For Dr. Mac Bowman of University Hospital, keeping people healthy and repairing their hearts is more than a career: it is his calling.
“I just know it’s why God put me here,” he said.
Bowman spends a lot of his time in the community, talking to different groups such as churches and students and city employees about ways to get healthier and avoid the need for his services as a cardiologist. And a major piece that funds those efforts is currently underway through a unique raffle.
Mercedes-Benz of Augusta and University Health Care Foundation are raffling off a bright red 2018 CLA 250 to help fund Bowman’s endowment at the foundation, which supports screenings, community education and things like helping patients pay for cardiac rehabilitation who otherwise might not get it. Tickets for a chance to win the car are $100 apiece and are on sale now at the hospital and the dealership and other places around town.
The drawing for the car will be held Feb. 22. Last year’s effort raised about $45,000 and also attracted some other big donations directly, said Bowman, medical director of University Heart and Vascular Physicians.
But Bowman has always felt the need to take on heart issues and improve heart health in the community, recognizing at an early age his own family history of heart disease and the massive toll it takes on the community.
“For me it is very personal,” he said, and one of the reasons he became a cardiologist. University has a reputation for excellence in intervening and treating heart disease and in rehabilitating heart patients but Bowman sees tremendous potential for stopping disease before it gets to the hospital.
“We really need to be just as aggressive and just as proactive and just as vigorous and just as gutsy and just as involved and committed and energized in the preventive part, in the finding out before (an event),” he said.
It’s why Bowman talks to students as young as preschool age about things like helping parents avoid smoking and their own diet and exercise.
“It is all part of that continuum,” he said. “You start with those kids, teaching them, helping to educate their teachers, their parents, so that they grow up healthier and have less potential risk as they evolve into adulthood.”
Screenings are also a big part of it, whether through community screenings or specific groups of employees, which often produces surprising results. A recent screening of utility workers, for instance, found 53 percent already had plaque accumulating in their carotid arteries, which means it is likely also beginning to pile up in blood vessels around the heart, Bowman said.
“These are people that didn’t have a clue that they even had a problem,” he said. But even better is that by making changes to diet, by exercising more, and sometimes by adding medications, those changes can be reversed, Bowman said.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org