Specialist Spotlight: Stroke Care

Posted on : 01-29-2015 | By : tsimons | In : News, Rehabilitation, Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute, Stroke Care, Video
Harish Shownkeen, MD

Harish Shownkeen, MD

It wasn’t long ago that Silver Cross patients suffering stroke had to be transferred to another facility to get the advanced care they needed. That was until Dr. Harish Shownkeen, a nationally renowned interventional neuroradiology clinician and researcher, set-up shop at Silver Cross Hospital in late 2012. Since then, Dr. Shownkeen and his colleagues with the Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute have cared for hundreds of stroke patients—some are now even being transported to Silver Cross from other area hospitals for this lifesaving treatment.

Medical Director of the Neuro Interventional Surgery Program at Silver Cross Hospital, Dr. Shownkeen uses minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat disorders of the blood vessels of the brain, head, neck and spinal cord.

“This is a lower risk and faster alternative to traditional surgery for treating and preventing many neurological conditions, including aneurysms, strokes, blocked or narrowed arteries, malformed blood vessels and tumors,” says Dr. Shownkeen.

Many procedures require only a small incision in the groin where Dr. Shownkeen inserts a catheter threading it through blood vessels to the site of the injury guided by X-rays. He is able to perform many procedures in Silver Cross Hospital’s state-of-the-art Endovascular Suite that historically have only been available at academic medical facilities including:

  • Brain aneurysm repair using self-expanding coils, quick-setting polymers, stents and balloons to prevent rupturing
  • Stroke treatment and prevention using balloon angioplasty and stents to widen narrowed blood vessels, clot dissolving drugs, mechanical blood clot removal and clot suction devices
  • Malformed blood vessel repair to block off abnormal vessels
  • Tumor treatment using various techniques to block blood flow to abnormal tissues.

“Most patients receiving interventional neuroradiology treatments spend 24 hours in the hospital and are able to resume normal activities within days of the procedure,” says Dr. Shownkeen.    “Depending on the seriousness of the disease or injury, some patients may require additional care. Fortunately, we have some of the most experienced specialists in the Chicago area offering the full continuum of care right here at Silver Cross including neurosurgeons, neuro interventional radiologists, neurologists, pulmonologists, and specialists from RIC—The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.”

Silver Cross has partnered with RIC, which has been ranked the “Best Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. Patients benefit from RIC at Silver Cross’ 24-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit as well as four outpatient facilities—at the hospital, Homer Glen, New Lenox (Route 30) and West Joliet.

In addition to caring for patients, Dr. Shownkeen is a champion for prevention lecturing extensively in the community on the common signs and symptoms of stroke.   He is constantly participating in several research studies for new treatments and leads continuing education conferences and workshops attracting thousands of physicians, nurses and paramedics throughout greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana areas.

“Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds,” adds Dr. Shownkeen. “And, I have made it my personal mission to do everything I can to prevent it from happening or re-occurring.

Are you at Risk for Stroke?  Take this online assessment to find out.

“Girl Parts” Sagging? We can Fix That!

Posted on : 01-28-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Events, Health Tips, News, Pelvic Floor Disorders, Rehabilitation

Pelvic-organ-prolapseIt is estimated that nearly 50% of all women between the ages of 50 and 79 have some form of pelvic organ prolapse - a medical condition that occurs when the normal support of the vagina is lost, resulting in “sagging” or dropping of the bladder, urethra, cervix and rectum. As the prolapse of the vagina and uterus progresses, women can feel bulging tissue protruding through the opening of the vagina.

“Prolapse is not life threatening but it can be uncomfortable and sometimes makes it hard for women to empty their bladders normally or even exercise,” said urogynecologist, Dr. Nahla Merhi, who is Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Silver Cross Hospital.

Some women are born with weaker tissues and are therefore at risk to develop prolapse.  Others encounter a loss of pelvic support when a part of their pelvic floor is injured during vaginal delivery, surgery, pelvic radiation or back and pelvic fractures during falls or motor vehicle accidents. Also, hysterectomy and other procedures done to treat pelvic organ prolapse are associated with future development of prolapse. Other conditions that promote prolapse include: obesity, constipation and chronic straining, smoking, chronic coughing and heavy lifting.

