January 20, 2022MedStar Georgetown University Hospital names Lucy M. De La Cruz, MD, chief of Breast Surgery Program and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center
The renowned 39-year-old breast surgeon becomes youngest Latina woman to lead breast surgery program in U.S. at major academic medical center
WASHINGTON – Lucy 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.
“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.
September 18, 2019
Leonardtown, Maryland – A new exhibit in Reflections, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s history room, takes a closer look at the hospital’s 1953 Spring Festival Concert. The fund-raising event drew a crowd of celebrity guests including Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife.
Held in the Drill Hall at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, the show was attended my nearly 3,000 people, and featured celebrities from film and radio, as well as prominent political figures of the day including Sen. Joseph McCarthy and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
Added to the MedStar St. Mary’s archives in 2017, were seven programs from the event discovered at a local estate sale. The cover design of the programs featured the signatures of the famous guests, and each was signed on the inside by one of the evening’s distinguished attendees. The discovery sparked renewed interest in the event and how a small hospital in St. Mary’s County could attract such famous individuals to a such a fundraiser.
The new display highlights a few of the people who coordinated the event, including Elinor Peabody, the president of the hospital’s Auxiliary, and Fulton Lewis Jr., an internationally known journalist and radio personality who lived and worked in the county.
Stop in Reflections and discover the story behind the 1953 Spring Festival Concert. The exhibit is open daily and is located on the first floor of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital near The Blue Heron Café.
Visit MedStarStMarys.Org to learn more.
About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (MSMH) is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary's provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight-time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. In addition, MSMH received the Maryland Performance Excellence award at the Platinum level in 2014 – the highest in the state. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates and volunteers. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.
September 04, 2019MedStar Health’s Raj Ratwani Receives American Psychological Association Award for Early Career AchievementCongratulations to Raj Ratwani, PhD, director of the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare and associate professor of the Georgetown University School of Medicine, for receiving the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Earl Alluisi Award for Early Career Achievement.
August 28, 2019MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Presents 16th Annual Fundraiser at Sport & Health, Tysons Corner
August 26, 2019
LEONARDTOWN, MD—Can acupuncture work as an alternative to opioids for pain management? Join visiting Chinese Medicine doctors Kai Cheng, MD, and Daniel Jiao, DAOM, L.Ac to explore this topic through an informative talk and demonstration.
“Acupuncture for Pain Management” will be held Friday, Sept. 13, from 3-4:30 p.m. in Health Connections at the Outpatient Pavilion, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. Learn more about the benefits of acupuncture for pain relief through this free seminar, which is open to the public, hospital associates and clinicians.
Dr. Cheng, a professor at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, is the grandson of Cheng Xinnong, Great Master of Chinese Medicine. He is a graduate of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine’s School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Tuina, holding a Bachelor of Medicine and Doctorate of Medicine. Dr. Cheng practices "Heaven-Earth-Human" acupuncture, demonstrated to impact emotional, metabolic, degenerative, neurological, digestive, and reproductive system diseases.
Dr. Jiao obtained his doctorate in acupuncture and oriental medicine and his master’s in traditional Chinese medicine from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. In private practice since 1984, Dr. Jiao has served on the Board of Directors for the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, serving as its chairman for three years and commissioner for 11 years. He was also a consultant for the California State Acupuncture Board and member of the site-visit team for the State Accreditation Committee.
August 22, 2019"It gave me hope"
August 21, 2019
“I felt like the clock was ticking against me.”
Gary Simmons, of Glen Burnie, MD, was doing everything he could to maintain his healthy lifestyle while battling kidney failure caused by diabetes. He ate right, worked out three times a week, rode his bike over 30 miles every weekend, and just started a new job with the special education staff at Lindale Middle School in Linthicum, MD. Despite his best efforts, Simmons could tell that his condition was worsening late last year.
“It was an immediate fear of death that set in with me,” he says. “Not knowing that I had options to sustain my life. I have two young kids, and while my quality of life was deteriorating, their quality of life was deteriorating. I wasn’t able to do a lot of things that I needed to.”
Simmons sought help from transplant specialists at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, who immediately ordered dialysis treatment and listed him for a kidney transplant.
A Desperate Plea Answered
Simmons’ physicians explained that the only way to cut down his time on the waiting list was to find someone willing to give him one of his or her kidneys; a living donor.
“They talked about self-advocacy,” Simmons says. “I sent my story out to just about everyone that was in my e-mail contacts.”
That list included friends, family, and many of the people he had only recently contacted initially about his current position at Lindale Middle School. Simmons received a reply from his boss, Danelle Chapman, who hired him only a few months prior.
“She responded the next day saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to look into this to see if I can donate to you.’”
Simmons was shocked.
“I didn’t think it made any sense. She just gave me a job,” he says. “She really didn’t know me besides from school. I said, ‘Nobody’s really that kind.’ But it turns out she is.”
Choosing the Gift of Life
Chapman chairs the school’s special education department and, until Simmons’ e-mail, did not know the severity of her colleague’s illness. She says the decision to become his living donor was not a difficult one.
“First, I realized he was in his forties and raising two kids. I already knew about his work ethic and his community service. He’s just an all-around great guy,” Chapman says. “I felt like he had a lot to give, and it was important to extend the quality of his life so that he could be there for his kids and provide for them.”
She kept her word, undergoing tests and examinations at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute (MGTI) to determine if she could donate to Gary.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” Chapman says. “Everyone was very kind throughout in explaining the procedure. They were extremely supportive.”
Plotting a New Course
Unfortunately, the results of the tests showed that Chapman and Simmons were not a blood match, meaning that her kidney could not be donated directly. Fortunately, there are other options.“Paired kidney exchange (PKE) is just one of the tools we use to complete living donor transplants even if the donor and recipient are not biologically compatible,” says Jennifer Verbesey, MD, director of the Living Donor Transplant Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “Through the exchange, we can connect our pairs with others in the same position across the country and ultimately find matches. The goal is to build donation chains so that two, three, four or more people can end up getting a new kidney instead of just one person.”
After agreeing to take part in the paired kidney exchange, Chapman could finally deliver the big news.
“I think the look on his face was very surprised,” Chapman recalls through laughter.
“I didn’t know whether to scream, to cry, or to shout. I’ll be honest, I was in such shock that I was motionless,” says Simmons. “It was amazing. God gave me a job and put me in a place where people were really looking after me.”
One Kidney Saving Two Lives
Coordinators at MGTI were able to fit both patients into the paired kidney exchange network. A blood match recipient was found for Chapman’s kidney and, in return, Simmons would receive a compatible kidney back from another donor in the exchange.
“It’s pretty amazing when I think about the impact because it definitely effects so many more people than just Gary,” Chapman says.
“She started off with the intention of helping me but, at the end of the day, she ended up saving two lives,” said Simmons.
Both successful surgeries took place during the same week in late July. Gary had his new kidney transplanted by Dr. Verbesey just two days before his birthday on July 25th. It’s a gift he will never forget.
“Danelle gave me a job, she gave me a birthday gift, and she gave me a kidney!” he says.
In an additional show of support and kindness, another teacher from Lindale Middle School, Terra Greene, is serving as Simmons’ caretaker throughout his recovery from transplant surgery. Gary plans on returning to work in October or November. Chapman says she’ll be ready for the start of the new school year in late-August, and she is excited to eventually tell students all about her summer vacation.
MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute performs more living donor kidney transplants than any other healthcare institution in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It is also recognized as a national leader in kidney exchange and the management of recipients and donors who are incompatible. Only a handful of transplant centers in the United States offer this option to their patients. For more information, visit: MedStarGeorgetown.org/LivingDonor