The opportunities at North Central and some incredible timing in life have made Profeta one of the most colorful – and insightful – doctors in the country
When somebody specializes in something that isn’t specialized, that is a differentiator. It doesn’t mean they aren’t special. Spend an hour with Dr. Lou Profeta ’82 and you’ll understand why. Now entering his fourth decade in medicine, he practices Emergency Medicine at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, where he has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards for his contributions to community health and community activism. He never plans on leaving that emergency room.
“Most ER docs are adrenaline junkies to some degree,” Profeta says. “We love being the first one to see the patient. I like the variety. I like to go from pediatrics to a car accident, from a gunshot wound to a heart attack, on and on. The quicker the better and the sicker the better, as odd as that sounds. I thrive and do well in that kind of environment. Your brain works better the harder it gets.”
He’s known the ER was the place for him for a long time. He was creative at a young age, winning a Pancake Breakfast poster contest in the fourth grade. It seems silly, but it remains his fondest Washington Township memory. His energy would flow from there, channeled into gymnastics (he was state runner-up on the floor exercise while at North Central), where he aspired to be a collegiate (perhaps Olympic) gymnast. One broken neck changed that path dramatically. The injury ended his gymnastics aspirations, but introduced him to the world of medicine. A new passion was born.
“Once [gymnastics] was gone there was this void,” Profeta recalls. “I charged into Indiana University knowing that I had to study from the moment I walked in. We had a saying: ‘For every minute you’re not studying, somebody else is.'”
Receiving both of his degrees from IU was the start, but a fateful night in Indianapolis’ history collided with Profeta. In April of 1989 a young girl handled a pipe bomb left inside a KMart on the city’s northeast side. It went off in her face. Profeta, still in medical school at the time, happened to be in the store and was first on the scene.
“I vividly remember looking at this girl pick up something off the counter and she was staring at it,” he recalls, still emotionally impacted from that day. “I turned to say something to my wife and kaboom, the bomb goes off. I ran over and it was pure horror… It was sort of all a blur.
It re-solidified my understanding of where I should be and I felt proud that I didn’t panic. I felt level-headed and it didn’t rip me apart. I was able to focus and concentrate.”
The family of Erin Bower credits Profeta with saving her life. Twenty years later, they were reunited, as Bower became a physical therapist at St. Vincent, just upstairs from where Profeta works on a daily basis. In many ways, it was a higher power’s way of showing where Profeta belonged in the world. He’s used that position to help advance his profession and patients on a daily basis. He’s written a book, is a featured author on LinkedIn and multiple online journals and a sought-out speaker.
“Even if you have very brief interactions with people, if they are life-changing interactions, it’s the quality of interaction not the quantity,” he says. “Everybody has the same fears. Everybody’s body stops the same. We are all the same, we’re just in different shells… I’ve seen 80,000-100,000 people now in my career and every day is a new adventure. It is so cool.”