There are many treatment options available. For most women, the treatment they choose depends on how much they are bothered by their symptoms. Many conservative treatment options are available including pelvic floor rehabilitation. Finally, some women are bothered by their pelvic organ prolapse enough to consider surgery.

“Only you and your doctor can determine what treatment option is best for you. But if surgery is your best option, women should consider da Vinci robotic surgery,” said Dr. Merhi. “da Vinci surgery offers women many potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including: less blood loss, shorter hospital stay, and low rate of complications,” said Dr. Merhi. “The benefits are remarkable!”

How does Robotic Surgery Work?

nahla-merhi-ready-for-surgeryControlled by a surgeon from a console, the innovative da Vinci robot is used to make 8mm (`1/3 inch) to 12 mm (~ 1/2 inch) incisions and then long, delicate instruments are inserted into the patient that enable specially trained physicians to perform the surgery.

Interestingly, misconceptions still exist that the robot is actually performing the surgery all by itself. “The important aspect to understand is that the da Vinci robotic system cannot be programmed nor can it make decisions by itself,” said Dr. Nahla Merhi. “The da Vinci System can only operate with direct input from the surgeon.”

The enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control of the da Vinci robot allows physicians to perform an excellent surgery even for women with complex cases.

Free Lecture: Girl Talk:  Pelvic Disorders

Join Dr. Nahla Merhi and physical therapists with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross on Wednesday, Feb. 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to learn why vaginal prolapse and incontinence is more common than you might think. At this special Girl Talk:  Pelvic Disorders, attendees will hear expert advice about pelvic floor disorder signs, symptoms, and treatment options including robotic surgery with one tiny incision through the belly button. Get answers to the questions you have been wondering about but never asked. Register to attend this free Girl Talk:  Pelvic Disorders program at online or by calling 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

Heart Attacks Happen with No Warning Signs

Posted on : 01-28-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Events, Heart Health, I Matter Benefits, Interview, News, screening, Success Stories, Video

DrDrinanMaryPatFalloon 006As 47 year-old Mary Pat Falloon was hiking with her girlfriends in the Arizona mountains, she noticed a heaviness sensation in her chest and down both her arms.

“I was living a healthy lifestyle – I exercised regularly and my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol were in normal ranges,” said the Orland Park reisdent. “However to be safe, I had a stress test with Dr. Kathleen Drinan, who determined that I had a blockage. Then I had an angiogram that found a 95% blockage in my right coronary artery. I was treated with a coronary stent, and for several years been blessed with no further cardiac incidents.”

“Mary Pat had no significant traditional cardiac risk factors. She didn’t smoke, led a very healthy lifestyle, and had no family history of heart disease,” said Dr. Kathleen Drinan, board certified cardiologist, who is on the Silver Cross Hospital Medical Staff.

However, Mary Pat’s history of breast cancer, which occurred over 20 years earlier, alerted Dr. Drinan to investigate further. “The fact that Mary Pat’s breast cancer was treated with radiation therapy put her at risk for a coronary artery blockage,” said Dr. Drinan.  “Mary Pat’s unusual occurrence is why patients and health care professionals must continue to educate themselves on the unique presentation of heart disease in women, so they can follow a different approach when evaluating women for the disease.”

Dr. Drinan notes that younger women who had gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy associated hypertension, or chronic inflammatory disease need to be evaluated for their lifetime risk of heart disease. “For years, these prior illnesses were not recognized as risks for the development of heart disease, and so many women were not diagnosed or treated with appropriate treatments,” said Dr. Drinan.

