Steffanie Sheppard of Prince George’s County got to celebrate a birthday that earlier this year, she didn’t think she would have. After a recurrence of breast cancer in her liver this past March, Sheppard feared the worst and gave away many of her personal belongings. After receiving targeted therapy at the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute (MGCI) at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center near her home in Clinton over the summer, her cancer is now in remission. To learn more about Steffanie’s story, please click here.
A Maryland woman has become the first patient on the East Coast of the United States to receive treatment with a new, non-surgical radiation therapy for brain tumors, known as Zap-X® Gyroscopic Radiosurgery™. It is now available at the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute (MGCI) at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. To learn more, please click here.
CLINTON, MD-- MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC)’s Cancer Care staff has grown by one oncologist, Dr. Stephen “Eric” Rubenstein.
In his previous position, Dr. Rubenstein cultivated a growing cancer treatment program from a collection of physicians into a thriving comprehensive cancer treatment center that expanded access to clinical trials and state-of-the-art care. He has joined Medstar with the same goal of expanding access to tertiary services, multidisciplinary care, clinical trials, and supportive care by integrating service lines to improve both the patient experience and clinical outcomes.
At MSMHC, physicians involved in cancer treatment also serve on MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Cancer Committee. This body meets regularly to consult on cases, discuss best practices, and foster more seamless relationships between those involved in cancer care.
“I hope to serve as a connector between all disciplines involved in cancer treatment, from the patient to radiation and surgical oncologists, specialists and primary care doctors, nursing, social workers and family support,” said Dr. Rubenstein. “It’s our goal to serve everyone, working in an integrated fashion.”
Dr. Rubenstein’s philosophy when it comes to cancer care is to tailor care to the individual patient’s needs while collaborating with all care providers, and taking an approach that involves cooperation between everyone involved in a patient’s treatment. Doing so, he believes, results in a better patient experience.
“It’s in our best interest to create a comprehensive cancer care network for our community, to expand access to state-of-the-art care,” said Dr. Rubenstein. “The key is to let patients stay near home, in their community, not have to struggle to get to a reputable cancer center. We know there are physical limitations associated with a cancer diagnosis and the ideal place to heal is at home under the careful watch of family, friends and community.”
Prior to joining MSMHC, Dr. Rubenstein served as Medical Director of Oncology Research with the Franciscan Physician Network in Indiana. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and attended medical school at Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv, Israel. His residency and fellowship took place at Albert Einstein and SUNY Downstate, and Dr. Rubenstein did research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dr. Rubenstein’s office is located in the Professional Building connected to MSMHC. For an appointment, please call 301-877-5800.
About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176-bed 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 MedstarSouthernMaryland.org.
CLINTON, MD—MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC)’s new cancer treatment center is one step closer toward its completion with the addition of a new cancer-fighting technology in the office of Radiation Oncologist Andrew Satinsky, MD.
On March 20, Dr. Satinsky began using the new Halcyon™ machine to treat patients. The Halcyon™ is an image guidance system delivering radiation more easily, more efficiently and with greater comfort, without compromising on quality. This results in a treatment that is highly effective in far less time.
“This treatment revolutionizes the quality, expediency, comfort and safety of patients treated with radiation in the state of Maryland,” said Andrew Satinsky, MD. “This is exciting for us because we’re the first center in the DC Metro area to have this, and it means we’re on the cutting edge of technology.”
This new technology involves a low energy X-ray that allows soft imaging of the patient to minimize radiation risks while delivering afterwards a powerful treatment capable of achieving the demands of each patient’s needs. Another advantage includes new software tools that allow clinical evaluations for quick decision making on the need for clinical changes to the treatment, through adaptive radiation therapy.
The first patient to be treated at MSMHC was U.S. Department of Behavioral Health Police Officer John Long, who is receiving this treatment five days per week for two months.
“The process was simpler than I thought,” said Long. “It takes just ten to twelve minutes and they have explained everything to me, really taken the time to explain the process. I came here because my first impression was good and I haven’t been disappointed.”
Already, MSMHC has expanded its cancer treatment services to include a robust Cancer Committee, which meets throughout the year to discuss the latest innovations in cancer patient care. It also has a weekly tumor board meeting where a team of physicians in different disciplines meet to confer on cases. In addition, the hospital’s roster of cancer treatment physicians, which includes Andrew Satinsky, MD, and Breast Surgeon Ekaterina Tsiapali, MD, recently expanded to add Hematologist-Oncologist Eric Rubenstein, MD.
“The acquisition of the Halcyon™ machine is another step toward offering the most state-of-the-art medicine and creating the new cancer treatment center we are building at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray.
This fall, MSMHC plans to open its cancer treatment center. This center will serve as a connector between all disciplines involved in cancer treatment, from the patient to radiation oncologists, nursing, social workers, surgeons, specialists and primary care doctors, allowing the team to tailor care to the individual patient’s needs while collaborating with all care providers, and taking an approach that involves cooperation between everyone involved in a patient’s treatment. The second advantage of this center will be to offer state-of-the-art care close to the residents of southern Maryland.
