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  • Lucy De La Cruz
    January 20, 2022

    The renowned 39-year-old breast surgeon becomes youngest Latina woman to lead breast surgery program in U.S. at major academic medical center

    WASHINGTONLucy Maria De La Cruz, MD, has joined MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as chief of its Breast Surgery Program and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center. Dr. De La Cruz is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who specializes in advanced breast surgery procedures, including wireless lumpectomies, hidden scar technique, oncoplastic breast conservation, and nipple-sparing mastectomy. She has been published in more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journals, and her pivotal papers on nipple-sparing mastectomy and oncologic outcomes have been cited worldwide. She will also direct the hospital’s breast surgery fellowship program.

    Lucy De La Cruz

    “I am honored and excited to lead the breast surgery program and the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” said De La Cruz. “It has been my life-long dream to bring my passion for medicine, helping others and building a state-of-the-art breast surgery program to advance breast health. I look forward to working with our multidisciplinary team of breast health experts to compassionately care for, educate and empower my patients in their health journey.”

    Dr. De La Cruz is an academic breast surgeon who conducts outcomes-focused research, and among her special interests are the impact of genomic mapping to guide breast cancer treatment and male breast cancer treatment. Her work is guided by a long-standing commitment to promoting equity and efficacy in breast cancer care delivery, using the principles of value-based health care.
      
    “The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital are thrilled to have Dr. De La Cruz lead the breast surgery program. Her commitment to patients, their journey, and their outcomes are unmatched; and her expertise in novel surgical techniques brings new and beneficial options to patients,” said David H. Song, MD, MBA, FACS, Physician Executive Director, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Professor and Chair Department of Plastic Surgery, and Interim Chair, Department of Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine.
     
    Dr. De La Cruz’s story

    Dr. De La Cruz, 39, started her journey towards becoming the youngest Latina woman to lead a breast cancer surgery program at a major academic medical center at young age. As the daughter of international physician researchers, she spent a lot of time in labs where her parents worked, sparking her passion for medicine and “making a difference in people’s lives.” She grew up in Cuba, Mozambique, Spain, and Miami.
     
    In college, she studied abroad in the Dominican Republic at the Universidad Central Del Este School of Medicine, where students were involved in patient care very early in their education and training. There, she completed her medical degree, founded an American Medical Student Association chapter and raised scholarship funds to help those who couldn’t afford tuition.

    After graduation, she was told becoming a surgeon would be nearly impossible as a foreign medical graduate and a female. Despite this, De La Cruz obtained research fellowships from the University of Miami and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She continued her journey by obtaining a one-year residency internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she earned the Intern of the Year award and an AOA medical honor society membership for her dedication to medical student teaching. During her residency, she worked on an award-winning oncologic outcomes research project for nipple-sparing mastectomy that continues to be cited worldwide.
     
    That same year, Dr. De La Cruz started her breast surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she worked in private practice for a year before returning to the University of Pennsylvania as a faculty member in the associate program director of the breast cancer surgery fellowship program.
     
    After relocating to Washington, D.C., to be close to her family, she founded the breast cancer fellowship program curriculum at the Inova Health System. Now at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center, she continues to teach residents and fellows, pursue research, and care for patients – the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. 

    About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    About the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center


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  • Lucy De La Cruz
    January 20, 2022

    The renowned 39-year-old breast surgeon becomes youngest Latina woman to lead breast surgery program in U.S. at major academic medical center

    WASHINGTONLucy Maria De La Cruz, MD, has joined MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as chief of its Breast Surgery Program and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center. Dr. De La Cruz is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who specializes in advanced breast surgery procedures, including wireless lumpectomies, hidden scar technique, oncoplastic breast conservation, and nipple-sparing mastectomy. She has been published in more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journals, and her pivotal papers on nipple-sparing mastectomy and oncologic outcomes have been cited worldwide. She will also direct the hospital’s breast surgery fellowship program.

