February 1, 2019

New Shipley Cardiothoracic Center Clinic Now Open at HealthPark Medical Center

Move Ushers in the Future of Heart and Lung Surgery


Larry Antonucci portrait

Larry Antonucci

Founded in 2015, the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center has aligned a distinguished multidisciplinary team of physicians, advanced providers, nurses and allied professionals in cardiothoracic surgery, anesthesiology, pulmonology and cardiology to advance the level of care for our community. A level of care that 68-year-old Sandra Watkins experienced almost four years ago when she had her mitral valve replaced by Paul DiGiorgi, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon.

“I cannot say enough about the care I received,” Sandra says. “I’d never had surgery before, so I didn’t know what to expect. But, Dr. DiGiorgi was so accessible to me, my husband and my daughter. He and his team were amazing.”

She says she felt amazing after the procedure, too. Though she’d always been healthy, working two jobs, taking 15-mile bike rides nearly every day; the deterioration of her mitral valve was slowing her down. She remembers having trouble walking up flights of stairs, making her bed and moving around her house. “I was so tired and short of breath,” she says. “But, I remember feeling better right away after the procedure. I knew I needed to take my time recovering, but I felt like I had my life back. Now, almost four years later, I feel like I’m 28 years old again.”

In the time since its inception, the center has become a destination for advanced minimally invasive heart surgery, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), robotic heart and lung surgery, transcatheter mitral valve clipping and more. Lee Physician Group Cardiothoracic Surgery is one of the busiest heart surgery groups in Florida, performing around 1,000 heart surgeries and 400 lung surgeries each year. In the fall of 2018, Shipley Cardiothoracic Center was designated a 3-star program by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons for their surgical treatment and postoperative care of their patients undergoing lobectomy for lung cancer. There were only five other facilities that publically report in the United States to receive three stars, which is the highest possible.

Now, Shipley Cardiothoracic Center has a new, 11,800-square-foot center within HealthPark Medical Center. This space moves beyond exam rooms for the cardiothoracic surgeons, including Randall Buss, M.D., Michael DeFrain, M.D., Paul DiGiorgi, M.D., and Brian Hummel, M.D. The space was established to be a hub of innovation, education and research. The clinic features space for hosting presentations, seminars and simulations. It also houses specialized team members, including the research team, data managers, and education specialists who work collaboratively with patients and their families.

One of the pillars of Shipley Cardiothoracic Center is the education component, which involves the sharing of patient outcomes, evidence-based and best practices with the local, national and international medical community through journal publications and scientific presentations. Education also extends to patients, as the team helps them understand how to stay healthy, manage chronic conditions and potentially avoid surgery. The cardiothoracic surgeons also train surgeons around the world on how to perform transcatheter aortic and mitral valve surgeries.

The new center is exciting and provides the space the team needs to fulfill their mission to innovate, educate and research for the future of heart and lung surgery in our community, in our country and in the world. Just like they have from the beginning—just ask Sandra. Click here to learn more about Shipley Cardiothoracic Center.


Yours in Health,

Larry Antonucci signatureLarry Antonucci, M.D., MBA

President & CEO, Lee Health

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