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Dr. Brian Gross Honored at Annual Carpenter Awards Celebration

Brian Gross, MD, Southern Oregon Cardiology

Brian Gross, MD

Brian Gross, MD, a cardiologist and lifetime leader in developing heart care in the Rogue Valley, was honored by Asante Health System at the annual Carpenter Awards on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Led by the Asante Foundation, the Carpenter Award each year recognizes community leaders who have had a positive and significant influence in improving medical care in Jackson County.

"Dr. Gross has dedicated his career to improving heart care in the region," said Roy Vinyard, president and CEO, Asante. "From bringing new techniques and technology to developing the ASSET program for rapid response to heart attacks, he has helped to save thousands of lives in Southern Oregon and Northern California."

"And Dr. Gross has been instrumental in making Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center a leader in heart care,” said Scott Kelly, CEO, Rsante Rogue Regional Medical Center. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

People living in the Asante's service area have access to nationally recognized heart care. The death rate for heart attack in the nine-county region is 3.4 percent compared with between 8 and 12 percent nationally.

How did this come about? Ten years ago, Dr. Gross looked at the statistics and said, “We can do better.” With the help of others in the medical and emergency response communities, he set into motion a strategy that has since reduced the time from when a heart attack happens to when treatment begins by 90 minutes.

Driven by the reality that minutes equal heart muscle, especially in a region with so many rural residents, Dr. Gross led a collaboration that enlisted multiple hospitals and emergency response teams in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Originally dubbed ASSET—Acute ST Segment Elevation Task Force—the program is now a cornerstone of Rogue Valley Medical Center’s nationally recognized cardiac program and a model for communities across the nation.

“We were big enough to pull it off, but also small enough,” says Dr. Gross. “It meant that ambulances drove past the nearest hospital to deliver patients to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, which was previously not done. Upon arrival at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, transported patients go directly to the cardiac catheterization lab, bypassing the emergency department.

“Clot-dissolving medication may remain a convenient option of treatment nationally,” says Dr. Gross. “But balloon angioplasty and stenting produce the best outcomes." 

Today, the ASSET program is known as the STEMI program, but Dr. Gross is just as passionate about it as he was at its inception, and all the cardiologists at Southern Oregon Cardiology and the STEMI team at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center continue to shave off those precious minutes to treat heart attacks. It is a climate of constant improvement.

Dr. Gross grew up in New Jersey in a lively family of six children. After high school, he accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy but soon discovered the military was not for him. He transferred to Wesleyan University in Connecticut for his undergraduate degree, and earned his medical doctorate from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, New York. Dr. Gross served his internship and residency at Dartmouth Medical Center, where he earned both intern of the year and resident of the year honors.

He and his wife, Nancy, who was then a nurse, met in Seattle where Dr. Gross held a fellowship and assistant professorship at the University of Washington. When the time came to choose a place to begin a cardiology practice, Dr. Gross weighed options—he’d already been offered two contracts. Then a favorite professor encouraged him to meet with a physician in Southern Oregon who was trying to recruit a cardiologist to his clinic.

“Dr. John Forsyth met me at the airport,” recalls Dr. Gross. “Because he is who he is, I knew within 20 minutes that I wanted to work with him, and the Rogue Valley is where I wanted to be. I’ve never regretted the decision.”

Nancy and Brian Gross have four children: Nathan, 28, has an MBA from Harvard and an MD from Emory; Emily, 25, holds a doctorate in physical therapy; Kelsey, 21, is a junior at Claremont McKenna College, and her twin, Bay, is a junior at Yale University.

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