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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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  • January 11, 2018
    Raj Ratwani, PhD

    Hyattsville, MD (July 11, 2018)Raj Ratwani, PhD, has been awarded an R01 grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to study electronic medication administration records to identify current safety issues and needs of clinicians and then develop new prototype solutions. Dr. Ratwani, center director and scientific director at MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, is a leading expert in the study of usability and design of health information technology systems.

    As technology usage in patient care grows, researchers continue their work to identify best practices for the use of health information systems and their effect on patient outcomes. This research seeks to better understand the flow of information among healthcare team members and how they use electronic medication administration records.

    “Managing medications has become more complex,” said Dr. Ratwani, “and if health information technology is not designed, developed, and implemented to support clinicians in medication management patients may be harmed.”

    The multidisciplinary research team includes Nancy Staggers, PhD, RN, FAAN; Jessica Howe, MS; Allan Fong, MS, and Katie Adams, BS; along with other physicians, nurses, human factors experts and data scientists, all of whom have extensive experience in health information technology systems and are focused on improving the functionality of these systems to increase patient safety. For this research, MedStar Health will collaborate with a patient safety organization and a health information technology systems vendor.

    The research team will analyze a diverse set of nearly two million patient safety event reports to identify hazards and the needs of the full healthcare team who use this software. This analysis will produce a taxonomy of potential safety hazards in the electronic medication administration systems that vendors can apply to the development of new systems.

    As part of the project, the team will design, develop, and test options to help facilitate a better flow of information among clinicians, using wireframes and prototypes to simulate potential solutions.

    This funding continues the work of MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare in health information technology with 4 active R01 awards. Dr. Ratwani is currently the principal investigator on another AHRQ funded R01 focusing on improving usability and safety guidelines for health information technology.Kristen Miller, DrPH, CPPS, is the principal investigator on a National Library of Medicine R01 focused on effective clinical decision support development.Zach Hettinger, MD, MS, is the principal investigator on an AHRQ funded R01 focused on technology to support emergency department communication.

    About MedStar Health Research Institute

    The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit 

    About MedStar Health

    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation, and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

  • January 11, 2018

    Babyscripts Remotely Monitors Pregnant Patients and Provides Real-time Feedback and Intervention


    Washington, D.C., January 11, 2018 – A new mobile app is changing how expectant mothers are receiving prenatal care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Midwives at the Hospital Center can now remotely monitor their pregnant patients’ progress and health using the Babyscripts™ app. It’s the first mobile clinical tool that allows the midwives to elevate the prenatal care experience for their maternity patients.

    Mothers enrolled in the program receive weekly educational updates tailored to their gestational period through the mobile app. The moms also track their weight and blood pressure through a Bluetooth®-enabled blood pressure cuff and weight scale, and the information is sent to their midwife. If the blood pressure or weight gain is too high or considered abnormal, the data is flagged, and the midwife can call for the mother to come in. These two metrics are important because they could indicate potential complications, such as preeclampsia, a serious condition that causes high blood pressure, kidney damage and other problems.

    The combination of home monitoring plus notification of ‘abnormal triggers’ has reduced the number of face-to-face visits, some from 14 to nine prenatal visits, but that can vary depending on the individual. The program is offered to women whose pregnancy is considered low-risk.

    “We piloted the app with our patients about a year ago and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They loved it,” said Loral Patchen, PhD, CNM, director of Midwifery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “Babyscripts creates additional flexibility within our practice and provides a common bank of knowledge that allows us to personalize care to a greater degree during office visits. And both midwives and mothers appreciate that opportunity.”

    Additionally, Babyscripts will be working with the Hospital Center’s Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting (TAPP) program to provide a technology to promote healthier living and improve the overall well-being of pregnant and parenting youth. The Babyscripts Care Navigator module is the first-of-its-kind initiative for pregnant teen moms, providing automated patient education in the form of daily tips, along with the ability to interact with the moms through a HIPAA-compliant secure text messaging platform.

    Currently, the Babyscripts features are only available to patients of MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Midwifery Practice and the TAPP program.


    About MedStar Washington Hospital Center:
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. It also is a respected top facility in the areas of cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. It operates MedSTAR, a nationally-verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.

