“More people suffer from vascular disease than from cancer. It doesn’t get any airplay because it’s so hard to put it in a package and deliver it to the public,” offers Dr. Macris. “One of the reasons we came here was so that we could put a big sign on a building, smack dab in the middle of Downtown so that people would say, ‘Wow, what are they doing in there?’”
Dr. Daniel Tamez takes a look at a visual diagram of an artery during his explanation of vascular disease. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
PVA has an impressive facility on North Main, a welcome addition to the Downtown Medical District. Dr. Daniel Tamez has been a champion of Downtown since he joined the practice. “I started in 1982 and chose to be Downtown. We want to be available for people here and on the Southside who can’t necessarily get to the Northside.” PVA has alternate locations throughout San Antonio.
“We’ve been wary of interviews because stories try to get their point across in a short amount of time. The problem is that this is not a short topic,” says Dr. Demetrios Macris. He’s right, Peripheral Vascular Associates, better known as PVA, is a decades long story about a unique group of doctors. The importance of preventing vascular disease is what the group is trying to communicate to the community.
Director of Prosthetics Peripheral Vascular Associates Jeff Forbes prepares a prosthetic leg for a patient. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
The most recent development for PVA came from responding to a patient's needs. “The reason we started a prosthetic department,” says Dr. Tamez, “was there was such a need for good prosthetics.” An unfortunate but sometimes unavoidable reality for some patients is leg amputation. The doctors at PVA were shocked at how so many patients were being misinformed and neglected when they needed assistance after losing a limb. In response, they created their own prosthetics department, complete with state of the art technology capable of producing a prosthetic limb within hours.
Their work doesn’t just save lives, it changes them. One patient, a single mother who had lost a leg to amputation, came in one day for a follow up appointment. She had been in a wheelchair for two years. No one had ever told her about the opportunity for a prosthetic leg. Her doctor at PVA asked Jeff Forbes, the Director of Prosthetics, if there was anything he could do for her. Forbes was shocked. “Yeah, why doesn’t she have a prosthesis?” he remembers thinking. “Within two hours, she was walking.”
Staff at Peripheral Vascular Associates. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
From that same ingrained desire to help patients, the physicians at PVA started The Prosthetic Foundation, a philanthropic entity designed to help under-served amputees. The Foundation provides prosthetic limbs to many patients who may not have the resources to pay for them. The foundation is three years old, but has grown steadily every year. They’ve begun to hold community events to benefit the foundation and grow their capacity to help those in need, including a Fashion Show next month.
“There’s a famous movie called ‘The Fugitive’ where the guy is a vascular surgeon,” says Dr. Macris, “and he’s kind of obscure. And they joke throughout the whole movie, wondering what a vascular surgeon actually is.”
We found out that what a vascular surgeon does says a lot about what a vascular surgeon is: Educating the community, while improving its health in the process.