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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 07, 2017
    When Diane Haderly’s cancer returned, she chose not to undergo treatment to extend her life, but instead wanted to spend her last few months traveling and enjoying life with her husband, John.

    Upon removal of a tumor on her pancreas and completion of six months of chemotherapy, everything seemed to be fine for Diane Haderly. She felt great. After all, the Lexington Park resident beat breast cancer 17 years ago. This time around she wasn’t as fortunate.

    A follow-up scan showed the cancer had spread. Diane discussed her options with John, her husband of 38 years. She could undergo an even more intense treatment or do nothing. The treatment could extend her life a few months, but Diane decided it wasn’t worth it.

    “It came down to quality of life,” said John, recalling the toll the six months of chemo took on Diane. “She always said if she ever got really sick, she wanted to die at Hospice House.” So the couple went to Hospice House, learned about hospice services and chose her options for care. Being terminal, Diane was eligible for hospice care immediately, although she felt great. In fact, in the beginning, John said Diane would answer the door and the hospice nurse would ask to see the patient while Diane answered, “I am the patient.”

    Diane and John sailed and traveled in their motorhome during their time together. They visited their blended family of five children and eight grandchildren, discussing Diane’s decision and what she wanted in addition to celebrating family occasions. Thanks to their hospice connection, John, a retired Navy officer with no medical training, always felt confident should they ever encounter an emergency while traveling. “Whenever we left home,” said John, “I let hospice know our routes and our destinations. They set up hospice services for us in those areas, although we never had to use them.”

    According to Hospice and Palliative Care Interim Director Kathy Franzen, BSN, RN, a great number of patients and their families never discuss end-of-life options. Instead, decisions are crisis based, made under duress in the Intensive Care Center or the Emergency Department. “This places a huge burden on others.” Kathy and her staff ask patients and families “What’s important to you?” to help with decisions about palliative or hospice care. “This question can help with one of the most important conversations of our life,” said Kathy.

    If unsure how to begin end-of-life conversations, she highly recommends The Conversation Project website at TheConversationProject.org for several helpful resources. “All of hospice care is palliative care, but all of palliative care is not hospice care at all,” Kathy said. Palliative care should start at the beginning of any serious or chronic illness. To be eligible for hospice, a terminally ill patient with approximately six months to live must have a physician referral.

    Just as she wanted, Diane Haderly was at Hospice House for her final days. All of her family, including the dog, were able to come and say their goodbyes. John was so taken with his wife’s care that when his 95-year-old mother-in-law was in a nursing home dying of lung cancer, he arranged for her to go to Hospice House.

    Once again, he was grateful for their skill and compassion. As a thank you, John helps care for the baby grand piano in the Hospice House living room, seeing that it stays well-tuned for all to enjoy. Diane loved music and John, a musician, served as the Navy Band’s tour director for most of his military career. “Hospice staff treated my wife, myself and our entire family with dignity,” John said. “They honored Diane’s wishes, provided comfort and support, and made the transition tolerable for our entire family. I’m also proud of our community for building the Hospice House. It’s a gift.”

    Visit HospiceofStMarys.org for more information about hospice and palliative care.

  • October 31, 2017

    MedStar Franklin Square Holds 11th Annual Event; First Time for MedStar Harbor Hospital

    BALTIMORE, MD—(October 31, 2017)—Baltimoreans won’t need to leave their cars to get a flu shot this weekend.

    At MedStar Harbor Hospital Saturday, attendees of the hospital’s first drive-thru flu clinic can get a free flu shot right through their vehicle window, just by driving up on the south parking lot of the campus:  3001 S. Hanover Street.  Clinicians will be ready to administer the shots to anyone in the car aged six months and up, who don’t have a known allergy to the vaccine, at no charge.

    And for their 11th year, more than 30 clinical staff members of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center will be in place Sunday at the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex campus, to give out free flu shots starting at 8 am. The clinic will continue until noon or when supplies run out.  More than 1400 people were vaccinated during last year’s event.

    Since 2007, MedStar Health has worked closely with county agencies to hold the clinic, including the Baltimore County Health and Human Services, Police, Fire and Public Works departments, and the Community College of Baltimore County, which allows the use of its Essex campus.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of flu complications. The number of people who die each year from flu-related causes in the United States ranges from 3,000 to 49,000.

