Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

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Houston Methodist West makes scheduling an imaging appoint easy with online scheduling

As more and more the world goes digital, Houston Methodist West Hospital is committed to staying at the forefront. This week, the hospital unveiled a new, user-friendly online scheduling tool for patients.

The new system makes it possible for patients to view available appointments, select one that fits their schedule and confirm their appointment with just a few clicks. The system currently schedules outpatient imaging exams, including mammogram, MRI, CT scan, ultrasound and more.

“Many of us have limited privacy and phone access during the work day, and we often put our health care needs to the side because of our hectic lifestyles,” said Kim Collins, director of imaging services at Houston Methodist West. “This new system gives patients the freedom to go online any time of the day or night and schedule their appointment when it’s most convenient for them.

Online scheduling is accessible the Houston Methodist West website. Patients can visit houstonmethodist.org/west and click the “Appointments & Online Scheduling” button on the right side of the page to select their exam type and preferred appointment time. The new system provides pertinent information about the appointment and offers reminder emails.

For more information or to find a doctor, call 832.522.5522 or click here.

Willow Fork Country Club Women’s Groups donate $21,000 to Houston Methodist West Hospital’s Breast Care Center

Lung Cancer Screening
From left: Dr. Correna Terrell, medical director, Houston Methodist West Hospital Breast Care Center; Willow Fork Pretty in Pink Fundraiser committee members: Allyson Hoag, Terri Hubbard, Angela Purser, Paige Holvik, Andrea Shropshire, Mary Abrams and Dr. Jo Pollack, medical director, Houston Methodist West Hospital Breast Care Center.

Through their annual breast cancer awareness fundraiser, Pretty in Pink, the Willow Fork Country Club Women’s Groups raised $21,000 last October, which they donated to Houston Methodist West Hospital’s Breast Care Center. The symbolic check was awarded to hospital executives and physicians in a recognition ceremony Jan. 21.

“This is the ninth year we have raised funds for breast cancer awareness,” said Mary Abrams, president of the Women’s Association and Pretty in Pink committee member. “This year, we wanted to keep it local and know that our efforts are benefiting women right here in our community. We raised more money than ever before and we are so glad to give it to Houston Methodist West’s cancer program.”

Mammography is currently the best screening tool for finding breast cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective and cure most possible. The gift, a combined effort among Willow Fork’s Ladies Tennis Association, Women’s Golf Association and Women’s Association, will support technology enhancements to the state-of-the-art center’s digital screening and diagnostic mammography capabilities.

“We are grateful to receive this significant gift and look forward to future collaboration with women so passionate about stamping out breast cancer,” said Wayne Voss, CEO of Houston Methodist West.

Pretty in Pink committee member Andrea Shropshire said it was important to the group to give toward a local center that contains all the resources needed to help women, if and when there is a reason for concern.

“It is reassuring to know there is a breast center nearby that’s part of the world-renowned Houston Methodist system and that we can come here and know all the resources of the organization are there to help, if there is a reason for concern,” Shropshire said.

Houston Methodist West is the only fully integrated cancer program in the community, with a breast center and care team of dedicated radiologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, and plastic and reconstruction surgeons who provide a coordinated, patient-centered approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

For more information on Houston Methodist West’s breast or cancer care services, call 832.522.5522.

The New Year brings Houston Methodist West Hospital’s first baby

Mended Hearts

Houston Methodist West Hospital welcomes one of the first babies of 2014 into the world. On January 1, 2014, Jasmine Garcia and Raul Vidal Aguirre welcomed their child, Andres Garcia in the Houston Methodist West Hospital Birthing Center.

First time mother, Jasmine went into labor on New Year’s Eve, arriving at the hospital at 11 a.m. After the course of 12 long hours in labor, Jasmine gave birth to her son at 12:05 a.m. Andres was a happy and healthy baby weighing 7lbs., 10 oz. and measuring 21 inches. She did not expect to have the first baby of the New Year. Instead, she hoped she would deliver her baby quickly.

Mother and baby were resting comfortably in her private birthing suite of Houston Methodist West Hospital.

“I came to the hospital early the day before so I didn’t expect to have my baby in the New Year. Labor was difficult and long. All I could think about was having my baby,” Jasmine said.

“This is my first child. I’m excited to finally have my son. He’s so beautiful,” said Jasmine.

Houston Methodist West Hospital launches lung cancer screening program

Lung Cancer Screening
Dr. Shanda Blackmon reviewed results and practice
implications from lung cancer screening research with
more than 50 health care professionals.

HOUSTON, TX—(Dec. 6, 2013)—Coinciding with National Lung Cancer Awareness month, Houston Methodist West Hospital launched a community focused lung cancer screening program Nov. 20.

More than 50 physicians and health care professionals, including thoracic and general surgeons, pulmonologists, radiologists, otolaryngologists and primary care physicians, came together to hear from Dr. Janet Macheledt, medical oncologist, and Dr. Shanda Blackmon, thoracic surgeon.

“The goal of the lung cancer screening program at Houston Methodist West is to help high-risk individuals receive a diagnosis and treatment at an earlier stage, when there is more possibility of a successful cure,” said Dr. Macheledt. “We want to find those patients where we can really make a lifesaving difference.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. In fact, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Each year, more than 228,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed and two out of every three people diagnosed are 65 or older. Unfortunately, this group of patients is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when cure is more difficult.

In the early stages, lung cancer is asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms until the cancer advances to a later stage at which point it is more difficult to treat and less likely to be cured. However, results from recent studies on the impact of lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans are encouraging, and demonstrate that early screening for those at highest risk results in a 20-percent reduction in lung cancer deaths.

