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These five St. Patrick Hospital heart specialists, from left, Jocelyn Spoon, Ashley Mays, Tod Maddux, Mike C. Reed and Brad Berry, all graduated from Missoula area high schools before getting their medical degrees. They have all returned to Missoula to practice medicine.

More than a third of the physicians at Missoula's International Heart Institute of Montana have returned home to practice medicine.

Five of the cardiologists at the center in Providence St. Patrick Hospital are from the area, including four Missoula County Public Schools graduates.

“I think a lot of it was just western Montana. I enjoyed growing up and living here,” said Brad Berry, a 1988 Hamilton High School grad.

The International Heart Institute provides a challenge professionally, as well as a legacy of world-renowned patient care.

“And being part of that is really pretty special,” he said.

For Tod Maddux, returning to Missoula was the goal even before he finished medical school.

“I’m a Montana boy,” he said simply, adding that it is hard to keep Montanans away from home.

The 1987 Hellgate High graduate said the heart institute provides him the opportunity to use advanced technology to treat his patients in a small setting.

“I think the cardiology practice here in Missoula is unique,” he said.

“I think a part of good patient care is spending time with them,” said Ashley Mays, a 1998 Hellgate graduate.

Mays added that the IHI structure allows for that kind of care.

Jocelyn Spoon graduated from Sentinel High in 1996, and said the heart institute’s reputation and breadth of services drew her back.

“Our hope is to maintain that tradition of excellence,” said Mike C. Reed, whose father also works at the institute.

Montana-born doctors understand the area and its people, said Tom McGuire, the institute’s administrator.

“It’s still kind of a handshake society,” McGuire said.

Because the doctors have returned to where their families still live, to raise their own families, they build long-term relationships with patients.

“I just think there’s a bond there and a trust that you don’t have elsewhere,” McGuire said, adding that knowing their doctors can help relieve patients’ anxiety.

Not having a revolving door of doctors also improves the heart institute, he said.

“What it gives us is that continuity of excellence over time,” he said.

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