  • January 10, 2018


    In Memoriam
    Edward A. Eckenhoff
    March 4, 1943 – January 10, 2018

    Edward A. Eckenhoff passed away peacefully with family and friends at his side on January 10, 2018, at the age of 74, at his home in Naples, Fla.  He is survived by his devoted wife Judi Eckenhoff, his brothers Walt Eckenhoff and Roderic Eckenhoff, many nieces and nephews, and their dog Bogey.  He was a gifted leader and remarkable friend.  His accomplishments and zest for life inspired everyone who knew him. 

    Ed grew up on the New Jersey shore and excelled at football and track throughout high school.  He went on to earn a B.S. in Biology from Transylvania University in Kentucky in 1966, a Master’s degree in Education and Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 1968, and a Master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in 1972.

    In 1963 at age 20, he was in a motor vehicle accident that killed his college roommate, who was driving, and left Ed with paraplegia.   For the rest of his life, he used braces and crutches to walk.  This was a defining moment in Ed’s life and led to a career of helping others with physical disabilities.

    In 1974, Ed became vice president of administration at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  It was in Chicago that Ed met the love of his life, Judi, who was working in the same field as an occupational therapist.  They were soon married and Ed and Judi moved to Washington, D.C., in 1983 to pursue a dream of building a freestanding medical rehabilitation hospital to serve the Greater Washington community and patients throughout the country that required specialized rehabilitative care.  In 1986, the National Rehabilitation Hospital opened its doors under Ed’s leadership, with the backing of a prestigious Board of Directors that Ed handpicked to join him.  From the beginning, NRH was part of what has become MedStar Health, the largest health care provider in the D.C., and Baltimore regions. 

    Under Ed’s leadership, MedStar NRH grew dramatically and has since served thousands of inpatients and outpatients; has grown from a single site of care to more than 50 outpatient locations in the region; has become a center for training and education for rehabilitation professionals; and today boasts a significant research portfolio aimed at improving function, cognition, and independence.  It is consistently rated among the best rehabilitation hospitals in the country by US News & World Report, and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in the field.  During his career, Ed helped thousands of people living with disabilities.  He was an inspiration to us all, and created a culture of care that continues to permeate our halls and resonate with our patients.

    Ed was an avid and passionate golfer and used one arm to swing.  He always drew attention and admiration on the golf course not only because of the way he played, but also because he seldom lost a game.  His zest for the game of golf was infectious.  While Ed loved the competition, his love for golf was more about the camaraderie and the friendships that were built on the course. 

    Ed Eckenhoff was on the Board of the American Hospital Association, a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a member of the Healthcare Research and Development Institute (HRDI), Chair of the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA), and served on the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors.  He was “Washingtonian of the Year” in 1989, and received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from his alma mater, Transylvania University.

    Those that knew Ed understood his unique ability to live life to its fullest; to never let obstacles get in the way, and to exude a love for life that few others can emulate. 

    Arrangements are underway to hold a memorial service in the spring.  Ed’s family is requesting that donations be made to the Adding Life to Years® Campaign with MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.  Please visit or make checks payable to MedStar NRH, 102 Irving St NW, Washington, D.C., 20010.

  • January 10, 2018

    Comprehensive-Stroke-Center-The-Joint-Commission-Certification-BadgeMedStar Georgetown University Hospital recently earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers.

    MedStar Georgetown is now one of only 156 healthcare organizations in the United States to have earned this certification in highly-specialized stroke care. To be eligible for certification, hospitals must demonstrate compliance with stroke-related standards as a Primary Stroke Center and meet additional requirements, including those related to advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, and providing staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients. 

    “We have a superb multi-disciplinary team of providers, nurses, scientists and educators who are dedicated to providing the highest level of care for patients with cerebrovascular disease,” said Dr. Andrew Stemer, director of Stroke Neurology at MedStar Georgetown. “The Joint Commission recognizing MedStar Georgetown as a Comprehensive Stroke Center confirms that we are one of the elite programs in the nation.”

    Achieving certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center was the culmination of years of hard work by a multidisciplinary team, including stroke care experts from: Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuro Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, Neuroradiology, Neuro Interventional Radiology, Case Management, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Regulatory Readiness, and Physiatry. MedStar Georgetown’s stroke team is anchored by Dr. Stemer and the Hospital’s specially-trained stroke neurologists, as well as a dedicated nurse practitioner, nurse navigator, and program coordinator. The Hospital’s stroke team collaborated to evaluate and enhance the care received by stroke patients, which included implementing new policies and providing additional training for associates, as well as expanding the collection and review of key data elements critical to the care of stroke patients.

