Photos Cameron Flaisch
Perhaps for most non-medical people the word “neurosurgery” strikes a note of awe. Even the definition of the term is intimidating, that is: “the care, diagnosis, and surgical treatment of disorders involving the brain, spine, and peripheral nervous system.” The high respect the public holds for this specialized discipline is commonly voiced in the American vernacular; for instance, when encouraging a friend to take on a difficult task, one might say, “You can do it; it’s not brain surgery.” There’s no doubt about it, neurosurgeons are some of the smartest people around, and the medical professionals at Neurosurgery Brain & Spine at Harbin Clinic prove that point.
One of those bright minds (and a set of skilled hands) belongs to the clinic’s newest surgical hire, Dr. Alex Whitaker-Lea. With a special knack for making patients feel understood and cared for, Dr. Whitaker-Lea is an excellent addition to the Harbin Clinic team. She joins a very experienced surgical team of three other neurosurgeons, providing patients with collaborative brain and spine care. Together, these gifted physicians use the latest technology to perform medical procedures with state-of-the-art equipment.
Dr. Whitaker-Lea did not wait for medical school to develop a love for the marvels of the human body. As a matter of fact, from an early age, she had a fascination for the neurological system. During her medical training she became enthralled with the technical elements of surgical procedures. While in medical school, Dr. Whitaker-Lea also appreciated acute and elective cases that came with surgery because they required her to use different problem-solving skills every day.
She received her medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, and she completed her post-doctoral training in neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.
Joining Harbin Clinic was an easy decision for Dr. Whitaker-Lea, as her values strongly align with the organization’s mission. She is eager to care for patients in both the clinical setting and by being actively involved in the community. Also, she is happy to have returned to Rome’s small-town charm, its running trails, and its top-notch healthcare environment.
One thing Dr. Whitaker-Lea appreciates about working at Harbin Clinic is the collaborative principle of the organization. She values the team aspects of being a physician. As a collegiate athlete at Berry College, she knew she would thrive in a field where she could play a specific role within a larger goal. Today, she is grateful for the ways she gets to partner with neurologists in patient care. She believes her ability to care for a patient is strengthened by the opportunity for both the medical and surgical perspectives to work in tandem. This concept plays into her philosophy as a physician.
At Neurosurgery Brain & Spine at Harbin Clinic, no one serves alone, and that’s the way Dr. Whitaker-Lea likes it. When needed, neurosurgeons consult with an integrated team of doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions, musculoskeletal conditions, ear, nose, and throat conditions, endocrine gland conditions, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and other areas to provide the most comprehensive and appropriate treatment for your condition. Harbin Clinic neurosurgeons are experts in all areas of back and neck surgery, including the cervical, thoracic and lumbar. They also treat tumors of the brain and spine.
A personal touch
“My goal is to spend time listening to my patients and being as compassionate as possible, so they don’t feel as if we’re rushing our time together,” says Dr. Whitaker-Lea. “I aim to be relatable because walking into a neurosurgery office can be scary. I can’t remove all the fear and nervousness, but I can help people feel heard, understood, and maybe a little more at ease.”
People notice this patient-centered caring dedication. One of her patients (name withheld) sings her praises: “I met with Dr. Whitaker-Lea to discuss my continuing back and leg pain. She viewed my MRI and confirmed the same thing as three other doctors had said, I have several bulging disks from L1-L5, the worst one at L4-L5. This is compressing nerves at the said location, causing continuing low back and leg pain with trouble walking. We discussed my options at length, with her explaining the possible procedure necessary to relieve my constant pain. She was very pleasant and knowledgeable about the problem and necessary procedure.”
One patient encounter specifically helped shape Dr. Whitaker-Lea’s philosophy and taught her the power of compassion. She remembers an emergency bedside surgery that felt like a straightforward procedure from her perspective. A few weeks later, she was reminded of her impact when she received a card in the mail thanking her for saving this patient’s life. As she begins her journey with Harbin Clinic, she keeps patients like this one in mind.
To learn more about Dr. Whitaker-Lea, visit harbinclinic.com.
Segrest also describes the touching solidarity of the city. “At 7 pm everyone leans out of their windows and cheers, banging pots and pans. They are cheering for the healthcare workers. They are cheering for each other. Then an hour later the city stops. There is a silence for all those we lost.”
With so much still uncertain in both New York City and Rome Georgia one thing is for certain- Rebecca Segrest is undoubtedly a hero.
To be continued…..