Throughout his lifetime, internationally renowned cardiovascular leader Dean J. Kereiakes, MD, FACC, FSCAI, has remained steadfast in his commitment to providing leading-edge cardiovascular care for patients in Cincinnati and beyond.
“The reason I was attracted to the heart and why I went into cardiovascular medicine, in particular, was because I viewed the heart as the center of the being,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “I wanted the challenge and responsibility of life and death. I know to some that may sound odd, but to me, that was the level of commitment and responsibility that I wanted to have.”
He originally planned to become a cardiac surgeon because of his admiration for top cardiac surgeons at the time like Dr. Denton Cooley, who performed the first implantation of a total artificial heart. Dr. Kereiakes watched some of these “firsts” occur—like when he was a senior medical resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital and observed the first intracoronary streptokinase (or clot-busting enzyme) to treat a heart attack. In San Francisco, he also watched Dr. Richard Myler perform the first coronary artery balloon angioplasty in the U.S.
“I saw these things and it was clear to me that I could maintain the patient contact of the medical doctor but also have the ability to intervene and do something semi-surgical as an interventional cardiologist,” says Dr. Kereiakes.
In 1994, he got to talking with other physicians while attending the annual American College of Cardiology convention. They discussed the notion of providing state-of-the-art cardiovascular care to patients in Cincinnati by assembling experts in different areas who could offer subspecialty care. Doing so would enable each cardiologist to focus on specific areas of expertise within cardiology such as heart failure, electrophysiology, coronary intervention, imaging, etc. Physicians would not have to dabble in multiple areas but rather focus on one subspecialty group to become a true expert in that area.
Dr. Kereiakes and Dr. John Schneider, from separate cardiology groups, mapped out a blueprint for this innovative concept of care. After presenting the idea to Dr. Charles Abbottsmith, Chief of Cardiology at The Christ Hospital, they presented it to other cardiology groups. They recognized that merging multiple competing cardiology groups from the region to create one group large enough to support intra-group subspecialty referrals would mean that their level of expertise could rival or exceed that available at centers like the Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic.
The doctors’ novel vision came to fruition in October 1995 and Ohio Heart was born. Though they started with 17 cardiologists, over time that number grew to over 42 cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, advanced practice providers and nurses.
Dr. Kereiakes is committed to the continued development of subspecialized Centers of Excellence, each led by a nationally acclaimed and networked physician champion who is supported by appropriate staff and infrastructure. Each Center of Excellence is matrixed with the Lindner Center for Research and Education to provide access to leading technologies and care, novel drugs, and medical devices years before they become commercially available to the general population. Plus, they leverage all that The Christ Hospital Heart Institute has for collective resources to recruit exceptional physicians.
“The caliber of physicians could frankly go anywhere, but we are able to recruit these types of individuals by creating an attractive platform that includes clinical research as well as clinical practice,” says Dr. Kereiakes, who is extremely proud that the hospital has built unique multidisciplinary programs for disease management.
“We have a recipe where we identify credible, nationally networked physician champions,” says Dr. Kereiakes. “We enable them with the appropriate personnel infrastructure, which includes a coordinator, data management person, navigators, etc., and we matrix them to the Lindner Research Center for access to leading-edge technology. That recipe has earned national recognition.”
Fresh to the team are four physicians who are eager to serve patients. They include Dr. Ankit Bhatia, Heart Failure; Dr. Andrew Noll, electrophysiology; Dr. Mark Berlacher, General Cardiology; and Dr. Senan Yasar, General Cardiology.
In January 2021, Dr. Kereiakes was appointed President of the newly established Heart and Vascular Institute with a focused mission of becoming a destination for full-service adult cardiovascular care.
“The goal is to be perceived as the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital equivalent for adult cardiovascular care as we have unparalleled programs for cardiovascular disease management,” says Dr. Kereiakes.
As founder and past CEO of the Ohio Heart and Vascular cardiovascular specialty group (acquired by The Christ Hospital in 2009) as well as founder and Medical Director of the Lindner Research Center, Dr. Kereiakes brings extensive experience in hospital and practice leadership to this new role. He has led trials for successful FDA approval of more than a dozen novel leading-edge drugs and medical devices. In addition, he has performed more than 30,000 heart catheterization procedures. That credibility, as well as the credibility of an internationally reputed Lindner Research Center led by new medical director Dr. Tim Henry (an international figure in cardiovascular clinical research), have put the Lindner Center and The Christ Hospital in a unique position for leading cardiovascular care in this region and beyond.
“The Cardiovascular services at The Christ Hospital have grown in scope, reach, and expertise over decades, but change has accelerated in the past few years,” said Thomas O’Brien, MD, current Heart and Vascular Service Line Medical Director . “The concept of this institute has wide support among the physicians and administrators alike.”
The Christ Hospital Health Network’s 2021 Gala, “Imagine: Bold Foundation, Boundless Future,” will take place on October 2, 2021, at Duke Energy Convention Center. Designed to be a celebration of all that Greater Cincinnati’s Heart Hospital has accomplished over the past four decades, the evening will set the stage for the future of heart care in Cincinnati. Gala proceeds will support the Heart and Vascular Institute to improve care for patients across our community and beyond.”
“We are Cincinnati’s Heart Hospital as a result of the phenomenal talent of our physicians and the incredible team of clinicians and support staff that surround them. In addition, the generosity of local philanthropists has played an important role in our success,” says Debbie Hayes, President & CEO of The Christ Hospital Health Network. “Our 2021 Gala is the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate what has been accomplished and will bring about a new chapter in our evolution as we continue to transform the level of cardiovascular care available for our region.”
For more information, visit TheChristHospital.com/heart. To schedule an appointment with one of the hospital’s heart specialists, call 513.206.1180. To learn more about the Gala, visit TheChristHospital.com/gala or call 513.585.2241