MetroHealth Creates Neurosciences Department

The MetroHealth System is well-known for providing excellent neurological care. With the creation of the Neurosciences Department, neurosurgeon Michael P. Steinmetz, MD, says this care will be better coordinated and easier for patients to access.

“Medicine has traditionally been practiced in silos, and from a patient’s standpoint that doesn’t make sense,’’ says Dr. Steinmetz, who chairs the new Neurosciences Department. “So, for example, if a patient has a brain tumor, he or she shouldn’t have to go to building A to see a neurosurgeon and then the next day go to building C to see a radiation oncologist. The patient should be able to see all of these specialists in one location at the same time with everyone working together very collaboratively to take care of the patient’s condition. And that’s what I’d like to do.”

Timely access to care is important — to referring physicians, as well as to their patients. Immediate or nearly immediate access is Dr. Steinmetz’s goal. Easier access to all of the neuroscience subspecialists is another one of his goals.

“This is the first time at MetroHealth a Neurosciences Department has been established,” says Dr. Steinmetz. “Currently, it includes Neurosurgery (traditionally a division of the Surgery Department) and Orthopaedic Spine Surgery. This new department will work to improve collaboration with all of the existing neuroscience specialties at Metrohealth, such as neurology, neuroradiology, neuro-oncology and neuro-rehab.”

Five neurosurgeons and one orthopaedic spine surgeon comprise the neuroscience team. In addition to Dr. Steinmetz, 
the neurosurgeons are James S. Anderson, MD; 
Robert T. Geertman, MD, PhD; Matt J. Likavec, MD; and 
Sean J. Nagel, MD. Timothy A. Moore, MD, is an orthopaedic spine surgeon. All are board certified or eligible and fellowship trained in their specialty areas. Together, they offer treatments for a variety of diseases and disorders for adults and children, including:

  • Brain tumors
  • Cerebral aneurysms
  • Brain and spinal cord injuries
  • Brain hemorrhages
  • Stroke
  • Back and neck problems
  • Spinal deformities
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Extracranial vascular disease
  • Facial pain
  • Complex pain disorders and
  • Movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s and dystonia.

“Each of our surgeons has unique expertise,” says Dr. Steinmetz. “Tim Moore specializes in spine and trauma. Robert Geertman is our pediatric neurosurgeon; skull base and vascular neurosurgery and neuroendoscopy/minimally invasive surgery are also his specialty areas. James Anderson, Co-Chair of the Department specializes in degenerative and traumatic spine disease, minimal access spine surgery and general neurosurgery.  Matt Likavec, Emeritus Director of the Division of Neurosurgery, also specializes in degenerative and traumatic conditions of the spine and 
general neurosurgery.

“Sean Nagel practices both general and functional neurosurgery. (Functional neurosurgery focuses on procedures such as deep brain stimulation for patients with movement disorders like Parkinson’s Disease.) Sean also has special expertise in spinal surgery procedures to alleviate chronic pain. And he and 
Robert Geertman are certified in Gamma Knife radiosurgery.”

Dr. Steinmetz is fellowship trained in spine surgery and specializes in complex reconstructive spine surgery along with surgery for spinal degenerative disease, spine trauma and spinal cord injury. Formerly a staff member of the Center for Spine Health at Cleveland Clinic and an associate professor at Lerner College of Medicine, Dr. Steinmetz has authored or co-authored more than 60 research articles in the past six years. He has co-edited two text books, authored numerous book chapters and performs basic science research in the field of neuroprotection and regeneration following experimental spinal cord injury.

Warren Alilain, PhD, a renowned researcher from Case Western Reserve University Department of Neuroscience, will direct the Department’s Spinal Cord Injury Laboratory. Having completed a post-doctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Jerry Silver, PhD, at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Alilain brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to the new laboratory. He will work with his team to develop translational research that will hopefully result in human trial for those patients suffering spinal cord injury.

Drs. Nagel, Anderson, and Geertman are involved in research at the Cleveland FES (functional electrical stimulation) Center to help patients with brain and spinal cord injuries regain function and independence. Based at MetroHealth, the center is a collaborative effort of Case Western Reserve University, the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center and MetroHealth.

“MetroHealth is known for its FES research, and for its stroke care, as well,” says Dr. Steinmetz.

In fact, MetroHealth was the first hospital in Northeast Ohio to earn Primary Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission in September 2004. Last July, MetroHealth was re-certified and earned the Gold Seal of Approval from the American Stroke Association, which signifies that the services MetroHealth provides have the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes.

“Subspecialized care is the key. And that’s what we’re doing in the Neurosciences Department — providing subspecialized care. Each of our neurosurgeons has unique expertise, so each patient referred to the department is referred to the particular expert who specializes in that disease or problem,” he says. “It’s more patient-centric.

“We’ve started with spine, because the majority of our outside referrals to our neuroscience departments are for spine disease. The spine surgeons are working with the physical medicine and rehab physicians and the pain management physicians to provide the most appropriate care to the patient.”

Ultimately, Dr. Steinmetz would like to see all of the neuroscience fields come together into a Neuroscience Center of Excellence.

“If we look nationally, the trend has been to unify or bring together all of the neuroscience disciplines,” he explains. “MetroHealth has long provided advanced neurological care, and I am excited to now be a part of the future growth of this outstanding program.”

For more information about the Neurosciences Department at MetroHealth or to refer a patient, call 216-778-4386.

MD News May/June 2011, Cleveland/Akron/Canton



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