Roberta Hines, MD, chair of Yale Medicine Anesthesiology, is an anesthesiologist and critical care physician. She has special training in cardiac anesthesia and in treating patients in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). “I’ve been very privileged in my career to care for all kinds of patients, including some of the sickest and most vulnerable ones that have come here,” she says.
As chair of anesthesiology, Dr. Hines oversees 120 faculty members who provide care for almost 70,000 children and adults a year at every surgical checkpoint, providing anesthesia and pain management before, during and after surgery. She oversees pain management for women in labor, an integrative medicine pain clinic for Smilow Cancer Hospital and a pre-screening clinic that helps patients get healthier for surgery.
Dr. Hines grew up in the rural hamlet of Canaan, New Hampshire, where she was the first in her family and one of six from her 67-person high school class to attend college. “My mother was a nurse and our family physician was a dear friend who made house calls. Looking back on those years, I realized what I wanted to do was take my science and my people skills, and use them in a productive way.” She still maintains active ties to the region by organizing elder care, working to reduce rural hunger and poverty, and administering scholarships to area students.
At Yale, Dr. Hines is continually inspired by the people she interacts with, both her fellow doctors and her patients. “It's about my faculty. I think about how I can mentor them. And, as they move forward, how that impacts the patient care that we deliver.
In addition to treating patients in the Yale New Haven Hospital operating rooms and CICU, Dr. Hines is a professor of anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine and has held influential leadership roles in her field on a national level. She is continually promoting research that will improve patient care, focusing on such topics as the brain’s capacity to clear toxins and how that relates to anesthesia.
Finding better techniques to control pain and reduce opioid dependence is of particular importance, she says. Yale Medicine anesthesiologists are already using such techniques as long-acting nerve analgesics and local anesthetics to better control pain and reduce the amount of opioids a patient will need. “Opioids are not a panacea. We knew that before. We definitely know it now,” Dr. Hines says. “We now know there are lots of synergies between addiction and chronic pain in terms of where the pathways in the brain are activated. The more we know about the cause and the effect of this, the more effective we'll be at developing therapies to treat and prevent opioid addiction.”