    To protect against the flu, the CDC recommends annual vaccination for those six months and older, as well as those at higher risk of developing flu complications, including children under five; adults over 65; pregnant women; residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; those with weakened immune systems; and people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

    MedStar Harbor Hospital

    When:                 Saturday, November 4, 2017, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. or until supplies run out

    Where:               MedStar Harbor Hospital, 3001 S Hanover St, Baltimore, south parking lot

    MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

    When:                Sunday, November 5, 2017, 8 a.m. until Noon, or when supplies run out

    Where:               Community College of Baltimore County, Essex campus, 7201 Rossville Blvd, Baltimore

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    About MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center is a not-for-profit 378-bed community teaching hospital located in the White Marsh section of eastern Baltimore County, Maryland. MedStar Franklin Square provides many medical and healthcare services, including a broad range of healthcare specialties, advanced technologies and treatments not traditionally found at community hospitals. The hospital is ranked third in admissions among all Maryland hospitals and is first in Emergency Department visits with more than 108,000 visits annually. MedStar Franklin Square is accredited by the Joint Commission and certified as a Primary Stroke Center and has earned some of the nation’s most prestigious quality awards including Magnet Designation for excellence in nursing, the Excellence Award for Quality Improvement from the Delmarva Foundation and inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospital specialty ranking for four consecutive years. With more than 3,300 employees, MedStar Franklin Square is one of the largest employers in Baltimore County. Visit medstarfranklin.org for more information.

    About MedStar Harbor Hospital

    After more than a century of healing, MedStar Harbor Hospital is a mainstay in the community, serving patients from Baltimore City, and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties at our convenient waterside location, with the services of a large, regional medical center in a smaller, more personal environment. With more than 350 affiliated physicians representing 30 medical and surgical specialties, and 1,200 associates, the hospital offers a full range of health care services for patients from infancy through the senior years. From general medicine and surgery, obstetrics, diabetes, pain management, arthritis, orthopaedics, and geriatrics to cardiology and urology, and now behavioral health, our team of caring physicians and associates serves the unique needs of every patient. In 2016, MedStar Harbor Hospital was named a top hospital in Maryland and in the Baltimore metro area by U.S. News & World Report, receiving high performance ratings in specialty areas, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Gynecology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Heart Failure, Pulmonology, and Orthopaedics.

  • October 19, 2017

    First Acute Care Facility in the District to Achieve Designation

    Washington, D.C., October 19, 2017 – MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the first acute care hospital in the nation’s capital to achieve the prestigious Pathway to Excellence® designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association. The designation identifies the Hospital Center as one of the best places for nurses to work. 

    The Pathway to Excellence designation is granted only to hospitals that have created a work environment where nurses’ contributions are valued, professional development is supported, and nurses are integral to decision-making.

    “We are extremely proud of this designation, which honors the effort our nurses put into developing their practice, their professional expertise and their care for our patients,” said Susan Eckert, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, senior vice president and Chief Nursing Executive at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

    Earning the designation required an extensive application process, including the involvement of nurses from across the hospital, the submission of a 1,500-page evidence-based document, and the participation of at least 60 percent of the Hospital Center’s nearly 2,300 nurses in a confidential online survey. At the end of the survey, 75 percent of participants validated that MedStar Washington Hospital Center meets the Pathway to Excellence’s clinical, professional development and supportive nursing practice standards.

    “The Pathway to Excellence designation confirms to our patients, community and region that our nurses are fully engaged in our mission and in leading our hospital forward to strengthen their profession and provide optimal patient care,” added Eckert.

    The Pathway to Excellence designation has become widely sought as a way to attract nurses in a highly competitive nurse recruiting market. Only 152 hospitals in the United States are currently Pathway designated.

     


    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.

    About American Nurses Credentialing Center:
    The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, provides individuals and organizations throughout the nursing profession with the resources they need to achieve practice excellence. ANCC’s internationally renowned credentialing programs certify nurses in specialty practice areas; recognize health care organizations for promoting safe, positive work environments through the Pathway to Excellence and Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care programs; and accredit providers of continuing nursing education. In addition, ANCC provides leading-edge information and education services and products to support its core credentialing programs.

