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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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  • February 14, 2019

    Collaborative Care That Puts Your Patient First

    WASHINGTON, D.C., — In an instant with the crack of a bullet, the spin of a car, or the sudden burst of vessels in the brain, lives are irrevocably changed.  For U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise, the innocence of a baseball game was shattered when a gunman aimed his weapon at the field where members of Congress were practicing for an annual game scheduled for the next evening.

    His grave bullet wounds and his difficult journey through multiple surgeries and infection have been well documented. But like so many other patients with complex injuries, survival is just the first step in a recovery that may continue for months or years.

    When the Congressman left his stay at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, he was immediately admitted to MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (MedStar NRH). His eight week stay at MedStar NRH demonstrates the critical importance of acute rehabilitation for patients who have suffered serious injury and who continue to have complex medical needs, as well.  

    For Congressman Scalise—and other patients with more complicated injury or illness—rehabilitation begins even before they enter the doors of MedStar NRH, explains John Aseff, MD, the physiatrist who cared for Rep. Scalise while in acute rehab.

    “I visited the Congressman at the Hospital Center before he came to us. That’s an important element in creating continuity of care for our patients,” he says. “It’s good for patients and families to know what to expect during the next steps in the recovery process. When patients have multiple organ, nerve and blood vessel injury like the Congressman, we complete assessments before they are discharged from acute care to better understand their continued medical needs, as well as begin to map out their rehab.”

    The shared electronic medical record systems among MedStar Health hospitals helps smooth transition of care from one facility to another, he adds. “We also have MedStar NRH physiatrists at our sister MedStar hospitals across the region to provide support and counsel,” Dr. Aseff explains. 

    Multidisciplinary Care Team

    When the Congressman arrived at MedStar NRH, a team of rehabilitation experts had already been assigned to his care and provided an initial review of his immediate needs. 

    Every patient has a multidisciplinary care team that works collaboratively with one another, the patient and the family throughout hospitalization. Physiatrists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, recreation therapists, neuropsychologists, case managers and dietitians work in concert to develop an individualized treatment plan to help ensure the best possible recovery.

    The care team meets weekly to share updates on the patient’s progress—and to address problems that may impede recovery. “Family meetings are also held to provide the patient and loved ones with a more global picture of the present—and the future,” explains Social Worker Joan McKinon Reeves, LICSW, MedStar NRH director of case managers.

    “From the very beginning of a patient’s hospitalization, we provide an evaluation and create open communication between us and the patient and family,” she adds. “With patients who have more complex injuries, it’s important to understand what kind of support system they have at home and even begin to look at what they may require when they are discharged.

    “Acute rehab is about planning a patient’s future daily life. Our goal is to help patients return to their work, their life, and their passions after a life altering event, and help ensure that the progress they have made during inpatient rehab is sustained. Case managers act as a bridge to services in the community—to the best next steps in a patient’s rehabilitation.” McKinon Reeves says.

    “Unlike some other facilities, an acute rehab facility like ours is equipped to provide a full-range of medical services, 24/7, especially for patients with more complicated issues,” says Nailah Campbell, BSN, RN, Nursing Manager. “We are trained to care for sicker patients and prepared for all kinds of special needs from patients requiring kidney dialysis or wound care to assistive devices.”

    Rigorous Therapy, Six Days a Week

    Working with patients who have an array of issues, care teams included therapists with special expertise working with patients suffering some type of neurological injury.

    “Some patients need to relearn to walk,” says Meaghan Minzy, PT, DPT. “Our goal in physical therapy is to improve endurance, strengthen a patient’s upper body and help them use their legs.”

    Amanda Summers, MS, OTR/L, ATP, says patients who present with physical weakness need to be mindful of overexertion. “Occupational therapy is focused on improving cardiovascular fitness and strengthening the upper body so that daily living tasks can once again be performed.”

    For three hours-a-day, six-days-a-week, the Congressman pushed himself and his body, moving from wheelchair, to a walker and onto crutches.  “In time, he went from walking 20 feet to 200,” says Minzy.

    Progress like this is the result of a patient’s determination, the skill of rehab experts—plus the latest technology, such as FES, functional electrical stimulation to muscles, and the ZeroG® --the robotic body weight support system first developed at MedStar NRH.

    Dr. Aseff visited Rep. Scalise twice a day and watched him during his therapy. “That’s typical for patients who have had critical trauma,” says Dr. Aseff.  “It’s important to understanding their medical needs and to assess their progress.”

    He also says most people are impatient about recovery—and Scalise was no exception.

    “Too much therapy can be harmful—rest is important. Using energy efficiently and effectively is very important to recovery.”

    Patients with very complex injuries face enormous challenges as they learn to “accept the injury and adjust to a new normal,” says Minzy.  “For us, it never gets old to watch as patients improve and leave us able to move on with their lives.”

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    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 MedStarNRH.org.

  • February 13, 2019

    The Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC), through the Compass Hospital Improvement and Innovation Network (HIIN), has released a new change package “Reducing Diagnostic Error-Related to the Laboratory Testing Process.”  MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety leaders including Christine Goeschel, ScD, MPA, MPS, RN, FAAN and David Mayer, MD contributed to the package which is intended to assist hospitals in reducing diagnostic error related to the laboratory testing process through laboratory-driven systems change.  Download the Change Package now at https://www.ihconline.org/compass-hiin/hiin-resources.

