The Springfield News-Sun sat down with Dr. Surender Neravetla, who is director of Cardiac Surgery at Springfield Regional Medical Center. He is also author of two books: “Salt: Black America’s Silent Killer” and “Salt Kills.” The conversation was centered around Springfield, the community in which he lives and works:
Q: How long have you lived here? I was in practice in Cincinnati for a couple years after medical school, then came to Springfield in 1984.
Q: Why did you make Springfield your home? It just kind of happened. I was actually working in Dayton with another group and was living in Enon temporarily. There were no heart doctors in Springfield during those days. There was a need for my specialty. So I decided to practice in Springfield and then started the heart program in 1992.
Q: What do you enjoy about your job? I enjoy talking to people and helping them with the problems they present, and I equally enjoy talking about preventing those kinds of problems.
Q: What’s something that not everyone knows about you? Not many people don’t know that I like to blog on saltkills.com. They don’t expect somebody at my level of work to be inclined to do stuff like that.
Q: Why do you love Springfield? Springfield kind of grows on you. I’ve had numerous opportunities and reasons to seek better income, better weather, better lifestyle. But it’s the people, you just get to know them when you take care of them on a personal level. Number two, it is the right size. It’s close enough to major cities, and far enough to be away from the hustle and bustle. I live seven minutes, door to door. If there is an emergency, I can be at the hospital in seven minutes. In a medium-sized or large city, that wouldn’t happen.
Q: What would you tell a stranger about Springfield? I don’t think people realize how good they have it in Springfield. One of the best-kept secrets is the healthcare in Springfield. You can’t compare for the size of this town. Also, the weather is not really that bad, compared to other places in Ohio. And people are friendly, they like to get to know you and make friends very quickly.
Q: What is a special memory about Springfield?My claim to fame is this, when we started to do the heart program. Days after we started the heart program at Community Hospital, Mercy announced they wanted to start a heart program, too. They were very competitive. It was like Russia and America in the cold war era. But Mercy wanted me to start a heart program there, too. It is satisfying how deep our work has reached both sides, who were at one time strong rivals. The people of Springfield have set aside their politics and differences and have a deep trust in me.
Q: What can you not live without in Springfield? The old buildings downtown. They are so beautiful. We need to renovate them, or get rid of them.
Q: What would you like to see improved in the city? The people of Springfield need to take pride in their town and stand tall, and encourage what is good about Springfield. We have a lot of good things in Springfield and we need to take note of that, and then tell others.