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St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center first in state to offer new spacing device to benefit prostate cancer patients

(HUNTINGTON)— St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center is helping to pioneer a new tool proved to protect prostate cancer patients from the negative effects of radiation therapy.

Patients at St. Mary’s are now being injected with SpaceOAR® hydrogel, the first FDA-cleared spacing device to protect the rectum in men undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The SpaceOAR System is intended to temporarily position the anterior rectal wall away from the prostate during radiotherapy for prostate cancer, creating space to protect the rectum from radiation exposure.

St. Mary’s is the first cancer center in West Virginia and one of the first centers nationwide to adopt the advanced technology.

“Providing the best possible treatment to patients is our top priority, which is why we are one of the first centers offering SpaceOAR hydrogel,” said Sanjeev Sharma, MD, board certified radiation oncologist at St. Mary’s. “Creating space between the prostate and rectum is an important advance that significantly protects the rectum during radiation treatments, and reduces the likelihood of side effects. Men facing prostate cancer may have some difficult decisions to make, but utilizing SpaceOAR hydrogel during radiation therapy should not be one of them.”

Because of the close proximity of the prostate to the rectum, prostate radiation therapy typically results in some radiation hitting the rectum, which can sometimes cause side effects. The SpaceOAR System creates space and pushes the rectum away from the prostate and the high dose area. Placed through a small needle, the hydrogel is administered as a liquid, but quickly solidifies into a soft gel that expands the space between the prostate and rectum. The hydrogel spacer maintains this space until radiation therapy is complete. The spacer then liquefies and is absorbed and cleared from the body in the patient’s urine.

FDA clearance was granted following completion of the SpaceOAR System prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. SpaceOAR patients experienced a significant reduction in rectal radiation dose and severity of late rectal toxicity when compared to control patients who did not receive SpaceOAR hydrogel.

According to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men with an estimated 220,880 new cases and 27,540 deaths in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Worldwide, prostate cancer is expected to grow to 1.7 million new cases and 499,000 deaths by 2030.

For more information about SpaceOAR, call St. Mary’s Radiation Oncology at (304) 526-1143.


Jo Andrea “Andy” Watson, RN, DNP, MSN, CCRN, CPAN(HUNTINGTON)— St. Mary’s Medical Center has named Jo Andrea “Andy” Watson, RN, DNP, MSN, CCRN, CPAN, the director of Organizational Development and Learning.

Employed at St. Mary’s since May 1979, Watson has worked as a nurse in intensive care, open-heart recovery, post-anesthesia care and interventional radiology. She has been the critical care educator since May 1995.

Watson earned her associate degree in nursing from St. Mary’s School of Nursing. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from West Virginia University, and a master’s degree in nursing and doctor of nursing practice from Walden University.

A member of the Phi Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Watson is a certified critical care registered nurse and a certified post anesthesia nurse.


Cousins joins St. Mary’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons

Geoffrey R. Cousins(HUNTINGTON)— Geoffrey R. Cousins, MD, FACS, has joined St. Mary’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons.

A native West Virginian, Dr. Cousins received his doctor of medicine from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed both his internship and residency in general surgery at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, Mich., and his fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va.

Dr. Cousins is board certified in surgery and thoracic surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

For more information about St. Mary’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons, call (304) 399-7530.


Neal named St. Mary’s Director of Volunteer Services

Julie Neal(HUNTINGTON)— Julie Neal has been named the Director of Volunteer Services at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Previously, Neal worked as an occupational therapist at St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Services and Tri-State Otolaryngology. She is also the co-founder of PATH to the Cure, a 5K walk/run which raises funds for the St. Mary’s Pink Ribbon Fund and the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health (PATH).

Neal received an associate degree in applied science from Shawnee State University and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Findlay.

For more information about St. Mary’s Volunteer Services, call (304) 526-1400.


St. Mary’s Medical Center awarded advanced certification in heart failure

St. Mary’s Medical Center awarded advanced certification in heart failure

(HUNTINGTON)—St. Mary’s Medical Center today announced that it has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Mark for Advanced Certification in Heart Failure. The Gold Seal of Approval® and the Heart-Check Mark represent symbols of quality from their respective organizations.

St. Mary’s underwent a rigorous on-site review as Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with disease-specific care standards, as well as with heart failure-specific requirements. The certification recognizes heart failure programs that include either a hospital-based and hospital-owned outpatient heart failure clinic or have a collaborative relationship with one or more attending cardiology practices.

“St. Mary’s has thoroughly demonstrated a high level of care for patients who are being treated for heart failure,” said Wendi J. Roberts, RN, executive director, Certification Programs, The Joint Commission. “We commend St. Mary’s for becoming a leader in heart failure care, potentially providing a higher standard of service for cardiac patients in its community.”

“We congratulate St. Mary’s for this outstanding achievement,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer, the American Heart Association. “This certification reflects their commitment to providing the highest quality of care for patients with heart failure.”

“St. Mary’s is pleased to receive advanced certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association,” said Shari Wiley, APRN-BC, CHFN, heart failure nurse practitioner. “The certification provides us with the opportunity to highlight the exceptional heart failure care we provide, as well as to continually strive to advance our care even further.”

Established in 2010 and awarded for a two-year period, The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification in Heart Failure was developed in collaboration with an external task force of experts and organizations with expertise in heart failure care, including representatives from the American Heart Association, Heart Failure Society of America and the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses.

To be eligible for Advanced Certification in Heart Failure, healthcare providers must have achieved at least a Bronze level of performance from the American Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines-Heart Failure program and established a comprehensive heart failure-focused program staffed by qualified medical professionals. By participating in the program, the hospital also must use the latest scientific research developed to meet individualized patient needs.

According to the American Heart Association, more than an estimated 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure, a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to the body’s other organs. Although the heart keeps working, it’s not as effective as it should be. Each year, about 825,000 new cases are diagnosed and more than 275,000 will die of heart failure. However, many patients can lead a full life through a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.