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  • January 17, 2020
    (Columbia, MD) MedStar Health is committed to delivering the highest levels of quality, safe care for our patients throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Equally important is the safety of our physicians, nurses and associates. The community spread of COVID-19 requires that we take unprecedented measures to ensure these goals. With these important priorities in mind, starting Thursday, March 19 we are postponing all elective procedures and surgeries across MedStar Health. This decision was made after thoughtful consideration and planning, including how we best use our resources to meet the needs of our patients balanced against mitigating risk to our patients, associates and families. Our department leaders and our physicians will make case-by-case decisions using the specific clinical circumstances of each of our patients. We will be reaching out to our patients in the event their care will be affected.
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  • January 17, 2020
    (Columbia, MD) MedStar Health is committed to delivering the highest levels of quality, safe care for our patients throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Equally important is the safety of our physicians, nurses and associates. The community spread of COVID-19 requires that we take unprecedented measures to ensure these goals. With these important priorities in mind, starting Thursday, March 19 we are postponing all elective procedures and surgeries across MedStar Health. This decision was made after thoughtful consideration and planning, including how we best use our resources to meet the needs of our patients balanced against mitigating risk to our patients, associates and families. Our department leaders and our physicians will make case-by-case decisions using the specific clinical circumstances of each of our patients. We will be reaching out to our patients in the event their care will be affected.
  • April 06, 2018

    Locals Regaining Health, Embracing New Lifestyle after Newly-Offered Bariatric Surgery in Leonardtown 

    The tipping point came in the form of a toddler. 

    Paul Horner’s two-year-old grandson  David, affectionately called “Junior,”  and big sister Jamie wanted to play with their grandpa. Paul wanted that, too — but his weight made participating in everyday activities difficult. 

    The 56-year-old aircraft mechanic says he has been heavy his whole life.  A U.S. Navy veteran, Paul had to lose weight in order to join the military at age 17. He served eight years in the Navy before being honorably discharged for failure to meet body composition standards. 

    Decades later, the father of two and grandfather of seven reached his heaviest point: 467 pounds. 

    Interacting with Junior only reinforced how restricted Paul was.  Knee pain made walking difficult and painful. He stopped shopping in stores, choosing to stay in his truck while longtime girlfriend Rose ran the errands. Sleep apnea prevented  Paul from getting adequate rest  — especially challenging given his schedule; he’s worked the night shift for 25 years. 

    And there was the mental pain, too:  stares and comments from strangers.  “Kids would say, ‘Oh, he’s fat.’ It hurt,”  Paul said. “Of course it did.” 

    Previous attempts at weight loss had been unsuccessful. And traveling to medical centers in Washington,  D.C., to explore surgical options and find support was inconvenient for the California, Maryland-based mechanic. 

    Through Health Connections at  MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in  Leonardtown, Paul met nutritionist  Catherine Dowling, RDN, LDN. In  May 2017, he committed to following a bariatric menu: smaller portions that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates. 

    Catherine shared information on a bariatric support group that meets monthly at MedStar St.  Mary’s. There Paul found a wealth of resources and support: through medical professionals, yes, but also from attendees standing in the same shoes. Paul’s goal was to get prepared — physically and mentally  — for the sleeve gastrectomy that would be performed by Nicholas  Tapazoglou, MD, a board-certified bariatric and general surgeon at  MedStar St. Mary’s. 

    Also known as a gastric sleeve procedure, this technique involves removing the outer margin of the stomach so only a “sleeve”— roughly the size and shape of a banana —  remains. 

    Paul was determined to get into “the right mindset” before his surgery.  With the camaraderie and resources offered by his nutritionist, support group, Dr. Tapazoglou, and his staff, he lost 112 pounds in five months simply by following the bariatric menu.  The extensive pre-planning made him feel “ready and prepared” by October  2017, he said, when Paul became the first patient to undergo a sleeve gastrectomy at MedStar  St. Mary’s. After one night in the hospital,  he was sent home with a smaller stomach  — and a new lease on life. 