    Lucy De La Cruz

    “I am honored and excited to lead the breast surgery program and the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” said De La Cruz. “It has been my life-long dream to bring my passion for medicine, helping others and building a state-of-the-art breast surgery program to advance breast health. I look forward to working with our multidisciplinary team of breast health experts to compassionately care for, educate and empower my patients in their health journey.”

    Dr. De La Cruz is an academic breast surgeon who conducts outcomes-focused research, and among her special interests are the impact of genomic mapping to guide breast cancer treatment and male breast cancer treatment. Her work is guided by a long-standing commitment to promoting equity and efficacy in breast cancer care delivery, using the principles of value-based health care.
      
    “The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital are thrilled to have Dr. De La Cruz lead the breast surgery program. Her commitment to patients, their journey, and their outcomes are unmatched; and her expertise in novel surgical techniques brings new and beneficial options to patients,” said David H. Song, MD, MBA, FACS, Physician Executive Director, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Professor and Chair Department of Plastic Surgery, and Interim Chair, Department of Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine.
     
    Dr. De La Cruz’s story

    Dr. De La Cruz, 39, started her journey towards becoming the youngest Latina woman to lead a breast cancer surgery program at a major academic medical center at young age. As the daughter of international physician researchers, she spent a lot of time in labs where her parents worked, sparking her passion for medicine and “making a difference in people’s lives.” She grew up in Cuba, Mozambique, Spain, and Miami.
     
    In college, she studied abroad in the Dominican Republic at the Universidad Central Del Este School of Medicine, where students were involved in patient care very early in their education and training. There, she completed her medical degree, founded an American Medical Student Association chapter and raised scholarship funds to help those who couldn’t afford tuition.

    After graduation, she was told becoming a surgeon would be nearly impossible as a foreign medical graduate and a female. Despite this, De La Cruz obtained research fellowships from the University of Miami and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She continued her journey by obtaining a one-year residency internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she earned the Intern of the Year award and an AOA medical honor society membership for her dedication to medical student teaching. During her residency, she worked on an award-winning oncologic outcomes research project for nipple-sparing mastectomy that continues to be cited worldwide.
     
    That same year, Dr. De La Cruz started her breast surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she worked in private practice for a year before returning to the University of Pennsylvania as a faculty member in the associate program director of the breast cancer surgery fellowship program.
     
    After relocating to Washington, D.C., to be close to her family, she founded the breast cancer fellowship program curriculum at the Inova Health System. Now at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center, she continues to teach residents and fellows, pursue research, and care for patients – the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. 

    About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    About the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center


  • Christine Wray stands in her office at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
    January 06, 2022

    Christine R. Wray announces Jan. 2022 retirement after 42 years of service in healthcare

    CLINTON, MD. – Christine R. Wray, FACHE, president of MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital who also serves as a senior vice president for MedStar Health, announced that she will be retiring on January 28, 2022.

    Wray was named president of MedStar Southern Maryland in September 2014, two years after MedStar Health acquired the hospital located in the Clinton area of Prince George’s County. With Wray at the helm, MedStar Southern Maryland saw the development and growth of several new service lines.

    In 2016, the hospital received national recognition from U.S. News & World Report, having ranked among the top 50 of best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery. In 2017, MedStar Southern Maryland joined the prestigious MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute-Cleveland Clinic Alliance. Wray also helped facilitate the opening of the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in February 2020. This 25,000 square foot facility offers unmatched medical expertise, leading-edge therapies, and access to robust clinical research, all under the same roof. 

    Moreover, the construction of MedStar Southern Maryland’s new Emergency Department (ED) expansion project took place under Wray’s leadership, and remained on schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The $43 million ED expansion project has been deemed the largest construction project in the hospital’s history. The new emergency department opened its doors in April 2021 to provide local residents with seamless access to the most advanced care.

    Wray’s focus on providing quality care has helped MedStar Southern Maryland build a foundation of excellence that will serve local communities for decades to come. MedStar Southern Maryland is grateful for the innumerable and lasting contributions that Wray made throughout her 42-year healthcare career.

