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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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  • Mia and Jeff pose for a photo in a home kitchen.
    July 09, 2021

    The Aunt Bertha Social Care Services Platform, integrated with MedStar Health’s electronic health records, allows patients to connect with everything from groceries and transportation to health insurance, ID cards and diaper banks

    Columbia, MD - MedStar Health is pleased to announce a new software integration that pairs the Aunt Bertha Social Care Services Platform with electronic health records to treat patients more holistically by connecting them with needed services like food and transportation.

    Jeff Jones, 61, of Washington, D.C., thought he was having bad heartburn in March of 2021 but a trip to the emergency department at MedStar Washington Hospital Center revealed that he was having a heart attack.

    Through the course of his treatment, Jones was screened for health-related social needs within his electronic medical record. He was then connected with MedStar Health Community Health Advocate Mia Afowerk who helped him access the Social Needs Tool powered by Aunt Bertha’s platform.  “The platform lists thousands of social care services, like food banks, rent assistance programs, and diaper banks, all located within the patient’s neighboring community,” said Afowerk. “I was able to connect Mr. Jones to services that could really make a positive difference in his health and well-being like groceries, transportation and D.C. Medicaid which he needed for his cardiac care. This platform has helped so many of our patients eliminate their biggest barriers to great health.”

    “Mia visited me and took right over,” said Jones. “Because of this, they started delivering fresh groceries to my door every Friday. The first thing I did was throw out all my canned food that contained sodium which was bad for my heart.  Now, my favorite thing to cook is fresh spinach with garlic and pepper and lean meats like chicken; I’ve turned into a chef and I feel great.”

    Since Jones doesn’t drive, the platform also connected him with a ride share service to get to and from doctor appointments and Afowerk helped him apply for a D.C. identification card since he had recently moved to the area from Colorado. 

    “I can get where I need to go now and keep up with my health.  It’s so easy.”

    Jones has also quit smoking and his cholesterol is now under better control. He can get to the eye doctor and his cardiologist.

     

    Jeff Jones cooks spinach in his kitchen

     

    “It is well known that health-related social needs, such as food, housing, and transportation, significantly contribute to a patient’s overall health and wellbeing,” said Diana Quinn, senior director of Community Health for MedStar Health.  “Bringing social care service information and referral capabilities right to a provider’s fingertips in the electronic medical record is a powerful step towards providing more holistic, person-centered care. The ability to close the loop on those referrals, seeing what social interventions worked, and where there continue to be gaps can help providers to best support their patients and communities.”

    MedStar Health began its partnership with Aunt Bertha in 2016 with the launch of MedStar Health’s public facing search tool, MedStar Health Social Needs. This tool allows anyone in the community to search for services of all kinds for themselves, or on behalf of neighbors, friends, or family members.

    This new integration allows MedStar Health to support more than half a million patients and their families in Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas in Virginia and Maryland.

    Data generated through this integration will also help MedStar Health understand how addressing social determinants of health impacts patients’ overall health, where community need is the greatest, which community-based programs have the biggest impact, and where gaps exist in the social services network across the region. This information can help inform new community investments and partnerships while still maintaining the highest level of patient privacy.

    “I’ve been happy about this whole process,” said Jones. “This has just been amazing for me and my family.  I’m so grateful to get this second chance with my health.”

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  • July 07, 2021


    Columbia, MD 
    – The MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety in collaboration with Med-IQ will provide virtual mentorship and education on Huntington’s disease treatment and care coordination to multidisciplinary clinical teams across the United States (US). The 12-month, landmark initiative will use the Project ECHO methodology as the primary delivery platform for the training. Funding for this initiative was provided by an educational grant from Genentech.

