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Ohio State to house nation’s first coordinated center for heart failure, irregularities

Corrine (second from left) and Bob Frick (center) during a Board of Trustees meeting on April 4, 2018. The Fricks donated $18 million to Ohio State to establish the first center in the country specifically designed to treat people with heart failure and irregular heartbeats. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Editor-in-Chief

The country’s first center dedicated to treat people with heart failure and irregular heartbeats will come to Ohio State after an $18 million donation from Dayton-based restaurateurs Corrine and Bob Frick.

Focused on clinical care and research, the integrated center will combine the strengths of the university’s electrophysiology department and the work it is already doing on heart failure, said Craig Kent, dean of the College of Medicine.

“We believe that with this intersection and this center that combines research in these two diseases that we’ll be able to make dramatic discoveries,” Kent said Wednesday during a meeting of the Wexner Medical Center Board of Trustees, which voted to approve the proposal. The full Board votes Friday.

More than 6 million Americans live with heart failure and about 8 million Americans have irregular heartbeats, according to the Center for Disease Control. Kent said treatment for the conditions can be drawn out and difficult.

“Patients with heart failure often have arrhythmias, and people that have arrhythmias have heart failure, so the treatments are really complex because of the interaction between these two diseases,” Kent said.

The center — the Bob and Corrine Frick Center for Heart Failure and Arrhythmia — will be located within the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

Kent said the center will support collaborative, cutting-edge research as part of a large laboratory with innovative technology. Patients will receive coordinated care, which is particularly important if someone suffers from both heart failure and arrhythmia.  

“As a result of this gift, I’m confident progress will be made in the treatment of these two very severe conditions,” Kent said.

Heart disease is personal for the Fricks.  Bob Frick’s parents, as well as an aunt, three uncles and two brothers, have dealt with heart problems, according to a university release.

So has he. Bob Frick suffered a heart attack when he was 40 years old, and had triple bypass surgery 11 years later — which happened to be the same year his brother, Bernie, died of arrhythmia and heart failure. He was 60.

Bob and Corrine Frick (center) receive a standing ovation during a Board of Trustees meeting on April 4, 2018, for their donation to the university. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Editor-in-Chief

As part the donation, three endowed research chairs, a chair in heart failure, a professorship and a fellowship will be funded.

At the Board meeting, news of the Frick’s donation was met with a standing ovation that lasted 24 seconds. Both the Fricks were in attendance, as was their daughter and Bernie’s wife, Diane, and his four daughters.

“Bob and Corrine, you are creating a future of cardiovascular medicine that will improve people’s lives,” Kent said. “People will live to see tomorrow because of the treatments you have made possible. They will live to see their children and their children grow up because of the innovation you have created. The legacy you are leaving is truly remarkable.”

Then there was another round of applause. This time, it lasted 27 seconds.

Pending the Board’s approval, the Frick Center for Heart Failure and Arrhythmia will begin seeing patients in 2018.

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