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The Father of Rehab Programs at INOVA Retires

Dr. Gisolfi (far right) with other physicians at Inova Mt. Vernon. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Riddy)

Alexandria, VA – Dr. Roger Gisolfi, Medical Director of Inpatient Rehabilitation at INOVA Mt. Vernon Hospital and founder of the inpatient rehabilitation program, retires after 47 years.

Joining Fairfax Hospital in 1974, Dr. Gisolfi began the first rehabilitation program there. Then he moved to Mt. Vernon Hospital when it opened in 1976. Growing the program from 16 beds to its current total of 67 beds, Dr. Gisolfi is considered the father of the rehab programs within the INOVA medical systems.

Completing his residency in orthopedic surgery at Georgetown, Dr. Gisolfi says, “I decided that was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” As soon as he completed his residency at Georgetown, Dr. Gisolfi was drafted into two years of active duty in the Navy. He worked at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Quantico, which is no longer in operation.

After those two years, Dr. Gisolfi completed a residency at Emory University in physical medicine and rehabilitation. “After that, I knew I always liked the D.C. metro area, especially Northern Virginia, so I sought opportunities there. I was then hired onto the staff at Fairfax Hospital in December of 1974.”

Dr. Gisolfi spent his most recent birthday before retirement (his 80th birthday!) with his rehab team. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Riddy)

When the Mt. Vernon Hospital opened in 1976, Dr. Gisolfi eagerly applied for a position in physical medicine and rehabilitation; he was quickly accepted. “They always joke that I ‘came with the bricks in ‘76’,” laughs Dr. Gisolfi, a tickling sentiment that is not far from the truth.

“I love what I do…,” expresses the doctor, “and INOVA helped me do my thing, which was to open and then operate an inpatient rehabilitation facility within Mt. Vernon Hospital.” His inpatient and rehab facility was the first of its kind within the Fairfax (to become INOVA) system and the third within the state—preceded by George Washington University Hospital Rehab and the National Orthopedic and Rehab Hospital.

Highly revered within the Northern Virginia medical system, Dr. Gisolfi not only paved the way for a legendary rehab facility, but he also inspired countless nurses, physicians, therapists, and technicians throughout his time as Medical Director, including Roberta Tinch, President INOVA Mt. Vernon Hospital and Administrator of INOVA’s Musculoskeletal Service Line.

Tinch joined INOVA in September of 2019. Even in her 3 short years compared to Gisolfi’s near 50, she has been no stranger to Gisolfi’s greatness regarding both his work and personality.

“Thinking back on my interactions with him, they were always jovial,” she details. “He is straightforward in his work; he is matter of fact and will get to the point. He wanted to make sure we met the needs of him, his partner, and his patients. But he was also a funny guy. One of the biggest lessons I learned from him is that there is always an opportunity for humor in any situation. His work is pretty serious, but his humor helped keep the team light-hearted.”

Moving forward, INOVA plans to build off of Dr. Gisolfi’s legacy, applying for more highly ranked national certifications, growing more rehab centers within the INOVA system, and continuing to further their specialization. That legacy, though, will certainly live on in the facility the doctor has established and in the individuals who were witness to his work.

“His impact was huge on not only patients but also staff members,” states Tinch. “He was just well-loved by his team members and will be sorely missed. He held a special place in everyone’s heart.”

So what is next for Dr. Gisolfi, a man who has already seen, done, and built so much? “I am going to maintain my medical license,” he says, “and clean out my backyard, which is phenomenally overgrown. Other than that, we will have to see what comes.”

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One Comment

  1. I really hope there are plans to name the Rehab Program after Dr. Gisolfi. It’s so deserving. Such a great person to work with.

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