Who we are: Dr. Keith Hickey

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 6, 2009


In observance of Doctor’s Day, which was Monday, this week’s subject for “Who We Are” is a physician at River Parishes Hospital

LAPLACE — There aren’t too many jobs that come with as many challenges as the ones faced by heart doctors on a day-to-day basis, but that suits Dr. Keith Hickey just fine.

Hickey, a cardiologist with Louisiana Heart Center at River Parishes Hospital, has spent most of his medical career seeking out a good challenge. After graduating at the top of his class from Xavier University’s School of Pharmacy in New Orleans, Hickey spent seven years working as a pharmacist, but he wanted more.

“I liked the work, but the job started to become a bit mundane after a while,” Hickey said. “I wanted a new challenge. I wanted an opportunity to take care of patients from the driver’s seat.”

After spending seven years away from school, Hickey retuned to the classroom at 32 to pursue his medical degree. His original intention was to go into surgery, but somewhere in his training he realized that it just wasn’t enough.

“Instead of just performing the procedures, I wanted to be the one to diagnose the problem and determine the right method to fix it,” Hickey said. “That’s how I moved from surgery to physician.”

Hickey said returning to medical school later in life was a great advantage for him because he found himself more concentrated on his studies instead of being more interested in going out every night. The only drawback was that the work was more physically demanding.

“It was quite humbling to go back as an older person and become a subordinate,” said Hickey. “It was definitely a unique situation taking orders as an intern.”

In 2002, Hickey earned his degree from LSU and moved on to cardiology training at Ochsner in New Orleans. He said he optioned for cardiology because it is a branch of medicine that tends to be much more “hands-on.”

“I like that I can diagnose problems and still have the opportunity to conduct procedures,” Hickey said. “There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction in deciding what needs to be done to treat a specific problem.”

After spending about nine months practicing on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain and working at clinics in Slidell, Covington and Hammond, Hickey came to River Parishes Hospital in August of 2008 and is the only cardiologist at the hospital. Needless to say, his days can be rather busy.

“There are a lot of heart disease sufferers in this area, so my days can get rather long,” said Hickey. “But the advantage of being the only doctor is that I get to run the clinic the way I want. I get to manage the patients the way I want. I’m aggressive, but passionate. All decisions are made with the patient’s well being in mind.”

The small bit of free time that Hickey gets outside of the doctor’s office is spent with his wife and two young boys.