Grass Valley cardiologist heading for Indiana |

Grass Valley cardiologist heading for Indiana

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

One of Grass Valley’s only cardiologists will be moving out of the area at the end of August.

John Mallery, who has worked in the cardiac community for more than 20 years, will move with wife Robin to Evansville, Ind., where John will work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Robin can pursue her passion for nutritional education.

The news of the move struck a chord with Mallery’s employees, longtime friends and patients.

“I am sad for the hospital because we really respect and appreciate all he’s done for the community and hospital,” said Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Debbie Plass, who has worked with Mallery for nearly 20 years.

“It’s been teary-eyed and sad to say goodbye to patients. It’s been a privilege to work here.”

— Dr. John Mallery,
Grass Valley cardiologist on move to Indiana

“Both of them have advanced the practice of cardiology in this community,” Plass said.

“Robin professionally has definitely contributed to the hospital, as well as Dr. Mallery, with providing care through the emergency department, and has been more than just available to his patients and to the hospital for consultation,” she said. “They are just the best of the best in terms of their professional and clinical expertise, so that’s definitely a loss for us.”

Regional Cardiology in Sacramento will take over Mallery’s practice; he already refers patients in need of intervention to the specialists there.

Mallery said the transition to Regional Cardiology will be seamless with the same location and services.

Jim Gilbert, a 12-year patient who had a heart attack in 2004, recalled a time when the avid photographer gave him a special gift.

“My family and I go to Yosemite every Mother’s Day weekend, and because I had atrial flutter, I couldn’t go this year,” he said. “John and Robin usually go, and sometimes we see each other. I got a call from Robin a couple weeks after Mother’s Day to come into the office and I didn’t know what for, but he called me in and had taken a picture with a sunset with golden light of Half Dome. Because we couldn’t go, they wanted to give us a little something from Mother’s Day weekend. We framed it and have it hanging in our house.”

Such artistic contributions were also made to the hospital, Plass said, with some of Mallery’s donated photos on the entry screens for the cancer center and the diagnostic center.

Nurses were heart-wrenched at the news.

“We all love them, and it’s going to be really difficult to see them go,” said echocardiography technician Alice Allfie through tears. “He’s always treated everybody like family, and whenever it was anybody’s birthday that month, we would all go out to lunch.

“He’s just always been a cheerful guy, and you never see him in a bad mood. He’s concerned about providing the best possible care to the patient. It’s not just a business plan. It’s what they believe in.”

Nurse practitioner Robin Petersen said Robin and John Mallery will be missed very much, though she is relieved Regional Cardiology bought the practice.

“This will be an asset. Many patients already know (Regional Cardiology), and it will be a comfort,” Petersen said.

Robin founded the cardiac rehabilitation program at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital about 20 years ago and bolstered the nutritional program that is still provided at the hospital.

She also started HeartMatters, a nutritional coaching and prevention program, believing prevention is often neglected in the health care system.

“It seems we could focus on prevention in the community for the member at risk, the high-stress worker who eats on the run and is too busy to exercise,” she said. “That’s the kind of person that becomes a patient, and if we could identify them ahead and work on small-step behavior changes, I felt strongly like we could make a difference.”

Robin has also been in vigilant opposition to big agricultural industries and their influence on the government, as well as the genetically modified organisms and their lack of transparency with food labels. She already has connected with people in Indiana who are a part of Urban Seed, a nutrition education initiative.

“I feel like this move is opening up the opportunity to really blossom into making a difference in the world,” she said.

“That’s what I really want to do.”

John Mallery will work for the VA without the stress and intensity of working on call, he said. He also said he will be relieved from the burden of Medicare with high overhead costs, increasing regulation and decreasing reimbursement.

Mallery joined Dr. Peter Callaham’s practice in 1999, then struck out on his own.

The decision to relocate to Indiana was a result of the change in health care, Mallery said, as well as a desire to work less and partake more in outdoor activities.

“Health care is too expensive and has been going up, and the government has responded by paying less, which caused us to look around at other options,” he said. “I’m 58 and decided to not be on call so much. It’s very consuming.”

The change in health care has also influenced the number of cardiologists, Mallery said, noting that 80 percent have moved out of private practice.

“If someone had said to me, ‘In a year from now, you’d be moving to Indiana,’ I wouldn’t believe it,” Mallery said.

“But we knew this day was coming. When Medicare pays less every year and expenses go up, sooner or later you’re going to have a problem.”

“We’re kind of excited and kind of sad because we have a lot of friends here, and a lot of our patients are our friends,” Mallery said. “We’ve been here a long time and have relationships with people here and at the hospital.

“It’s been teary-eyed and sad to say goodbye to patients,” he said. “It’s been a privilege to work here.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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