Meet the Northwest Region’s New Cardiac Surgery Leader
September 24, 2020 | 3 min. to read
After about 20 years of practice in Ohio and New York, Aqeel Sandhu, MD, has joined Northwestern Medicine as surgical director of Cardiac Surgery for Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in the Northwest Region. In Ohio, Dr. Sandhu was noted to be the busiest coronary artery bypass surgeon in the state for several years. Dr. Sandhu assumed his role at NM in April. He leads a new Regional Medical Group Cardiovascular Surgery practice at McHenry Hospital and Huntley Hospital and offers a full spectrum of cardiac and thoracic surgery. As part of the expansion of Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in the Northwest Region, Dr. Sandhu will spearhead initiatives related to quality and outcomes, patient satisfaction, access to care, program growth, and alignment with Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute services. The Cardiovascular Surgery practice headed by Dr. Sandhu works closely with RMG Cardiology. For example, through the Heart Valve program at McHenry Hospital, Cardiac Surgery and Interventional Cardiology collaboratively offer advanced aortic valve treatment options, including transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR).
In the Q&A below, Dr. Sandhu discusses his plans and background.
Aqeel Sandhu, MD Cardiothoracic Surgery Years in Practice: 20 Medical Education: MD, King Edward Medical College (Pakistan) General Surgery, Harlem Hospital Center Cardiothoracic Surgery,Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Advanced Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic
Why did you choose to pursue a career in medicine? Very early in life, a close family friend who was a general surgeon would take me with him to the hospital. I was fascinated by the heart and by surgery itself, and by fourth grade, I wanted to be a heart surgeon.
Why did you join Northwestern Medicine? I came because of Dr. Patrick McCarthy, who was one of my mentors at Cleveland Clinic and who now leads Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. I also wanted the opportunity to take a leadership role and to develop a program.
What are your plans for the Northwest Region practice? NM already has a high standard for cardiac surgery across the system. We want to establish that here in the community setting, and even make it better. I want to set up the systems that will allow us to maintain very good results while increasing our volumes. That means we’ll need the protocols in place for taking care of our patients, more midlevel providers and more collaboration with the intensivists. As our volumes grow, we’ll recruit another cardiac surgeon. Tell us a little about your life outside Northwestern Medicine. I have three daughters. The oldest is a dental student. The middle graduated college and is looking at a career in architecture. The youngest is in school studying journalism.
My wife is an artist, and we're excited to see everything in Chicago when it’s safe to do so. For hobbies, I play golf and tennis, and I consider myself an audiophile — I’m into only listening to vinyl. My favorite music is classic rock 'n' roll, but I don’t have a particular favorite band.
To refer a patient to Dr. Sandhu, call Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Northwest Region at 815.759.8070.