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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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  • April 01, 2021
  • A male patient wearing a mask sits in a chair in a treatment room and receives a monoclonal antibody infusion at MedStar Harbor Hospital
    March 29, 2021

    Treatment May Prevent Worsening Illness or Hospitalization for COVID-19 Positive Patients

    Baltimore, MD - MedStar Harbor Hospital is administering monoclonal antibody (MAB) therapy for eligible COVID-19 positive patients at its ground floor infusion center, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Research shows that the therapy may limit the viral load in the body and help patients improve sooner.

    Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced proteins designed to copy the body’s natural immune response to fight off harmful pathogens, such as the coronavirus. Bamlanivimab and estesvimab are the monoclonal antibodies designed to target the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus and block its attachment to human cells. The result of the treatment in clinical trials significantly reduced COVID-19 related hospitalizations and eased associated symptoms in patients.

    “When patients present with COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, we can potentially reduce the risk of complications when we give the monoclonal antibodies early—before their symptoms worsen,” said internist Tara Saggar, MD, regional medical director of Primary Care, MedStar Medical Group.

    “My symptoms had been getting increasingly worse,” said Harford County resident Edward Kohlhepp, 56, who received the MAB infusion at MedStar Harbor Hospital one day after testing positive for COVID-19. “But they stopped after getting the infusion. I started feeling better even by the next day. I have recommended monoclonal antibodies to anyone who needs it and can get it. It was very effective in turning me around.”

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for using monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of COVID-19 in November. Administered once, these infusions must be given within the first ten days of the initial onset of mild to moderate symptoms.

    Patients may opt for treatment using monoclonal antibodies if at least one of the following criteria is met and there is a current positive COVID-19 test result:

    • Age 65 years or older
    • Body Mass Index greater than 35
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • Age 55 years or older AND have cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory disease.

    Those who meet the criteria are advised to speak with their physician about their eligibility prior to treatment. A physician referral is needed, and may be obtained via with a MedStar eVisit. The outpatient infusion takes less than an hour to receive, followed by one hour of monitoring in the infusion center.

    Eligible patients should contact the MedStar Health Call Center at 855-416-5244. Patient referrals from physicians at non-MedStar Health practices will also be accepted via fax at 443-583-0651.

    Monoclonal antibody therapy is also available to Emergency department patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and meet criteria. Note that patients should not be referred to the Emergency department for treatment. 

    For more information about monoclonal antibody therapeutics, CLICK HERE.

     

     

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    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.

  • March 23, 2021
    The MedStar Health telehealth and philanthropy teams have partnered to produce a summary titled, “One year of historic change and care: COVID-19 telehealth response.”
  • Richard Battista holds a sign indicating that he is the 1000th person that MedStar Health has treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies.
    March 16, 2021

    Washington, D.C., resident “feels fortunate” after receiving treatment

    Columbia, MD — Richard Battista, 61, of Washington, D.C., has become the 1000th MedStar Health COVID-19 patient to be treated with the potentially life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy.

    “It sounds like the antibody therapy makes this whole process easier and gives me the antibodies I need to fight the virus sooner, rather than my body having to make them,” said Battista. “If I can stay out of the hospital, it sounds like a winner to me!”

    Richard Battista’s diagnosis and infusion of antibodies

    Battista spiked a fever in mid-March and wasn’t feeling well on his drive home from work as the chief financial officer for a real estate management company in Maryland.

    “I went to the MedStar Health Urgent Care in Bethesda and got tested,” recalled Battista. “As it turns out, I was positive for the virus. Two days later I was receiving the monoclonal antibody therapy, an infusion that took about 15-20 minutes. I had no side effects, so I was able to go home an hour later and continue my 14-day quarantine.”

    Battista received his treatment at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in a space specially refurbished for COVID-19 patients to receive monoclonal antibody therapy. Similar infusion centers are operating at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, Md., and MedStar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore. Emergency departments at all MedStar Health hospitals are also equipped to give the treatment.

    “We are very pleased with the favorable results for our COVID-19 patients who receive this monoclonal antibody therapy,” said Princy Kumar, MD, co-Chair, COVID-19 Pandemic Response for MedStar Health, and chief of Infectious Diseases at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “The intent is to stop the virus in its tracks, so patients don’t get any sicker and don’t need to be hospitalized.”

    What is monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19?
    Our bodies naturally make antibodies to fight infection. When our immune system meets a new foreign substance in the body, it makes new antibodies that attack the foreign substance. The next time that substance shows up, our immune system can produce the same antibodies to help the body fight it off before it can make a person sick. These types of naturally occurring antibodies provide active immunity. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the laboratory and mimic the body’s ability to fight off viruses and pathogens.

    "With antibody therapy, we’re able to give the body a shortcut, boosting its immune response by introducing antibodies pre-assembled and pre-programmed to fight the coronavirus,” said Dr. Kumar. “Monoclonal antibodies are developed in a laboratory and have a treatment effect similar to a vaccine. But, instead of prompting the body to create new antibodies, monoclonal antibody treatment delivers them directly, where they’re needed and can do the job more quickly than a vaccine. However, the monoclonal antibodies are removed from the body and therefore, you still need the vaccine for long term protection.”

    Who should receive monoclonal antibodies?
    In November 2020, the FDA cleared two monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment: bamlanivimab, as well as a “cocktail” treatment of casirivimab and imdevimab. Both treatment approaches are currently available to early-stage COVID-19 patients.

