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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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  • May 04, 2017

    If Past Attempts at Relief Haven’t Worked, Don’t be Afraid to Try New Treatment Regimen 

    For spring allergy sufferers, this time of year means the return of runny noses, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, dry coughing, headaches and itchy, red eyes.

    According to the Allergy Foundation of America, researchers believe 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, affecting as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. The residents of Southern Maryland may be particularly at risk for spring allergies, as this area of the country contains a large population of allergy-causing birch, cedar and pine trees.

    Actions taken now, at the start of spring allergy season, may help alleviate symptoms, says MedStar physician Laura Riggins, MD, who has seen vast improvements in allergy treatments during her career. Before allergy season starts, Dr. Riggins recommends seeing your primary care physician to talk about your symptoms and come up with a plan for dealing with your allergies.

    Many over-the- counter anti-histamines and eye drops can help, though she cautions it is best to first try taking anti-histamines at night to see how much they affect you, in case the anti-histamine causes drowsiness. The newest anti-histamines and nasal sprays have been improved over older generations of drugs. Many new medications do not cause drowsiness and new nasal aerosols do not cause dripping or an unpleasant taste.

    If your symptoms persist, your physician can also write stronger prescriptions or advise you on further testing to pinpoint specific allergies. A physician should also be consulted when using decongestants if you have an existing heart problem or high blood pressure.

    Other tips for dealing with spring allergies include venturing outside during the afternoon hours after peak allergens spike in the mornings. Dr. Riggins also recommends changing clothes and washing one’s hair before going to bed to keep particles off of your sheets and pillowcases. If you own animals that go outside, a daily rinse of your pet can help.

    “If you know you have allergies, you don’t just have to live with them and suffer,” says Dr. Laura Riggins. “You can be helped. There have been advancements in treatments and there exists a wide variety of medications that can help you, either by themselves or in a combination that works for you.”

    If you need a MedStar primary care physician, Dr. Riggins is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 301-292-1590.

    For more information, please visit

  • May 03, 2017

    Honor is one of the most prestigious in the field

    WASHINGTON, D.C., – May 3, 2017- Peter Turkeltaub, MD, PhD, has been recognized with one of the most prestigious awards in behavioral neurology.  Dr. Turkeltaub, director of the MedStar NRH Aphasia Clinic and of the Cognitive Recovery Lab at Georgetown University, a part of the Georgetown University Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery (, is the recipient of the 2017 Norman Geschwind Prize for Excellence awarded by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). The annual award is made to an early-career scientist who has made significant contributions to the field.

    Dr. Turkeltaub’s research focuses on stroke-induced aphasia, an impairment of language that affects the ability to read, write and understand or express speech. He is the principal investigator for several clinical research studies testing new interventions to improve aphasia recovery—and to better understand what brain structures and functions are used to perform language in healthy people and those with aphasia. More data about the differences may lead to more effective treatment. 

    Dr. Turkeltaub is also a practicing clinician who sees first-hand how patients struggle with communication—and reach road blocks in recovery. “Today a person with aphasia doesn’t have many options after traditional speech therapy,” says Dr. Turkeltaub.  “Stroke takes away their abilities. But involvement in a clinical trial is a way to give something back. It’s ironic, but the stroke gives them an opportunity they would not have had before—they are in a unique position to contribute in a way the rest of us cannot.”

    A graduate of the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Dr. Turkeltaub went on to the University of Pennsylvania for residency and a fellowship in neurology and cognitive neurology.  

    “At Penn, I studied under Dr. H. Branch Coslett,” he says. “He was my mentor. But an entire generation ahead of him was trained by Norman Geschwind. It’s a special privilege to receive this award named in his honor, and I’m very grateful for this recognition of my work.”

    -Written by Emily Turk


    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, Northern Virginia and Delaware.

    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 orthopaedic 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, MS, Parkinson’s, 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 D.C., Baltimore, and all of Maryland, Northern Virginia, & Delaware.  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 

  • May 02, 2017

    Leonardtown, Maryland (May 1, 2017) – MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital named Kitty Doering the 2017 Fayrene Mattingly Auxilian of the Year during its spring luncheon held Friday, April 21.

    As a dedicated Auxiliary volunteer for many years, Kitty has shown unwavering support through her commitment to the hospital’s gift shop. She keeps up with ongoing responsibilities to organize the greeting card display and works with the vendor to restock them when needed. Kitty also does a fabulous job keeping the refrigerated flowers looking fresh. Auxiliary members voted for Kitty because of her loyalty, dependability and selflessness to volunteer countless hours to her Auxiliary commitments.

    “Kitty posses those characteristics which have been reconfirmed by Auxiliary members throughout the years as the fundamentals for which the organization was built upon to become a cornerstone for our hospital,” said Elizabeth Morse, DM, MSM, MPA, RN, NEA-BC, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s vice president and chief nursing officer.

    Throughout its 100 year history, the Auxiliary has funded more than $4 million in donations and improvements to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.

    The Auxilian of the Year Award was established in 2005 to honor Fayrene Mattingly for her outstanding performance as an auxilian and her dedication to the hospital. The award is named in her honor and presented to an outstanding auxilian during the annual Auxiliary Appreciation Luncheon held in April. 

