February is Heart Awareness Month—a good time to spotlight the Spectrum Health Frederik Meijer Heart & Vascular Institute, in downtown Grand Rapids.
Teams of cardiovascular experts work together to provide heart care that addresses the needs of patients throughout Michigan and beyond. Heart specialists in 13 counties provide heart and vascular care, performing bypass and vascular surgeries, heart and lung transplants, and everything in between. In fact, the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart & Lung Transplant Program is one of only three programs in Michigan offering heart and lung transplants for adult patients facing serious end-stage heart failure, viral infections of the heart, and other life-threatening heart and lung diseases.
Several strong and talented women have greatly contributed to the success of the Spectrum Health heart program. In a medical field traditionally dominated by men, that's something to celebrate. Here are a few of these women.
Shanna TenClay, MD | Samantha Dalman | Christine Bopp | Tracey Burke
Shanna TenClay, M.D. | Chair, Department of Anesthesiology
Dr. TenClay, an anesthesiologist who specializes in cardiovascular care, is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Afghanistan. She graduated from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and attended Duke University for her residency and fellowship training in anesthesiology with cardiothoracic specialization.
"Women provide a diverse perspective in this filed. Anytime you have diversity, it improves the circumstances for everyone because you look at things differently. Our patients are diverse. And the more we reflect our patients, the better."
Samantha Dalman | Senior Financial Analyst, Cardiovascular Health
Dalman is the point person for operations working with finance to support the cardiovascular health service line. She supports program development, operating initiatives and delivery of care in the most affordable way.
"The most important part of my role is to make sure that the operations teams can make changes that bring the most affordable care to our patients. There are nuances in both the health care industry and cardiovascular care specifically that make financial concerns challenging, but we want to move the needle to help our patients."
Christine Bopp | Director, Cardiovascular Medicine, Cardiovascular Imaging
Bopp oversees a very large cardiovascular practice, cardiovascular imaging, and cardiovascular rehab, which includes services such as office visits, stress tests, ECHO, and nuclear cardiology.
"I love making a difference to people—the people we care for and the people we work with. We do everything as a team. We change peoples' lives by our decisions and what we do."
Tracey Burke | Vice President, Cardiovascular Medicine
Burke leads operations for heart and vascular services across all Spectrum Health entities. She is accountable and responsible for patients, providers, and staff, as well as the quality of programs, outcomes, and finances. Burke joined Spectrum Health 22 years ago and has held a number of leadership positions.
"There are benefits to being a female in this role. It brings a level of diversity, and we know that diversity enhances outcomes and makes an organization more successful."
Lorinda Greer | Penny Wilton, MD | Denise Busman | Sara Leidich | Jennifer Watson, MD
Lorinda Greer | Nurse Manager, Cardiovascular
Greer oversees a 38-bed unit that includes mainly heart failure patients. This involves staffing, finances, resources, quality outcomes and patient satisfaction.
"Women tend to take care of the people in their lives so we make great leaders. In my role, I have 24-hour accountability, but I know when I can step away because I have a great team at work and a great family at home."
Penny Wilton, M.D. | Vice President, Division Chief, Cardiovascular Services
Dr. Wilton leads a division that includes more than 70 physicians in cardiovascular surgery, vascular surgery and cardiology.
"Across the U.S, in cardiovascular medicine, females are underrepresented. Less than four percent of cardiovascular surgeons are women. It is really important to have women in this field because one in four women dies of heart disease."
Denise Busman | Manager, Clinical Practice, Education and Quality
Busman is a 35-year veteran of cardiovascular services at Spectrum Health. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from Michigan State University and a master's degree in nursing from Grand Valley State University. In her current role, she serves as a catalyst to promote clinical practice excellence and facilitates the implementation of an organized plan for monitoring quality within the cardiovascular service line. She is most proud of her work to develop innovative programs for patients needing emergent heart attack care, same-day discharge after cardiac stenting and a multidisciplinary heart team.
