VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute – The History

VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute was made possible by the generous donation of Jane B. Baird Hyde, who passed on the building and land to VCU Health in memory of her late husband, Charles L. Baird Jr., M.D. This resulted in the opening of VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute in October 2011.

Virginia Heart Institute (1972-2010)

Virginia Heart Institute was established in 1972, by Charles L. Baird, Jr. MD, to prove that outpatient coronary arteriography is a safe method to find high-risk coronary disease early. Patients could then receive the care and education needed to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction at the first signs of heart disease.

Charles Lewis Baird Jr., M.D. (1931-2008)

“I did what I came to do.” ~Dr. Baird

Charles Lewis BairdDr. Charles Lewis Baird, Jr., MD was a pioneering cardiologist and the founder and director of the Virginia Heart Institute, previously located in the building that now houses VCU Health’s Baird Vascular Institute.

Baird’s lifelong mission was to help people. He was ahead of the game in cardiac care and his “outside of the box” approaches helped develop care so many would not have to wait a year for a cardiac catheterization to find blockages.

Baird’s frustration with the standards of care – developed in the 1960s – motivated him to find new ways to diagnose cardiac disease early so that they can medically manage and promote lifestyle changes for a healthier heart. This approach helped patients remain stable and in many cases avoided angioplasty or surgery.

Baird then opened the Virginia Heart Institute — the first licensed outpatient hospital and the first freestanding cardiac catheterization laboratory in the U.S. right here in Richmond, VA. He modified the cardiac catheterization procedure, taking it from a three-day procedure to a short three-hours. Taking this technique nationwide would save billions of dollars and more importantly, countless lives.

This pioneer passed away in 2008 and on his deathbed, Baird told a local minister that he did what he came to do before departing this life.

Baird’s connection to VCU Health

Born in Richmond, Va., in 1931, Baird graduated from the University of Richmond and went on to attend the Medical College of Virginia (now the VCU Health), graduating in 1957 with his medical degree. After completing his internship and residency at MCV, Baird completed a cardiovascular fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and went on to serve in the U.S. Army and as the director of medical education at Watts Hospital in Durham, N.C. In 1965, Baird was invited to become a member of the faculty of the Department of Cardiology at the Medical College of Virginia, where he was instrumental in starting the Coronary Intensive Care Unit. Even after leaving VCU in 1972 to found the Virginia Heart Institute, Baird maintained very close relations with the physicians at the medical center, specifically in the departments of Cardiology and Radiology.

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