Hal S. Meltzer, MD, is chief of WVU Medicine Children’s Pediatric Neurosurgery, which means he sees children of all ages with neurological conditions, including craniofacial disorders in infants and toddlers.
Craniosynostosis is one of the most common pediatric neurosurgical conditions, Dr. Meltzer explains, and occurs when bones in an infant’s skull fuse too early, which can cause problems with brain and skull development.
“It’s very serious because if not corrected, the child will develop an abnormal appearance in the skull and the face,” he says. ‘We want to see these patients in the very early months, as early as possible, when it’s simpler to correct and achieve the best outcomes.”
In some cases, it’s been possible for Dr. Meltzer to diagnose the condition via telemedicine. WVU Medicine Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia, has a telemedicine clinic that allows specialists in Morgantown to see patients via video conferencing.
He reassures nervous parents and gets children in very soon for consultation, so they don’t have to worry too long. “Usually within a week or two,” says Dr. Meltzer. “Their child will receive the best care possible. We have a great team to handle these surgeries.”
He adds, “We’re working with the latest technological advances and innovative techniques. We want to offer families a whole range of treatment options.”
Dr. Meltzer was always interested in medicine, even as a child, primarily because of “the opportunity to help people, to make a difference in people’s lives and society,” he says. During his medical training, he was drawn to neurosurgery, and then came an opportunity to work in pediatric neurosurgery.
“I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do,” he says. “I felt I could make the most impact helping a child with their whole life ahead of them.”
He finds the relationships that develop with families are the best part of pediatrics. “We see this child go through treatment, then go on to develop into an adult. It’s extremely meaningful.
“We have a great responsibility to the parents, and they put their trust in us,” Dr. Meltzer adds. “Parents show so much courage and are so grateful. I’ve received so many cards and baked goods.”
His philosophy of care? “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes,” he says. “Give them the same care, love, and encouragement you would give your own family.”
Dr. Meltzer grew up in Chicago and practiced for over 20 years in San Diego, California, before being lured to WVU Medicine by his colleague and mentor, Mark R. Lee, MD. “There’s great natural beauty here,” he says. “My wife and I are happier than we’ve ever been. We love attending football and basketball games and supporting the WVU Medicine community.”