By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – Dr. William Wassynger, cardiologist, was planning to retire in Paducah, Kentucky. But when an opportunity came open at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, he was impressed by the work the hospital was doing in terms of cardiac care. He also happened to know some of the physicians associated with CRMC and Tennessee Heart.
“I knew the guys,” Dr. Wassynger said, recalling when he first heard about the job opening. Over the years, he had taken care of patients belonging to Drs. Stacy Brewington and Timothy Fournet and had also gotten to know Dr. Michael Lenhart through their mutual interest in bicycling. “They’re good guys.”
In addition to having previously worked with some of CRMC’s cardiac pros, Dr. Wassynger also knew that Cookeville Regional was leading the way in cardiac care.
“I used to tell patients when I lived in Nashville, if you’re sick and have chest pain – if you’re not in Nashville, the only other place you can stop in Tennessee outside of the other large cities is Cookeville (Regional),’” he said.
Since first joining CRMC in April, Dr. Wassynger says he’s been warmly welcomed and is impressed with the committed and caring staff of the hospital.
He specializes in electrophysiology, a sub-specialty of cardiology that deals with the electrical system of the heart and treats abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) such as atrial fibrillation or other rhythm disturbances. He joins fellow electrophysiologist Mark Wathen, M.D. and other cardiologists at Tennessee Heart.
Electrophysiology, or “EP” for short, is a program Dr. Wassynger says he hopes to help grow at CRMC.
“I don’t think I bring any unique skills that aren’t already here, but I have solid training and experience in all forms of implants and ablation,” he said. “(I) just really hope to help to grow the EP program.”
Board certified in both cardiac electrophysiology and cardiovascular diseases, Dr. Wassynger comes to Cookeville with over 24 years’ experience in the field. He previously practiced at St. Thomas Heart in Nashville and at Mercy Cardiology Associates with Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky. He also practiced at Wenatchee Valley Medical Center in Washington State, where he developed a full-service electrophysiology laboratory, the first in north-central Washington.
He received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in 1989. He then did his internship and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he also did an extra year as Chief Medical Resident, which was then followed by fellowships in cardiology and electrophysiology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
When he isn’t caring for patients, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two college-age children, mountain climbing – he’s climbed Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro, to name a few – hiking, and bicycling. The latter, he says, has taken some getting used to in Cookeville.
“Paducah’s pretty flat,” he said with a laugh, noting the hilly nature of the Upper Cumberland.
“But, it’s just beautiful,” he said of the local area. “I love the countryside.”