How a Colorado spine surgeon ended up in the emergency room

DENVER, Colorado – People rely on hospitals to help them when they need medical care. Some of these hospitals are the very reason why some of the best doctors are entering the medical profession.

This is the case of Dr. Woosik Chung, director of spine surgery at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.

One of the most recent spaces within their establishment is the smartOR. This is where Chung does all of his spinal surgeries.

He is the mastermind behind bringing some of the latest technology to this space. However, he didn’t get to where he is by accident.

“Growing up with a dad who was a surgeon and a mom who was a nurse in the operating room, you know, you kind of take it for granted, unfortunately,” Chung said.

His story begins when he was about 3 years old, and it was a party in South Korea.

“I remember playing with my friends. I think we were playing hide and seek. I remember hiding behind a tractor, and I remember the engine cover was open or it wasn’t there, and there was the propeller spinning and the fan belt around that propeller. . I remember I was sitting on my tricycle, hiding and no one could come and find me, and I got bored and saw the propeller moving, and thought I could l ‘stop,’ Chung said.

He cut both hands. Both were a clean cut.

“The next thing I remember is my dad holding me and squeezing my arms, and I heard my mom say, ‘I found them,’ and she was referring to my limbs,” Chung said. .

They lived right next to the hospital. Her father had to intervene because many doctors were not working because it was a public holiday.

“Fortunately, thanks to my parents, my father and the powers that be, I was healed and was able to start using my hands again and I think it took me a long time to understand the meaning of this” , said Chung.

Rather, what could have turned out to be a tragic story was the start of a remarkable career.

“I was curious about the operating room, I was curious about what my dad had done because I knew he had done my hand surgery, and so I think it got me. Made me want to go to his hospital when we lived in Malawi and check out what he was doing, ”Chung said. “He was busier than ever, so the only times I really saw him was when I visited him in the hospital, and then I ran with him while he was on his rounds, and then I was sort of watching as he operated outside the operating room.

These times of exploration, combined with his curiosity, gave him the goal of joining the medical field.

“Wow, that’s pretty unique, and it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come up as often, and so maybe the best thing to do is try and use my hands to help someone out. other, “Chung said.

This is exactly what he is doing now. Day in and day out, using his own hands to change the lives of others at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center. Its result is not the norm. The attachment of members is far from being a guarantee.

“I would still say it’s a rarity. And I would say this only happens in unique circumstances. And I think in my case, thank goodness i was a young child, thank goodness the wound itself is what we call a clean cut, and thank goodness my dad was able to take care of me so quickly just after the injury, ”Chung said. .

People would never know Dr. Chung’s story from watching him, but knowing makes people appreciate him as the doctor and surgeon that he is.

“Get to know your doctor. Get to know your nurse. Get to know the people who want to take care of you because we want to be able to take care of you, we want to help you, ”Chung said. “Help others and do whatever you can, even if the odds are stacked against you. , and as long as you look at that goal and work on it as hard as you can, well, sometimes amazing things can happen.


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