Alumni couple exemplify the spirit of giving back

When Andrew Thymius, D.O., and Tiffany Thymius, D.O., first met in an organic chemistry class at Athens, W.Va.’s Concord College (now Concord University), neither knew that they would one day attend medical school together, marry as second-year students and eventually become dedicated supporters of the institution that helped them pursue their dreams.

Andrew is an interventional physician who founded the West Virginia Pain Institute in Beckley, W.Va., while Tiffany is a family practice physician who sees patients at AccessHealth in nearby Daniels, W.Va. The pair have consistently made substantial donations through various WVSOM Foundation campaigns.

A plaque bearing the words “A Gift From Drs. Andrew and Tiffany Thymius and the West Virginia Pain Institute Inc.” adorns the wall outside the President’s Reception Parlor in WVSOM’s Student Center. That commemoration came as a result of the Class of 1998 graduates’ contributions to the Student Center Naming Campaign. The couple have also donated to the foundation’s Annual Fund, achievement-based student scholarships such as the Loretta Moore Memorial Award and the Paul Kleman, D.O., Family Practice Student Award, and the foundation’s new Legacy Scholarship Endowment.

Additionally, Andrew and Tiffany were supporters of the Grand Affair (now renamed the WVSOM Gala), the WVSOM Student Government Association’s largest annual fundraising event.

As a coal miner’s granddaughter who grew up in rural West Virginia, Tiffany said she understands that it’s critical to ensure those who want to attend medical school don’t have to bear the financial burden alone.

“I’m a first-generation college student, so any project that can lend financial support to medical students and make the cost of medical education more affordable is something we want to assist with,” she said. “We both think it’s important to give back to the school that has given so much to us.”

An advocate for children with special needs, Tiffany has been instrumental in the development of tailored educational programs in the Raleigh County, W.Va., school system. She has also taken on leadership roles in organizations devoted to the osteopathic medical profession, serving in the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians’ Congress of Delegates and in 2017 being appointed to the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

Andrew worked in family medicine at AccessHealth before founding the West Virginia Pain Institute in 2011. His practice focuses on treating patients with chronic spine pain without the use of opioids. Instead, he emphasizes techniques such as epidural injections, sacroiliac joint injections, ablation treatment and spinal cord stimulators, which are implantable devices that disrupt pain signals as they travel up the spinal cord to the brain.

“West Virginia has a lot of problems with opioid deaths, and I didn’t want to be part of that,” said Andrew, who has served on special legislative committees that were instrumental in creating West Virginia’s guidelines for prescribing opiates. “What I can provide patients is help controlling their pain and making them more active because they’re not attached to a medication or stuck in a chair.”

Andrew has also served as a preceptor for WVSOM since 2003, a role he said allows him to share knowledge with students that they might otherwise never be exposed to. He said he cherishes furthering students’ education for the same reason he chooses to contribute financially to WVSOM.

“When an institution has done something for you, you need to look at what you can do in return,” he said. “I enjoy giving back to the school that made my ability to take care of patients and our community possible.”

The pair of physicians also have a more practical reason for giving back, Tiffany said.

“For me, it’s about taking care of the next generation,” she said. “One day they are going to be responsible for taking care of us. So I have a vested interest in making sure that future medical students are well trained and are interested in rural primary care.”

Date Added: 
Friday, July 24, 2020