Nilesh Vyas, MD, Associate Chair for Neurosurgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital (IFH), fully appreciates the efforts made nationally by leaders in medical trauma services.
“We’ve made improvements by raising awareness and using various mechanisms,” he says, citing the advent of National Trauma Awareness Month in May. “In the ’80s cars got safer. In the ’90s we focused on child safety, particularly in avoiding falls from high-rise buildings. The most common problem we see in trauma now is from falls by elders.”
Dr. Vyas, who is also the liaison from neurosurgery to trauma at IFH, sees patients injured from motor-vehicle crashes and construction sites. But elderly patients who experience ground-level falls make up the majority of his patients. “Inova Fairfax Hospital wants to make sure elders check their homes for obstacles and items that pose a potential slip-and-fall risk,” he states. “We also want their primary care physicians to get their medical issues taken care of so they can avoid falls.”
Dr. Vyas, like the other neurosurgeons at IFH, typically works 60–70 hours a week in the hospital and additional hours at home, and thoroughly enjoys his work. “The best thing about this job is that there is no typical day,” he says. “Every day is a little different. Sometimes I am in the OR; other times I am seeing patients, doing administrative work or on call.”
When he joined IFH as a neurosurgeon in 2011, he found a great fit. Dr. Vyas, who is married and has a 9-month-old son, was initially attracted to Inova because of his interest in treating tumors at the base of the skull as well as cerebrovascular neurosurgery (treating aneurysms). He soon became involved with the trauma service. “It’s part of what every neurosurgeon must do at a Level 1 Trauma Center, because our neurosurgery team covers all the brain and spine trauma in the hospital,” he says.
Dr. Vyas took a particular liking to trauma. “We get to see people before surgery, especially patients with spine trauma. We talk to them to establish rapport, and we try to inspire confidence,” he says. “We want them to know that we will take good care of them.”
Care for trauma survivors goes beyond in-hospital and rehabilitative care, Dr. Vyas points out, noting Inova’s trauma survivors group. “We have quite a number of community efforts going,” he says. “We’ve got a fantastic team and we provide excellent care to the Northern Virginia area. It’s just a great place.”