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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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  • July 17, 2017

    29.1 million Americans have diabetes.

    Eight million people have diabetes and don’t know it. Eighty six million people are pre-diabetic – they have blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. 

    How can we stop these numbers from rising and start reversing the diabetes trend? Learn the truth about diabetes.

    Then, live it for yourself, and share it with others.    

    I should get tested for diabetes by my primary care provider even if I do not have any known risk factors for the disease.


    According to the American Diabetes Association, everyone should be screened for diabetes at three year intervals beginning at age 45, especial people who are overweight or obese. If other risk factors are present, screening should be done earlier and more often,” explains Tina Leap, RN, CDE, CPT, diabetes educator at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

    If my laboratory blood tests show I am pre-diabetic, I will eventually have diabetes. 


    “Lifestyle changes are powerful,” Tina emphasizes. “Exercising the recommended 150 minutes per week and eating more nutrient dense, lower calorie foods and cutting back on sugary foods and drinks can help drastically reduce your chances of developing diabetes. If you are overweight, try to lose seven percent of your body weight at a sensible, healthy rate.”     

    Diabetics are at higher risk of serious health conditions.


    “Diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke and can be attributed to many other health conditions, including blindness, so it’s important to stay out in front of it by getting checked early,” explained Tina.


    MedStar Diabetes Institute at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital offers a diabetes education program recognized by the American Diabetes Association, which provides information and resources needed to take control of diabetes.

    Physician referral is required when scheduling an appointment with a diabetes educator in Health Connections.

    Call Health Connections today
    at 301-475-6019

  • July 17, 2017

    Washington, D.C., July 17, 2017 – MedStar Washington Hospital Center has received prestigious international recognition as a designated Baby-Friendly hospital, from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. The organization’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is part of a global program of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund that seeks to improve breastfeeding rates while encouraging mother-infant bonding. 

    Over the past three years, the Hospital Center has raised the number of newborns being exclusively breastfed from below 20 percent to more than 80 percent. This accomplishment represents a significant health benefit to the Washington, D.C. community. With an average 300 births per month, the Hospital Center is the site of more than 20 percent of all births in the District. 

    “Significant evidence shows that breastfeeding lowers risks for certain diseases and improves health for both babies and mothers,” said Loral Patchen, PhD, MSN, CNM, director of the Midwifery Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “Our Baby-Friendly designation reinforces our goal of ensuring all new mothers receive the information and support, so they can be confident and successful in breastfeeding their baby.”

    The Baby-Friendly designation is awarded after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. More than 200 nurses in the Hospital Center’s Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby and Infants’ Services units received extensive lactation training. In addition, physicians, nurses and other team members have implemented the 10 best practices of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, including initiating skin-to-skin contact with mother and infant at birth and rooming infants and mothers together, minimizing separations.

    According to Baby-Friendly USA’s website, becoming a Baby Friendly Hospital is a comprehensive, detailed and thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. The Baby-Friendly designation is granted for five years.


    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.

  • July 06, 2017

    WASHINGTON  —Acute and chronic infections in a person’s upper gastrointestinal tract appear to be linked to Parkinson’s disease, say scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and their collaborators at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

    Their study, published in the Journal of Innate Immunity, finds that alpha-Synuclein (αS), the protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease and other forms of neurodegenerative diseases, is released when an infection occurs in the upper GI tract (the esophagus, stomach and duodenum) inducing an immune response as part of the body’s innate immune system. The researchers say that these findings suggest that frequent or chronic upper GI infections could overwhelm the body’s capacity to clear αS, leading to disease.

    This largely federally-funded study helps clarify the function of αS, which is poorly understood, says the study’s senior investigator, Michael Zasloff, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine and scientific director of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute.

    This research builds upon prior studies that showed in autopsied material from individuals at very early as well as later stages of Parkinson’s, that the buildup of αS actually begins in the enteric nervous system (nerves in the GI tract). Animal studies have further shown that microbes in the GI tract can induce formation of toxic aggregates in the enteric nervous system, which can then travel up to the brain.

    Zasloff and his colleagues studied biopsy samples, collected at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, from 42 children with upper GI distress. They also looked at another population of 14 MedStar Georgetown University Hospital patients who received an intestinal transplant. This second group had documented cases of infection by Norovirus, a common cause of upper GI infection.

    The biopsies showed that expression of αS in enteric nerves of the upper GI tract in these children positively correlated with the degree of acute and chronic inflammation in the intestinal wall. Some highly monitored transplant patients expressed αS as Norovirus was infecting them.

    Researchers also showed that human αS could potently attract human immune cells such as macrophages and neutrophils and could “turn on” dendritic cells to alert the immune system of the specific pathogen encountered.

    As Zasloff explains, “When expressed in normal amounts following an infection of the upper GI tract, αS is a good molecule. It is protective. The nervous system within the wall of the GI tract detects the presence of a pathogen and responds by releasing αS. αS then attracts white blood cells to the site where it has been released. In addition, αS produced in one nerve can spread to others with which it communicates thereby protecting a large field. By this means, the nervous system can protect both itself as well as the GI tract as a whole in the setting of an infection.”

    He adds, “It is well known from animal studies that αS produced in the enteric nervous system can use the nerves connecting the GI tract to the brainstem as an escalator, trafficking αS from the gut to the brain and spreading to centers within the central nervous system.