    “I have so cherished working with all of you in our commitment and service to our wonderful communities. It has truly been an honor and a privilege,” Wray said in an announcement that was emailed to hospital associates. “Please always be proud of the work you do and how you care for each other as you care for our patients. It is incredibly important work and you are the best of the best!

    Dr. Stephen Michaels, who currently serves as the chief operating and medical officer for MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, will take over as president of MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

  • January 05, 2022

    Be There Award presented by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match®

    WASHINGTON – The MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Blood and Marrow Collection Program was recently presented the Be There Award by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® - the leading global partner working to save lives through cellular therapy. The Be There Award recognizes extraordinary advocacy for patients, donors, and providers, including supporting and sharing in their experience. The award was given at NMDP’s annual The ONE Forum.

    “Cancer does not wait for COVID,” said Wolfgang Rennert, PhD, MD, director of Collections, Blood and Marrow Donation Program, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “We are grateful for the support to expand our program at this critical time, and even more grateful to the donors who give of themselves to help save another’s life. Our team is dedicated to making their experience the very best it can be, and we are honored to be recognized for this commitment.”

    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital responded quickly to threats posed to blood and marrow transplant recipients during the COVID pandemic. When some marrow collection centers ceased operations, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital increased capacity by 40% to support the continued need for life-saving blood and marrow donations and worked closely with Be The Match to ensure plans were in place to have donors tested for COVID and results delivered in time to make quick decisions in the event of a positive result, mitigating the risk to a patient’s treatment plan. The team also acquired approval for same-day COVID testing to accommodate the special needs of donors who travelled to the area from all over the country; and relied on the cooperation and commitment of many departments in the hospital to remain flexible with the goal of getting donations to recipients in need.

    “The COVID pandemic presented challenges unlike any other faced by Be The Match or our partners, specifically our marrow collection centers,” said Amy Ronneberg, NMDP’s chief executive officer. “MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has consistently made Be The Match marrow collections a priority, and during the challenging pandemic were able to increase their collections for our patients when other partners had to suspend operations. We’re grateful for MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s innovation as they look to constantly improve processes and enhance donor recovery and product quality. Their consistent excellence helps provide a high-quality, lifesaving product for transplant patients.”

    The Blood and Marrow Collection Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital leads the Be The Match network of collection centers in both volume and clinical expertise. The program is headed by Dr. Rennert, who has published his findings to benefit marrow harvest clinicians and has trained others in best collection practices to provide the best experience for donors and patients. Catherine Broome, MD, is the Medical and Facility Director for the organization’s Aphaeresis collections, and Gary Bernard DiNardo, MSHSA, BSN, RN is the program administrator who leads the exemplary care and personal attention Be The Match donors receive as they navigate the donation process.

    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Blood and Marrow Collection Program has cared for more than 4,000 bone marrow donors, and more than 2,500 stem cell donors since its inception in 1993. In the past year alone, they cared for more than 380 donors of stem cells and marrow. The team works with several departments throughout the hospital, such as the Cardiovascular Pulmonary Procedure Lab, Apheresis, Anesthesia, post-anesthesia care unit, and Cellular Engineering Lab. That cooperation relies on the collective commitment and goal of providing donors with a positive experience and providing recipients a chance at life.

    NMDP works to advance the science of cellular therapy and give hope to patients battling any of 70 blood cancers or blood diseases, which can be treated or cured by hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and other cellular therapies. The ONE Forum - where the Be There Award was presented -- brings together the global cell therapy community, bringing visibility to the latest innovations in cellular therapies and providing a forum for health care professionals to discuss practical strategies and best practices in delivering treatments for patients with blood cancers and diseases. Experts and peers in the industry connect and learn how to break down barriers to care.

    To learn more about how the Blood and Marrow Collection Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital won The Be There Award, visit https://youtu.be/v3hhY3YHz1I.

