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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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  • October 17, 2016

    “It was like someone had hit me in the chest and knocked me over,” said colon cancer survivor Cheryl “Cee” Alston, after finding out she had cancer. “It was so devastating to find out that my symptoms turned out to be colon cancer!”

    Alston was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer at age 56, after a physician initially attributed her symptoms to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

     “My mistake was not asking questions, which might have prompted me to get a colonoscopy sooner,” said Alston. “We need to ask more questions and we have to choose life.”

    Alston, who also has been cancer-free since January 2015, pledges to learn as much as she can about colon cancer, while educating and engaging the community. In October 2015, Alston and her friend, Sheila Whitehead, directed the Colon Cancer Coalition’s 5K walk and run, “Get Your Rear In Gear.”

     The Colon Cancer Coalition (CCC) is an advocacy group dedicated to spreading awareness about colon cancer and empowering patients. Alston and Whitehead contributed to the CCC’s efforts by surpassing the team’s $2,000 fundraising goal. Despite the rainy, cold day, 130 participants, including a man who brought his oxygen pack on the walk, joined “Get your Rear in Gear” at Rock Creek Park. Together the team raised a total of $8,580, which will help patients with colon cancer at MedStar Georgetown.

    “When I found out about the patient care fund at MedStar Georgetown, I knew that I wanted to donate the money there. This was the best hospital experience of my life, beginning with my consultation for surgery with Dr. Mohammed Bayasi!” said Alston. “I know there is someone somewhere who might need help getting to their doctor’s appointments or need a place to stay after surgery. We want to help!”

    cee-2The donation will go to the Lombardi Patient Assistance Fund to financially help patients with colon cancer maintain continued care, safety and quality life.  Research shows that cancer costs can interfere with a patient’s focus on recovery.  Alston’s donation will be a valuable resource for families in need of financial assistance with taxi rides, nearby hotel stays, purchasing medicine, buying food and more.

     “We recognize that cancer can touch so many other parts of a patient’s life that insurance might not cover,” said Joanne Assarasan, LICSW OSW-C. “If we can help for a little bit, we can bridge a gap and lessen the financial burden with this donation.”

    Alston and Whitehead’s foundation, “Cee’s Cause 4 a Cure,” focuses on funding support for colon cancer patients and survivors in need of financial assistance. The foundation focuses on fundraising goals and engaging adults, especially African Americans, on colon cancer screening.

    “This is one donation to MedStar Georgetown, but our goal is to get more sponsors and keep the funds growing so we can continue to support patients in this way,” said Alston. “I want them to know that there is hope!”

  • October 13, 2016

    More Goes into Physical Therapy than Meets the Eye

    The biggest misconception about physical therapy (PT), says Clinical Coordinator Ukonnaya Bigelow, PT, DPT, is that not much goes into physical therapy, and that it is easy.

    “Some professionals think we’re glorified ‘get out of bed’ helpers,” said Bigelow.  “The reality is, we perform true assessments and evaluations of patients, taking into account their past medical history, their current needs and their discharge plans, whether they’re going home or to rehab.  We implement treatments, stabilize them and make sure patients don’t decline further.”

    MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center's PT Department includes five inpatient and two outpatient physical therapists, two occupational therapists and one speech therapist. Physical therapists spend most of their time on the 4 East Orthopedic Floor, where there is a rehab gym with equipment to help patients gain back range of motion and strength. Bigelow says they also help patients in navigating rooms with obstacles and walking in busy hallways, since that mimics the types of environments the patient will face after discharge. 

    On a typical day, physical therapists may help an older stroke patient whose cerebellum has been affected regain some balance.  They may help motivate a young patient who experienced a stroke in their 30’s and is dealing with the emotions the condition brings, as they try to walk.  Or, they may help an intensive care unit patient, still weak from remaining in bed for extended periods, strengthen the muscles they need to sit up and breathe effectively. 

    The reward for this important work, says Bigelow, is when they see patients who have experienced debilitating conditions gain strength and walk without assistance.  For that, she says, she hasn’t minded being called a Drill Sergeant on occasion.   

    To commemorate National PT Month, the PT Department will hold an Open House on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in outpatient PT (Ground Floor G-132). Therapist will be available to highlight the modalities and interventions available to treat pain.  This campaign draws attention to the role physical therapy plays not only on mobility, but pain management. The #ChoosePT campaign is focused  on safe pain management without the use of addictive opioids.


  • October 05, 2016

    When you make an appointment to visit the MedStar Women’s Specialty Center in Leonardtown, our team of doctors and providers experienced in women’s health will make sure you get the care you deserve. With more than 15 years experience working in a multi-provider practice, Angela Borger, DNP, NP-C, has spent the past year focused on women’s health in the same office with fellowship-trained breast surgeon Patricia Wehner, MD. Both belong to the MedStar Breast Health Program at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and provide women in our community with exceptional service and peace of mind.

