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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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  • July 18, 2018
    Becomes Baltimore’s First Hospital to be Honored for Promoting Safe Sleep for Infants
  • July 16, 2018

    WASHINGTON, D.C., – July 13, 2018 – Tyrell Williams, linebacker with the Georgetown University football team, has been doing his outpatient rehabilitation here at MedStar Health Physical Therapy at Irving Street in D.C., for several months now, following a career-ending spinal cord injury suffered during a game in 2015.

    Williams told NBC4’s Nicole Jacobs he remembers the moment very well. “It was the fifth or sixth play of the game, maybe near the 10-yard line,” he said. “I heard a snap and a tingle.”

    He put his head down for a tackle and his rammed right into an opposing player’s pelvis. The result was a C6 neck injury and paralysis.

    MedStar NRH Network Physical Therapist Katie Seward has been working several hours a week with Ty since he came to Irving Street for physical therapy. He is slowly beginning to gain back some finger control, his arms and a lot of upper body strength. “My core is coming back – my abs, obliques,” adds Ty.

    The 23-year-old is determined with great positivity that he can do anything. He does not look back, only forward. “I don’t want to let the chair decide what I want to do,” he told NBC4. “I want to decide what I want to do.” Seward agrees with that assessment adding that Ty has an excellent support system around him. “He has a very positive attitude and that has really helped him through his physical therapy,” said Seward.

    While Williams continues his physical therapy he will continue to work towards his undergraduate degree before he embarks on a Master’s in sports management at Georgetown.

    Watch the clip from NBC4/WRC-TV here

  • July 11, 2018
    Earns Accreditation with Commendation from The Commission on Cancer
  • July 11, 2018

    The e-cigarette market has been on fire the past few years. With nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market, according to the American Lung Association, these electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are sparking renewed interest and debates around the use of tobacco products and the harmful effects of nicotine.

    “We feel that it is important to educate the community on the potential harms and risks of vaping,” said Angela Cochran, director of Chronic Disease Prevention & Control for St. Mary’s County Health Department. “As the research evolves we continue to gain more knowledge on how e-cigarette use affects our health.”

    In 2015, the Health Department created the VapeAware awareness campaign to help provide the latest information on this trendy smoking alternative. It also works with the Tobacco Free Living Action Team of the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership to improve tobacco-related health outcomes in the county.

    “The Health Department works on reducing the use of all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” Angela said. “We try to focus on population-level strategies such as including e-cigarettes into smoke-free indoor air policies and restricting youth access to e-cigarettes in retail settings.”

    What is particularly disturbing is the trend among adolescents and teens. According to the Maryland 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 42 percent of teen respondents in St. Mary’s County had tried electronic vapor products within the 30 days prior to taking the survey. 

    “Recent reports are showing substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the likelihood youth and young adults will eventually begin using combustible tobacco cigarettes,” Angela said. “Despite the popularity of e-cigarettes, we continue to promote awareness through a comprehensive tobacco control program that focuses on prevention and cessation of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, among youth.”

    Know the Health Risks

    New studies are also showing that e-cigarettes are not as harmless as many would like to believe. Although not as toxic as smoking regular cigarettes, use of ENDS still comes with many risks including exposure to nicotine and other aerosols which are known cancer causers.

    “Research on this is still pending in a few areas because long-term effects haven’t had a chance to be studied,” said Pam Laigle, BSN, RN, PCCN, clinical leader of the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehab Center. However, research has discovered other effects on the cardiovascular system as well as new evidence of what is called ‘popcorn’ lung, a serious and irreversible lung disease. “Anything other than breathing oxygen,” said Pam, “essentially is not good.”

    Visit for more information on the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, the risks of tobacco use, and smoking cessation resources.

    What is Vaping?

    Electronic nicotine delivery systems, which include e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookahs, e-cigars, personal vaporizers, and electronic pipes, use a battery to heat liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings, and additives, which are inhaled into the lungs.

    Know the Risks

    ► Exposure to Nicotine: Nicotine is highly addictive and adversely affects the heart, reproductive system, lungs, kidneys, etc., and may increase the risk of certain cancers.

    ► Exposure to Aerosols: Aerosols may contain harmful substances including cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that reach deep inside the lungs.

    ► Increases Risk of Using Other Tobacco Products: For teens and adolescents, serves as a gateway to using combustible cigarettes.

