Geisinger Announces Chief of Structural Heart Disease

Shikhar Agarwal, M.D., M.P.H., has been promoted to chief of structural heart disease at Geisinger.

In his new role, Dr. Agarwal oversees the integration and growth of services across the health system for patients with diseases of the heart valves. Over the past decade, there has been a substantial increase in the number of patients with heart valve disorders, including aortic valve stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) and mitral valve regurgitation (leaking of the mitral valve).

A Geisinger provider since 2016, Dr. Agarwal specializes in valve-related interventions and complex coronary interventions. He leads the structural heart disease program at Geisinger Medical Center (GMC), performing minimally invasive procedures, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), transcatheter mitral valve repair and replacement, paravalvular leak closure and coronary interventions that require only a skin puncture.

In 2020, Dr. Agarwal was recognized as one of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Top Physicians Under 40 for significant successes early in his career. To date, he has performed more than 100 mitral valve repairs and more than 550 TAVR procedures and led the GMC structural heart team’s implantation of more than 1,000 replacement valves via TAVR. 

Dr. Agarwal’s leadership at GMC was integral to the hospital’s investment in its interventional hybrid suite, which has expanded availability to patients in the region and established the medical center as a destination for structural heart care.

“As a system, we have witnessed tremendous growth in structural heart disease care in recent years,” Dr. Agarwal said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery to offer our patients in every community a full team of experts to consult on the best approach to their care.”

As system chief of structural heart disease, Dr. Agarwal will work closely with regional chiefs of cardiology and the chair of the Department of Cardiology, George Ruiz, M.D., to coordinate care across the system, create new programs that complement clinical efforts, provide the communities Geisinger serves with expanded clinical expertise and review any clinical quality challenges that arise.

“Our vision is to make better health easier for our patients and members regardless of where they live,” Dr. Ruiz said. “With Dr. Agarwal’s leadership, we’re bringing outstanding care for structural heart disease to every region in our service area.”

The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Resident Physicians Present Scholarly Works at 71st American College of Cardiology Scientific Session

Internal medicine resident and cardiology fellow physicians at The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education recently presented scholarly abstracts at the 71st Annual American College of Cardiology Scientific Session & Expo in Washington, D.C.

The global conference enables the cardiology community to connect with peers and top experts in the field to learn about the latest practice-changing research and cutting-edge education that can transform cardiovascular care for doctors, health care team providers and patients.

Dr. Sanskriti Shrivastava, the lead author, presented three research abstracts and a meta-analysis. His scholarly works included, “Long Story Short: Long-Term Outcomes in Alcohol Septal Ablation vs. Septal Myectomy in Patients with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy,” “Outracing Cancer: Analyzing Racial Differences in Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes in 270 Patients with Primary Malignant Cardiac Tumors from the Seer Database,” and “Characteristics and Survival Outcomes in Primary Malignant Cardiac Tumors Based on Histology: Insights from the Seer Database.” She also presented the meta-analysis, “Gender-Based Differences in Cardiovascular Outcomes Associated with COVID-19 Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”

The lead author on three abstracts, Dr. Chaitanya Rojulpote presented “Effects of Prednisone Use on Cardiac Function and Outcomes in Patients with Sarcoidosis,” “Temporal Trends of Acute Myocardial Infarction Complicating Atrial Fibrillation Hospitalizations in the United States,” and “Temporal Trends of Heart Failure Complicating Atrial Fibrillation in the United States.”

Dr. Pooja Kharbanda was the lead author on the scholarly abstract, “Dynamic Assessment of Left Ventricular Outflow Tract Obstruction Using Cardiac Catheterization.”

Dr. Raza Naseer offered, “Rate vs. Rhythm Control for Atrial Fibrillation in the Modern Era: A Systematic Review and Mata-Analysis.”

“Monitored Anesthesia Care vs. General Anesthesia Outcomes in Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, was presented by Dr. Humza Hanif, the lead author. Co-authors included Drs. Muhammad Affan, Najam U. Saqib, Muhammad Siddique Pir, Shrivastava and Naseer.

“Double Firing AV Node,” a case report, was presented by Dr. Sujithraj Dommaraju.

Dr. Saqib presented his case reports, “The Bread and Butter and Beyond” and “Robotic PCI,” which he co-authored with Dr. Samir Pancholy.   Overall, resident physicians in The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education have had 115 scholarly abstracts, written on a wide array of topics in medicine, accepted for presentation at professional conferences since the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.

Geisinger Welcomes New Chair of Cardiology

Specialty-trained cardiologist accepts role as vice chair of Heart Institute

George Ruiz, M.D., a seasoned clinical cardiologist and proven leader, has joined Geisinger as chair of Cardiology and vice chair of the Geisinger Heart Institute.

As counterpart to John Conte, M.D., chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and vice chair of the Heart Institute, Dr. Ruiz rounds out institute leadership under Alfred Casale, M.D., chief medical officer of surgical services and chair of the Heart Institute at Geisinger.

With more than 20 years of clinical experience, Dr. Ruiz cares for adult cardiology and adult congenital heart disease patients in central and northeastern Pennsylvania in addition to serving in his leadership roles. A bilingual physician, Dr. Ruiz has treated and organized outreach to the Spanish-speaking community for more than two decades.

Dr. Ruiz specializes in clinical cardiology with a subspecialty in adult congenital heart disease and pulmonary hypertension, and he has extensive experience in mechanical circulatory support and adult heart failure. As a leader, he focuses on improving quality of care within complex, progressive service programs.

Dr. Ruiz earned his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in the Bronx, New York. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowships in cardiovascular medicine and adult congenital heart disease at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Before coming to Geisinger, Dr. Ruiz held academic and clinical leadership roles, including instructor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, director of Advanced Cardiac Support, Pulmonary Hypertension and Advanced Heart Failure at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., and chief of Cardiology at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Harbor Hospital in Baltimore.

He also served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson from 2005 to 2006 and consultant to Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon Mansfield from 2007 to 2008.

Dr. Ruiz is board certified in cardiology, advanced heart failure, and adult congenital heart disease, and he is fluent in English and Spanish.

Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre Opens New Cardiology Clinic

Geisinger has opened a new cardiology clinic on the campus of Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre to make heart-care services more accessible to the community and better health easier for patients in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The newly renovated space at 50 Roosevelt Terrace offers pediatric and adult cardiology services, providing care for adult patients with congenital heart disease, and featuring noninvasive diagnostics like echocardiography and electrocardiography. Pediatric spaces were specifically designed to calm the youngest congenital-heart patients.

Staffed daily with cardiologists, advanced practitioners, sonographers and technicians to accommodate both pediatric and adult patients, the refinished clinic features a new echocardiography bed, electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) machine, and high-end blanketwarming

“We know patients have wanted a cardiology practice to come back to the South Wilkes-Barre community for some time, and we wanted to provide that service again,” said Kelly Austin, RN,
operations manager for the clinic. “This practice will increase appointments available to cardiology patients in Luzerne County and bring cardiology services closer to home for patients in or near South Wilkes-Barre.”

Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Karen Lurito will lead pediatric cardiology services at the clinic, and she is passionate about expanding heart care in the northeast.

“In one place, you get a full spectrum of care. We have the ability to treat children with cardiovascular disease and continue that specialized care as they mature,” Lurito said, noting the importance of lifelong care for the growing number of patients who now live longer with congenital heart disease due to advancements in treatment.

Patients who need additional heart-care services can take advantage of the robust cardiology and congenital heart disease programs at Geisinger. For example, services in interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, cardiac surgery, pediatric stress testing and metabolic stress testing are all available in the northeast at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. And pediatric and congenital heart surgery services are offered at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

Systemwide, the congenital heart team has been strengthened recently with the addition of a surgeon with 30 years of experience to lead pediatric and adult congenital heart surgery and a certified registered nurse practitioner well-versed in building adult congenital heart disease programs. The team also features cardiologists who have achieved Adult Congenital Heart Disease board certification and can care for patients throughout their lives.

Care even extends to the maternal and fetal medicine clinic, where pediatric cardiologists will do echocardiography on fetuses.

“We will care for you from your prenatal days all the way through adulthood,” Lurito said.