“The key is to let patients stay near home, in their community, not have to struggle to get to a reputable cancer center. We know there are physical limitations associated with a cancer diagnosis and the ideal place to heal is at home under the careful watch of family, friends and community,” said Dr. Rubenstein.
For more information about cancer treatment at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/CancerTreatment.
About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176 bed 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 MedStarSouthernMaryland.org.
Upper Marlboro Police Chief Calvin Washington Shares his Experience with Colon Cancer to Highlight the Importance of Regular Checkups, Particularly Colonoscopies
As a municipal police chief in Prince George’s County and a dad of three, Calvin Washington was so busy with his job and family, he wanted to ignore the nagging stomach pain he was experiencing. As with many unpleasant things you’re trying to ignore, it worsened, becoming so severe, Washington knew he would have to get it checked out.
First, Washington went to his primary care doctor, MedStar physician Arnulfo Bonavente, MD, who referred him to MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s gastroenterologist Walid Chalhoub, MD, for a colonoscopy. His scan showed a mass that proved to be a cancerous tumor the size of an orange.
“Here’s a young, healthy, fit guy, a cop, with kids,” said Dr. Chalhoub, a MedStar Georgetown University Hospital physician who sees and treats patients at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. “This proves you need to get yourself screened and if you have symptoms, don’t take them lightly, because they won’t go away. In this case, I had to send him to a colorectal surgeon to take out that part of his colon and now, he’s alive and he’s cancer-free.”
During Washington’s successful surgery, all cancer was removed and repaired expertly, so with time, he would heal back to normal, without needing a colostomy bag. “That day, I was nervous and Dr. Chalhoub knew I was nervous,” said Washington. “His bedside manner, the way he can calm you down, the way he said, ‘It’s going to be okay, trust me,’ was comforting.”
After surgery, Washington began six months of chemotherapy treatments with MedStar oncologist Sunnie Kim, MD, at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “The MedStar physician group; all of you guys are just great,” said Washington. “I’d recommend this group to anybody.”
Washington is now back to normal, after months recovering and overcoming fatigue. He reports he is fully mobile with a normal appetite and desire to enjoy hunting, fishing, and kayaking, like he did before his medical ordeal.
“I would encourage people to listen to your doctor, not only listen to your body,” said Washington. “A lot of people fear a colonoscopy because people know what that means, but for those people who fear this, fear the other thing: a physician telling you that you could possibly die. I could have, but I didn’t, so don’t be afraid.”
Before a colonoscopy, patients are administered medication to relax. The instrument used during the procedure is a thin flexible tube that allows the physician to see any abnormalities that can be removed. A colonoscopy typically takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
“Colonoscopies save lives,” says Dr. Chalhoub. “People can lose their life because of ego. Take the time to become informed and educate yourself on colon cancer.”
Please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Gastro for more information about gastroenterology services and treatments.
To view Dr. Chalhoub’s Facebook Live seminar on stomach pain, recorded in the fall of 2017, visit our page here ► Facebook.com/MedStarSouthernMD.
One key to the declining rate of breast cancer is advancement in early detection. At MedStar Southern Maryland, radiologists Anna H. Choi, Gina Kim-Ahn and Tina Sprouse are on the forefront of early detection, thanks to their fellowship training and years of experience in breast imaging, paired with a new 3-D tomosynthesis digital mammography machine.
This new $500K mammography unit creates a 3-dimensional mammogram that yields an advanced form of breast imaging that is especially helpful in dense breast tissue. The 3-D mammography also allows for detection of smaller tumors and of subtle secondary findings of cancer.
“Not all mammograms are created equal,” says Dr. Ekaterini Tsiapali, who relies on Choi, Kim-Ahn and Sprouse to interpret mammogram images. “It’s best to go to a facility that specializes in breast imaging, because adequately reading a mammogram requires expertise.”
Two additional tools in the arsenal of these women, who have a combined 50 years of experience in the field, are the Breast Ultrasound and the Breast MRI. The ultrasound is a tool that uses sound waves to look at breast tissue identified as abnormal on a mammogram. The Breast MRI is the most sensitive test available and is used to evaluate the anatomy and function of breast tissue. On the horizon is yet another test using nuclear medicine, which Choi, Kim-Ahn and Sprouse are watching, as all MedStar Medical Group Radiology physicians make sure to stay on the forefront of all new research and advance technology in their field to make sure MedStar Southern Maryland is able to provide the most state-of-the-art care.
For more information about breast imaging, contact 301-868-6900.
CLINTON, MD – MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center welcomes new plastic surgeon, Sarah R. Sher, MD. In this position, Dr. Sher will concentrate on breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients, as well as breast reductions and general reconstruction. Dr. Sher will work in close partnership with breast surgeon Ekaterini V. Tsiapali, MD. Together, these surgeons will surgically remove cancerous breast tissue (Tsiapali) and reconstruct breasts (Sher).
