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Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery leadership transition

This memo is from Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, dean of the school of medicine, provost and executive vice president at the Medical College of Wisconsin; Scott Turner, president and CEO of Children’s Wisconsin Hospitals and executive vice president of Children’s Wisconsin; and Jason Jarzembowski, MD, PhD, interim chief executive officer of Children’s Specialty Group Jan. 12, 2021.

We wish to inform you that Viktor Hraska, MD, PhD, will step down from his leadership roles with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and Children’s Wisconsin at the end of 2021. He will continue to work with the team in a nonclinical capacity from 2022 through 2024, when he intends to retire. Michael Mitchell, MD, will assume the cardiothoracic leadership roles currently held by Dr. Hraska, effective Dec. 31, 2021.

These roles include Medical Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s and Chief of the Division of Congenital Heart Surgery at MCW. He also will become Surgical Director of the Herma Heart Institute (HHI) and The S. Bert Litwin Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s. We are extremely appreciative of this extended transition period to ensure stability of the program and a smooth and effective handoff of leadership responsibilities between Dr. Hraska and Dr. Mitchell.

They will work together closely over the next year on priorities that include congenital heart surgery faculty recruitment and retention, overseeing transition of cases, team management and strategic planning. Dr. Hraska was initially recruited to MCW and Children’s Wisconsin because of his unique achievements and international stature. His impact since joining us in July 2016 has been truly significant. He has been instrumental in the growth of our second opinion program and our international patient program.

Dr. Hraska was the visionary behind the now annual Heart Summit, where we host colleagues from around the world to discuss complex cases and broadcast a live operation to the audience. He has partnered with his colleagues in the HHI to develop and implement the use of our Cardiac Insight application and Technical Performance Score to improve surgical outcomes and quality, and he enacted protocols that lead to reduced case time while maintaining volume.

Dr. Hraska enhanced our research program with the addition of key recruits and with his own work on lymphatics, congenital aortic stenosis, corrected transposition of the great arteries, optimization of cardiopulmonary bypass, and hydrodynamic evaluation of arch reconstruction in the Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome population.

Since his arrival, he has performed more than 700 operations and delivered more than 50 invited presentations in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. He is the author of more than 160 articles and book chapters and three books. In 2019, he was awarded the Golden Medal of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic for his active contribution to the development of Slovak and American relations. We are truly fortunate to have someone with Dr. Mitchell’s skill and passion in place to transition into these critical leadership roles and ensure our program’s continued success moving forward.

Since joining our organizations in 2006, he has performed thousands of cardiac operations on neonates and children and has served in numerous critical leadership positions. Dr. Mitchell currently is Director of Regional Surgical Services, Adult Congenital Heart Surgery and the Residency Program in Congenital Heart Surgery.

He is a professor at MCW and also serves on the Children’s Specialty Group Board and is co-chair of the Finance Committee. In addition, he is Director of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery for the Marshfield Clinic and Children’s Wisconsin Joint Regional Program in Congenital Heart Surgery. Dr. Mitchell is very active in clinical care, education and research at the national level, and he has served as program chair for the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and the American College of Cardiology annual programs in congenital heart surgery.

He has led seven international pediatric cardiac surgical mission trips to programs in Cambodia and Peru. Over the course of his career, he has been awarded millions of dollars in grants to fund his research and discoveries. He has authored over 120 publications and holds numerous patents for FDA-approved medical devices. Dr. Mitchell and his innovative clinical and research teams have achieved international recognition.