McLaren Bay Region celebrates 20 years of open heart services

On February 15, 2019, McLaren Bay Region will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first open heart surgery at the hospital.

After the first surgery was completed on February 15, 1999, the program went on to complete an additional 186 surgeries that year. Since then, the program has grown to an average of 400 cases per year, which means the program has performed more than 7,000 open heart surgeries in the 20 year span.

Nurse Researcher Dinah Katt has seen the program grow since the beginning. “I have had the honor and privilege to be a part of the open heart surgery services team since 1999. In 1999 when we began the open heart surgery program I assisted in the development of the program, cared for open heart patients after surgery, and now I abstract all of the open heart surgery cases in collaboration with the Michigan Society of Cardiovascular Surgeons (MSTCVS),” said Katt.

Innovation and quality are key to the success of the program. “The open heart surgery program continues to evolve with new technology. The TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) program and addition of an open heart services manager are two of the latest areas where we are growing to enhance our program,” said Katt. “Cardiac surgery is a team approach with dedicated and highly skilled members in various departments. I am very proud of our excellent cardiac surgeons, Dr. Cherukuri and Dr. Holmes, and the entire open heart surgery team.”

People who undergo open heart surgery are affected by many layers of the care process.

“The journey of the open heart patient is a long one and they feel very vulnerable throughout the process, so it’s important for us to be there for them every step of the way,” said Cardiothoracic Surgeon Robert Holmes, MD, who has been with McLaren Bay Region since 2003. “To see someone live a long and happy life after they’ve had open heart surgery is very fulfilling for me as a surgeon. It’s a great feeling to help someone not only feel better, but to add years to their life.”

Because open heart surgery can be an intense process throughout the full continuum of care, a strong team is essential to the success of patients.

“I have full confidence in the open heart team we have at McLaren Bay Region through all levels of the care process,” said Dr. Holmes. “If you are facing the journey through open heart surgery, McLaren Bay Region is the place to be.”

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Ramesh Cherukuri, MD, who has been with the McLaren Bay open heart program since 1999, agrees that the team is truly the heart of the program. “It’s all about the team,” said Dr. Cherukuri. “We have an amazing open heart team.”

A short presentation will be held on Thursday, February 14th from 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. in the McLaren Bay Region cafeteria to celebrate the 20 year anniversary.

To learn more about cardiology services at McLaren Bay Region, visit