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Carpenter Awards honor cardiologist

Brian Gross, a cardiologist and leader in developing heart care in the Rogue Valley, will be honored today by Asante Health System at the annual Carpenter Awards at Rogue Valley Medical Center.

The Carpenter Award each year recognizes community leaders who have had a positive and significant influence in improving medical care in Jackson County.

"Dr. Gross has dedicated his career to improving heart care in the region," said Roy Vinyard, president and CEO of Asante, in a release. "From bringing new techniques and technology to developing the ASSET program for rapid response to heart attacks, he has helped to save thousands of lives in Southern Oregon and Northern California."

Scott Kelly, CEO of Rogue Valley Medical Center, said Gross has been instrumental in making Rogue Valley Medical Center "a leader in heart care."

Gross is credited with establishing a system that has resulted in a reduced death rate for heart attacks in the nine-county South Oregon region. The rate is 3.4 percent locally, compared with between 8 and 12 percent nationally.

Gross led a collaboration that enlisted multiple hospitals and emergency response teams in Southern Oregon and Northern California that was dubbed ASSET — Acute ST Segment Elevation Task Force.

"We were big enough to pull it off, but also small enough," said Gross. "It meant that ambulances drove past the nearest hospital to deliver patients to RVMC, which was previously not done. Upon arrival at RVMC, transported patients go directly to the cardiac catheterization lab, bypassing the emergency department.

Gross grew up in New Jersey in a family of six children. After high school, he accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy but soon discovered the military was not for him. He transferred to Wesleyan University in Connecticut for his undergraduate degree, and earned his medical doctorate from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, New York. He served his internship and residency at Dartmouth Medical Center, where he earned both intern of the year and resident of the year honors.

He and his wife, Nancy, who was then a nurse, met in Seattle, where Gross held a fellowship and assistant professorship at the University of Washington. When the time came to choose a place to begin a cardiology practice, Gross weighed his options — he'd already been offered two contracts. Then a favorite professor encouraged him to meet with a physician in Southern Oregon who was trying to recruit a cardiologist to his clinic.

"Dr. John Forsyth met me at the airport," recalls Gross. "Because he is who he is, I knew within 20 minutes that I wanted to work with him, and the Rogue Valley is where I wanted to be. I've never regretted the decision."

Nancy and Brian Gross have four children: Nathan, 28, has an MBA from Harvard and an MD from Emory; Emily, 25, holds a doctorate in physical therapy; Kelsey, 21, is a junior at Claremont McKenna College, and her twin, Bay, is a junior at Yale University.

Portrait of Brian Gross, MD, FACC, of Southern Oregon Cardiology, Job 1168.