Free Lecture – Girl Talk:  Women & Heart Disease

Join Dr. Kathleen Drinan, cardiologist, on Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox, for a special Girl Talk:  Women and Heart Disease seminar.  At this free program, participants will learn the facts about heart disease and what women need to do to prevent heart attacks.  Register to attend this free program online or by calling 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

Free Smoothie for Getting Cardiac Risk Assessment

Keep your heart running smoothly with a Baseline Cardiac Risk Assessment. The $40 screening includes measurements of total cholesterol including HDL and LDL levels, blood glucose level, triglyceride level, blood pressure and body fat; 12-lead EKG, health and lifestyle evaluation, and a personal phone consultation with a registered cardiac nurse to review results and answer questions. A 12-hour fast is required.   Individuals who call (815) 300-7076 during the month of February to schedule an appointment at the Silver Cross Health Center, 12701 W. 143rd St., Homer Glen or Silver Cross Hospital, 1900 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox will receive a heart-healthy smoothie in a keepsake cup from Café 1900 at Silver Cross Hospital, an I Matter card which can be used for valuable discounts at over 100 local businesses; and will be entered in a raffle to win a NutriBullet.  Cash, check or credit card will be accepted at time of appointment. Insurance will not be billed.

Benefits to Birthing with a Midwife

Posted on : 01-28-2015 | By : tsimons | In : Events, Fertility, Health Tips, Interview, News, Pregnancy, Success Stories

There are many benefits to using a Midwife. They can help women have a more natural childbirth experience. Further, midwives collaborate with the couple to develop a plan that offers more personalized care, which includes taking the time to talk to the mother-to-be about her concerns and needs regarding where to deliver, treatment of medications and other nuances of the birthing process.

Midwife Sherry Burnam, RN, CNM, APN; with Lara Greiman and her 4-month old daughter, Faith, who Sherry delivered last fall

Midwife Sherry Burnam, RN, CNM, APN with Lara Greiman and her 4-month old daughter, Faith, who Sherry delivered last fall

“Both my husband, Jon and I are so grateful for the support our Midwife Sherry Burnam provided us during the entire pregnancy and birthing process of our second child at Silver Cross Hospital, Faith,” said 34-year old Lara Greiman, who resides in Mokena. “The day I went into labor, my obstetrician was out of town. Fortunately, Sherry stayed with us during the many hours of labor that followed. Her calm presence gave us the extra support to guide us through the labor. Also, her impressive medical expertise and experience gave us the peace of mind that our baby was in good hands – especially when she delivered our precious daughter.”

How Do I Choose a Midwife?

“When choosing a midwife, you need to make sure the midwife you choose is certified and licensed to practice in your state,” said Sherry Burnam, RN, CNM, APN, midwife with Partners in Obstetrics and Women’s Health. “Also you need to be sure your midwife understands what you want your birth experience to be like and ensure they are willing to support your decisions.”

In addition to providing support and care to women during labor and delivery, midwives provide many varieties of gynecologic care including: conducting gynecological exams, educating patients on preconception planning, offering prenatal care, giving help with breastfeeding and other newborn care issues, and assisting women who are going through menopause.

Girl Talk: Birthing with a Midwife

If you are thinking about or expecting a baby and wonder what it would be like to birth with a midwife, attend a free Girl Talk: Birthing with a Midwife on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox. Join Sherry Burnam, RN, Certified Nurse Midwife, to discover how to experience a normal, physiologic birth in the safety of the hospital environment with as little intervention as necessary.   Register to attend this program by calling 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) or at click here


Growing Cancer Services to Shrink More Tumors

Posted on : 01-22-2015 | By : tsimons | In : breast cancer, Breast Reconstruction, Cancer, colon cancer, Mammography, News

 New ImageMore and more patients are choosing the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital prompting the need to expand radiation therapy services.

“Over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of new patients requiring radiation therapy,” said Theresa Quinn, executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital.  “And, they are appreciative of the care they receive. In fact, according to Press Ganey, we rank in the Top 1% in the nation for patient satisfaction.”

“To even better accommodate our patients, we have just installed a second TrueBeam™ linear accelerator that uses image-guided radiation therapy to safely shrink cancer cells and hard-to-reach tumors,” said Dr. Anne McCall, radiation oncologist with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital. “Both hi-tech machines allow for quick and accurate high-dose treatments.

