Division Director Emeritus, Cardiology
Start Date: 1977
THE BEAT GOES ON
I was chief of cardiology at Louisiana State University in Shreveport when I got the call from MedStar Washington Hospital Center about becoming the director of echocardiology. It was a new and emerging field at the time, and I really didn't know much about it. In fact, I remember reading a textbook about the procedure on my way to take the job! Fortunately for me, Dr. Steve Goldstein came shortly after I did, and I quickly turned echo over to him. He has become a true expert, and is now director of the noninvasive lab.
Thanks to Dr. (James) Bacos, the hospital was already well on its way to becoming a top-notch cardiovascular center when I joined the staff in 1977. Then as now, it was ahead of the curve in embracing new procedures and technology. In fact, the Hospital Center was a true pioneer in the use of pacemakers, which it started implanting not too long after their debut and the hospital's opening. Initially, it was a surgical procedure, but advances in technology and techniques soon made it possible through cardiac catheterization. By the time I became section chair in 1981, pacemakers were being implanted more and more by cardiologists, and I had a stream of surgeons complaining in my office.
Over the years, I'm proud of many things that have taken place. Our section has grown from a staff of about six to eight cardiologists to our current high of more than 50. We now perform approximately 11,000 echocardiograms each year, and have the area's leading arrhythmia program. For all practical purposes, angioplasty got its start here in 1981, when we performed between 50 and 70 a year. Now, of course, we do about 5,000 angioplasty procedures annually, and have one of the busiest and most respected cardiac catheterization labs in the world. And through our cardiology fellowship program, doctors carry the banner of the Hospital Center far and wide.
None of these achievements would have been possible without the physicians, nurses and other staff who have maintained the highest standards of quality as well as humanity in caring for patients. In fact, the most difficult challenge we face these days is how to balance the need to be an efficient, high-volume program, with the needs of our patients for compassion and comfort.
I passed on the baton of chair and all its attendant administrative duties this past spring. But for as long as I am able, I'm going to remain at the Hospital Center, doing the things I like the best: teaching, mentoring fellows, conducting research and patient care.