    “This certification shows our commitment to a higher standard of service and quality of care for our patients,” said MedStar Georgetown’s Stroke Program Coordinator Amanda Lantzy, MSN, RN. “Our expanded services ensure that we can treat and provide excellent quality of care to the most complex stroke patients around the clock. We have dedicated, specially-trained clinicians available at any time of day or night, including board-certified vascular neurologists. Having their expertise readily available ensures our patients are receiving the care they need which provides better long term outcomes for stroke survivors.”

    "By achieving this advanced certification, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition,” said Dr. Mark R. Chassin, president and CEO of The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends MedStar Georgetown for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves.”

    Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association remarked, “The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association congratulates MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on achieving Comprehensive Stroke Center certification. Meeting the standards for Comprehensive Stroke Center certification represents a commitment to deliver high quality care to all patients affected by stroke.”

    This certification provides validation for the public that MedStar Georgetown maintains a consistently high level of quality, using effective, data-driven performance improvement practices. Above all, patients who receive stroke care at MedStar Georgetown know that they are being cared for by nationally-recognized experts who are part of a well-coordinated and highly-specialized team.

    MedStar Georgetown Stoke Team


  • January 09, 2018

    Using Technology to Transform Health Care

    COLUMBIA, MD — MedStar Health is designated “Most Wired” according to results of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) HealthCare’s Most Wired survey results, released this month. The designation marks MedStar’s 14th appearance on the list.

    Based on an analysis of the Most Wired survey results, hospitals and health systems at the forefront of using healthcare Information Technology (IT) to improve the delivery of care are maximizing the benefits of foundational technologies and embracing new technologies that support population management and value-based care. The most successful organizations not only adopt technology, but apply it strategically to achieve great outcomes.

     “With key foundational technologies in place, such as our systemwide Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Enterprise Resource Planning systems, MedStar Information Services and business partners are focused on sustained optimization efforts to enhance workflow and productivity for our associates, as well as the safety and quality of care we provide patients,” says Scott MacLean, senior vice president and chief information officer, MedStar Health. “It is rewarding to be recognized for these efforts.”

    MedStar is “Most Wired,” thanks to the work of dedicated teams that continue to make enhancements that ultimately benefit patients, indicates MacLean. One such benefit is the implementation of bedside medical device integration with the MedStar EHR. Patient data from pumps, monitors and other devices flows directly into the system, eliminating the need to manually enter the data in the patient’s health record. This improves the accuracy and timeliness of the data and gives clinicians more time to focus on patients.

    MedStar also recognizes the use of mobile devices to improve care is on the rise both within the healthcare setting and at home. It is one of 13 leading providers to partner with Apple in the development of an iPhone Health app that allows patients to access their health information using Apple’s iPhone. Additionally, MedStar is supporting providers’ use of mobile phones to view patient data and capture clinical updates.

    Furthermore, the investment in interoperability is a key reason behind the recognition. MedStar is a longstanding partner of Maryland’s regional health information exchange, Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), and works to increase the reporting and sharing of clinical data with other regional providers with different EHRs.

    “This award is a testament to our team’s commitment to embracing innovative ways of delivering the highest levels of quality care and providing the best experience for our patients and providers,” says Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, president and chief executive officer, MedStar Health. “Most importantly, advances in healthcare IT better enable our ability to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities.”

    HealthCare’s Most Wired, now in its 20th year, traditionally tracked the adoption of healthcare IT in hospitals and health systems. CHIME took over the Most Wired program and revised the survey questions and methodology this year to highlight strengths and gaps in the industry. The goal is to identify best practices and promote the strategic use of healthcare IT to elevate the health and care of communities around the world. To learn more about the Most Wired Survey and this year’s recipients, visit


  • January 09, 2018

    Published online ahead of print in The Journal of Nursing Care Quality, the study sought to identify barriers to implementing a technology-based system to deliver diabetes survival skills education while patients are in the hospital. The educational system helps to send patients home with needed skills to manage their diabetes. The research team is Kelly Smith, PhD; Kelley Baker, MA; Joan Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDE, Patricia  McCartney, PhD, RN; and Michelle Magee, MD. Read more