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Grubb named Physician of the Year by Dysautonomia International

Dr. Blair Grubb of The University of Toledo Medical Center will be surrounded by grateful patients when he is lauded this weekend for his medical expertise and bedside manner.

In particular, Laura Ruszczyk will get to thank Grubb publicly when Dysautonomia International presents him with the 2015 Physician of the Year Award in his specialty, an honor that she nominated him for, at its annual conference in Washington, D.C., from July 17-20.

Ruszczyk nominated Grubb because of a life-changing operation she received to implant a BIOTRONIK EVIA pacemaker that works well for her because it responds to both heart rate and blood pressure.

“You hear his name, see it throughout the research on dysautomomia and expect a giant when you finally meet him,” Ruszczyk, 51, said. “He walked into my exam room and greeted my husband and me with a warm handshake and smile. He listened, explained the autonomic nervous system to us, examined me and gave answers and hope that we would — together — find a treatment plan that gave me a better quality of life.”

Her dysautomomia was diagnosed in August 2011, but it wasn’t until she secured an appointment that she began to hope life with an autonomic nervous system disorder was manageable.

She waited 16 months to meet the world-renowned autonomic specialist who has a wait list of more than 600 people. The distance did not matter. She drove 300 miles from Buffalo, New York to Toledo.

“This award means a lot to me because of all the work that I have done in creating this subspecialty of medicine,” said Grubb, Director of Electrophysiology Services at UTMC and Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics. “However, this award isn’t about me. It is about patients and changing their lives. My nurse practitioner and I do what we can for our patients. It is one day at a time with our huge waiting list. We wish we could do more.”Grubb 5

Dysautonomia affects the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the heart, bladder, intestines, sweat glands, pupils and blood vessels. Symptoms can include rapid heart rate or slow heart rate, excessive fatigue, thirstiness, shortness of breath, blood pressure fluctuations and bladder problems.

Because many of the sufferers are women, Grubb said he has seen that their concerns can be not taken as seriously and they are told to rest or drink more water.

Kim Pearch of Monroe, Michigan, said her symptoms were not validated until she met Grubb.

“When he comes into the exam room, you feel like you are the only who exists,” Pearch said. “I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Dr. Grubb understands and values the importance of treating the whole patient and not just the illness.”

Dan Barbee, vice president of clinical services at UTMC, said Grubb is a testament to UTMC’s approach to putting the patient first. His waiting list is indicative of how much his expertise and compassion is valued. Patients come from Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Great Britain.

“He’s regarded, literally, as the global leader in his field and patients came from all around the world to see him here at UTMC,” he said. “We are proud that Grubb is one of our own.”




is UT’s Communications Specialist. Contact her at 419.383.5376 or
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