    Now a self-professed “label reader,”  Paul pays close attention to the protein and carbohydrate content of everything he consumes. He still eats three meals a day, but they’re 4 ounces of lean,  healthy foods, with protein shakes in between. 

    The Navy veteran reports to Naval  Air Station Patuxent River when most people are going to bed. His “lunch,”  then, comes at 2 a.m. Paul brings small,  healthy selections like Greek yogurt,  salad, and light soup for his breaks. 

    Gone are the medications he was taking to combat high blood pressure and depression. His knee pain has disappeared. Most notably, weight loss has lessened the pressure on  Paul’s airways; he has not used a BiPAP machine for sleep apnea since last fall. 

    The financial savings have been considerable, too. He estimates he was spending $20 to $25 on fast food daily.  Rose, Paul’s girlfriend, now prepares most of the couple’s meals with an emphasis on vegetables. He loves  Fairlife milk (“the best milk,” Paul enthused), and bread and pasta have been eliminated from his diet completely.  With his increased mobility and energy, Paul pursues a passion shared with his best friend, Gene: working on antique cars.  Navigating the workshop is much easier these days.  The two are restoring a ’23  Ford T-Bucket, Gene’s dream car, while Paul is fixing up a ’67  Chevrolet Nova. 

    By late December, Paul had dropped an additional 48 pounds — 160 and counting. He plans to reach 220 before shifting to maintaining his weight.  Paul attributes his success, in part, to the support of nutritionist Catherine,  MedStar St. Mary’s patient services coordinator Jennifer McDermott,  and nurse Rita Michelle McDonald,  CMA. He also speaks highly of Dr.  Tapazoglou, who impressed Paul and his family greatly by always making the time to answer questions and follow up on Paul’s care. 

    The bariatric support group attendees have been a tremendous resource,  too. The group has a private Facebook page to stay in touch between meetings. “When I’m feeling down,  maybe stalling in my weight loss, I  go there and find encouragement,”  said Paul, recently scrolling through inspirational words from friends — some with surgeries behind them, others with surgeries to come. 

    Considering the advice he would give others thinking about this “life-changing”  procedure, Paul said, “Make sure your mind is straight. You have to be ready to do this mentally. The  surgery is just a tool; if you don’t use  the tool right, you’re not going to get  the job done.” 

    Junior and Jamie see the difference in their grandfather, who moves more and smiles easily. “Now I’m doing the chasing,” Paul said. “Junior doesn’t  chase me; I chase him.” 

    The Happy Struggle 

    For Rashida Blake, the weight came on gradually. 

    A mother of three and new grandmother, Rashida has lupus; a  decade’s worth of weight fluctuations were a source of frustration. When she reached 384 pounds, the Lexington  Park woman knew she needed to seek a solution to be there for her family. 

    “I started noticing I wasn’t doing things like I used to. I had small kids, and I  wanted to be able to do physical activities with them — being so tired,  dealing with back pain . . . it was time for a change,” she said. 

    With the help of Dr. Tapazoglou and dietitians at MedStar St. Mary’s,  Rashida began a journey that started with reframing her thoughts about eating. 

    “The nutrition counseling was really inspiring,” she said. “I didn’t think you could look at food in that sense: measuring it, considering protein  . . . it was very educational.” 

    Eight months of preparation set Rashida up for success, she said,  when she started 2018 by undergoing a sleeve gastrectomy on Jan. 2. 

    “Nutrition counseling literally broke everything down day by day and gave me confidence going into that procedure,” she said. 

    After just two days at MedStar St. Mary’s, Rashida was released to continue her progress at home. “Recovery has been really good.  The pain was not as severe as I thought it would be,” she said.  “Dr. Tapazoglou is very in tune with his patients; he’s very thoughtful,  and wanted to make sure I felt OK to go home. Dr. T wanted me  to walk [in the hospital], and I started walking around literally that  evening [post-surgery].” 