    Self Exams and Mammograms

    When it comes to the facts about breast cancer and managing your own health, both Angela and Dr. Wehner believe that self awareness and understanding the facts are vital risk reducing strategies, along with self exams and getting your annual mammogram. “Mammographic screening recommendations have currently changed and are determined by personal and family history,” said Dr. Wehner, “but all females aged 45 to 55 will need an annual mammogram.”

    Detecting a breast lump during a self exam can be scary, but not all breast lumps are cancer. Many people can have abnormalities in their breasts that are benign or non cancerous. However, if a lump is found during a self exam, it should not be ignored and seeing a provider is advised. “A clinical breast exam is the next step in finding out if a lump needs further medical attention,” said Angela, “and mammogram imaging and other testing may be necessary as well.”

    At MedStar Women’s Specialty Center, Angela and Dr. Wehner offer comprehensive breast care for women from routine procedures to surgery. Dr. Wehner performs oncoplastic breast surgeries using new techniques designed to minimize changes in the physical appearance of the breast. “With advances in modern medicine, it is easier now to remove a tumor without disfiguring the surrounding breast tissue,” said Dr. Wehner, who brings the latest advancements in breast surgery to our hometown.  

    Protecting yourself is simple. Perform routine breast exams at home, visit your provider for annual well-woman exams, which include clinical breast exams, and schedule routine mammogram screenings.

    Angela Borger

    Angela Borger, DNP, NP-C, is a certified nurse practitioner and a provider in the MedStar Breast Health Program. She sees patients at the MedStar Women’s Specialty Center in Leonardtown. Angela earned her doctorate in nursing practice and master of science in nursing from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. She also holds a bachelor of science in psychobiology & women’s studies from Albright College in Reading, Pa.




    Patricia WehnerPatricia Wehner, MD, is a board-certified surgeon and an attending physician in the MedStar Breast Health Program. She performs surgeries at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Wehner earned her medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed her general surgery training at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, followed by a surgical breast oncology fellowship at the University of Southern California.


    Checkered Tumblers CMYK

    Love Yourself, Get Checked

    Mammogram appointments for first time visits and annual exams are available at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. Come in for a scheduled appointment beginning in October and receive a free pink and white Breast Cancer Awareness insulated tumbler, available while supplies last.

    Call 301-475-6399 to schedule an appointment.

    Breast Health Fair

    College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown CampusPink breast cancer ribbon isolated on white
    Located in the Wellness Center – Bldg. D
    Oct. 18, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

    MedStar Women’s Specialty Center providers will be offering information and giveaways.

  • September 30, 2016

    Abhinav Sankineni, MD, MPH Brings Unique Esophageal Specialty


    BALTIMORE—(September 2016)— Dr. Abhinav Sankineni joins the Center for Digestive Disease at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, bringing a uniquely specialized focus to diseases of the esophagus including esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus. A board certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology, Dr. Sankineni specializes in interventional gastroenterology, esophageal motility and pH studies, and esophageal and biliary stenting. sankineni

    “Dr. Sankineni brings a new skill set to our program in the area of esophageal disease where he will lead enhanced evaluation of patients utilizing assessment of esophageal function with motility, ph, and impedance studies,” says Dr. A. Steven Fleisher, chief of gastroenterology and director of interventional endoscopy at the Center for Digestive Disease at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.  “These skills will be applied to a broad spectrum of our patients including those with functional esophageal disorders, achalasia, scleroderma esophagus, chronic reflux, atypical chest pain, and morbid obesity.”

    Dr. Sankineni joins an experienced surgical team at MedStar Franklin Square, recognized for providing Baltimore and the surrounding areas highly specialized, comprehensive, and compassionate patient care for a full range of digestive disease disorders.

    “In addition, Dr. Sankineni will supplement the interventional endoscopy program where we already perform diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, such as endoscopic ultrasound and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) used to study the bile ducts, pancreatic duct and gallbladder, in patients with a variety of disorders including cancers of the digestive system, pancreatic cystic disease, and bile duct obstruction,” says Dr. Fleisher.

    After receiving his medical degree from Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences in Andhra Pradesh, India, Dr. Sankineni completed his residency at Abington Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania. He continued his training with fellowships in interventional endoscopy, gastroenterology, and gastrointestinal motility at Temple University Hospital.

    Dr. Sankineni is seeing patients on the hospital campus.

    Click here to learn more about surgery at MedStar Franklin Square or call 443-777-2475 to schedule an appointment.

    About MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center is a not-for-profit 378-bed community teaching hospital located in the White Marsh section of eastern Baltimore County, Maryland. MedStar Franklin

    Square provides many medical and healthcare services, including a broad range of healthcare specialties, advanced technologies and treatments not traditionally found at community hospitals. The hospital is ranked third in admissions among all Maryland hospitals and is first in Emergency Department visits with more than 108,000 visits annually. MedStar Franklin Square is accredited by the Joint Commission and certified as a Primary Stroke Center and has earned some of the nation’s most prestigious quality awards including Magnet Designation for excellence in nursing, the Excellence Award for Quality Improvement from the Delmarva Foundation and inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospital specialty ranking for four consecutive years. With more than 3,300 employees, MedStar Franklin Square is one of the largest employers in Baltimore County. Visit for more information.