    Huntington’s disease is a rare, progressive, debilitating, inherited neurologic disorder characterized by choreiform movements, cognitive impairment, and psychiatric symptoms.  Ideally, individuals with Huntington’s disease should receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary care from physicians, rehabilitation therapists, nurses, mental health professionals, genetic counselors, and social workers. However, providing well-coordinated multidisciplinary care can be challenging for healthcare professionals, particularly when tailoring care for patients who experience worsening symptoms or those with advanced disease. Through this project, MedStar Health and Med-IQ seek to improve Huntington’s disease treatment and care coordination by facilitating monthly telementoring sessions with healthcare professionals from 15 sites across the US.

    The project will be led by Dr. Christine Goeschel, assistant vice president, MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety and professor of medicine, Georgetown University and Dr. Karen Anderson, a neuropsychiatrist and director of the Huntington’s Disease Care, Education, and Research Center (HDCERC), a joint program between MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown University Medical Center, that aims to provide care for affected individuals and their families. "This type of outreach and education is extremely important,” said Dr. Anderson. “There will never be enough specialists to meet all the care needs in Huntington’s disease, but, if we can find creative ways to partner with clinicians outside of specialty centers, we can expand access to care for many of these families." The HDCERC will serve as the lead coordinating site, working closely with Dr. Martha Nance at Hennepin County Medical Center and Dr. Vicki Wheelock at UC Davis Medical Center.


    About the MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety
    The mission of the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety (MIQS) is to partner with patients, their families, and those who take care of them to improve patient care outcomes and reduce the global burden of preventable harm. Established by MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, MIQS provides a global infrastructure in which leaders, frontline caregivers, patients, and family members jointly develop, educate, assess, and advocate for patient safety and clinical quality initiatives. For more information, visit medstariqs.org.  

    Huntington’s Disease Care, Education, and Research Center
    The HDCERC is a joint program between MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown University Medical Center and is designated as a Huntington Disease Society of America Center of Excellence. It serves people with Huntington’s disease and their family members through a multidisciplinary team including representatives from neuropsychiatry, movement disorders neurology, social work, genetic testing, physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. It also has an active clinical trials program, enabling patients to participate in novel potential treatment trials for Huntington’s disease. 

    About Med-IQ
    Med-IQ is a leading provider of clinical and risk management education, consulting services, and quality improvement solutions, empowering individuals at every level of the healthcare delivery system with the knowledge they need to continuously improve provider performance and patient outcomes. Med-IQ delivers unique educational experiences and services across the country and around the world, is extensively published, and is proud to be one of the most award-winning accredited medical education providers in the US. 

  • July 01, 2021
    Effective today, William “Bill” Sheahan begins serving as the new chief innovation officer and a vice president of MedStar Health, as well as the executive director of the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2). 
  • July 01, 2021

    Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute and passionate advocate for organ donation and transplant patients begins term July 1

    Dr. Matthew Cooper

    Washington, D.C., – Matthew Cooper, M.D., FACS, Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital today begins his term as president of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Board of Directors. UNOS is the mission-driven nonprofit serving as the nation’s transplant system. Last year, the national transplant system set a record for the most lives saved by deceased organ donors.

     

    “During the ongoing global health emergency, we are reminded again and again just how important organ donation and transplantation are to patients, families, and communities,” said Dr. Cooper, a professor of surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s academic partner, Georgetown University. “I am eager to work alongside the UNOS board, colleagues, physicians, policymakers and members of the community to improve and expand equitable access to this lifesaving care.”

    Since 2004, Dr. Cooper has been closely involved with UNOS, serving as a representative on the Living Donor Committee, and later as Vice Chair and then Chair of that committee. In 2012, he began a 2-year period of elected service on the UNOS Board. He has served on the inaugural Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) subcommittee, the Policy Oversight Committee, the Membership and Professional Affairs Committee and as co-chair of the Ad-hoc Systems Performance Workgroup, among other roles.

    “We are excited to have Dr. Cooper as the new president of the UNOS Board of Directors,” said UNOS CEO Brian Shepard. “His record of service to the transplant community, innovative work at the Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute, and ongoing advocacy for patients will help move UNOS and the donation and transplant community forward over the coming year.”

