Open Accessibility Menu

Cardiology Specialists Available to more Patients through Baxter Health Expansion

Cardiology Specialists Available to more Patients through Baxter Health Expansion

James Munns, MD, a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon who has been at Baxter Regional Heart and Vascular Clinic for a year, is impressed with the hospital and all it has to offer the communities it serves. Prior to joining Baxter Health a year ago, he was in practice at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, IL, for 40 years. “This is a wonderful hospital of dedicated professionals with so many outstanding services to offer, which is unusual for an independent hospital in a community this size. I’m glad to be here. I enjoy what I do.”

One of two surgeons associated with Baxter Regional Heart and Vascular Clinic, Dr. Munns’ primary specialties are cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. The other surgeon, Kent Nachtigal, specializes in vascular surgery. Also in the practice are Kathleen Prinner, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, NE, and Emily Brown, MSN, APRN, FNP-C. Most of Dr. Munns surgeries, about 75% he says, are cardiac with the remainder being thoracic. He is a specialist in transcatheter aortic valve replacement surgery (TAVR), a state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedure. During his career as a cardiovascular surgeon, he has performed over 700 TAVR procedures. At Baxter Health, Dr. Munns and Dr. Akihiro Kobayashi, a structural cardiologist, perform TAVR surgeries together. “TAVR is not something you typically find in a hospital the size of Baxter Health,” said Kimberly Foxworthy, MSN, RN, structural heart coordinator at Baxter Health.

“What impresses me about Baxter Health is we are able to do between 140 and 150 heart surgeries a year,” says Dr. Munns. “With the expansion and outreach of Baxter Health into other areas of north central Arkansas like Harrison and southern Missouri, we will be doing even more next year.” As doctors from Baxter Family clinics and other providers in the region become more familiar with Baxter Health doctors and specialty clinics, like the Cardiovascular Clinic and Heart and Vascular Clinic, Dr. Munns believes they will be more comfortable referring their patients to Baxter Health.

As a thoracic surgeon, Dr. Munns performs lung surgery for cancer or the diagnosis of diseases of the lungs. Patients served by the Highlands Oncology Group cancer treatment center, which recently opened a cancer treatment center on the campus of Baxter Health, will allow patient access to hospital specialists. “Patients don’t have to travel the distances to Little Rock, Springfield and Fayetteville. They can stay close to home for medical treatment, surgeries and rehabilitation.”

Like most cardiologists, Dr. Munns stresses the importance of early detection of heart disease, especially for women. “In medicine, one thing precedes any kind of improvement care—diagnose early.” Based on his experience, tests such as the cardiac calcium screening done at Baxter Health are valuable. “There is one overriding statistic I’ve known as long as I’ve been in this field that has always been true. One-third of patients will come to a heart doctor with few symptoms of heart disease. Another third will come after they have had a heart attack with no damage. The other third, who don’t come, will die.”

Dr. Munns’ wife, Paula, is a surgical technologist instructor. They are the parents of four adult daughters and have four grandchildren.