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Dr. David Haybron Set to Lead WHS’ Cardiothoracic Surgery Program
By Andrew Wilson

One of the new faces at Washington Health System (WHS) is cardiothoracic surgeon David Haybron, M.D., who comes to WHS with more than 25 years of surgical experience at tri-state hospitals and health systems.

“The administration at WHS has been very astute in its construction of the structural heart program here,” said Dr. Haybron, who applauds this as a positive step forward for a community hospital’s staff and patients. “I’ve witnessed a palpable enthusiasm within the operating room and intensive care unit staff for this program, and we have the opportunity to get a vigorous program going and provide a great continuity of care for our patients.”

He said that further establishing this program at WHS will benefit the community greatly because patients will be able to get high quality cardiac care without having to travel far from Washington, Pa. Getting care closer to home may be increasingly important during a pandemic when so many travel restrictions were in place.

“Proper diet, exercise and good mental health are important for good health, and a sedentary lifestyle has long been associated with bad heart health,” said Dr. Haybron, who earned his medical degree from Ohio State University, did his residency at Ohio State University and the University of California, and a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. “But during the height of the pandemic, in many ways, people were limited in what they could do.”

While he understands the extreme stress that the world has lived through during the past year and a half, Dr. Haybron said that he believes he has seen sicker patients recently, and thinks it is related to people being afraid that they may contract COVID by going to a hospital or sitting in their doctor’s waiting room.

“Seeking medical care shouldn’t be something people are afraid of,” he said. “Early treatment of any illness – particularly a viral illness – results in better outcomes.”

For a surgeon, deciding to perform surgery should be about getting the best outcome possible for each patient that will result in the best quality of life. While not every patient is a good candidate for surgery, Dr. Haybron said that typically a patient who is referred to him has exhausted the available medical options and surgery is the only route to improved health.

He said that he has had the opportunity to “reinvent” himself several times during his surgical career. Heart surgery used to always require big incisions in the chest to repair the heart. As technology has improved, mini-incisions – also known as keyhole surgery – provided an option for certain types of surgery. Now, certain surgical procedures can be done through a catheter, a tube that is inserted into a vein or artery in the patient’s groin, neck or arm and threaded through the blood vessels to the heart.

“I’m in a unique position because I can offer both procedures,” said Dr. Haybron, who lauded the fact that WHS has instituted a true collaborative approach between cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. “When I am standing at the OR table with a cardiology colleague so we can determine the best course of care for a patient, that is a true collaboration.”

Dr. Haybron practices what he preaches when it comes to diet, exercise, and good mental health, too. He has read some of Michael Pollan’s books about nutrition and good health, and sees the value of “micro-greens” or small home gardens, farmer’s markets for a source of healthy, fresh food, and in general “becoming conscious of the food chain.” As for exercise and mental health?

“I’m an avid bike rider. The Montour Trail is one of my favorites,” he said. “I also like to ski, snowboard, and play the guitar. Plus, if I have the opportunity to get to the ocean, I also love to get on a sailboat or go fishing.”

But until he can get to the ocean, he plans to be caring for his patients at WHS.

“With a program like this, you are going to get good doctors who are intent on providing good care for our patients,” he said.

To make an appointment with Dr. Haybron, call (724) 225-6500 or visit whs.org for more details.



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