The trauma center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center has been designated a Level I adult and a Level II pediatric trauma center by the American College of Surgeons for our ability to provide the highest quality of care, especially in critical and complex cases.
A trauma surgeon must be a “Renaissance person” capable of taking care of anything that may come through the hospital door. This is the surgeon that one would hope to have in the hospital when a surgical emergency enters the building. This surgeon would be able to take care of some of the most critical patients during the worst possible times.
Dr. Narayan is an Attending Surgeon at Weill Cornell Medical Center in the Division of Trauma, Burns, Critical and Acute Care Surgery. He was previously Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, where he also served as Chief of Acute Care Surgery, Chief of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit and Associate Program Director for the General Surgery Residency Program. He was previously an Assistant Professor at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, where he founded and served as Medical Director for the Center of Injury Prevention & Policy. He was the Associate Director of the Division of Medical Education and Course Founder and Director for two new courses, the Humanism Symposium and the Surgical Boot Camp.
DTM – Dr. Narayan, could you tell us about your work with the Stop the Bleed campaign and why have you chosen to participate in this initiative specifically?
Dr. Narayan –Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and a call to action. Stop the Bleed is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage every-day citizens to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. As a trauma surgeon at one of Manhattan’s Level 1 Trauma Centers, I know that seconds matter when dealing with massive bleeding. Frankly, this is personal. I lost an aunt and uncle in India to a car crash, so I know how it feels to lose family to a potentially preventable problem.
The eye can’t see what the mind doesn’t know. It is one of my goals to make sure I spread this free, life-saving course to others so if they are faced with a scenario that requires them to act, they know what to do. I believe in my heart that participating in this initiative is a way of giving back to our community. The only thing worse than a death is a death that could have been prevented. The three simple steps of compression, packing a wound, and properly applying a tourniquet can be learned in under an hour. The best part is that anyone can take the course! The training is being offered all over the country and I have had the privilege of recently teaching the first courses in both India and China.
“I chose surgery because I love to work with my hands and see the direct results of my intervention”
DTM – How do you feel readiness training could benefit the average citizen here in Downtown New York City?
Dr. Narayan – Downtown Manhattan has been the site of the two deadliest terror attacks in the history of New York City, 9/11 and more recently, the attack on Halloween in 2017. I’ve often said that we are in an era of “not if something will happen but when.” Given this, it’s important to recognize that we have one of the best emergency response systems in the world.
On average, it takes 7 minutes for an ambulance to respond to a call. This often depends on geography, traffic…etc. In severe bleeding, coupled with a mass casualty incident, emergency medical professionals may not have enough time or personnel to get to those who are injured. In these instances when emergency personnel is unable to respond quickly, everyday citizens could, especially if they are properly trained to stop potentially life-threatening bleeds.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor since middle school”
DTM – Are there any other tips or training you can recommend for downtowners and other citizens who want to be prepared in case of a medical emergency?
Dr. Narayan-Make a difference. Get Trained. Train. This is one of the motto’s of the campaign and is at the very essence of what I would like Downtowners to do. No one walks out of the house today and says, “Today, I will be a trauma patient; a victim of an attack; a pedestrian who is struck by a car.” So we need to be prepared to respond to help our fellow New Yorkers. Stop the Bleed is one life-saving skill that I believe will help save lives. I think awareness of common life-threatening problems gives people the confidence that they are equipped with the basic knowledge to help another person in need.
DTM – How do you feel this campaign has been received in the downtown community and other areas NYP offers this program so far?
Dr. Narayan – The response has been good, but I am not willing to rest until I get every business, every employee trained. I want the community to be involved. I helped coordinate a community outreach effort on behalf of Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian where teams of medical students went out and enrolled 53 local business surrounding the hospital in free training. The event was meaningful for both students and businesses alike, however, we still have much more to do.
DTM – When did you know you were interested in medicine?
Dr. Narayan – I knew I wanted to be a doctor since middle school. My first memorable interaction with a physician was with my own pediatrician, Dr. C.B. Saksena, when we lived in Bloomington, Illinois. Dr. Saksena has since retired but has taken care of thousands of children and been a mentor to hundreds of physicians in his community. I wanted to help people like him. In fact, I thought I would be a pediatrician when I started medical school. Eventually, I chose surgery as a career.
As I grew, physically and spiritually, I started to embrace the teachings of “help ever, hurt never” and the concept of “Seva” or selfless-service. I feel medicine allows me to serve people and to make a human connection. It’s been a long road in terms of training, four years of high school, four years of medical school, five years of surgery residency, two years of surgical critical care/trauma fellowship and three Masters Degrees. It can be tiring with grueling hours, being up for 36 hours at a time, or working more than a 100 hours a week. but despite all that, taking care of patients, educating the next generation of students and surgical trainees, doing academic research, and giving back to the community – I feel like I have the best job in the world.
DTM – How did you choose your field of medicine?
Dr. Narayan – I chose surgery because I love to work with my hands and see the direct results of my intervention. I chose trauma because I enjoy the immediacy of intervening when seconds matter. On my desk I have a coffee mug that has a quote which reads “Trauma Junkie: It’s not that I want you to get hurt, I just want to be there if you do”. I also lost my aunt and uncle to a crash in India from injuries that I believe were preventable. Their deaths motivated me to choose trauma as a career and to do trauma training around the world.
DTM – What is one simple and easy health tip you can give to our readers?
Dr. Narayan – I’ve often said the best patient is the one I never see. The meaning behind that statement is prevention. In my field of trauma surgery that means injury prevention: wearing seatbelts while you’re driving or as a passenger, not texting while driving or texting while walking, not driving while impaired or preventing falls. It also means going to a primary care doctor for preventive health care. Many of the problems we see in our emergency rooms could have been managed with less stress to the patient and the healthcare system had they been addressed or prevented by regular screenings. An ounce of prevention is truly better than a pound of cure
DTM – What is your favorite thing about the new Downtown NYC?
Dr. Narayan – As a kid growing up in New Jersey, I always thought of New York City as the area with the skyscrapers, the World Trade Center – basically the iconic view we would get when driving in from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Downtown, as I have come to realize, is so much different than any other part of the city. There is a buzz about Downtown: new, energetic, amazing restaurants, and plenty of unique cultures. It’s no surprise that Lower Manhattan is now being called the “city’s newest hotbed”. I enjoy the narrow streets pre-dating the current grid system. I’ve fallen in love with it.
DTM – During your time off, do you stay in the city or a go for a quick escape to the country?
Dr. Narayan – New York is the city that never sleeps. As I said earlier, I grew up in central Jersey so have always felt a connection with the city. It has so much to offer in terms of culture: the concerts, shows, museums, and nightlife make it like no other city in the world. That being said, I do enjoy visiting the countryside to reconnect with nature. The Hudson River Valley is one of my favorites as it houses some of America’s most storied suburbs. I enjoy spending a night or two at a bed and breakfast in a small town with a day trip into the country. It gets my mind off of all the things I have to do so I can come back to work re-energized and ready to go.
NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital offers a comprehensive range of services to patients in a caring, culturally sensitive environment with access to all of the specialties and resources of a major academic medical center. The hospital is affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College, one of the top-ranked clinical and medical research centers in the country, and our physicians are credentialed members of its faculty. NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital is committed to pursuing clinical excellence and extending the many benefits of the Medical College’s groundbreaking research programs to our patients.
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