Radiation TherapyThe TrueBeam system often is used to deliver intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), an advanced type of radiation treatment that conforms to the shape of the tumor. With IMRT, the radiation beam is broken up into many smaller beams that can be individually adjusted to deliver varying levels of radiation intensity. University of Chicago Medicine radiation oncologists were the first in the Chicago area to offer IMRT before bringing it to Silver Cross. Combining this advanced technique with years of experience, physicians at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital can maintain excellent cancer control rates while limiting the long-term side effects of radiation on healthy organs.

“When treating cancer, time is of the essence,” said Dr. Daniel Golden, radiation oncologist with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital.  “So having two linear accelerators makes it easier for patients to begin treatment even sooner.”

“Many patients are starting radiation therapy just days after diagnosis—especially those participating in our Multidisciplinary Breast and Lung Cancer Conferences,” adds Dr. McCall.

DSC_3260Every Tuesday, a group of cancer specialists meets to review and discuss breast and lung cancer patients’ medical information.  They develop a recommended treatment plan which is shared with referring physicians for consideration.  This saves patients valuable time meeting individually with multiple specialists who can take several weeks or even months.  Instead, this multidisciplinary, collaborative approach allows patients to begin treatment within the shortest time possible.

To learn more about cancer services available close to home or to schedule an appointment with a University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center specialist at Silver Cross Hospital, call 1-855-UCM-1400 or click here.


Cancer Services available at Silver Cross Hospital








Combatting Cold & Flu

Posted on : 12-29-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Aches & Pains, Emergency, Health Tips, News

Hindo_8069Submitted by Joseph Hindo, MD
Internal Medicine – Primary Care Physicians of Essington




Colds and Flu.  Everyone gets them. You know the symptoms:









What You Can Do to Relieve Your Symptoms
•  Drink plenty of liquids.
•  Get some extra rest though it’s not necessary to stay in bed.
•  Take aspirin or acetaminophen for fever, aches and pains. But don’t give aspirin to children.
•  Combat stuffiness by using a humidifier in your bedroom and by taking hot showers.
•  Avoid cold medicines that treat everything at once. Treat a stuffy nose with a decongestant, coughing with cough medicine and so forth.
•  Use nasal decongestant sprays for no more than three days. Continued use can cause your nose to get more congested.

Try These Home Remedies
•  Make your own nose drops to relieve congestion. Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of lukewarm water. Discard after three days.
•  Gargle lukewarm salt water to relieve a sore throat.
•  Enjoy as much steaming hot tea, chicken broth or hot water as you like. The steam helps moisturize your nasal passages.

imagesCAM7J3B4Preventing Colds and Flu
Colds and flu are not caused by getting cold or wet. They are caused by viruses. People get more colds during cold weather simply because they are indoors more and in closer contact with other people and their germs—especially during the holidays. To reduce your chances of getting or spreading colds and flu:
•  Wash your hands often.
•  If you’re around other people and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
•  Eat and sleep well and get plenty of
•  Exercise to keep up your resistance.
•  Get a flu shot.  While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

See a Doctor If You Have
•  A persistent or high fever.
•  Swollen glands in the neck.
•  A whitish coating on your tonsils or throat.
•  Any nasal discharge that becomes colored—yellow, greenish, etc.—after five days of a cold or remains colored after seven to 10 days.
•  Persistent earache, cough or sinus pain.
•  Symptoms that get better, then take a turn for the worse.
•  Severe headache with stiff neck, fever, nausea and vomiting.
•  Any cold or flu that lasts more than two weeks.
•  A skin rash.

Don’t have a regular physician?  Dr. Joseph Hindo and his partner, Dr. Anandavally Pillai, are conveniently located on the west side of Joliet in the Silver Cross Professional Building. They offer early morning and evening hours and accept most insurances.  To schedule an appointment, call (815) 744-4440. New patients are welcome!


GPS Technology helps Diagnose Lung Cancer

Posted on : 12-29-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Cancer, News, screening
Dr. Kris McDonough is the first physician in the area to offer a new procedure to better locate lung cancer in hard to reach areas without surgery.

Dr. Kris McDonough is the first physician in the area to offer a new procedure to better locate lung cancer in hard to reach areas without surgery.

Silver Cross is the only hospital in Will and Grundy counties to offer a new procedure that allows pulmonologists to better locate and test small, hard to reach abnormalities in the lungs, called nodules, without surgery.  These nodules can be cancerous and if found early, can be successfully removed or treated.

The minimally invasive procedure, called electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy (ENB), helps physicians navigate a patient’s airways in the same way GPS guides drivers to their final destination.  A virtual roadmap of the patient’s lungs and a pathway to the nodule is created by loading the patient’s CT lung scan onto a computer to be reconstructed into 3D images.

“This new technology allows us to get to nodules we would never be able to reach before,” said board certified pulmonologist Dr. Kristopher McDonough, who performed the first procedure in November and has used this advanced technology on two other Silver Cross Hospital patients.

“Not only can we get to the peripheral areas of the lungs where the traditional bronchoscope cannot reach, but we can extract enough tissue to do unique molecular and genetic tests that allow our oncologists to tailor treatment specifically to one patient’s lung cancer.”

Typically, a chest X-ray or CT lung scan will discover nodules in the lungs, Dr. McDonough explained.  For some patients, these nodules require a biopsy to determine whether or not cancer is present.  Nodules can be biopsied in different ways, but the goal is to find the safest and least invasive way to get to the nodule, which is where this new ENB technology comes into play.

For patients undergoing radiation therapy for lung cancer at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital or elsewhere, the ENB technology allows pulmonologists to place locators in the cancerous lesion so radiation oncologists know where to treat it, and how focus that treatment to achieve maximum benefit with a minimum of side effects.  This same technique can be used to aid in the removal of a lung tumor by surgery, if that is part of the treatment plan.

“In the past, we were limited in our diagnostic approach to some nodules deep in the lung, with open surgery being the only possibility.  Now, however, we have a number of options,” said Dr. McDonough.  “In conjunction with other exciting technologies available at Silver Cross, such as endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), ENB provides us with a comprehensive program for the minimally invasive diagnosis of lung cancer.”

For more information about electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy or to schedule an appointment with Dr. McDonough, call Midwest Respiratory at (815) 725-2653.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread too far to be cured, but symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  •  Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • New onset of wheezing

CT Lung Cancer Screening

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening for lung cancer with a low-dose CT Scan in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.  As of Jan. 1, 2015, Medicare covers the cost annual for individuals who fit the USPSTF’s recommended criteria.  A physician’s order is required for the screening. To schedule an appointment for a CT Lung Cancer Screening at Silver Cross Hospital, call (815) 300-7076 or request an appointment online.

Shopping til she Drops after losing 90 lbs

Posted on : 12-29-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Interview, News, Success Stories, Video, Weight Loss
Edna Lopez lost 90 lbs with Lap-Band Surgery at Silver Cross

Edna Lopez lost 90 lbs with Lap-Band Surgery at Silver Cross

VIDEO:  Edna’s incredible weight loss story

For many women shopping at the mall is a fun activity, but for 45-year-old Edna Lopez, the idea filled her with anxiety. “When I weighed over 200 pounds, I did most of my shopping online because I felt so self-conscious at the mall,” Edna said. “I didn’t want people looking at me because of my weight.” But since losing over 90 pounds after having weight loss surgery at Silver Cross Hospital, Edna loves to walk the mall and shop.

Prior to her weight loss, Edna suffered from joint pain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Since her surgery, she no longer takes high blood pressure medication.

“As a line operator at a corn oil processing plant, I’m on my feet a lot. Since my weight loss, I have no pain in my feet which really allows my work day to be pain free,” said the Joliet resident. “I now enjoy walking without being out of breath. I can climb stairs and even wear high heel shoes!”

“My advice to others that are considering surgery is to do your homework and work with your doctor to figure out what surgery would be best for you,” Edna adds.

