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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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  • April 05, 2018

    While it affects more than 12 percent of the U.S. population, often women between 20 to 40 years of age, Graves’ disease is a serious condition you should take note of. The autoimmune disease causes the thyroid to become overproductive and can lead to vision problems, swelling in the leg, and a host of other issues. Thankfully, you can treat Graves’ disease upon diagnosis. Find out what endocrinologist, Paul Sack, MD, recommends for treatment in this article from the Baltimore Sun.

    Learn more about thyroid disorders.

  • April 05, 2018
    A Comprehensive, Caring Approach to Dealing with a Life-Limiting Illness

    Palliative Care is customized, supportive care that takes into account all aspects of who the patient is and what works best for them. It helps people understand their choices about their care and it’s why our new Director of Palliative Care, Dr. Alvin Reaves, III, MD, FACP, FAAHPM, refers to think of what he does as Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care.

    “When I began my career as a physician, I began to take care of people with chronic diseases, managing symptoms we could not cure,” said Dr. Reaves. “Uncontrolled symptoms cause fear and anxiety and I wanted to address how to care for people at this time in their lives, providing customized care that recognizes the differing needs of each patient and works in partnership with the medical team, the patient, and the family.”

    At MedStar Southern Maryland, the Palliative Care Team includes Dr. Reaves, social worker Zoe Plaugher, and Nurse Practitioner Sherri Hayes. Together, they are responsible for managing the care a patient receives to ensure their case is treated in a unique way determined by each individual patient.

    “This means doing different things for different people, said Plaugher. “We consult with the medical team, we make sure the patient and their family understands what is going on and we listen to what they want. We ask what kind of person they were and how we can preserve their dignity.”

    The team incorporates multiple disciplines, says Plaugher, as they help review the medical condition of the patient, set treatment goals, provide the family with support and resolve conflicts. The team also works with both in-patient consultants and outside agencies, such as hospice, to coordinate the best care for each patient.

    “We treat the whole person, physically, emotionally and spiritually, as well as the family,” said Dr. Reaves. “We find out their understanding of what is going on and what is important to them.”

    The MedStar system believes putting a palliative care team in place is very important for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families, so they have assembled teams at each MedStar hospital.

    Please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Palliative for more information about Palliative Care at MSMHC.

  • April 03, 2018

    April is Donate Life Month

    For Renee Sicheri, a registered nurse at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC), organ donation is very personal. Indeed, it is a solemn occasion for everyone at the hospital. We know it means one family is dealing with a devastating loss and a sad time, but we also know another family will be able to celebrate a second chance for their ailing loved one.

    Sicheri has been on both sides of this equation. She suffered the loss of a beloved family member whose organs lived on and saved lives in the bodies of others, and she is part of the team at MSMHC who works with Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) to coordinate this process to save numerous others. WRTC is the organization responsible for the delicate and complicated process of finding donor organs for recipients on donor lists and coordinating the transfer of the organs to recipients.

    The way the organ donation process works is this: First, every effort to save the patient’s life is expended, provided this is what the patient would want. After extensive testing, once it is determined the patient will not make it, but whose organs may be able to function and save a life in the body of another person, WRTC is notified. They will come to MSMHC, review the patient’s chart, and check their database for matches. Then, the family of the patient is consulted, but it is always the wishes of the patient that overrides anyone else. Once the organ is harvested, it is put on a medivac helicopter for rapid transit to its recipient.

    After the process is complete, the donor’s family receives recognition from WRTC for the generous gift of life from their loved one in the form of a thank you certificate that includes how many people were potentially saved through each person’s organ donation and how long they were on a recipient list.

    At MSMHC, we are proud to be a part of this process and proud to support WRTC by promoting their Donate Life campaign and the process of becoming a donor. We promote this message in various ways, including through education to both our associates and our community, through hosting a WRTC representative for an organ donation sign-up day in our hospital’s cafeteria, and by participating in Blue
    and Green Friday on April 13th, to increase awareness of the Donate Life campaign.

    Late last year, WRTC awarded the entire MSMHC perioperative team for being champions of the organ donation process, and for being among the Top 50 hospitals for notification and procurement. It also awarded Dr. Katharine Modisett, MD, for facilitating the organ donation process at MSMHC.

    Please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/DonateLife for more information about organ donation.

  • April 02, 2018
    Scott Kuo, MD, Interventional Radiologist

    A Life-Changing Outcome

    For 42-year-old Mara Cutchember of Lexington Park, having her menstrual cycle every month was excruciating. With heavy bleeding and excessive pain, she often found herself bedridden due to symptoms caused by fibroids. “I felt like I was in labor for three to four days a month,” Mara said. “It had gotten worse, so that’s when I said, ‘I really need to do something about this.’ ”

    After years of suffering, Mara began conversations with her gynecologist about what she could do to alleviate her pain. She had discussed a hysterectomy with her doctor, but, luckily, she had also read about uterine fibroid embolization and her gynecologist recommended the procedure.

    Scott Kuo, MD, of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Interventional Radiology team performed Mara’s surgery in December 2016.

    “It is life-changing,” said Mara, who no longer struggles with monthly pain. “Sometimes I forget I am having my menstrual cycle now.”

    Uterine fibroid embolization is typically a quick, procedure - 60 to 90 minutes - performed with minimal sedation. The minimally invasive, image-guided procedure allows patients to recover more rapidly than if they had to undergo a full hysterectomy. Mara’s recovery was four to five days versus six weeks for a more extensive surgery.

    The procedure Dr. Kuo performed is called Uterine Artery Embolization, which allows embolic agents to be delivered to the uterus and fibroids. The arteries providing blood to the fibroids are blocked causing the fibroids to shrink, thus eliminating the painful monthly symptoms.

     “Many people do not realize that MedStar St Mary’s has an interventional radiology department that is ready to serve the community with different types of procedures and treatment options,” said Dr. Kuo. “Mara’s story is a great example of how we are using state-of-the-art technology to give patients faster recovery times and better outcomes through less invasive procedures.”

    What is Interventional Radiology (IR)?

    Advanced imaging such as ultrasound, X-rays, CAT scans, MRI scans and other methods, allow interventional radiologists to see inside a patient’s body in order to treat complex conditions with minimally invasive procedures.  IR can reduce hospital stays, lessen the chance of complications and save lives.

    IR Procedures Performed at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital

    • Angiograms/Venograms
    • Dialysis interventions
    • Line placement (ports, dialysis catheters)
    • IVC filter placement/removal
    • Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty
    • Thoracentesis/Paracentesis
    • Percutaneous image-guided biopsy
    • Embolization
      • Chemoembolization
      • Radiofrequency
      • Uterine artery
      • Varicocele/Ovarian
    • Varicose vein ablation
    • Feeding tube placement
    • Biliary and nephrostomy tube placement

    Visit MedStarStMarys.org/IR to learn more about Interventional Radiology.

  • April 02, 2018
    Vercise™ DBS More Convenient for Patients than Traditional DBS
  • March 29, 2018
    Forms New MedStar Musculoskeletal Education and Research Institute