Renowned neurosurgeon says Covid-19 protocol focus is protection

As a precaution during the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Julian Bailes wears three masks while operating. Bailes is chairman of the Dept. of Neurosurgery and co-director of NorthShore Neurological Institute at NorthShore University HealthSystem.


Dr. Julian Bailes may be nearly 900 miles from Natchitoches but the COVID-19 protocol in Chicago is nearly the same as it is here. A Natchitoches native, Bailes is chairman of the Dept. of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of NorthShore Neurological Institute at NorthShore University Health System. He is also professor of neurosurgery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Bailes performs urgent and emergency neurosurgery and says COVID-19 protocol focuses heavily on protection, especially masks.

Dr. Julian Bailes

While operating, he wears three masks including the N95-Respirator Mask. It protects from airborne particles and contaminating liquids. “We must continue urgent surgery that can be done safely.” The general protocol also includes frequent gowning and hand washing and social distancing that began in mid-March at NorthShore. Non-essential surgery, like in other medical facilities, has been delayed.

NorthShore Neurological Institute is in Chicago and Cook County that has been termed a “hot spot” for COVID-19 cases that are expected to rise according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s office. To date, approximately 148,000 tests have been administered with 21 percent positive rate or over 35,000 positives.

There is no way to know how many people have been exposed to the virus until testing becomes more widespread. Bailes emphasizes that the vulnerable are seniors, those with chronic conditions, the obese and smokers and vapors. Approximately 90 percent of severe COVID-19 cases or deaths have similar profiles. Bailes is anxious to see what the next months bring and whether the numbers will decrease.

“We also have the next flu season to go through.” He points to the Spanish Flu outbreak that began in 1918 and resulted in three waves with the second being the most deadly. Some 50 million people died of Spanish Flu worldwide with about 675,000 being in the United States. Also of concern is that hospitals are run like other businesses. With the decline in elective surgeries has come the strain of diminished income. “Budgets are easily affected.” While much of his time is spent in the operating room, Bailes acknowledges those on the front lines caring for virus patients.

“There are enumerable physicians, nurses, therapists, technicians and other staff who are the real heroes. They deserve a lot of credit for stepping up. NorthShore has accomplished outstanding achievements in testing, patient management, organization and leadership of their Covid-19 response”

Bailes grew up in Natchitoches and attended LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. He completed his neurosurgical residency at Northwestern University Medical Center in Chicago and a fellowship at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. He helped identify the first clinical evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)– a neurological disorder classified by cognitive deterioration common among professional athletes. He was named one of the “Best U.S. Surgeons” for eight consecutive years in U.S. News & World Report’s: “American Best Doctors” and has been named a “Top Doctor” by Chicago Magazine for the last six years.

Bailes was named an LPB Louisiana Legend and was inducted into the La. Sports Hall of Fame for his sports-related brain injury research. Northwestern State inducted Bailes into the 2017 Long Purple Line that recognizes alumni for their career accomplishments or service to their fellow man that have enhanced the reputation and prestige of Northwestern State. In 2011, Louisiana State University inducted Bailes into the Hall of Distinction, the highest honor the university can bestow on an alumnus.