For Providers
Dr. Jonathan Lezotte: Turning a complex case into a teachable moment

As a 15-year-old sitting in the hospital with a torn ACL, LCL, meniscus and more from a football injury, a young Jonathan Lezotte would have said being a surgeon wasn’t for him — especially when he heard his surgeon say he woke up at 4 a.m. to get to work every day.

Three short years later, he changed his mind and decided to go into the medical field. What drew him to the profession?

“Maybe it sounds cliché to say, but the ability to save a life,” he said. "I figure waking up early is a small price to pay for the reward.”

Dr. Lezotte practices at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital Troy in general surgery, trauma surgery and critical care. He also helped launch a residency program last July — taking on residents from another institution as an outside rotation — along with partners Drs. Jenna Overly, Peter Perakis and David Barbat.

Some people in the hospital were hesitant to launch the residency program at first because surgical physician assistants traditionally did a lot of the work residents were coming in to do. What was their place going to be now?

Instead of creating a rift between the groups, Dr. Lezotte combined them. PAs assist with robotic cases, which they have a lot of experience with, while residents learn the actual steps of the operation and are a resource to the PAs. With the shared work, patient care has been expedited and patients have a better experience.

“You have to work well as a team for the patient to have the best possible outcomes,” he said.

Dr. Lezotte hasn’t had an easy journey to get to where he’s at today, though. The COVID-19 pandemic started during his intensive care unit fellowship at a Detroit hospital, one of the nation’s virus epicenters.

His unit was converted to a 75% COVID unit almost instantly and their call schedules doubled due to lack of staff, he said.

“It was awful,” Dr. Lezotte said, but “in hindsight, it was probably the best time to do a fellowship.” The fellows were getting to work with ventilators in ways they normally wouldn’t, as every COVID patient was considered complex.

"It was like the Wild West, but at the same time an incredible learning experience that you probably would never get again,” he said.

In September 2020, he joined the Troy Medical Staff only to have his first surgery be a very complex patient who needed multiple reoperations, reinterventions, ICU admissions and prolonged hospital stay. It made Dr. Lezotte question if he was “cut out” for health care.

"You're hoping your first operation is going to be a slam dunk, and this was not the case,” he said.

Thankfully he stuck it out and now uses his experiences to work with surgery residents. It’s rewarding helping them through their own trials and tribulations. He helps identify what they’re struggling with in an operation, coaches them through it, then a month or two later gets to watch them succeed.

And how’s he feeling about his own choice to go into the medical field after eight years of practice?

“I love what I do,” he said. “There's some challenges here and there, but I couldn't do any other job.”

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