Dr. Stephen Lahey says he’s “always been an academic guy.” The new chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center brings to UConn nearly 25 years of experience in cardiothoracic surgery and a career-long commitment to academic medicine.
“The reason I wake up in the morning is to create new knowledge, to train physicians for the future, and to provide excellent care to patients,” says Lahey. “All are important.”
A nationally prominent heart surgeon, Lahey’s philosophy matches the mission of the Health Center – Connecticut’s only public academic medical center – and sets it apart from other hospitals in the state.
“We are delighted to welcome someone of Dr. Lahey’s stature and experience to our team. His accomplishments and record will greatly benefit our patients, faculty, and students,” says Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Calhoun Cardiology Center and interim dean of the UConn School of Medicine.
Lahey joins UConn from Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where he served as chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, where he served as program director of the cardiothoracic surgery training program.
“Under Dr. Lahey’s leadership,” Liang adds, “outcomes for heart surgery cases at Maimonides Medical Center improved significantly. This is just one of many compelling examples of his dedication to quality and continuous improvement.”
Lahey received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. He completed his general surgery residency at the Brigham & Woman’s Hospital and his cardiothoracic surgery residency at Cornell Medical Center/New York Hospital and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. He started his surgical and academic career at the Harvard Medical School and the Deaconess Hospital, later known as the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
Throughout his career, Lahey has been active with many regional and national committees and organizations, including the Society for Thoracic Surgery, where he has focused on patient safety initiatives.
Lahey is actively involved in national advisory panels through the American Medical Association, American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association, which are rewriting national guidelines for cardiac surgery. The new guidelines are expected to be announced in November.
Lahey’s goals for the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery begin with networking. He wants to meet the area’s referring primary care doctors and cardiologists and establish a presence in the region. He also wants to expand the volume of both cardiac and thoracic surgery cases done at the Health Center. But unlike non-academic institutions, Lahey says the number of cases will never override the importance of quality care and being a leader in emerging technologies and treatments.
“This is a great opportunity for me at this point in my career,” explains Lahey. “To build and expand this program, make it a center of excellence and then, down the road, turn the reins over to some other young surgeon.”