LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 3, 2021) – Dr. Rick McClure has deep roots in the University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare communities.
In 1983, he earned his medical degree from the UK College of Medicine, followed by both an internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at UK HealthCare. After about 12 years away, McClure returned to the University of Kentucky in 2004 to help establish a network of UK outreach clinics to improve heart health across the Commonwealth.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky and the state is among the top 10 in the country for cardiovascular mortality.
UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute is at the forefront of the battle against heart disease and stroke. Its goal is to provide every patient with exceptionally compassionate care in the safest and most appropriate manner possible based on the best evidence and the latest technological advances.
When McClure returned to UK, he and his team spent the next 17 years building the robust and expanding network of UK-affiliated hospitals across the Commonwealth that he hoped would continue the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s mission.
“We want to help Kentuckians lead healthier lifestyles and encourage their participation in cardiac screenings to reduce the negative impact of cardiovascular disease on the community,” said McClure, who served as medical director of the UK Gill Affiliate Network.
Officially established in 2014, the UK Gill Affiliate Network now boasts 18 affiliate hospitals across the Commonwealth, from Pike County to McCracken County. The network allows the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute to work closely with regional hospitals to provide the highest quality of cardiovascular care. Through the network, specialists at the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute provide cardiovascular-specific education and training programs for network doctors, advanced practice practitioners, nurses and staff to ensure the most up-to-date cardiovascular knowledge is available to them. Network members have remote access to cardiovascular educational opportunities and complimentary participation in cardiovascular conferences as well as personalized and customized attention from the Gill Heart & Vascular Institute to support the network hospitals’ needs across the cardiovascular spectrum.
The UK Gill Affiliate Network also assists cardiovascular programs in achieving and maintaining subspecialty accreditations, provides clinical cardiology coverage and supports cardiac program growth and development. In addition, the network facilitates collaboration between local providers and Gill cardiologists, vascular surgeons and cardiothoracic surgeons. Developing these relationships allows for open communication and collaboration of care for patients.
“By collaborating with local community hospitals and their providers through education, training and community outreach, the residents of those communities benefit from access to state-of-the-art cardiovascular care near where they live,” McClure said. “This also reduces the stress and cost that many will incur by having to travel to a large center such as UK.”
McClure leaves his role as medical director of the UK Gill Affiliate Network to become the acting chair of the UK Department of Internal Medicine. UK cardiologist Dr. Navin Rajagopalan will step in as the new medical director of the UK Gill Affiliate Network.
“We have accomplished so much over nearly two decades and yet there is still so much more to do,” McClure said. “I look forward to seeing top-notch cardiovascular care continue to transform under Dr. Rajagopalan’s leadership.”
Rajagopalan served as the director of heart failure and medical director of heart transplantation at UK HealthCare for nearly a decade before pursuing a leadership opportunity in New Jersey. He was recruited back to UK HealthCare in 2020 to serve as the associate director of the UK Gill Affiliate Network and the associate director of the Organ Failure and Transplant Network.
His clinical and research interests include systolic heart failure, peripartum cardiomyopathy and donor selection for heart transplantation.
“Dr. Rajagopalan is the perfect physician to take on this vitally important leadership position from Dr. McClure. They both excel in their ability to listen to the needs of our patients and their care providers across the state, and they are always searching for opportunities to improve in this excellence that has become standard with UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute affiliations,” said Dr. Vincent L. Sorrell, acting chief of the UK Division of Cardiology. “I have personally witnessed Navin’s careful approach to his patients and his commitment to quality for more than a decade and therefore, I am certain that the UK Gill Affiliate Network is in good hands.”
Rajagopalan plans to continue exploring ways to provide additional resources to affiliate hospitals and to help disseminate the most advanced technology throughout the Commonwealth.
“My vision is for the UK Gill Affiliate Network to be a model for the rest of the nation on how an academic medical center can collaborate with hospitals throughout the state to improve cardiovascular care and improve efficiency,” Rajagopalan said.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.