By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – Dr. Samer Shamieh doesn’t shy away from the topic of doctors caring for patients in this day of the high-pressure, low margin, competitive health care industry.
The new medical director of Fairway Medical Center in Covington admits there is certainly a fair share of doctors today who are under such stress and pressure to produce business that they have lost track of why they became a physician. One of the biggest complaints in this day is that doctors don’t spend the time or give the attention needed to their patients.
But Shamieh will tell you in a second that he is not one of those docs, nor will he ever be, something that was particularly impressed upon him in 2010 when he became the patient rather than the doctor in a near-death accident.
That is the reason Shamieh said the recently purchased Fairway Medical Center facility, a 21-bed surgical center, will offer care and treatment that is second to none as they embark on a new chapter in the history of the hospital.
Shamieh was in Dallas in 2010, walking to a Saints-Cowboys football game when a man driving a Cadillac Escalade literally ran him over along the side of the road as he got near the stadium. He suffered 15 broken ribs, a fractured spine and broken pelvis.
“I was in the ICU for two weeks and the hospital for three weeks. It took me two months to come back to work, initially with a walker and then with a cane. When I lay in the hospital I thought I received sub-par care and I swore that I would never let that happen to any patient of mine,” he said.
(See Schamieh, pg. 10A)
For that matter, Shamieh said it further inspired him to seek to become a medical director in a hospital one day, something that took seven years to happen as a partner at Fairway, when it was purchased by LCMC Health, the not-for-profit health care system that includes Children’s Hospital and University Medical Center.
Shamieh said that Fairway Medical Center will provide care that “is like a spa environment. I want any hospital stay here to be stress free. People have a choice about whether to utilize us for services and I want the red carpet rolled out for them.”
Fairway is considered a surgical hospital and does not have an emergency room, as similar other surgical facilities in the area. They offer virtually every kind of surgical procedures, including spine, bariatric, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, pain management, eye surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery.
For that matter, Shamieh said he only wants to work with physicians and surgeons who have the same vision that he has for the hospital and patient care.
“We want physicians here who truly care for their patients and that means spending whatever time is needed for them,” he added. “To come here is a choice from the patients so their care has to be our top priority.”
Shamieh is originally from Lake Charles and watched his father work as a physician in earlier years when rural patients paid him in many surprising ways, frequently without real cash.
“I remember people bringing my father preserves, crabs, shrimp—they paid him in what way they could and I remember the respect he got and the joy he had in being a good physician,” he recalled.
Shamieh was so intent on becoming a doctor that his grandmother made him a doctor’s white coat when he was only 5 years old, something he wore as he went on patient rounds at the hospital with his father.
Attending LSU and playing on the tennis team he was sidelined when he tore his ACL, something that guided him towards the orthopedic area of surgery.
“I was also fascinated with spine surgery since I saw so many different opinions on how to do it,” he said. “Spine surgery was always on the cutting edge of surgery and has evolved so rapidly. It was very interesting to me. I remember when we used to perform fusion of a disc, and now we can do a total disc replacement.”
He eventually settled on becoming a spinal surgeon since he said so many people deal with back pain at some time in their life.
“Surveys have shown that 95 to 98 percent of adults will have at least one episode of neck or back pain in their lives,” he said. “And it’s a difficult thing to pinpoint and fix. It requires asking a lot of questions of the patients to understand where it hurts, how does it hurt, and what brings about the pain.”
Shamieh said that back and neck pain can be so tricky to diagnose because so many things could actually be the real cause of the pain.
“A radiologist will read an MRI and state what seems to be creating the pain, but sometimes people still have pain after treatment or surgery. The number one key, I have learned, is to find out what the pain generator is,” he explained. “It’s really an art. There are a lot of good technicians out there, but it’s still an art to diagnose why the individual is having pain.”
“I want this hospital to be a cutting edge facility, where we offer the best, most up-to-date procedures,” he said. “But we will also do it with the best patient care you can get anywhere.
“People come to us with problems and in pain,” he added. “We will achieve the motto we promote: More than you’d expect. All that you deserve.”
Fairway Medical Center is located just off the Causeway Approach in Covington at 67252 Industry Lane. Call them at 985-809-9888 for more information on their services or check out their website at fairwaymedical.com.