Marc Counts, M.D., a well-regarded cardiologist and native of the region, has joined the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute, expanding the breadth and depth of the region’s premier cardiovascular practice.
Dr. Counts will provide consults to patients at the heart institute’s office, 2428 Knob Creek Road in Johnson City. He also assists his patients by performing diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedures and implanting pacemakers and defibrillators at Bristol Regional Medical Center and Holston Valley Medical Center for patients who require more detailed heart care.
“We are extremely pleased Dr. Counts is sharing his impressive skill set and leadership in the field as a member of our practice,” said Jerry Blackwell, M.D., the heart institute’s president. “His lengthy ties to our region also provide him special insight into the cardiovascular health of our area and the opportunities people have to transform their lives. Dr. Counts provides important and practical guidance for patients and the community, which increases their potential for long-term well-being.”
Prior to joining the heart institute, Dr. Counts served as chief of cardiology at Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home, for more than five years. That position enabled him to serve the region’s veterans and train the next generation of cardiologists.
He also practiced for six years with Tri-State Cardiology, which was located at the Knob Creek Road facility when it became part of the heart institute. During his tenure with that practice, he served with Mark Chang, M.D., and L. Collier Jordan, M.D., who joined the heart institute when the practice was integrated and remain there today.
Dr. Counts is the most recent physician to begin seeing patients at the heart institute’s growing Johnson City office. H. Richard Yoon, M.D., and Steven Hopkins, M.D., two vascular surgeons who had operated a private practice in Johnson City, joined the heart institute in early March.
A Johnson City native, Dr. Counts said he is excited to reunite with Dr. Chang and Dr. Jordan and to begin working side by side with Dr. Yoon and Dr. Hopkins. Throughout the region, the heart institute now has 43 physicians, and Dr. Counts said he looks forward to collaborating with them to provide the best possible patient care.
“The quality of the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute is exceptional, and I welcome the opportunity to align with some of the most talented members of the cardiovascular profession,” Dr. Counts said. “The physicians have established an inspiring high standard for excellence, which has enabled the group to provide world-class care to the community. It’s exciting to practice in that environment as we continue to look for innovative ways to meet our patients’ needs.”
As a cardiologist, Dr. Counts has consulted regularly with patients who have suffered a heart attack or have risk factors. One of his primary messages to patients is the importance of paying attention to classic heart attack symptoms, such as chest pain. These can be present in men and women, but women often have atypical symptoms, such as back pain or onset of extreme fatigue, which should also warrant their attention.
Some people might want to dismiss the discomfort as anxiety, stress or acid reflux, for example, but he said this is not the best approach. Instead, people should immediately call 911 and be transported to the hospital when they start experiencing heart attack symptoms, he said.
“If folks can get to the hospital quickly, there’s a good chance they will have a desirable outcome,” Dr. Counts said. “But the longer there is a delay between the onset of symptoms and a person’s arrival at the hospital, he or she is more likely to experience serious heart damage and potentially death. I really encourage people to take their condition seriously.”
Dr. Counts has practiced medicine for nearly 14 years, but he had a detour along the way.
When he was an undergraduate at East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee, Dr. Counts began his studies as a pre-med student and liked what he learned. But he also developed an interest in business and graduated from UT with a bachelor’s degree in that field. Again, his life went in another direction when an affinity for the legal profession led to his receiving a law degree from UT.
Dr. Counts then served as a law clerk before embarking on a 10-year career practicing corporate law for a firm in Nashville and then for Hunter, Smith & Davis in Kingsport. As his life evolved, his affection for medicine never left, so he tested the waters with medically related classes. Dr. Counts became certain this was the path he should pursue, so he took the Medical College Admission Test® and scored extremely well.
In 1994, he entered the James H. Quillen College of Medicine, where he obtained his medical degree and completed his internal medicine residency and his cardiology fellowship. He has practiced cardiology since 2003 and occasionally still assists lawyers who need medical expertise on a case.
“I had a wonderful experience with the law, but like many people, I embarked on a career change that has been quite fulfilling,” Dr. Counts said. “Not everyone has the option to receive a medical education, and I was blessed to be able to pursue my passion to be a physician. I really enjoy my one-on-one interaction with patients.”
Patients who are interested in an appointment with Dr. Counts can call (423) 230-5000. For further information about the heart institute, please visit wellmont.org.