By Kathy Day
From the moment you meet Dr. John Rogers, you are taken by his good heart. And it’s not just because he’s a cardiologist.
Just look around his office at Scripps Green Hospital and you’ll see Santa’s toy bag by his chair and a Santa suit hanging on his door so he’s ready when called on to be the hospital’s resident Jolly Old Soul. Or take a gander at his collection of Bugs Bunny animation cells – medicine-related, of course.
Better yet, listen to the longtime Carmel Valley resident talk about his patients, his family and the foundation that offers free cardiac screening for teens and you want to stick around and hear more. The son of a police officer and a nurse who grew up in south Orange County, he said he knew as a child that he wanted to be a doctor.
“I asked for doctor’s kits every year and I loved helping people,” he said, noting that at first he wanted to be a pediatrician. But that changed in medical school when he had to treat abused children. “I couldn’t find the compassion for parents who beat their children.”
Instead, he fell in love with pediatric cardiology and, with a father-in-law who was a cardiologist, he shifted gears and finished with a specialty in cardiac surgery.
When he went to college, he had a lot of fun before realizing “you can’t have all the fun you want,” he said with a wry grin. After getting a bachelor’s degree in biology at Point Loma College and a master’s in science in physiology at San Diego State, he headed off to University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School where he earned his medical degree in 1990.
He returned to San Diego to do an internship and residency at Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital, where he stayed until 1996 before moving to Kentucky to practice for a few years. He returned to Scripps in 1999 to become director of the Cardiac Pacing and Tachyarrhythmia Device Therapy group.
He is especially interested in treating people with heart rhythm problems, trying to find out why they pass out or get dizzy, and identifying problems before they become life threatening. He’s become known throughout the country for the work he does and is often called to consult with companies developing new ways to assist heart patients. He’s published a number of peer-reviewed articles and has been a principal investigator and co-investigator on a number of device studies.
“I’ve been doing this long enough and have relationships with people who make devices that now they hear what I say,” he said. “Companies will listen to opinion leaders.”
As he spoke, he held up a small device about a third the size of an AAA battery – the world’s smallest implantable cardiac monitoring device. It enables wireless remote monitoring through the Carelink Network so that if the patient has any type of cardiac irregularity the doctor will receive an alert.
In February, Rogers was the first physician to implant Medtronic’s LINQ ICM into a 71-year-old San Diegan who had a history of heart palpitations and a previous heart valve replacement.