    And Rashida just keeps going. “When my Fitbit says to move, I move,”  she said, noting that a three-story townhouse and young children at home help keep her hopping. “Going up and down the stairs is a constant. I just started walking on a treadmill, and that has  been great.” 

    A few weeks after her procedure, Rashida was down 29 pounds toward her personal goal weight of 220. She’d already noticed her  feet were no longer swollen and her legs felt “looser.” 

    “This is more mental than anything else,” said Rashida. “You have to prepare and be ready to make the lifestyle change. But to anyone dealing with obesity, tell yourself: this is needed. This is a healthy decision. It will be a struggle, but it turns out to be a happy struggle. 

    “Go for it!” she said. “It’s your life. Life is too short to waste it. Just go  for it.” 

    Visit for more information or to schedule a consultation. 

    Schedule a Consultation 

    To schedule an appointment with Nicholas Tapazoglou, MD, General & Bariatric Surgeon, call 240-434-4088.

    Dr. Nicholas Tapazoglou is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. He is board-certified in general surgery and is able to coordinate patient care through a wide range of specialty physicians available through the MedStar Health system. He offers care and treatment for various conditions, including abdominal wall/hernia, gallbladder, morbid obesity, skin and soft tissue, small intestine, spleen, stomach, surgical treatments of gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and thyroid.

    Learn More:

    Eating Right After Surgery 

    Complete dietary changes are at the heart of the bariatric journey. Depending on insurance requirements, patients will meet with a nutritionist for two to seven months prior to surgery. "Four ounces of food — half a cup, about the size of your fist — is roughly what the stomach will hold after a sleeve gastrectomy,” explained Wendy Chatham,  RDN, LD, a dietitian at MedStar St. Mary’s  Hospital.  

    After the initial liquid and soft food diet stages post-surgery, patients can expect a few things:

    • Consume a protein-rich diet that is low in carbohydrates and fat. Proteins are the priority: meat, fish,  poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy, soy,  nuts, and legumes. 
    • Drink all fluids separately from meals. Fluids must be calorie-free,  non-carbonated, and caffeine-free. 
    • Avoid sweets, alcohol, and high-fat foods. 
    • Take a daily vitamin/ mineral supplement. 

    For appointments With Wendy Chatham, RDN, LD, dietitian, call  301-475-6019

  • April 03, 2018

    April is Donate Life Month

    For Renee Sicheri, a registered nurse at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC), organ donation is very personal. Indeed, it is a solemn occasion for everyone at the hospital. We know it means one family is dealing with a devastating loss and a sad time, but we also know another family will be able to celebrate a second chance for their ailing loved one.

    Sicheri has been on both sides of this equation. She suffered the loss of a beloved family member whose organs lived on and saved lives in the bodies of others, and she is part of the team at MSMHC who works with Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) to coordinate this process to save numerous others. WRTC is the organization responsible for the delicate and complicated process of finding donor organs for recipients on donor lists and coordinating the transfer of the organs to recipients.

    The way the organ donation process works is this: First, every effort to save the patient’s life is expended, provided this is what the patient would want. After extensive testing, once it is determined the patient will not make it, but whose organs may be able to function and save a life in the body of another person, WRTC is notified. They will come to MSMHC, review the patient’s chart, and check their database for matches. Then, the family of the patient is consulted, but it is always the wishes of the patient that overrides anyone else. Once the organ is harvested, it is put on a medivac helicopter for rapid transit to its recipient.

    After the process is complete, the donor’s family receives recognition from WRTC for the generous gift of life from their loved one in the form of a thank you certificate that includes how many people were potentially saved through each person’s organ donation and how long they were on a recipient list.

