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.

5 reasons you should treat varicose veins


  1. Although varicose veins may not cause problems, sometimes they cause aching pain, throbbing, and discomfort in the legs, and occasionally, varicose veins can lead to more serious health concerns.
  2. The unsightly nature of varicose veins may make patients less likely to engage in warm weather activities they not only enjoy, but are also good methods of exercise, because they are embarrassed by the appearance of their legs.
  3. Treating varicose veins may mean doing away with compression stockings or other restrictive, uncomfortable methods of long-term treatment.
  4. When home remedies such as compression stockings, elevating the legs, and avoiding long periods of continuous standing or sitting are no longer relieving the symptoms, it may be time to consider other options.
  5. Finally, today’s treatments are less invasive, less painful and require much less recovery time than treatments of the past.

What is Image Guided Tendon Treatment? How can it help my plantar fasciitis?

Image guided tendon treatment is a minimally invasive method to identify and remove pain generating scar tissue from tendons which can occur due to various musculoskeletal conditions such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, jumper’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis.

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia to numb the affected area.  An instrument the size of a toothpick is inserted into the affected area under ultrasound guidance. This allows for accurate placement of the device to reach the affected tissue. The tip releases ultrasonic energy, which breaks and emulsifies the scar tissue, which is then aspirated or removed by suction. It takes about 15 minutes and the tiny opening is covered with an adhesive bandage with no sutures required.

Treating plantar fasciitis with image guided tendon treatment enables doctors to provide a rapid and precise option for removing pathologic soft tissue without an open surgical procedure.

You will be required to wear a “walking boot” for two weeks after the intervention and you should be able to return to normal activities in approximately a month. Recovery from conventional treatment can take a few years and restrict your activities during this time. Image guided tendon treatment is also safer when compared to open surgery through an incision.


What’s involved in a Vascular Health Screening?

Vascular disease is a broad term that describes a number of conditions of the circulatory system that affect millions of Americans each year.

According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, “Sometimes people who have potentially threatening vascular disease may not be aware of its presence because warning symptoms have not yet developed. For this reason, vascular screening is used as a method to detect the presence of serious vascular disease in the general population before it has a chance to cause harm.”

Vascular diseases range from diseases of the arteries, veins and lymph vessels, to blood disorders that affect circulation. When disease occurs in the arteries, less blood is delivered to the tissues, reducing the oxygen and nutrients needed by the tissues of the body. Types of vascular disease include coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD) and peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

Diagnosis of vascular disease is made on the basis of your medical history and symptoms, but generally begins with a physical exam. Your healthcare provider will begin by checking for weak pulses in the legs. Your physical examination may also include the following:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): the ABI is a painless exam that compares the blood pressure in your feet to the blood pressure in your arms to determine how well your blood is flowing. This inexpensive test takes only a few minutes and can be performed by your healthcare professional as part of a routine exam. Normally, the ankle pressure is at least 90 percent of the arm pressure, but with severe narrowing it may be less than 50 percent. If there is an abnormal difference between the blood pressure of the ankle and arm, you may require more testing. Your doctor may recommend one of the following tests:
  • Doppler and Ultrasound (Duplex) imaging: is a non-invasive method that visualizes the artery with sound waves and measures the blood flow in an artery to indicate the presence of a blockage.
  • Angiography: This procedure is generally reserved for use in conjunction with vascular treatment procedures. During an angiogram, a contrast agent is injected into the artery and X-rays are taken to show blood flow, arteries in the legs and to pinpoint any blockages that may be present.

How should a patient prepare for a vascular screening?

  1. Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to your condition.
  2. Write down key personal information, including a family history.
  3. Make a list of all medications, including OTCs (over-the counter), vitamins and supplements that you’re taking.
  4. Write down questions you want to ask the doctor. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. Some basic questions to ask include:
  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • What are other possible causes for my condition?
  • What kinds of tests will I need?
  • What are the risks and benefits of the tests and the treatment plan you recommend?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
  • Are there any diet or activity restrictions that I need to follow, either for the tests or the treatment?
  • Should I see a specialist, and if so can VCU Baird Vascular Institute recommend a specialist?
  • What is the cost of the tests and the treatments?
  • Does insurance usually cover the tests and treatments? (You will need to ask your insurance provider directly for specific information about coverage.)
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
  • What websites do you recommend visiting for more information about my condition?

What are some clothing options to cover my port?

