University of South Florida

USF Health Neurosurgery team grows, expands reach of superior care

The USF Health neurosurgery program has seen significant expansion recently, including successfully recruiting several key hires, offering a specialized surgical procedure, and advancing research on spine surgeries.

The efforts are helping the program propel its already stellar reputation for advanced neurosurgery to a broader patient base, drawing patients from throughout Florida and across the United States.

“We have patients from across the country seeking our expertise, especially those with some of the most complex brain and spine conditions, and our growth will greatly expand access to our skilled teams,” said Harry van Loveren, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Dr. Harry van Loveren

USF Health’s neurosurgery teams are based in locations throughout the Tampa Bay area. Each location offers its own advantages, including:

  • The use of key robotic technology for the complex and delicate brain and spine surgeries;
  • Multidisciplinary/comprehensive teams for patients requiring care from multiple specialists, including a critical care team;
  • This region’s first and most advanced intra-operative MRI suite.

“Our patients don’t have to look far – all of the expertise in the world is available right here in our program and it’s only the location that might adjust for the type of surgery they need,” Dr. van Loveren said. “That way, we don’t have to reproduce the entire service line at multiple locations. Instead, we build on strengths based at each location. That’s why we have the largest, best-skilled, and most comprehensive neurosurgery team in the region caring for the most complex and diverse patients.”

In total, the USF Health neurosurgery team provides surgical care to thousands of patients each year.

Spine surgery

One of the areas receiving the biggest boost is spine surgery, where three new faculty surgeons are joining USF Health, bringing the total number of USF Health spine surgeons to 10.

“Our emphasis on spine is because there is a serious need for high-level surgeons who have the added training and specific expertise focusing solely on spine,” Dr. van Loveren said. “Our new surgeons will help advance spine care not just in the Tampa Bay area, but across Florida, and most importantly, they will deliver this care in a way that is evidence-based rather than financially driven.”

These new surgeons are:

  • In July, USF neurosurgery welcomed Dustin Hatefi, MD, MPH, who was on staff at University of California, Irvine and conducted multiple fellowships in open/endoscopic skull base and cerebrovascular neurosurgery. Dr. Hatefi will also help lead several clinical trials and national registries for the department.
  • Joining in August is Erik Hayman, MD, who comes to USF Health from University of Maryland’s neurosurgery program and a fellowship in complex spine at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle, WA. He brings with him a significant research portfolio, including a prestigious grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and will work closely with the USF Health Center for Aging and Brain Repair, collaborating on key research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • Also joining in August is Alex Haas, MD, MBA, who just completed a seven-year neurosurgery residency at USF after having graduated from University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine.
Other key areas of growth

Neuro Endovascular: USF Health’s neurosurgery program has also expanded its endovascular neurology and neuropsychology efforts with the arrival of three new providers.

Joining earlier in the year is Waldo Guerrero, MD, who came to USF Health from Advocate Aurora Healthcare, where he practiced Neuro-Endovascular Surgery and Stroke Neurology. He completed both an Endovascular fellowship at the University of Iowa and a Vascular Neurology fellowship at the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center.

In addition, Keith Dombrowski, MD, joined USF Health as director of Neurocritical Care from Duke University, where he held a faculty position on their neurocritical care team. Dr. Dombrowski completed medical school at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, and a neurocritical care fellowship and clinical neurophysiology fellowship, both at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.

Neuropsychology: Tanisha G. Hill-Jarrett, PhD, joined USF Health last fall. Dr. Hill-Jarrett earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology (neuropsychology track) from the University of Florida and completed neuropsychology internship training at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital (adult/geriatric neuropsychology track). She also conducted a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology (geriatric/dementia track) at the University of Michigan.

Functional neurosurgery (i.e. movement disorders, epilepsy, etc.): The functional neurosurgery program, based at Tampa General Hospital, is also growing with plans to recruit another functional neurosurgeon over the coming year. Expansion also includes the cranial neurosurgery team, with TGH’s pituitary clinic, a joint program with USF Health’s endocrinology team.

Education: In addition to these key hires, the USF Health neurosurgery program is expanding its educational efforts by adding fellowships focused on neuro-endovascular surgery and spine surgery.

“We are impressed with the talent in our new surgeons,” Dr. van Loveren said. “Each of them brings tremendous added value to our team. This level of recruitment is an added advantage for patients looking for the best in every facet of neurosurgery.”


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