Honoring Dr. Hugh Hyatt

After 37 years of surgical excellence, Dr. Hugh Hyatt is retiring from the Premier Surgical Associates office at Fort Sanders Regional. During his tenure, Dr. Hyatt served as Chief of Staff and on the Creditentials Committee. He was a founding members of the Thompson Cancer Survival Center Board of Directors. In this blog, some of Dr. Hyatt’s friends and colleagues talk about his lifelong dedication to serving his patients and community.

In Hollywood, heroes are usually heralded for dramatic, daring feats of bravery, often while  wearing a colorful costume or cape.  But in real life, it’s sometimes the gentle individual who has quietly dedicated a lifetime to care, honor, and service that is the greater hero to his patients, colleagues, and community.

“He’s never been a glory person or a showman. Dr. Hyatt is just that steady, easy-going individual that you trust and look up to as a person and a physician,” explains Fort Sanders Regional nurse Cathy Roberts.

Dr. Hyatt with the staff of Premier Surgical at Fort Sanders.

Knoxville vascular surgeon Hugh C. Hyatt, M.D., is someone Roberts has known both professionally and personally for nearly thirty years.  As a longtime cardiac and emergency room nurse, Roberts has observed firsthand the gentle approach Hyatt takes with patients.

“Even in the busy ER, he always took the time to put people at ease.  He would explain everything and answer all their questions. It didn’t matter what else was going on around you,  Dr. Hyatt focused on each patient and let them know they were his number one priority,” says Roberts.

Later, when Roberts experienced vascular issues herself, she chose Dr. Hyatt as her own physician.

“Being in healthcare, I knew Dr. Hyatt had a great success rate as a vascular surgeon,” explains Roberts. “But I also saw how well he treated his patients.  He’s such a good person -I would trust him with my life.”

Dr. Hyatt has been earning the trust of patients in East Tennessee since coming to Knoxville in 1976, as the city’s very first Fellowship-trained vascular surgeon. He has played an important role in delivering and improving best surgical care to people in the region.

As a young surgeon in Knoxville, Dr. Hyatt quickly gained a lot of hands-on experience. “We worked all the time -we did everything,” remembers Hyatt’s longtime Premier Surgical Associates partner, Dr. Richard A. Brinner.

“We took care of all the trauma surgical call in Knoxville, and saw patients at three different hospitals, going back and forth between Fort Sanders, Baptist and St. Mary’s.”  Dr. Brinner says Dr. Hyatt earned a reputation as “hard working and intelligent.”

The life of a surgeon was non-stop and very demanding.  “Back then, physicians and surgeons were trained that you’ve got your patient, your practice, and you’ve got your family,” explains Dr. Brinner.

Dr. Hyatt agrees and credits his wife Jeanne of 45 years, for understanding the personal sacrifice required to be a good physician.

“Physicians coming out of med school now have different expectations for their lives and work load,” explains Dr. Hyatt.  “When I became a physician in the 1960s, it wasn’t just a job,” says Dr. Hyatt. “It was your whole life.”

Dr. Hyatt’s desire to take care of others was influenced by his own father. As a boy, Hugh C. Hyatt, M.D., remembers watching his dad care for patients as a general family physician in the tiny town of Covington, Tennessee.

“My dad loved his patients. They were like family to him, and were part of his life,” says Dr. Hyatt. “He didn’t want to retire until he was 90. He practiced medicine until he died at age 85.”

When Hyatt expressed an interest in medicine, his father encouraged him to pursue a surgical specialty.  He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Memphis in 1967, and then completed his residency in general surgery and fellowship in vascular surgery at Emory University.  Vascular surgery was a new speciality, and Dr. Hyatt was among the first 16 fellowship-trained physicians in the country.

That knowledge and expertise is something Dr. Hyatt has generously shared with others in the medical community.

“Dr. Hyatt is part of the backbone of our medical staff,” explains Jan Adam, Medical Staff Coordinator at  Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. “He’s a mentor and role model to other physicians.”

Dr. Hyatt has long served in physician leadership positions as Chief of Staff at Fort Sanders and as an influential member of the medical center’s Physician Credentialing Committee for more than two decades.

“Dr. Hyatt has always been a voice of reason on the Credentialing Committee,” says Adam. “The committee approves new physicians and sometimes disciplines medical staff members. That can be tough, and Dr. Hyatt is seen as a calming force.”

Dr. Hyatt was also instrumental in improving and expanding healthcare in Knoxville. He was among the establishing members of the Thompson Cancer Survival Center Board of Directors.

“He was very involved in setting the structure for the cancer center,” says Thompson Cancer Survival Center Director of Development, Sharon Mullins. “Dr. Hyatt helped take cancer care in Knoxville to the next level with the development of our community outreach, clinical trials and patient care standards.”

Patients and colleagues of Dr. Hyatt’s say it’s his unwavering dedication to serving others that makes him a hero.

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