A doc who’s all heart

“When we used to hire in our practice, where they went to school and did their training was at the bottom of the list,” says Jeffrey Green, founder of The Heart Center in Stamford. “We would ask, ‘Is this the kind of person I would trust my patients with?’”

Jeffrey Green never intended to be a business owner and never had any formal business management training. But he has gotten to the “heart” of the matter, merging the parallel tracks of entrepreneurship and cardiology at The Heart Center in Stamford, celebrating its second year of operations in April.

The Delaware native — who received a B.A. in psychology from American University in Washington, D.C., in 1994 and his M.D. from New York Medical College in Valhalla in 1998 — is in a sense a Bronx guy, completing seven years in his medical and cardiology training at Montefiore Medical Center. There he was both invigorated and challenged by the urban setting.

“I love the Bronx,” he says. “In medical training, you’re exposed to a lot no matter where you are. In the Bronx, you’re exposed to everything. I was exposed to things I’ve never seen. We would see people in the Bronx coming in with things like leprosy. I was in the emergency room at Lincoln Hospital and there was a guy with leprosy. There was also Chagas disease and things that are not native to this area. It was more of a melting pot there than it is here, and people were coming in who did not have medical attention since they were young.”

While still in training, Green had a girlfriend who lived in Westport and whose father was a cardiologist in Stamford. That girlfriend became his wife and Green became part of her father’s practice.  

“I started out in private practice with my father-in-law, Dr. Richard Landesman,” he says. “He had practiced cardiology for about 35 years. There were three of us, including my brother-in-law, Dr. Keith Landesman, and we had a nice practice that we built based on good customer service. We started to grow and added a couple of doctors.”

In 2011, Stamford Health was in the process of creating a cardiology-focused group and approached Green and the Landesmans about integrating their practice into this new entity. The three men joined the Stamford Health staff in 2011, but seven years later Green began to re-evaluate his professional path.

“I had to make a choice on what I wanted to do in my career,” he says. “I realized the first seven years in my practice were more fulfilling and I felt I was more of a doctor than I was while employed in big corporate medicine. So, I decided that I would be better off and my patients would be better off if I went back into private practice.”

Still, Green didn’t completely close the door on Stamford Health.

“I am still on the hospital staff,” he adds. “I go around the hospital every day. I love the hospital and respect my colleagues there. It is a great place and I think we built a great cardiovascular institute at the hospital. And I am still a part of that but as an independent affiliate rather than as an employee.”

Although working with his father-in-law gave Green firsthand knowledge on running a medical practice, being his own boss required input from a startup consultant and a staff to help with accounts and billing. One aspect of his new practice that was an essential was being located at a facility with a large parking lot.

“That was the number one thing I was looking for when I was looking for space,” he says. “There is a lot of space in Stamford and the parking is a huge thing. My father-in-law told me that many years ago:  If people don’t have parking, they’re not going to want to come back.”

Unlike other startups that need to seek out new clients, Green was able to tap into his existing patient base to transfer to The Heart Center. His peers in the medical field also played a key role in his launch

“I also talked to a lot of local physicians. Most of my patient base is from people referring patients to me, like primary care doctors and word of mouth. I spoke to these providers and spent a lot of time in their offices telling them what I was planning to do,” he says. “I also made a website and went on Facebook. My social media skills are very poor and my kids are trying to help me with that.”

Today, Green has a patient database of more than 1,500, ranging in age from early teens to early centenarians. One key lesson of business that Green learned was not to do the hard sell on potential patients.

“Different personalities match with different individuals,” he says. “People come in to interview me, and I have patients who met me once or twice and then went to find another doctor. Most doctors come out of training and they know the medicine and science. But that is the last thing that people are looking for when they are interviewing doctors. When we used to hire in our practice, where they went to school and did their training was at the bottom of the list. We would ask, ‘Is this the kind of person I would trust my patients with?’ Patients need to feel they can call on me at any time.”

The Heart Center is at 215 Stillwater Ave. in Stamford. For more, visit heartcenterct.com.

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