    “But too much αS — such as from multiple or chronic infections — becomes toxic because the system that disposes of αS is overwhelmed, nerves are damaged by the toxic aggregates that form and chronic inflammation ensues. Damage occurs both within the nervous system of the GI tract and the brain.”

    Zasloff says the new findings “make sense” of observations made in Parkinson’s disease patients, such as the presence of chronic constipation from damage to the enteric nervous system that develops decades before brain symptoms become apparent and that chronic upper GI distress is relatively common in people who develop Parkinson’s.

    Zasloff adds that the publication of this study coincides with the start of a clinical trial targeting the accumulation of αS in the enteric nervous system. The phase 1/2a study is examining the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of an oral drug, ENT-01, a synthetic version of squalamine, a natural steroid made by the dogfish shark, to relieve constipation associated with Parkinson's disease. Research recently published by Zasloff and collaborators demonstrated that squalamine both reduced the formation of toxic αS clumps and their toxicity, in animal experiments. The clinical trial, being conducted in the US, is sponsored by Enterin, Inc.

    The study’s lead author was Ethan Stolzenberg MD, PhD, from the University of Oklahoma and its co-senior author was Denise Barbut, MD, FRCP, Enterin, Inc.

    Other scientists contributing to the study include De Yang MD, PhD, Joost J. Oppenheim, MD, and Ad Bax, PhD from the National Institutes of Health, E.Y. Lee, and Gerard C. L. Wong, PhD, from the University of California, Los Angeles. Collaborators from Georgetown are Deborah Berry, PhD, Alexander Kroemer, MD, Supti Sen, Stuart Kaufman, MD, Thomas M. Fishbein, MD, and Brent Harris, MD, PhD.

    Zasloff is founder, chairman and CEO of Enterin and Barbut is co-founder of Enterin, president and chief medical officer of the company.

    The study was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (ZIADK029047), the University of Oklahoma, and UCLA training grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (T32GM008185, T32GM008042).

  • July 06, 2017

    Leonardtown, Maryland (July 3, 2017) – MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Marketing, Public Relations, and Philanthropy (MPRP) Department earned seven healthcare marketing awards from the Aster Awards Program and the Healthcare Marketing Report (HMR). The Aster Awards Program is an elite competition dedicated to recognizing excellence in medical marketing and HMR is a publications group focused on marketing news and information from around the nation in the field of higher education and healthcare.

    Aster Awards received this year include:

    • Bronze for The Pulse, Newsletter/Internal – Series
    • Silver for Healthy Living, Publication/External – Series
    • Silver for Viva! A Night in Old Havana/Gala 2016, Special Events

    HMR Awards received this year include:

    • Silver, The Pulse, Publications Internal
    • Silver, Viva! A Night in Old Havana/Gala 2016, Special Event
    • Bronze, Care That’s Tailored to Your Changing Life, Direct Mail
    • Merit, Raising the Bar/Nursing Annual Report, Annual Report

    “We have a talented and creative team that works diligently to accurately and professionally communicate the news from our hospital as well as our services,” said Holly Meyer, director of Marketing, Public Relations and Philanthropy at MedStar St. Mary's. “Teamwork is the main ingredient that helps us continually tackle challenging projects with creative marketing solutions.”   

    The MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Marketing, Public Relations and Philanthropy team pictured, from left to right: Holly Meyer, director; Sandy Ondrejcak, marketing and public relations specialist; Rachel Lytle, digital marketing coordinator; Ruby Hawks, marketing and public relations specialist; Jennifer Green, writer; Jeni Irwin, marketing project coordinator; and Deborah Gross, writer.

  • July 03, 2017
    MedStar Health Home Care launched an innovative program called "Touch" that offers increased attention to high-risk patients, helping to prevent the need for emergency medical intervention.
  • June 30, 2017

    By: Sung W. Lee, MD, Department of Cardiology

    Atrial Fibrillation is the technical term for irregular heartbeat caused by malfunctioning electrical impulses in the heart. It is the most common heart rhythm problem, affecting more than three million Americans, and is on the rise in the United States and in this area.

    Controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight and treating sleep apnea are all ways to help prevent Atrial Fibrillation. If a patient does develop this chronic condition, Dr. Lee identifies the following three treatment pillars for Atrial Fibrillation:

    Stroke Prevention

    Using anticoagulants, or blood-thinning drugs, can prevent strokes. In more serious cases, implanting a device called a Watchman Closure prevents blood clots from entering the bloodstream and causing a stroke.

    Heart Rate Control

    Medications and/or implanted pacemakers can regulate heartbeats and keep hearts functioning effectively. Many pacemaker implantations occur here at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, as a part of the MedStar system and the MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute’s shared commitment to bring top-of-the-line care to the residents of southern Maryland.

    Rhythm Control

    Medications and/or minimally-invasive catheter ablations, which are procedures to burn or freeze the tissue that causes Atrial Fibrillation, have good success rates with a low occurrence of complications. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is one of the highest volume arrhythmia treatment centers in the country, offering the most sophisticated diagnostic tools and advanced treatment options. Our experts include board-certified, nationally recognized arrhythmia specialists who offer a team-based approach, collaborating with over 140 other cardiac specialists throughout our system to ensure that we provide a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan that’s right for you.