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Longtime Hays cardiologist announces new practice

5/30/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Longtime cardiologist Dr. Jeffery Curtis recently has transitioned from the DeBakey Heart Institute at Hays Medical Center to Medical Specialists, where he primarily will be practicing general internal medicine.

Curtis has been practicing cardiology for the past 35 years, and after recent changes to the hospital's practice model, he decided the transition was necessary.

"For the past several months, I have been out of the office attending to some important family issues," Curtis said in a May 7 letter addressed to patients. "Fortunately, these issues, while not completely resolved, are going in the right direction."

The new model, implemented Nov. 1, was shifted to adapt to regional needs, which include outreach clinics and on-call hours.

Previously, three to five cardiologists were on staff. The new model has eight cardiologists, five non-interventional and three interventional.

"The roles of each cardiologist are predefined in terms of the amount of time you spend covering in the hospital, covering in the clinic and the time you spend taking calls," said Bryce Young, chief operating officer. "When Dr. Curtis looked at that, he said after this many years, the new cardiology model is not something he is interested in."

The model required on-call hours, which could entail working all day, all night and the following day.

"It had to do with call and covering within the hospital," Young said. "If you're on-call, you could work all day today and if you're the person taking call, you could be up all night depending on the volume of calls, and then still have a full day tomorrow."

This potentially could involve outreach calls as well, said Shae Veach, vice president of regional operations and marketing.

"He looked at the model, talked to his family and decided he wasn't interested in filling one of those slots," Young said. "He's got a tremendous reputation and he has deep roots in the community. The fortunate part is he decided to stay within the system."

Dr. Randy Cook and Dr. Dallas Richards, both members of the HaysMed medical staff, recently announced their retirements from internal medicine, and Curtis saw this as an opportunity.

"Dr. Curtis knew Dr. Cook and Dr. Richards would be retiring, so he took some time off to think about it," Young said.

"We came together and decided this would be a fantastic opportunity for him to come in and (fill) a significant void from a primary care standpoint within our system. It's a personal decision on his part."

"He said he couldn't be happier and thinks it's a great decision for him personally and professionally," Young said.

Curtis began practicing May 16.

Two cardiologists have been hired, and will begin practicing in August. Since November, HaysMed has been using locums, temporary cardiologists, to fulfill duties until the full-time cardiologists arrive.

"Ironically, Dr. Curtis was instrumental in helping us design the model," Young said. "It was interesting when the final decision had to be made about if he wanted one of these slots."

Curtis's patients are given a choice as to which of the eight cardiologists they would prefer to see, as long as his or her practice is not full.

HaysMed plans on recruiting one more cardiologist in August 2015.