Roughly seven months ago, cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Green opened The Heart Center at 215 Stillwater Ave. in Stamford. In this edition of Suite Talk, Business Journal reporter Phil Hall speaks with Green about his career in cardiovascular medicine and the challenges of starting and running an independent medical facility.
When did you start The Heart Center and what inspired you to begin this practice?
“We officially opened on April 2 of this year. I’ve been in practice in Stamford for almost 15 years. I started out in private practice with my father-in-law, Dr. Richard Landesman — he had practiced cardiology for about 35 years. There were three of us, including my brother-in-law, Dr. Keith Landesman, and we had a nice practice that we built based on good customer service. We started to grow and added a couple of doctors.
In 2011, (Stamford Health) was creating a group and approached us about integrating into this employee model. We decided to join them and I was employed there from 2011 until just recently.
I had to make a choice on what I wanted to do in my career. I realized the first seven years in my practice were more fulfilling and I felt I was more of a doctor than I was while employed in big corporate medicine. So, I decided that I would be better off and my patients would be better off if I went back into private practice.”
Are you still affiliated with Stamford Health?
“I am still on the hospital staff. I go around the hospital every day. I love the hospital and respect my colleagues there — it is a great place and I think we built a great cardiovascular institute at the hospital. And I am still a part of that, but as an independent affiliate rather than as an employee.”
Did you ever have training in running a business?
“You don’t get that training in medical school at all. When I was in private practice for the first seven years of my career, I was the vice president of a small business and got to know the ins and outs of running a medical practice. My father-in-law taught me a lot. I worked with a consultant who helped me create and open this, and now I have a team of people who help with accounts and billing.”
I see a degree on your wall from Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. That’s in my hometown of the Bronx. How did you like the Bronx?
“I love the Bronx. I spent seven years of my training in the Bronx. In medical training, you’re exposed to a lot no matter where you are. In the Bronx, you’re exposed to everything. I was exposed to things I’ve never seen.”
What didn’t you see before that you saw in the Bronx?
“We would see people in the Bronx coming in with things like leprosy.”
Well, that is something you certainly don’t see every day!
“I was in the emergency room at Lincoln Hospital and there was a guy with leprosy. There was also Chagas disease and things that are not native to this area. It was more of a melting pot there than it is here, and people were coming in who did not have medical attention since they were young.”
When you were planning to start this practice, how did you begin spreading the word that The Heart Center was opening?
“I have a large patient base that I started with and a lot of patients followed me. I also talked to a lot of local physicians — most of my patient base is from people referring patients to me, like primary care doctors and word of mouth. I spoke to these providers and spent a lot of time in their offices telling them what I was planning to do. I also made a website and went on Facebook. My social media skills are very poor and my kids are trying to help me with that.”
Who are your patients?
“We have about 1,500 patients in our database. I see patients as young as 14, and I have a 101-year-old patient.”
Your practice has a very large parking lot.
“That was the No. 1 thing I was looking for when I was looking for space. There is a lot of space in Stamford and the parking is a huge thing. My father-in-law told me that many years ago: if people don’t have parking, they’re not going to want to come back.”
What advice would you give to people who are confused when it comes to choosing a doctor?
“It’s always good to meet the doctor. Different personalities match with different individuals. People come in to interview me, and I have patients who met me once or twice and then went to find another doctor.
“Most doctors come out of training and they know the medicine and science. But that is the last thing that people are looking for when they are interviewing doctors. When we used to hire in our practice, where they went to school and did their training was at the bottom of the list. We would ask, ‘Is this the kind of person I would trust my patients with?’ Patients need to feel they can call on me at any time.”
What are your goals for The Heart Center?
“Nobody likes to go to the doctor. But at least when they come to see the doctor for their heart, they are made comfortable doing so and are not stressed out about it. I want to create a place where people can come to a serene atmosphere and feel they are getting attention.”