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Posted June 17, 2019

The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center is proud to announce that Ryan Whitney, MD, FACC, will begin practicing interventional cardiology alongside Vivien Cheng, MD; Nima Ghasemzadeh, MD, FACC; and Ankit Patel, MD, FACC, FSCAI, beginning Monday, June 17.

Dr. Whitney joined the practice in February and has been caring for patients in Braselton, Buford and Commerce.


Posted June 6, 2019

On June 1, 12 cardiologists opted to not renew their employment agreements with The Heart Center of NGMC.

While we are disappointed they are no longer with us, we want you to know the 26 cardiologists and 42 advanced practice providers who are part of The Heart Center of NGMC today stand ready and are committed to serving the cardiology needs of our regional community. We will continue to put patients first, and you will continue to have efficient access to a team of expert heart specialists.

What should I do?

If you have an appointment scheduled with Dr. Allison Dupont, Dr. Brenda Hott, Dr. Christopher Leach, Dr. Mark Leimbach, Dr. Jeffrey Marshall, Dr. Mark Matthews, Dr. Kashyap Patel, Dr. Mehrdad Toosi, Dr. Pradyumna Tummala, Dr. Steven Wang, Dr. Heather Westmoreland or Dr. Andrew Yen, we will contact you to reschedule your appointment with one of our other cardiologists at a time that is convenient for you. If you have an appointment with any of our other cardiologists, please plan to attend your appointment as scheduled.

We know that you have choices for your health care, and we consider it a privilege that you choose The Heart Center of NGMC to manage your heart health.

For assistance, please call 770-225-1848.

Patient FAQs

When did NGHS find out that these physicians were not returning to care for patients?

NGHS was given no notice of the cardiologists’ intention to leave the system until they refused to report for their shifts at our hospitals in Braselton and Gainesville just before midnight on Friday, May 31, 2019.  We then received a letter from their attorney on Saturday afternoon, June 1, to let us know that these physicians were not renewing their employment agreements.

Why did those cardiologists leave?

Northeast Georgia Health System worked diligently to build a heart care program that earned Northeast Georgia Medical Center recognition as Georgia’s #1 Heart Hospital for 12 consecutive years (2006-2017). This was the result of diligent collaboration between hospital staff, physicians and leaders, including the 26 physicians still at The Heart Center of NGMC.

We began discussion with the 20 physicians whose contracts were due for renewal more than a year ago.  We were actively engaged throughout the negotiations. All parties had agreed, and The Heart Center leadership had unanimously approved prior to their expiration on May 31. We were given no notice of these 12 physicians’ intention to leave the system – in fact, they reassured us that they intended to sign their agreements.

Like all businesses, hospitals and medical practices have employees who join and leave their organizations on a regular basis – and this includes physicians. While we are disappointed when physicians leave our organization, we remain dedicated to improving the health of the community in all we do.

How many physicians have left The Heart Center of NGMC?

The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center previously employed 38 cardiologists; today, we have 26 cardiologists who remain practicing with The Heart Center, in addition to 42 advanced practice providers. Twelve opted to not renew their employment agreements.

Which cardiologists are still on staff?

The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center has the following 26 cardiologists on staff:

The Heart Center of NGMC also has 42 advanced practice providers who will work with your physician to provide you with the best overall healthcare.

Which cardiologists have left?

The 12 cardiologists no longer employed with The Heart Center of NGMC are:

  • Allison Dupont
  • Brenda Hott
  • Christopher Leach
  • Mark Leimbach
  • Jeff Marshall
  • Mark Matthews
  • Kashyap Patel
  • Mahrdad Toosi
  • Prad Tummala
  • Steven Wang
  • Heather Westmoreland
  • Andrew Yen

Are the cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons still practicing at NGMC?

Cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons are not a part of The Heart Center of NGMC and all are still practicing at their regional practices and in our hospitals. Those physicians are:

Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Are the vascular surgeons still practicing at NGMC?

Our vascular surgeons are not a part of The Heart Center of NGMC and all are still practicing at their practices and in our hospitals. Those physicians are:

Longstreet Clinic Vascular and Vein

Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Vascular Surgery

How will we tell patients?

Patients are receiving phone calls and/or a letter notifying them of the practice changes and providing options for continued care with The Heart Center of NGMC providers.

What does this mean for The Heart Center of NGMC? Is it closing?

No. Our 26 cardiologists and 42 advanced practice providers who are part of The Heart Center of NGMC today stand ready and are committed to serving the cardiology needs of our regional community.  Additionally, The Heart Center of NGMC has been recruiting new physicians to grow the practice for some time, and that will continue.

What does this mean for heart services at Northeast Georgia Medical Center?

Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville is providing the full complement of heart services people have come to know and trust.  NGMC Braselton is temporarily not offering cardiac catheterizations but is offering many other heart services as they have in the past, including electrophysiology.  Active recruitment has been ongoing for The Heart Center as we continue to grow this practice, so we plan to backfill needed specialties as soon as possible in order to meet the needs of our patients in all locations.

Has a new chairperson for The Heart Center been named?

The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia is jointly led by Northeast Georgia Health System (Carol Burrell, CEO and Louis Smith, President of System Acute and Post-Acute Operations and Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville) and by physician leaders. At this time, all 26 remaining physicians are actively engaged in operations, and a new physician chairperson should be in place in a few weeks.

What is the timeline to replace the doctors?

Active recruitment has been ongoing for The Heart Center as we continue to grow this practice – in fact we’ve had interviews for new physicians this week. We plan to continue recruitment in all our cardiology specialties as soon as possible in order to meet the needs of our patients in all locations.

Can the remaining 26 physicians care for all the patients who were seeing the departed physicians, especially those who have upcoming appointments and/or procedures?

Absolutely. We will continue to put patients first, and you will continue to have efficient access to a team of expert heart specialists. We know that you have choices for your health care, and we consider it a privilege that you choose The Heart Center of NGMC to manage your heart health.

I have an appointment with one of the physicians who left and need to reschedule with another doctor.

If you have an appointment scheduled with Dr. Allison Dupont, Dr. Brenda Hott, Dr. Christopher Leach, Dr. Mark Leimbach, Dr. Jeffrey Marshall, Dr. Mark Matthews, Dr. Kashyap Patel, Dr. Mehrdad Toosi, Dr. Pradyumna Tummala, Dr. Steven Wang, Dr. Heather Westmoreland or Dr. Andrew Yen, we will contact you to reschedule your appointment with one of our other cardiologists at a time that is convenient for you. Patients with appointments scheduled in June and July are the first priority and should receive a call within the next several business days. Appointments in September and beyond will be rescheduled in the coming weeks.

I don’t have an appointment scheduled, but my doctor is gone. What do I do?

We know you’re surprised by the news, but we want to assure you that the 26 remaining doctors are all wonderful. You’re welcome to schedule an appointment with one of the remaining physicians to establish care with him or her if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. All our providers share every patient’s records, so if you need care at any point in the future, any of our doctors can see you when you need to come in.‚Äč

Has anything happened to my records?

No. The Heart Center – as well as all Northeast Georgia Health System facilities – stores all patient records in an electronic medical record system called Epic.  All of our physicians will have full access to all patient records.

I had a test ordered by one of the 12 physicians who have departed. Can I still have that test run, and who will follow up with me?

All patients who have a scheduled test – regardless of the physician who ordered it – are still scheduled for that test.

In order to have tests read as quickly as possible, our process has always been to have the test read by the first available physician, regardless of who ordered the test. Our staff then contact patients as soon as possible after results are recorded to their records to share the test results and advise of any needed follow-up.

 

Have questions? Please call 770-225-1848.