Melissa Stewart and Cindy Puga
Physicians attending the lung cancer screening program launch included from left: Dr. Scott Olsson, cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Arturo Gonzalez, general surgeon, Dr. Janet Macheledt, medical oncologist, Dr. Shanda Blackmon, thoracic surgeon, Dr. Javier Lafuente, cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Jamal Razzack, pulmonologist and Dr. Jerry Polasek, radiologist.

At Houston Methodist West, patients at highest risk-- those who are 55 or older with a 30-year history of smoking an average of one pack a day, or those who are 50-55 with other high-risk criteria such as a family history of lung cancer, now have access to a lung cancer screening program which utilizes low-dose CT technology. The screening combines the advantage of diagnosing lung cancer earlier than typically found with Dr. Shanda Blackmon reviewed results and practice implications from lung cancer screening research with more than 50 health care professionals. standard chest X-rays while exposing the patient to the least amount of radiation. Patients and providers participating in the program will work with a patient navigator who will monitor their annual screenings and help patients to access services when needed. The screening program is appropriate for asymptomatic smokers or former smokers who fall into the high-risk categories and includes annual scans, consultations with health care providers, access to tobacco cessation programs and referrals to physician specialists if disease is found.

With treatment advances now available at Houston Methodist West, such as minimally invasive surgical procedures, improved radiation therapy and new targeted chemotherapy agents, those diagnosed earlier have even more options for successful treatment.

At this time, patients may need to pay for the screenings however, the economic and social impact of recent findings are so significant that some insurers are now paying for the screenings, and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently gave a favorable recommendation for annual screening for high risk individuals implying that it is expected lung cancer screening will become the standard of care in the near future.

Those considering this screening are encouraged to speak with their primary care provider and insurance company for additional information.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to never smoke or stop smoking as soon as possible. If you are a current smoker, speak with your doctor about ways to help you quit. For more information on Houston Methodist West’s lung cancer screening program or to see if you are an appropriate candidate, call 713.441.LUNG (5864).

Positively Pink Breast Health at Houston Methodist West Hospital supports Cancer Patients

Melissa Stewart and Cindy Puga
From left: Melissa Stewart and Cindy Puga.

HOUSTON, TX—(Nov. 14, 2013)—More than 400 community members came together to participate in Houston Methodist West Hospital’s Positively Pink Breast Health event in October, which raised $14,000 and established a fund that will provide much-needed assistance to West Houston and Katy residents affected by cancer.

Education and awareness were center stage at the event, which provided mini lectures and shared information about risk reduction and breast cancer prevention. Raising funds to support cancer patients was a secondary, though equally important goal. With the success of this event, the Cancer Center can now offer patients with any type of cancer financial assistance as they undergo their treatments.

“We know learning you have cancer is not generally expected, and the financial burden that comes along with a diagnosis can be significant,” said Kim Collins, director of cancer services. “Some patients may need assistance to get the treatment they need and sometimes, help is most needed with non-medical personal expenses. Establishing a cancer fund to help our patients has always been part of our plan, so this year, our event was expanded to include more businesses and shopping, a silent auction and entertainment to raise the funds to get started”

Melissa Stewart and Cindy Puga
Guests having fun at the photo booth.

Positively Pink was held in the hospital’s pink balloon-filled atrium and featured live music from Steve Hawkins and the Shockwave Band, dance performances by Katy’s In Tempo Dance Ensemble, family friendly activities, complementary flu shots and health screenings, and shopping with more than 20 vendors. Numerous physicians, CanCare and the hospital’s breast cancer support group were on hand to visit with participants. Pink flamingos were up for adoption throughout October to raise awareness and money for the newly established fund, with each bird’s arrival signifying an adoption in honor of a loved one. As October ended, the flamingo flamboyance in front of the hospital had swelled to record numbers, raising nearly $2,000.

In the end, the focus remained on the critical importance of annual screening for breast cancer, and access to all the resources a woman—or man—may need.

“As caregivers and physicians dedicated to breast health, we want to make sure every patient has access to the best available education, treatment and support,” said Dr. Jo Pollack, medical director of the breast center. “We want to pass on the word about how important it is to take responsibility for your health. Early detection leads to early treatment and early cure. By finding it early, we have a much better chance for a complete cure.”

Children having their faces painted.
Children having their faces painted.

Positively Pink was held in partnership with the hospital’s breast cancer physician team, including: breast surgeon Dr. Jo Pollack, breast radiologist Dr. Correna Terrell, medical oncologists Dr. Janet Macheledt and Dr. Shaqufta Naqvi, and plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Warren Ellsworth. Numerous community businesses dedicated to health supported the event, including Texas Swim Academy, Yoga West, Women’s Health Boutique, The Brookwood Community and many others. Key event sponsors were: Dr. Janet Macheledt, Elite Women’s Care Center, P.A., Bruce and Celeste LeGros, Dr. Warren Ellsworth - Methodist Institute for Reconstructive Surgery, Dr. Kathleen Shadle, Women’s Health Care Center of Houston, LLP, Premier OB/GYN of West Houston, LLP and Texas Swim Academy.

Houston Methodist West’s Cancer Center offers the community a complete program with services for breast health and cancer prevention, screening and diagnostic mammograms, and the full spectrum of cancer treatment options. Emotional support is an integral part of the cancer program at Houston Methodist West. Along with family and friends, hospital support services are an important part of a care plan. These might include nursing services, nutritional advice, rehabilitation, spiritual help, support groups and financial support provided through the cancer fund.

Flowers sold by The Brookwood Community during the event
Flowers sold by The Brookwood Community during the event.