    FDA guidelines recommend monoclonal antibody treatment for the following patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are not hospitalized:

    • 12 years or older
    • Weigh more than 88 pounds
    • Experiencing mild to moderate symptoms such as cough, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever for fewer than 10 days
    • At risk to get very sick from COVID-19

    High-risk factors for serious illness from COVID-19 include:

    • Age 65 or older
    • Obesity (body mass index (BMI) greater than 35)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease
    • Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • 55 or older with cardiovascular disease, uncontrolled hypertension or chronic pulmonary (lung) disease

    “The FDA’s emergency use authorization has prompted healthcare organizations like MedStar Health to develop robust programs to administer these treatments,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, co-Chair, COVID-19 Pandemic Response for MedStar Health and director of Infectious Diseases at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The antibody treatments we have now work well, and we expect more and better treatments soon – treatments that will give us even stronger, more effective defenses against future pathogens, the bacteria and viruses that cause disease.”

    Once recovered, should a monoclonal antibody patient get the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Because active antibodies could interfere with the vaccine’s effectiveness, we advise waiting at least 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. That gives the antibodies time to clear the system and leaves the immune system primed to respond to the vaccine.

    The use of monoclonal antibody therapy has already proven promising in the treatment of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other endocrine disorders as well as carrying chemotherapy or radiation agents directly to cancer cells.

    Five days into his antibody treatment, Battista was continuing to rest and work from home with minimal COVID symptoms. “I’ve been fortunate,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good. It’s all been very uneventful. I hope others will hear about this and they can take advantage of it, too.”

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    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.

  • March 10, 2021

    Drives American Cancer Society campaign to promote screenings

    Baltimore, MD — Throughout March, blue light will shine from the surgical pavilion beacon at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, and illuminate the campuses at MedStar Good Samaritan and MedStar Union Memorial Hospitals, in honor of the American Cancer Society initiative to raise colorectal cancer awareness. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US but is also one of the few cancers that can be prevented through timely screenings.

    “We’ve seen a drop in colorectal cancer screenings since the pandemic started a year ago,” said regional chief of surgery, David Stein, MD, who is also a colorectal surgeon. “It’s a very real possibility that the result of that will be an increase in colon cancer diagnoses.”

    According to the American Cancer Society, colonoscopies declined nearly 90% in April, 2020 from the same time a year earlier, which could result in an additional 4,500 deaths from colorectal cancer in the next 10 years. 

    Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. For people of average risk, screenings should begin at aged 45; earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.

    “In this country, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, but it doesn't have to be,” said Dr. Stein, emphasizing the importance of detecting cancers early. “With the screenings, we can find polyps, or abnormal growths, before they turn into cancer. Treatments are most effective in early stages of cancer.”

    Free screenings are available to eligible patients, age 45 or older, who live in Baltimore City or Anne Arundel County and have a low income. Call 410-350-8216 or 410-350-3444 (Spanish) to see if you qualify. 

    To schedule your colonoscopy at any MedStar Health hospital, call 443-777-2475.

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    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.

  • March 04, 2021

    Regional cancer program provides increased access to medical expertise, innovative treatments, and research to Leonardtown and surrounding communities

    Leonardtown, MD — MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital has joined MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute as its eighth location across the Baltimore/Washington region. As part of the Institute, MedStar St. Mary’s offers outstanding care to patients treated for a wide variety of cancers as well as advanced access to the latest therapies, research, and clinical trials through a diverse group of nationally and internationally renowned specialists.

    "Collaboration is key when treating cancer,” said Christine R. Wray, FACHE, president of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital and senior vice president, MedStar Health. “Through this partnership, MedStar St. Mary’s becomes part of a prominent cancer consortium that brings our community the very best cancer care. We are excited to work with oncology experts throughout the MedStar Health system to deliver cutting-edge treatments to individuals right here in St. Mary’s County.”

    Benefits of this collaboration focus on access to Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Institute’s research engine and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. This partnership brings patients access to groundbreaking clinical trials, the latest breakthroughs in cancer care, and emerging immunotherapy treatments.

    “Through the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute, our world-renowned experts and scientists work together with a central mission of conquering cancer. MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s dedicated team is an asset to the Institute so, whenever possible, our patients can be treated close to home,” said Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute. “The St. Mary’s team exemplifies the Institute’s core strengths: cutting-edge research; expertise with physicians who are not just following protocols, but designing them; and a comprehensive continuum of care in a convenient location. This expansion of the Institute will also allow patients in and around Leonardtown access to unique offerings such as personalized rehabilitation and cancer survivorship programs.”

    “Joining the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute strengthens our ability to provide the latest treatments and best care we can to our patients,” said Stephen Michaels, MD, FACHE, chief operating officer and chief medical officer, MedStar St. Mary’s. “This effort demonstrates the dedication of our team to continue providing hope and healing to our community.”

    “This regional expansion brings us direct access to specialties and oncology services available in more urban areas,” said Amir M. Khan, MD, board certified oncologist and hematologist, and medical director of MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. “While I have worked with these specialists on behalf of patients for many years, this alliance—with our hospital’s transition to MedConnect, MedStar Health’s electronic medical record—links us more easily so we can follow a patient’s care plan in real time.”

    Formerly known as Cancer Care & Infusion Services at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute is located on the first floor of the Outpatient Pavilion in Leonardtown. Watch an introductory video or visit MedStarGeorgetownCancer.org to learn more. To reach the infusion center at MedStar St. Mary’s, please call 301-475-6070.

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