By Rick Gannotta, NP, DHA, FACHE, Duke Raleigh Hospital President
After six years of service as Duke Raleigh’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Ted Kunstling is retiring, effective at the end of this year. Dr. Kunstling is a well-respected and lauded pulmonologist, but those of us at Duke Raleigh Hospital know him as a trusted colleague and teacher who has always been quick to share his vast knowledge. Most importantly, Dr. Kunstling has been a friend to those who have had the privilege of serving beside him.
He’s leaving us in good stead, though.
One of Dr Kunstling’s priorities has been to encourage teamwork between our medical staff and hospital administration to better address the challenges facing our hospital and health care system in the 21st Century. He is convinced that physicians and surgeons must be part of the solution. To this end, he has aided development of and has participated in Duke Raleigh Hospital’s Physician Leadership Training Program held in 2012-2013 and has sought to strengthen relationships between medical staff and administration. He has advocated for Duke Raleigh doctors and staff to have “a place at the table” within the Duke University Health System.
Dr. Kunstling is as much an expert on Duke Raleigh as he is in pulmonary medicine. Dr. Kunstling began practice in 1975 as Raleigh’s first board-certified pulmonologist, has been on the hospital’s medical staff since 1978 and has helped shape what Duke Raleigh is today. He has been affiliated with Duke University since enrolling as an undergraduate in 1961. He also earned his medical degree from Duke before completing his residency and fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Since 2008, Dr. Kunstling served as editor-in-chief of MDialogue, our hospital’s medical staff newsletter. He’s always enjoyed communicating with fellow physicians about the many changes and new developments constantly occurring at Duke Raleigh Hospital. He also organized a successful series of primary care symposia and other CME events. Over the years, Dr. Kunstling has served in numerous medical leadership roles in Raleigh and has always worked to serve his fellow physicians.
His commitment to the health of Wake County residents has been steadfast. Dr. Kunstling served uninsured patients at the Open Door Clinic, a part of the Raleigh Urban Ministries from 1994 through 2001, and he is currently a board member of Urban Ministries. From 2002 until 2009, he served as a pulmonary consultant for Project Access sponsored by the Wake County Medical Society.
In 2013, he represented Duke Raleigh Hospital on the Wake County Community Health Assessment Team which seeks to identify, prioritize and address Wake County’s greatest health needs. He’s always believed that access to healthcare is deserved by all human beings and that those blessed with talents and resources should help those who are less fortunate and in need.
Dr. Kunstling has maintained a commitment to his community and church in nonmedical ways as well. He has served as president of the Executives’ Club of Raleigh and of the Raleigh Civil War Round Table. Currently he is a member of the North Carolina Symphony Board. He has held numerous leadership positions in the United Methodist Church and is a certified lay speaker.
Dr. Kunstling has earned many honors in his career, but one of the most prestigious is his 1981 induction by Gov. Jim Hunt into The Order of the Longleaf Pine. He earned that recognition for his chairmanship of the Governor’s Brown Lung Study Committee which developed guidelines utilized by the North Carolina Industrial Commission when evaluating textile workers’ compensation claims for brown lung (byssinosis). As a result of this work, he was also invited to testify before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives chaired by then Representative Al Gore.
Dr. Kunstling served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1970 to 1972. He was Battalion Surgeon for 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in West Pacific and Viet Nam and, subsequently, a general medical officer at the Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Washington, leaving the active duty as a lieutenant commander.
As Dr. Kunstling approaches the end of his career in December, he has been working closely with our new CMO, Michael D. Spiritos, MD for the past few months to ensure a smooth transition.
Best wishes, Ted, on a well-earned retirement. You have the gratitude of the entire staff and all the patients you’ve cared for – and those whose care you’ve influenced. We’ll miss your leadership, but we’re grateful you’ve trained and mentored a generation of doctors. You’ve left an indelible impression on countless healthcare professionals and will continue to inspire and educate others who join Duke Raleigh long after you’ve retired.