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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 03, 2019

    The following q & a is with patient Daniel Ford. Daniel came to MedStar NRH this summer for inpatient rehabilitation after he suffered a stroke on a bus. Daniel relives the terrifying incident but also his excellent experience in rehabilitation getting him back to the life he wants to live.


    Q: How did you end up in the hospital?

    I had a stroke August 2nd in the late afternoon. It happened on the circulator bus on the way to the hospital when my left side went out.

    Q: What changes did the stroke cause?

    It caused the whole left side of my body to go out, to be in a vegetable type of state for some time. I couldn’t swallow, could barely breath, could barely see. Thinking was very hard to do, talking was hard. My face was drooping and hanging down. The arm on the left side would pop out. Life changing changes

    Q: What is one of the most beneficial things about therapy?

    Oh, the staff! The getting out of the bed actually standing up and moving about and seeing other people work out in the atrium. Being mobile period, to get up and take a shower, to get up and use the bathroom, to get up and get dressed, to get up and go outside and feel the fresh air and sun on your face. Just moving around, walking and standing. That’s one of the things I loved the most, getting out of bed all day long. It gave me a sense of urgency to recover. I saw others walking about and they did amazing, when I saw that I said, that’s going to be me. Excellent staff, excellent PT, OT, SLP. Seeing them gives you that “you’re going to be ok, we’re going to take care of you”. They push you to stay motivated and to practice the ability, never giving up or never saying you can’t do this. They are always positive, even when they are pushing you.

    Q: What is something challenging about therapy?

    Working on the left side, finger motion and picking up objects. That was the most challenging. I’m still working on it now.

    Q: What would you tell a stroke survivor just starting out in rehab.

    To rest, eat well and prepare yourself to get up and walk. Walk with a conviction, it’s such as awesome team. As soon as you get out of bed you are already feeling motivated like I can’ do this. When you go out to the atrium and see all the equipment and the sun light it motivates you to get it down. You can push yourself by seeing others move. Ask your therapists if there is anything you want to do, and they can work on it with you. All my sessions were amazing. 

    Q: What do you like about group therapy?

    Seeing other people going through the same struggles and overcoming those struggles. Being able to communicate and hear their testimonies as they continue their therapy and recovery. I have seen 2 people I’ve been with from the beginning go home and they are doing so well! Listening to them speak helped me be able to speak more clearly. Group was very therapeutic, I had a lot of fun in group.

    Q: Would you recommend NRH to someone looking for stroke rehab?

    Most definitely!!  Someone told me it was the best and it’s true! I would recommend everything.

    To learn more about the Inpatient Stroke Recovery Program at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, please call 

    Outpatient Stroke Rehabilitation Services are conveniently located throughout the region. Click here to learn more about the locations of Outpatient Stroke Recovery services

    # # #

    About MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

    The MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is a regional system of rehabilitation care that offers inpatient, day treatment and outpatient services in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.

    The Network’s interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation experts provides comprehensive services to help people recover as fully as possible following illness and injury.  Rehabilitation medicine specialists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists work hand-in-hand with other rehab professionals to design treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs.  Rehabilitation plans feature a team approach and include the use of state-of-the-art technology and advanced medical treatment based on the latest rehabilitation research.  

    The Network provides comprehensive programs specifically designed to aid in the rehabilitation of adults and children recovering from neurologic and orthopaedic conditions such as amputation, arthritis, back and neck pain, brain injury, cancer, cardiac conditions, concussion, fibromyalgia, foot and ankle disorders, hand and upper extremity problems, post-polio syndrome, stroke, spinal cord injury and disease, and sports and work-related injuries.

    Inpatient and day treatment programs are provided at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital located in Northwest Washington, DC and at more than 50 outpatient sites conveniently located throughout the region.  MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is fully accredited by The Joint Commission, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), with CARF accredited specialty programs for Amputations, Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke.

    For more on MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and to find a location near you, log on to

  • October 01, 2019

    Washington, D.C. – MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute has enrolled its first patient to a clinical trial to determine whether cardiac stem cells reduce inflammation enough to improve heart function in patients with heart failure severe enough to require a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD. STEMVAD is a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study that will assess the effects of multiple intravenous administration of CardioCell’s proprietary mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). It is expected to enroll 30 patients.

