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Huntsville Hospital’s Structural Heart, Electrophysiology Teams Celebrate 1,000th Milestone

March 12, 2024 | Reading Time: 2 minutes
A group of Huntsville Hospital Heart Center physicians take a photo with a banner celebrating 1,000 Watchman devices implanted.

Huntsville Hospital’s Structural Heart and Electrophysiology (EP) teams are celebrating the successful implantation of 1,000 WATCHMAN™ devices on patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who need an alternative to blood thinners.

The 1,000th WATCHMAN™ milestone occurred Feb. 29, 2024, placing Huntsville Hospital’s program among the top 10% in the nation.

“This milestone is a reflection of the amazing team and program at HH,” said Morgan Dennis, Vice President of The Heart Center and Cardiovascular Service Line. “Treating 1,000 patients represents countless hours of preparation, planning and teamwork by numerous HH employees dedicated to ensuring patients navigate the care pathway for treatment.”

Developed by Boston Scientific, WATCHMAN™ is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure that reduces the risk of stroke in patients by permanently closing off the left atrial appendage – the area of the heart where stroke-causing blood clots commonly form. By blocking off this area, WATCHMAN™ helps to prevent strokes as effectively as blood thinners.

The 1,000th WATCHMAN™ patient at Huntsville Hospital was a 70-year-old Madison man who was struggling with gastrointestinal bleeding related to taking blood thinners and referred to Dr. J. Scott Allison for consideration of the WATCHMAN™ device. After a successful procedure in late February, the patient is doing well.

“After transitioning off of anticoagulants, he looks forward to a better quality of life,” Dr. Allison said.

Huntsville Hospital began offering the WATCHMAN™ implant on Oct. 19, 2016, thanks to the establishment of the program by Dr. J. Scott Allison; Dr. Paul Tabereaux; Dr. Mihir Kanitkar; CRNP Jennifer Connally; and Josh Hewiett, Vice President of Physician Services (formerly Heart Center President and Cardiovascular Services Vice President).

HH’s WATCHMAN™ program has advanced tremendously since the beginning, and the following individuals should be recognized for their commitment and dedication to make it a success:

Implanting physicians:

  • Dr. J. Scott Allison
  • Dr. Mihir Kanitkar
  • Dr. Gautam Reddy
  • Dr. John Jennings
  • Dr. Alex Vasquez
  • Dr. Michael Butler
  • Dr. Quinton Foster

TEE imaging physicians:

  • Dr. Enrique Velasquez
  • Dr. Chris Roth
  • Dr. Sean Groark
  • Dr. Shi Chi Cheng

WATCHMAN™ Coordinators:

  • Karen Szymczyk and Candice Floyd (current)
  • Makala Nolen and Jen Connally (previous)


  • Morgan Dennis
  • Arin Hornsby
  • Jenna Abington
  • Harmony Sheaffer
  • Codie Vaughan
  • Michael Martin
  • Kim Taylor

We would also like to give a heartfelt thanks to the HH EP Department, Cardiac Catheterization Lab, Echocardiography Department, Cardiac Short Stay Unit, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia Department and the Heart Center for their hard work and support of this program.