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St. Vincent Team Committed to Placing Patients First

By Rebecca Gallant on 
Posted on February 19, 2019

St. Vincent Team Committed to Placing Patients First

To learn more about surgical treatment options or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kellis or one of St. Vincent’s Spine and Orthopedic Institute surgeons, call 216.861.6200.

  

When Dan Walsh of Painesville needed emergency spinal surgery, orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. George Kellis and the caregivers at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center quickly pulled together an expert team to preserve his quality of life.

“I was days, if not weeks, away of being in a wheelchair,” Dan said. “Seeing how critical my situation was, Dr. Kellis quickly changed his travel plans and pulled a team together to perform my surgery on a Saturday morning. For me, their willingness to take time away from their plans and families over the weekend saved my life.” 

In the months prior, Dan had started to develop weakness in his arms and legs. As days and weeks went by, the weakness got to the point where Dan was falling and losing his balance. He had lost feeling in his hands from his elbows to his fingertips.

He went to see Dr. Kellis, who two years before had performed his lower back surgery, the result of an unrelated condition. At the time, Dr. Kellis identified the beginning of congenital cervical stenosis – the narrowing of the cervical cord, which frequently progresses with age. However, when Dan came back last October with the weakness and numbness, Dr. Kellis immediately grew concerned.

“When he came back to see me, he was dramatically worse,” Dr. Kellis said. “I became uncomfortable with his condition – it appeared to be progressing very quickly.”

Dr. Kellis ordered an immediate MRI, which confirmed his concerns over the severity of the situation. Dan’s stenosis was rapidly progressing, creating damage and swelling to the spinal cord. Left untreated, Dan was at risk of losing the ability to walk and to control his arms and hands. The more quickly surgery was performed to release his cervical pressure, the more likely Dan was to heal and preserve function.

Although Dr. Kellis was scheduled to be in Chicago for the next week at a medical conference, he changed his travel plans to come home early for Dan’s spinal fusion surgery. Dr. Kellis then worked to pull together an expert team for surgery on a Saturday morning.

“We are very fortunate at St. Vincent to have such wonderful and caring physician assistants, anesthesiologists, nurses, surgical techs and caregivers who always put the patients first,” Dr. Kellis said. “Everyone I contacted to ask them to come in on a Saturday, on their traditional day off, said ‘yes’ with no questions at all.”

Dan’s surgery was a success, leaving him feeling dramatic pain relief and return of strength the day after surgery and allowing him to return to work just 6 days later. Now six months post surgery, Dan is feeling almost back to normal, with only slight numbness in his fingertips and slight weakness in his legs that get better each day.  Dan is so grateful for the care he received, both by the surgical team and the nursing and caregivers on the hospital floor, he recently wrote a thank you note to the entire team at St. Vincent. 

“I cannot begin to thank all of you enough for taking time away from your weekend, your families and friends… there are no words to express my sincere gratitude to all of you,” Dan wrote. “It was such a scary time for my wife and I, and while I am not out of the woods yet, my outlook is very promising. Your complete dedication to your work is inspiring.”  

 


To learn more about surgical treatment options or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kellis or one of St. Vincent’s Spine and Orthopedic Institute surgeons, contact 216.861.6200.

 

 

To learn more about surgical treatment options or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kellis or one of St. Vincent’s Spine and Orthopedic Institute surgeons, call 216.861.6200.

  

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