After researching quality weight loss programs, Edna decided to attend BMI Surgery’s free informational session. “After listening to Dr. Brian Lahmann’s presentation, I felt comfortable with the program, Dr. Lahmann and his staff. They made me feel confident that I could be successful and they would help me through each step,” says Edna. With their support, along with encouragement from her family and friends, Edna committed to the exercise and diet plan and underwent LAP-BAND™ weight loss surgery on February 11, 2012.

Weighing in at over 200lbs, Edna suffered from joint pain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Weighing in at over 200 lbs, Edna suffered from joint pain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Patients benefit from a multidisciplinary approach, with the help of many different departments at Silver Cross. “Our patients see an exercise physiologist, dietitian, cardiologist, psychologist, pulmonologist, and a bariatric nurse to get them ready for surgery,” says Dr. Brian Lahmann. “We screen our patients very carefully to ensure their success and safety.”

“Dr. Lahmann explained that surgery is merely a tool to lose weight and the real success depended on me making behavioral changes,” says Edna. “I am so grateful to Dr. Lahmann, his team and the nurses at Silver Cross Hospital. They knew what my needs were and surpassed them. Plus my experience at Silver Cross Hospital was like staying at a fine hotel with beautiful surroundings and simply wonderful care.”

“Edna is an excellent example of how bariatric surgery can positively enhance one’s life. Her dedication to adhering to the program by eating well and exercising was essential in her ability to lose over 90 pounds,” says Dr. Lahmann.

Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for You?

The American Society of Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery defines the morbidly obese as those with a body mass of 35 or above with comorbidities, or for a normal height woman, being more than 100 pounds overweight. Patients with a BMI of 35 and higher, who are suffering the medical consequences of obesity, are often best treated with bariatric surgery as opposed to nonsurgical weight loss. Those who are morbidly obese are at a higher risk of mortality and such extreme obesity puts people at risk for life threatening disease, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Drs. Chris Joyce and Brian Lahmann have helped over 4,000 patients obtain a healthier and happier life.

Drs. Chris Joyce and Brian Lahmann have helped over 4,000 patients obtain a healthier and happier life.

BMI Surgery has changed the lives of over 4,000 patients with life changing surgeries including laparoscopic gastric bypass, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, and LAP-BAND and REALIZE gastric band systems at Silver Cross Hospital. Board certified laparoscopic and bariatric surgeons Brian Lahmann, M.D., and Christopher Joyce, M.D., are dedicated to helping patients win their personal battles with obesity and enjoy healthier lives. Their office is located on the new Silver Cross Hospital campus at I-355 and Route 6 in New Lenox. Silver Cross has been named a Bariatric Center of Excellence by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery and a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery.

Free Informational Session To find out more about the bariatric surgery program at Silver Cross Hospital, attend a free informational session on both traditional and laparoscopic surgery on any Wednesday at5:45 p.m. at BMI Surgery at 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., Suite 260, New Lenox. Register to attend online or by calling call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

Colon Cancer Cured with Robotic Surgery

Posted on : 12-29-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Cancer, colon cancer, Interview, News, Success Stories, Uncategorized
Raymond Martinez and Dr. Gamagami talk about his recovery after beating Stage 1 colorectal cancer.

Raymond Martinez and Dr. Gamagami talk about his recovery after beating Stage 1 colorectal cancer.

This past July, Raymond Martinez drove to the Silver Cross Emergency Department after noticing blood in his toilet.  This had happened before—four years earlier.  Then, the blood was caused by polyps in the lining of his colon.  But this time, it was much more serious.  Raymond had a cancerous tumor in his large intestine (colon) that needed to be surgically removed.

“I was tired and wanted to sleep all the time,” said the 87-year-old New Lenox resident. “But when I saw the blood, I thought ‘here we go again’.  I called my daughter who took me to Silver Cross where they admitted me to run some tests.

With Raymond’s history of colon polyps, a colonoscopy uncovered a tumor on his large intestine.  The biopsy showed that Raymond had a cancerous polyp, which could be completely removed surgically.