“Our integrated approach to care combines state-of-the-art equipment and therapies with personalized patient-physician interaction, and our collaboration ensures we achieve the best possible outcome for our patients,” said Dr. Janet Macheledt, medical director of infusion services and chairman of the cancer committee. “Improving the health of our community begins with education about reducing risk and discussing at a personal level with women why screening mammograms are important. We’re very excited about the information we’re able to share at Positively Pink.”

While Positively Pink is associated with breast cancer, the newly established fund will support patients with all types of cancer. For more information on Houston Methodist West’s breast health program, Positively Pink 2014 or donating to the patient support fund, contact the Breast Center, at 832.522.1032. For more information or to find a doctor, please call 832.522.5522.

Flamingo Flamboyance at Houston Methodist West Hospital honors Breast Cancer Patients

Cancer Center
From left: Dr. Warren A. Ellsworth IV, reconstructive surgeon; Dr. Jo Pollack, breast surgeon; Dr. Shagufta Naqvi, hematologist/oncologist; Dr. Correna Terrell, breast radiologist; and Rita Tajchman, a Houston Methodist West employee who adopted a flamingo in Evans’ honor.

HOUSTON, TX—(October 11, 2013)—The flamingo flamboyance along the Katy Freeway multiplies daily, taking up residence in front of Houston Methodist West Hospital. The flamingos began migrating to the hospital’s lawn on October 1, just in time for national Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Each flamingo has been adopted by hospital staff, physicians, patients and visitors, with all funds raised supporting cancer patients with non-medical and personal expenses. Helen Evans, 67, a breast cancer survivor and hospital volunteer, is among those honored. Evans, who was a nurse for over twenty years, was diagnosed with breast cancer following her annual mammogram at Houston Methodist West’s breast center last year.

“Being a nurse has taught me what to do to take care of myself, and this past year, my annual mammogram saved my life,” she said.

Her mammogram revealed an abnormality, so a breast biopsy was performed confirming her diagnosis. The next day, she discussed the findings and her treatment options with breast surgeon Dr. Jo Pollack.

“Ms. Evans had a less frequently seen form of breast cancer called lobular carcinoma,” Pollack said. “It begins in the milk-producing glands, or lobules, of the breast rather than the ducts. It often goes undetected, but fortunately for Ms. Evans, we found it.” Invasive lobular carcinoma typically doesn't form a lump, as most women expect with breast cancer. Instead, it often causes a thickening of the tissue or fullness in one part of the breast.

After consultation with her surgeons and family, Evans opted to surgically remove both breasts with a simultaneous reconstruction. Her surgical procedure was scheduled within two weeks of her initial exam. The decision was a fortunate one, as subsequent pathology tests showed lobular cancer in the other breast as well.

“Ms. Evans’ experience and prognosis is our goal for each and every patient,” said plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Warren Ellsworth. “We act swiftly as a team to move from concern, to diagnostic certainty, to a comprehensive treatment plan that meets the patient’s individual needs. Our collaboration ensures we achieve the best possible outcome for our patients, and fully utilize the advanced capability and expertise here on campus.”

Evans is again volunteering at Houston Methodist West, where this month she’s raising awareness about a cause she feels strongly about.

“We don’t want financial burden to keep people from receiving the care they need,” she said. “The money raised from every flamingo adoption makes a difference in supporting our patients.”

You can visit with Evans’ caregivers and other specialists dedicated to breast health at the hospital’s Positively Pink Breast Health event on October 19, from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information on the event or to learn how to support cancer patients at Houston Methodist West, visit houstonmethodist.org/west or call 832-522-5522. Flamingo adoptions are available on October 19 and at the hospital every day until the end of October, in the atrium lobby from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Surprise flowers for patients of Houston Methodist West Hospital

Mended Hearts

Patients at Houston Methodist West Hospital received a surprise this week when Katy community members delivered 200 floral arrangements in honor of the floral industry’s Make Someone Smile Week.

Katy representatives of Teleflora, the world’s leading flower delivery service, worked with the Lady Bird Chapter of National Charity League, a mother-daughter volunteer organization, to assemble and deliver the flowers.

“We are just so excited to receive these gifts for our patients,” said Tere Jackson, manager of volunteer services at Houston Methodist West. “It is heartwarming to see so many young people taking an interest in giving back to their community, and it really made many of our patients’ day. We’re honored.”

Every patient at Houston Methodist West received an arrangement, including those in the emergency department. More than 20 teen girls and their moms participated, making the arrangements with bright summer flowers and a yellow smiley-face mug.

Mended Hearts

Surgeon at Houston Methodist West Hospital removes rare tumor from inside heart chamber

HOUSTON, TX—(July 12, 2013)—A surgeon at Houston Methodist West Hospital removed a benign tumor from inside a patient’s heart last month, a first for the hospital.

Local resident Margarita Gomez, 62, initially saw a cardiologist for a fluttering in her chest and swelling she attributed to other causes.

“Preliminary tests showed no valve abnormalities but something seemed amiss, so we ordered a heart ultrasound and discovered the large benign tumor,” said cardiologist Dr. Ram Pai. Gomez’ tumor, called a cardiac myxoma, was removed from inside the left atrial chamber of her heart.

There is no medical treatment available to stop the growth of cardiac myxomas, according to Dr. Javier Lafuente, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Houston Methodist West. Surgery is typically performed as soon as possible because of the potential for obstruction of blood flow, heart attacks and other cardiac events, or even cerebrovascular accidents.

"This surgery is an important milestone in our program and further demonstrates our ability to perform complex surgeries here in the community that can protect our patients from more serious complications,” said Dr. Lafuente.

Using the same surgical approach used for valve surgery, Dr. Lafuente entered the chest cavity through the sternum, and removed the tumor and stalk from Gomez’ heart. Gomez went home six days after her surgery.

