Meet Dr. Julio A. Ramos, Designated Institutional Official and Rheumatologist

Education: Kings College, 1993

Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica West Indies

Clinical Clerkships: Harbor Hospital, St. Francis, Yukon, Brooklyn, Jamaica Hospital in NY, Yale Associate Hospital, U Mass Associate Hospital

Visiting Student Across the East Coast

1997 Scranton Temple Residency Program- Chief Resident

2002 Fellow at Geisinger in Danville Rheumotology

Family: Wife, Kathy Genovese Ramos; Children, Gabriel, Francesca, Angelo

Why Rheumatology? Rheumatology encompasses all internal medicine where you create an impact in people’s function. I like calling it internal medicine on steroids. You may deal with common diseases, but some are very, very rare. We have the ability to impact patients’ lives to make them better. It is a blend of multiple subspecialties; it’s a collaboration. Often I feel like the composer and detective.

What led you to Rheumatology? Dr. Rodger Fagerberg, an Infectious Disease Specialist, in Scranton. One of his patients had abdominal discomfort and fevers. Instead of an infection, it turned out that the patient had serositis and lupus. I was very interested in this. Diseases that have symptoms that span many disciplines pique my interest and I felt Rheumatology was my calling.

What does it take to be in the field of Rheumatology? An ability to put things together! There are pieces of puzzles that often don’t make sense at ground level. You make things make sense. As a diagnostician, you have the ability to discover and then re-stratify treatment options.

How has Rheumatology changed? It’s a field that’s growing in exponential amounts. In the 1950s, arthritis had no treatment except high dose aspirin, to the point where it would create toxicity. We didn’t have a way to affect outcomes. You could treat pain but not joints or systems. The advent of biologic agents came in the late 1990s, which revolutionized care of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Biologics have created an impact on treatment and outcomes. In the last five to 10 years, medicine for lupus evolved. Read more for details. Medications earlier than the 1950s were not completely effective; now we are decreasing mortality and improving peoples’ function.

How long have you been with The Wright Center? Since 2007, I have held the roles of: Subspecialty Chief  of Rheumatology, Associate Program Director Subspecialty Medicine (Internal Medicine) and Director for Sports Medicine (Family Medicine). My new positions are Designated Institutional Official and Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Any memorable experiences? Recently, one of my patients brought me a card that read: “Thank you for your kindness and always being there for me and my family. Good luck on your new position.” It meant so much to me; it meant that I’m helping. I really appreciated it.

What is unique about your practice? The Wright Center is a system that really cares about improving the quality of self and community. The mission is to continuously improve education and patient care in a collaborative spirit to enhance outcomes, access and affordability. The Wright Center is interested in expanding primary care access in the area. Dr. Wright started it.  He wanted to elevate knowledge of physicians already in the system. If you don’t continue to learn then you stagnate. Everybody involved elevates educational standards.

What is something not many people know about Rheumatology? Rheumatology is a crossover of different fields. It is also a close-knit community here. Arthritis affects many more people’s lives than most realize. Aches and pains may not just be old age. If rheumatologic disease is caught early we can decrease mortality and increase function.

What are the most common conditions you see? Osteoarthritis is very common, but there are over 130 different diseases whose initial presentation is arthritis. We separate the forest from the trees; we must appropriately diagnose the disease. It doesn’t just affect the joints; it can affect the whole body and also have socio-economic impacts.

How can joints be kept healthy? Be active. Exercise, strengthen your muscles, eat well, don’t smoke. Smokers have higher incidents of rheumatoid diseases.

What is an advantage of the medical field in this region? There are high quality physicians in the area; you don’t have to go Philadelphia. A local doctor can have a relationship with you. They have the ability to see you when you’re sick without you having to travel. Our doctors are trained in the biggest centers in the country and then they bring expertise back to this area.

What led you to Northeast PA? My wife. We met at King’s College. Her father was deaf, and he was an umpire who worked at a printing shop in Scranton. When I asked her to move with me, she wanted to stay near her dad so she could communicate with him. So I  applied and was accepted into The Wright Center’s residency program and was able to stay here with her. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad she did, because before he died she was able to spend as much time with him as possible. I’m not from this area, but I stayed here in hopes of practicing quality medicine; I owe that to my trainers. I can appreciate the dedication of the staff and faculty who train our young doctors. I am excited to influence our future physician workforce in my new role.

What is your favorite part of Northeast PA? Doctors are appreciated, and we feel that. As hectic as life is, it pays off to feel valued.

How do you get through a difficult day? I pray every day. Every Sunday, I pray for my family’s health and for God to give me the knowledge to be able to help people who need my help. I pray for patients, for their affliction to be healed. I know for sure that we’re not in charge and with the appropriate care people do get better. We can impact that but we can’t do that alone.

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