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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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  • November 10, 2017

    Eight players aggressively move with speed across the court—four against four in a full contact sport that’s not for the faint hearted. They move the ball toward the goal defending their teammates with quick moves in wheelchairs built like armored vehicles. Take the best of basketball, ice hockey and soccer and put them together. That’s Wheelchair Rugby.

    The MedStar NRH Punishers is one of the nation’s best—a Division One team ranked third in the U.S. The 10-person team is made up of very competitive athletes who all share one thing in common: a combination of upper and lower body extremity impairment. Here’s an inside look at three of the para-athletes involved with the team:

    Mike Heron, Team Captain, Assistant Coach
    Mike Heron’s easy-going teenage life took a 180-degree turn in the summer of 1992 when he dove into shallow water and suffered a spinal cord injury. After a three-month inpatient stay at MedStar NRH and outpatient therapy, the then-17 year old faced his new normal with resolve, graduating high school and moving on to college.

    Before his injury, Mike played soccer. While he understood that life in a wheelchair presented unique challenges, he wanted to stay active. He tried a variety of sports, but when he discovered Wheelchair Rugby two decades ago, he was hooked. In 2006, he helped found the MedStar NRH team—and today he serves as its captain.

    “This is a fast moving, highly competitive sport,” he says. “We’re traveling across a 80 plus-foot court, tossing and dribbling the ball toward the goal, where you need to get two wheels across the line to score. It’s not uncommon for players to topple over in their chairs,” Mike adds.

    “We compete all across the East Coast and we’re dependent on the generosity of sponsors and donors.” Mike is proud that the team has been at the top of its division for some time. “This year going to the nationals was a real treat. We fought hard playing five games and landing in third place—in my almost 20 years of playing, it’s our team’s greatest achievement to date.”

    The new season begins in the fall and Mike has high hopes for the team. “We practice twice a week during the season and work hard to keep our edge. We’re a strong team and I know we’re all looking forward to another successful year.”

    Kevin Crombie, Assistant Coach
    At just 9-months old, Kevin Crombie was diagnosed with transverse myelitis—a rare inflammatory disease that causes damage to the spinal cord. “I was left with an incomplete spinal injury,” he explains. “It’s simply the way I always have been, and I have lived a normal life despite it,” he says. An aerospace engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, Kevin says he “helps make rockets get into space.” It’s a disarmingly simple way to describe a highly complex profession.

    He approaches his work—and the rest of his life—with passion. His long-held fascination with flight led him to a pilot’s license and his own plane. And when he discovered Wheelchair Rugby in 2003, he found a team in Virginia. “We beat the Punishers handedly,” he says. Ultimately he joined the team that was once a competitor. Today he is an accomplished player who nearly won a spot on the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team, and who serves as vice president of the United States Quad Rugby Association.

    “I’ve been playing for 11 years,” Kevin says. “Now I want to give other players a chance to try. I think of myself as a mentor, encouraging people with physical challenges to be active and not allow the fact that they use a wheelchair limit them. I’ve taken some people up in my plane and hope to take others early on in their rehab so they can see that nothing is out of reach. If I can fly, they can do whatever they want. After all, the sky’s the limit.”

    Jimmy Ludwick

    Twenty-one-year-old Jimmy Ludwick is the youngest member of the MedStar NRH Punishers. The college sophomore was just 18 when a summer swim ended in a spinal cord injury—and his new life on wheels. “It was Memorial Day when I dove into water and broke my neck. I was left with quadriplegia,” he explains. “Initially I suffered total body paralysis. But I slowly gained some motion. I can clearly remember the day I was able to shrug my shoulders for the first time.”

    Ultimately Jimmy recovered his strength, and began his college career with the same tenacity he has on the rugby court. “I was introduced to the game while I was an outpatient at MedStar NRH. When I went to my first practice, they had to place me into position on the court. But I got stronger and stronger. Now I play defense and I love it.”

