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NGMC Heart Center losing 12 cardiologists to Northside Hospital
Heart Center not closing, health system officials assure patients still have local options
A physician performs a heart catheterization procedure on a patient at the The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Twelve cardiologists have left The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center for Northside Hospital.

The health system learned Saturday that the physicians were not renewing their employment contracts, according to Louis Smith, president of system acute and post-acute operations at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville.

Patients of the 12 departing doctors are receiving calls or letters informing them of the change and offering options to stay with The Heart Center for their care.

Northeast Georgia Health System officials said they want to assure patients they still have local options. The Heart Center still has 26 doctors, Smith said. There are also 42 advanced practice providers, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

There are no plans for The Heart Center to close, Smith said.

“NGMC Braselton is temporarily not offering cardiac catheterizations but is offering many other heart services as they have in the past, including electrophysiology,” Smith said in an email. “Active recruitment has been ongoing for The Heart Center as we continue to grow this practice, so we plan to backfill needed specialties as soon as possible in order to meet the needs of our patients in all locations.”

Cardiology has been a cornerstone of the Gainesville-based health system for years, and it’s been one of the state’s top heart hospitals for more than a decade.

The Heart Center has 15 locations, including in Gainesville, Braselton and Buford. More than 45,000 patients are treated each year, according to The Heart Center website.

The list of cardiologists on the system’s website has already been updated to reflect the departure of the dozen doctors.

The 12 cardiologists no longer employed with NGHS are:

  • Dr. Allison Dupont

  • Dr. Brenda Hott

  • Dr. Christopher Leach

  • Dr. Mark Leimbach

  • Dr. Jeff Marshall

  • Dr. Mark Matthews

  • Dr. Kashyap Patel

  • Dr. Mehrdad Toosi

  • Dr. Prad Tummala

  • Dr. Steven Wang

  • Dr. Heather Westmoreland

  • Dr. Andrew Yen

Marshall had been the chairman of The Heart Center, but NGHS spokeswoman Michelle Oleson said Tuesday that no new chair has been selected. The remaining physicians are stepping up to share leadership roles, she said.

The remaining physicians are:

  • Dr. Elia G. Abboud

  • Dr. Mahmoud H. Abdou

  • Dr. Joon Ahn

  • Dr. Jeh-Wei Cheng

  • Dr. Sudhakara Chennareddy

  • Dr. Mitchell G. Davis

  • Dr. Laura Divoky

  • Dr. Ugochukwu O. Egolum

  • Dr. Alok Gambhir

  • Dr. Abhishek Gaur

  • Dr. Nima Ghasemzadeh

  • Dr. Jay H. Joseph

  • Dr. Pavani Kolakalapudi

  • Dr. Lalitha C. Medepalli

  • Dr. Albert B. Mercer

  • Dr. Gary Minkiewicz

  • Dr. Ioannis Parastatidis

  • Dr. Ankit A. Patel

  • Dr. Stephen P. Prater

  • Dr. Zaid H. Said

  • Dr. Salem N. Sayar

  • Dr. Timothy A. Scully

  • Dr. Veerappan Subramaniyam

  • Dr. James H. Varnell

  • Dr. Ryan T. Whitney

  • Dr. Mark W. Wolozin

Northside spokeswoman Katherine Watson said Tuesday, June 4, that Northside is expanding its cardiology services as it prepares to merge with the Gwinnett Medical Center.

“We are pleased that these 12 physicians have decided to join our team," Watson said in a statement Tuesday.

Northside Hospital and Gwinnett Health System, the parent of Gwinnett Medical Center, officially announced the merger in February. The combined system is expected to begin operating this fall. The new system will have five hospitals in Sandy Springs, Lawrenceville, Cumming, Canton and Duluth. The company will employ about 21,000 people in more than 250 locations, including outpatient, imaging and urgent care centers.

Northside acquired the Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic in Gainesville and opened Arthritis & Total Joint Specialists at 1255 Friendship Road in Braselton last year. NGDC also has offices in Braselton.

This report has been updated from its original version.