Dr. Sanjay Gupta Extolls Shipley Center


“I Did My Homework!”

A household name across the United States and the world, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the multiple Emmy award-winning chief medical correspondent for Cable News Network (CNN). A practicing neurosurgeon, he reports on health and medical news for all CNN shows domestically and internationally, and contributes to CNN.com. As such, when medical needs arise in his own family, Dr. Gupta can avail himself to the best medical practitioners and facilities on earth.

“My Dad has heart disease, and between two and three years ago his symptoms reached the point where it not only affected his quality of life but his life, so he needed bypass surgery,” said Dr. Gupta last week at a fundraising benefit to support clinical education at the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center at HealthPark Medical Center, a part of Lee Health.

“At that point I was no longer a physician but the son of a patient,” he says, “and I began doing my homework, getting on-line to find doctors and facilities. The weird thing is people always ask me who is the best person for this or the best place of that, but that becomes a tough question when it is for my dad, who I love, and the things that go through your mind when you make one of the biggest decisions in your life. I keep track of various healthcare system from around the county, and I called a lot of people to learn who could best care for Dad. The more people I spoke with, the more who recommended the Shipley Center and Dr. Brian Hummel. Experts said without reservation or hesitation if they were in the same situation, that is where they would go, and that gives you confidence. I did my homework, heard over-and-again about the excellence of the Shipley Center, and that leaves an impression.”


Extra Steps Matter A Lot

Soon he connected over the telephone with Dr. Hummel, “and he took his time with me and talked me through the procedure and treatment, and I could immediately feel his compassion; he was putting himself in my shoes and anticipating my questions and he gave me a lot of confidence he would be there with us every inch of the way – it is those extra steps that matter a lot.”

Once the decision was made and Dr. Hummel performed the bypass, “the nursing care was important, and it was really, really good,” reports Dr. Gupta. “This is a traumatic experience not just for the patient but the entire family, and as crazy as this is to say, I look back on it fondly! Everyone knows you by name and that goes for everyone in the family, and it is hard to describe the comfort that gives you. It is the big things that bring you to the Shipley Center, but it is the little things that make it so special.”

“It is flattering on the one hand when an expert like Dr. Gupta entrusts his father to your care,” relates Dr. Hummel, “but I am old enough to know you treat everyone the same, whether it is his father or the janitor’s dad; that is my approach and it serves me well by not getting too high or low, but doing what we are trained to do, and not changing that depending on the patient. What is flattering is that Dr. Gupta did the research high-and-low and far-and-wide and he chose our system, and that speaks more to our care system-wide, including nursing and administrative attention to detail for patient satisfaction. The kudos do not go to me but to the entire cardiac surgery crew, as it really is a team effort; the surgeon is only a small piece of the pie.”

Dr. Hummel said, “If Dr. Gupta, who could go anywhere, chose the Shipley Cardiothoracic Center, our local community should take away from that how excellent the care is that they can receive right in their own backyard, and that is a very helpful endorsement.”


Q & A

As to Lee Health’s recent shift in emphasis to preventive medicine, including proper diet and exercise to keep people healthier longer, to require less hospitalizations and shorter stays, Dr. Gupta said “I think this is absolutely the wave of the future! Prevention and wellness we see as the revolution and each step is important along the way.”

When asked what they anticipate for the Affordable Care Act, Dr. Hummel said if the government eliminates it, people who lose their insurance will not suddenly become healthy nor care magically free: “If you take away healthcare from millions, that becomes a tremendous burden on your local economy. Lee Health is the primary provider for Lee County and we provided $257 million in charity care; if people lose their coverage that will be a huge strain to our community. I hope cooler minds and rational people address it, and they do not just stop it.” With a broad smile, Dr. Gupta said: “put my name after that answer!”

The Shipley Cardiothoracic Center in HealthPark opened in 2014, thanks to a $2.5 million gift from Richard Shipley of Sanibel and The Shipley Foundation. It offers a cutting-edge approach to heart and lung disease through a team focus on quality care, research, and learning opportunities to optimize patient outcomes.

The highlight of the evening was when Dr. Hummel engaged Dr. Gupta on stage in an in-depth question & answer session before an audience of 150 people. In discussing his appearance at the fundraiser, Dr. Gupta said that “I am delighted to be here and I would do anything for Dr. Hummel! You don’t get many chances to be on the other side of the medical equation, and I am happy to say that Dad is doing great!”


Gary Mooney