Our History

In 1975, Dr. Richard Pratt completed his cardiology fellowship at the West Roxbury VA Hospital in Boston. His first instinct was to accept a position as Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at that VA hospital, but had second thoughts about an academic position. Being more clinically-oriented, he decided to go into private practice and learned about a position opening in Lowell. For a year and a half, he was the Director of the ICU at the former St. Joseph's Hospital and worked out of a private office in Chelmsford.

As his practice began to quickly grow, Dr. Pratt invited his medical school colleague, Dr. Kenneth Murphy, then in a practice in New Jersey, to join his practice. In December of 1976, Merrimack Valley Cardiology was founded.  The two physicians decided to concentrate solely on cardiology issues, and expanded the practice to the former St. John’s Hospital in Lowell. They prided their practice on hard work and providing high-quality cardiology care to the Lowell community.

These principles proved highly successful, and Merrimack Valley Cardiology gained an excellent reputation. The practice found and cared for a large population of untreated coronary and valvular heart disease in the community. These physicians prided themselves on providing the former mill town with the best quality care that the Boston cardiology community could offer.

In 1980, Dr. Robert Shulman joined the practice after his training at the West Roxbury VA Hospital. When the old Medical Associates in Chelmsford dissolved in 1988, Dr. Jose Carrion and his large patient following were absorbed into Merrimack Valley Cardiology.  At this time, the practice began playing a larger role at Lowell General Hospital. The practice expanded to another office on Bridge Street by the Dracut line.  This expansion created an office-based cardiac rehabilitation facility for the practice.

In 1989, Dr. Richard Birkhead joined the practice from his training at the St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. In 1991, he performed the first cardiac catheterization in Lowell at the Lowell General Hospital. Within the next few years, Dr. James Waters joined the practice after his training at St. Elizabeth's. He was one of the first physicians to provide the patients of Merrimack Valley Cardiology the opportunity to have angioplasty at the Lahey Clinic.

Advancements in cardiology, more cardiac catheterization and angioplasty procedures and a higher quality of care meant more patients for the practice.  Dr. Harsh Sanchorawala and Dr. Walter Jo were added after their training program at Boston University.  These physicians helped fill the void in patient care, and procedural and noninvasive testing support.  Dr. Eric Ewald from the University of Massachusetts in Worcester was hired in rapid succession.

When coronary angioplasty came to the Lowell hospitals in 2004, Merrimack Valley Cardiology recruited additional interventional (angioplasty) cardiologists, Dr. Omar Ali and Dr. Kirk MacNaught, who had also trained in Worcester.  With the Department of Public Health sponsored-study of angioplasty in community hospitals, Lowell General Hospital and Saints Medical Center now perform a wide variety of emergency and elective angioplasty procedures.

MVC cardiologists at Dr. Shulman's retirement partyDr. Arash Tabaee, who trained at Boston University and was practicing in New York City, was brought on and added considerable knowledge of noninvasive testing.  In 2007, the technology of cardiology had expanded and Merrimack Valley Cardiology hired Dr. Benjamin Smith, a specialist in cardiac electrophysiology trained at Lahey Clinic.  He brought a great amount of expertise in rhythm management and device implantation, such as defibrillators, to the practice.  In August 2008, Dr. Christopher Hong joined Merrimack Valley Cardiology following his extensive non-invasive training at Tufts Medical Center.  With the impending retirement of Dr. Shulman and cutbacks for Dr. Carrion, we hired Dr. Brian Cullingford, also with extensive non-invasive cardiology training  from his education at New York Presbyterian Hosital, in 2014.

After thirty years of service to the Lowell community, Dr. Pratt retired in 2005 and Dr. Murphy followed in 2007.

In May of 2011, Merrimack Valley Cardiology integrated into Lowell General Hospital in an effort to provide care in a more coordinated and efficient manner.  Finally, in June of 2012, the practice moved from Village Square in Chelmsford to 14 Research Place in North Chelmsford.

Just as Dr. Pratt and Dr. Murphy had years before, Merrimack Valley Cardiology will continue the tradition and ideals of high-quality cardiology care in the Greater Lowell community.