Roy Bakay, MD: When a Doctor Becomes a Patient

By David Ansell, MD

We provide excellent medical care at Rush, and we all can take pride in the high quality of treatment we offer our patients. It’s important, though, that in providing care we have true compassion for each patient, and not just treat the medical problem.

Our late colleague Roy Bakay, MD, provided great insight into patients’ need for compassionate understanding in a video he made before he died in September, following a long battle with stomach cancer. Drawing on his mutual experiences as a patient at Rush and as a neurosurgeon providing care for Rush patients, he eloquently and movingly talks about the insight he gained into patients’ fears and vulnerability. Roy goes on to discuss the importance of truly communicating with patients about their condition and making sure their families are involved in their care.

A highly accomplished clinician and researcher who specialized in Parkinson’s disease, Roy knew full well how demanding work at Rush can be. He also recognized, and talks about, the great difference it makes if caregivers do, or don’t, take simple steps to make sure patients understand who they are and what their role is in a patient’s care.

I encourage everyone to watch the video and benefit from the insights he offers from his own experience with illness. I’m sure you’ll be moved by Roy’s bravery and inspired by his example.

David Ansell, MD, MPH, is senior vice president of clinical affairs and chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center.

Roy Bakay, MD, 1949-2013

Roy Bakay, MDRush University Provost Thomas Deutsch, MD, and Department of Neurosurgery Chairperson Richard Byrne, MD, shared the following note with Rush staff members earlier today:

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Roy A.E. Bakay, MD, the A. Watson Armour III and Sarah Armour Presidential Professor, passed away on Sept. 5 after a long battle with stomach cancer.

A neurosurgeon, Roy was a leading authority on Parkinson’s disease and specialized in surgery for movement disorders. He was instrumental in developing new applications of stereotactic surgery for Parkinson’s tremors. His research focused on neural tissue transplantation and gene therapy techniques that spanned a career over 40 years.

Roy received numerous awards and honors, including the AMA Physician Recognition Award, the Philip Gildenberg Award and the Molly and Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award. After graduation from Northwestern University Medical School, he began his career in academic medicine, writing four books, 56 chapters, more than 153 journal articles and 314 other publications.

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