In 1999, as a key step in the visionary transformation of IRMC, the hospital Board of Directors approved plans to develop open-heart surgery and interventional cardiology programs to meet life and death needs of local patients. The goal was to affiliate with a an established, nationally recognized heart care center of excellence.
Seeing friends and loved ones airlifted out of town for care, at risk of reaching their destination too late, prompted an outpouring of generosity from the community, with none so supportive as Carol and Pat Welsh.
IRMC became a Duke Health affiliate in heart care in 2005. Opened in 2006, the newly named Welsh Heart Center made a tremendous impact on our community. Now, patients were airlifted in to receive exceptional, comprehensive heart care. The project included four new cardiac operating suites and two cardiac catheterization labs, cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment technology, advanced endovascular surgery equipment, and renovation of laboratory services, imaging and the blood bank.
In 2016, the Welsh Heart Center added transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and electrophysiology (EP).
Dr. Cary Stowe, Medical Director of Cardiovascular Surgery, is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 1 percent of thoracic surgeons in the country. The team, which has been in place since the program began, includes Dr. Mark Malias, ranked in the top 10 percent of thoracic surgeons nationally, Dr. John Lindenthal, Director of Cardiac Anesthesia. Dr. Jay Midwall, Medical Director of Interventional Cardiology and his partner Dr. Joshua Kieval. Dr. Brett Faulknier joined the Welsh Heart Center in 2016 to launch and lead the cardiac electrophysiology program.