For Dr. Alexander Vaccaro, a demanding work schedule that often includes 15-hour days or more doesn’t feel much like work at all. “Even when I’m out late for business dinners I’m having fun,” he says. “I really enjoy my jobs.”
Those jobs include spine surgeon; president of the Rothman Institute, a private orthopedic practice with 20 area locations; and editor-in-chief of a major spine journal—three roles that Vaccaro seamlessly juggles on any given day: He’s awake before 5 AM to answer emails while riding his stationary bike and is in the operating room until 3 PM for at least a dozen major spine surgeries each week. He travels the world for conferences, including a recent trip to Singapore, but says that his role as president “really requires you to be here.”
Vaccaro was in Philly more than ever in 2015 for two major partnerships. Rothman, along with Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, made news for being among the first in the US to partner with four major sports teams in the same city. This winter also marked the second season of the uber-successful Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park.
With those programs in place, the practice is set on expanding both geographically and intellectually: Rothman will move into North Jersey and different areas of Pennsylvania while bringing modern technology to patient care. “We’re moving into telemedicine, where one of our doctors can be with you any time of day for a face-to-face conversation via a TV or tablet. You won’t have to get in your car and go anywhere,” says Vaccaro. And in another Philly first, Rothman is laying the groundwork for a spine hospital (also in conjunction with Jefferson), joining just a handful of similar facilities in the US. Vaccaro says spinal care, for lower back injuries particularly, is a need in the community that just wasn’t being satisfied.
Vaccaro refers to patients often and in a variety of contexts during conversation and it’s clear that he believes it is patient input that is driving the very future of Rothman Institute. “You have to respond to how health care is changing but it’s really about listening to people and finding out exactly what they need,” he says.