Name: Thomas Justin Pirosko, DO, MSc. (Nickname: Tom)
Tell me about yourself?
About your job:
Medical Director of Emergency Department & Medical Executive Committee Chairman WHS Greene, Medical Staff President & Assistant Medical Director Emergency Department Washington Hospital
Did you take on any additional tasks during COVID 19?
During the COVID-19 pandemic I have had several additional tasks in my leadership positions. As the Medical Director of the ED at WHS Greene I was responsible for developing new protocols for COVID-19 patients. Through collaboration with nursing leadership, we divided the ED into a COVID-19 area and a non-COVID area for the safe treatment of patients. A surge plan was also developed for the ED with detailed protocols for physicians, APP’s and nurses to follow during these uncharted times. It has been necessary to stay up to date on the constantly changing information about COVID-19. Therefore, I am on numerous WebEx’s, in various email groups, and attending extra meetings in order to convey this additional information to our ED teams and medical staff.
How long have you been employed at WHS?
I did my residency at Washington Hospital from 2005-2008. I started working as an attending in the ED at Washington full time in June of 2008. In November of 2014, I started working as the Medical Director at WHS Greene ED and have been splitting my clinical time between WHS Greene and Washington Hospital since then.
Peters Twp High School – graduated in 1994.
The Kiski School – Post Graduate year – graduated 1995.
Carnegie Mellon University – Bachelors Science – graduated 1999.
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Master in Science – graduated 2001.
New England College of Osteopathic Medicine – Doctor of Osteopathy – graduated 2005.
Hobbies outside of work:
Outside of work I enjoy traveling with my wife and occasionally with my children ☺! I am a sports fanatic. Therefore, I love coaching and watching my kids play sports. I also enjoy bicycling, hiking and golf. I started taking guitar lessons a couple years ago which is a new challenge for me.
I co-founded and run a children’s charity called the TC Open Charitable Foundation. This was started with my childhood best friend in 1996. To date we have raised over $1.2 million dollars for various children’s charities including Semper Fi Kid’s Camp, Make-A-Wish Foundation and many more. If interested please visit www.tcopen.org.
Family, pets, etc?
I have been married to my wife Melissa for 17 years. She is also from Peters Township. In addition to raising our children she is a Real Estate Investor. We have 4 amazing daughters: Lexi – 15, Addie – 13, Mandy – 11 and Avery – 7. They all love playing sports, working hard in school, hanging out with their friends and going on vacations. In March we welcomed our new puppy, Remi, to the family. He is a Portuguese Water Dog.
Tell us about the best advice you have received and who gave you the advice?
I feel like over the years I have received so much great advice from numerous coaches, teachers and friends that it is hard to just pick one. If I had to pick, it would be the advice that my Father gave me to “set your goals high”. He said that in order to achieve something you must work extremely hard for it, learn from your failures and never give up. You must try to surpass what your expectations are in order to achieve your final goal. This has helped in my athletic, professional and personal life. Thank you Dad!
What was your first job? Tell us about it. What did you like or dislike, looking back on it.
My first job was as a lifeguard at Rose Garden pool when I was a teenager. What was not to like about that job? I loved spending time outside in sun, working with kids and hanging out with my friends. The pay wasn’t the best, but the benefits definitely exceeded it ☺.
What do you want to do when you retire?
When I retire, I want to do whatever I want. I wish for my health and that of my families’ health. I would like to travel more with my wife. I hope to have more time for philanthropical work. Eventually, I would like to have a house on the beach and enjoy watching the sunsets with a cocktail and my wife. However, with four daughters I am not sure that I will ever have time to retire!
Do you prefer watching movies on your home TV or in a movie theater and why?
I prefer watching movies in my movie room at home. I enjoy this more than a movie theater because I get to stop and restart the movie whenever I want. It is also much cleaner than a movie theater. I also enjoy my reclining leather chair that I can lay on with a blanket and bowl of popcorn. Lastly, I won’t have to wear a mask at home and get to spend more time with my family.
What’s something you’re looking forward to, when we can get back to “normal”?
I am looking forward to being able to socialize with my friends and family. I feel fortunate now to be able to go to work in the ED and be with my work friends, however I miss the rest of my friends. I can’t wait for nice spring / summer nights to have friends over for bonfires and get-togethers. I also really miss watching my kids play sports and watching them grow in that arena. Being part of a team is very important and right now this has been taken away from them. There are truly so many things that I miss from the “old normal”, but I am looking forward to the new experiences that the “new normal” will bring for us.
What do you want people to know about COVID-19?
I want people to know that COVID-19 is a very real and serious infection that mainly affects our older population and patients with comorbidities, such as diabetes, chronic lung disease and those that are immunosuppressed. I think we should continue to listen to and follow the recommendations of our experts in the healthcare field. We need to make decisions about moving forward to the new normal with facts and not opinions. I want people to understand that we have made our hospitals and emergency departments “extremely safe” for patients to seek medical care.
Tell us why your family decided to make masks?
A good friend of ours, Wendi Ligouri, asked my wife, Melissa, if the hospital needed any masks to be made. Wendi’s mother is a retired seamstress and wanted to help out hospitals in need. Therefore, Melissa and the girls thought this would be a great opportunity to help Wendi and her mother make the masks. The girls set up shop in our dining room. Wendi brings the material and the girls’ job is to cut the cloth for manufacturing of the masks. I think that my family saw how hard the healthcare workers were working and wanted to do whatever they could to help out.
What do you want people to know about WHS? ( maybe something they might not know about our services, something about what it means to work here, etc)
I want people to know how proud I am to work at WHS. I am surrounded by outstanding administrative leaders, fellow clinicians and nurses. The services we provide at WHS are state of the art, while being in a community hospital setting. Since the pandemic, we have made significant advances in telemedicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. This continues to allow physicians to deliver excellent care while keeping our patients safe.
I am very impressed with the ability of WHS to quickly adapt to the pandemic. WHS has done an amazing job of keeping its employees and community informed of the constant changes via emails, meetings, newspaper articles, Facebook, etc.
I feel extremely confident that WHS will learn many lessons from this pandemic and come out as an even stronger healthcare system than before. It is through determination, adaptation, and setting high goals that we will defeat this virus.