Marketplace: Park City Performance Medicine aims to help people reach peak
April 24, 2018
Russ Reiss will never forget the first time he saw an open-heart surgery. A medical student at the time, he scrubbed in and watched the surgeon stop the heart, fix it and then shock it back to life.
"That was the moment that I said, 'I have to do this,'" he said.
He worked as a cardiothoracic surgeon for more than 15 years, but now he is hoping to help people maintain healthy hearts so they never have to end up on the operating table. He recently launched Park City Performance Medicine, a clinic that focuses on improving individuals' fitness, nutrition and overall well-being.
Reiss stumbled upon the idea for his business while working as a surgeon, which he said was a rewarding career.
"Cardiothoracic surgeons are pretty much at the end of the line," he said. "When somebody has a heart attack or a new diagnosis of lung cancer, we are the ones who have to pick up the pieces and put things back together. For me, being that resource for my fellow man, I think is probably priceless."
But over the years, working on people in life or death situations took its toll.
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"As much as I love surgery, and in particular open-heart surgery," he said, "I've often felt that the people that I am helping are way down the line, often after it's too late."
He realized that many of the people that he was operating on were there because of poor choices throughout their lives, such as smoking or not exercising.
While contemplating this in 2011, Reiss was diagnosed with leukemia. That jarred him, but he was able to beat it. He attributes part of his successful outcome to the healthy lifestyle that he had maintained throughout his life.
At that point, he decided to take a different life path and help his patients "upstream."
"I wanted to help people long before they need my services as a heart surgeon or a lung surgeon," he said.
He met Eric Heiden, an orthopedic surgeon who owns an orthopedic and sports medicine practice in Park City, and presented a business idea. Reiss wanted to provide moderately active individuals with services and resources to become even healthier. Heiden welcomed Reiss into his space, where Reiss opened a clinic for preventative care.
The clinic provides physical exams, cardiac screenings, nutritional consultation, sports psychology consultation and lab work to its clients. Reiss also offers nonsurgical alternatives to musculoskeletal injuries, such as regenerative medicine and physical therapy. He researched stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine throughout his career.
With his practice, he hopes to help people reach and maintain their peak physical condition. His larger goal is to change the way people view medical care from something people seek when they are sick to something they view as vital to their health when they are well.
"So many of us, myself included, take both our lives and our health for granted until we suddenly fall ill or we have an injury," he said.
He plans on hosting camps and other events to educate people about the importance of health checkups.
Reiss said that breaking that ideology has been one of the largest obstacles, but it has also been difficult to switch from a career that he has been working in for so long.
"Shifting gears from a highly specialized, highly technical surgeon that is focused on one task at hand to an out-patient clinic focusing on longer-term results has been somewhat of a challenge," he said.
But he has enjoyed using his medical knowledge and skills that he gained in school but has not exercised while performing surgeries for decades.
Reiss said that his work continues to be rewarding, and he is not planning on slowing down until he sees a new wave of thinking take over the population.
"Success would look like a tribe of people — clients, patients, friends, locals — who all have adopted a peak-performance mindset and who believe that health is the new wealth," he said.
Editor’s note: This article originally misstated one of the services Reiss provides. He practices regenerative medicine, not restorative medicine.
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