    Dr. Cooper has devoted his career to advancing the field of organ transplant and to advocating for transplant patients and those in need of transplant. In addition to his service to UNOS, his leadership has included elected and volunteer positions with other leading transplant organizations, including the National Kidney Foundation(board member), Donate Life America (board member), The American Foundation for Donation and Transplant (president), and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (councilor).

    At MedStar Health, the Washington, DC region’s leading health care system, Dr. Cooper has led the kidney and pancreas transplant program at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute since 2012. He has guided the program to national prominence, developing it into what is now the leading kidney transplant program in the Washington, DC region. Under his leadership, the program is among the top 10 highest volume centers for kidney transplants and the second largest paired kidney exchange program (through the National Kidney Registry) in the country; and is among the top three programs by volume for pancreas. In addition, Dr. Cooper provided critical testimony before the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in support of H.R. 5534 regarding the “Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for the Kidney Transplant Patient’s Act” during the hearing on Legislation to Improve American’s Health Care Coverage and Outcomes. The legislation, which ensures life-long coverage for lifesaving immunosuppressants for transplant patients, became law in 2021.

    Dr. Cooper received his medical degree from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1994, where he also currently Professor of Surgery. He completed his general surgery training at the Medical College of Wisconsin, followed by a fellowship in multi-organ abdominal transplantation in 2002 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. After director positions at both Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland, he assumed his current role in Washington, DC in 2012.

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    Matthew Cooper, MD discusses his role as President of the Board of Directors at UNOS

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    About MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute

    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, a systemwide program that is part of MedStar Health, the region’s largest health care system, is a multi-organ transplant program performing liver and kidney, pancreas, and small bowel transplant.  It is a leader within all these specialized groups, performs large numbers of living donor transplants, and operates the second largest paired kidney exchange program (through the National Kidney Registry) in the country.    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the base of operations for transplant surgery,  is a large, not-for-profit, tertiary-care teaching hospital located in Northwest Washington, D.C. Founded in the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, caring for the whole person, MedStar Georgetown is committed to offering a variety of innovative diagnostic and treatment options in a trusting and compassionate environment. 

    About United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)

    United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the mission-driven nonprofit serving as the nation’s transplant system under contract with the federal government. We lead the network of transplant hospitals, organ procurement organizations, and thousands of volunteers who are dedicated to honoring the gifts of life entrusted to us and to making lifesaving transplants possible for patients in need. Working together, we leverage data and advances in science and technology to continuously strengthen the system, increase the number of organs recovered and the number of transplants performed, and ensure patients across the nation have equitable access to transplant.

  • June 29, 2021

    Hospital’s marketing department earns ‘Best of Show’ distinction among more than 4,400 entries submitted for 38th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards

    Clinton, MD – MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Marketing Department is celebrating another year of outstanding excellence in healthcare advertising, marketing and communications, having won 18 Aster Awards and 22 Healthcare Advertising Awards, including a prestigious Best of Show designation for its COVID-19 response materials. This year, over 4,400 entries were submitted for the 38th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards and MedStar Southern Maryland was one of 23 organizations that won a Best of Show designation, marking the second year in a row that the hospital has won a Best of Show award without the assistance of an outside advertising agency. In addition, MedStar Southern Maryland also received five gold awards, four silver awards, five bronze awards, and seven merit awards.   

    The Healthcare Advertising Awards is the oldest and one of the most widely respected healthcare advertising awards competitions in existence. A national panel of judges were tasked with reviewing all entries based on creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design, and overall impact.

    In order to be considered for the 2021 Aster Awards – one of the nation’s most elite competitions dedicated to recognizing talented healthcare marketing professionals – healthcare organizations had to submit all advertising/marketing materials that were developed, produced and/or distributed during calendar year 2020.

    MedStar Southern Maryland received a total of 18 Aster Awards this year including nine gold awards, five silver awards, and four bronze awards. All entries were judged by a diverse panel of industry experts and had to score in the top tiers amongst similar sized organizations.

