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New faculty

Welcome Michael Lenhart, M.D., Archer Baskerville, M.D., Michael Kelly, M.D., Mohammed Makkiya, M.D., Dipesh Shah, M.D., and Josue “Josh” Chery, M.D.

 Dr. Michael Lenhart

Michael Lenhart, M.D. 

Michael Lenhart, M.D., knows the key to cardiology is simple: “It’s about caring for your patients and doing great work.” While cardiology is an ever-changing field blending procedures, preventative care and education, and noninvasive medicine, it is ultimately the focus on the patients that resonates with Lenhart. 

“First and foremost, I am the advocate for my patients,” he said, “and I want them to feel confident I am doing the best job I can for them.” 

At the Pauley Heart Center at Tappahannock, Lenhart provides care for patients with a range of cardiovascular conditions, including atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. “Cardiology is one of the most dynamic areas in medicine, and staying abreast of changes in the field is crucial,” he said. “I was drawn to VCU Health because of the world-class academic medical center, the commitment to research, and the interest and ability of the teams here to perform state-of-the-art cardiovascular procedures.” 

Part of Lenhart’s role at VCU Health is his involvement in outreach clinics, which serve as a bridge between VCU’s research center and smaller, community-focused hospitals. “By bringing our work at VCU Health into these smaller settings, it not only improves the overall health within the community, but it allows patients within that community to see the real-world value of health science research, without having to travel to a larger city,” he said. He advises patients: “A healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen are the key in preventing a number of cardiovascular diseases.” 

As a cardiologist, Lenhart embraces the demands of an ever-changing area of medicine. “The depth of knowledge required is always growing,” he noted. “As is true in almost every profession, you must care about what you’re doing. You must be committed to learning. I want my patients to know that their care is my No. 1 priority.”

 Dr. Archer Baskerville

Archer Baskerville, M.D. 

After 38 years in private cardiology practice, Archer Baskerville, M.D., retired in 2019, just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world. Perhaps it was the constant stream of news about a global health crisis, or his stubborn steadfastness, or just his love for and pride in medicine, but the call to serve the community and public health was too strong. In early 2021, he “un-retired” and joined VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital to bring compassionate, expert heart care to the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. 

Baskerville diagnoses, treats and cares for people’s cardiovascular needs — any condition that may impact the heart or blood vessels, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, rhythm disorders and heart failure. 

In his approach to care, Baskerville emphasizes “taking control” of one’s heart health. He preaches diagnosis and treatment based on science and facts and using this evidence to create personalized therapies to control blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and other heart and related chronic conditions. “I also encourage consistent exercise, appropriate diet, weight loss if needed, avoiding illicit substances, pursuit of good sleep habits, and taking care of your mental health,” he said. “My goal is to listen, make decisions together and take a holistic approach to care. I want to empower patients and their families to take care of their hearts and live a long, prosperous and healthy life.” 

Being one of the health system’s senior-most physicians doesn’t mean Baskerville gets to rest on his laurels. Like all other physicians and specialists, he must work to ensure his knowledge remains relevant and current, especially in an area of medicine that is constantly putting out new research and data. “We owe it to our patients and ourselves to maintain this relevance if we are to continue to take care of people in an appropriate and responsible way with the best information in hand,” he said. 

 Dr. Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly, M.D. 

At VCU Health Pauley Heart Center at Tappahannock, Michael Kelly, M.D., offers compassionate, expert health care for Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula patients with coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension and heart rhythm disorders. 

Cardiac imaging is his passion. The insight gleaned through ultrasound, magnetic resonance (MRI) and other imaging technologies offers a road map to a healthier heart for his patients using procedures that cause no more discomfort than having an IV placed in their arm. 

He knows the cardiology clinic, which opened in early 2021, is the ideal home for the noninvasive cardiology he practices. “VCU has so many diverse experts in one health system,” Kelly said. “I haven’t even begun to unwrap all those gifts.” 

One advanced form of imaging he practices is nuclear imaging. Using tiny doses of radioactive tracers that light up the heart, the procedure offers doctors a more in-depth look at the health of a person’s heart, its muscles, its valves and its blood supply. While many patients may be confused by the various types of imaging technologies available — ultrasounds vs. MRI vs. nuclear imaging — Kelly notes that each has a different and complementary strength. 

“Nuclear imaging and MRI can offer precision identification of heart muscle areas that, in the past, would have been regarded as permanently damaged. Now, thanks to science and technology and our own talents, we recognize these parts of the heart as capable of improved function if blood supply can be returned,” he said. 

In the past, the only other option was cardiac catheterization, a more invasive testing method that is not entirely risk-free, is uncomfortable, and may still produce normal findings. 

“Noninvasive cardiology in general has eliminated invasive testing as a means of identifying people with normal hearts who do not need any form of intervention,” he says. “The overall result is shorter invasive procedures, less radiation and avoidance of invasive diagnostic procedures as often as possible.” 

 Kelly views each patient as an individual with their own set of circumstances impacting their health. “Each person has their own history, risk factors, life influences, strengths, and weaknesses,” he added. “Each unique story calls for a unique approach for providing their care.” 

 Dr. Mohammed Makkiya

Mohammed Makkiya, M.D. 

For Mohammed Makkiya, M.D., the key to great cardiac care lies at the intersection of clinical research, a patient-centered focus and collaboration. Every heart patient brings with them their own unique history, and Makkiya delivers to them an individualized plan that is developed in tandem with a multidisciplinary team of physicians. 

“We always want to be focused on improving our patients’ quality of life,” he said, “and VCU Health’s commitment to excellence means that we have access to the latest innovations in the field to help our patients.” 

Makkiya specializes in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the muscle of the heart is abnormally thick. “It’s a condition that has been widely underdiagnosed,” he said. “There are over a half a million people in the United States living with it, and they are often asymptomatic and unaware.” 

When a person is living with HCM, the thickened muscle of their heart can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently. The heart, he noted, essentially strangles itself, and has to work harder to supply more flow. By utilizing state-of-the-art cardiac imaging, Makkiya can make an early diagnosis and help prevent more severe complications in the future. In addition, the field is advancing, and new treatments are under study that can help in the management of patients with the condition. 

One of his goals at VCU Health, Makkiya said, is to become a leader in his own work and turn the health system into a national leader for treatment of those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. “Everything that we do at VCU Health is focused on providing the best quality, comfort, safety and patient care,” he said. “We want our patients to come here knowing that they are getting the best treatment, guided by the latest in  clinical research.” 

 Dr. Dipesh Shaw

Dipesh Shah, M.D. 

No matter the type of heart surgery you may require, Dipesh Shah, M.D., can do it, has done it and will perform it with confidence and compassion. 

“Right from my medical college days, I was fascinated by the anatomy of the human heart,” said Shah, chief of cardiothoracic surgery and surgical director of cardiac transplantation at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS). VCU Health has a long-standing academic and medical partnership with CVHCS in Richmond. During medical school in India, he shadowed cardiothoracic (heart and chest) surgeons during clinical rotations, fueling his interest in cardiac surgery. “I have always been fascinated and inspired by the history of cardiac transplantation and medical research in heart failure. Today, I can handle the entire spectrum of heart surgeries, but it is as important for me to go above and beyond to provide you and your family with the most compassionate care in and out of the operating room.” 

Shah completed his fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and gained additional fellowship training in heart failure and thoracic transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He also has an appreciation for teaching the new generation of heart surgeons, fellows and residents, and mentors his younger peers in his role as an assistant professor at the VCU School of Medicine. Prior to joining VCU Health in early 2021, he was an assistant professor of surgery in the cardiothoracic surgery division at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  

In addition to heart surgeries, Shah performs heart transplants at the CVHCS. He also has additional training in surgical treatment of heart and lung failure through mechanical circulatory support devices. He is trained in advanced transcatheter aortic valve replacement, off-pump coronary artery bypass graft, minimally invasive cardiac valve surgery, and aortic root and aortic arch surgeries.

 Dr. Josue "Josh" Chery

Josue “Josh” Chery, M.D. 

It was the rich history of innovation and a reputation for pushing the bounds of treatment for complex heart conditions that drew Josue “Josh” Chery, M.D., to VCU Health. He should know: VCU Medical Center is where he held a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery, a time that inspired him to stay in Richmond and build his career here. 

“I want to add to that legacy through excellent clinical care, education and research,” said Chery, who today treats veterans at the Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS). VCU Health has a long-standing academic and medical partnership with CVHCS in Richmond. 

Chery has a passion for caring for adults with congenital heart disease and completed a fellowship at the Emory University School of Medicine focused on treatment of those born with heart defects. As a surgeon, he has expertise in coronary artery bypass grafting (or CABG, a procedure to restore flow to blocked arteries that supply blood to the heart), along with treatment of various valve diseases. 

Chery was initially attracted to the fine techniques of performing cardiac surgery — “it’s what I imagined Michelangelo must have felt when he was painting the Sistine Chapel,” he said. “But as my experience and knowledge of the field has evolved, I’ve found I am drawn to the humanity side of this work just as much. I love seeing patients after surgery living a better life than they had before VCU Health care teams got to them.”  


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