Written by Travis Marshall | Photographed by Kremer Johnson Photography
In the past, when South Bay residents needed advanced cardiovascular surgical care, they often had to travel to other parts of Southern California. Now, thanks to a new partnership between Providence Little Company of Mary and Keck Medicine of USC, the residents of the beach cities, Palos Verdes, Torrance, San Pedro and the rest of the South Bay can receive academic-based complex cardiovascular procedures right in their own backyard at Little Company of Mary.
A partnership with USC has brought four of the area’s leading cardiovascular surgeons—Craig J. Baker, MD, Matthew Powers, MD, Jonathan Cash, MD, and Raymond Lee, MD—to Providence Little Company of Mary.
“We are delighted to welcome these outstanding surgeons to our medical center,” said Garry Olney, chief executive of Providence Little Company of Mary and senior leader of the Southern California area’s Cardiovascular Clinical Insititute. “Our partnership with Keck Medicine of USC ensures that the most highly skilled cardiac surgical care will be available right here in the South Bay.”
The effort to establish the partnership is a testament to the medical center, says Dr. Cash.
“The commitment from Garry Olney and the executive team to form this partnership closes a gap in the South Bay community, ensuring the highest level of cardiac surgical care is available locally.”
Bringing renowned care to a community medical center
After completing medical school at New York University, Dr. Powers completed his general surgery training at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. There he discovered his passion for cardiac surgery under the leadership of Dr. Baker, chief of the division of cardiac surgery, who later recruited him to help lead the new program at Little Company of Mary. Dr. Cash completed his residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Keck Hospital of USC before taking a position as a cardiac surgeon and assistant professor of surgery.
“Both Dr. Cash and Dr. Powers have roots at USC,” Dr. Baker says. “They are well respected. They are dedicated to Providence Little Company of Mary, providing full-time, 365-day coverage so there are never lapses in patient care.”
Dr. Powers says he is excited that the partnership gives him and Dr. Cash the opportunity to treat patients in a community hospital environment, while continuing to deliver the exceptional outcomes and high quality of care that patients expect from USC.
“Everyone at the hospital treats their patients like family, and I really enjoy the community aspect of working here,” Dr. Powers says. “I live in the community with my wife and children, and we’re an active part of what makes the South Bay such a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”
Dr. Cash completed his residency at USC under Vaughn Starnes, MD, Distinguished Professor and Chair, USC Department of Surgery.
“There was no better person to learn the art of surgery from than Dr. Starnes,” he says. “When I was presented the opportunity to expand the department’s services with this new collaboration, while reuniting with some of my close friends from my training at USC, I knew there was no way I would let this opportunity pass by.”
Along with cardiac surgery procedures for heart failure, coronary vascularization and aortic surgery, the surgeons bring their own unique skills, Dr. Cash says. They will offer expertise in cardiovascular and hybrid treatment of aortic disease including: thoracic cardiovascular aneurysm repair, transcatheter treatment of aortic and mitral valve pathology, minimally invasive valve repair and replacement, minimally invasive coronary artery bypass grafting, minimally invasive surgery for atrial fibrillation and robotic thoracic surgery for lung cancer and mediastinal tumors.
“These doctors are exceptional surgeons with a passion for their craft,” says Rishi Kaushal, MD, interventional cardiologist at Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance. “Each has his own unique niche, which makes them greater assets for each other.”
Partnership a win-win-win
The relationship between Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance and USC has been years in the making, as the hospital has carefully explored potential partnerships.
“We didn’t hesitate in identifying USC as the right partner for us,” Dr. Kaushal says. “They are world-renowned in cardiovascular services, and we share the same philosophy about individualized medicine and patient care.”
The partnership has positive benefits for all involved. “We think an academic partnership is a win-win-win,” Dr. Baker says. “It’s a win for the patients because they are getting outstanding care in their local community. It’s a win for Providence Little Company of Mary because they are delivering state-of-the-art care. And it’s a win for us because we think we have an exceptional product at USC, but we know patients want access to quality surgical care locally.”
Local access is especially important for patients in need of implantable heart pumps, transplants and other complex lifesaving procedures because they can get the care they need quickly from Keck Medicine of USC.
“Our patients now have access to investigation medicine and the highest level of care from two exceptional surgeons,” Dr. Kaushal says. “It’s also good for patients’ family and friends who no longer need to commute as far as 40 miles away to visit loved ones in the hospital.”
Continuing advancements for the future
Looking to the future, the partnership with USC is turning Providence Little Company of Mary into a destination for patients from outside the South Bay.
“We have room for growth and expansion to make Providence Little Company of Mary a premier cardiovascular treatment center,” Dr. Powers says. “We’ve already shown that we’re able to take care of complex patients with aortic dissections who get transferred from other centers.”
A key factor in the center’s growth and expertise is the interdisciplinary nature of the program, in which the surgeons work in collaboration with a team of renowned interventional cardiologists led by Michele Del Vicario, MD, director of interventional cardiology and the cauterization lab at Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance.
“We meet every week, twice a week, to review patients, to review new options for care, to really tailor each treatment for the patient,” Dr. Powers says. “To have someone as highly regarded as Dr. Michele Del Vicario within the institution is phenomenal. His experience and high-quality judgment in treating patients with coronary valve disease can’t be replaced.”
Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance also will gain access to a wide range of clinical trials and benefit from newly emerging techniques such as the first-ever catheter-based, minimally invasive mitral valve replacement, performed by a team from USC’s Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute in September 2018.
“Heart surgery is still a very young field of medicine, and the rapid evolution we’re seeing is very exciting, especially in how aortas are treated and how valves are replaced,” Dr. Powers says. “Now we can do complex valve repair and replacement procedures through very small keyhole incisions, and we can do transcatheter valve replacements through the arteries of the groin. All these minimally invasive technologies have really improved patient satisfaction and outcomes, and we’re proud to offer all these services here in Torrance.”