  • December 20, 2021

    The initiative is part of the NIH-funded AIM-AHEAD Consortium dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in the field of data science

    Washington, D.C. – MedStar Health and Georgetown University Medical Center announce their collaboration in the Data Science Training Core, part of a new two-year, multimillion-dollar award funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The initiative is one of the four core functions of the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Program.

    While the widespread adoption of electronic health records has offered exponential opportunities to apply data science to biomedical research, many challenges remain in accessing the full potential of this data, including access to AI/ML technology, proper training, and most urgently, a lack of diversity in investigators in the field and the data itself. NIH created the AIM-AHEAD program to enhance participation of underrepresented minorities in AI/ML research.

    “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical tools for research. Ensuring that investigators from all backgrounds and communities have access to learning these skills is essential for supporting an equitable workforce who can contribute to addressing the field’s most pressing questions, ” says Nawar Shara, Ph.D., Director for the Center of Biostatistics, Informatics, and Data Science (CBIDS) at MedStar Health Research Institute, and co-principal investigator for the Data Science Training core.

    “In addition to diversifying those contributing to this critical area of work, we are obligated to do all we can to reduce bias on the front end as we’re developing artificial intelligence as that is critical to how AI is applied in medicine and beyond,” explains Peter McGarvey, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology at Georgetown University Medical Center and Medical Center and Director of its Innovation Center Biomedical Informatics.

    Drs. Shara and McGarvey will develop data science training for early career and minority investigators with a particular interest in advancing health equity. While the initial effort will be to identify training needs to support workforce development, it will be followed by the development of practicums in competencies such as cloud computing, distributed computing, biostatistics, modeling, epidemiology, biomedical informatics, and other community-engaged research methods. Alex Libin, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Simulation Education Research for MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, will serve as communication and outreach lead for the initiative, bringing his expertise in autonomous learning and digital technology, and psychosocial functioning to the team of investigators.

    The initial phase of the two-year project is currently underway and will lead to the launch of a suite of training resources and curriculum. The Data Science Training Core team will also provide one-on-one, small and larger group sessions. Training candidates will range from high school, college, and graduate students to Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellows.

    An important feature of the program is that it represents a collaborative effort across MedStar Health Research Institute, Georgetown University and Howard University -- members of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) -- in collaboration with the University of Maryland.

    Dr. Joseph Verbalis, professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown Director of GHUCCTS, notes that “bringing together a diverse group of accomplished investigators and educators for this unique collaborative training effort across our GHUCCTS institutions reflects the value of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program to stimulate innovative research and educational programs to improve the health of our communities.”

    “Advances in machine learning are powering a faster and critically, a more representative body of medical research,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “It’s vitally important that we work to make the field of data science more inclusive to foster the next generation of investigators who will reshape the future of healthcare.”

     

    In addition to a focus on developing data science curriculum, the AIM-AHEAD program will include efforts to identify additional research priorities and build out software infrastructure to facilitate AI/ML and health disparities research. Other collaborating institutions in the consortium include National Alliance Against Disparities in Patient Health, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, OCHIN, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Houston, UCLA, The University of North Texas, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 
  • December 20, 2021
    CLINTON, Md.  MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has once again received the highest and most prestigious level of recognition as a 2021-2022 ‘Exemplar’ member organization of Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE). NICHE hospitals are world-class healthcare systems grounded in best practices and driven by innovation in which all older adults, age 65 and over, receive age-friendly, exemplary nursing care. This is true for older adults receiving care at MedStar Southern Maryland.
    Nurse with patient

    NICHE helps long-term and post-acute care organizations exceed quality standards set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. NICHE offers education and resources to help member organizations succeed with the Patient Driven Payment Model, Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement, the Five-Star Quality Rating System, Phase 3 Implementation of Federal Regulations and more.

    “The sustainment of our NICHE top-tier designation allows us to continually focus on caring for our elderly patients, a significant portion of our patient population,” said Cody Legler, DNP, APRN, NP-BC, RN-BC, NEA-BC, CNL, vice president and chief nursing officer at MedStar Southern Maryland.

