High quality care in Northwest Indiana

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Improved recovery time: Franciscan Alliance surgeons Eias Jweied (left), Ph.D., M.D., and Chadrick Cross, M.D., perform video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy, which is minimally invasive, involves smaller incisions and results in less pain and faster patient recovery times. | Supplied photo

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A comprehensive lung cancer treatment program is another reason Franciscan Alliance patients need not travel outside of the area for the best, most timely care.

“From diagnostics to therapeutics to surgery to recovery, our hospitals offer it all. We can do anything a ‘big-city’ hospital can do, with timeliness being a key factor,” said Michael Meska, Franciscan Alliance regional director for respiratory therapy, He added Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City, Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point and Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer and Hammond are accredited, with commendation, by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

The process begins with low-dose, CT Scan screenings, which are recommended for persons aged 55 or older who are current or former smokers and are done following an initial patient assessment.

Smokers whose screenings are negative are referred to American Cancer Society cessation programs and are monitored.

Those whose results are positive, if the mass is small, enter a watchful-waiting program for six months to a year for assessment, Meska says.

Those whose tumors are larger are candidates for endobronchial ultrasound and electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy - minimally invasive technology that allows lung lesions that are located beyond the reach of traditional bronchoscopes to be visualized and accessed.

Using a CT scan, computer software creates a virtual 3D road map through the deep passages of the lungs. Once a catheter-type tool is inserted into the airway and reaches the tumor, tissue can be harvested for biopsy, tumor changes can be tracked and a marker can be placed to pinpoint the location for subsequent radiation treatment.

“Without it, we would have to use a needle to go into the lung, which has risks; or even do surgery, which has more risks,” says Don H. Dumont, M.D., a pulmonary medicine specialist. “But ENB is an outpatient procedure and the only recovery time needed is due to anesthesia.”

The hospitals also offer radiation therapy, medical oncology, brachytherapy and infusion services, as well as state-of-the-art Linear Accelerators, which allow for minimally invasive treatment and higher radiation doses, usually in two minutes or less.

If surgery is needed, Eias Jweied, Ph.D., M.D., and Chadrick Cross, M.D., perform video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy, which is minimally invasive, involves smaller incisions and results in less pain and faster patient recovery times. Average hospital stays are two to three days, compared to seven to 10 days.

“The public needs to know this procedure is available locally, since many people think they have to drive to Chicago to receive it. They don’t need to travel to Chicago; we bring the highest quality services here, to them,” Dr. Jweied said.

The procedure, which mostly treats stages one and two lung cancers, involves using a small camera that is introduced into the patient through a scope, which allows the physician to view the instruments and the anatomy. The camera and instruments are inserted through ports, a method which helps to reduce the chances for infection and allows for a faster recovery.

Besides physicians, nurse navigators perform an invaluable role for patients throughout the treatment process, Meska points out.

“They help the patient navigate through all stages; they hold their hands through the process to explain and help them understand what is going on.”

Cancer support groups also are available at the hospitals.

“We have university-academically trained physicians and offer quality, more timely care along the continuum - from diagnosis to treatment, which every patient deserves – all in our neck of the woods,” Meska says.

More information about Franciscan Alliance hospitals is at www.franciscanalliance.org.

Provided by Franciscan Alliance