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2 more surgeons leave NGHS Heart Institute
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Two Northeast Georgia Physician Group heart surgeons gave their notice Wednesday, June 29, that they would be leaving the health system. 

Dr. Alan Wolfe and Dr. Dan Winston have worked as cardiothoracic surgeons at the Northeast Georgia Health System’s Georgia Heart Institute in Gainesville for 32 years combined. 

“We are saddened by their decision, of course, but appreciate their contributions to our community during the past two decades,” NGHS Chief Operating Officer Michael Covert wrote in a statement to The Times Friday, July 1.

Winston was the first doctor to perform heart surgery in Hall County when the Heart Institute first started in 2002. He served as the leader of the cardiovascular surgery program since then. 

Wolfe joined the health system in 2010. 

Wolfe and Winston could not be reached for comment Friday. 

Three other heart surgeons remain at the medical center: Drs. Clifton Hastings, Jason Budde and Kyle Thompson. Hastings agreed to serve in an interim leadership position for the practice, Covert wrote in a statement. 

Patients of Winston and Wolfe will be notified in the coming weeks, said Sean Couch, a spokesperson for NGHS. 

“Any surgeries that (their patients) are getting scheduled won’t be scheduled out beyond Sept. 30,” Couch said. “Sometimes patients will choose to follow their surgeons, wherever their surgeons go; so we’ll leave that to the patient’s choice to decide how that’s handled.”

It is unlikely both full-time surgeon positions are filled by the end of September, Couch said, and temporary surgeons may be hired.  

In 2019, 12 cardiologists left the health system for Northside Hospital, and Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton temporarily did not offer cardiac catheterizations. 

No other providers from the Heart Institute are leaving along with Winston and Wolfe at this time, Couch said, and no specific services are expected to be interrupted. 

Georgia Heart Institute has 14 locations, including in Gainesville, Braselton and Buford.