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Profile: J. Michael Bacharach, MD, Vascular Medicine Specialist

Jun 21, 2018 06:00AM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

When vascular medicine and intervention specialist J. Michael Bacharach, MD, left the Cleveland Clinic in 1995 to join North Central Heart in Sioux Falls, he didn’t expect the move to be permanent. “I thought I’d stay four or five years and get a program going and that I would then go take a chairmanship somewhere,” says Bacharach.

In fact, he did get a program going, as one of the earliest physician advocates for what would eventually be the Avera Heart Hospital. But Dr. Bacharach said it was the quality of the people he was working with and the unexpectedly advanced level of medical care in Sioux Falls that convinced him to stay for the long haul.

“This was the beginning of endovascular surgery and I knew that surgical partners would be a critical part of the success,” says Dr. Bacharach who is board certified in cardiovascular disease and vascular medicine with a subspecialty in endovascular medicine. “I was fortunate to have tremendous surgical partners.”

“The other thing was that, although Sioux Falls was a small community, it had skilled, well-trained subspecialists and offered advanced procedures. Both Avera and Sioux Valley were open to moving into new areas of vascular medicine and both institutions were very supportive.”

In the end, it was McKennan Hospital that joined North Central Heart in the formation of The Heart Hospital, a venture Bacharach calls a “wonderful success”. “It consolidated and improved heart care in the community and became a model for the future, too,” says Bacharach. “The fact that Sanford eventually built their own heart hospital shows that the model had merit.”

In addition to training residents as a Clinical Professor with the USD Sanford School of Medicine, Dr. Bacharach holds a faculty position at Mayo Clinic and has helped to give their vascular surgery fellows a more hands-on endovascular experience for the past 12 years.

“For me, it was a chance to engage in something intellectually challenging and very rewarding,” says Bacharach. “This is one of the things I am most proud of.”

Dr. Bacharach’s research involvement encompasses peripheral arterial and aneurysmal disease with ongoing current trials in carotid stents and endografts for aneurysms. He has become involved in transaortic valve replacement through the femoral artery, and is excited about up-and-coming advances such as trancatheter techniques for valvular heart disease and acute neural intervention for stroke.

“Truly one of the joys and the thing that has made it easy to stay passionate and motivated is that, in the vascular and cardiac arena, things are constantly changing,” says Dr. Bacharach. “For example, we can now fix a PFO (patent foramen ovale) with a small device through a big vein in 30 minutes. That was unheard of when I was in training.”

Two of Bacharach’s three young adult children have inherited his love for medicine and are training for medical careers of their own. Bacharach says he is happy with his decision to make South Dakota his home and has only one regret.

“In some respects, I feel like I’m running out of time,” he says. “There are so many exciting things on the horizon and I don’t want to miss any of them!”