Dr. Jose R. Tuma-Aid retires later this month, culminating nearly four decades of service to our community. During his tenure he was a catalyst in creating the Department of Cardiology at Bayhealth Medical Center.
He is a man who knew that he wanted to be a doctor from the time he was a child growing up in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
“Our pediatrician used to make house calls and when he came to our house, the whole family treated him like royalty. I guess I wanted to be treated like that,” said Dr. Tuma-Aid.
It was his sister in Philadelphia who inadvertently connected him to cardiology. Dr. Bernard Segal, a prominent cardiologist and partner at Likoff and Segal, a prestigious cardiology practice in Philadelphia, was a neighbor of Dr. Tuma-Aid’s sister and helped him get an internship at Saint Agnes Hospital on February 1, 1971.
Starting the internship on that date was difficult and unusual because hospitals typically start their post-graduate training on July 1 each year. It would have been impossible to get an internship position on February 1 without the help of Dr. Segal.
From the very first time they met, Dr. Segal he became Dr. Tuma-Aid’s role model and mentor.
“He was so nice and outstanding in every regard that I thought it would be a great idea to follow him and become a cardiologist,” said Dr. Tuma-Aid.
After completing his internship at Saint Agnes Hospital, three years of residency in internal medicine, and a two-year cardiology fellowship at the William Likoff Cardiovascular Institute at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Tuma-Aid came to Dover, where he started his private practice in August 1977, specializing in internal medicine and cardiology.
Looking back on his lengthy career, Dr. Tuma-Aid talked about incredible and spectacular changes. It’s hard to imagine that when he came to Kent General Hospital in 1977, he would have to send his patients to Crozer-Chester Hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania, a 70-mile round trip, to get an echocardiogram. An echocardiogram is now routinely done at the cardiologist’s office.
Initially cardiology was part of internal medicine, with only two practicing cardiologists.
The Department of Cardiology was approved on May 16, 2002.
Along with his colleagues Dr. Tuma-Aid started the search for a physician to perform open heart surgery at Bayhealth, a search which happily culminated in the selection of Dr. John Mannion. Later, they built an affiliation with Penn Medicine, ranked among the top ten cardiology and heart surgery programs in the nation.
“Nowadays with Bayhealth’s complete cardiovascular service line, we can offer diagnostic cardiac catheterization, interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, endovascular aneurysm repair, valve repair, and valve replacement. We are now able to provide high quality, service oriented, and expert clinical care and we are confident that Bayhealth’s cardiovascular program will continue to provide world class heart and vascular care to the community,” said Dr. Tuma-Aid.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate. I’ve had the most wonderful patients. They make me feel that this is a life worth living,” he said, reflecting on his career.
Dr. Tuma-Aid, a grandfather of three, says he will stay in the community after his retirement and take time to enjoy his grandchildren, gardening, reading, learning more about computers, playing chess, and perhaps volunteering. He will continue to work two days a week monitoring stress tests.
His wife, he said, has an extensive “honey-do list” for him.
“She has to go easy on me since I am retired,” he added.