    At MSMHC, we are proud to be a part of this process and proud to support WRTC by promoting their Donate Life campaign and the process of becoming a donor. We promote this message in various ways, including through education to both our associates and our community, through hosting a WRTC representative for an organ donation sign-up day in our hospital’s cafeteria, and by participating in Blue
    and Green Friday on April 13th, to increase awareness of the Donate Life campaign.

    Late last year, WRTC awarded the entire MSMHC perioperative team for being champions of the organ donation process, and for being among the Top 50 hospitals for notification and procurement. It also awarded Dr. Katharine Modisett, MD, for facilitating the organ donation process at MSMHC.

    Please visit for more information about organ donation.

  • January 30, 2018

    As part of expanded partnership, MedStar Health becomes exclusive naming rights partner at all MSE training facilities

    Washington, D.C., – Today, MedStar Health and Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) announced an expanded, innovative and fully-integrated medical partnership that will make MedStar the naming rights partner for the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals, Capital City Go-Go, Washington Mystics, Washington Wizards, and Washington Wizards District Gaming (DG) training facilities. Specifically, the Capitals training facility will immediately become MedStar Capitals Iceplex. The new practice facility, opening this fall at the St. Elizabeths campus in southeast Washington, D.C., for the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go, will be named MedStar Wizards Performance Center. The Wizards District Gaming training facility immediately becomes the MedStar Wizards District Gaming Studio.

    Additionally, MedStar continues to serve as the Official Medical Provider of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Capital City Go-Go, Washington Valor, Baltimore Brigade, and Wizards DG. MedStar also continues as the official training camp and practice jersey patch partner of the Capitals and Wizards.

    For a sizzle reel highlighting the MedStar and MSE partnership, click HERE.

    As part of this expanded agreement, MedStar and MSE will create a groundbreaking new medical partnership model, which establishes a Medical Council that assesses best practices and applies new, cutting-edge medical training techniques to each team. An Organizational Medical Director will oversee the team medicine operation to ensure maximum performance efficiency. MedStar and MSE will also join forces on six health-related public awareness campaigns, designed to impact the health and wellness of the community. 

    “MedStar Health is a trailblazer in health care in the Washington and Baltimore communities,” said Ted Leonsis, CEO and Majority Owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “We are thrilled to enter into this innovative partnership with them that will bring MedStar’s unparalleled excellence in health care to every single team in the Monumental Sports family.  We hope that this expanded partnership will help reimagine the way teams in professional sports approach delivering the very best medical care.”

    “We are also very proud to have MedStar join us in bringing their powerful brand to southeast Washington,” Leonsis added. “We are focused on making the MedStar Wizards Performance Center a vibrant part of the community in Anacostia, and we are thrilled to have MedStar partner with us in this effort.”

    “The evolution and expansion of this exciting agreement, the breadth and scope of which is truly unique in health care and professional sports, reflects the strengths and expertise of our respective organizations, people and services,” said Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, President and CEO, MedStar Health. “We welcome the significant opportunities this collaboration with Monumental Sports & Entertainment will bring to our organizations, the teams and sports we support, and most importantly, our patients and communities.”

    In addition to the Capitals and Wizards performance facility naming rights, MSE’s NBA2K esports team, Wizards District Gaming, will now train in the MedStar Wizards District Gaming Studio, a new, top-of-the-line esports training facility adjacent to Capital One Arena. Esports are one of the fastest-growing sectors in sports and entertainment with a huge—and young—global audience. MedStar and MSE are expanding their partnership into esports just as its audience is growing at an exponential rate.

  • August 31, 2017
    Board certified in general surgery and fellowship trained in bariatric surgery, Dr. Tapazoglou specializes in minimally-invasive and laparoscopic procedures.


    “I offer laparoscopic preperitoneal inguinal hernia surgery, which means instead of entering through the abdomen, I go between the abdomen and hernia. This procedure is known to result in fewer complications and less pain for patients. It’s an outpatient procedure, after which patients leave the hospital from the recovery room.”


