New Chief of Staff is a Familiar Face at Shriners Children’s Lexington
2024 is shaping up to be a milestone year for Vishwas Talwalkar, M.D., in more ways than one. Dr. Talwalkar is celebrating his 25th year at Shriners Children’s Lexington, and is rising to a leadership role as chief of staff of the nearly 100-year-old facility.
“I am very excited to continue to be part of the outstanding team here, and continue to advance the care of children,” Dr. Talwalkar said. “I strive to continue to build on the excellent foundation that has been established here. I appreciate the opportunity to care for children and families with other people who share that vision to provide the most amazing care anywhere, as well as the opportunities to build on our legacy of teaching and research. This is really the best job I could imagine.”
In addition to his role as chief of staff, Dr. Talwalkar will assume the role of chief of the pediatric orthopedic division at UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and continue as professor of orthopedic surgery and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Shriners Children’s Lexington’s academic partner.
Dr. Talwalkar graduated summa cum laude from Murray State University in Kentucky. He obtained his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He further sub-specialized in pediatric orthopedics and spine surgery with training at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.
Having grown up in Lexington and having developed a passion for pediatric orthopedics, Dr. Talwalkar knew Shriners Children’s Lexington would feel like home to him. He recalls being a fourth-year resident in the late 1990s and making phone calls about an open position for a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the medical center.
“I knew I wanted to come back to Lexington,” Dr. Talwalkar said. “As I learned more and more about pediatric orthopedics, I found that I also wanted to be in a place where there was a need. I had also trained at a place where the ability to pay was not something that came into consideration, just like at Shriners Children’s. Providing every child the best care possible is the singular focus.”
Dr. Talwalkar, who has a special interest in the treatment of clubfoot and complex spinal deformities, said he loves practicing at Shriners Children’s because of the mission behind the work.
“It’s the ability to take care of kids in a way that only considers what's going on with the child and the family,” he said. “Additionally, it's working with people who are all focused on that one thing, so everybody's pulling in the same direction.”
Looking back at the days he was making phone calls about that open position at Shriners Children’s Lexington, Dr. Talwalkar said he is honored and humbled to now be leading the staff.
“I feel like I've had a great example,” he said. “Dr. Henry Iwinski (the out-going chief of staff at Shriners Children’s Lexington) has been an amazing leader, and watching him and listening and learning from him has been great. I also feel really fortunate to have great partners in the future of the organization because the younger staff we have here is really bright.”
The future of Shriners Children’s Lexington is really bright, too, Dr. Talwalkar said.
“I think it looks really bright because we have great people here, and I think it looks really bright because of some of those other natural advantages we have in that we are well-positioned geographically, we have lots of patients that need us, and we have a relationship with an academic partner, which allows us to grow in different ways than some other facilities,” he said.
Even after 25 years, Dr. Talwalkar said every day continues to be fun and challenging, and that’s what keeps him coming back.
“It is gratifying in a lot of different ways to be able to travel the journey that these families make,” he said. “Every day is different, but every day is also very rewarding and impactful. I can't imagine wanting to do anything else.”
Building relationships with the patients and families is perhaps the most gratifying part of the job, though, he said. As a father of three, Dr. Talwalkar understands how important it is to trust your child’s care providers.
“Handing your child to someone, that's a big deal,” he said. “The responsibility of that certainly is not something we take lightly. All of us feel fortunate and blessed we are able to be a part of this mission, and that people trust us in that way. I think it means the whole team has done a great job of taking care of families. It’s very humbling to get to be part of the amazing care that takes place at Shriners Children’s Lexington.”
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