Retiring Cardiologist Improves Sanford Health - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Retiring Cardiologist Improves Sanford Health

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There have been significant changes in modern medicine since 1979. One cardiologist from Sanford Health, who is retiring at the end of the month, experienced all of those changes first-hand.

Dr. Walter Frank has been a cardiologist at Sanford for 34 years. He helped develop Bismarck's first cardiovascular surgery department, cardiac rehab program, pacemaker clinic and heart failure clinic. But Frank says bringing the option of surgery to Bismarck wasn't easy. 

"There was some debate on whether a town the size of Bismarck was big enough for surgery," says Frank. "Before, people had to go to Fargo or to Mayo or to Minneapolis. It was a big deal that we could say yes, we can do that here. You don't have to travel."

But at that time, when patients came in with a heart condition, the most doctors could do was perform surgery. 

"Now, they come in with a heart attack and immediately they go down to the cardiac lab. Immediately they have an angiogram done, and immediately they're revascularized, 95 percent of the time, with an angioplasty and stents and these things," says Frank.

Of course, when you're practicing medicine for more than thirty years, you're bound to lose some patients. And Dr. Frank says it's those failures in the operating room that still haunt him today. 

"I remember patients that didn't make it. I still remember, well, if we would have done this instead of that. Certainly if it would have happened now instead of 20-25 years ago, this is what we could have done now that we couldn't do then," says Frank. "So, there's a lot of what-ifs."

But at the end of the day, Frank says it's the patients whose lives he saved that made his three-decade career so rewarding. 

"I've had a number of people come in and say, 'Thank you for saving my life. I still remember when I went to the emergency room on such and such a date,'" he says.

He's a veteran doctor who many can thank for bringing the power of modern medicine to Bismarck.

Frank will be retiring from Sanford on December 30, and plans to stay in North Dakota with his wife.
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