5 Questions With Dr. Weinberg, Pediatric Surgery
1. Why did you choose Stamford Health?
Lower Fairfield County has a robust population with many young families who have moved here to take advantage of all the opportunities that the area provides. Until very recently, access to pediatric specialty care was quite limited, forcing parents to travel elsewhere to give their children the care they needed and deserved. The leadership of Stamford Health has recognized this deficiency and has committed significant resources to upgrade pediatric care for the area. The hospital has a new pediatric emergency department, a new pediatric inpatient unit and now full-time general pediatric surgical coverage enabling local pediatricians to have a close-by resource to help them evaluate and treat children. I am looking forward to growing the program to give our children the best possible surgical care right here without the need to drive 30 or more miles to see a pediatric surgeon.
2. What made you become a pediatric surgeon?
I recognized very early in my medical education that while we love and care for our children, the resources that the country spends on this vulnerable population was woefully inadequate. I remember being involved in treating an infant who was admitted to the hospital with weight loss due to constant vomiting after feeds. We all thought that the baby had a surgical condition called pyloric stenosis. Sadly enough, the adult radiologist did not feel comfortable making the diagnosis so the baby had to wait 2 more days in the hospital until the only available pediatric surgeon was free to come to the hospital to examine the baby and make the diagnosis. It took another day until the baby had corrective surgery. I remember how sad the baby looked and how frustrated the parents (and staff) were. So right then and there, I decided to devote my career to helping out these youngsters.
3. What have your patients taught you over the years?
Pediatric surgery is incredibly rewarding. Most of the infants and children I treat are healthy individuals who unfortunately have a clearly defined issue that I can correct. If I make the right diagnosis and can fix the problem, that child has an opportunity to grow up and live a long, healthy and productive life. I am talking about 60-70-80 years. I have stayed in contact with some of the patients who had the most challenging problems that I took care of when they were infants. I have watched them grow and mature into adults. Some of them have their own children. This past June, I received a photograph from a girl that I operated on when she was one day old. She sent me her college graduation picture. That's rewarding!!
4. How have you seen the pediatric surgery field evolve since you've started?
We now can care for the smallest of infants. I have operated on and saved infants weighing just 500 grams (a little over 1 pound) born at 24 weeks gestation or 16 weeks prematurely. We can operate on fetuses. Our imaging technology has gotten so good that we can examine and determine what kind of intervention a baby will need before it is born. Many solid tumors that were devastating because their prognoses were so awful are now amenable to surgical and aggressive medical therapy and are no longer as deadly. When I was a young man removing some of these tumors meant amputating limbs, removing vital organs leaving the children and their families with horrendous life-long disabilities. Today that sort of radical surgery has become much, much less common and the final results of treatment have vastly improved.
5. What is one philosophy by which you live?
My philosophy is quite simple. The child comes first. Do whatever it takes to make him or her better. I have a awesome responsibility. When a parents gives me their child to hold and take to the operating room, they are trusting me to care for that child as though it were my own. Don't let them down.