    “A hiatal hernia occurs in the diaphragm and often goes hand-in-hand with reflux. Typically, a hiatal hernia is not something you know you have, but rather something you find out about through imaging from your doctor. I offer both hiatal hernia repair and anti-reflux procedures. Basically, if you have severe reflux that’s not being managed by medications, or if you have Barrett’s Esophagus or a known hiatal hernia, you can qualify for these procedures.” 


    “No one else in this region is performing bariatric weight loss surgery so I wanted to bring that here for the residents of this area. Currently, we are working with MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Bariatric Surgery Program to bring bariatric surgery to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. I have patients here who are nearing completion of or who have already completed the extensive pre-operative preparation for bariatric
    surgery, so we know there’s definitely an interest.”


    “Patients can lose 60 to 70 percent of excess body weight, which can extend their life expectancy by 10 to 20 years and improve their quality of life by 95 percent. All types of medical problems are often resolved after bariatric surgery and it reduces the risk of just about every kind of cancer.”


    Many insurance companies offer coverage for weight loss surgeries, but some do not. Before talking to a specialist, contact your insurance company to determine what is covered under your specific policy.

    General and Bariatric Surgeon
    Conveniently Located in Leonardtown

    Dr. Tapazoglou’s office is in the hospital’s Outpatient Pavilion, located at 25500 Point Lookout Road in Leonardtown.

    Contact Us Today
    or call 240-434-4088 for an appointment.

  • April 12, 2017

    Expanded Services Mean More than Convenience in the Heart of Harford

    Bel Air, MD—(April 12, 2017)— Last spring, over 600 Harford County residents attended the community open house at the MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus to see the shiny new bedless hospital and urgent care. Among the guests: Anita Owens, of Fallston.

    While throngs of visitors toured the sunlit center from room to room, embracing its location on Route 924 at Plumtree Road, Charlsetta Holmes, known as Charli, was a short distance away, working in her office at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The convenience of top quality healthcare couldn’t have been further from her mind.  

    Anita however, was so impressed with the 100,000 square feet of comfort and technology, and its location, she promptly changed primary care physicians and scheduled her annual routine check-up.

    Within days and weeks of the opening respectively, both Charli and Anita would each get devastating news: they had breast cancer.  

    “Having this facility here makes it more convenient for our patients to get treatment in their community without having to drive to Baltimore,” said Dr. Suman Rao, MD, chief of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center’s Thoracic Oncology & Hematology at Bel Air. “When facing a devastating diagnosis of cancer, patients are assured they are getting the same state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatment capabilities as any other major cancer care center.” 

    "MedStar Bel Air saved my life,” Anita said. “They found the cancer, treated me, and I am cancer free today because of them."

     “This experience for me, was holistic,” Charli explained. “I wasn’t just going there for medicine. Everyone at Bel Air from the nurses, staff, oncologists, were very informative. They offered support, literature, brochures… they provided beauty tips; how to wear scarves and wigs, apply make-up, physical therapy. They did all they could to provide support. Everything I needed was in the same place.”

    Since its April 12th opening last year, more than 30,000 Harford residents have received treatment in specialty areas including cardiology, imaging, outpatient surgery, primary care, rehabilitation, urgent care, women’s health and the comprehensive cancer center, where Anita and Charli received chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

    Last month, Charli received her final radiation treatment on her 60th birthday, and celebrated the milestone, cancer free.

     “As a physician, one of the best advantages to working in this facility is being able to coordinate high quality care efficiently for my patients,” said Dr. Melanie Slack, site medical director. “I have had many instances where I see a patient in my office, send them immediately downstairs for a radiologic study, and that same afternoon, am able to discuss the results with the radiologist and arrange for a specialist consultation. It makes a huge difference to the patients, knowing that all of their doctors are communicating and working together as a team.”

    For an appointment with one of our specialists at the MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus, call 410-877-8088 or visit

    About MedStar Health

    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit