It’s nearly a month into 2012. The residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania have a lot to celebrate living in the second decade of the 21st century. When newspaper, magazine and map publishers announce the best places to live, Pittsburgh is often at the top of their lists; but, people throughout this region know that there are many great places to call home — particularly in Washington, Westmoreland and Fayette counties.
High-quality health care is one of the factors that is often used to assess a region’s livability. Monongahela Valley Hospital’s (MVH) patient-centered, innovative approaches to medical care help to make this area a desirable place to live. Plus, MVH offers some medical therapies and services that are not provided at neighboring facilities and thus attracts visitors from surrounding regions.
“It is important for Monongahela Valley Hospital to stay up with technology and have the physicians who can provide specialized medical care to serve the community,” said John D. Fry, chairman, MVH Board of Trustees.
Louis J. Panza Jr., president and CEO of the Hospital shares Mr. Fry’s vision.
“At Monongahela Valley Hospital, we have a responsibility to keep our facilities viable, efficient and progressive. We are committed to helping our current staff provide high-quality care and we continuously recruit specialized physicians and surgeons so that the residents of the communities that we serve can receive the care that they need close to home.”
The Doctor Is In
Monongahela Valley Hospital has added several new physicians and surgeons to its medical staff. In the past 24 months, MVH’s aggressive efforts to recruit new physicians have resulted in the largest expansion of the medical staff in the hospital’s history. Some of the specialties include: cardiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, medical imaging, internal medicine, nephrology, emergency medicine, orthopedics, podiatry, colo-rectal surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and infectious disease.
“Our ability to recruit and retain new young physicians to our Hospital is a testament to the diverse medical services that we offer and our continued commitment to providing the residents of this regional with the highest level of health care,” said R.G. Krishnan, M.D., Cardiology/Internal Medicine and president, MVH’s Medical Staff.
Nationally, nearly 20 percent of all physicians are over the age of 65, while at MVH the rate is approximately 10 percent. Many of these physicians are bringing advanced medical techniques to the Valley which they are teaching to their peers.
Mark H. Hofbauer, D.P.M. is a foot and ankle specialist who performs surgery at MVH. Dr. Hofbauer also serves as Director of the Mon Valley Fellowship Program which was established by The Greater Pennsylvania Education Foundation “to enhance skills and knowledge acquired during residency training with advanced surgical education in the areas of Reconstructive Surgery of the Foot and Ankle, Diabetic Limb Salvage and Lower Extremity Trauma Management.” The program offers physicians an opportunity to work with expert surgeons, such as Dr. Hofbauer and his associate, William P. DeCarbo, D.P.M, who are both affiliated with The Orthopedic Group, who share a dedication to education, research and community outreach.
Twenty years ago, when Dr. Hofbauer was training, he had to seek fellowships in Germany and Switzerland because the type of specialized training that he was pursuing was not available in the United States. Today, Monongahela Valley Hospital is one of only a select few hospitals nationwide that offers a fellowship in foot and ankle surgery.
Jaytinder S. Sandhu, D.P.M., is MVH’s first fellow who is learning from Dr. Hofbauer.
“This is a wonderful opportunity,” said Dr. Sandhu. “I am fortunate to be working with the specialists at MVH because they treat patients very well and they are doing foot and ankle surgical procedures that no one else does and they have state-of-the-art facilities.”
Operation High Tech
While two hands are needed to count the number of hospitals that have closed in Southwestern Pennsylvania in the past decade — not including those which have eliminated services — Monongahela Valley Hospital has added services and expanded its facilities.
In early February, the hospital will begin performing surgeries in two of its four new operating suites. Each suite, which will provide 600-square feet of space or approximately double the size of the hospital’s six existing operating rooms, is equipped with advanced boom systems, a nursing integration system, as well as multiple high-definition monitors and light sources.
“These new operating suites will be really good for the community,” said Scott L. Baron, M.D. chief of surgery. “They will enhance the patient flow by making it easier to schedule elective surgeries.”
MVH’s surgical enhancements also include expansion of the post-anesthesia care unit which provides for optimal patient recovery and privacy.
State-of-the-Art Wound Care
According to national statistics, approximately 6 million Americans suffer from non-healing wounds caused by diabetes, circulatory problems and many other conditions. Monongahela Valley Hospital’s Center for Wound Management is one of the few hospital-based, outpatient centers in the region that treats patients with chronic, non-healing wounds. MVH provides Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy which is an advanced treatment that uses oxygen at levels higher than atmospheric pressure to enhance natural and faster healing of wounds.
Through the Hospital’s new expansion project, the Center for Wound Management is moving from the 4th floor inpatient area of the hospital to the Charles L. and Rose Sweeney Melenyzer Pavilion, which is adjacent to the hospital, to make it more convenient for patients and their families. The move will occur this spring.
“We are constantly developing new techniques to help patients with difficult wounds heal better,” said Richard A. Young, D.P.M., co-medical director for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. “The science is constantly changing and evolving and new therapeutic modalities are being offered on a regular basis to these patients. The wonderful part about the move to Melenyzer and the expansion is now we are going to be able to coordinate all of those techniques, technologies and methodologies into one convenient location at the hospital.”
High Tech and High Touch
MVH strives to provide the residents of the communities it serves with the latest treatments and therapies. When the Charles L. and Rose Sweeney Melenyzer and Regional Cancer Center opened in 1985, it was the first facility in Fayette, Greene and Washington counties to offer radiation therapy to patients. For the first time in the history of these three counties, cancer patients no longer had to leave the area for treatment.
Today, more than 12,000 cancer survivors have received treatment, rehabilitation, education and support at MVH. This spring, the Center is expanding its radiation oncology therapy program to include a new linear accelerator that provides image guided radiation therapy — a very precise method that directs the radiation to the specific cancer cells and allows the nearby healthy cells to remain untouched.
“Image guided radiation therapy enables us to see the cancer, target the cancer and to give it a higher dose of radiation. The precision and accuracy are unparalleled,” said Mohsen Isaac, M.D., director, Radiation Oncology.
Monongahela Valley Hospital now uses High-Dose Radiation (HDR), which is also known as Brachytherapy. HDR, which is an internal radiation therapy that treats the cancer from the inside out, is an alternative to surgical removal of tumors or organs. High doses of radiation are implanted close to or inside the tumors or cancerous tissues. This technique minimizes exposure to healthy tissue surrounding the cancer. HDR brachytherapy provides very precise treatment in just a few minutes. For many types of cancer, brachytherapy offers a faster and more effective means to provide radiation treatment. In fact, the entire treatment takes one to two days instead of five to seven weeks.
“As cancer treatments continue to rapidly evolve, we are keeping up with the changes, said Mr. Panza. “While knowledge and technology are part of the treatment process, compassion, care and a good bedside manner also help to heal a patient. The level of caring that our staff provides is unparalleled. We are not only high tech but also high touch.”
Editor’s Note: Monongahela Valley Hospital is offering members of the community a sneak peek in the two of the new surgical suites on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Members of the medical staff will be present to describe the uses of the medical equipment and answer questions. Light refreshments will be provided. The informal tours are free of charge. Parking is free.