WVU Heart Institute announces hiring of new cardiothoracic surgeon

West Virginia native Geoffrey R. Cousins, M.D., joins staff in Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In the late 1970s, Geoffrey Cousins’ father needed heart surgery.  A native of McDowell County, Cousins was just a child at the time, the youngest of 11 children born into a coal mining family. But the experience fostered his desire to provide medical care to the underserved people in West Virginia.

Geoffrey R. Cousins, M.D., is the newest cardiothoracic surgeon to join the West Virginia University Heart Institute. He is an assistant professor of surgery and director of Cardiac Robotic Surgery. He joins Jose Cruzzavala, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and Kevin Tveter, M.D.

Cousins completed his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania and received his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical Center. Through his general surgery internship and fellowship at St. John Hospital in Detroit and his cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia, Cousins always intended to return to West Virginia, where his dreams of becoming a heart surgeon began.

The decision to pursue heart surgery came from Cousins’ vow to be one of the best. “During my training in medical school and residency in the early 1990s, when the cardiothoracic surgeon walked through, everyone was at attention. They were the cream of the crop. I wanted to be top dog, too.”

For four years, Cousins was in a Charleston-area private practice. He says the opportunity to join WVU enables him to reach even more people, through both clinical work and teaching – and also to address a problem that occurs throughout the state.

“I am absolutely disheartened when I hear that people go elsewhere outside the state for care,” Cousins said.

Geoffrey Cousins, M.D.

He believes that patients who travel outside of West Virginia for treatment don’t get the quality of care they deserve.

“Many of our people are underinsured, if they have insurance at all, and they get neglected. I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Cousins said. “It’s important for West Virginians to get the healthcare they deserve at home without leaving the state.”

Cousins prefers the minimally invasive, robot-assisted approach to heart surgery because it leaves patients with less pain and shorter recovery times.

“Robotics offers patients a tremendous advantage. It eliminates the opening of the breastbone, which is most daunting for patients,” he said. “The robot provides a high-definition, three-dimensional image, and in some instances, let’s me see better than with the naked eye. It’s a very sophisticated system that translates my movements at a computer station to the patient’s body through a small incision.”

Cousins also performs beating heart surgery, a procedure performed without the use of the heart-lung machine. This approach, he said, decreases the swelling and chances of kidney failure and stroke associated with traditional heart surgery. Most patients who undergo beating heart surgery are taken off breathing tubes on the operating table, whereas traditional surgery patients have the tube for six to eight hours.

In his free time, Cousins enjoys gardening, playing chess and translating hieroglyphics. He and his wife, Kim, are the parents of four children ranging in age from newborn to 14 years old.

For information on the WVU Heart Institute see www.wvuheart.com.



For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
alj: 04-17-09

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