A $30 million construction makeover produces a distinct atmosphere.

Behind fenced off areas, hard hat-clad construction workers scurry around with wire, pipe and tools while the sounds of jackhammers pummeling concrete and excavators dumping rubble into dumpsters echo throughout the surroundings.

It’s an intensive effort, but adding 39,000 square feet for a cutting-edge heart and vascular institute takes time, money and plenty of manpower.

With six hospitals and more than 1,200 physicians, St. Elizabeth has emerged as a front-runner in Northern Kentucky health care. Their new heart institute is at the front of an all-inclusive treatment philosophy.

“What will separate us is our approach to patient care and focusing on patients’ needs,” says Dr. Victor Schmelzer, medical director of cardiac surgery and interim director of the institute. “We’re geared to making a difference in the community.”

The difference is much needed. Kentucky’s heart attack rate is the fourth largest in the country, while the region also maintains a high rate of hypertension and heart disease.

“We’re dedicated to this project and creating something that will make a difference in the community,” says John S. Dubis, St. Elizabeth president and CEO. “We want to make an impact.”

According to the American Heart Association, 38 percent of all deaths in Northern Kentucky are the result of a heart attack or a stroke.

It’s a telling statistic for a hospital that draws expertise from one of the premier health providers in North America. As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care network, St. Elizabeth Healthcare providers can tap into the Mayo Clinic’s disease management knowledge, clinical care guidelines and treatment recommendations at no extra cost to the patient.

With a new facility that will focus on prevention as much as treatment, St. Elizabeth hopes to reduce heart disease deatha in Northern Kentucky by 25 percent throughout the next 10 years.

“We’re very confident that we can make this happen,” says Dubis.

It’s a reasonable goal because St. Elizabeth’s heart and vascular institute will feature the latest technological treatment with emphasis on affordability.

“We’re striving to make sure we’re good stewards of our resources while meeting our patients’ needs,” says Schmelzer.

As part of that effort, St. Elizabeth has purchased three urgent care centers in Florence, Hebron and Covington.

In January, the hospital opened a 50,000-square-foot medical office building on Grand Avenue in Newport to improve care in the Ft. Thomas and Campbell County area. The $6 million facility provides primary care, OB-GYN services, ultrasound, cardiology treatment and vascular testing.

The additions of the urgent care centers and the heart and vascular institute are among several St. Elizabeth’s endeavors to become a regional hub.

“Our goal is to be a multi-state leader in health care service,” says Dubis. “These investments are in response to what the community needs.”