Deborah’s Lynn McGrath, MD, regarded as one of the world’s most experienced heart surgeons, recently completed an extraordinary career milestone with 12,000 surgeries. As Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. McGrath now mentors a rising generation of Deborah health innovators. We asked him to speak to some of the coming changes in the field he helped to define.
Q. Since the day you performed your first surgery in 1985, what has been the most significant, game-changing advancement in your speciality?
A. Substantial advances in postoperative care, the efficacy of the heart-lung machine and the utilization of less invasive surgical techniques have all had an important impact on the quality of heart surgery results.
Q. In the rising generation of surgeons, what is the character trait you think is most valuable, but perhaps underdeveloped in the field?
A. One has to be prepared to act as a leader of a team, and at the same time be collaborative. But in the final analysis, all of the characteristics of a successful cardiac surgeon flow from a well-developed sense of self-discipline which in my view is partly innate, but can also be cultivated.
Q. Deborah is investing millions of dollars into new, life-preserving technologies and techniques. What is significant about why and where Deborah is investing its resources?
A. Deborah is investing in developing wide-ranging capabilities to continuously improve upon outcomes and the safety of patient care, and to enhance the patient care experience. Having said that, recruiting the most talented clinicians and then devoting the resources necessary to retaining them is by far the most significant contributor to clinical success.
Q. If you have two relatively comparable hospitals, with nearly identical technological capabilities, why should patients insist on Deborah?
A. Deborah has historically been a nationally respected leader in innovation for providing Cardiovascular and Thoracic care. We have had such a robust focus on managing patients with cardiac, pulmonary and vascular disease that the staff is intensely capable and as a result the care is unmatched.
Q. As a surgeon, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your life’s mission and work?
A. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with highly skilled, dedicated and loyal staff. I have just been one member of a superbly functioning team. Their contributions are the real foundation for any success I may have enjoyed. This Deborah environment has enabled me to become very experienced in providing superb care for an unusually large number of patients. Many of these patients suffered from severe forms of cardiac disease, a considerable cohort of whom were turned down elsewhere for open heart surgery.
This has been gratifying work.