August 14, 1998

Ownby was a driving force in cardiology care, education

Ownby was a driving force in cardiology care, education

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Dr. Fred Ownby

Dr. Fred D. Ownby, a prominent Shelbyville cardiologist who maintained close ties to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, died on Aug. 3 at Bedford County Medical Center. He was 75.

Dr. Ownby enjoyed a long and distinguished career. For five decades he played a major role in the establishment of coronary critical care both Nashville and Bedford County. He was a member of the clinical faculty in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and was instrumental in facilitating VUMC's first clinic in Shelbyville ‹ in cardiology ‹ which began four years ago.

"Fred Ownby was a great physician with all the right qualities ‹ a high energy level, strong intellect, solid professional skills and a caring and compassionate spirit," said Dr. Eugene W. Fowinkle, assistant vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "In the later years of his career, he brought the finest of medical care to Bedford County, working very closely with physicians at Vanderbilt."

Dr. Ownby practiced medicine in Nashville for 18 years, and , in 1974, he and his wife Allie relocated to Bell Buckle, near Shelbyville, to be closer to their son John.

Medicine and caring for others were callings that Dr. Ownby took to heart, and his legacy will reflect numerous contributions not just in Tennessee, but across the country.

He spent the bulk of his professional life educating others. He established the first cardiac care unit in Nashville, at Baptist Hospital, in 1965. Shortly thereafter, under VUMC auspices, he began the nation's first Cardiac Nurse Specialist Training program, which evolved into the Critical Care Nursing Program. This eight-week course provided a formal education about the nuances of critical cardiac care at an advanced level to nurses in Tennessee and surrounding states.

Dr. Ownby was instrumental in persuading the American College of Cardiology to present continuing education programs for physicians and nurses in Nashville. He was also a guiding force in establishing a national organization for Coronary Care Nurses which ultimately evolved into the largest nursing specialty group for nurses today, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Dr. Ownby served on the board of directors of the Tennessee Heart Association and was also a president of the Tennessee Society of Internal Medicine and the Middle Tennessee Heart Association. In 1994 he was awarded an Honorary Membership in the American Association of Critical Care Nurses for his contributions to the care of critically ill patients.

At Vanderbilt, his contributions to the field of cardiology were honored two years ago with the creation of the Fred D. Ownby Lectureship in Cardiology, held annually and sponsored by VUMC's division of Cardiology.

Dr. Ownby was born in Charleston, S.C., in 1923. He received his medical degree from Emory University in 1947.

He is survived by by his wife, Allie, and their children.

Memorials may be made to the Bedford County Humane Society or the Fred D. Ownby Lectureship in Cardiology at Vanderbilt.