Sinus Center fills a medical niche
A little over three years ago, Dr. Josh Meier was searching for a job to apply his highly specialized trade.
As fate would have it, an opportunity arose at Nevada ENT & Hearing Associates, a longtime medical practice based in Reno. (The ENT stands for ear, nose, and throat.) It was a homecoming for Meier, who grew up in the Reno area.
But more important, as a trained rhinologist in the study of conditions related to the nose, Meier saw a need for a growing Reno-Sparks population who may need medical attention to treat chronic or complex conditions.
Meier recently founded and serves as director of Reno Tahoe Sinus Center inside Nevada ENT’s 9,000-square-foot office amid several medical and insurance offices near the West Fourth Street and South McCarran Boulevard intersection in northwest Reno.
“Previously before I came on board at Nevada ENT, people needed to go across the hill into California for complex procedures such as frontal sinus conditions,” Meier said.
To help diagnose a patient’s condition, Meier and a former fellow classmate at Harvard University Medical School, Ahmad Sedaghat, developed a ‘quality of life’ 22-question Sino-Nasal Outcome Test.
Questions range from symptoms such as frequent sneezing and runny nose to facial pain, dizziness, or difficulty falling asleep to fatigue or even depression. Patients answer the questions on a numbered scale from 0 (no problem at all) to 5 (a problem as bad as it can get).
If symptoms are serious enough to warrant further diagnosis, a nasal endoscopy is performed by looking through the nose with a telescope. If there is swelling in the patient’s sinus area, another test, a CT scan, could be performed.
The Reno practice recently purchased an advanced cone beam CT scanning machine that revolves around a patient’s head and projects an image on a nearby computer monitor. It gives off one-tenth the radiation dose of a regular scanning machine.
The technology, Meier said, saves time and money for both the patient and the practice. Patients can visit the Nevada ENT office, get a scan, get test results, and communicate with their insurance provider on payment options, all in the same day. If needed, images can also be sent to Reno Diagnostic Centers, a local medical imaging facility, for further analysis.
“Nevada ENT used to have an old CT scanner, but the image quality is much better with the new one,” Meier said. “The convenience it provides for our patients more than pays for itself.”
He indicated most of his patients have minor issues such as chronic sinusitis, which can be treated with simple therapies such as prescribed over-the-counter topical or steroid sprays or salt-water rinses or advanced antibiotics.
Sometimes, though, surgery is required. Meier is trained in a variety of procedures, including complex revision sinus or minimally invasive endoscopic sinus surgeries.
Meier graduated with honors from the University of Southern California Medical School. He figured he would follow in his father’s footsteps as an optometrist who practiced in Reno. But a series of mentors in school encouraged him to aspire to more complex fields of medical study.
He completed his residency training at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) in the Harvard University Combined Program in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He also completed a Rhinology fellowship training, which involves endoscopic sinus and anterior skull base surgeries.
Searching for a place to apply his specialized trade, the opportunity to return to Northern Nevada beckoned.
“When I finished school in Boston and had applied for jobs everywhere, but as it turned out Dr. John Dooley wanted to retire (at Nevada ENT) and that was a nice segue into a new career,” Meier said.
He said his background and knowledge of the Northern Nevada climate is helpful.
“Fall is the worst season for allergies because of sagebrush around here,” he said.
Business is usually always steady at Reno Tahoe Sinus Center and Nevada ENT. Along with the CT scanning machine, Nevada ENT’s facility features audiology rooms and a balance testing apparatus.
Meier works alongside other physicians, Thomas Killeen, David Mathis, Jenny Van Duyne and Anthony Zamboni, at Reno Tahoe Sinus Center. The physicians can overlap into Nevada ENT, which also staff three audiologists.
One small challenge the practice faces is educating people about its services including the specialized services offered at Reno Tahoe Sinus Center.
The front waiting room displays a flat-screen monitor on the wall that streams infomercials with myriad information such as medical facts and services Nevada ENT and Reno Tahoe Sinus Center provides.
“ENT is a field where people don’t have a real great grasp of what we do,” Meier said. “We are on the cutting edge of diagnosis, treatment or surgical procedures for the ear, nose and throat.”
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.