When considering clothing options during any kind of treatment that requires a port, it’s important to remember not to choose any articles of clothing that bind or restrict excessively, to prevent any damage to the line.

If you want to detract away from the visibility of the port, choose clothing options that are patterned to help camouflage the area. For women, consider fabrics that drape loosely around the neckline, or have pin tucks, gathers or small pleats. For men, a t-shirt worn under a button up shirt helps to smooth out the area.

If you prefer, there are garment manufacturers that make clothing pieces that are attractive, functional and allow for easy access to a variety of port locations. Here are some options that are available online:

The craft and handmade site Etsy features a number of adaptive clothing alternatives via a search of “adaptive clothing for chemo.” Here is one example.

The key is to find clothing that you can feel comfortable and confident wearing, while still keeping the area of the port uncompromised. As with many daily activities a patient with a significant illness encounters, doing what works best for you, while still maintaining comfort is the goal.

Karen’s Story

Karen was battling breast cancer for the third time after a six-year remission. She came to Baird Vascular Institute for the implantation of her port for chemotherapy. Here is her story, and how Baird helped her.

“Breast cancer runs in my family. My mom, two of my grandmothers and one of my great grandmothers had it. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and now a three-time breast cancer fighter. I have to keep a positive attitude. I’m definitely in this to win this and I will beat this again. “

What has helped you this time?

One thing that has helped me tremendously is a book I read by Barry Seigel titled Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned About Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients. It taught me to embrace the attitude of other people who have the will to fight and to live.”

Was VCU Baird convenient for you?

Another thing that has been important to me this time around is my relationship and experience with VCU Medical Center, including the VCU Baird Vascular Institute (BVI). The convenient location (of Baird) is great. The fact that I could go to this particular location for this procedure was fantastic. I didn’t have to go to the hospital and deal with all the confusion and hassle of parking and making my way to the right floor. The location really was key.

Was there one staff member at VCU Baird who stood out?

Richard, my nurse, was my primary contact through the whole process. I experienced great telephone contact prior to the appointment, and when Richard greeted me at the front desk, he was warm and welcoming, very thorough and he made me feel at ease. Richard explained how the procedure would be different, and was reassuring and straightforward. He even called to check on me, which is something I found out he does as a matter of course for every patient. Richard rocked.”

Patients like Karen are why the team at BVI works so hard to take care of our patients. Thank you, Karen, for your story and keep up the fight! Want to share your story? Email us at or give us a call, (804) 828-2600.

What can I expect from a medication port?

It’s natural to have questions after your doctor prescribes a surgically implanted port for your chemotherapy or intravenous treatments. While this medical device might seem a little strange at first, you’ll soon see that a port can be beneficial during your treatment. A port will make it easier and less painful to receive your medications, and your visits may even become shorter.

A direct connection to a vein
A port is composed of a metal or plastic body and a flexible catheter (tube). It has a self-healing silicon septum (middle) where medication is administered. The port body and catheter are concealed beneath your skin but provide easy access to your larger veins to quickly and safely deliver your medication. The port and catheter are surgically inserted under local anesthetic and conscious sedation . You will be able to go home the same day.

ShoulderwithXportispPorts are placed a few inches below the collarbone for most patients. There will be a bump under the skin where the port is located (your skin covers the port so visually you only see a bump where the port sits). You can bathe and participate in most other activities because of the self-healing septum. This design also helps prevent any infection at the site.

Receiving medication is faster and less painful
There are many benefits to having a port. Here is a short video outlining the benefits of a port:

Treatment will be simpler and faster because your port is in place. It may mean less pain and irritation because there’s no need to find a good vein each time you need an IV, blood draw, or other treatment. Also, the port will prevent your medicine from leaking into the skin which sometimes happens with other medication delivery methods. Some ports will even allow you to receive power injections for imaging through your port. Once you have a port, a member of your care team can easily begin your treatment once you arrive for therapy.

As with any surgically inserted medical device, there are some downsides. Some people may develop an infection, scarring, and limits to some activities. Your doctor can explain these effects and, together, you both can decide what is best for your situation.

At the VCU Baird Vascular Institute, we know all about placing and maintaining intravenous ports and how they benefit patients. Ports are placed at Baird Vascular Institute by our expert academic physicians who have extensive training – it is one of the most frequent procedures we perform. BVI is an ideal place, with our friendly, comfortable outpatient environment and without the hassles of dealing with a hospital operating room. For more information, please call (804) 828-2600(804) 828-2600 or email