  • September 23, 2016
    Suzanne Groah, MD, Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Consultation Liaison Service and of Spinal Cord Injury Research at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University recently received an exciting new grant award for field initiated research from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).
  • September 23, 2016

    MedStar Montgomery Medical Center Improves Patient Safety and Experience

    voceraSAN JOSE, Calif. — Vocera Communications, Inc. (NYSE: VCRA), the leading healthcare communications company, today announced that long-time customer MedStar Montgomery Medical Center has once again improved patient care with the launch of a fall prevention program. The innovative new initiative combines prescriptive analytics using the hospital’s clinical data with the Vocera Communication System, an intelligent software platform enabling real-time alerts and notifications, secure texting, hands-free communication, and integration with more than 75 clinical systems including electronic health records, nurse call and bed management solutions. The program is supported by analyticsMD’s prescriptive analytics solution.

    For more than 13 years, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center has been a Vocera customer, initially implementing the Vocera Communication System enterprise-wide to reduce noise levels. That objective was quickly met; and over the years, the hospital has leveraged Vocera technology in many other ways to improve patient experience and workflow efficiency. Equipping environmental services staff with wearable, voice-controlled communication devices helped improve room turnover rates, and integration between the bed tracking system and the Vocera solution significantly improved patient wait times and throughput in the emergency department. In 2012, the hospital integrated its nurse call solution with the Vocera system, connecting patients quickly to their caregivers and reducing staff response times.

    With a continuous focus on patient safety and satisfaction, MedStar implemented analyticsMD’s prescriptive analytics solution in 2016, gaining real-time, actionable insight into its patient population. The analyticsMD platform looks at both historical and transactional data to proactively notify MedStar team members about fall risks. Now MedStar has a real-time fall alert system that notifies care teams about high-risk patients. These alerts are sent directly to assigned nurses via their Vocera Communication Badge. Because the badges are wearable, staff members’ hands are free to quickly help patients at the bedside while also calling for co-workers’ assistance if needed.

    “We are noticing a downward trend in falls since implementing the prevention program using the Vocera technology in conjunction with analyticsMD prescriptive analytics,” said Christiane Brown, assistant vice president of information technology at MedStar. “It’s amazing how the right information combined with the right communication technology can have such as positive impact on patient care and safety.”

    In addition to safeguarding patients, an effective fall prevention program can improve operational efficiency. On average, a serious fall-related injury adds 6.3 days to a patient’s hospital stay and costs approximately $14,056, according The Joint Commission.

    “Real-time communication between care teams impacts multiple aspects of a health system’s operations and is essential in improving patient safety,” said Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera. “I’m impressed by the way Medstar Montgomery Medical Center has integrated its clinical data with the Vocera Communication Platform to improve staff responsiveness and reduce falls. This innovative approach is a great example of how human-centered technology can elevate the patient experience.”

    About MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

    MedStar Montgomery Medical Center is a 138-bed not-for-profit hospital serving the greater Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas. A proud member of MedStar Health, MedStar Montgomery is committed to delivering the latest in modern medicine and medical technology.

    About analyticsMD

    The analyticsMD platform empowers frontline hospital managers to make data-driven operational decisions in real time. Machine learning and artificial intelligence uses a hospital’s data along with proprietary external signals empower staff and improve patient satisfaction in the value-based healthcare system.To learn more about analyticsMD visit

    About Vocera

    Vocera Communications, Inc. offers one of the most robust clinical communications systems in healthcare. Installed in more than 1,300 organizations worldwide, Vocera delivers secure, integrated and intelligent communication solutions that enable care teams to collaborate more efficiently by delivering the right information, to the right person, on the right device, in the right location, at the right time. Vocera solutions provide hands-free voice communication, secure text messaging, patient engagement tools, and integrated clinical workflow with EHRs, nurse call systems and physiological monitors. These solutions help improve operational efficiency, quality of care, safety and satisfaction across the continuum of care. In addition to technology solutions, Vocera drives thought leadership and new standards in care to elevate patient, family, nurse and physician experiences via the company’s research collaborative, the Experience Innovation Network. Vocera is led by President and CEO Brent Lang and is headquartered in San Jose, California, with offices in San Francisco, Tennessee, Canada, India, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Robert J. Zollars is the Chairman of the Board. For more information, visit and @VoceraComm on Twitter.

    The Vocera logo is a trademark of Vocera Communications, Inc. Vocera® is a trademark of Vocera Communications, Inc. registered in the United States and other jurisdictions. All other trademarks appearing in this release are the property of their respective owners.