Dr. John Sarzier’s first job was not in the medical field — far from it, in fact. It was a toasty gig, working with his father’s screen printing business in Orlando.
“I got into medicine because I was working in the screen-printing business with my dad in the summers in Orlando. It was a big metal building, 104 degrees outside and then the screen printing dryer ran at 180 degrees. I decided this was not what I wanted to do for the next 60 years ... so I figured I’d find something inside, in the air conditioning,” he said with a laugh.
But Sarzier’s intellect did not allow for settling for just any career. He went to college followed by medical school and became a neurosurgeon.
“I went from high school to Auburn University for a year. Then I went for three years at the University of Florida. I graduated, did a year of research there, then went on the medical school at the University of South Florida where I also did my residency and fellowship,” he said.
Sarzier later settled in Florida for a number of years. He started working through a partnership with the Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick. He would travel to the area to work and then return home to Florida.
“We created a different kind of neurosurgical program for them,” he said.
But the Golden Isles grew on the Sarziers. After spending time working in the area as well as years of vacation, they decided to make the move a permanent one.
“We have always loved this area and had vacationed here for years, probably 15 years or so,” he said.
After moving and settling in, Sarzier joined Optim Medical Center in Brunswick. The health system offers a variety of neurological services spanning surgery, as well as clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic care.
There, the doctors, like Sarzier, along with their qualified staff go above and beyond to treat patients. That even includes traveling a few days a week to rural areas, providing care to those who would not be able to receive it otherwise.
“I provide mostly neurosurgical spine care. We don’t do any intercranial (brain) things ... mostly outpatient spine procedures. We provide critical care access for patients by traveling to areas like Alma, Reidsville, some areas of Hinesville where no one really goes. We want to save the patients from making a trip,” he said.
“And those are just the places I go. Optim goes as far north as Beaufort, South Carolina, and far west out to Macon.”
Through their comprehensive care plan, Optim Medical Center treats herniated discs, degenerative deformities, acquired deformities, trauma, tumors as well as pain treatment.
“We have six surgeons doing spine. Three of us are in neurosurgery,” he said. “We serve similar areas but most of them are based in the Savannah area, and travel.”
Regardless of which physician is treating a patient or where that patient might live, the high quality of care remains the same. Optim doctors give their full attention to those who come seeking help. Sarzier says a great many of these are complicated cases who have no where else to turn for relief.
“We tend to have more of a referral base where we are seeing patients who have had previous surgeries who didn’t get better or aren’t as good as they feel they should be. These are often the patients that no one wants to see anymore, unfortunately. So, we are an avenue of last resort to many of to those patients,” he said.
“They have very complex issues often times. But, as they teach you in medical school, if you just listen the patient will tell you the problem. That is what we make as our focus. We ask questions where necessary, but we try to let them just talk. We listen. Then we do whatever we can to help them.”
The doctors also try to create the best outcomes with the least invasive procedure possible. Sarzier focuses on what is best for his patients and does his best to educate them on all of the information and possibilities available to them.
“We don’t rush or push anyone toward surgery. We like to give them all of the information and time to let them make up their minds,” he said.
Sarzier’s understanding nature and focus on those he is treating has led to countless successes, where his patients go on to live full, pain free lives. And that is the entire reason he began his medical journey.
“I like what I do ... I love what I do to help people. It is always about what is best for the patient,” he said.