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Dr. Ian Wilson is known in the arts crowd as the founder of Rochester's annual muralism festival, WALL\THERAPY. His newest endeavor is Rochester Endovascular, an outpatient medical office that treats underserved patients with circulation ailments. - PHOTO BY JOSH SAUNDERS
  • PHOTO BY JOSH SAUNDERS
  • Dr. Ian Wilson is known in the arts crowd as the founder of Rochester's annual muralism festival, WALL\THERAPY. His newest endeavor is Rochester Endovascular, an outpatient medical office that treats underserved patients with circulation ailments.

IAN WILSON | MEDICINE

BY REBECCA RAFFERTY

Dr. Ian Wilson is best known in the local arts community as the founder of WALL\THERAPY, the annual muralism festival that has hired local, national, and international artists to paint more than 120 murals on Rochester's walls since 2011. But his main work is in vascular medicine. Wilson in 2016 left his job as a radiologist at Highland Hospital to begin Rochester Endovascular, a startup that treats people whose circulatory systems are in such dire states of illness that they are candidates for limb amputation.

"The reference that kind of got me started along this path was a paper put out by Dartmouth about vascular disease in the United States," Wilson says. "And several times they made mention of the Rochester region as an example of how bad things are, especially in New York State."

At the time, Wilson says, we had some of the highest amputation rates in the state, and "among certain populations, our amputations were eight per 1,000, which approximated some counties in rural Mississippi. But you think, 'this is Rochester, New York.' We have so much intellectual talent here, and so many resources, there's no reason why our statistics should be as bad as they are."

Endovascular medicine is the treatment of problems affecting blood vessels. Procedurally, it involves a low-invasive surgery where a small incision is made near each hip to access the vessels. Wilson describes it as a compliment for vascular treatment that's already being offered, but may not be viable for everyone.

"There are people for whom a surgical bypass would be very risky," he says. "We perform procedures under minimal, moderate sedation, so the risks are lower, the recovery is two hours plus procedure, typically, and then people go home."

Wilson and his team have treated more than 30 people to date. Because the medical office is out-patient, treatment is more affordable and accessible to more people than it would be with the overhead from a hospital stay. And it saves the system money, too — Wilson says that out-patient surgical services offered at practices like Rochester Endovascular save, on average, $1 billion per Medicare region across the country.

Situated just off the 590 expressway in Brighton, the 4,000-square-foot facility is a soothing environment and feels decidedly un-clinical, with a warm palette, bathed in natural light, and with views of the woods. The business currently employs eight people, and it doesn't just serve patients in the city of Rochester; patients are referred to them from the surrounding region as well.

Rochester Endovascular recently treated a man from the Dansville area who has toe ulcers and has been living with constant, excruciating pain from ischemia — an inadequate blood supply — to his foot. "Meaning, the next stop in the natural history of his vascular disease would be an amputation," Wilson says.

There are a lot of people in the rural environments around the city who are also underserved, in terms of certain conditions, Wilson says. "They're often written off as folks for whom certain options just aren't viable. It's logistics; it's a matter of insurance coverage. A lot of the folks we are trying to serve in both urban and rural locations are on Medicaid. But by virtue of the size of our practice and the technology in our portfolio, we can still take care of people who have Medicaid and not do so at a loss.

"Finances don't really drive what we're doing," he adds. "We take care of people who we're not even enrolled with their insurance plans yet. That doesn't stop us from providing care — we can figure that stuff out. Risks are worth assuming because of the potential impact you can make."


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