Wichita Business Journal
December 21, 2007
Galichia finds joy in bringing high-tech medicine home
By: Adam Knapp
Joseph Galichia has always thought of himself as a physician, first and foremost. Being a businessman was down the list somewhere.
Nonetheless, the business that is Galichia Medical Group has its fingerprints all over Kansas, all because of Galichia's vision to bring the state world-class cardiovascular and overall health care.
Galichia is a Kansan, through and through. He is from southeast Kansas, got a degree at Kansas State University and his doctorate from the University of Kansas. He studied overseas, learning cardiovascular techniques, and brought them home to improve health care in the heartland.
Like most cardiologists, he could have practiced anywhere in the world. But he chose Wichita, partly so he could make frequent trips back to the family farm between Arm and Girard.
On every trip, at least one doctor between here and there would ask Galichia if he could stop by and give advice. That's when Galichia started to realize the need – and business potential – of a clinic network in Kansas. He started in 1976 with Pittsburg and Parsons in southeast Kansas.
Those clinics eventually spread out to towns like Russell, Salina, Dodge City, Liberal and Great Bend.
"It's kind of amazing that Wichita and Kansas as a whole is so up-to-date in the type of medicine that relates to what Galichia practices," says Robert Huebner, a vascular surgeon who practices in Pittsburg. "I think without Jody, Kansas would be following people instead of leading people on a national level. Jody is so farsighted about new technology and cardiological medicine.
"If I'm starting to do something new, I can pretty much be sure that he's been doing it for a few months or a few years. I have a great deal of respect for him in that regard."
Galichia, 65, says he wouldn't have wanted to do it anywhere other that Kansas. Galichia currently conducts 36 outreach clinics on a monthly basis.
"I felt when I came back, I know the people, I'm from rural Kansas, and it's easy for me to relate to people here," Galichia says. "They're the people I know and I love. I never saw the need to go anywhere else. The idea of taking technology and medical care to rural Kansas is still the most gratifying thing I've ever been involved with."
A Superb entrepreneur
The defining moment in Galichia's career may have come when he was vacationing in Germany in 1978. He read in a foreign newspaper about Swiss physician Andreas Gruentzig, who had treated an obscured blood vessel by using a balloon to widen it.
Galichia found the doctor, moved to Switzerland, and dedicated his life to becoming an expert on angioplasty under Gruentzig's watch. Two years later, he was performing the procedure in the United States.
He has since instructed hundreds of cardiologists in the technique.
That story tells a lot not only about Galichia's persistence, but why he is so willing to listen to the ideas of others, no matter how strange they may seem.
"Never refuse to listen to somebody's idea," Galichia says. "In order to be a good physician, you have to listen. You have to learn every moment."
Galichia Medical Group, a medical practice focused on cardiovascular care, was founded in 1984, followed by Galichia heart Hospital in 2001. In the past four years. Galichia's hospital has added a 27-bed medical surgical telemetry expansion, a second endoscopy suite and a third operating room.
In 2006, Wichita's first 64-slice CT scanner was brought to Galichia Heart Hospital, which added a 14-bed, lever 3 full-service emergency room.
Jamie Coulter, who has been on the board for Galichia Medical Group, says he has always been impressed by Galichia's business savvy.
Huebner agrees, saying that business sense is one of Galichia's many gifts.
"He is a superb entrepreneur," Huebner says. "Sometimes you mistrust that in a doctor, because doctors aren't supposed to be businessmen. Jody is an outstanding doctor who happens to have brilliant business sense. The fact that he's a good businessman has had a big impact on the practice of medicine, and that's benefited the whole state. The practice of medicine in Kansas would be a lot more rural and a lot further behind the rest of the country if it weren't for Jody."
Galichia says his business approach has been fairly simple. He has never been intimidated to do a project he believed in, even if it looked as if the odds were long of being successful.
"If I think it can contribute to the community, I'll try in every way to get it done," Galichia says "Many times I've found that the things that seem nearly impossible to do are actually easier than you think it would be. If there are detours – insurance companies, manufacturers, whatever – you don't shut your eyes to an overriding feeling, was this something that could be done and should be done?"
Still business represents work to Galichia. Practicing medicine does not. Galichia says being a surgeon is "pure joy, something that makes me look forward to going to work each and every day."
Galichia says since the day he learned about cardiology, he knew what his calling was.
"I saw there patients who were in terrible, terrible shape," he said. "And following surgery…They could go home and be great. Their whole life was different. To me, cardiology was the ultimate experience. It was a defining moment for me. I was like man; this is the place to be."
2600 N Woodlawn,
Wichita, KA 67220.
GMED: (316) 684-3838.
GHH: (316) 858-2610
Medical clinic, including a general acute care hospital with 82 licensed beds.
Employees: 200 in GMED; 360 in GHH
Dr. Joseph P. Galichia. . . . . . . . . . . . . Founder
Dr. Gregory R Boxberger . . . . . . . . . . President and Medical Director
William D Wild . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CEO
Joseph Galichia performs the first angioplasty in Kansas.
Galichia forms the Galichia Cardiovascular Group, establishing outreach clinics throughout the state. He also forms Galichia Laboratories.
Galichia establishes the first free-standing catheterization lab in the United States.
Galichia helps establish the Research Institute of Kansas.
Internal Medicine specialty is added to The Galichia Cardiovascular Group and the corporation name changes to The Galichia Medical Group.
Galichia establishes a rural health clinic in Fredonia. Thoracic surgery specialty is added to The Galichia Medical Group.
Galichia begins hosting peripheral vascular disease training courses, attracting specialty physicians' from around the country.
GALICHIA HEART HOSPITAL
Galichia Medical Group moves to its current location at 2600 N Woodlawn, and Galichia Heart Hospital opens.
The hospital adds a 27-bed medical surgical telemetry expansion
Galichia Medical Group establishes a family practice clinic in Winfield. The hospital adds a second endoscopy suite.
Wichita's first 64-slice CT scanner is added to the hospital, as well as a third operating room and a 14-bed, level 3 full-service emergency room.
Galichia Medical Group establishes a family practice clinic in Independence.
Galichia Medical Group clinics
- Arkansas City
- Dodge City
- Great Bend