    The MedStar St. Mary's Hospital Auxiliary coordinates and participates in many activities that generate funds to enhance hospital facilities and services. Auxilians staff the hospital's Gift Shop seven days a week. They hold fundraisers, such as the annual Auxiliary Golf Tournament and Holiday Bazaar.

    Founded in 1916, the Auxiliary has played a key role in the acquisition of many vital improvements for the hospital throughout its 100-year history. Patient comfort has been its primary focus since the very beginning. It has donated funding for projects both small and large, from breast pumps to building renovations. It is likely, that at some point during the hospital’s history, the Auxiliary has touched almost every department at the hospital. 

    Click here to learn more about the Auxiliary.

  • May 01, 2017
    Kai Johns and his wife Heather Sheeley-Johns
    Kai Johns and his wife Heather Sheeley-Johns

    (Washington, D.C.,) - Kai Johns, 45, of Ashburn Virginia and his wife Heather Sheeley-Johns sat in a hospital emergency room back in November 2016 getting unexpected news. The stubborn “flu-like” symptoms Johns had been experiencing were the pre-cursor to the discovery that his kidneys were functioning at just six percent.

    Johns was in kidney failure and needed a transplant. Fast.

    With four generations of polycystic kidney disease before him, Johns would be the first in his family to need actually require a new kidney.

    While Johns immediately started dialysis treatments three times a week, Sheeley-Johns took to Facebook to inform their friends of her husband’s dire condition and to ask if anyone would be willing to donate a kidney.

    Within 24 hours, one of his brothers in arms stepped up to be tested at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    “We were paratroopers in the Army together and that brotherhood runs deep,” says Sgt. First Class Rob Harmon, 42, a telecommunications operations chief at the 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Harmon did a tour in Iraq in 2002. “I’m willing and able and it’s no different than combat. He’d do it for me.”

    Harmon and Johns met in the U.S. Army 22 years ago when they were stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They worked in competing platoons “jumping out of airplanes” as part of the Army’s signal telecommunications operations. Former Active and Former Reservist Johns left the Army in 2014. He has worked as an engineer for Sprint for the past 19 years.

    The two had kept in touch on Facebook but hadn’t seen each other in 16 years.

    “Rob is completely selfless,” says Johns. “It’s a huge honor to have him do this for me; to even consider donating a kidney to me. He has a wife and two children. This is a huge thing.”

    Within weeks the testing was complete and Harmon was a match.

    Sgt. First Class Rob Harmon (left) and Kai Johns (right)

    Early the morning of April 27, 2017 MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute surgeon Seyed Ghasemian took Harmon into surgery where he laparoscopically removed his healthy kidney in a three-hour operation.

    Harmon’s kidney was then carried to an operating room next door, where Johns was already prepped and ready to receive it.

    Director of MedStar Georgetown’s Living Kidney Donor program, surgeon Jennifer Verbesey operated on Johns.

    The following day, Harmon’s kidney was working well in its new home.

    “I feel 100-percent better,” says Johns. “Just 24 hours later and everyone says I look completely different, better.”

    “Both donor and recipient are doing extremely well,” says Dr. Verbesey. “In cases of living donation, donor safety is of utmost importance. Before someone can become a living donor we give them an extensive and thorough workup. Mr. Johns was so lucky to receive such a healthy kidney from his very selfless Army buddy.”

    “Something told me before I was even tested that I was going to be a match for Kai,” says Harmon. “I just knew.”

    “Some of my patients in need of a kidney find it difficult to ask their friends and family about donating a kidney to them,” says Dr. Verbesey. “It’s not like borrowing a book that they’re going to return. I advise people to start with a conversation letting people know what’s going on in their lives and that they’re in need of a kidney.”

    “I would say, don’t be afraid to ask,” says Johns. “In my case my wife took to Facebook and did it for me. But I knew it was my only option. My situation is proof that there’s still a lot of good in this world.”

  • April 27, 2017

    Olney, MD - MedStar Montgomery Medical Center has been recognized for the fifth consecutive year by Practice Greenhealth, a leading healthcare organization dedicated to healthcare sustainability, for its environmental achievements. The hospital will be honored at the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards Ceremony, held on Thursday, May 18 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at CleanMed 2017. 

    MedStar Montgomery received the “Greenhealth Partner for Change Award" in recognition of its efforts to continuously improve and expand upon its waste reduction, recycling and source reduction programs. At a minimum, facilities applying for this award must be recycling 15 percent of their total waste, have reduced regulated medical waste, and have developed other successful pollution prevention programs in many different areas. 

    Thomas J. Senker, FACHE, president of MedStar Montgomery, said,

    “MedStar Montgomery is committed to improving the health of our patients, staff, and community as a whole. We take pride in our efforts to integrate more sustainable practices into our day-to-day practices and lessen our impact on the environment. We look forward to working with Practice Greenhealth to encourage others in the healthcare industry to be more environmentally friendly.” 

    About MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
    MedStar Montgomery Medical Center is a 138-bed not-for-profit hospital serving the greater Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas. A proud member of MedStar Health, MedStar Montgomery is committed to delivering the latest in modern medicine and medical technology.

  • April 26, 2017
    Facing the prospect of limb amputation can be confusing and challenging for patients and their families. At MedStar Health, we’ve created a system of care to help you all along the way.