Mended Hearts

Cardiac tumors of all types are rare, usually occurring in one out of every 500 cardiac surgeries. Noncancerous tumors, referred to as myxomas, are typically found in one of the atrial chambers of the heart, often attached to an inside wall by a stalk which may allow the tumor to move when the patient changes positions. Approximately 75 percent of patients are women in their mid-50s. Symptoms are typically related to valve obstruction causing reduced blood flow, tumor-related embolic events and little understood systemic symptoms.

“My physician’s foresight to go the extra mile and find this tumor made the difference for me,” Gomez said. “I was anxious about the procedure, but my surgeon and the staff spent extra time with me to set my mind at ease. I am looking forward to getting back to my normal daily routines, including holding my grandchildren.”

Mended Hearts

Houston Methodist West Hospital Hosts Event For Stroke Awareness

What: Stroke awareness screening and seminar
When: Thursday, May 23, 2013, 5 – 7p.m.
Where: Houston Methodist West Hospital, Mesquite conference room
18500 Katy Freeway (at Barker Cypress)
Houston, Texas 77094

Every year, about 800,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke, and more than 135,000 of these people do not survive. Yet most people cannot identify stroke warning signs or risk factors.

“Acute ischemic stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, but most of those strokes are preventable--some studies indicate that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented,” said Dr. Mohammad Al Baeer, neurologist at Houston Methodist West Hospital.

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, accounting for around 85 percent of cases. These are caused by blood clots blocking blood flow to the brain, resulting in tissue death and leading to disability or death.

“Brain cells begin to die within minutes after a stroke occurs,” Al Baeer said. “It is important that people are able to recognize the warning signs and seek immediate medical attention. If you suspect a stroke, it is an emergency. Call 911 immediately.”

Stroke symptoms usually appear suddenly and include dizziness or loss of coordination; weakness or numbness in the face, arms or legs; impaired vision in one or both eyes; and difficulty producing and understanding speech. Sudden severe headache may accompany hemorrhagic stroke.

Many stroke risk factors are treatable with lifestyle changes. High blood pressure is the most significant, followed by high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, obesity, physical inactivity and heavy alcohol consumption.

Uncontrollable risk factors include heredity, advanced age, gender, ethnicity and previous stroke or heart attack. Men have a higher risk than women and African Americans have a higher risk than other ethnicities.

“Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to minimize your risk of stroke,” Al Baeer said. “Limit cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet, quit smoking and exercise regularly.”

As a preventative measure, Al Baeer recommends regular check-ups for high cholesterol and blood pressure. If diagnosed, these conditions can be treated with medication.

Dr. Mohammad Al Baeer, a diplomat of the American College of Neurology and Houston Methodist West physician.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of a stroke, join Houston Methodist West for a free stroke risk factor screening and seminar on May 23. Registration for your screening is required. Register Online at methodistwesthouston.com or call 832-522-5522.

Mended Hearts

Mending Hearts at Houston Methodist West Hospital

HOUSTON—(April 2, 2013)—March 19 marked the first full year of activity for Houston Methodist West Hospital’s Mended Hearts support program. Mended Hearts is a community based organization with 270 chapters nationwide that is dedicated to connecting heart patients with others who have undergone a heart procedure. At Houston Methodist West, it provides a forum for monthly support group meetings and a heart patient visitation program.

Patient support and cardiac rehabilitation are essential elements of Houston Methodist West’s cardiac surgery program and set it apart from other hospitals in the West Houston and Katy area. During the March meeting, the support group celebrated its newly bestowed satellite status, a membership-based milestone and the initiation of the visitation program.

In February 2012, Don Mitchell became a heart patient at Houston Methodist West. Today, he and his wife Linda are visiting other heart patients as the first couple of the hospital’s Mended Hearts patient visitation program.

“Every time I enter this hospital, I feel like I’m coming home,” Mitchell said. “To help others is a gift and a blessing to us.”

Mended Hearts

“Knowing there are others who have gone through the same experience is reassuring and being able to share our story with someone before their surgery helps them to better understand what’s ahead,” Linda said.

Responding to questions like those of a 40-year old heart attack patient who asked what he could expect next, the Mitchells spend up to 15 minutes with each patient and family, sharing their respective experiences as a patient and caregiver, and providing hope for return to a full life following surgery.

Mitchell also leads the monthly support group meetings that are open to all members of the community who have any type of heart disease or condition and would benefit from attending. Each meeting includes an educational presentation relevant to patients and their caregivers on topics as varied as diet and exercise, stress reduction, and review of different types of heart disease and available medical and surgical treatments.

Tere Jackson, manager of volunteer services, who manages the hospital’s contributions along with the clinical cardiac care staff, said she hopes to see Mended Hearts expand in the coming year to serve more patients within the community.

“First and foremost, our goal is to reach out to our patients and support them so that they feel safe,” she says. “After they leave the hospital, we want to continue to support them by providing access to information that will be useful to them as they adjust to their life following a procedure.“

The Mended Hearts support group at Houston Methodist West meets on the third Thursday of each month, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. For more information on the group or visitation program, contact Houston Methodist West’s volunteer services department at 832-522-3062 or visit methodistwesthouston.com.

Houston Methodist West Hospital inducts community leaders to board of trustees

HOUSTON—(April 1, 2013)—Houston Methodist West Hospital has inducted four Katy and West Houston community leaders to its board of trustees.
New members include Stu Levin, managing partner of Levin & Atwood Law Firm; Vidal Ramirez, president of the Allegiance Bank of Texas’ Katy office; the Reverend Dr. Charles B. Simmons, senior minister of Memorial Drive United Methodist Church; and Dr. Robert Vanzant, primary care physician and former Houston Methodist West medical staff president. Dr. George Mammen is serving as the hospital’s second medical staff president, and Dr. Hector Herrera is now vice president.
“Our new board members all vary in their backgrounds and bring perspective, guidance and wisdom to ensure that Houston Methodist West is holding true to our vision, acting in the best interest of our community,” said Wayne Voss, CEO of Houston Methodist West and secretary of the board.
New members are identified through and evaluated based upon their commitment, tenure and role in the West Houston and Katy communities. All four members who were newly elected have numerous civic, social, professional and religious foundations in West Houston and Katy.
Vanzant completed Houston Methodist West’s first medical staff president tenure, serving from early 2010, before the hospital was open, to present. Under Vanzant’s leadership, Houston Methodist West launched its presence in the community, establishing and expanding services in virtually every area of the hospital.
“I knew right away that Dr. Vanzant was the right choice to serve as our hospital’s first physician leader,” Voss said. “What he accomplished is amazing, and I’m grateful for his commitment, thoughtfulness and friendship throughout the last two years.”
Board members serve three-year terms at Houston Methodist West, with medical staff presidents and vice presidents serving two-year terms.
Houston Methodist West opened in December 2010, and has already seen nearly 40,000 emergency patients, performed more than 7,500 surgeries and delivered more than 2,000 babies. In 2012, the hospital completed several expansion projects, including a parking garage, additional beds and a second heart catheterization lab. Construction on a second medical office building and expansion on the ICU, inpatient beds and operating rooms are under way.

About the Board
Stu Levin’s law practice is concentrated in the areas of corporate transactional matters, including corporate organization and structure, merger and acquisition, and real estate. Levin and his wife regularly contribute their time to helping further guide and develop programs that support various activities in the Katy area.
Vidal H. Ramirez has 46 years of banking experience. He is a graduate of Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, and a graduate of Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU- Dallas. He has completed the management program at Rice University. Ramirez has served in numerous capacities for organizations in the Katy and Houston communities as a committee or board member. He and his wife are heavily involved in many civic and community initiatives in the West Houston and Katy communities.
The Reverend Dr. Charles B. Simmons preaches on Sundays at Memorial United Methodist Church, conducts weddings and funerals, leads staff, counsels members, serves on community boards, and performs various other community roles. Simmons has earned a national reputation as one of the most passionate pastors in Methodism. He is married with two sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
Dr. Robert Vanzant is a native Houstonian who earned his education at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine. His clinical interests include preventive care for all ages and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He has several four-generation families in his practice. Vanzant has been married for 42 years and has two daughters and five grandchildren.
Dr. George Mammen is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology. He joined Memorial City Cardiology Associates in 1982, and obtained his certification in Interventional Cardiology in 2000. He is trained in all aspects of adult cardiology, with emphasis on coronary artery disease and heart failure. Mammen has particular interest in invasive procedures such as angioplasty, stent implantation and pacemakers. Mammen's personal interests include tennis and skiing. He likes to spend his spare time with his wife and three children.
Dr. Hector Herrera is the medical director of anesthesia services at Houston Methodist West. As one of the initial physicians granted privileges at the new hospital, he served as an integral part of the team that developed the medical staff bylaws, rules and regulations, and policies and procedures. He is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and by the American Board of Anesthesiology/Pain Management. Herrera is married to Gloria Herrera, D.D.S., and is the father of three children.

Robotic thymectomy worth the ticket for a Houston Methodist West Hospital patient

Houston Methodist West Five Star Award

HOUSTON—(Feb. 18, 2013)—A mother of four traveled to Houston from Cairo, Egypt, to undergo robotic removal of the thymus gland at Houston Methodist West Hospital on Thursday, February 7. She was released after a three-day stay and plans to return to Egypt following her final visit with her surgeon.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Miguel Gomez performed the thymectomy surgery removing Amani Kotb’s thymus gland with the assistance of two robotic arms inserted into the chest cavity through small intercostal (between the ribs) incisions. Kotb and her husband made the decision to undergo the robotic procedure offered at Houston Methodist West with the hope of reducing her daily dependence on medication to treat myasthenia gravis (MG), a neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness and pain in the voluntary muscles. For the past 10 years, Kotb had been medically treating her disease but as symptoms worsened, thymectomy surgery became a consideration.

“These past two years I have felt horrible, but I could not risk having my chest opened to take out this gland,” she said. “We have excellent physicians and surgeons at home, but we do not have a robot, so I came here.”

Complete removal of the thymus gland, thymectomy, is an established treatment for moderate to severe MG in patients younger than 60. Thymectomy is believed to improve long-term outcomes for MG patients, with the goal of complete elimination of all symptoms and medication.

“Robotic thymectomy is a safe surgical option with the advantages of less blood loss and reduced recovery time,” Gomez said. “The end result compares favorably with conventional open chest approaches and patients are now often referred to a surgeon soon after a MG diagnosis.”

The fist-sized thymus gland sits within the protected area of the chest, with finger-like extensions into the neck. With minimally invasive robot technology, surgeons can completely remove the gland without the trauma of opening the chest.

“Patient experiences have been extremely positive,” Gomez said. “Ms. Kotb is recovering well and is ready to make the trip home as planned.”

In the United States, it is estimated that one out of every 20,000 individuals has MG.

Houston Methodist West Hospital receives “Exemplary Five Star Award” for Birth Registry

Houston Methodist West Five Star Award

Houston Methodist West Hospital has been awarded the Exemplary Five Star Service Award for birth registration by the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Vital Statistics Unit. It is one of only 22 hospitals in Texas to achieve the exemplary rating.

