Father-son traditions often show up in professional worlds like medicine, but rarely does a son come to do ground-breaking work at the same facility his father helped found.
That’s the history for Dr. Michael Reed, an interventional cardiologist at the St. Patrick Hospital’s International Heart Institute. Reed grew up in Missoula, attended Hellgate High School, and followed his father George Reed’s footsteps in becoming a heart surgeon at the International Heart Institute. Technology has increased greatly between generations, but both Reeds agreed that patient needs have remained the same – find a way to return to health.
With Dr. Tod Maddux, Reed helped put together a team of doctors and specialists who concentrate on cases that can be helped with trans-aortic valve replacement. The technique is an alternative to many situations that otherwise might require open-heart surgery.
“The advantage is we’re able to treat a life-threatening heart-valve problem with minimum invasiveness,” Reed said. “It’s a less risky technique.”
Reed and his colleagues have performed the procedure 220 times, and seen a lot of expansion of the program because of their success. He stressed that those accomplishments reflected the wide range of expertise gathered at the institute.
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“An operation like this requires multiple disciplines, from anesthesiology, radiology, imaging, the catheter lab staff, the surgical staff,” Reed said. “Then there’s coordination with the family, organizing the procedures – it takes a village of people to pull these off.”
That means checking egos at the operating room door every time a surgical team convenes to help a patient. Reed said the technique of repairing hearts has greatly expanded into far more than the implantation of a device in the patient’s circulatory system.
“When we come together as a heart team, we think about the patient from multiple, different perspectives. It’s extremely eye-opening to approach that patient in such a comprehensive way.”
That can mean looking at the person’s diet and lifestyle, living conditions and family support as part of their recovery plan. It also means finding ways to work with colleagues for a common goal.
“That allows the opportunity for everyone to be constructively critical and contribute their particular skill set,” Reed said. “It creates a collaborative environment that’s less threatening to work in.”