    ► Poisoning: Accidental exposure to even small amounts of liquid nicotine – as little as a teaspoon - can be fatal to children and a slightly larger amount could kill an adult.

    ► Burns: Batteries can explode causing severe injury.

  • July 06, 2018

    WASHINGTON, D.C., – July 6, 2018 – Suzanne Groah, MD, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network medical director of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) program, and head of the SCI research program, received the 2018 Goldschmidt Award on Wed. June 6, 2018.

    In addition to receiving this honor, Dr. Groah also gave the annual Goldschmidt Lecture, the 30th time this has taken place at MedStar NRH. This prestigious honor is named after Dr. John Goldschmidt, the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s founding medical director, who worked towards enhancing an interdisciplinary approach to patient care. Recipients of this award, like Dr. Groah, are motivated to positively influence both fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

    Dr. Groah’s lecture focused on the fascinating history of spinal cord injury. She examined the oldest spinal cord injury text – which described SCI as an “ailment not to be treated.” Taking us on a journey through SCI history, Dr. Groah showed us everything from how the Paralympic Games evolved to the movement in the 1970s and 1980s to find a cure for SCI – via medication.

    In fact, in the late 1970s, the very first clinical trial looking at recovery from SCI took place to test a combination of medications and physical therapy. “This provided an opportunity to lead us toward recovery and cure,” she said.

    As the decades turned, public faces of SCI began to emerge – actor Christopher Reeve, one of the most notable spinal cord injury survivors who became a quadriplegic when thrown from a horse during a Virginia equestrian competition; and football players, among them former Detroit Lions star offensive lineman Mike Utley, injured during a 1991 game. Utley is a 1993 Victory Award® recipient.
    These public faces, Dr. Groah says, raised the profile of the disease and perhaps paved the way to get us to where we are now.

    “We began to move away from drugs being the potential cure for SCI to patients working through therapy and newer, emerging technology,” she said.

    Dr. Groah says that the future of spinal cord injury research offers tremendous hope and new possibilities. She highlighted various new research breakthroughs including scaffolds placed around the spinal cord during decompression surgery and optogenetics using light on cells in animals right now with respiratory issues that could be used in the future for those with SCI.

    In addition, Dr. Groah mentioned Networked Neural Prosthesis technology, which can help via a stimulator device allowing patients to use their hands in more ways. “SCI patients might be able to use their hands in ways they never knew, such as using a pen and paper or eating food while holding utensils,” she said. “All of this holds great promise in the years to come.”

    Dr. Groah’s chief takeaway when reflecting on her own career: Exude confidence even if you are not quite sure what you are doing. “I tell residents, future physicians, researchers and anyone the same things – if you’re going to react, use restraint before you react; if you see an opportunity grab it; and develop and keep relationships with your mentors so you can pay it forward.”

    With a career in research that spans many years, Dr. Groah has done that for herself while mentoring many along the way.

    The Goldschmidt Award and Lecture is a prestigious honor at MedStar NRH. It serves to recognize the years and effort devoted by MedStar NRH’s founding medical director, John W. Goldschmidt, who worked towards enhancing an interdisciplinary team approach to patient care. The recipients of the award are those who are motivated to positively influence both fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
    This award should be given to an individual who reflects the attributes of Dr. John W. Goldschmidt in terms of voluntary and tireless efforts, enhancement of interdisciplinary multi-specialty team development and approach to patient care, the advancement of facility to care for individuals with physical disabilities as well as intellectual, emotional and academic commitment to the precepts and the intimate intricacies of rehabilitation as a specialty field. Each of these actions must also be performed to the highest professional and ethical standards which emulate the man for which this award has been named.

    Past Awardees Include:
    2018 - Suzanne Groah, MD
    2017 - Randall L. Braddom, MD, MS, FAAPMR
    2016 - Barbara Bregman, PT, PhD
    2015 - Paul F. Pasquina, MD
    2014 - Alexander Dromerick, MD
    2013 - Bruce Gans, MD
    2012 - Kristjian T. Ragnarsson, MD
    2011 - John N. Aseff, MD
    2010 - Brendan Conroy, MD
    2009 - Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA

    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, D.C., 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

  • July 03, 2018

    When D.C. resident Dawn Goodloe started having trouble reading road signs and licenses plates in the middle of last year, her brain jumped to the most logical conclusion.