Award criteria includes timely release of birth certificates and certificate accuracy in key statistical fields, receipt of the Office of Attorney General’s Award for Acknowledgement of Paternity, and completing registrar training through state sponsored conferences. Houston Methodist West’s birth registrar, Elizabeth “Liz” Garcia, who surpassed the goal of achieving recognition within the first two years of operation, will receive the award on the hospital’s behalf during the Texas Vital Statistics 58th annual conference in Austin on December 5 through 7.

“We are honored to receive the five star recognition and very proud of Liz and our health information team for setting this high bar of achievement so soon after our birthing center’s opening,” said Vicki Brownewell, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Houston Methodist West. “Their effort exemplifies the exceptional patient care our health care professionals provide to each patient and their family at Houston Methodist West.”

Houston Methodist West’s birthing center opened in February 2011 with the birth of twins. In less than two years –through the end of October, 1720 babies have been born and a major expansion completed. The center offers 26 birthing suites, three cesarean operating rooms and an eight-bed level II neonatal intensive care unit.

Opened in December 2010, Houston Methodist West Hospital is the newest community hospital in Houston Methodist. With capacity for 193 beds, 28 emergency room beds and 15 operating rooms. Houston Methodist West’s specialty care includes cardiology and cardiovascular surgery; orthopedics; sports medicine and rehabilitation; comprehensive cancer care; neurology and neurosurgery; labor and delivery; neonatal intensive care; gynecology; state-of-the-art breast imaging; plastic and reconstructive surgery; urological and gastrointestinal surgery; otolaryngological surgery; and minimally invasive surgery, including robotics.

Houston Methodist West Newsletter Qtr Four

Houston Methodist West Hospital Offers Free Heart Health Screenings, Seminar

Portrait of Dr. Joel Anthis

More than 100 Katy and West Houston community members visited Houston Methodist West Hospital on Nov. 8 to receive complimentary heart health screenings and learn about the latest treatments available for heart disease. Houston Methodist West’s cardiovascular specialists, Dr. Su Min Chang, Dr. Michael Mitschke, Dr. Nilesh Mathuria and Dr. Javier Lafuente, conducted a panel to discuss common heart problems and answer questions.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, claiming about 600,000 lives every year. Early detection and regular screenings are essential for minimizing risk of disease. However, it is important that health care providers have the proper equipment and expertise to thoroughly evaluate cardiovascular health. “A person can still have coronary heart disease even if they pass a stress test,” Dr. Chang said.

Houston Methodist West offers noninvasive heart scans that enable patients to fully understand their health risks. A comprehensive scan can be completed in less than an hour. When treatment is necessary, timing can spell the difference between life and death. According to the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, outpatients with a possible heart attack receive an electrocardiogram in about 60 seconds at Houston Methodist West, seven minutes faster than the national average.

The central feature of Houston Methodist West’s multidisciplinary cardiovascular program is its hybrid operating room, a combination catheterization lab and operating room that maximizes efficiency and improves outcomes. “There are only about 150 hybrid ORs in the nation and we’re very lucky to have one here,” Dr. Lafuente said. This is one of many free events Houston Methodist West organizes to promote the health and well-being of the communities it serves. The next heart health screening and seminar will be held Feb. 21, 2013. The hospital also offers heart patients and their families support and encouragement in collaboration with Mended Hearts, a patient support organization. The support group meets on the third Thursday of every month from 5:30-7 p.m.

For more information about Mended Hearts, contact Houston Methodist West Volunteer Services at 832-522-3062 or visit mendedhearts.org.

Fall Open House: Houston Methodist West Hospital Medical Office Building I

On October 18 members of the West Houston and Katy communities attended a fall open house to learn about the newest medical resources available to them close to home. "We had a wonderful event and are thrilled so many in our community had the opportunity to meet the physicians and staff now located in our medical office building." said Wayne Voss, CEO of Houston Methodist West Hospital. "This was also an opportunity for folks to tour our Methodist Cancer Center and Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and Outpatient Rehabilitation and hear first-hand from our experts about the technologically advanced services offered."

Office tours, refreshments and free health screens including blood pressure and hearing screens and others were offered by the participating physician practices. The Seven Lakes High School Sinfonia Orchestra played for those in attendence as part of their volunteer commitment to the community.

Houston Methodist West Hospital provides state-of-the-art technology and services through the Methodist Cancer Center, Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and Outpatient Rehabilitation, Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center, and Weight Management Center at Houston Methodist Hospital all conveniently located in the building. To learn about these centers and the more than 100 physicians practices, view the medical office building directory.

Houston Methodist West Hospital Hosts Sinus Disease Seminar

Portrait of Dr. Joel AnthisHouston Methodist West Hospital invited members of the West Houston and Katy communities to learn about sinus disease and treatments on Oct. 11. Dr. Joel Anthis, an otolaryngologist at Houston Methodist West, delivered an overview of what sinusitis is, how it is evaluated and its various medical and surgical treatments.

Sinusitis, the swelling and inflammation of cavities around the nasal passages, affects more than 37 million people in the United States annually. Common symptoms include difficulty breathing, headache and facial pain or pressure.

“Acute sinusitis turns your sinuses from a clear Colorado stream into a Louisiana swamp,” Dr. Anthis said. Although minimally invasive surgical procedures such as balloon sinuplasty are available, Dr. Anthis recommends that his patients treat themselves with nasal decongestants and adequate hydration before considering surgery.

Dr. Anthis is a board-certified diplomate of the American Academy of Otolaryngology. The sinus disease seminar is one of many free events Houston Methodist West organizes to promote the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

With Hope, Cancer Survivors Renew Commitment to the Future

HOUSTON, TX—(June 8, 2012)—Cancer survivors in the West Houston and Katy community celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day on June 1, at an event hosted by the Methodist Cancer Center at West Houston.

