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Posted: 10.16.12
Doctor Janusz joins staff at HCHC

Intensive care has a different meaning for Dr. Alex Janusz.

Hillsdale Community Health Center’s newest physician loves intensive investigative medicine and that lead him into becoming a neurologist. As a result, Dr. Alex Janusz is bringing a new level of expertise to the hospital to help patients make the best decision for their health care needs.

The Detroit native has only been in town for a month, but he is getting his office at Three Meadows up and running, thanks to his assistant Jaime Caler.

Professionally, Janusz was an analytical chemist before he went into medicine. After he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, he worked as an analytical chemist in Ann Arbor.  He then moved to St. Louis, Mo., to work Monsanto for five years.

“Then I went to medical school,” Janusz said.

He decided to go into medicine because his chemistry career had plateaued and at the ripe old age of 30 (his words) he wanted a change. It was either make a change or continue in chemistry in a health and safety-type field, he said.

“If you are going to do something, you have to do something big and now,” Janusz said. “So that’s what I did.”

He attended the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio Sciences, graduating in 1997. For his residency he worked at St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, Mich.

He had a practice in Columbus, Ohio, and then the Veterans Administration hospital in Saginaw before coming here. He had quality issues with his administrators and he wanted to be more broad-based in his approach.

“They (veterans) really needed some people to help them there, they had no one else to go to,” he said. “But I just needed for my career; I said if I keep doing this my career is going to be stagnant.”

The VA job, he said, was more suitable for a physician closer to retirement and if he was 10 years older, he would have stayed. But then the HCHC job popped up.

“My impression of the hospital is that we are going to be doing some new things here,” Janusz said.

Some of those new tasks include a hospice program and using new criteria for dealing with stroke victims. Instead of just sending out every stroke patient that comes in, Janusz said the hospital will be developing some stroke programs.

“I want to expand my career and the hospital wants to expand too,” he said. “So that’s what I am doing in Hillsdale.”

He and his wife have been in town for only a month so they are still unpacking and settling in. They married later in life. He was in Columbus, Ohio, and she was in Lansing. There were a lot of road trips, but Columbus was too big for her, Janusz said.

She grew up in Marion, Mich., southeast of Cadillac, so for her Hillsdale is a big town, he said.

Janusz is now housed in Three Meadows Medical Building, Suite 230 and he is seeing patients. To schedule an appointment you may do so by calling 517-437-8366.

Neurology is a subdiscipline of internal medicine. It deals with the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. Exams are quite extensive because the peripheral nerves go everywhere.

Common diseases or problems he sees include headaches, seizures, strokes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Senior patients generally deal with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The headaches, seizures and strokes are for the younger set.

“You can get a stroke when you are 25,” he said.

He got into neurology because it held the same characteristics of an analytical chemist.

“We’re very nit-picky and detail-oriented,” he said.

So when he is dealing with a patient he uses a lot of CAT scans and MRIs to learn how to treat the diseases. He does lab work to try and piece together what the disease is.

“Sometimes diseases can be stopped, rarely can be cured,” he said. “Most of the time they are just managed.”

There is no known cure of Alzheimer’s, he said. So the best they can do is slow the disease down. That gives the family time to make long-term decisions.

Parkinson’s is highly manageable, Janusz said. There are many combinations of medicines to make someone highly functional, which is what they want, he said. The same can be done with epilepsy and seizures.

The hospital will deal with acute diseases such as strokes and meningitis, he said. Now, the hospital will send all cases of bleeding in the brain, except for small bleeds, to other hospitals.

“They don’t have anyone here to tell them that this one is a surgical one and this one is not,” Janusz said. “We are hoping to set up with universities to help me triage patients.”

That will mean Janusz will be able to meet with a patient and tell them he has talked with a stroke specialist and then can lay out all the person’s options.

The process will empower patients to make clear choices for their care and it will keep Janusz in the mix with experts in his field to stay sharp.

The move excites Janusz. He was happy in Columbus with his large practice, but his wife wasn’t happy. He liked the veterans at the VA, but philosophy was not to treat the patients like he felt they should. So when Hillsdale popped up, he like the professional side, while his wife liked the small-town feel.

“We’ll give it a shot,” he said.