that focuses on underserved communities.
“If a patient is having trouble and being told … to wait before they can get in to see a specialist, they ultimately are going to end up in the emergency department at the hospital, which is three to four times the expense to both the insurance company and the patient, just to get some basic care,” said Tim Cozatt, the location’s practice administrator.
He added: “If the primary care physician hears something or sees something and tries to get them in with a cardiologist in a timely manner, [and] if cardiology services are not available, it’s a snowball effect.”
The Flagstaff location can treat people with a range of cardiovascular conditions and symptoms. It offers services for conditions such as arrhythmia, checking and implanting pacemakers and defibrillators, supraventricular tachycardia ablation and coronary artery disease management.
It opened its cardiac catheterization lab and cardiac electrophysiology suite in partnership with Aurora Surgery Center.
AZ Cardiology’s Flagstaff location is staffed by eight people, including Cozatt and Anand. Anand, who provides most of the clinical care, is a board-certified cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist who has been practicing 14 years.
Most of the clinic’s work with patients comes through consultations and follow-up appointments to help determine diagnoses and develop preventive care plans, according to Anand. The idea is to take a local, collaborative approach to care, working with primary care providers and specialists and checking in regularly with patients.
The location does its own imaging, for example — which Cozatt said reduces wait time, as most external imaging centers have a four-month wait for scans such as echocardiograms.
“Cardiovascular is the No. 1 killer for our population, and it’s one of the conditions that is preventable, if we can get ahead of the problem,” Anand said. “A lot of the time, people will have a heart attack or stroke and then we … try to manage it. One thing we here are also trying to promote is preventive cardiology; we can start getting ahead of the problem.”
A report from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) looking at vital statistics trends in the state shows that heart disease was the most common cause of death in Arizona in 2020. It had been the second-most common cause of death behind malignant neoplasms in 2010, with the two switching positions starting in 2016.
ADHS’s most recent advance vital statistics report shows that in 2021, major cardiovascular diseases were responsible for 19,581 deaths in Arizona and 203 in Coconino County.
Anand said AZ Cardiology takes preventive measures with all its patients.
“In new patients, we basically do a risk stratification, identify the risk of having cardiovascular outcomes over the next 10 years using risk-rewards and the diagnostics and create a good care plan and focus more on the preventive aspect so they can remain healthy, be active and prevent adverse outcomes like heart attack or stroke,” he said.
Anand said healthcare has been moving toward outpatient rather than inpatient care, including with cardiovascular procedures that can be done in an ambulatory surgery center such as the Flagstaff location.
“That patient gets quality care at a lower cost of care and basically same-day care,” he said, “Come, get it done and go home.”
Since its opening, Anand and Cozatt both said the practice had been receiving community support.
“We are here for the long term,” Anand said. “ … We made a significant investment for the community health to make sure that we bring contemporary cardiovascular care, so we are committed. … [We] appreciate all the support from everyone to support our services and we will continue improving, continue to make sure that experience level is maintained, the timeliness is maintained.”
More information about AZ Cardiology can be found at azcardiology.com, or by calling the northern Arizona phone line at 928-255-6067.