Dr. Bruce Murphy Leaves the Cath Lab to Become CEO of Arkansas Heart Hospital.

by George Waldon  on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 12:00 am  

Dr. Bruce Murphy gets to ramp up his love for patient interaction with his new role as CEO of Little Rock's Arkansas Heart Hospital. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

The Little Rock Cardiology Clinic doctors won temporary relief through a 2004 injunction on Baptist's economic credentialing policy. The policy barred doctors from serving on staffs or having hospital privileges if they or a family member had a financial stake in a competing facility.

A 2009 order by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Collins Kilgore, upheld by the Arkansas Supreme Court last year, struck down economic credentialing. Kilgore noted that Baptist Health acknowledged the policy was adopted to suppress competition from specialty hospitals.

The case, which drew national attention, inspired Kilgore to note the importance of protecting the patient-physician relationship.

Murphy considered going into medical research, but it was too far removed from patient interaction to suit him. "I like people and being around people," he said.

What attracted him to cardiology?

"Seeing a problem and fixing the problem right before your eye, and it's full of all sorts of gadgets," Murphy said. "But cardiology is a very physically demanding sub-specialty. You basically have to sacrifice a lot of your personal life."

Peers of Murphy aren't surprised that he can step out of the cath lab and into the corporate boardroom with such apparent ease. Fellow med students at UAMS remember him as a pseudo-CEO during his residency years.

"I was so poor in medical school I lived in a dorm for five years," Murphy said. "When I finally got a medical license, I wanted to buy a house, but I didn't have any money."

To boost his income, he organized a staffing venture with 50 other residents to supply ER doctors at hospitals in Benton, Conway, Morrilton and Searcy.

Murphy declined to describe the operations he oversaw for several years as a real business and agreed with its portrayal as a loosely run confederation of residents.

"I always cherish my time in the emergency room," Murphy said. "I spent 10,000 hours in the ER, and there's virtually nothing I have never seen."

His most memorable ER story? Two Code Blues showed up at Searcy's White County Medical Center within a few minutes of each other. One of the patients requiring immediate resuscitation had an allergic reaction to penicillin and the other suffered an acute heart attack.



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