By Jamie Hale
For the last seven years, Dr. Jacob DeLaRosa has been saving lives. The 41-year-old chief of cardiac surgery has been one of Portneuf Medical Center’s superstars since 2004, but he almost left Pocatello, and his many grateful patients, for good.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, DeLaRosa announced his plans to stay in town, despite being wooed by an incredible job opportunity back east. His reason for staying? All of those grateful patients, whose lives he’s changed over the years.
“Throughout the last week, two weeks, there’s been an amazing ripple effect from the people of our community and the surrounding region that has really reached out to me in regards to how I, and the heart center and the hospital, have affected their lives,” said DeLaRosa. “What I realized was that my life is also affected by these–all of these people in a tremendous way. And because of that I’ve decided to stay.”
Over the last several months, DeLaRosa had been tempted to head back east to work on a project to help develop the same kind of technologically-advanced cardiovascular program already in place at PMC. Although the allure of helping another hospital was strong, he said he still has more work to do here.
“This could be the Mayo Clinic in the west. It could be an amazing place, because what the staff and the medical staff here, what they have is heart. And if you have heart you can do anything,” said DeLaRosa.
He’s no stranger to moving around either. DeLaRosa graduated from medical school in Minneapolis and did his postgraduate work in San Diego and Atlanta. He’s received medical licenses in three different states.
But Pocatello is where DeLaRosa has truly made his mark. He said he received an outpouring of support from patients asking him to stay in town, one telling him “a piece of my heart goes with you.” “There’s no greater gift than giving one’s life to somebody else and I’ll tell you that it was really heart-wrenching and heart-tearing to read these e-mails,” said DeLaRosa.
Cindy Cartwright, one of his many former patients, came to him last year with heart complications brought on by Fen-Phen, a popular prescription diet pill sold in the ’90s. Cartwright, a 51-year-old mother of five, had to undergo a rare triple heart valve replacement surgery. DeLaRosa performed the surgery perfectly, saving her life and giving her a rare second chance.
It’s people like these that fire DeLaRosa up and drive him to continue his work at PMC. After the press conference, he turned to a number of hospital staff members and gave an impromptu speech.
He told the staff that the hospital has had a lot of great momentum in the eight years since he’s been working there. “There’s no reason we can’t keep up that momentum, and just that fire. Because that’s all it is, is just that little bit of extra, and if we all give it, we’ll do great.”
Just outside the press conference an elderly couple checked in at the front desk, asking for their doctor, Jacob DeLaRosa. Little did they know, they were the start to a whole new era for the doctor who decided to stay.
Contact Jamie at firstname.lastname@example.org