How a Manila heart surgeon helped save Maine Hospital

Portland, Maine — In last month’s column about legendary physicians, I was reminded about the talents of Dr. Jorge Garcia, heart surgeon extraordinaire. This resulted in my remembering his involvement in an unusual set of circumstances, which is the basis for this month's story.

The year was 2002 and I was very comfortable in my job as CEO of the Riverside Medical Center in Franklinton, Louisiana, where I had been since 1999. My employer, East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, LA, was a large, very successful acute care hospital in the New Orleans area and had a management contract to provide the Executive Leadership of the small hospital in Franklinton, 65 miles to the north, which was owned by Washington Parish. While responsible to the Board of Riverside, I also reported to the president and CEO of East Jefferson, Peter Betts, who over 20+ years had built East Jefferson into one of the best and most highly regarded hospitals in Louisiana.

While I very much enjoyed my work, living in a small town of about 4,000, 90 minutes north of New Orleans had its challenges to someone who enjoyed buying the New York Times and liked to frequent fine dining establishments.

One of my dreams had always been to work overseas, so it was not hard to accept the invitation in 2002, that came to interview with Dr. Jorge Garcia, at the prompting of our mutual friend, Ron Marx, the longstanding CEO of Washington Adventist Hospital in Maryland. Mr. Marx and Dr. Garcia had built Washington Adventist into one of the premier heart centers of the DC area.

The hospital’s comptroller came to see me: