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2020-02-13T13:14:07-06:00February 21st, 2020|

Dr. Ram Velamuri brings expertise, compassion to new role as Firefighters Burn Center Associate Medical Director

Dr. Ram Velamuri has been named associate medical director of Regional One Health’s Firefighters Burn Center.

Dr. Velamuri, a board-certified plastic surgeon, looks forward to helping lead an exceptional team as they not only help patients survive critical injuries but help them returning to fulfilling and rewarding lives.

The Firefighters Burn Center is the only burn center in a 150-mile radius verified by the American Burn Association and American College of Plastic Surgeons, and patients also benefit from a full continuum of care at Regional One Health including wound care, burn rehab, extended care, subacute care and more.

Ram Velamuri, MBBS, MS, DNB, MRCS-Ed, has been named associate medical director of Regional One Health’s Firefighters Burn Center, where he’ll help lead a growing team using his exceptional clinical experience and passion for helping patients lead full, rewarding lives.

Dr. Velamuri joins medical director and fellow plastic surgeon William Hickerson, MD, FACS in overseeing the only burn center in a 150-mile radius of Memphis that is verified by the American Burn Association and American College of Plastic Surgeons.

“Taking care of burn patients is a challenge, and as a plastic surgeon, you take care of patients not only when they’re very sick, but when they’re working to normalize day-to-day activities and improve cosmetic deficiencies caused by their injuries,” said Dr. Velamuri. “It isn’t just life; it’s quality of life. We help patients find value in life, and that’s very important.”
Regional One Health Vice President of Operations Renee Trammell said Dr. Velamuri steps into his leadership role at the perfect time.

“He’s the first associate medical director we’ve had in the Burn Center, and we’re very excited,” Trammell said. “We are actively recruiting a third burn surgeon to our team, and we’re looking to the future as we continue to grow, train new clinicians and elevate our services even further.”

Dr. Velamuri joined the Firefighters Burn Center and University Clinical Health in 2016. He is board-certified in plastic surgery and serves as an assistant professor and program director for plastic surgery at University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

He discovered a passion for the field early in life. “Growing up in India, I saw a lot of victims of burns who didn’t have the resources to survive,” Dr. Velamuri said. “It gave me the desire to look for other ways to take care of these patients.”

As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Velamuri helps patients at all stages. “You take care of patients not only when they’re very sick, but when they’re working to normalize day-to-day activities and improve cosmetic deficiencies caused by their injuries,” he said.

He earned his medical degree and completed a general surgery residency in India, then moved to the United States to pursue training in plastic surgery. He completed residencies in general surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a fellowship in burn and reconstructive plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins University.

Now, he helps lead a burn center team at Regional One Health that includes physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, therapists, pharmacists and other medical professionals. Dr. Velamuri said he admires his colleagues for both their skill and compassion.

“We use a comprehensive team approach, and each and every voice is important – not just the physicians,” he said. “We all contribute to quality care, and we will stretch ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally to help our patients get better.”

Dr. Velamuri is proud of the Burn Center and full continuum of care Regional One Health offers.

The Burn Center is a 14-bed inpatient hospital with two dedicated burn operating rooms and three recovery bays. Independent assessors have described it as one of the best in the nation.

“It’s a very well-structured burn center with access to our own emergency room, operating rooms and burn rehab, which is considered a separate specialty by the American Burn Association,” Dr. Velamuri said. “Also, we have a Wound Care Center with the option of hyperbaric oxygen therapy just footsteps away, which helps our patients continue their healing.”

Patients also benefit from care elsewhere within the Regional One Health system, such as the Extended Care Hospital, Subacute Care, Plastic Surgery and Laser Center, inpatient and outpatient rehab, and other specialties as needed.

Dr. Velamuri said that multidisciplinary approach leads to better outcomes for patients, and he looks forward to building on that success in his new leadership role.

He recognizes that Memphis has a large population of underserved patients who are more prone to injury due to isolation, homelessness, disability, etc. He said treatment of these patients is complicated by their social challenges and chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and overcoming those obstacles is an area of focus for him.

Dr. Velamuri said the Burn Center’s team approach is crucial to patient outcomes. “Each and every voice is important. We all contribute to quality care, and we will stretch ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally to help our patients get better.”

“A burn patient is already sick, and if they have any of these comorbidities, it only makes them sicker. Someone has to look out for them, so why not be that link and take care of them?” Dr. Velamuri said. “My focus is on optimizing quality care, decreasing length of stay and decreasing costs so we can achieve excellent outcomes even with the sickest of patients.”

Dr. Velamuri said he’s grateful to mentors in India and the United States, and to Dr. Hickerson and the Regional One Health administration for helping him grow into this leadership role. He’s also thankful for his personal support system of family and friends.

Dr. Velamuri’s wife, Dr. Parul Zaveri, is a neonatologist who also practices at Regional One Health, and they are parents to son Krish, 12; daughter Meera, 6; and a four-legged “child” – a 1-year-old Goldendoodle named Ollie.

“In whatever free time I have, I love to spend it with my wonderful family,” Dr. Velamuri said. “I also enjoy playing cricket with a great group of friends who are like family. Staying physically and mentally healthy is an important part of being a physician. You need to be in a good space to help get your patients to a good space.”

For Dr. Velamuri, helping patients get to that good space is the best part of the job.

“We see patients come in through the emergency room whose families have lost hope,” he said. “The biggest reward is to be able to take them through the entire journey from saving their life to going back to functioning as a productive member of society.”

To support our Burn Center and other live-saving services at Regional One Health, visit regionalonehealth.org/foundation.

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