May 2009-Dr. Fayad named AHA Physician of the Year

Story contributed by The American Heart Association

Pierre Fayad, M.D., Reynolds Centennial Professor and chairman in the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences, has been named the American Heart Association Physician of the Year.


Dr. Fayad — who also is director of the stroke center at UNMC’s hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center — received the award during a ceremony in Washington on Monday.


The award is conferred annually upon the practicing physician who has rendered “outstanding contributions” toward accomplishing the American Heart Association mission. Dr. Fayad was honored for being a pioneer and leader in numerous initiatives to improve the health of his community, especially in the area of stroke.


“This is a wonderful honor for one of our truly outstanding physicians,” said John Gollan, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Medicine. “Dr. Fayad’s work in the field of stroke certainly merits this national recognition.


“This is excellent news for Dr. Fayad, the College of Medicine and UNMC as a whole.”


As stroke center director, Dr. Fayad established and now leads a stand-alone outpatient neurological clinic that received more than 7,000 patient visits in 2008. He also oversees a multidisciplinary “Stroke Code Team” that is responsible for the care of patients with acute stroke.


Countless patients have benefited from Dr. Fayad’s neurological expertise, including Lenice Hogan of Omaha.


“I have a complicated medical history and every time I was in the hospital I was told something different and would leave with no idea what the problem was or where to turn,” she said. “From the moment I met Dr. Fayad, I felt absolutely at ease. He took my records and spent a month researching other patients in the world with my condition — he found three. I’m not scared of what lies ahead because I know he’s on top of everything.”


Brenda Barry of Woodbine, Iowa, credited Dr. Fayad with saving her husband Lynn’s life.


“My husband had been having a series of mini strokes for a few weeks,” Barry said. “They would hit him for a few minutes and then he would go about his day like nothing had happened. We knew it wasn’t normal, but it was easy to let it go.”


Until they met with Dr. Fayad.


“In our initial appointment with Dr. Fayad, he was very thorough and quickly diagnosed the seriousness of the situation,” Barry said. “As far as we’re concerned, he saved my husband from having a massive stroke that could have paralyzed or killed him. Lynn is healthier than he has been in a decade or longer.”


Under Dr. Fayad’s leadership, the medical center’s stroke center became the first in Nebraska to be certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission.


In 2008, The Nebraska Medical Center was recognized with the Gold Achievement Award of the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program, which recognizes 24 consecutive months of providing care that meets or exceeds stroke treatment guidelines set by the association.


Stewart Becker of Omaha suffered a stroke while on a skiing vacation in Colorado. After a week in a Denver hospital, he came home to Omaha and met with Dr. Fayad.


“The perception was that in the middle of the country I wouldn’t have the resources I needed (as a stroke survivor),” Becker said. “In Dr. Fayad, I’ve got an individual with a great reputation with a great institution, and I can get as good of care right in my home city as I could get anywhere.”


Dr. Fayad currently chairs the Advisory Committee of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association. He is also a member of the association’s International Stroke Conference Program Committee and National Science Advisory & Coordinating Committee.

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