“I asked my nurses who I should have perform my surgery, and they all said Dr. Gamagami without hesitation,” Raymond stated.

Dr. Gamagami, who specializes in colorectal cancer surgery, is a leader in advanced minimally invasive procedures using the da Vinci robot.  Silver Cross has been designated as part of an elite group of nationally recognized General Surgery Epicenters due to the demonstrated excellence of R.A. Gamagami, M.D. as an educator for general colorectal robotic surgery.

“Dr. Gamagami came to see me while I was in the hospital and talked with me about all my options.”

“Based on the size and location of the tumor, we decided the best way to treat the cancer was to perform a laparoscopic robotic colon resection,” said Dr. Gamagami.  “Fortunately for Raymond, we can now perform complicated abdominal procedures laparoscopically through just a few small incisions using the da Vinci robot.

The da Vinci robotic system allows specially trained surgeons to perform complex surgeries with more precision and dexterity than standard laparoscopic surgery.

Da Vinci is a robotic surgery system with which specially trained surgeons control a robot through advanced technology to treat a variety of conditions including colon cancer.

At Silver Cross Hospital, we have performed twice as minimally invasive colon resections than any other local community hospital. According to Dr. Gamagami, 85% of his patients benefit from this new technology as compared to less than 10% in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Patients who undergo robotic colectomy (colon surgery) tend to have superior clinical outcomes, which include less pain, smaller incisions, shorter hospital stay, and most importantly, less complications such as infections.

Dr. Gamagami performed Raymond’s laparoscopic right hemi-colectomy (colon resection) robotically at Silver Cross Hospital on Aug. 21, 2014 and Raymond required only a two-day hospitalization after his surgery, which is the norm for Dr. Gamagami’s patients. Raymond’s final pathology revealed Stage 1 colon cancer.

“The morning after my operation, I was up walking around the hospital corridors and had no pain,” commented Raymond.  “I couldn’t believe it didn’t hurt at all.”

Raymond’s cancer was completely gone.

“I just need to see Dr. Gamagami every six months following my surgery to make sure everything is working the way it should,” Raymond said. “I am lucky I went to Silver Cross when I did.”

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Having a colonoscopy starting at age 50 can actually prevent many cases of colon cancer, or reveal it at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

However, if you are over age 30 and are experiencing one or more of the symptoms below, you should see a doctor right away to evaluate the need for a diagnostic colonoscopy:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days;
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so;
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool which may make it look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain;
  • Weakness and fatigue; and/or
  • Unintended weight loss.

For more information about colon cancer diagnosis and treatment, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. R.A. Gamagami in his office, located on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox, call (815) 717-8730.

You can also visit his website at www.gamagami.com.


Tips to Avoid a Christmas Tree Fire

Posted on : 12-12-2014 | By : tsimons | In : Emergency, Health Tips, News

stxmco001christmas_tree__fireplace-800x333According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each year, fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. Carefully decorating Christmas trees can keep your home and loved ones safe. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that approximately 15,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every holiday season for injuries related to Christmas trees and holiday decorating.

“The last thing anyone wants in their home is a Christmas tree-related fire and end up in the emergency room hurt,” says Daniel Checco, D.O., emergency medicine physician at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center in Homer Glen. “Although if they find themselves seriously injured from a burn, seek medical attention immediately.”
Follow these Christmas tree safety tips to keep the holiday season safe for all:

Picking the Tree
•  If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
•  Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the Tree
•  Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1″ – 2″ from the base of the trunk.
•  Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
•  Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
•  Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the Tree
•  Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
•  Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
•  Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
•  Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas
Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Emergency Care Nearby
Even with the utmost caution, Christmas-related injuries can still occur. It is good to know peace of mind is just minutes away at the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center located at 143rd and Bell Rd. in Homer Glen. Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Center is staffed with board certified emergency medicine physicians and nurses.  Located in the same building is the Silver Cross Health Center offering MRI, CT, X-ray, Ultrasound, EKG and laboratory services. A physician’s order is required. To request an appointment for a test, click here or call (815) 300-7076. There are also several primary and specialty physician offices and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross.