Voice of Indy 500: “Hip Surgery Relieved My Pain”

Long-time Indy 500 announcer Bob Jenkins is recovering from hip replacement surgery performed by Doctor R. Michael Meneghini, Director, Indiana University Health Hip and Knee Center and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Indiana University School of Medicine.

He went to his first Indianapolis 500 qualification in 1957 and three years later attended his first race with his dad. Since then Bob Jenkins has been hooked on the Indianapolis 500. In fact, he’s been to every race since 1966.

For years, his voice has been heard throughout the month of May. He worked for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network from 1979 to 1980 and also for ABC-TV for several years and now works for the public address system.

“Everything in my life revolves around the race,” said Jenkins, 70.

So it made sense that when he decided to have a hip replacement, he planned the surgery for the month following the Indy 500. First the pain in his left hip was somewhat tolerable. But as time went on the discomfort grew worse – especially after he had been sitting for long periods of time. He visited several doctors and x-rays confirmed that he had arthritis in his left hip. A friend recommended Jenkins visit IU Health surgeon Dr. R. Michael Meneghini.

“It was to a point where I was limping and people would ask what was wrong. At times the pain would take my breath away,” said Jenkins. Surgery was scheduled for June 4 at IU Health Saxony.

***

“The best candidate for hip replacement is someone with end-stage debilitating osteoarthritis, who remains active and has failed non-operative measures such as medications or sometimes injections,” said Dr. Meneghini. Up to the point of surgery, Jenkins had used over-the-counter medication to try to mitigate pain.

His surgery involved removing the diseased femoral head (the ball of the joint) and the socket joint and replacing it with a stem down the femoral bone (thigh bone) with a new ball attached to the top. The procedure then involved placing an implant into the pelvis that has a polyethylene liner (the socket) that accepts the ball and acts as the new hip joint.

Between 100-120 total hip and knee replacement procedures are performed monthly at IU Health Saxony. Dr. Meneghini estimates 95 percent of the hip replacements last about 20 years.

Working with a team in the operating room, Dr. Meneghini performs six to eight surgeries a day.

“I decided to go into hip and knee replacement because I am good with my hands,” said Dr. Meneghini, who was an engineer before becoming a physician. “I wanted to help people who had painful and debilitating hip and knee disease walk and stay active. I am truly blessed that I love and have a passion for hip and knee replacement, and that I can provide a good life for my wife and five children, doing something that I look forward to each and every day.”

And he especially looks forward to seeing his patients continue with their typical lifestyles. In many cases, patients are up walking the same day and are generally walking with minimal pain in three to four weeks.

***

Two weeks following surgery, Jenkins was walking around his Crawfordsville home without assistance.

“I’d tell anyone who is considering the surgery, don’t hesitate. It’s everything everyone told me it would be,” said Jenkins. “They said you’ll be up walking the day of the surgery and I was.”

Jenkins said he doesn’t like to be singled out for his work with the Indy 500, giving credit to a crew of talented individuals. And he adds he’s no different than any other patient when it comes to surgeries. He’s had several in his life including a colon resection resulting from a cancer diagnosis in 1983. Nearly 30 years later the disease again struck his family when his high school sweetheart and wife of 43 years, Pam, was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She died in 2012 and the same year, during a practice session at the Indy 500, Jenkins announced his retirement from network television. He continues his work as an announcer for the Speedway.

A room in his home serves as a sort of museum illustrating his years of dedication, service, and just love for motor sports. He talks about that first race in 1960 where he sat in Grandstand C and stood up every lap to see who was leading in turn four. He fell in love with the sport and hoped to attend every year. But there were other things on the horizon for the 12-year-old Jenkins that sometimes got in the way of race day – like his high school senior trip to Washington, DC. that happened to fall during race weekend.

“Everyone else was touring the Capitol and I stayed on the bus with my ear to a transistor because I didn’t want to miss the race,” said Jenkins. Aside from the racing he’s a self-proclaimed music guru. Over the years he has collected about 7,000 vintage 45 records – all catalogued in their cases and displayed in a custom-made storage bin. A framed poster of “The Teddy Bears,” a pop music group from the late 1950s; and a newspaper article recounting the Feb. 3, 1959 plane crash that claimed the life of Buddy Holly are displayed on the wall.

Racing memorabilia surrounds the musical treasures. Shelves on one wall are lined with his collection of 33 die-cast roadsters. There is a sign from his boyhood home of Liberty that reads: “Home of Bob Jenkins – Radio voice of the Indy 500;” original prints of the pagoda; a tire signed by two-time Indy 500 winner the late Dan Wheldon, and a racing helmet signed by all the drivers in the starting field. The helmet was given to Jenkins for his final TV broadcast of 2012 the year Ed Carpenter won the Indy 500. Also in his collection is the green flag he waved to signal the start of practice on the day he announced his retirement from network television.

There’s one treasure that is not part of the motorcar collection. It’s too big to fit in Jenkins’ home and it symbolizes yet another new hobby.

Last year, he purchased a yellow 1960 Thunderbird and named it “Big Bird.”

“Now that I can get around better, I’m looking forward to cleaning and polishing it and taking it to cruise-ins,” said Jenkins. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and now I have the time.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Behind The Scenes: Photographer Works Nights Inside Methodist’s ER

Daiyawn Smith is a photographer and videographer by trade. At night, he welcomes patients to Methodist Hospital, helping them navigate their financial journey.

The best photos are the ones of people – candid and not posed.

“People living in the moment,” says Daiyawn Smith. “The smiles. The expressions on their faces.”

The raw emotions. The sadness. The happiness. The relief. The joy.

Smith sees all of that inside IU Health Methodist Hospital’s emergency department. It’s a place of emotions. A place that, in it’s own unedited and magical way is a beautiful picture.

Of course, Smith can see that perfectly. He is, by trade, a photographer and videographer. 

By day, he takes photos – engagements, open houses, graduations and parties. He recently took a trip to New York City and shot photos in Times Square.  

By night – from 4:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. — he is a financial navigator inside Methodist’s ED. He welcomes patients and helps them with questions and concerns they have relating to insurance and other financial needs.

“I see a lot,” says Smith, who graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 2017 with a degree in telecommunications and a minor in African American diaspora studies. “You get a lot of emotions. It gets personal.”

But it’s also fun and rewarding, he says.

Smith, of course, doesn’t bring a camera to the hospital. But anywhere else he goes – anywhere – he has a camera with him. On runs and hikes. At social events. At family gatherings.

“You never know what you might get,” says Smith, who was born and raised in Indianapolis and graduated from Arsenal Technical High School. “It can happen anywhere, anytime.”

There was the photo at the lake in Bloomington. He and his friends had just graduated and were relaxing at the water. Smith had his camera and noticed the beauty.

He shot a photo in black and white. It turned out to be breathtaking. 

Smith says he’s “always been a media head.” It started in middle school and never stopped. In high school, he took photos and made senior videos. Then, he headed off to college to perfect his craft.

His dream is to one day be a full time photographer and videographer. He knows his experience in Methodist’s ED will serve him well in that career.

But in the meantime, Smith just keeps taking photos — looking for the extraordinary in everyday life.

Photos within article by Daiyawn Smith, Dai In & Dai Out Productions

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

IU Health Foundation Names New Board Members

Indiana University Health Foundation announced this week that seven people have joined its board. Board members provide strategic guidance in harnessing the power of philanthropy to support the Indiana University Health goal of making Indiana one of the nation’s healthiest states. They also work to increase public awareness of the Foundation and ensure that philanthropic gifts are well managed.

The new board members are:

Gina Giacone, an attorney and partner at Ice Miller. Giacone focuses her work on corporate, governance and tax issues for tax-exempt entities; gift, estate and trust taxation; estate planning; estate and trust administration; and charitable giving. Giacone also served on the board of the Methodist Hospital Foundation, which is the precursor to the IU Health Foundation.

Crystal Hinson Miller, chief philanthropy officer for IU Health and president of IU Health Foundation. Prior to joining IU Health in 2017, Miller spent 20 years building and expanding academic and health care philanthropic operations, most recently as associate dean for advancement at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and executive director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Public Health Foundation, Inc.

Stephen G. Moore, MD, president and CEO of CarDon & Associates, based in Bloomington, Indiana. A graduate of the IU School of Medicine, Moore has for 18 years led the company that owns, operates or manages 21 communities for seniors throughout Indiana. Moore and his wife are also founding donors of The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dennis Murphy, president and CEO of IU Health. Murphy joined IU Health in 2013 as chief operating officer and has led IU Health as it builds a larger market role in value-based care, enhanced outpatient care networks, telemedicine and population health measures. Murphy has spent his career at academic health centers, with previous administrative positions at Northwestern Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Anne Nobles, chair, IU Health board of directors. Nobles retired from Eli Lilly and Company after a 22-year career, where she last served as senior vice president of enterprise risk management and chief ethics and compliance officer. She has served on the IU Health board since 2011 and as chair since 2014. An active community leader, she also serves on the boards of Citizens Energy Group and the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

William R. “Bill” Ringo, Jr., retired healthcare and biotechnology executive. Among his accomplishments, Ringo was a senior advisor to Barclays Healthcare Group; executive in residence at Warburg Pincus and Sofinnova Ventures; president and CEO of Abgenix, Inc.; senior vice president of business development, strategy and innovation at Pfizer Inc.; and president of groups at Eli Lilly and Company including oncology and critical care, internal medicine, and infectious diseases.

Deborah Tobias, retired technology executive and co-founder, with her husband, of the Tobias Family Foundation. Following a 20-year career at several Silicon Valley companies, including Stratacom and Cisco, Tobias retired in 2001 as director of sales operations London for Juniper Networks. She formerly served on the board of the Methodist Hospital Foundation, and remains an active volunteer for her alma mater, the University Of Dayton, and Tindley Accelerated Schools and the Red Cross Tiffany Circle.

To support the work of the IU Health Foundation and make a gift that reflects what is most important to you, visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

Cancer Patient Navigator: She Knows What 20 Seconds Feels Like

Christine Willard, a radiation therapist and patient navigator was recently recognized for her work in radiation oncology at IU Health Simon Cancer Center with a Helping Hands Award.

She has been called an “essential link” between patients and their care providers and “the glue” that holds complex patient care together.

Co-workers have said Christine Willard is a true patient advocate – that “nothing is out of her reach” when it comes to helping those facing cancer treatment. And there’s more.

It’s been said that Willard is the “definition of true compassion.” The words say much about Willard’s character and her actions reinforce those words. On numerous occasions she has been known to transport patients to and from radiology for studies when they have trouble walking long distances and she has walked beside them keeping them company and helping them find their way from one appointment to the next. She works alongside volunteers with the Cancer Support Community delivering patient care bags and with the Little Red Door to schedule patient rides to radiation appointments. She also works closely with the Mental Health Foundation and supports the annual pancreatic cancer and breast cancer walks.

Willard was recently recognized for her service with a Helping Hands Award, spotlighting IU Health Cancer Center employees who exemplify care, compassion, and commitment to patients beyond expectations. She also received the Cancer Control Champion Award from the Indiana Cancer Consortium and has been recognized as a Shining Star for IU Health.

One glance at Willard’s office in the basement of Simon Cancer Pavilion offers a hint of what many would see as the starting point for their journey to healing. In a room that once housed a control panel for a CT scanner, Willard has created a safe haven for cancer patients. Pink flowers decorate the walls, words like “love” and “laugh,” and quotes like “believe in the wonders of tomorrow,” are all part of this haven. She has a collage of patient pictures in one area and at the corner of her desk are dishes filled with bite-size chocolates and red licorice sticks.

Willard knows that 20 seconds in a chair in the doctor’s office can change someone’s life forever. She’s been in that chair. She’s heard the news.

Married to Dennis Willard for 42 years, she pauses momentarily when asked about her children and grandchildren. She is the mother of three boys. Her middle son Danny was born with Polysplenia syndrome. Also known as left isomerism, the congenital syndrome means Danny was born with multiple spleens.

“It happens to one in 200,000 births. I didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. We had five kids in our family and my siblings always teased me because I never did anything wrong. But when the doctor sits down and you know in 20 seconds that you are going to hear some news that is going to change your life, you wonder if you could have done something differently,” said Willard.  “One minute they are doing a heart catheterization and the next minute we are choosing funeral plots. No parent should have to bury their child.”

Danny was expected to live only six months. He lived for almost two years. Willard’s two adult sons include Patrick, 35 and Scot, 29. She also has a new grandson, Henry Daniel.

She does not pause for a moment when asked why she works as a patient navigator.

Like the words that her co-workers use to describe Willard, she too has words that describe something that is more than a job – it’s her calling.

“This is my heart and soul. This job is a privilege,” said Willard, who has been a radiation therapist for 42 years and has been with IU Health since 2007.

It wasn’t her initial plan. She thought she’d go to school to become a teacher.

“My mom is a nurse and my sister is a nurse. I got to Loyola University and the second year, my mom sat me down and said, ‘there are no teaching jobs.’ She really wanted me to go into the field of medicine so she went through the hospital looking for a fit and found an x-ray program,” said Willard. It turned out her mother new best. During her rotations in the program, Willard became the first student to go through radiation therapy and knew from that point on where she wanted to pursue her career. She worked in Green Bay, St. Louis, De Moines, and Charlotte before coming to Indianapolis.

“I’ve done a little bit of everything – staff, management and clinical instructor – but my passion from the day I started has been patient care,” said Willard.  Whether they needed to see a doctor or a social worker or just needed a blanket, I wanted to be that person that helped them.”

In February of 2013 she became the first patient navigator in radiation oncology.

“Having cancer is tough, and I want to be a warm and fuzzy presence – to give them hope and happiness. I want to be their comfort, to provide listening ears and help scheduling their appointments and meeting their needs,” said Willard, who completed certification as an oncology navigator.

“I think God wanted me to go through a loss so I could be a compassionate patient navigator. My patients inspire me every day. I’ve walked in their shoes and I know what it’s like to spend 20 seconds in that chair hearing that news. I can’t take away their disease but I can always ask ‘What do you want? I’m her for you.’”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Father-Daughter: Waiting for the Call

Mark Perry takes care of the buildings across the academic campus. His daughter, Marlena Gainey cares for patients at the Coleman Center for Women at IU Health’s University Hospital. Their jobs rely on answering calls to help others. But there was one call that was answered to help them – it was a call for a transplant.

On any given day, Mark Perry can answer numerous calls for maintenance at buildings throughout the IUPUI campus. One minute he can be on the roof repairing a leak; the next he can be in the basement working on a stranded elevator.

His daughter, Marlena Gainey’s job is to make sure her patients at the Coleman Center for Women are receiving topnotch care. It’s not unusual for her to triage calls and answer patient questions.

“We’re both putting out fires,” said Gainey, who has been a nurse at IU Health for seven years and serves as the nurse manager for the Coleman Center. She was introduced to the academic campus when she began her undergraduate degree at IUPUI and rode to work with her dad. She later went on to get her masters also at IUPUI.

“We’d meet for lunch at Cavanaugh Hall,” said Perry, who has worked maintaining the campus for 16 years.  He’s done a little bit of everything from working on air compressors and pumps to repairs in the Neuroscience Building, the Research Technology Center and everywhere in between.

“The campus has really grown a lot over the years. We never know where we’re going from one day to the next,” said Perry, who turns 63 next month.

But there’s one building that he hadn’t been into – Methodist Hospital.

That changed two years ago. Like his daughter, Perry is an avid bike rider. One day after a leisurely ride, he began to feel extra tired and was out of breath. He was also losing weight. A medical check-up revealed Perry had Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IBF). The lung disease results in scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs. Over time, the scarring made it more difficult for Perry to breath. Eventually he was on oxygen around the clock and was chosen as a viable candidate for a lung transplant.

“I’m a daddy’s girl. Everyone says we look alike and have the same mannerisms. They say our compassion for others is the same. We want to help people. “It was hard to see him as a patient,” said Gainey. She and her husband bought her childhood home and her parents built a home next door so they could be close to their three grandchildren – ages 13, 10 and 8.

With Gainey at his side, Perry began the transplant process in February 2016 with screenings, and workups. At 3:30 a.m. six months later Perry got the phone call that they all had been waiting for.

“I didn’t sleep at all that night. I just felt like something was going to happen – that we were going get the call. It was almost like when you get the call that a mother’s water breaks and a new baby is on the way,” said Gainey.

In fact, this was her dad’s chance at new life.

On August 11, 2016 Perry underwent surgery for a bilateral lung transplant. He was in the hospital for nine days and during that time, his daughter made frequent trips from University Hospital to Methodist.

“I was mostly the medical translator and making sure I knew what was going on.  I’ve been a nurse for a while but this was a part of the body I didn’t know,” said Gainey. Perry’s wife Linda was his main caretaker, and Gainey was his advocate.

“It really opened my eyes. If patients don’t have a family member in the health field there is so much they don’t know and understand,” said Gainey. “We’d leave and they’d ask more questions. It made me realize that we need to explain to patients in a way they understand and we need to explain it over and over. Patient education is important.

“I’ve always wanted to treat every patient like I would my family member and having a family member as a patient you hope the other staff feels the same. I wanted to be an advocate as a nurse and a daughter to make sure he got the best care, and he did,” said Gainey.

Since his transplant surgery, Perry says he feels fantastic. He returns to Methodist Hospital every three months for lab work and a general check up but otherwise he said he’s never felt better.

“I’m grateful to be alive. It’s awesome be able to spend time watching my grandkids grow up,” said Perry.

And his goals?

His wife recently bought him a new bike and with Gainey’s help he’s working his way up to a 160-mile cross-state bike ride.

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Music – Universal Language For Patients

Admitted to IU Health University Hospital for treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Mike Palm discovered a special way to relate to fellow patients – his music.

The sterile hospital room is more than two hours from Mike Palm’s Starke County home. He’d prefer to be sitting on the front porch, strumming his guitar, and watching the wild turkeys and coyote roaming his 110-acre homestead. But on a recent weekday, he lifted his glossy acoustic with the tortoise shell pick guard and began strumming a tune that rang throughout the fifth floor bone marrow transplant unit of University Hospital.

The music quickly captured the attention of patients and caregivers.

“The patients came out of their rooms to listen and before long we had a jam session at the nurse’s station,” said Emily Caudill, a board-certified music therapist with CompleteLife Program at IU Health Simon Cancer Center. She joined on fiddle, and Juan Ferres, spouse of another patient, joined in on drums.

When he knew he was going to be in a hospital 138 miles from home, Mike Palm said he knew he’d have to have his guitar. He was first diagnosed last September with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer of the myeloid blood cells characterized by rapid growth of abnormal cells. He recently underwent a stem cell transplant and hopes he’s on the road to recovery.

And for a few minutes, his music takes him away from the fear and anxiety of his disease. It helps him cope with missing his country home – hunting and horseback riding, and his family – his wife Toni, son and two daughters. And it helps him connect with other patients.   

“I hadn’t been here long at all when I met another guy who had a guitar,” said Palm. Sometimes when he wakes up for 3 a.m. blood draws he says he’ll just grab his guitar and stay awake. He loves to sing along to a variety of tunes ranging from Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain.”

The funny thing is, Palm, who is 63, didn’t learn to play guitar until he was in his 30s.

“I guess it’s like everything else you set your mind to – whether it’s beating a disease or learning to play an instrument – you just do it,” said Palm. “I was 38 and it was one of the best decisions I made to take lessons. Every day I’d walk by my guitar and I’d pick it up and practice my cords. I’m so glad I stuck with it. Music is a universal language. It’s introduced me to other patients and it’s doing everything to help me with my healing.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Kidney Transplant Patient Counsels Campers

A year ago Joy Araujo received her second kidney transplant. She says she feels stronger than ever and recently dedicated a week as a camp counselor at Kidney Camp, attended by youths 8-18 with kidney disease.

She wears a sash around her waist that reads “Miss Indiana International” but behind that strip of cloth, Joy Araujo is like all the other participants at Kidney Camp.

Araujo recently served as a counselor at the camp sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation of Indiana. During the week at Camp Tecumseh near Brookston, Ind. she spoke to the 35 “kidney warriors” about “Dreaming Big.” She wore her sash to illustrate her message: “However I felt, I never stopped dreaming big.”

Founder of the non-profit organization, Donor Appreciation Network, that recognizes living kidney donors, Araujo was on dialysis 11 hours a day before receiving her second kidney transplant last year. All the while, she worked diligently to prepare for pageant competitions where she focused on conveying the message about the importance of living kidney donors.  

“You are all resilient. So, if you too, have a dream, you too can bounce back from any obstacle, despite any low that comes your way in life. Maybe you love music, writing or sports; maybe you dream of going to college – you all are resilient,” she told the campers.

Like the campers, Araujo was diagnosed with kidney disease at an early age. She was preparing to leave for the Miss U.S. International competition last year when she got the call that she was getting a new kidney. Dr. William Goggins at University Hospital performed her transplant surgery.  At camp, Araujo joined dozens of volunteers and counselors – many from the nephrology department at Riley Hospital for Children – who helped children with kidney disease be – well, just kids.

For five days Araujo joined the campers hanging out in their cabins, creating boats and racing in a regatta, zip lining and horseback riding.

“These children are super inspirational, as they fight kidney disease every day at such a young age and remain resilient, strong, and positive. Every time I come to Kidney Camp, I try to bottle up their energy and keep it with me for rainy days during my own fight. Kidney disease is hard, but with a healthy dose of positivity, one can still dream big,” said Araujo.

For her own dreams, Araujo, who has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, hopes to finish her degree in Biblical Studies at Anderson University. Next month she will compete in the Miss International pageant in Charleston, W.V. where she will continue promoting the Donor Appreciation Network.

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.

Rev Proceeds to Fund Expansion of IU Health Trauma System

Crystal Miller, chief philanthropy officer of Indiana University Health, announced that proceeds from this year’s Rev will allow further expansion of the IU Health trauma system to reach more patients in Indiana and ensure better care.

Attendees of Rev, one of Indianapolis’ top annual fundraising events, were invited to vote on proposals for how the funds would be used. 

The winning proposal, titled 911: Access Trauma, will:

  • Provide specialized trauma education to more prehospital providers, including critical care nurses and paramedics, and support continuing education for physicians, surgeons and nurses
  • Improve the exchange of patient medical records among providers
  • Buy a new ambulance for the IU Health South Central Region to fill transportation gaps in that part of the state
  • Implement a new telecommunications system in the IU Health Transfer Center, which receives about 500 calls per day requesting patient moves
  • Create a statewide database to track trauma care across all IU Health facilities
  • Provide outpatient resources and injury prevention initiatives.

“This gift will ensure that no matter where you are in Indiana, you can access IU Health trauma care,” said Melissa Hockaday, service line director for trauma and acute care surgery at IU Health. “The IU Health system is the best in the state, but like any complex system, it can always be improved.” Hockaday submitted the winning application.

“The IU Health Foundation is honored to provide Rev proceeds for this important work,” said Miller. “Not only will this gift improve patient outcomes, it will help IU Health continue to find ways to refine its already excellent trauma care. We are grateful to Rev donors and guests who have joined us to support this exciting project.”    

Rev, which took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 5, is the signature event for IU Health Foundation. Rev proceeds support IU Health trauma and critical care programs statewide. 

To learn more about the IU Health Foundation—and how you can contribute to expand critical care at the IU Health hospital near you—visit iuhealthfoundation.org.

Career Acquisition: He Went From Investment Banker To Cardiovascular Surgeon

The idea was to not do what his parents did. That was the master plan. No medicine. No patients. No hospitals.

Joel Samson Corvera grew up with a mom who practiced internal medicine and a dad who was an orthopedic surgeon. All his friends’ parent were doctors – a community of people from the Philippines who had come to the United States in the 1960s to get medical training.

“That’s what I grew up with —  two doctors in the family – I couldn’t fake being sick,” says Dr. Corvera, an aortic and cardiovascular surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital. “Doctors all around.”

And so, Dr. Corvera had it all figured out. He would blaze his own trail, despite his parents’ hopes that he or one of his two siblings might go into medicine.

No. He would be an investment banker on Madison Avenue in New York City.

The day he graduated from college, his dad said to him, just once more: “Hey, you can still go to medical school if you want.”

Dr. Corvera politely declined and joined a company doing mergers and acquisitions. He made $20,000 a year with the incentive of monstrous bonuses. Those bonuses were to come once a month, whenever a deal was closed.

But it happened to be the early 1990s when the merger market went from gangbusters to zero, says Dr. Corvera.

And he never — not one time in the nine months he worked as an investment banker — saw a bonus.

“We closed no deals,” says Dr. Corvera. “Not one. We had nothing.”

And so, the phone call had to be made. A humbling phone call. His dad picked up the line.

“How’s that medical school idea, dad? Is that deal still good?” Dr. Corvera asked him.

The answer from his father was yes.

Dr. Corvera started on a path to a new career acquisition. It was nothing at all like the one he was in, but it was where he ultimately realized he should be.

“I found out very early that my personality did not fit the mergers and acquisitions scene,” says Dr. Corvera, who came to IU Health in 2009. “I realized what I really wanted to do was help people.”

Just like his parents did.

As an aortic and cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Corvera does a lot of aneurysm work. He gets to build long-term relationships with his patients.

Most who come to see him are very sick and in need of surgery.

“You’re dealing with life and death kind of stuff a lot,” he says. “The whole point is you’re trying to help. And I love the relationships that I form with my patients.” 

More with Dr. Corvera

Personal: He is married to Mary Lester, M.D., a plastic surgeon at Methodist who specializes in breast reconstruction after cancer. They met during their general surgery residencies and have two children, a boy and a girl.

Outside of Methodist: Dr. Corvera loves spending time with his family and trying different restaurants with his wife.

Bonus fact: At one point, when the hospital tracked minutes in the operating room, Dr. Corvera was No. 1 on that list. A short surgery for him is six to eight hours, with some surgeries lasting as long as 16 hours.

What he likes about his specialty: “It’s technically demanding. The operations tend to be long and complicated. And it’s so rewarding when people do well.”

Read more about Dr. Lester’s story here.

— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

Rev Event Funds Life-or-Death Machine

A small machine—funded by proceeds from Rev—has been making a big difference for critical care patients.

A thromboelastographic machine (TEG) rapidly analyzes a small blood sample to measure a patient’s ability to clot. When treating patients who have lost (or are losing) a lot of blood, doctors and nurses need to know exactly how a patient’s body will react.

Ashley McPheron knows a TEG machine was crucial to her survival. McPheron arrived at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital after a terrible car wreck; she was a passenger, and the driver died. Doctors were not sure she would survive. (Watch Ashley’s dramatic story.) 

“We were able to give Ashley exactly what her body needed, no more, no less,” said Jill Castor, RN and manager of trauma services at IU Health Methodist. “When you have sick patients like Ashley who have a lot of issues going on, being able to run this TEG means a matter of life and death.” Normally, a TEG is used on a patient in the first 15 minutes after they arrive in the trauma center. For McPheron, the TEG was used during multiple surgeries and the administration of various blood products. 

McPheron was an extreme case because of the severity of her injuries, but Castor points out that TEG machines are important to all critical care patients. “We average 87 high level activation traumas per month,” she said. “That means more than 1,000 patients every year are treated more effectively.”

Rev, which takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every May, is the signature event for IU Health Foundation. Rev proceeds support IU Health trauma and critical care programs statewide, often by funding equipment like TEG machines. 

For information on how you can support critical care or address healthcare issues in your own community, visit iuhealthfoundation.org. And mark your calendars for next year’s Rev on May 4, 2019!