The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and UK HealthCare have named a surgeon to lead a new partnership providing pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at both sites.
Dr. James Quintessenza will start Dec. 1. His primary appointment will be at Cincinnati Children’s, but he will be based in Lexington.
“Dr. Quintessenza is an exceptional talent and leader with a long track record of success,” said James Tweddell, professor of surgery and executive co-director of the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s. “His commitment to quality improvement makes him the right choice to build this program into one that provides Kentucky families top-ranked cardiology care closer to home.”
Quintessenza’s hiring will bring complicated pediatric heart surgeries back to UK after a four-year absence. UK suspended its pediatric cardiac surgery program in 2012 after an uptick in mortality rates. The program’s chief surgeon, Mark Plunkett, left UK in 2013 with a $1 million settlement. An internal review of the program never identified specific problems, but it said better support and nursing care would be needed for complex surgeries.
UK and Cincinnati Children’s announced their new partnership last September.
Quintessenza worked at All Children’s Hospital (later named Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital) in St. Petersburg, Fla., for 26 years, including 19 years as medical director and chief of pediatric cardiac surgery. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He also did his general surgery internship and residency there. He completed his cardiothoracic surgery residency at the University of California in San Diego.
“The ability to recruit a surgeon of Dr. Quintessenza’s experience and expertise speaks to the quality of the program being built through this innovative partnership with Cincinnati Children’s,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Kentucky.
UK HealthCare also is working toward having cardiac subspecialists perform diagnostic and therapeutic interventions at Kentucky Children’s Hospital with the support of Cincinnati Children’s subspecialists when necessary. Doctors, nurses and support staff in the program will get intensive training in Cincinnati, UK officials said.