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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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  • December 02, 2021

    Patients with irreparable rotator cuff tears have new option with subacromial spacer

    BALTIMORE - MedStar Health has become the first health system in the greater Baltimore region to offer patients with massive, irreparable rotator cuff tears, a new arthroscopic approach using a balloon spacer device to cushion the shoulder socket after a rotator cuff tear. On Monday November 29, 2021, Dr. Anand Murthi treated a 65-year-old woman with the procedure that was performed in less than two hours. The patient went home the same day.

    Dr. Murthi inserted the balloon device into the subacromial space located in the shoulder between the upper shoulder bone and the ball-and-socket joint underneath and filled it with saline. The implant mimics the fluid-filled bursa, the natural cushion in the shoulder, which becomes enflamed and painful after a tear.

    Almost two million people visit doctors’ offices because of torn rotator cuff injuries, which most commonly occur in the dominant arm and are one of the most common sports medicine injuries.
    “Athletes are at particular risk for a rotator cuff injury,” said Dr. Murthi, director of shoulder and elbow-surgery for the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. “But it can affect anyone whose job or activities require a repetitive overhead motion.”

    The inflatable device has been used to treat over 29,000 severe rotator cuff tears over the past ten years in Europe, but it has only been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. last summer. It’s recommended for patients over 65 who have suffered large, irreparable tears where the tendon has torn and retracted, or whose tear would be impossible to reconnected to the head of the upper arm's humerus bone.

    Patients experience pain relief with this approach because the balloon blocks the humeral head from rubbing with the acromion and forces the humeral head in a more natural position and improves the joint motion.

    The biodegradable balloon will be resorbed in the body over time, giving patients time to heal and strengthen muscles around the injured rotator cuff.

    “Sometimes patients over 65 with degenerated bone conditions are poor candidates for the standard reattachment surgery for repairing rotator cuff tears. The surgery and the recovery both are challenging,” Dr. Murthi said.

    “Current strategies treating massive irreparable rotator cuff tears often present a challenge to surgeons and may require a long and frustrating recovery,” Dr. Murthi added. This new device uses a biodegradable implant which makes me very proud to be able to offer it to our patients. Only a small opening is made to implant it, using a long arthroscopic tube, scope so the recovery is much easier.”

     

  • November 30, 2021

    Washington, D.C., November 30, 2021 – MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute physicians at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have completed their 300th implant of the HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), which treats patients with advanced heart failure. MedStar Washington is among the first four LVAD programs nationwide to reach this historic milestone.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center participated in the MOMENTUM 3 clinical trial and its post-pivotal study Continuous Access Protocol (CAP), testing the efficacy of the HeartMate 3 LVAD for safety and sustainability as short- and long-term support for patients with advanced (stage D) heart failure. The FDA approved the HeartMate 3 device as a bridge-to-transplant, or as destination therapy treatments. As a result of the trials, the HeartMate 3 pump became the most-often used LVAD therapy with high success rates and lower complication rates.

    “Over the last two decades, LVADs have revolutionized the way we treat patients with stage D heart failure. With a modern technological design that includes full magnetic levitation of the impeller, this pump represents the best LVAD our field has ever seen,” said Ezequiel Molina, MD, surgical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The HeartMate 3 device is a small, more portable and quieter LVAD than previous generations. Patients enjoy longer survival, experience fewer complications, and return to a fairly active lifestyle. And that is our goal – to improve the quality of life of our patients.”

    Many heart failure patients rely on LVADs, which are heart mechanical support devices that can keep blood pumping throughout the body when medications are no longer effective. LVADs can mean the difference between life and death for patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood adequately on their own. These devices are an effective option as a patient waits for a heart transplant or as long-term treatment.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of the most experienced LVAD programs in the country, implanting more than 80 devices each year. It has been at the forefront of all the major clinical trials to test new devices. In 1988, it became one of the first four hospitals in the world to implant this potentially game-changing technology in mechanical circulatory support. To date, MedStar Washington has successfully implanted more than 800 VADs.

     


    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a not-for-profit, 912-bed, teaching and research hospital in the nation’s capital, and is a major referral center for treating the region’s most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed, and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. MedStar Washington operates the region’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center and the District’s only Cardiac Ventricular Assist Device program, both certified by The Joint Commission. The hospital is also home to MedSTAR, a nationally verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.