    For Jimmy, playing on the team satisfied his desire to participate in competitive sports—he had once been good enough to consider playing college lacrosse. “Rugby also has extremely beneficial physical effects,” he says. “Using the rugby chair made me strong enough to transition to a manual chair day-to-day.
    “The game has absolutely played a big part in my recovery. And being part of this team made me feel normal again,” Jimmy says.

     

    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 orthopedic 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.

  • November 09, 2017

    With Bonita Coe, MD, MBA, Director of MedStar Medical Group Waldorf 

    When eating out, remember that restaurant food is inherently high in calories and salt. However, many restaurants have healthy options and provide calorie and nutrition information on their menus, which can help you choose healthier food options. 

    Here are 15 tips from Dr. Coe to help you focus on eating healthy when you’re grabbing a meal on the go:

    1. Avoid sweetened beverages, juices and alcohol. Instead, order water with lemon or sugar-free choices as your beverage.

    2. Drink water frequently during the meal to achieve the sensation of feeling full faster.

    3. Many restaurant portions are much larger than you need or even want to eat. When your food comes to you, place half of it in a take-home box.

    4. Focus on ordering choices with fruits and vegetables as the predominant ingredients.

    5. If you are going to eat meat, avoid beef and focus on choices with chicken, turkey, and fish that are baked, roasted or grilled, and not fried.

    6. Avoid processed meats, like deli meats, bacon, ham, and sausage, including the turkey versions of these foods.

    7. Avoid salty snacks and sugary foods, pastries, candy and baked goods.

    8. Avoid choices rich with butter and rich sauces, as they are typically high in fat.

    9. Minimize starchy foods like bread, rice, pasta and white potatoes. Substitute the starch in a meal for another vegetable. If you are going to eat starches, whole wheat or whole grain bread and pasta are better choices.
    10. Ask the server not to bring bread to the table while you are waiting for your meal.

    11. Do not add salt to your food. Only add salt to your food on your plate after you have tasted your food. Use salt very sparingly, if at all.

    12. Avoid choices made with eggs and cheese.

    13. When planning to go out to eat or to an event, eat a small healthy snack before you go. You will eat less and be able to make healthier choices because you are not as hungry when you are ordering your meal.

    14. Avoid salad bars, hot food bars, and pre-prepared food venues, unless you are going to eat the fresh fruit and vegetables. Be aware that a lot of food put into salads bars comes out of a can, box or plastic pre-prepared package, which typically means it is high in sodium.

    15. Try ordering salads with the dressing on the side and avoid fried foods and foods with sauces and gravy on top.

    Breakfast at McDonald’s

    Egg McMuffin: 300 calories, 12 grams of fat, 730 milligrams of sodium Vs.
    Big Breakfast with hotcakes and syrup, biscuit, scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns: 1,350 calories, 65 grams of fat, 2,100 milligrams of sodium

    Lunch at Subway

    6 Inch Carved Turkey Sandwich: 330 calories, 5 grams of fat, 890 milligrams of sodium Vs.
    6 Inch Chicken Bacon Ranch Melt: 770 calories, 81 grams of fat, 1,580 milligrams of sodium

    Afternoon Snack at Starbucks

    Cold option - Teavana® Shaken Iced Passion Tango™ Tea: 0 calories, 0 grams of fat 
    Hot Option - Caffè Americano: 10 calories, 0 grams of fat Vs.
    Cold Option - Venti Unicorn Frappuccino: 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, 310 milligrams of sodium
    Hot Option - Venti White Chocolate Mocha: 530 calories, 21 grams of fat, 320 milligrams of sodium

    Dinner at Taco Bell

    Grilled Steak Soft Taco: 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 490 milligrams of sodium
    Chicken Soft Taco: 160 calories, 5 grams of fat, 480 milligrams of sodium Vs.
    XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito: 860 calories, 41 grams of fat, 2,200 milligrams of sodium

