The doctor's top objective is to expand a program that he is already involved with, increasing it to a much larger scale: outreach clinics around the state for children who have congenital heart disease. Operating out of Morgantown—a city of 31,000 near the state's northern border with Pennsylvania—Rhodes works in the only center in West Virginia that performs surgery on children with congenital heart disease. Because long trips along rural roads make it difficult for residents to arrange visits for checkups, Rhodes heads out himself to make it easier for his patients.
He wants to promote and expand the outreach clinics, and emphasize the value that the clinics possess for the people of West Virginia.
"It's a great relief for families," says Rhodes. "It may cost a family $50 in gasoline to come 150 miles to see a specialist, and then 150 miles home—things like that we sometimes lose sight of when we are in an academic institution."
One tool that Rhodes says will help with a number of issues is another program that he's advocating as the new department chair: He is trying to shore up the state's telemedicine program. He has been talking to subspecialists about using telemedicine to check in on patients and believes that the technology will benefit both patients and doctors.