Staff photo by Tim Barber / Dr. Thomas Devlin

Dr. Thomas Devlin, a Chattanooga neurologist who helped Erlanger Health System gain national and international recognition in stroke care, has agreed with Erlanger to part ways, he said in a message to the Times Free Press.

Devlin said he could not provide any additional details about his departure but that his wife, cardiologist Dr. Carol Gruver, had also left the health system.

In his role, Devlin oversaw Erlanger's neurology group of more than 20 clinicians. He co-directed the Erlanger Southeast Regional Stroke Center — one of the busiest stroke centers in the world with over 55 referring hospitals supplying service to over 40,000 square miles.

He remains in his position as the chairman of neurology at University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga.

Devlin was heavily involved in clinical research and bringing pharmaceutical and device-related trials to Erlanger.

Most recently, he worked to develop and utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning in partnership with a pair of California-based companies to diagnose stroke patients.

His philanthropic initiatives brought more than $4.5 million to Erlanger, according to his resume.

Devlin earned a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in 1989 and completed his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine in 1991. He went on to complete his residency at Duke University and a fellowship at the University of Virginia.

In 2019, he was chosen by the area's three health systems and medical society as the winner of the Times Free Press Champions of Health Care award in Innovation.

During an interview for the Champions of Health Care edition of Edge Magazine last year, Devlin said his goal moving ahead was to train the next generation of physicians to take over for what he and the team were undertaking, and he said he anticipated staying around for the next decade or so.

"We changed the world in terms of stroke care," he said. "We're the No. 1 center that led the world to this new generation of stroke treatment. This team led the world in this way. I want to continue to be an integral part of that team."

Additionally, he said he wanted to continue to work with the Erlanger administration.

"I'd love to, for the rest of my life, just live in this space where we have the ability to work with the best scientific minds in the world and bring that to the bedside," Devlin said.

One of his biggest goals at the time was to see a $40 million Erlanger neuroscience building next to the Children's Hospital Kennedy Outpatient Center to bring the team under one roof, he said.

"It's to construct a building where not only stroke research is done but doing for other areas of neuroscience exactly what we've done for strokes," he said, referring to such treatment areas as Alzheimer's, movement disorders, neuro-muscular disorders, seizures, sleep disorders and others.

Devlin and Gruver are now among a group of more than 20 other physicians who have left Erlanger in the past year.

When Dr. Will Jackson, Erlanger's former chief medical officer, became Erlanger's new CEO in September, one of his primary directives from the hospital's board of trustees was to improve physician relations.

Erlanger officials provided the following statement regarding Devlin's departure and physician turnover at Erlanger:

"As with any health system, medical staffs are rarely static, with physicians departing and joining hospital staffs on an ongoing basis. Reasons for leaving a healthcare setting — as with any workplace — are also varied, from retirement, work/life balance and meeting the needs of aging parents or additional training outside the area.

"Erlanger is no exception. From January through May of this year five new physicians have joined Erlanger's medical staff, ranging from OB-GYN and orthopedic specialists to pediatric and neonatology physicians. (Some are new to the area, some come from other area hospitals.)

"In the coming months, another 20 physicians are joining Erlanger's medical staff, including cardiologists, gastroenterologists, neurosurgeons, family medicine practitioners, critical care intensivists, pulmonary/critical care specialists, sports medicine and pediatric specialists.

"Under Dr. Jackson's leadership this represents 25 new physicians joining the Erlanger Health System this year, in addition to 11 new physician assistants and nurse practitioners joining various medical practices. Ongoing recruitment efforts will unquestionably add to this number of physicians and mid-level providers joining the Erlanger Health System in the coming months."

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