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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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  • September 14, 2017
    How can virtual reality help clinicians prepare to manage trauma cases? Read this feature story in the Washingtonian for a look at MedStar SiTEL's Trauma: Yellow program. 
  • September 14, 2017

    CLINTON, MD - MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is proud to announce it has earned NICHE Level 4 status for its exemplary care of elderly patients. 

    NICHE stands for Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders.  Hospitals achieve NICHE rankings by completing tasks and working together to improve geriatric care.  To achieve high rankings, hospitals create interdisciplinary teams that provide support and education to nurses and other associates on how to best serve elderly patients.

    “We are very proud to be able to provide this level of service to our patients, their families and our community,” says Pat Scalfari, MSN, RN, Vice President, Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer. “Through this coordinated approach to care we are better able to meet our elders’ needs while they are hospitalized, as well as facilitate a smooth transition back out into the community.”

    Some of the measures undertaken at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center to earn this ranking include improvements in mobility for elderly patients, obtaining walkers and gait belts to assist in walking and to prevent falls, providing raised toilet seats to assist patients who would be unable to stand after using a lower seat and painting doors in contrasting colors to make it easier for patients with decreased eyesight to orient themselves.

    “Most of our patients are older adults,” says Anne Johnson, BSN, RN, Director of 2North/2South/3East.  “We want to make sure they have the best patient experience possible.  We want to take care of their unique needs and it takes our whole team, from nurses, to the pharmacy, to rehab, to patient relations to our wound care team to the dietary department.”

    The NICHE team at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center also recently hosted a NICHE Fair for hospital associates.  This fair featured booths created by various hospital departments to educate associates on elderly patient issues, including mobility and prevention of falls.

    “We want to make sure elderly care is at the forefront of the minds of our associates,” said Johnson.  “We want to provide education and resources and we had a great response to our second annual fair.”

    NICHE status is ranked by a New York University-based program through its Rory Meyers College of Nursing.  Its NICHE program exceeds 700 member organizations in five countries with more than 56,000 individuals participating in efforts to improve care for older patients.

    Level 4 status is the highest ranking possible. “This achievement was possible because of our interdisciplinary team and the hard work of all of our associates” says Karen Elliott MHA, RN, Senior Nursing Director and NICHE Coordinator.

    In the future, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center will be subjected to audits to make sure the hospital continues to maintain Level 4 standards.  The hospital began its NICHE journey in 2013 and steadily rose in rankings before achieving Level 4 “Exemplar Status” this summer.

    About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

    MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is a 182-bed acute care hospital located in Clinton, Maryland. The hospital was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December, 2012. We are 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.

  • September 12, 2017

    Sepsis can be deadly, but it doesn’t have to be. For the past year, MedStar St. Mary’s has increased efforts to recognize sepsis early and treat it quickly to ensure the condition doesn’t cost someone their life.

    “Since we began our sepsis protocol, we have seen a dramatic decrease in sepsis mortality,” said Jennifer Alvey, BSN, RN, director of the Intensive Care Center (ICC), Respiratory Therapy and Three Central.

    Last September, MedStar St. Mary’s began calling a Code Sepsis for patients who are showing signs of developing the deadly condition. Once the code is called, a sepsis response team — Intensive Care Center and Emergency Department staff, a respiratory therapist and the patient’s primary nurse — reviews the patient’s medical chart and any trends in their vital signs to help identify the source of the infection. A pharmacist is also consulted to make sure the proper medications are being given.

    According to the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA), sepsis is among the top 10 most common and potentially preventable complications across Maryland hospitals, and it is also a leading cause of mortality and readmission. Continually rising sepsis rates spurred the MHA to partner with the Maryland Patient Safety Commission to create an 18-month collaborative of 11 Maryland hospitals to work toward reducing hospital sepsis mortality.

    MedStar St. Mary’s participated in the state program and is helping to take the efforts to the next level by partnering with other regional hospitals to establish a Southern Maryland Collaborative, which will hold its first meeting in the Education & Simulation Center Sept. 19.

    “Maryland has taken a really hard stance on sepsis,” Jennifer said. “Next, we will be working to help educate long-term care facilities about the early warning signs. A lot of patients from these places already have it by the time they get here and by then it’s too late.”

    How You Can Help Prevent Infections

    • Follow infection control requirements (e.g., hand hygiene) and ensure patients receive recommended vaccines (e.g., flu and pneumococcal).
    • Educate patients and their families. Stress the need to prevent infections, manage chronic conditions, and seek care if signs of severe infection or sepsis are present.
    • Think sepsis. Know sepsis signs and symptoms to identify and treat patients early.
    • Act fast. If sepsis is suspected, order tests to determine if an infection is present, where it is, and what caused it. Start antibiotics and other medical care immediately. Document antibiotic dose, duration, and purpose.
    • Check patient progress frequently. Reassess antibiotic therapy 24-48 hours or sooner to change therapy as needed. Be sure the antibiotic type, dose, and duration are correct.
      Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Learn more about Sepsis on our website. 

    Partners in the Southern Maryland Sepsis Collaborative

    Purpose of Collaborative

    • Offer education
    • Facilitate networking
    • Establish joint problem solving
  • September 08, 2017
    Women with Breast Cancer Get Relief from Painful and Disfiguring Side Effect of Treatment Thanks to New Procedure
  • September 08, 2017
    Danielle Mosby, program manager at the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare at MedStar Health, published "Patient Satisfaction with Care After Coronary Revascularization" in The Patient - Patient-Centered Outcomes Research.
  • September 03, 2017

    Washington, D.C., March 9, 2017 - MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center became the first facility in the Northeast region to implant an investigational device designed to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib) or an abnormal heart rhythm.  

    The electrophysiology team–Manish Shah, MD and Sarfraz Durrani, MD– implanted the AMPLATZER™ Amulet investigational device, as part of a nationwide clinical trial to evaluate the device’s safety and effectiveness. The Amulet works by sealing off the left atrial appendage (LAA), a small area of the heart, where blood clots form and migrate into the bloodstream, potentially causing a stroke.  

    “The Amulet left atrial appendage closure system is a new device that may potentially offer protection to our patients at high risk of stroke who are poor candidates for blood thinning medications,” said Dr. Shah, who is the principal investigator of the Amulet trial and director of the Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship Training Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  

    In some patients with A-fib, the LAA does not contract effectively and it can become a source of blood clots. These clots can then be released into the heart and enter the bloodstream, where they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Currently, patients with A-fib are often prescribed blood-thinning medication, but this treatment option comes with a lifetime of medical management and the risk of major bleeding. By closing the LAA with the Amulet, physicians can block off the LAA and potentially reduce the risk of stroke.    

    Patients enrolled in the clinical trial are randomly assigned to receive either the AMPLATZER™ Amulet or the WATCHMAN™, the only FDA-approved LAA closure device in the control arm of the study. The main difference between the two devices is that Amulet does not require patients to take blood thinners for 45 days after implantation.  

    In the meantime, WATCHMAN has been a game-changer to protect A-fib patients from stroke. After WATCHMAN gained its FDA approval, MedStar Washington Hospital Center became the first facility in the Washington region to implant the device. To date, more than 100 patients have been outfitted with the WATCHMAN devices. That’s more implants than any other institution on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard.