Cardiologist joins Northern staff

Dr. James David Kay chats with a patient. -

Northern Hospital of Surry County has welcomed James David Kay, MD, a cardiovascular specialist the hospital says is “known for his clinical excellence and superior rapport with patients,” to its team of general and specialty physicians.

Dr. Kay – who is an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – will see both inpatients and outpatients, with outpatient visits scheduled at Northern Medical Specialists.

Board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, Dr. Kay will practice alongside longtime Northern cardiologist Dr. Tamas Balogh.

Through a partnership between Northern Hospital and Wake Forest Baptist, Dr. Kay will examine, diagnose and treat patients with all forms of cardiovascular disease – including angina, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, vascular disease, coronary disease and congestive heart failure.

“In cardiology, you can really help people; you can successfully treat a lot of disease that you see – which makes it a hopeful and enjoyable area of medicine,” said Dr. Kay, in explaining why he chose cardiology as his medical specialty. “It’s a fascinating field that allows me to really get to know and help my patients, and they get to know me.”

Getting to know Dr. Kay is an easy process for his patients, as his family has deep roots in North Carolina. “These are my people,” he said proudly, noting that, while he was born in southern Maryland, he enjoyed spending summers with his grandparents in the Winston-Salem area.

“Both of my grandparents were salt-of-the-earth people who worked in the mills,” he saud. For the Kay family, like so many others, the hard physical labor of their forebears permitted each succeeding generation to achieve higher levels of education and more professionally-oriented jobs.

Dr. Kay’s eventual return to his North Carolinian roots started with his college days at Duke University, in Durham. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics from Duke in 1993, he completed a master’s degree in economics two years later, from that alma mater. Armed with both an undergraduate and graduate degree, he relocated to Philadelphia to enter Jefferson Medical College — one of the top-ranked medical schools in the nation – where he earned his Medical Degree in 2001.

While in medical school, Dr. Kay’s preference for internal medicine; and, more specifically, cardiology as a subspecialty, began to emerge.

“I entered medical school not really sure what kind of doctor I wanted to be; I just knew that I wanted to provide direct patient care,” he recalled. “I was initially drawn to cardiology by the physiology — in that the heart and vascular system are fascinating. Then, after getting out of the classroom and onto the medical wards to take care of patients, I liked that so much of what we saw in cardiology we could actually fix.”

With his medical specialties now clearly identified, Dr. Kay completed his residency training in internal medicine at the Medical College of Virginia – where his natural leadership and teaching abilities did not go unnoticed. During his four-year residency program, he received an Award for Excellence as a junior resident in 2003, was appointed chief resident during his final year, and served on a number of committees, including the Clinical Competency Committee for the residency program and the Teaching Excellence Awards Selection Committee. The gregarious young doctor then returned to North Carolina to begin and successfully complete an intensive, three-year fellowship program in cardiovascular medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Dr. Kay holds a faculty position at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he helps to educate and train the next generation of physicians. “Teaching helps you be a better doctor because it forces you to stay informed and be on top of your game,” he said. “It’s also a pleasure to watch the growth of these young, intelligent, and eager-to-learn students.”

His teaching talents are not limited to medical students. “As a doctor, I am an educator and counselor with every patient I see,” Dr. Kay explained. “For many patients, that means providing healthy direction to help them improve their clinical condition and modify their lifestyle choices.”

Dr. Kay explained that even moderate cardiovascular exercise, bolstered by a lifestyle that does not include smoking or over-eating, can reduce a patient’s cardiovascular risk by 20 to 40 percent.

The 46-year-old cardiologist practices what he preaches – with a personal exercise regimen that includes jogging and/or walking at least three times a week, along with push-ups and light-resistance exercises performed in his home. As for his diet, he admits that, on occasion, he’s “been caught” by his patients at Bojangles or a family-favorite pizza parlor.

“Hey, we’re all human,” he said with a laugh.

In addition to taking care of patients, Dr. Kay’s priority is his family — which includes his wife, Staci, a critical-care Nurse Practitioner; their four children (19-year old college student Alex, 16-year-old junior-high student Vivien, and preteens Christina, 9, and Sophia, 5); and two lovable dogs.

“We are very involved in church activities; and also enjoy travelling – which, at this time, mostly involves beach vacations,” he says. “But I see a family trip to Italy as a future possibility,” he added.

For now, though, Dr. Kay is busy meeting all his new Northern Hospital colleagues and seeing new patients. “I am honored and excited about working closely with my professional colleagues at Northern so we may continue to provide superior cardiac care to all our patients,” he said.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kay, call Northern Medical Specialists, 708 S. South Street, Suite 200, in Mount Airy, at 336-786-6146.

Dr. James David Kay chats with a patient. James David Kay chats with a patient.