    Late Night Snack

    Baskin Robbins Right Choices Fat Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt: 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 65 milligrams of sodium Vs.
    Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake: 1680 calories, 49 grams of fat, 970 milligrams of sodium 

  • November 09, 2017

    Erika Gosai, MD, joins the MedStar NRH medical team as an inpatient attending physician on the Spinal Cord Injury unit at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital.  She is serving the needs of patients in the inpatient unit and has a particular interest in spasticity management and wound care and prevention—two areas that are particularly critical to the SCI population. Dr. Gosai comes to MedStar NRH from the University of Texas - Southwestern, where she completed both her residency in physiatry, as well as a fellowship in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Rutgers University and completed her medical degree and internship in internal medicine at the New Jersey School of Medicine and Dentistry.

    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 orthopedic 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 MedStarNRH.org.

  • November 08, 2017
    D.C. firefighter Dane Smothers, Jr., who was critically injured at the scene of a house fire this summer, was released from inpatient care.
  • November 08, 2017
    Dr. Ottenbacher Discusses Issues Surrounding High Rate of Rehospitalization Across U.S.
  • November 07, 2017

    Longtime Diverticulitis Sufferer Athelia Doggette Undergoes Removal of Problematic Section of Colon, Now Ready to Return to the NFL

    The toughness seen in the National Football League isn’t limited to the field. It extends to NFL Players Association employee Athelia Doggette, who endured a long and painful battle with diverticulitis, or digestive tract inflammation, before undergoing surgery and working toward recovery and a return to her fast-paced job.

    Since 2015, Athelia had been living with diverticulitis, which is a condition when pockets develop in the colon, that can cause pain, abdominal tenderness, nausea, vomiting or constipation. She began treatment with MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center physician Dr. Min Kim, who helped treat her using dietary modifications and treatments of antibiotics.

    When her symptoms returned half a year after her last treatment, Athelia attended an Ask-the-Doctor Seminar entitled “When to See a Doctor for Growths,” and decided, in partnership with her MedStar physician team, that her case needed surgical intervention.

    “Because of the kind of person I am, I did my research,” said Athelia. “I engaged with my doctor and did my own research to help this process along. I understood without this treatment, I could develop an infection or another abscess (a painful, swollen lump of pus caused by an infection).”

    Athelia underwent a colonoscopy, which is a procedure using a thin tube affixed with a camera that allows a physician to fully examine the inner lining of the large intestine to look for inflammation, as in Athelia’s case, and can also detect the presence of ulcers, polyps, tumors and sources of bleeding. Once it was determined Athelia would benefit from removing the problem section of her intestine to prevent additional outbreaks, she was paired up with General Surgeon Dr. Michael Gillespie, who performed a robotic colon resection procedure to remove the affected area of her colon.

    “We use a daVinci robotic machine, and if a patient needs this option, to have a part of their colon surgically removed, we can accommodate that here,” said Dr. Gillespie.

    The machine used for Athelia’s procedure, which represents the latest in technology, allows surgeons like Dr. Gillespie to view a three-dimensional, high-definition view inside the patient’s body, and use a laparoscopic tube equipped with a camera to perform surgery in the most minimally-invasive way possible.

    “In terms of resources, for a community hospital, we have improved greatly since I started here three years ago, and patients have said they receive outstanding care at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center,” said Dr. Gillespie.

    After surgery, Athelia reports she is feeling good and healing well. She says she is improving every day due to Dr. Gillespie, her own determination and the help of her faith and family. Her appetite is back and Athelia will soon be ready to return to work and spend fun times with her friends at MGM National Harbor.

    She has this advice for others who suffer from her condition: “I was not aware of what diverticulitis was until it hit me twice. It is a tough thing that can take away your total quality of life in an instant. Lots of myths exist about it, so I recommend you get together with a great doctor and have a conversation.”

    Visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Surgery for more information about surgery services at our hospital.