Welcoming a new doctor to the team

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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Years ago, when my husband Timothy and I lived in Texas, I experienced cardiac arrhythmias. Heart rates in the 180s while resting were new and, frankly, quite worrisome. It felt as though I had a bird fluttering in my chest, and the shortness of breath was terrifying. 


I served as a registered nurse in a Cardiology Unit early in my career.  I knew how serious this issue could be, so I didn’t delay making an appointment with a local cardiologist. My doctor ordered an EKG, an echo stress test, and cardiac imaging. I wore Holter monitors, both short-term and long-term, and had several electrophysiologic tests to determine the root cause of my intermittent tachycardia. 

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This cardiac event marked a point in my life that I will not soon forget. My healthcare providers were my lifelines in what felt like a raging sea of fear and uncertainty. I’ve been passionate about caring for cardiac patients for most of my professional life. But after my personal experience, I learned the significance and value of having a great cardiologist. Because I had highly skilled providers who worked diligently to diagnose what turned out to be a rare disorder, I received the proper treatment. As a result, I now suffer no residual cardiac issues. This experience has since become my driving force to ensure that others receive the same quality of care. 


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 660,000 people annually die from ischemic heart disease (IHD) – this is more than 60% of all deaths. And for men and women over the age of twenty, IHD deaths are highest in the nation’s most rural counties. Folks, Polk County, falls within that demographic. 


Since coming to St. Luke’s, I’ve been working on addressing the healthcare needs of our community, with a dire focus on solving the most critical necessities. Cardiology has been a necessity in Polk County for quite some time. 


Today, I am genuinely excited to announce that one of the south’s most highly rated and premier cardiologists is joining St. Luke’s top-rated team. Dr. Evans Kemp will begin seeing patients at our Foothills Medical Associates Rural Health Clinic here in Columbus, NC, on June 1, 2022.


Dr. Kemp is a board-certified cardiologist based in Nashville, TN. He has served for many years as the co-director of Ascension St. Thomas Heart, leading a group of seventy cardiologists. He also serves as the Medical Director of Cardiac Rehab for Ascension St. Thomas West in Nashville. Dr. Kemp also served as the Medical Director for the Cardiac Hospitalist program for Ascension. He has a special interest in structural heart imaging, valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, and preventive cardiology.  


Dr. Kemp received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his graduate and medical education at UNC-Chapel Hill. He completed his Residency in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in Cardiology at Vanderbilt in Nashville. Dr. Kemp is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology and a Member of the International Society for Adult Congenital Cardiac Disease and the Scientific Council on Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association. Dr. Kemp enjoys caring for patients and their families while developing long-term relationships.


Outside the office, Dr. Kemp and his wife Jenny (a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) look forward to relocating to Polk County. Dr. Kemp enjoys exercising, traveling, and caring for their family’s animals. He and his wife have three dogs and eight horses.


Once Dr. Kemp arrives in Polk County, we will make opportunities to introduce him to our community. So stay tuned for those announcements. In addition, you can begin scheduling appointments today through Foothills Medical Associates by calling (828) 894-5627.


If you have a healthcare topic of interest or a question, send me a note at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org. Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or visit StLukesNC.org to learn about top-rated St. Luke’s Hospital and our new world-class services.