  • October 17, 2017
    MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is seeking to learn more about the health needs of our community.
  • October 09, 2017
    New Radial Lounge at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital Optimizes Recovery Atmosphere
  • October 09, 2017

    WASHINGTON When combined with an already FDA-approved chemotherapy, a novel agent developed by researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, appears to halt the ability of Ewing sarcoma to grow and progress.

    The finding, in cell lines and animal models, warrants clinical investigation to see if the combination would be an effective treatment as well as a less toxic alternative to current therapy for the rare bone cancer, the researchers say.

    The study, published October 3 in the journal Science Signaling (Inhibition of the oncogenic fusion protein EWS-FLI1 AQ1 causes G2-M cell cycle arrest and enhanced vincristine sensitivity in Ewing’s sarcoma), tests a combination of YK-4-279, the compound developed at Georgetown, with vincristine in laboratory and mice studies. Vincristine is one of the chemotherapy drugs now used to treat Ewing sarcoma.  

    “Each of the two drugs impacts the cancer cell’s ability to survive, but they do it in a way that magnifies their effectiveness compared to if they were used alone. It’s like a left hook followed by an uppercut,” says the study’s senior investigator, Jeffrey Toretsky, MD, the new chief of Pediatric Hematology Oncology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and researcher at Georgetown Lombardi.

    In the United States, about 500 children and young adults are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma annually. Between 60 to 70 percent of patients survive more than five years, but with many late effects from treatment. Patients with Ewing sarcoma are currently treated with a combination of five different chemotherapy drugs, which often damages nerves and few treatments lead to a cure when the cancer progresses, Toretsky says.

    Ewing sarcoma is caused by the exchange of DNA between two chromosomes. The resulting EWSR1-FLI1 gene produces a fusion protein, EWS-FLI1, responsible for cancer’s growth. In 2006, Toretsky and his team discovered that the fusion protein binds to another protein, RNA helicase A (RHA), which is important for cancer progression.

    YK-4-279 directly inhibits EWS-FLI1. Toretsky’s work on YK-4-279 led to the eventual development of TK216, a first-in-class small molecule that is now being studied by Oncternal Therapeutics in a clinical trial in patients with relapsed or refractory Ewing sarcoma.

    In this study, Toretsky led a team of researchers that tested 69 different anti-cancer drugs to find an agent that would work synergistically with YK-4-279. They discovered that together, the drugs produce a “microtubule catastrophe” in Ewing sarcoma cancer cells.

    Microtubules are tube-like structures that help cells keep their shape and act like highways that transport cellular proteins. They also pull apart chromosomes when they divide, and it is this action that is particularly affected by the drug combo, Toretsky says.

    “Cancer needs to grow, and to do that, the cells need to divide and multiply. This is the step both drugs target, but in different ways,” he says.

    According to Toretsky, Oncternal is planning to test the combination of TK216 and vincristine in patients.

    Co-authors include Georgetown researchers Stefan K. Zöllnerm MD (the study lead author), Saravana P. Selvanathan, PhD, Garrett T. Graham, PhD, Ryan M. T. Commins, MD, Sung Hyeok Hong, DVM, PhD, research fellow Eric Moseley, college student Sydney Parks, medical student Jessica N. Haladyna, Hayriye V. Erkizan, PhD, and Aykut Üren, PhD; Uta Dirksen, MD, from the Essen University Hospital, Germany; and Michael D. Hogarty, MD, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    The Georgetown researchers are funded by the Children’s Cancer Foundation, Nick Currey Fund, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Alan B. Slifka Foundation, CureSearch, Go4theGoal, Liddy Shiver Sarcoma Initiative, as well as a Burroughs Wellcome Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research and the NIH (RC4CA156509, RO1CA133662, and R01CA138212).

    Georgetown University owns the underlying YK-4-279 technology and related intellectual property invented by Toretsky, Üren, et al., and has licensed the technology to Oncternal for development as a potential therapeutic agent for cancer, including Ewing sarcoma. Toretsky is a paid scientific advisor to Oncternal.