After referring patients to Case Integrative Health for many years, I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining the team on August 1st! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dr. Trent Orfanos and I am excited to join the Case team as the Director of Integrative and Functional Cardiology. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can in the weeks and months to come, but for now, let me tell you a bit about myself.
I was born and raised in South Bend, one of Indiana’s larger cities (and home to Notre Dame University). I grew up next door to my mother’s childhood home in a large family of Greek origins. In some ways, I credit this heritage as my first brush with functional medicine. The Mediterranean diet on which I was raised (rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats) bears many similarities to the diets I recommend to my patients today. I believe it is no coincidence that my family, most of whom follow this eating style, achieve a great deal of longevity. While I was unaware of it at the time, those childhood meals would become the first rung on the ladder toward my practice of functional and integrative medicine.
I remained nearby for my undergraduate degree, attending Indiana University South Bend. Following three years of study, I graduated and started medical school in Indianapolis. From there, I began a residency in Internal Medicine at St. Vincent, followed by a cardiology fellowship at the same hospital. Interestingly, one of my early teachers was an early pioneer in using stents (the small tubes inserted to keep narrowed coronary arteries open). While stents are a widely used tool in cardiology today, they were brand-new technology in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1983, I brought that cutting edge of cardiology to St. Anthony’s Crown Point and began performing stents for the first time in that area. It is exhilarating to practice medicine in a quickly evolving field, then cardiology, now functional medicine.
From 1982 to 2019, for nearly 40 years, I continued to practice interventional cardiology, initially using primarily conventional medicine. I was unaware of the significant impact of functional medicine until I was introduced to it, not through my practice but by my own family. More specifically, my eldest daughter, Marianne. Marianne was born with cerebral palsy, and she was still struggling to crawl by age three. Each doctor she visited gave my wife and me the same response, “She’ll never walk, and she’ll need multiple, extensive surgeries.” As parents, this was devastating. Together with my wife and her Obstetrician, we located a promising program in Pennsylvania. Unlike other hospitals, they eschewed surgery for physical, nutritional, supplements, and neurophysiological therapy. Essentially, they practiced functional medicine before functional medicine had a name. Marianne arrived at the program unable to crawl, but when she left 4 years later, she was walking. This experience was my first “aha” moment.
My second “aha” moment came many years later. By 2009 my practice had grown to five doctors, and I was interested in beginning to incorporate wellness. In my research, I came across an intriguing meeting about the usage of supplements in medical care. My wife and I flew out to La Jolla and attended several days of well-researched presentations and scholarly talks about the impact and importance of supplements and lifestyle changes. I was awed. It was a completely fresh way to practice medicine and promote healing, and I was eager to incorporate it into my patients’ lives.
My first functional medicine “patient,” it turned out, was my wife, Beth. For many years Beth had been suffering from chronic joint pain, a result of Lyme disease, as we would soon find out. While we both enjoyed our time at the conference in La Jolla, I remember that she was in such great pain that she had to travel throughout the resort via a golf cart or wheelchair. Upon our return, she and I began integrating what we had learned into our daily lives. With the application of functional medicine practices, Beth began to improve. Now, more than ten years after that conference, she is tremendously better. Where before I pushed Beth in a wheelchair, today, she walks beside me. Despite the passage of time, she is healthier than she was at that conference, and the credit goes to functional medicine.
Throughout the years following that conference, I began my deep dive into the world of integrative and functional medicine. Besides my boards in Internal Medicine and Cardiology, I have attained my board certification from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, the American Board of Integrative Medicine, and became a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner from the Institute for Functional Medicine. I am also a fellow at the American College of Cardiology. After many years of practicing conventional cardiology, I knew it was time for a change. I am delighted to begin my work at Case Integrative Health and join Dr. Casey Kelley on the cutting edge of medicine. I look forward to bringing what I have learned throughout nearly 40 years in cardiology to my patients and helping them optimize not only heart and whole-body health.
Bodies slow down as we age, as is the natural process. However, advanced age does not necessarily lead to poor health. I always say, “You’re never too old to get better.” With each subsequent year, I also feel how true this is for myself. As you work with the rest of your integrative team and me, we will empower you to make lifestyle changes that keep you feeling well longer. Modulating diet, movement, and sleep can promote longevity and keep you doing what you love for years to come. I can’t wait to meet each of my patients and accompany you on the road to wellness. It may have some twists and turns, but I trust we’ll get there together.