    “I hadn’t been to the eye doctor for a couple of years, so I just figured I needed a new prescription,” says the 47-year-old legal assistant.

    However, after vision correction failed to clear things up, an MRI revealed the shocking truth: her brain was the problem all along. Those MRI images showed a meningioma – a usually benign tumor – pushing into her optic nerve.

    "I had absolutely no idea that I was walking around with a brain tumor, other than the fact that my vision was really blurry,” Goodloe says. "I wasn't having headaches, I wasn't having dizziness. Nothing.”

    Plans to buy a new pair of glasses suddenly jumped to a potentially life-changing brain surgery.

    “I was beyond fearful because I’ve never been in the hospital for anything, other than to have my daughter. All I could think about were worst case scenarios,” Goodloe says.

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    Just a few days later at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Neurosurgeon Amjad Anaizi, MD, recommended a newly developed surgical procedure for meningioma: the expanded endoscopic endonasal approach. That means using advanced instruments to remove the entire tumor through Goodloe’s nose.

    Not only is it possible but, with the right training and expertise, doctors say the operation is better for the patient’s overall recovery.

    "MedStar Georgetown is one of the few places in the country that offers an endonasal treatment for this particular kind of tumor," says Anaizi. “It avoids incision of the head, avoids the pain associated with that, and avoids any manipulation of the normal brain."

    According to Anaizi, meningioma is traditionally removed by craniotomy, or surgery through the top of the head. The endoscopic endonasal approach gets to the tumor from underneath by navigating the nasal cavity and sinuses. It’s a more direct route and often leaves the patient looking like they didn’t have surgery at all. At MedStar Georgetown, Anaizi tag-teams the operations with Otolaryngologist Timothy DeKlotz, MD.

    “I think having two sets of eyes on a complicated problem is always helpful,” says DeKlotz. “The combination of two endoscopic trained skull-base surgeons who work together on these is very uncommon.”

    DeKlotz and Anaizi in SurgeryThe roughly six and a half hour procedure begins with DeKlotz opening up the nose and sinuses. Then, Anaizi carefully removes the tumor from beneath the membrane on which it sits. The operation relies on longer tools that can reach the tumor from outside the head, and a high quality camera piloted by Dr. DeKlotz.

    “It gives us access to tumors and the ability to manage certain diseases that were not able to be effectively treated at all.” DeKlotz says. “A lot of it comes from the experience of working together, knowing the limits, and continuing to push those limits as we learn more about what can be done safely and effectively.”

    Goodloe’s tumor was not cancerous, but her eyesight continued to get worse at it grew. She had a big decision to make. Any surgery could potentially damage her optic nerve, carotid artery and other complex blood vessels. However, she was determined to get better.

    "I was really scared because I was facing the threat of not being able to watch my daughter grow up, or grow old with my husband and I didn’t know what was going to happen."

    In the end, she leaned on confidence in her two new specialists and elected to have the endoscopic endonasal operation.

    It was the right decision.

    Goodloe was placed under anesthesia throughout the procedure and later woke to a much clearer image of her recovery room. The tumor was gone. Her vision had improved drastically. The operation was a success.

    Dawn Goodloe with her daughter"I opened my eyes and I could see. It was amazing. I'll never forget that feeling," she says.

    In recovery, Goodloe remained in the hospital for four days as her nose was packed with gauze. There, her nasal cavity began to heal. For a week, she only breathed out of her mouth and avoided blowing her nose. Those brief adjustments ended up paying off in the end and after only two months she returned to work.

    “When I came back to work, I think everyone was expecting me to have a shaved head and a big scar on the side,” she says. “I didn’t look like I had surgery. They could not tell.”

     “We get people home more quickly with the endoscopic endonasal approach,” DeKlotz says. “The healing process involves fewer complications and it happens a lot faster.”

    “It’s dramatic,” says Dr. Anaizi. “There’s more recent evidence that shows clear advantages. The visual outcomes are better and the seizure rates are lower.”

    For Goodloe, it meant getting back the one precious thing her tumor was slowly taking away: the clear sight of her husband and 10-year-old daughter.

     “It gets better every day. I feel myself getting stronger every day. I’m just happy to be alive and here and have amazing doctors who helped me,” she says.