  • November 24, 2021

    COLUMBIA, Md – A high school teacher from Northern Virginia has become the 5000th COVID-19 patient to receive life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy with MedStar Health. Kacey Meakes, 35, came down with a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting and headache during the second week of November. A trip to MedStar Health Urgent Care confirmed a COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, on Friday November 19, she went to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s specially designed monoclonal antibody infusion center to receive the 25-minute infusion.

    “I thought the treatment was only for people who got really sick,” said Meakes. “But by day six and seven, I was getting worse not better, and I thought maybe I should get the monoclonal antibodies because they’re the main treatment available.”

    MedStar Health began providing monoclonal antibody therapy in November 2020 and providers saw the same positive results as those seen nationally.

    “We’ve learned that we have a treatment – monoclonal antibodies that - if they’re given early in the infection can prevent death and hospitalization from covid infection,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, infectious diseases specialist with MedStar Health.

    Meakes, who describes her covid experience as “not particularly fun,” is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has a history of asthma, which puts her at high risk of having a severe case of the virus and makes her a good candidate for monoclonal antibodies.

    “If you’re at risk for severe covid - if you’re over the age of 65, you’re pregnant, or you have other medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, bad heart disease, COPD – those things put you at risk for severe covid – you’d be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies,” said Wortmann.

    Dr. Wortmann says the treatment must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to be most effective. Treatment is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized and require oxygen due to COVID-19.

    In addition to sickle cell, COPD, heart disease and being over 65, positive COVID-19 patients 12 years and older with the following conditions may benefit from the monoclonal antibody infusion:

    • Pregnancy
    • Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 (or for pediatrics BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • Poorly controlled hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease or Congenital Heart Disease
    • Other respiratory diseases
    • Neurodevelopmental disorders
    • Medical-related technological dependence (i.e. tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
    • Other medical condition or factor (i.e. race or ethnicity) that may place the patient at a higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19

    The therapy is available at MedStar Health emergency departments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as four MedStar Health monoclonal antibody infusion centers:

    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    “I was happy to come in and get the monoclonal antibodies and hopefully get better faster,” said Meakes. “It wasn’t a big deal. I have to go back to work and get back to my life, so I’m really hopeful this is going to help me on my way. I’m really grateful.”

    Learn more about this therapy treatment 

  • November 19, 2021

    Funds to Aid Transportation Costs for Patients Going to and From Cancer Care

    BALTIMORE—The MedStar Health Cancer Network (MHCN) was awarded a $15,000 transportation grant by the American Cancer Society (ACS), to help relieve some of the financial burden on cancer patients needing to travel to and from specialized cancer centers for treatment.

    The transportation grant will benefit all eligible patients receiving treatment at any of our cancer center locations:

    • MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    • MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
    • MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    More than 27,000 Marylanders are diagnosed annually with invasive cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and getting to scheduled treatment may be one of their greatest roadblocks.

    To help patients get the critical care they need, American Cancer Society community transportation grants are awarded at a local level to health systems, treatment centers and community organizations. These grants are available in select communities through an application process and focus on addressing unmet transportation needs of cancer patients, particularly vulnerable populations experiencing an unequal burden of cancer.

    The funds will be used toward any direct patient transportation barrier to pay for gas cards, Ride Share rides, taxi rides or vouchers, bus passes, etc.

    “We’re very grateful to the American Cancer Society for providing this grant,” said Albert Aboulafia, medical director for the MedStar Health Cancer Network. “The funds are an essential boost to efforts to minimize disparities in patient access to care, that may result from inequities in work, wealth, income, education, housing and overall standard of living. The ACS collaborates with community health partners to reach individuals in areas with higher burdens of cancer who are limited or have no access to transportation. Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there.”

    “Some patients don’t have access to transportation at all or are just too sick to drive themselves,” said Billie J. Baldwin, manager of the MHCN Oncology Support Services Program.

    “Access to care is a big problem in our country, with lower income families, or patients living out in rural communities suffering the most from disparities. Transportation programs are vital for these patients to get the treatments they need and deserve.”

