Walla Walla Physician Focuses on Lifestyle and Preventive Medicine

Whether he's treating a headache or helping someone learn how to lose weight, Gily Ionescu, M.D., has a passion for people and health that's obvious.

"There are two big rewards in medicine," Ionescu says. "One is restoring a sick person to health. The other is helping a person develop a healthful lifestyle and reap the benefits of living wisely."

Ionescu and his wife, Lily, recently moved from Utah to Walla Walla, Wash., along with their son, Jayden, who's nearly two years old. They attend the University Church.

"We were looking for a community with Adventist schools that also had physician opportunities for outpatient internal medicine," Ionescu says. "We decided Walla Walla was the best fit."

Originally from Romania, Ionescu lived through one of the worst communist dictatorships in Europe. He recalls a particularly bleak time in 1989 during his second year of medical school. He was given an ultimatum: Join the communist party or forget about advancing. Fortunately, the communists soon were ousted from power. Ionescu finished medical school and completed his residency, inspired by two older sisters who were doctors and by his desire to understand and treat the human body.

He also married Lily, whom he'd first met in the mid-1980s. The newlyweds planned to stay in Romania, and Ionescu took a job at a medical clinic in Bucharest. However, as the years went by, they discovered it was impossible to get ahead financially.

"Corruption was so bad you couldn't do anything unless you bribed those who controlled permits and licenses," Ionescu says.

It seemed providential when a friend offered him a scholarship for a master's degree in nutrition at Andrews University. In 2002, with $20 left in his pocket, Ionescu arrived in the United States. Lily joined him a month later.

After finishing his master's degree, he completed a medical residency in Connecticut and practiced as an internist in Utah before moving to Walla Walla.

An area of special focus for Ionescu is preventing and treating obesity. "If we can make a difference in obesity, we also positively impact a host of other health issues," he says.

"We are pleased Gily has joined us," says Monty Knittel, Walla Walla General Hospital president and CEO. "His clinical experience combined with his emphasis in lifestyle and preventive medicine makes him a real asset to our group."

Featured in: January 2010