    The STEMVAD trial is the next step in MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute’s earlier research that discovered “one of the major problems in heart failure is persistent inflammation," said Stephen Epstein, MD, director of Translational and Vascular Biology Research at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. "And these mesenchymal stem cells control inflammation, leading to improved heart function.”

    Approximately six and a half million adult Americans have heart failure, of whom 200,000 to 250,000 are estimated to have end-stage heart failure and need a heart transplant. However, with the very low supply of donor hearts, LVADs are increasingly used. An LVAD is a small pump that helps circulate the patient’s blood when their heart becomes too weak to pump effectively on its own. Although highly effective in alleviating symptoms and improving longevity, patients with LVAD support have a high incidence of serious complications.

    “Innovative therapies to improve heart function and outcomes of patients with advanced heart failure are sorely needed,” added Selma Mohammed, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the STEMVAD trial and research director of the Advanced Heart Failure Research Program at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute.  

    “If we are successful in showing intravenously delivered stem cells improve outcomes in patients, the results would likely extend to the general population of heart failure patients, and in the process, fundamentally transform current paradigms for treating heart failure,” concluded Ron Waksman, MD, director of Cardiovascular Research and Advanced Education at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute.

    For more information on whether patients may qualify for the trial, call Michelle Deville, research coordinator, at 202-877-2713 or email


    Conflict of Interest Statement: Dr. Stephen Epstein is an equity holder in CardioCell, serves on its Board, and consults for the company.


    About MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute
    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a national leader in the research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. A network of 10 hospitals and 170 cardiovascular physicians throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington, D.C., region, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute also offers a clinical and research alliance with Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute, the nation’s No. 1 heart program. Together, they have forged a relationship of shared expertise to enhance quality, improve safety and increase access to advanced services. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute was founded at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, home to the Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital. Opened in July 2016, the hospital ushered in a new era of coordinated, centralized specialty care for patients with even the most complex heart and vascular diagnoses.

  • September 30, 2019

    WASHINGTON – To educate the public on vaccination safety and on the importance of getting an annual flu shot, MedStar Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) administered nearly 60 vaccines to participants and attendees of the 2019 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference on Thursday, Sept. 26. The annual conference is a key opportunity for NFID to help the public prepare for the upcoming flu season by encouraging individuals throughout the U.S. over the age of six months to get a flu vaccine every single year.

    “When it comes to protecting people from flu, our best preventive tool is an annual flu vaccine,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar, II, who also noted that despite the availability of vaccinations, vaccination rates among adults are “stuck” at around 45%. That means that more than half of adults in the U.S. are unprotected against the flu every year.

    To encourage adults to get vaccinated and ensure their loved ones also receive vaccinations, Secretary Azar lead by example, receiving a live, on-air vaccination from a MedStar VNA nurse.

    Other health officials who spoke during the conference included William B. Borden, MD, associate professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University, Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, MD, NFID president-elect, and William Schaffner, NFID medical director. Dr. Borden also received a vaccination from MedStar VNA during the event.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than half of the country receives a flu vaccine annually, which leaves more than half of the U.S. population open to contracting and spreading influenza this year. Due to age and immune system weaknesses, young children and aging adults are most at risk. With MedStar VNA’s patient population being predominately senior citizens, MedStar VNA encourages its patients to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated.

    “As part of the MedStar Health organization, we advocate and encourage influenza vaccination for our patients, community members, and even our own employees,” said Traci Anderson, RN, MedStar Visiting Nurse Association President. “We have required that employees receive vaccinations for a number of years because it’s an important part of our patient safety first culture. That said, we are honored to support NFID and CDC in this important national promotional effort.”

    For more information on influenza recommendations, visit or

    To learn more about MedStar VNA, visit


    About MedStar Visiting Nurse Association
    MedStar VNA provides home healthcare services for homebound, disabled and chronically ill patients in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. A nonprofit, Joint Commission-accredited organization, MedStar VNA treats patients through skilled nursing and physical, occupational and speech therapies. MedStar VNA is a proud member of the MedStar Health system. For more information about MedStar VNA, call 800-862-2166 or visit