Albert J. Macksood, M.D., son of a Lebanese immigrant-physician, Joseph Macksood, M.D., returned home to Flint on July 1, 1963, after completing his surgical training with Dr. D. Emerick Szilagyi at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Dr. Szilagyi was one of the original pioneers in peripheral vascular surgery having performed one of the world’s first abdominal aortic aneurysm repairs in 1952. Dr. Macksood brought skills to Flint few in the country possessed. These were the formative years for our specialty. Joining his father, Joseph Macksood, M.D. a family physician and his older brother William (Bill) Macksood, M.D. a general surgeon, he moved into the Macksood Medical Building on Pierson Road built in 1961. There were so many Macksoods we simply called them, Dr. Joe, Dr. Bill, and Dr. Al.
Confident in his ability, imbued with boundless energy and an uncanny ability to engage any and all in meaningful dialogue, Dr. Al was advised by his father to only practice vascular surgery. Highly unusual for those years; but so as not to compete with the general surgeons who lacked his vascular skills, he committed to the specialty. He performed the first open abdominal aortic aneurysmectomy, the first carotid endarterectomy, and the first femoral-popliteal bypass in Mid-Michigan in 1963. Most remarkable about Dr. Macksood, however, was his simple, yet revolutionary philosophy: “cover the waterfront.” That meant all three Flint area hospitals (McLaren, St. Joseph/now Genesys, and Hurley) which have had continuous emergency vascular coverage ever since. He also believed only fellowship trained vascular surgeons should be added as the need dictated envisioning a true group practice. This philosophy maintained that patients were part of the group practice and each partner shared equally in the responsibility for their care. The patient received the benefit of having multiple physician input into their vascular care. In addition this created an equal work load and shared compensation allowing all physicians of the group to have a home life, making time for family and interests more predictable. Additionally, it created power in numbers with the opportunity and support to broaden our horizons.
As the practice grew, Dr. Macksood tapped Dr. Szilagyi’s program for recruits. Dr. Al Morgan joined in 1965. Dr. Frederick Sherrin was recruited in 1972 and a professional corporation was formed under the name of Vascular Surgery Associates, P.C. Dr. Carlo Dall’Olmo, the current president, joined in 1975. Dr. Dall’Olmo performed the first tibial artery bypass for limb salvage in Mid-Michigan in 1975. The fact that the first four members came from Dr. Szilagyi’s program was important to our early success. All shared a common culture and work ethic. We were “in synch” says Dr. Dall’Olmo. We shared the same philosophical approach to the patient and the practice of our specialty. This made incorporating a new partner a seamless experience.
Non-invasive vascular testing was emerging as a way of assisting vascular surgeons in their clinical decision making. Dr. Dall’Olmo spear-headed a project to open the first non-invasive vascular lab in Mid-Michigan as a part of our practice. Patients could now enjoy less risky initial testing in the same office. Our technical lab director, Joanne Drago, LPN, RVT, opened the lab in 1980 and has been with us since its inception. It was, indeed, a cutting edge decision, as formal recognition of vascular technologists came a few years later in 1984. A certification exam for the RVT credential was developed.
In 1982 with the anticipation of additional partners, the group relocated from Pierson Road to G-5119 W. Bristol Road in a newly emerging development near the Genesee Valley Mall. Allan L. Ippolito, M.D. and John M. McIlduff, M.D., vascular fellows from the Cleveland Clinic, joined the group. The following summer Wayne K. Kinning, M.D. arrived from St. Anthony’s in Columbus, Ohio.
Having, again, outgrown our facility, a parcel of land on the corner of Linden and Bristol Roads was purchased. The current 6000 square foot facility was constructed at G-5020 W. Bristol Road and the group relocated in 1985.
In 1990, Gregory J. Fortin, M.D., another Cleveland Clinic vascular fellow was added followed by Scott A. Garner, M.D., a vascular fellow from the Medical College of Virginia in 1993. The corporation was now one of the largest groups of vascular surgeons in private practice in the United States.
Also in 1990, the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories (ICAVL) implemented national standards and accredited their first vascular labs. We were eager to participate and became one of the first vascular labs to receive accreditation. Vascular Diagnostic Center was incorporated on February 11, 1992.
Toward the end of the decade, Robert G. Molnar, M.D. arrived from Vanderbuilt in Nashville, Tennessee, having acquired skills in newly emerging endovascular techniques. These minimally invasive, catheter based techniques were poised to transform the treatment of vascular disease.
Thanks to our networking with representatives from various medical device companies and other vascular surgeons, our members were able to travel nationally and internationally gaining the necessary skills for aortic endografting and carotid stenting.