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  • February 11, 2019

    Leonardtown, Maryland  – Cardiac rehabilitation can reduce the potentially devastating effects of heart disease and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. During the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation’s (AACVPR) National Cardiac Rehabilitation week, Feb. 10-16, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center (GADC) would like patients who suffer a cardiac event to know there is help available. 

    “Cardiac rehabilitation can help reduce the potentially devastating effects of heart disease,” said Pam Laigle, MSN, RN, PCCN, of MedStar St. Mary’s GADC. “Programs such as ours can greatly improve the quality of life for patients and their families.”

    Cardiac Rehabilitation Week coincides with Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month to draw greater national attention to heart health. This year’s theme, “Making Positive Changes, One Beat at a Time,” honors the patients, families, and healthcare professionals who are dedicated to cardiac rehabilitation as a vehicle for a healthy lifestyle.

    A recent report by the American Heart Association shows that nearly half of all adults in the United States have some form of heart disease. The report is based on data from the National Institutes of Health and other government sources. This year's report said 121.5 million adults in the U.S. – 48 percent based on 2016 figures – have cardiovascular disease. Heart disease was the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

    “Returning to activity following a heart attack can be scary to many,” said Pam. “Programs such as those offered at the Grace Anne Dorney Center not only help patients live longer and lessen chances for another heart attack, they also improve confidence and strength and help get patients back to their usual activities.”

    In addition to cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, GADC also offers a MedFit program. Directed by the center’s team of nurses, clinical exercise physiologists, registered respiratory therapists, and health educators, participants are given a complete medical history assessment and physical fitness evaluation prior to enrolling. The program includes a personalized plan incorporating cardiovascular exercise, muscular strength, and endurance, and flexibility exercises while monitoring participants blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose levels, and oxygen saturation.

    If you or someone you know has had a cardiac event or has a cardiac history and would like to begin an exercise program in a medically monitored gym, contact the Grace Anne Dorney Center at 240-434-7143. The GAD center is certified through the American Association of Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

     

    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.

     

  • February 08, 2019

    WASHINGTON –– A large, national study examining a radiation treatment for prostate cancer––popular because it delivers a high dose of therapy in a very short time frame––supports its routine use. 

    The study, conducted at cancer centers around the United States including at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, looks at long term follow up data for stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) used to treat more than 2,100 men with prostate cancer that had a low or intermediate risk of recurring.

    The results were published Feb. 8 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

    At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the therapy is delivered by a system called CyberKnife, which delivers high doses of radiation precisely aimed to minimize the involvement of healthy surrounding tissue.

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    Radiation oncologist Sean P. Collins, MD, PhD, says curative treatment is a shared goal along with maintaining a person’s quality of life.  Side effects, including impotence, can occur with all treatments for prostate cancer and can happen years after treatment.

    “While it is necessary to observe these men for decades, our interim seven-year data show that survival and side effects are comparable to other forms of radiotherapy,” says Collins, director of the CyberKnife Prostate Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and an associate professor of radiation medicine at Georgetown University. 

    The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which establishes cancer treatment guidelines, classified SBRT as an alternative to conventional therapy, but had noted a lack of long term follow up data. There is much more experience with conventionally fractionated radiation therapy, delivered five times a week for up to nine weeks, and brachytherapy, in which radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate.

    “Our findings give us great confidence that CyberKnife should become a standard option for some men who want to avoid the hassle and inconvenience of standard therapy,” Collins says.

     

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    Collins reports receiving grants from and being a paid consultant for Accuray Inc., the maker of CyberKnife.

     

  • February 05, 2019

    An international group of experts, led by MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Karen Anderson, MD, recently published new clinical guidelines focusing on the treatment of behavioral symptoms seen in patients with Huntington’s disease.

    Huntington’s disease is a fatal genetic disorder that impairs physical and mental abilities as movement-controlling cells die in the brain. It’s estimated that 70% of American patients with the disease do not receive specialist care; instead seeking treatment from general practitioners, general neurologists, and psychiatrists.

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    “These guidelines convey the important message that we have treatments available now for many neuropsychiatric symptoms of HD. This should encourage patients to seek care. They also help non-specialist clinicians understand that HD is a not a hopeless condition,” explains Dr. Anderson, director of the Huntington’s Disease Care, Education, and Research Center (HDCERC), a joint program between MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown University Medical Center.

    The guidelines, published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease, provide primary caregivers with a stronger set of tools and specialist-led strategies to treat five behavioral symptoms of the disease: agitation, anxiety, apathy, psychosis, and sleep disorders.

    Before publication, Dr. Anderson and the panel of nine others submitted ideas to Huntington’s disease experts around the world to reach consensus. Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) like these can be relied on in the absence of randomized clinical trial evidence, which is harder to obtain when studying rarer diseases.

    “We encourage patients and families to use these guidelines to partner with their clinicians when seeking care since these symptoms often have a huge impact on patients’ wellbeing and their relationships with individuals close to them,” advised Dr. Anderson.

    Currently, there is no treatment available to slow, stop, or reverse the course of Huntington’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    For more on the newly published guidelines, visit: https://www.iospress.nl/ios_news/expert-based-clinical-guidelines-focus-on-behavioral-symptoms-in-huntingtons-disease/

     

     

     

     

  • February 04, 2019
    On Feb. 4, 2019, the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare launched EHRSeeWhatWeMean.org and a related campaign, presenting compelling evidence for the need to address the known risks to patient safety and clinician burnout that stem from poor electronic health record (EHR) usability—and calling for action.