"Health care has changed enormously since I became a nurse many years ago. Now, it is more about value than volume. Our focus is to improve our processes to provide the best in patient care."
Sara Leidich | Nurse Manager, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Non ICU
Leidich oversees a 46-bed unit of cardiac post-surgical patients. Her typical patient has received a heart and/or lung transplant, heart or valve surgery, or a device such as a left ventricular assist device or LVAD.
"I never think about myself as being a female, but as a nurse. My bedside experience gives me strength in my role. The ability to communicate and understand the needs of patients, families and staff is invaluable in providing the excellent care we do."
Jennifer Watson, M.D. | Site Lead, Vein Center
Dr. Watson is a vascular surgeon. She earned her medical degree from University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington and her general surgery residency through Brown University at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. Watson did her vascular surgery fellowship at Spectrum Health.
"Like any working parent, you have to balance things. I am very fortunate that my husband, who is also a physician, is very understanding and supportive. He steps up to help and keeps me in check."
Laura M. Franey, MD | Milena Jani, MD | Marzia Leacche, MD | Drew Orwig, DO
Laura M. Franey, M.D. | Cardiovascular Medicine
Dr. Franey is a noninvasive cardiologist with a specialty focus in advanced cardiovascular imaging including structural echocardiography, nuclear imaging and cardiac MRI. Franey's clinical interests include cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, coronary computed tomography angiography, adult echocardiography, and valvular and structural heart disease.
"I came to Spectrum Health because I wanted to join a group with collaborative and supportive colleagues, excellent leadership, and advanced technology in the field of cardiovascular medicine. I also wanted to work with a group that valued the work/life balance. When I am at home, my mind is fully with my family, enjoying time playing with my daughter, cooking dinner with my husband, or walking through our neighborhood together."
Milena Jani, M.D.
Dr. Jani is a cardiologist specializing in advanced heart failure and transplant. She earned her medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, where she also completed her internal medicine residency and fellowships in cardiovascular disease and advanced heart failure and cardiac transplant.
"I was fortunate in that I had women mentors throughout my training who had helped pave the way for younger women like myself, who wanted to pursue a career in cardiovascular care. I am originally from Albania and now I try to mentor other young women from Eastern Europe, encouraging them to follow this path."
Marzia Leacche, M.D.
Dr. Leacche, a cardiothoracic surgeon, may be the only female surgeon specializing in heart/lung transplants in the United States. She earned her medical degree from University of Rome "La Sapienza" in Rome, Italy. She completed her cardiac surgery residency at University of Rome "La Sapienza" Policlinico Umberto I Hospital. Leacche completed advanced cardiac surgery fellowships at Montreal Heart Institute in Montreal, Québec, Canada, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. She obtained her specialized training in heart failure surgery and heart-lung transplantation at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
"I always knew that I wanted to be a heart surgeon. I read books about Dr. Barnard (who performed the first-ever heart transplant in 1967) when I was a child and I knew I would choose this career. That focus never changed as I grew up."
Drew Orwig, D.O. | Site Lead, Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine
Dr. Orwig is a board-certified physician specializing in wound care, undersea and hyperbaric medicine, and emergency medicine. Her clinical interests include wound care, limb salvage, dive physicals, and treatment of diving-related injuries, hyperbaric medicine, and emergency medicine.
"I like being in a large health care system such as Spectrum, which does cutting-edge medicine, engages in research, and strives to be the leader in healthcare for West Michigan. There aren't many female Hyperbaric Physicians in the nation as a whole, so I feel I have a unique advantage in that regard. I try to be as efficient as possible during working hours, to allow my off-time to be spent with family."
Courtesy of Spectrum Health.
Pictured from left to right, First row: Shanna TenClay, M.D.; Samantha Dalman; Christine Bopp; Tracey Burke. Second row: Lorinda Greer; Penny Wilton, M.D.; Denise Busman; Sara Leidich; Jennifer Watson, M.D. Third Row: Laura M. Franey, M.D.; Milena Jani, M.D.; Marzia Leacche, M.D.; Drew Orwig, D.O.