Expressing Eternal Gratitude

I wanted to thank my exceptional cardiac surgeon in a meaningful way and recently got the chance . . . I had the great honor of introducing Dr. Gregory Fink, Surgeon of the Year, at this year’s Excellence in Health Care Awards.


Introduction of Dr. Gregory Fink, Surgeon of the Year, photo by Jerry Klineberg

It was extremely gratifying to sing his praises before an audience of his peers.

Our community is blessed with an abundance of gifted medical professionals, so why is Dr. Fink deserving; what set him apart?


Dr. Greg Fink and Debra Becker with presenting sponsor Scott Brennan of Bankers Healthcare Group, photo by Jerry Klineberg

I can assure you firsthand, his surgical skills are impeccable; he put me on bypass, stopped my heart, and repaired it.  

With the support of an experienced team of cardiac anesthesiologists, PAs, nurses and other medical professionals including an excellent ICU staff, Dr. Fink has performed several hundred bypass and valve surgeries, with a risk-adjusted mortality rate less than ½%, compared to a New York state average of over 3%; he’s been publicly recognized by the NY State Health Department for achieving one of the lowest patient death rates in the state.

He’s highly respected.  Colleagues and former patients recommended him; I heard a multitude of positive reviews and never a negative experience . . .  this was remarkably comforting.    

His demeanor is exceptionally compassionate.  Dr. Fink came to see me every morning at 7:00 am, like clockwork, both before and after surgery.  He explained my diagnosis, his recommendations, associated risks and my options.  When prudent, he offered me the opportunity to choose my preferences, which became part of his treatment plan! This gave me a small degree of control over an essentially predestined course of action.

He patiently spent as much time as needed to answer my questions and questions from my family, in a manner which a layperson could easily understand.  We had a lot of questions!

His care didn’t stop when I left the hospital.  Dr. Fink monitored my recovery carefully at several follow-up outpatient visits, beginning the week after my hospital release and lasting a couple of months. At these visits, he dispensed advice based on his experience and my own unique circumstances.

Dr. Fink’s proactivity is a gift.   Most of my sutures were internal and dissolved over time, however, my body started expelling a few . . . although it is painful to be poked from the inside out, these sutures are quickly and easily removed in your surgeon’s office. The first time this happened, Dr. Fink asked me to call him if additional sutures dislodged, offering to see me that same day.  I did take him up on that offer!  A few weeks later, when my internal pacer wire began to pierce my skin, he brought me into the OR the very next day.

His vast knowledge revealed itself fortuitously.  After I felt what I thought might be scar tissue, Dr. Fink ordered a CT scan.  It takes radiologists 13 years to learn to read these.  An hour after my scan, Dr. Fink showed and explained the results to me, diagnosing a hernia, which he made certain was promptly repaired by a trusted colleague.

Dr. Fink continues to monitor my new echocardiograms and stress tests; my heart is now perfect! 

Long-term lack of focus is an unfortunate yet common side effect of bypass, so it took time to compose my Excellence in Health Care nomination in a manner which sufficiently conveyed Dr. Fink’s true worthiness; I felt I was writing my nomination on behalf of a multitude of grateful patients and was thrilled when he won!  Introducing him at the awards dinner presented a bonus opportunity to express my appreciation and share his unique talents.

Dr. Gregory Fink is Upstate University Hospital’s Division Chief of both Cardiac Surgery and the Adult Cardiac Surgery Clinic, as well as Associate Professor of Surgery at Upstate Medical University. Dr. Fink joined Upstate in 1998, specializing in both Thoracic and Cardiopulmonary surgeries.

His education includes a B/S from Bucknell University, MD from Jefferson Medical College, Residency at the University of South Florida as well as fellowships at both the University of South Florida and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The 4th annual Excellence in Health Care Awards presented by Bankers Healthcare Group was created and produced by BizEventz and the Business Journal News Network.


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