Outstanding Contributions: Well-known Surgeon Treats Patients Like Family

It’s early on a Sunday morning and a telephone ring breaks the tranquility in his Rehoboth Beach home. Turning his attention from his cup of tea and medical journal, Dr. Mayer Katz answers. On the other end of the line is one of his patients calling to ask a question regarding his medical condition.

This is a common scenario for Dr. Katz, who gives his personal contact information to all of his patients.

“Patients should have a lifeline, and their vascular surgeon has to be available,” says Dr. Katz, a vascular surgeon with Beebe Medical Group. Dr. Katz, aware that vascular disease is chronic, makes sure his patients receive personal attention. He lives by the three “A”s— Availability, Affability, and Ability. In his words, the vascular surgeon has to be there for the patient, be able to put the patient at ease, and be able to provide excellent care.

Dr. Katz’s calm and precise manner can put any patient at ease, and it also gives the patient confidence that he is an expert in his field. His expertise is real. Dr. Katz has treated thousands of patients over many years. He established the vascular program at two medical centers, including at Beebe Healthcare in 1990, and he continues to update his own skills and knowledge as he nurtures the growth of Beebe’s program.

“Dr. Katz has made a tremendous contribution to Beebe Healthcare and, in turn, to the communities that we serve,” says Jeffrey M. Fried, FACHE, President and CEO of Beebe Healthcare. “One might consider his approach to his patients as ‘traditional’ or ‘old-fashioned.’ But it’s precisely his personal warmth and accessibility combined with his superb technical skills that make him such a wonderful surgeon in our community.”

Lewes resident Patti Brown says, “Dr. Katz genuinely cares for his patients. He certainly saved my husband’s life. And what impresses me most about him is that he keeps up with the newest technologies and is always on the cutting edge.”

Patti says she’ll never forget how Dr. Katz spoke to her and her husband Bill about the seriousness of Bill’s abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)—a dangerous thinning of the wall of the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. Bill’s aneurysm was so large that it could have burst at any time. They had to do surgery as soon as they could. That was in 2005.

“He explained everything, and then what surprised us the most was that he showed us hi\s excellent outcomes for all of those procedures that he had done,” Patti recalls. “I’ve never had a doctor do that before.” 

Dr. Katz performed an endovascular stent graft repair on Mr. Brown’s abdominal aortic artery. This endovascular procedure takes precision and expertise. Dr. Katz uses real-time imaging while he inserts a catheter into a large artery in the groin and then guides it up to the damaged abdominal aortic artery. He places a stent and graft into position, giving his patient an opportunity for a healthier life.

“The sun rises and sets on Dr. Katz,” Bill says. “I will be forever grateful to him and to my cardiologist, Dr. [Alberto] Rosa, who found the aneurysm.”

Bill says he has truly enjoyed getting to know Dr. Katz over the years, and he feels confident that he is in good hands. He gets regular checkups at Dr. Katz’s office. “We hit it off, maybe because we had both played lacrosse, and we also have Hopkins in common.” Bill had worked at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for several years. Later, he worked at the University of Maryland, College Park, before retiring to Lewes. Dr. Katz, a Baltimore native, had earned his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins before earning his medicaldegree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Katz was the first Board-Certified vascular surgeon to practice in Sussex County. 

Today, he performs his surgeries at Beebe’s operating rooms in the Medical Center in Lewes. He also heads Beebe Vascular, the only specialized vascular practice in southern Delaware. Part of Beebe Medical Group, its team includes three vascular surgeons and four specially trained nurse practitioners. 

“He saved my life,” says 89-year-old Camille Betts, a retired Beebe nurse. She recalls how an aneurysm in her abdominal aortic artery had ruptured just two years before. “She was in bad shape, and Dr. Katz gave her about a one percent chance of surviving the surgery,” says Camille’s daughter, Connie Walker, a nurse. “He explained to all of us what could happen.”

Camille, still coherent in the Emergency Department, asked her daughter if she should have the surgery. 

“I told her it was her decision,” Connie recalls. Camille, determined she would survive, signed the consent form.

“My family was planning my funeral,” she says, enjoying the story of how she survived the impossible.

“Dr. Katz is a miracle worker,” says Connie, a longtime Lewes resident and nurse in a local physician’s office. She is one of the many people who have come to know Dr. Katz.

Read the full story in the Beacon here (PDF).

 

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