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Clinics Offer Treatment Options Not Widely Available
At MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, one of our main goals is to help you take charge of your health so you can get the most out of life. That’s why we established the Good Health Center 25 years ago. One of the most comprehensive, low-cost health enhancement facilities in Maryland, the center provides free and low-cost community screenings, support groups and seminars throughout the year.
The Good Health Center also partners with hospital physicians to make specialized outpatient care easily accessible by offering a variety of clinics focused on specific health conditions. Through these clinics, many individuals are getting the treatments they need to live better lives.
Tackling Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a virus that can damage the liver and cause serious liver disease. Many people don’t know they have hepatitis C because they don’t have symptoms. The good news is that hepatitis C is now curable, thanks to new treatments that have been approved in recent years.
These major advances in treatment are now available at the Hepatitis Clinic at the Good Health Center. Opened in collaboration with the Division of Gastroenterology, the clinic is run by Lawrence Mills, Jr., MD, the hospital’s chief of Gastroenterology. “We can cure hepatitis C in the majority of patients we see with almost no side effects. These new treatments work much better and faster than those used in the past,” says Dr. Mills.
Raisa Stefanuca, MD, a 67-year-old retired ophthalmologist, is proof of the effectiveness of the new drugs. She had no idea she had hepatitis C until abnormalities in her liver enzymes were found during routine blood work.
Hepatitis C is transmitted via exposure to infected human blood, most commonly through needles (intravenous drug use, tattoos from unsterilized equipment, accidental needle sticks, etc.) or a blood transfusion prior to 1990. Dr. Stefanuca had always lived a healthy lifestyle and had no idea how she got infected.
Her primary care physician referred her to the Hepatitis Clinic where, after further testing, Dr. Mills put her on a six-month regimen of one of the recently approved medications. During her treatment, her blood was tested regularly. Today, she is healthy and free of the virus.
“Just a few years ago, hepatitis C patients had to take a combination of pills and injections for almost a year. Most weren’t cured and many experienced serious side effects. Now, we have treatments that offer a very high cure rate even if previous treatments have failed,” notes Dr. Mills.
Experiencing a migraine headache once or twice a month is bad enough. Living with a migraine nearly every day can be debilitating. Megan Mioduzewski knows first-hand what it is like.
“I started getting migraines in 2012 during my senior year of high school and they were almost constant. The pain was so bad that I was often hospitalized. But, my headaches did not respond to any of the normal treatments,” Mioduzewski says.
Despite the pain, she went on to college at Stevenson University, struggling for the next three years. When her doctor ran out of options, Mioduzewski was referred to the Migraine Clinic at the Good Health Center, where she met with Carolina De Jesús-Acosta, MD, the neurologist who leads the program.
“Megan had one of the most disabling forms of headache. Patients with chronic migraines experience a headache more than 14 days of the month, which can greatly affect family, work and social life. So she met the diagnostic criteria for Botox® treatment,” Dr. De Jesús-Acosta explains.
In June of 2016, Mioduzewski began receiving multiple Botox injections around the head and neck every three months to dull future headache symptoms. The treatments worked, and since then she has been nearly headache free.
Now age 22, she just graduated from college and is pursuing a career as a medical lab scientist, a profession she chose as a result of her experience. “The causes of conditions like Megan’s can be very complex, and many patients spend years chasing treatments,” adds Dr. De Jesús-Acosta. “I am glad we were able to help her get her life back.”
This article appeared in the summer 2017 issue of Good Health. Read more articles from this issue.
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Click below to learn more about our Hepatitis Clinic or call 443-444-3991 for a referral to the Clinic.
The Good Health Center - O'Neill Building, 2nd Floor
5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239