More than 40 cancer survivors and their love ones attended to acknowledge and share their commitment to the future. Dr. Clive Shkedy, radiation oncologist and medical director of the Cancer Center, Tommy Thompson, executive vice president of CanCare and Janet Pickens, with the American Cancer Society, offered perspectives on services and resources available during and after active cancer treatment. Melody Peeples, cancer survivor and director of laboratory and respiratory care at Houston Methodist West Hospital, shared her experience of undergoing treatment while opening a fundamental department at the hospital. Peeples underlined how essential the combined support from one’s family and caregiver team is for successful treatment and the importance of rest and humor in dealing with the challenges faced during the process.

“We celebrate the courage of those with cancer alongside the work of our incredible employees, doctors, and CanCare and American Cancer Society volunteers to provide hope and healing to the community.” said Kim Collins, director of the Cancer Center. “Together, we give our patients the support they need to fight cancer.” Collins announced the opening of the Houston Methodist West Cancer Resource Center, conveniently offering patients and their families the latest information on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment in one location.

Houston Methodist’s state-of-the-art equipment and therapies are part of the center’s comprehensive, individualized care. Patient-physician interaction and informed decision making is central to every patient’s treatment. The center partners with CanCare, a volunteer organization to provide one-on-one support to those newly diagnosed with cancer as well as the American Cancer Society to offer the Look Good…Feel Better program which addresses appearance related concerns of patients in treatment.

Nonsurgical procedure prevents stroke

HOUSTON, TX—(April 30, 2012)—For the first time, a nonsurgical procedure to tie off a major source of stroke-causing blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) has been performed at Houston Methodist West Hospital.

About 20 percent of all stroke patients have atrial fibrillation, the most common abnormal heart rhythm. In fact, more than 2 million people in the United States have atrial fibrillation, which can result in fainting, chest pains or more seriously, congestive heart failure or stroke. In these patients, the left atrial appendage, a thumb-sized appendage attached to the left atrium of the heart, stops regularly contracting and blood within it can stagnate and clot. The LAA is thought to be one, if not the major source of blood clots that cause stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.

"AFib patients have limited options for long-term protection against stroke," says cardiologist, Dr. Stuart Jacobson. "This is particularly true for patients who may not be able to tolerate or who have had complications taking the available blood-thinning drugs. We are fortunate to have the expertise to perform nonsurgical procedures and protect our patients here at Houston Methodist West.”

Using a device known as the LARIAT suture delivery device, cardiologist/electrophysiologist, Dr. Miguel Valderrabano, M.D., performed the procedure on a 65-year-old Katy resident in Houston Methodist West’s hybrid operating room, a combination imaging and surgical suit that seamlessly transforms to an “open surgical approach” if needed. Through a needle-puncture in the skin, he accessed the patient’s LAA and successfully tied off the appendage.

“Nonsurgical options generally mean less discomfort, shorter recoveries and fewer complications, important considerations for AFib patients.” said Valderrabano.”It’s very good for the patient, especially if the alternative is taking a blood thinner for the remainder of one’s life. This patient was considered high risk for stroke. He had developed life-threatening bleeding complications due to blood thinners, so the LARIAT procedure was the best way to eliminate one possible cause of stroke and protect him.”

The patient recovered well and went home two days after surgery.

Dr. John Craddock explains how balloon sinuplasty works and how it may be helpful to people with Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic Sinusitis: Minimally Invasive Treatment Alternatives

During this enlightening seminar held May 2nd, Dr. John Craddock, otolaryngologist, walked attendees through an overview of the sinuses, explained the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, and shared treatment options.

The latest in chronic sinusitis treatment is a revolutionary technique called Balloon Sinuplasty. This minimally invasive procedure opens up the nasal passage to restore normal sinus drainage and reduce the chance of infection. Dr. Craddock is a known expert in this procedure and offered a step-by-step account of Balloon Sinuplasty and its benefits.

When a sinus infection is diagnosed, Dr. Craddock and his colleagues focus on treating the underlying cause of the infection whenever possible. "Immunotherapy is a huge part of any ENT practice," said Craddock. "But when that infection hangs around for three months or more, and does not respond to medication, this is an indication of chronic sinusitis."

When surgery is called for, Craddock said his goal is "the least amount of pain and the least amount of downtime." In this case, Balloon Sinuplasty is just what the doctor ordered, as many patients have reported returning to their normal activities within days of having this procedure. Balloon Sinuplasty preserves the normal anatomy of the sinuses and mucosal tissue, and does not require the removal of bone or tissue.

Houston Methodist West Hospital and area physicians seamlessly coordinate care for residents

Managers and office staff representatives from physician practices affiliated with Houston Methodist West Hospital recently convened to hear about the hospital’s latest efforts in coordinating care for the community.

Since opening in December 2010, the hospital has credentialed more than 430 physicians and oriented their office staff. Peyton Elliott, director of service lines and facility development, organizes the quarterly sessions designed to update physician practices on key accomplishments, service milestones and process improvements. The meetings are an opportunity for physician office managers and staff from all specialty groups to interact and share experiences with their peers.

Houston Methodist is dedicated to providing the most technologically advanced, highest quality medicine possible. Seamless communication between physician offices and the hospital is an integral and essential component to providing that care. The hospital utilizes a system-wide physician portal and office staff medical record and imaging system that integrates physician access to patient records in the office, or from any location within Houston Methodist. Katy resident Lorraine Smith has been a Houston Methodist employee for 14 years. She recently made the transition to Houston Methodist West to be closer to home and in her role as a physician support coordinator is customizing the medical record interface for physicians and their office staff. “Physicians and their staff find the system easy to install and intuitive to use. It takes the hassle out of medical record documentation and procedure scheduling — office staff really seem to love it,” she says.

