The end of August marked a rite of passage when Dr. Michael Santer Jr. retired from 40 years of cardiology practice. His footprints on the fabric of the Mid-Ohio Valley will long be remembered. In 1972, he opened his practice as the one of the first two fellowship trained cardiologists in West Virginia along with Dr. Bill Carter in Charleston.
Early in his tenure, St. Joseph's Hospital opened the first Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in the state. In 1973 Dr. David Avington joined him and Parkersburg Cardiology Associates became an integral part of health care in our area. Together they recruited a number of excellent physicians to join them until today the names of nine cardiologists and a nurse practitioner grace their letter head.
This growth in personnel was critical to fulfilling Santer's vision for expansion of heart services in Parkersburg. Santer wanted residents of the MOV to be able to obtain interventional cardiac care close to home where they would have the support of family, friends and their primary care doctors. He testified persuasively to this fact before the West Virginia Health Care Authority and they granted permission to St. Joseph's Hospital to open the first cardiac catheterization laboratory in 1988, 16 years after he first opened his practice. It took another 16 years for the vision to be complete but in 2004, the first angioplasty and first coronary bypass operations were performed at St. Joseph's. Today Camden Clark Medical Center is proud of its three cath labs and two open heart surgery suites on the St. Joseph's Campus and an additional cath lab on the Memorial Campus.
Santer's passion for state of the art heart care has benefitted many thousands of patients, influenced thousands of nurses and technicians and made our whole community a better place to live.
As one of those thousands of nurses who was privileged to work with and learn from Santer, I can attest to the fact we have all been made better by our association with him. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his vision and his perseverance. We wish him well as he starts this new chapter of his life.