Community’s allure helps inpatient-specialist team to grow at Oaklawn

An early morning drive through Marshall helped settle Tarek Saleh’s mind about living and working here.

“It was my first visit,” said Saleh, 29, who came to the city to interview as an inpatient specialist with the Oaklawn Medical Group. “I felt welcome,” he said.

“I came in from Detroit about 6 in the morning, through downtown,” said Saleh. “It was all decorated for Christmas, with the historic buildings on the left and right. And then, during the interview, everybody at the hospital was friendly – even random people in the hallway. I was given a tour, and I was convinced.”

Now the former Dearborn Heights resident has joined Oaklawn’s team of hospitalists – physicians who specialize in care for patients strictly in a hospital setting. Instead of seeing patients in an office, hospitalists see patients only in the hospital, where they coordinate services among various departments and staff to ensure prompt, safe, and quality care.

“The goal is to take care of sick patients that you are seeing for the very first time,” said Saleh. That creates a challenge, because considerable background information must be compiled quickly.

“We have to put the whole puzzle together,” Saleh said. “Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s complicated.” The hospitalist works with the patient throughout his or her stay at the hospital, and eventually follows up with the patient’s primary-care physician, Saleh said.

During his first weeks on the job, Saleh has established a sense of camaraderie with the other members of Oaklawn’s hospitalist team – Hassan Beiz, M.D., Ali Ghasham, M.D., Asad Mehdi, M.D., and Mary M. Johnson, M.D.

“I really enjoy working with everybody,” Saleh said. “They’ve made my life easier, actually, by helping to create that sense of teamwork. I know that my life will be much easier because of that.”

Saleh’s hiring completes a two-year effort to shape a fully independent inpatient-specialist team at Oaklawn.

“We have very high standards and expectations for our inpatient specialist physicians,” said Mark Montross, Executive Director of the Oaklawn Medical Group. “As such, we were not just looking for any physician to join our inpatient service. We were looking for a physician who we would personally trust to care for our own friends and family members.

“Dr. Saleh and his colleagues fit those expectations perfectly,” Montross added. “They all individually strive to deliver comprehensive and compassionate care to each and every patient, 24/7.”

Montross pointed to the fact that Oaklawn recently ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in patient care and satisfaction during overnight stays.

“This achievement reflects how well our high recruiting standards are paying off, not only in terms of our physicians, but the entire team of employees within the hospital itself,” he said.

Saleh earned his undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in 2004 and his medical degree in 2009 from the American University of Antigua, in the Caribbean Nation of Antigua and Barbuda. He recently completed his residency in internal medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac.

Saleh is an associate of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the American Medical Association. He also is certified in Advance Cardiac Life Support, and is the co-author of several articles for peer-reviewed publications, focusing on various forms of disease.

Saleh himself is an active sports fan who plays basketball, football and racquetball, and enjoys watching college football and baseball. His taste in music is eclectic, including hip-hop and country tunes. He’s a big movie fan as well, his favorite being “Braveheart,” which he first saw at age 10.

Saleh, who has been living in Marshall since the end of July, said he imagines staying “a long time” here. The native of Beirut, Lebanon, came to Michigan with his parents and siblings 14 years ago. They still live in the Dearborn Heights area.

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