    “I’m so proud of the superb work that our department continues to produce every year. We are a small but mighty team with unique talents, all working in harmony toward a common goal,” said Prince George’s County native Cheryl Richardson, who has served as the director of marketing and community relations at MedStar Southern Maryland for nearly 12 years. “Being recognized on a national level is such an honor, especially considering the amount of time and effort that we put into giving that ‘wow’ factor. We’re humbled by all of this recognition.”

    For more information about the Aster Awards program, visit www.asterawards.com.

    For more information about the Healthcare Advertising Awards, visit www.healthcare-advertising-awards.com.

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    About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

    MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is an acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient-centered services that connect us to the community we serve. For more information, visit us at MedStarSouthernMaryland.org

  • June 29, 2021

    COLUMBIA, MD - MedStar Health has launched a groundbreaking program designed to meet the needs of patients dealing with post-COVID conditions, such as Long COVID. Long COVID is diagnosed when COVID survivors experience persisting symptoms for weeks and even several months after they’ve recovered from the acute stage of the illness.

    Dr. Eric Wisotzky
    Dr. Eric Wisotzky

    “As we started to see more and more people becoming ill with COVID, we started to notice that patients were not just bouncing back right away, but were left with many different lingering symptoms affecting different parts of the body,” said Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician Eric Wisotzky, MD, who serves as medical director of the program. “We quickly responded by building the MedStar Health COVID Recovery Program to respond to these needs.”

    The COVID Recovery Program coordinates the care of COVID-19 patients across a wide range of MedStar Health services to treat fatigue, pain, persistent shortness of breath, headache, thinking, focus, and memory issues, weakness, and other varying symptoms reported by some COVID-19 patients following their recovery from the initial stages of the virus.

    Patients are paired with a physician or advanced practice provider to evaluate symptoms and develop a care plan through either a telehealth appointment or a visit to MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., or MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. From there, a patient navigator sets up appointments and follow ups for all the specific treatments they may need, which saves valuable time and energy.

    Some patients with serious cases of COVID-19, like Patrick Bright, 56, of Clinton, MD, require several different types of care following their infection. After a month long stay at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital battling the coronavirus in the Spring of 2020, Bright began physical therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy for heart failure caused by the virus.

    “Now I’m at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for cardiac rehabilitation. Because I live so close, they’re allowing me to do my therapy there,” Bright said. “I’m so happy to be here. I just thank God for the medical staff at MedStar Health.”

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    Another patient taking advantage of the program is professional violinist Elise Blake, 38, of Washington, D.C., who spent six days at MedStar Washington Hospital Center with COVID-19 in November 2020. After overcoming her initial symptoms, Blake found that her ability to play violin at a high level had diminished.

    “You check for flow. You check for technique. Even when you’re learning a new piece, you know how to fix problems,” she said. “I just had to kind of stop for a while. I was really weak.”

    Blake was referred to the COVID Recovery Program where Dr. Wisotzky evaluated her symptoms and set her up with regular appointments to see specialists in pulmonology, neurology, and physical therapy. Over time, the strength and dexterity needed to play professional violin has returned. She is now back teaching students virtually and performing in outdoor concerts as venues start to reopen.

    Elise Blake

    “The thing I liked about the program was that it was so comprehensive,” Blake said. “It would have taken a lot more effort to set up all the appointments on my own when I didn’t have the energy. I’m convinced it helped me heal better because it was more streamlined.”

    “Through this whole team we’re really able to help people get back to their old selves,” said Wisotzky.

    Patients interested in the COVID Recovery Program should be at least six weeks removed from the start of COVID symptoms and should have documentation of at least one positive COVID-19 test. If a documented positive test is not available, patients can be referred by a primary care provider.

    For more information, visit medstarhealth.org/COVIDRecovery.


    About MedStar Health
    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.