Published on November 12, 2012

Dr. Stephen Stowers - A Fond Farewell

Health Source Magazine November 2012

Care and healing are in his blood

Dr. Stephen StowersStephen Stowers’ M.D. great grandfather, J. Paul Jones,M. D. (yes, they are related to Naval hero John Paul Jones) was a physician back when Oklahoma was still a territory. “When my great grandfather died, the community shut down to attend his funeral and many of those people still owed him money.When patients weren’t able to pay he would take whatever they could give.He was a true humanitarian and my example – I wanted to be that kind of a doctor,” says Dr. Stowers who, after 28 years of caring for his patients and the community, is now leaving the area for the next chapter in his life.

While in high school, Dr. Stowers had a neighbor who was an internist and the two would have long discussions.“He told me that if I wanted to make a difference in life to become a doctor,” recalls Dr. Stowers. When his grandfather had a heart attack Dr. Stowers watched that neighbor care for him and was impressed. “He was like a guardian angel with his calm words and bedside manner and I knew that is what I wanted to be.”

That neighbor encouraged Dr. Stowers through his college years at the University of Richmond. When Dr. Stowers applied for medical school he was put on the waiting list. He was, however, accepted to dental school and considered going. “My neighbor said to me, ‘Steve, if you want to be a dentist, then go to dental school; but if you want to be a doctor, go to medical school.’” So Dr. Stowers successfully persevered and attended medical school at the University of Virginia.

He met his wife, Bonny, during his medical residency at Yale University and they moved to Jacksonville in 1984 where Dr. Stowers started as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida Jacksonville.“In 1987, Dr. Page asked me to join his practice, Southpoint Cardiology Associates, PA, at St. Luke’s,” remembers Dr. Stowers. A few days after he came on board at St. Luke’s, Mayo Clinic bought the hospital. “The atmosphere at St. Luke’s was friendly and welcoming and allowed me to develop as a cardiologist,” says Dr. Stowers Who was also afforded the opportunity to do research. He also served as Co-Director, Nuclear Cardiology, Division of Cardiology at University Hospital and the University of Florida School of Medicine. He became Co-Director of Nuclear Cardiology at St. Luke’s Hospital in 1993, and in 1999 Dr. Stowers became a founding member of the Society of Chest Pain Centers and started the first chest pain center in Northeast Florida.

One of his proudest achievements occurred in 2003 when he worked with John Thrasher, John Lovejoy, M.D., and Buster Browning, M.D., on critical legislation that allowed them to save the heart program at St. Luke’s. “The certificate of need (CON) was going to be moved from St. Luke’s so that there would no longer be a heart program there,” recalls Dr. Stowers, who along with Thrasher, Dr. Lovejoy, Dr. Browning, Steve Wise and Don Davis, worked hard to prevent the loss of this vital service to the community. “We saved the interventional heart program and felt like we made a big contribution to Jacksonville by doing so,” he says.

Throughout each step of his career, however, Dr. Stowers has remained loyal to his early-learned philosophy that a close relationship with patients is key.“My practice has been a great experience and the real reward of being in medicine is helping people and developing close personal relationships with my patients so that they feel like family,” he says. Bonny has also been a big part of his practice. Her husband says that she has been the cheerleader and that the patients always appreciated her care and interest in them. The two have made a great team professionally and personally; they have four children and enjoy traveling and sailing with them.

His next-door neighbor and patient,J. Tylee Wilson, says that it is always great to talk to Dr. Stowers whether it is across the fence or in the doctor’s office. “I have only the finest accolades for him and his wife,” says Wilson.“When my primary cardiologist, Dr. Page, passed away, Dr. Stowers and I began our relationship and many of the things that he did for me—his advice, counsel and being there—really saved my life. He did the right things at the right time to ensure that I am still here,” explains Wilson.

“One thing that fascinates me about Dr. Stowers is his devotion to wanting to do the very best for his patients. He believes in the importance of wellness and is very committed to the concept of staying healthy by eating right, staying fit and taking care of yourself.That approach to medicine has always impressed me,” says Wilson.

Clarence Gooden, Chief Commercial Officer for CSX, agrees with Wilson’s assessment. “A lot of CSX employees know that if you have a heart problem he is the guy to go to,” says Gooden, who also credits Dr. Stowers with saving his life. “He saved my life twice and I am forever indebted to him for that. He also has an exceptionally good bedside manner and takes the time to explain what the issues and possible outcomes are as well as how to improve lifestyle to live a long life and do good things,” says Gooden.

Dr. Lovejoy also knows Dr. Stowers as his patient and friend. “He is a doctor’s doctor. Very up-to-date and very patient oriented,” says Dr. Lovejoy, who compares Dr. Stowers to a description of Greek men. “I talked to a guide at the Olympic Stadium in Greece who described the three things that make Greek men different. They read Homer and believed in his tenets; they fought to the end of a battle; and they knew that music connected the body to the soul,” explains Dr. Lovejoy. “That describes Steve. He knows what he believes in and is willing to fight, yet he still has great soul and is very connected with his patients.”

“He is a great guy, great physician and great photographer. I will miss him,” says Wilson.

Dr. Stowers plans to go to a teaching hospital in New Zealand to practice cardiology, travel and spend more time with his family.

1984

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology and Co-Director of
Nuclear Cardiology, University Hospital, Jacksonville, FL

1987

Joined Southpoint Cardiology Associates, Drs. Ira and Page
St. Luke’s Hospital Becomes a Mayo-affiliated Hospital Three Days Later

1993

Co-Director, Nuclear Cardiology, St. Luke’s
Lectured King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry on Risk Stratification
Using 99 mTc Cardiolite and Gated SPECT in Patients with Coronary Artery
Disease
President, Florida Working Group, American Society Nuclear Cardiology

1994

Started Research Chest Pain Patients in ER
Published Chest Pain Perfusion Imaging in ER, Journal American
College of Cardiology

1996

Board of Directors, Cardiovascular Council, American Society of
Nuclear Medicine
Diplomat, Sub-speciality Nuclear Cardiology
Certification, Board of Nuclear Cardiology

1997

Started First Chest Pain Center in Northeast Florida

1998
Director, Chest Pain Summit, Ponte Vedra Beach

1999

Founding Member, Steering Committee, Society Chest Pain Center

2000

Elected President St. Luke’s Community Physicians Group
Helped Keep St. Luke’s Hospital Open to Community Physicians

2001

Received John A. Beals Award for Medical Research Original Investigation
Awarded for Article on SPECT Perfusion Imaging and Early Exercise Stress
Testing in Emergency Department

2003

Helped Pass Legislation to Save Interventional Heart Program at St. Luke’s

2005

Lectured, Congresso International de Cardiologia do Parana XXXIII Congresso
Paranaense de Cardiologia Curitiba-Parana

2012
Director Chest Pain Center, Chest Pain Center Certification

“My practice has been a great experience and the real reward of being in medicine is helping people and developing close personal relationships with my patients so that they feel like family.”

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(Article Begins on Page 41)


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