Kaweah Health opens new heart surgery clinic

Kaweah Health reunites with cardiothoracic program founder Dr. Frederick Mayer at downtown clinic

VISALIA – Kaweah Health’s award winning cardiac surgery department has been reunited with the doctor who started it all more than 25 years ago at a new clinic it opened last week.

On Jan. 17, Kaweah Health officially opened its new Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinic in downtown Visalia.

The existing clinic, which was brought under the Kaweah Health umbrella, is home to the hospital’s cardiothoracic surgery team led by Dr. Frederick Mayer. The clinic will offer patients surgical procedures to treat diseases and conditions of the heart and chest performed at Kaweah Health Medical Center.

“We are happy to welcome back Dr. Frederick Mayer, who led our inaugural cardiothoracic program,” Kaweah Health CEO Gary Herbst said. “It has been great to see him return to Kaweah Health and be welcomed with such open arms by our physicians and staff.”

Dr. Mayer was recruited in 1996 to lead Kaweah Health’s first cardiac and thoracic surgery program from San Diego where he was part of the naval healthcare system. He has cared for heart patients at other hospitals for the past 10 years, but returned in 2019 to fill in for cardiac surgeons at Kaweah Health as needed. Dr. Mayer is the cardiothoracic surgery program medical director and is performing cardiothoracic surgery with the support of other cardiothoracic surgeons as he works to grow Kaweah Health’s program.

Dan Allain, vice president of cardiac and surgical services at Kaweah Health, said Dr. Mayer never left Visalia while he worked as surgeon in other capacities up and down the state. Already named among America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery by Healthgrades and an affiliate of Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, the No. 1 ranked heart program in the U.S., Allain said the new clinic will help the hospital recruit new heart doctors to its ranks.

“We are here to do the best for our community and give them world class service that exceeds others in our region and state,” Allain said. “We believe we will be getting the best surgeons available to come to our community.”

The cardiothoracic surgery team will handle all of the heart related surgeries for Kaweah Health’s highly touted heart program such as:

Minimally invasive heart surgery—While open-heart surgery requires an 8- to 10-inch incision, a surgeon performing minimally invasive heart valve surgery can use incisions half the size to replace or repair malfunctioning valves or restore normal function to a person’s heart.

Open-heart surgery—More than a million heart surgeries take place in the U.S. each year to correct heart problems. In California, Kaweah Health has one of the highest open-heart surgery volumes in the state.

Heart valve surgery—Two common problems caused by valve disease are narrowing of the valve opening and leaking of a valve. When a valve narrows or leaks, blood flow is restricted. This puts strain on the heart and can lead to heart failure and irregular heart rhythms.

Septal defects—Atrial septal defects or ventricular septal defects are basically holes in the heart, either in the septum or the ventricle. They allow blood to backflow to parts of the heart and lungs where it shouldn’t. The surgeons who partner with Kaweah Health surgically repair the damage with sutures or by patching the hole.

Maze procedure—The maze procedure is a surgical treatment that stops an irregular heartbeat, lowering the risk of blood clots or stroke.

Thoracic surgery—Kaweah Health’s thoracic surgery program provides Central Valley residents with specialized surgical treatment of organs in the chest. Thoracic surgery can treat diseased or injured organs in the thorax, including: the esophagus, the trachea, membranes that protect a person’s lungs, the area that separates their lungs, and their chest wall, diaphragm, heart and lungs.

Led by two of the area’s most accomplished and celebrated cardiothoracic surgeons, Kaweah Health’s cardiothoracic care team has performed more than 6,000 open-heart surgeries. The teams of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, vascular surgeons, nurses, perfusionists and cardiac technicians work together to provide a continuum of care that will give patients the best possible outcome. In Visalia, Kaweah Health’s dedicated heart team partners with local cardiologist and cardiac surgeons to provide cardiothoracic care for patients from Visalia, Hanford, Tulare, Porterville, Fresno, Bakersfield and surrounding areas.

Kaweah Health’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinic is conveniently located at 505 W. Main Street, one block west of Kaweah Health Medical Center with an entrance and parking off Acequia Avenue. It is 3,000 square feet with four patient care rooms and staffed by cardiothoracic surgeons, three medical assistants, and office staff. The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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