    For additional information about the MedStar Health Cancer Network, go to: https://www.medstarcancer.org/ or for for information on ACS, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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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.

  • November 16, 2021

    Columbia, Md. – MedStar Health is taking COVID-19 vaccines on the road to make sure the newest group of eligible children who live in underserved communities of Washington, D.C., have easy access to the life-saving shots. Children age 5-11 are now getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at pediatric offices across the system, including MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics in Tenleytown and onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at its regular stops in wards 6 and 7.

    “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to our younger populations is critical to our overall vaccination strategy,” said Christina Hughes, vice president, Healthcare System Preparedness & Chief Preparedness Officer and a leader in the coordination and logistics of vaccine arrival and distribution for MedStar Health. “As we work to address health disparities in our community around COVID-19, the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic helps us improve their access and get the vaccines to groups who have been disproportionately affected by this virus.”

    “We are pleased to be able to vaccinate our pediatric patients five days a week at both our Tenleytown office and on the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in wards 6 and 7 in the District,” said Michael Donnelly, MD, chair of Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    Onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which has served as a medical home to underserved children across the District especially in wards 5,6,7, and 8 for some 30 years, teams are vaccinating this newest group on Tuesdays starting November 16 and circling back to locations to ensure kids get their second dose.

    “We’re just very relieved,” said Dwight Miller whose two sons were vaccinated onboard the mobile clinic. “I was stressed about getting calls from school about positive cases at school wondering if my child would be next, so it’s a huge sigh of relief.”

    “Getting the vaccine is very easy and only takes five minutes,” said Harriet Huntley whose son also got the COVID-19 shot onboard the medical clinic. “My son wanted to play football and they told him he couldn’t play football until he got the shot.”

    “We’re really excited to have this opportunity to provide vaccines for all our patients in the mobile clinic which is the medical home that families in these wards know and trust,” said Janine Rethy, MD, MPH, division chief of Community Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    The Kids Mobile Medical Clinic serves communities that have expressed concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Rethy says their long-standing presence in the community has made a big difference.

    “When we started to give vaccines to the older kids over the summer, I thought it was going to be a hard sell for some of our families, but it really wasn’t,” said Dr. Rethy. “It was a matter of them knowing us and trusting us and just having one or two questions answered and then they were good to go.”

    “This is a really special opportunity for MedStar Health to take the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine directly to the children and their families in the District’s most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Senior Director of Community Health for MedStar Health, Diana Quinn. “We know this is the next important step towards getting our families and our communities back to normal.”

    “We feel like this vaccine is safe and effective and the risks of taking the vaccine are lower than the risks of getting the disease itself and spreading it to others in the community,” said Dr. Rethy. “For 5-11-year olds, the vaccine decreases the risk of getting the virus by 91 percent which is really excellent. In fact the side effects such as sore arm, fatigue and low-grade fever are even lower than those experienced by the older teens, which is very promising.”

    “Think about your loved ones. Think about your community,” said Miller who will be taking his sons to their grandmother’s house for the holidays. “Most importantly think about protecting the health of your family, especially your kids.”

    To make an appointment with the mobile clinic call 202-295-0547. To learn more and to find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, visit vaccines.gov.

  • November 08, 2021

    Today, 20 health system partners of Truveta are one step closer to the goal of saving lives with data with the unveiling of its platform.  Earlier this year, MedStar Health joined 16 other healthcare systems as founding members of Truveta, the first health system led company that offers scientists and clinicians access to real-time, de-identified clinical data from across the country. 

    “Finding answers to questions quicker and with greater accuracy is critical to advancing medicine. Having access to a vast de-identified dataset that Truveta is offering opens up tremendous opportunities,” said Neil Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “Investigators can use data analytics to uncover insights on equity, quality and safety measures across diverse populations. With the knowledge from this data, physicians can develop new therapies and provide better care to our patients, sooner.”

    Truveta’s platform currently represents more than 16% of U.S. clinical care across diagnoses, demographics and 42 states, with plans to keep growing.

    “We’re proud to be a member and look forward to seeing the possibilities that this platform offers come to life,” said Weissman. Please visit the Truveta website to learn more. 

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