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Letters: Emory CEO's stance on open-heart program an outrage to alumni

This letter is submitted on behalf of the physicians listed below to urge Emory Hospitals and Piedmont Hospital to halt their opposition to the establishment of an open-heart surgical program at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville.

As physicians who were trained at Emory facilities and now serve on staff at GMC, we feel compelled to respond to the recent editorial comments by John Fox, the CEO of Emory Healthcare, in which he suggested that the open-heart program is not needed from a clinical perspective. Mr. Fox is simply wrong.

Time is critical for heart patients, and, based on national data, the majority of coronary artery bypass graft procedures are emergent or urgent procedures. GMC needs the ability to provide the full continuum of advanced cardiac services, not just emergency balloon angioplasty. Without an open-heart surgery program, many patients with critical needs, who can not afford delays, will continue to need to be transferred out of the community to receive their cardiac intervention at distant open-heart surgery providers.

As Emory alumni, we are disappointed, disturbed and embarrassed that Emory would oppose a needed service that will permit us, as physicians, to provide the best care for our patients. While we are not all cardiologists or cardiac surgeons, virtually all patients who require open-heart surgery have a number of other chronic health conditions such as diabetes or diseases of the lungs or kidneys. Thus, we are all too familiar with the problems of transporting our seriously ill patients out of the community down very congested roads for critical cardiac care.

It seems counterintuitive that Emory would proudly train us, but then turn around and have its administrator question our clinical judgment that the open-heart surgery program at GMC is needed. Emory is a fine institution, and GMC proudly has more Emory-trained physicians on its medical staff than Emory itself. Yet, Emory has never taken responsibility for improving health care in Gwinnett County. Emory physicians do not staff our community clinics. They do not live or practice here. They do not experience the daily traffic congestion that make having critical services available locally so important.

The majority of the undersigned physicians refer patients to Emory for tertiary services and support Emory University with our monetary donations. The majority of us are rethinking that position.

In short, we are outraged. The column by Mr. Fox shows a lack of consideration for patient care. Shame on Emory.

The following signed the above letter:

Peter Abramson, MD

Mary Jo Albert, MD

Aaron Alizadeh, MD

David Arkin, MD

Bennett Axelrod, MD

Daud Azizi, MD

Britt Barrett, MD

Scott Batchelor, MD

Maria Batlle, MD

Amy Baxter, MD

Demir Baykal, MD

Martin Belson, MD

Benedict Benigno, MD

Sunil Bhole, MD

Thomas Branch, MD

Jerome Bronikowski, MD

Donald Browning, MD

Bennett Bruckner, MD

Thuy Bui, MD

Matthew Burrell, MD

Edward Cameron, MD

Jose Cangiano, MD

John Carr, MD

Murtaza Cassoobhoy, MD

Richard Chernecky, MD

Suiza Chua, MD

John Cobb, MD

Kent Cohen, MD

Laronna Colbert, MD

Shannon Cole, MD

Martin Coles, MD

Christopher Crooker, MD

Javad Deganian, MD

Carlos Delgado, MD

David Dillard, MD

Michael Dinerman, MD

Ramanjaneyul Dronavalli, MD

Rodica Ellis, MD

James Elsey, MD

Paul Fekete, MD

Joe Finley, MD

Andrew Frazer, MD

Allan Freedman, MD

James Freeman, MD

Robert Fritz, MD

Robert Gadlage, MD

Leslie Gaskill, MD

Gordon Goldstein, MD

Lawrence Goldstein, MD

William Greenwood, MD

Thomas Grillo, MD

Matthey Harris, MD

Hal Herd, MD

Yazan Houssami, MD

Angela Hutchins, MD

Kevin Jensen, MD

Richard Johnston, MD

Derron Jones, MD

Tyndal Jones, MD

Brandon Kang, MD

Christine Kang, MD

Lawrence Kaplan, MD

George Katsitadze, MD

Barry Kennedy, MD

Phillip Kennedy, MD

Mohsen Khodakaram, MD

Sun-Hee Kim, MD

Cliff King, MD

Gretchen Koontz, MD

David Krendel, MD

David Kunz, MD

Anthony Landis, MD

David Lantz, MD

Leslie Leigh, MD

Laurence Lesser, MD

Keith Levine, MD

Chad Levitt, MD

James Lin, MD

Michael Lipsitt, MD

Melissa Magill, MD

William Martin, MD

Miles H. Mason, III MD

James McDaniel, MD

Glen McIntosh, MD

Gregory Melnikoff, MD

Christian Merz, MD

Francis Messick, MD

Adrian Mogos, MD

Emily Molock, MD

Vicki Morgan, MD

Song Na, MD

Phillip Nakano, MD

Jae Nam, MD

Marshall Nash, MD

Rachel Nisbet, MD

Douglas Nyhoff, MD

Thomas O'Rourke, MD

Adeniyi Odugbesan, MD

David Olson, MD

Glenn Parris, MD

Piyushkumar Patel, MD

Salil Patel, MD

Truc Pham, MD

Heather Phelps, MD

Val Phillips, MD

Michael Pickford, MD

John Pitts, MD

Joseph Pohl, MD

Markus Porkert, MD

Stephen Quill, MD

Corinne Quinn, MD

Elliot Raizes, MD

Jonathan Reich, MD

Barry Renz, MD

Phillip Romm, MD

Paula Rothman, MD

Alexander Saker, MD

P. Ravi Sarma, MD

Arthur Schiff, MD

Gregory Schlegel, MD

David Schmidt, MD

William Schmitt, MD

Scott Schorr, MD

Alice Schultz, MD

Joseph Schultz, MD

Yvonne Miller Scott, MD

Douglas Seeb, MD

William Segal, MD

Linda Settle, MD

Paul Sherlag, MD

David Shonkoff, MD

David Shore, MD

Jon Siegel, MD

Robert Siegel, MD

Timothy Simon, MD

Michael Sineway, MD

Paul Skokanic, MD

Susan Smiley, MD

Jayanthi Srinivasiah, MD

Jon Stahlman, MD

Walter Stevens, MD

Ashley Stolle, MD

Dan Suskin, MD

James Sutherland, MD

Badar Syed, MD

Stephen Szabo, MD

Asif Taufiq, MD

Robert Thompson, MD

Jane Todd, MD

Jerry C. Tootle, MD

Clara Truesdell, MD

Joshua Turknett, MD

Marc Unterman, MD

Athanasios Verras, MD

Neill Videlefsky, MD

Michael Violette, MD

J. Patrick Ware, MD

Vonda Ware, MD

Paul Weinberg, MD

Monique Welsh-Evans, MD

Alfred Williams, MD

Todd Williamson, MD

Danelle Wilson, MD

Tayyaba Zaman, MD

Richard Zellmer, MD

Julie Zweig, MD

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD