Ascension Via Christi cardiothoracic physician assistant receives national vein harvesting award | Ascension

Ascension Via Christi cardiothoracic physician assistant receives national vein harvesting award

Physician assistant Matt Steadham, who assists with vein harvesting in cardiothoracic surgeries at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis was recently awarded recognition by Getinge’s Endoscopic Vessel Harvesting Circle of Excellence.

This award recognizes individuals who have performed more than 1,000 endoscopic vein harvest, or EVH, procedures as part of coronary artery bypass graft surgeries and helps advance and educate others about the procedure.

During vein harvesting, the greater saphenous vein in the leg is retrieved for use in coronary artery bypass grafting, the most common type of open-heart surgery. Considered the standard of care for bypass surgery, it requires experience, precision and expertise.

"It takes a lot of practice and a steady hand to retrieve large veins without damaging them, but all that starts with a trustworthy mentor,” says the Wichita native who has assisted with EVH for nearly four years at St. Francis. “Part of my opportunity includes replicating the education and training that gave me a strong start to my career.”

For Steadham, this means teaching as he was taught: With careful patience, precision and understanding.

While mentoring others, he says, “I am able to step in and provide gentle corrections and explanations so that whoever I’m teaching isn’t apprehensive for their next learning experience.”

After graduating from Wichita State University with his physician assistant degree, Steadham started out in orthopedics before joining the cardiothoracic team.

“This job has, among other things, taught me that we often give ourselves a lot of excuses in our lives for not doing things,” says Steadham, who plans to make cardiothoracic surgery his lifetime career. “Whether it is showing up to kids’ games or doing a procedure correctly, it requires dedication, commitment and intentional action.”

Steadham credits the dedicated and hardworking team at St. Francis for the recognition he received.

“Heart surgery is definitely a team activity because it has to be,” says Steadham. “There’s nothing that I would be able to do without the team of surgeons, nurses, techs and everyone else.”

Julie Schaar, director of Surgical Services at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, says Steadham’s award is well deserved.

“This recognition of Matt Steadham speaks to the technical experience and excellence brought to the operating table for our heart bypass patients,” says Schaar. “Not only has he helped more than a thousand patients and their hearts over the years, he continues to seek innovation and provide education for continued patient safety and satisfaction.”