    NICHE member organizations gain access to resources and tools that help nursing teams effectively meet the needs of older adult patients. Membership includes access to NICHE course offerings; training and consultation through the NICHE Leadership Training Program; member-only webinars and continuing education courses featuring the latest research, best practices and innovations for improving clinical outcomes; and the ability to collaborate and learn from peers in NICHE hospitals and other healthcare organizations around the world.

    In addition, NICHE offers gerontological review courses for both nursing and certified nursing associates. Once the nurse finishes the gerontological resource nurse course, they can be well prepared to sit for the gerontological nursing certification. Certification in the nursing course is associated with being a content expert in the field.

    “Maintaining the highest level of recognition exemplifies our commitment and passion to caring for older adults in our community and beyond, and to maintain a positive practice environment by exceeding nursing-sensitive outcomes,” said Jennifer Bierbaum, DNP, APRN-CNS, AGCNS-BC, GERO-BC, who is the NICHE program site sponsor and director of Nursing Practice and Innovation at MedStar Southern Maryland. “I am honored and proud to work with MedStar Southern Maryland and the continued focus on the care of the older adult.”

    To learn more about NICHE, visit https://nicheprogram.org/.

  • Dana Frank
    December 07, 2021

    Adopts Data Driven Approach to Care Aimed to Reduce Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risks

    BALTIMORE — MedStar Health has joined the Cardiometabolic Center Alliance (CMCA) as a Charter Member, adopting and implementing a specific model of care in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, (T2D) and related cardiovascular and renal comorbidities.

    Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that raise the risk of serious illness. They include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and excessive belly fat. A combination of these risks double the chances of developing heart disease, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.

    The Cardiometabolic Center Alliance provides proper training, protocol and materials needed to establish Centers of Excellence. The Alliance enhances the ability to measure outcomes, improve processes, and expand research opportunities across the United States.

    “This is an exciting collaboration with endocrinologists and cardiologists working together to employ state of the art and evidenced-based care for our patients with diabetes and heart disease,” said Dana Frank, MD, FACP, chairman of Medicine for MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. “Not only will we improve our patients’ lives, but we will be able to study the optimal way to implement this across our system and to other systems as well. The potential for research collaboration with our partners in the Cardiometabolic Consortium represents an opportunity to further refine and improve the care we deliver.”

    “This approach is a win for our patients because they will receive comprehensive, evidence-based care in one setting. Our patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease will benefit greatly from a coordinated, multidisciplinary team-based approach.” Added Kerunne S. Ketlogetswe, MD, MHS, FACC, vice chair of Cardiology, MedStar Harbor Hospital.

    Using the CMCA care model, the rates of optimal guideline-directed medical therapy substantially increased over the national average, ensuring that patients with T2D receive care targeted to both optimize diabetes management and provide comprehensive cardiovascular risk reduction with therapies proven to improve outcomes.

    These results are made possible by a unified team of clinicians from across the disease continuum, who focus on holistic, guideline directed preventative care. Through their participation, Alliance members will also contribute to a national registry that will track treatment pattern and quality of care. As the Alliance enhances its capabilities, improves processes and expands research opportunities on a national scale. The ultimate goal is to improve patient outcomes.

    Cardiometabolic syndrome is likely to cause multi-organ insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes and can cause vasoconstriction and renal sodium reabsorption leading to increased blood pressure.

    About MedStar Health

    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

    About the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a network of highly acclaimed and nationally recognized cardiac experts and care programs spanning all 10 MedStar Health hospitals in the mid-Atlantic region. In the Baltimore area, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute experts are accessible at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, MedStar Harbor Hospital, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and more than a dozen community locations. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is allied with the Cleveland Clinic, the nation’s #1 heart program, giving patients accelerated access to the most advanced research, technologies and techniques in cardiology and cardiac surgery. This alliance also strengthens excellent clinical care and enables high-level collaboration on research.