Houston Methodist West’s Breast Center offers comprehensive services from diagnosis through the most advanced cancer treatments, including all-digital mammography for both diagnostic and interventional procedures. Dr. Correna Terrell, lead interpreting radiologist for the Center, presented an overview of the Center’s imaging and interventional procedures, as well as processes for facilitating referral scheduling to those in attendance.

First Endovascular Aneurysm Repair at Houston Methodist West Hospital

Dr. Miguel Gomez with patient Larry LandisThe first Endovascular Aneurysm Repair was performed by Dr. Miguel Gomez, cardiovascular thoracic surgeon on patient, Larry Landis, June 7. The surgery was conducted in the hybrid operating room with Houston Methodist West’s being the only one outside the Texas Medical Center®. The new procedure allows the patient to have two small incisions down the leg verses the older technique with a large incision on the stomach.

Mr. Landis had an excellent recovery and was able to go home the next day, June 8. The benefit of the hybrid operating room is that it contains all the imaging advantages of a cath lab but within an operating room.

“This is a fantastic technology that will allow our patients to get cutting edge interventions” said Dr. Miguel Gomez, cardiovascular thoracic surgeon.

Cancer survivors celebrate hope at Houston Methodist West Hospital

Cancer survivors release balloons at National Cancer Survivors Day event Cancer survivors in the West Houston and Katy communities celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day® on June 3, at an event hosted by the Houston Methodist West Hospital Cancer Center.

More than 40 cancer survivors and families attended the two-hour tribute. For many, it was an opportunity to acknowledge and share their triumph over the disease and hear about resources available during active treatment and thereafter. A balloon release symbolizing the importance of never giving up hope concluded the program.

First cardiovascular surgeries performed at Houston Methodist West

Houston Methodist Hospital is world-renowned for excellence in treating patients with heart disease; now, residents of West Houston and Katy can access that same care in their own backyard. Houston Methodist West is the only area center with a hybrid operating room – combining diagnosis and surgical treatment – which can save valuable time during a cardiac incident. Heart patients also are benefiting from a new catheterization lab at Houston Methodist West. More than 40 patients have been treated since the lab opened February 15.

Houston Methodist West celebrated its first baby delivery

MWHH First DeliveryHouston Methodist West celebrated its first baby delivery on Feb. 14, in a special way on a very special day. Renee and Christopher Brackin welcomed twins - baby boy Brackin was born at 10:24 a.m. weighing 6 lb. 4 oz. and baby girl Brackin at 10:26 a.m. weighing 6 lb. 7 oz. Obstetrician/Gynecologist Dr. Byron Holt said "It was so exciting and such an honor to take part in the symbolic ´laying of the cornerstone´ for the Birthing Center at Houston Methodist West Hospital." Also pictured are Lyndsay Majewski, R.N. (left) a nd Lacey Helmke, R.N.C.

Houston Methodist West Hospital has 100th surgical patient

From Left to Right: Dennis Robinson, OR Supply Chain Coordinator; Wayne Voss, CEO; Dr. Wesley Ekeruo-Urologist; Rachel Miller-OR Charge RN; Dr. Hector Herrera-chief anesthesiologist, Dr. Thu Ngo- chief pathologist, and Alfonso Chicas, Director of Perioperative Services.On a day when most of the city was frozen, Houston Methodist West Hospital celebrated a milestone - its 100th surgical case since the hospital´s opening in December. Houston Methodist West Hospital staff celebrating the 100th surgery milestone include (from left): Dennis Robinson, OR Supply Chain Coordinator; Wayne Voss, CEO; Dr. Wesley Ekeruo–Urologist; Rachel Miller–OR Charge RN; Dr. Hector Herrera–chief anesthesiologist, Dr. Thu Ngo– chief pathologist, and Alfonso Chicas, Director of Perioperative Services.

Houston Methodist West Cancer Center´s first patient

From left to right: Alichia White, Gina Goolsby, Kim Collins, Deborah Smith, Kathy Shadle, M.D. , Gloria Potscavage (patient), Clive Shkedy, M.D. and Allison LemleyThe Houston Methodist West Cancer Center treated its first patient on January 13. Gloria Potscavage underwent a simulation procedure to help develop a radiation therapy treatment plan for lung cancer. Houston Methodist West Hospital, located at I-10 and Barker Cypress, opened its doors to patients December 17, providing nearly 200 beds to the community.

Melanie Green Houston Methodist West´s first patient

Melanie Green Houston Methodist West´s first patientHouston Methodist West Hospital (I–10 & Barker Cypress) admitted its first surgery patient on Monday, Dec. 20. Melanie Green of Houston had a tonsillectomy and an adenoidectomy. After her surgery, she was visited by (from left) Wayne Voss, CEO of Houston Methodist West, Alfonso Chicas, R.N., director of Perioperative Services, and Dr. Hector Herrera, anesthesiology. Dr. John Craddock, otolaryngology, performed Melanie´s surgery; she was able to go home later in the day.

Opening in Fall of 2010

Houston Methodist West Hospital´s construction, design, architecture and hospital leadership teams celebrated the project´s "topping out" in July. More than 300 people attended the traditional event, where all those involved in the project sign one of the last beams of the infrastructure and watch as it is hoisted onto the building. Hundreds of people work every day toward the completion of Houston Methodist West Hospital, expected to open in fall 2010.

Dr. Robert Vanzant, Medical Staff president at Houston Methodist West Hospital, interviewed on Fox 26

Houston Methodist West Hospital featured on Fox 26 News

Join Medical Staff president Dr. Robert Vanzant and Fox 26 Houston for a video tour of Houston Methodist West Hospital. After the tour, Dr. Vanzant talks about how a healing environment can help patients.

Watch the video (Link will take you to Fox 26 Houston website)