By Leslie Krowchenko
Special to the Hellenic News of America
The welcome was warm, Feb. 27, as more than 100 local community and business leaders, fellow physicians and friends gathered to greet Konstadinos Plestis, MD, the recently-named System Chief of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery at Main Line Health’s (MLH) Lankenau Heart Institute. The event, sponsored by Hellenic News of America, was held at Best Western Plus Concordville Hotel and Conference Center.
Plestis, who most recently served as Director of Aortic Surgery and the Aortic Wellness Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, brings more than 20 years of cardiovascular surgical experience to his new role. He is a nationally-recognized leader in the field of cardiac surgery and maintains an active surgical practice focusing on the care of patients with complex aortic disease.
“Dr. Plestis led a service at Lenox Hill Hospital that offered integrated care of aortic disease, a department available at only a few hospitals in the nation,” said Aphrodite Kotrotsios in her introduction. “He is a leader in the field and it is an honor to have such an innovator practicing in our region.”
A native of Greece, Plestis earned his medical degree from Aristotelian University Medical School in Thessaloniki. He completed a general surgery residency at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York, a vascular surgery residency at Baylor College in Houston during the development of aortic surgery in the early 1990s and a cardiothoracic surgery residency at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Prior to joining Lenox Hill, Plestis served as Associate Director of Aortic Surgery and Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
Plestis’ bedside manner was evident as he spoke to everyone in the room during the cocktail hour and dinner. Rather than enjoy his own entrée, he circulated among the tables to insure everyone was enjoying his or hers.
“There is an ease of communication when talking with him and he speaks fluent Greek, which is very beneficial,” said Nicholas Skiadas, MD, of Cardiology Associates of Jennersville. “He is very responsive and when we refer a case to him, he often sees the patient with just a day’s notice.”
In his pre-dinner talk, which traced the history of heart surgery from the early skeptics to the innovators of the 20th century, Plestis highlighted the advantages of his new environment. While he noted the benefits of the 96-bed, $465 Lankenau heart pavilion are unmatched, he added it is the total atmosphere of environment, doctors and support staff that results in a person’s ability to heal.
“It is not only me, but the 10 surgeons under me and the additional 100 people who work with us,” he said. “We want to offer exceptional care for complex problems.”
Most importantly, Plestis stressed the importance of each person’s physical and emotional healing.
“You develop a bond and need to be available 24/7/365,” said Plestis. “As a patient you have the sense you are dying and need someone to hold your hand. Each of us is that ‘someone.’”