Kent lab Dr. Baute fought so hard for, dedicated in his honor

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When it comes to providing the best care for patients, Dr. Robert E. Baute doesn’t compromise.

That was the message as the Kent Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Lab was dedicated to the man who fought so hard to make it a reality. Baute made state health department approval of the lab, which started offering elective coronary angioplasty in August 2015 and is expected to commence handling emergency cases by the end of this year, a crusade that spanned 15 years.

While dedication of the lab was a focal point at Tuesday’s ceremony, it was Baute’s years at Kent and his career as a doctor that held the spotlight.

The son of a doctor who was instrumental in starting Kent Hospital, Baute grew up in Warwick and East Greenwich. He was a hard worker. He raised chickens, sold eggs and worked the grounds of Goddard Park. He attended Yale University on a ROTC scholarship and was commissioned into the Navy in 1959 as an ensign. Upon completion of his military service, Baute attended medical school at Hahnemann Medical College, now Drexel University, and completed his medical residency at the University of Vermont. He has given more than 35 years of service to Kent, 10 of them as its president and CEO.

“During his clinical career and following his transition into hospital administration, Bob took particular pride in his hospital and the community it served,” said Dr. Herbert Brennan, past president of Kent, who spoke about his friend of the past 25 years.

Brennan said that Baute “will readily tell you that he is most proud of how the relationship between doctor and nurse has evolved during his tenure from supervisor/subordinate relationship to one where both now work as colleagues and members of a comprehensive team.”

In his quest for state approval, Baute persistently pointed to the Kent service area and how lives could be saved if coronary angioplasty could be performed at Kent rather than losing valuable time transporting patients to Providence. The procedure, often used for patients suffering from a sudden heart attack, opens a blocked coronary artery by inflating a balloon and inserting a stent in the artery. A key argument of the state was that Kent did not have the capability of performing open-heart surgery should complications develop while performing a coronary angioplasty.

Ironically, after years of pushing for approval and finally gaining it, the hospital wasn’t fully prepared to commit to 24/7 emergency coronary angioplasty.

After a hiatus of several years, Kent Hospital and Care New England entered into a clinical affiliation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Boston in 2013 and later that year reapplied for approval from the Health Services Council. Kent went ahead with one cardiac catheterization lab, starting with the performance of elective procedures while a second lab was built. With a second lab, the hospital is capable of taking on an emergency case should a lab be occupied with an elective case.

In his remarks, Baute confessed that a lab at Kent “occupied my thoughts for many years.” He said the hearings were “tough,” and over the years he came to know those reviewing Kent’s requests by first name.

“They gave into my desires because they were tired of seeing my face,” he surmised. He said those who succeeded him have worked hard to achieve the labs and the quality of care they provide. He also thanked those who financially contributed to make the labs costing a total of about $4.5 million possible.

“This is really about teamwork,” he said.

Dr. Joseph Spinale, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Kent, who served as emcee, described the labs as “glorious space” and second to none in the state. Dr. Chester Hedgepeth, executive chief of cardiology, called the labs “vitally important” to the 300,000 people who live in Kent’s service area. Also speaking were Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, cath lab director Dr. Edward Thomas, and Kent president and COO Dr. Michael Dacey.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer our community the best possible care close to home while helping to save lives and keep people well,” Dacey said in a statement.

Brennan said it is fitting that the lab be named for Baute.

“We honor a man but celebrate a legacy. For we are all better for having known him. He has helped lift the tide of professionalism, dignity, proper conduct, service to others and to country, love of family and friends. He is many things to many people. Physician, father, grandfather and friend…devoted, loving husband. But above all, in the tradition of his father before him, a gentleman.”

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