Father, daughter team up for surgeries at Springfield hospital

Dr. Surender Neravetla spent years discouraging his daughter Dr. Soumya Neravetla from following his path into thoracic surgery, and for most of her early career she tried to follow that recommendation.

In retrospect, the advice appears to have failed spectacularly but in a good way. Not only was the Springfield North High School graduate eventually drawn to her father’s profession, she has spent the past several months working side-by-side with him in the operating room at the Springfield Regional Medical Center.

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The profession can be rewarding, he said, but it requires years of training and an often difficult schedule.

“We tried and tried to get her into something different,” said Surender Neravetla, director of cardiac surgery at Springfield Regional. “She would try something else for a while and say, ‘I don’t see myself doing this.”’

Along with having a chance to work with her father, Soumya Neravetla has helped stabilize the department, save lives and start implementing new programs that will ideally improve care for patients for years, her father said.

A former valedictorian at Springfield North, she went on to attend Northeast Ohio Medical University near Akron, and practiced and studied at sites like Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. However, she wasn’t sure what path to take next when an unexpected opportunity opened.

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Lofton Misick, a heart surgeon who’s worked with Surender Neravetla for years, left Springfield Regional to take a new position in Texas. So Soumya Neravetla moved back to Springfield last fall to help stabilize the cardiac department while she determines what path her career will take next.

Finding a qualified surgeon with the right skills to replace Misick can be a long process, she said, so taking the job in Springfield allowed the hospital more time. Amit Arora has since joined the staff in March, but Soumya Neravetla said she plans to stay on a little longer to help implement new medical programs.

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“My coming allowed us to take our time to find the right fit for the community,” Soumya Neravetla said.

She’s also been able to use the skills she’s learned to benefit patients in Springfield. In one case, the pair worked together after a patient arrived at the hospital with an aortic rupture, a condition that’s often fatal. The procedure typically used to repair a rupture can be extremely invasive and many such patients never even make it to the hospital in time.

Instead of making an incision in the patient though, they were able to perform a robotic surgery through a catheter in the patient’s groin and used a stent to block the rupture. In most cases, it can take a week to 10 days before a patient can leave the hospital, but in this case the patient was ready to return home the next day, Surender Neravetla said.

“Being able to fix them in the groin is much less invasive than opening the belly or the chest,” Soumya Neravetla said.

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It’s not clear how long Soumya Neravetla plans to remain working side-by-side with her father, but she said she wants to continue to implement and stabilize a handful of programs before deciding on her next step. For example, she’s spearheading a lung screening program that will ideally help staff diagnose and treat lung cancer patients earlier and make patients more aware of treatment options locally.

Implementing that program is a lengthy process that includes working with insurers, improving the hospital’s available technology and promoting more public awareness in the topic.

“We hope in short order we’ll capture more lung cancers at an earlier stage,” she said.

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The Springfield News-Sun provides extensive coverage of health care in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on new leaders at Springfield Regional Medical Center and the recent national stroke certification for the downtown hospital.

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