Waco Cardiology Associates, 1971-current

‘To take care of the patient in the context of appropriate expertise and technology combined with individual attention and compassion to the patient and the family.’

This is the mission of Waco Cardiology Associates. Dr. Charles Arthur Shoultz, Jr. (Junior, Pa, Charlie) came to Waco to found Waco Cardiology Associates in 1971. Dr. Michael Wayne Falcone joined Pa the next year. The practice was first located at Providence and has had offices at both hospitals through the years. WCA moved to its current location at 7125 New Sanger Road in 2004.

Dr. Shoultz Jr. continues in practice today along with nine fellow cardiologists: Drs. Charles Shoultz, III, Rodney Brown, William Pitts, Donald Cross, Andrew Day, Sherwin Attai, Shawn Skeen, H. Robert Chen and Adam Falcone. Three other prominent WCA cardiologists practiced until their retirement in 2015: Drs. M. Wayne Falcone, Thomas Lundeen and Michael Attas.  Tragically, Dr. M. Brian Aynesworth, Jr. was lost in a plane crash in 1982.

WCA holds the distinction of many ‘firsts’ in cardiovascular care in Waco throughout its history. The first heart catheterization in Waco was performed by Drs. Shoultz and Falcone on March 3, 1973. The first open heart surgery in Waco was then performed on the same patient on March 6, 1973 by Drs. Robert T. Angel and R.W. Crosthwait, Jr. of Central Texas Cardiovascular. Subsequent to the first cath, WCA achieved the following ‘first’ milestones in Waco: coronary angioplasty in 1982, coronary stent in 1993, drug eluting coronary stent in 2003, chronic total occlusion PCI via crossing and re-entry system in 2013, and fixed cardiac PET scanner in 2014. WCA also serves seven outlying rural clinics.

The doctors of WCA have added some life to the medical community. In preparation for the first cath in 1973, Drs. Shoultz and Falcone cathed a dog; Sister Austin happened to walk in during the procedure with her poodle in her arms and was not amused. Dr. Shoultz Jr. has long been known for his colorful vocabulary; one of his patients made him a birthday cake with a ‘potty’ sitting atop. When I first came to Waco for residency in 1996, Pa Shoultz had broken his leg in a skiing accident, and did his rounds at the hospital in a wheelchair with several colorful bumper stickers, including, “I brake for beer!”

WCA doctors provide supervision to the Waco Family Medicine Residency program for their cardiology rotations, conduct free educational programs in Waco and the outlying areas to educate women about cardiovascular disease, provide free echocardiograms to screen for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in high school students; and they donate generously to both local hospitals, the American Heart Association and other worthwhile causes. For 45 years, WCA has cared for all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

This article was written with the help of Vicki Beckner, COO of WCA

Doug Michaels, M.D.

The future of medicine appears to be value-based, with reimbursement strategies, chronic disease management, and maximum efficiency of medical costs depending in a large way on pathologists. A pathologist has to be familiar with all the medical disciplines, especially surgery and surgical subspecialties, but also oncology, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, pulmonary medicine, primary care and other fields, and guide and coordinate their care with information from the latest and best tests available. In addition, pathologists work closely with every specialty in the hospital every day, providing information and counsel that directs life-saving care. For Providence, the leader of that pathology team is Dr. Michaels. Doug came to Waco in 1988, and has been medical director of Providence Health Center laboratory since 1993. He is also a partner in Central Texas Pathology Laboratory, and medical director of the local CPL lab.

Doug went to Baylor for undergrad, then finished Baylor College of Medicine in 1980. He then did a clinical and anatomic pathology residency at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, finishing in 1984, and practiced in Denton from 1984 to 1988. He and his wife came to Waco in 1988 right after his wife’s graduation from dental school and a few months before Providence moved from the old hospital to the current site. He is board certified in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology and received his subspecialty board certification in cytopathology in 1997. He also served as President of the Providence medical staff in 1997. Doug and his wife enjoy travel and hiking in state and national parks, and visit and hike the Big Bend area frequently.

How do you feel things are in Waco medicine today?

Despite increasing division of the medical community by institutional affiliations, currently I think Waco has a very strong medical community with many fine primary care providers and specialists. Also, I hope everyone in Waco understands how very fortunate we are to have the Family Health Center and residency program here. We all owe a big debt of gratitude to those visionaries who worked to make it a reality years ago. I also appreciate the work that the McLennan County Medical Society has been doing to bring the medical community together in the setting of divided professional affiliations. I do regret the “commoditization” of medicine and feel that we are in danger of losing the status of being a profession and just becoming “providers”.

If there is one message you’d give to today’s physician, what would it be?

I try to emphasize to anyone considering a career in medicine that, if you are going into it for the right reason, it will be a rewarding and fulfilling career. It all depends on your expectations in life and what is most important to you. There are easier ways to make a living than medicine, but few can be as fulfilling.


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