“I’m looking forward to playing a positive role in a patient’s journey through breast cancer,” said Dr. Sher. “It’s so fulfilling to be a part of a team of physicians who can understand what patients are going through. I want potential patients to know that most breast reconstruction procedures are covered by insurance, and that many problems, like asymmetry, can be easily fixed. A two to four hour procedure can change a woman’s life.”
Prior to joining MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Dr. Sher served as assistant professor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Department of Plastic Surgery, and will continue to see patients at that location. Dr. Sher has extensive training on all the typical plastic surgery procedures, such as tummy tucks, skin cancer excisions, general reconstruction, breast augmentation, facial rejuvenation, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), surgery after weight loss, rhinoplasty, liposuction, Botox and fillers, chemical peels and Latisse. Dr. Sher will offer consultation in all areas of plastic surgery at Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.
“We’re thrilled to make this announcement during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” said MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center President Christine R. Wray. “Dr. Sher brings much-needed expertise to our hospital, and I know the community will greatly benefit from her expertise, as we serve the women of southern Maryland. Breast cancer surgeon Dr. Ekaterini Tsiapali and plastic surgeon Dr. Sarah Sher are an integral part of a comprehensive chain of gifted physicians who treat women at every stage of health.”
Dr. Sher received her undergraduate degree from Southwestern University and her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed her internship and residency in plastic surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Dr. Sher also volunteered on a mission trip fixing cleft lips and cleft palates with Operation Smile in India.
Dr. Sher has published numerous papers on plastic surgery procedures and has won several awards, including the honor of Top Resident in Hand Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Dr. Sher is also fluent in Spanish. To refer a patient or make an appointment, please call 301-877-5607.
Director of Marketing and Community Relations
About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, a 192 bed full-service hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland areas, was founded in 1977 and joined MedStar Health in December, 2012. Throughout the hospital’s history, it has remained a community leader, a strong supporter of health care education and a dedicated advocate for quality health care services.
Valerie Calhoun feels like she’s back. After an exhausting battle with breast cancer, she has thrown her wigs to the back of her closet, she is active in her church again and she is scheduling ice cream dates with her granddaughter. None of this would be possible, she says, without the breast cancer treatment she received at MedStar Southern Maryland and the special attention she received from breast surgeon Dr. Ekaterini V. Tsiapali.
It was during a yearly mammogram last July when Valerie found out she had a tumor. After her mom’s three-time battle with breast cancer decades ago, she was scared. Her primary care physician put Valerie in touch with Dr. Tsiapali, who biopsied the tumor. The initial diagnosis was grim: it was a malignant, aggressive form of cancer, in Stage 3. A lumpectomy followed in September, when Dr. Tsiapali removed the tumor and four lymph nodes.
This understandably difficult time was made a little easier, says Valerie, because Dr. Tsiapali made sure she knew what was happening every step of the way.
“Her bedside manner is the greatest,” says Valerie, of Dr. Tsiapali. “She takes time and explains everything. She gave me so much information and she’s very truthful; this is what it is, these are your options.”
Chemo began last November. Valerie experienced hair loss, along with a loss of energy and appetite. Her husband Thomas stopped working to be there for her, and her church, Woodstream Church in Mitchellville, fervently prayed for her health. Her sister took her wig shopping, her mother, the original cancer survivor of the family, prayed with her, and her children and grandchildren rallied around her. When chemo treatments finished in February, which Valerie recalls as the toughest part of this battle, she began six weeks of radiation treatments.
Now, she is cancer-free, and sees Dr. Tsiapali every six months. The staff greets her warmly when she returns, happy to see her so healthy, and she is equally happy to see them, remembering every kindness, like her appointment around Mother’s Day, when they gave her a flower.
“I’m telling you, this journey has been awesome, because of the entire staff,” said Valerie. “I’m just grateful. I asked God to direct me to a doctor and a team that could take care of me and He did. It’s such a blessing.”
Valerie’s story has a happy ending, like the majority of current breast cancer patients. The diagnosis is no longer as scary as it was years ago, says Dr. Tsiapali, when treatments were, at times, overly aggressive when they didn’t need to be, and techniques had the potential to cause more problems.
“Today, we schedule needle biopsies, like we did with Valerie, instead of surgical procedures,” said Dr. Tsiapali. “The needle biopsy is less invasive, so recovery is easier. We also have made huge strides with techniques to save breasts and reshape them when tumors are removed.”
Dr. Tsiapali is also able to refer patients to MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s genetic counselors, so breast cancer patients can undergo testing to see if they are carriers of cancer genes and determine whether patients who have breast tumors would benefit from chemotherapy, as Valerie did.
The trend, says Dr. Tsiapali, is to individualize treatment to each patient’s unique needs. By taking this tailored approach, she has seen patients over the course of her career recover more quickly than patients did as recently as a decade ago. Her reward for providing treatment, she says, is seeing patients like Valerie return to a happy life after a long, difficult journey through breast cancer treatments.
“Getting to know Valerie has been a pleasure,” says Dr. Tsiapali. “She is easy-going and resilient and it has been wonderful to see her get back to being herself.”
To schedule a mammogram at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, call 301-877-5607.