Medicine News Feed - ValpoLife Sat, 30 May 2020 11:07:53 +0000 en hourly 1 Sleep studies a solid foundation for effective treatment of apnea Mon, 25 May 2020 06:00:30 +0000 Stacey Kellogg A lot of factors go into deciding which kind of medical therapy is best for your sleep apnea and at the base of it all is a solid understanding of exactly what is causing your condition. A sleep study, also called polysomnography, helps doctors diagnose various sleep disorders, including the widely common obstructive sleep apnea – that pesky relaxing of the muscles in the neck and throat that contributes to snoring, disrupted sleep, and, over time, a host of serious medical conditions.

Michael Uzelac, D.D.S., founder of Sleep Airway Solutions, which provides oral appliances (similar to retainers) for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, uses sleep study data to help his patients.

If a patient presents to him with symptoms of poor sleep, Uzelac will encourage a sleep study to be ordered by the patient’s primary care provider first.

The study involves an overnight stay in a comfortable bedroom-like setting in a sleep lab where technicians or physicians monitor sleep to see what is happening with the brain and the body. Sleep studies are often conducted and interpreted by a neurologist – the type of physician who specializes in the body’s central nervous system. This is because sleep is guided by the brain’s activity.

Before the sleep study begins, the technician will place a variety of censors on the patient’s head, in the form of small pads connected to wires, which are connected to an EEG monitor. The monitor will record the patient’s brain activity while he or she sleeps to help the diagnosing physician understand sleep patterns and when disruptions might occur in the brain. Sensors also record things like eye movement and other body movements. The patient will also have a small monitor clipped to his or her finger to help measure their blood oxygen levels. Excessive snoring and blocked airwaves can contribute to dips in the blood’s oxygen levels.

“By looking at sleep cycles and how the body moves in an out of REM sleep and by measuring all those other things that you can’t see during a normal appointment during the day, doctors can accurately diagnose what is causing sleep disruptions,” Uzelac said. “I use that data-driven approach to help my patients with their sleep problems. The idea is to get to the right solution because sleep disruptions are dangerous to human health over time.”

Once a patient knows their sleep study results, they have a variety of choices for treatment if the culprit is obstructive sleep apnea. C-pap machines, which use forced air to keep neck and throat muscles from collapsing and causing snoring, is as an effective and proven method of treatment. But many patients also are not compliant with the devices, which can be cumbersome during sleep and inconvenient for travel.

Sleep Airway Solutions offers oral appliances that resemble retainers which can help with obstructive sleep apnea by gently pulling the jaw forward during sleep to keep snoring from occurring.

Several of Uzelac’s patients have provided candid review of their oral appliance therapy here.

For more information on whether you need a sleep study, or how Sleep Airway Solutions in Valparaiso may help you if you’ve already had one, call 219-286-6461 or visit

Uzelac is a Diplomat of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

Sleep studies a solid foundation for effective treatment of apnea
Porter Regional Hospital Performs 100th TAVR procedure Fri, 22 May 2020 21:10:13 +0000 Porter Regional Hospital Valparaiso, IN – One hundred reasons to celebrate! This month, Porter Regional Hospital’s multidisciplinary TAVR team celebrated treating its 100th patient with this innovative, minimally invasive procedure.

Using TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement, specialists are able to repair a diseased or damaged aortic valve for seriously ill heart patients who are at too high a risk for traditional valve replacement surgery.  

With the expertise of cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Walid Khabbaz and interventional cardiologists Dr. Sandeep Sehgal and Dr. Anshuman Das, the new valve is inserted through a catheter and can begin to regulate blood flow.

For patients who are not candidates for surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR), which remains the gold standard treatment, TAVR can be life changing.

Physicians place a surgical heart valve on the end of a catheter, and thread the catheter through the femoral artery in the thigh, up to the heart. The new valve is expanded in place of the diseased valve, and the catheter is removed. The procedure is done with high-tech image-guided equipment that enables the team to see inside the body without making large incisions.

Porter Regional Hospital is one of the few hospitals in Indiana capable of performing TAVR procedures.

The hospital is an accredited chest pain center, is certified in atrial fibrillation, has a Get With the Guidelines Heart Failure Gold-Plus designation, is a designated Blue Distinction Center+ for Cardiac Care, is certified in advanced heart failure by The Joint Commission, is a Primary Stroke Center, and is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Porter Regional Hospital has resumed some surgeries and other procedures.  To learn how the hospital is providing COVID-safe care visit:

Porter Regional Hospital Performs 100th TAVR procedure
Methodist Hospitals offers reassurance as additional services open to public Thu, 21 May 2020 19:45:55 +0000 Stacey Kellogg Over the last couple of months, many people have had to put off routine health exams or procedures so hospitals and outpatient centers could focus on providing care during the pandemic. Methodist Hospitals has successfully secured and adapted the necessary equipment, processes, and staff to care for any surges that may occur due to COVID-19, and they are ready to offer elective services again to their patients with one clear message: Visiting Methodist Hospitals is even safer than before.

“Methodist Hospitals has always practiced stringent precautions and made safety a top priority for patients, visitors, and staff. Since the onset of the pandemic, our physicians, nurses, and staff have embraced even more aggressive policies and procedures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at every  Methodist Hospitals facility throughout Northwest Indiana,” said Matthew Doyle, Interim President and CEO of the health system.

As the hospital now resumes elective and non-emergency treatments and procedures, they’ve adapted processes to accommodate patient and staff safety. This includes services such as behavioral health; breast cancer screening, diagnostics, and treatment; cardiac catheterization procedures; diagnostic testing (such as X-ray, lab, CT, MRI, ultrasound, and others); elective surgical procedures such as joint replacements; and endoscopy procedures such as colonoscopies; maternal and infant care; neurology care; cancer care; outpatient rehabilitation (such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy); wellness visits; and wound care.

“Of course, patients should act according to their own personal comfort level when considering elective procedures or surgeries, but we want to assure those we serve that Methodist Hospitals has the necessary protocols in place to mitigate risk,” Doyle said. “We also want to remind the community not to put off important health screenings that may have been delayed due to the pandemic. Mammography, colonoscopy, and other screenings recommended by your primary care provider can save lives, and Methodist Hospitals is here to provide those services safely.”

Methodist Hospitals safety precautions covid-19

Smart scheduling and social distancing

One of the first things patients will notice is a change in scheduling their procedures or tests at Methodist Northlake and Southlake campuses and diagnostic centers. New scheduling procedures are designed to create the ideal experience, with fewer people in waiting areas and reduced wait times.  At physician offices, patients will be taken directly to exam rooms to be registered – there will be no waiting in the reception rooms.

Telehealth services

One of the great advantages of advanced technology is that healthcare providers can now conduct health visits via phone and video, making an accurate diagnosis for a variety of conditions and providing treatment options from a distance. Methodist Hospitals now offer immediate and urgent care TeleHealth services and Methodist Physician Group is offering TeleHealth services, too. For information, visit

Accessing Methodist Hospitals facilities

Everyone entering Methodist Hospitals facilities is screened for symptoms and visitor restrictions will continue as needed. For updates on who is allowed to visit, please visit

Dedicated patient units

Anyone hospitalized at Methodist Hospitals who is being treated for COVID-19 is receiving treatment on dedicated inpatient units, reserved solely for that condition. This is to create additional distance and physical barriers from other patients and staff.

Masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE)

Methodist Hospitals is following the latest Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines around masks and PPE.

Cleaning protocols

Methodist Hospitals dedicated environmental services staff – and all staff for that matters – are practicing aggressive cleaning protocols throughout facilities.

Pharmacy convenience

Patients who visit Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus for their procedures or care can eliminate another stop to the pharmacy and have their prescriptions filled at the Methodist Hospitals Outpatient Pharmacy. Details can be found here:

For more information about the services provided at Methodist Hospitals, and for the latest updates on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit

Methodist Hospitals offers reassurance as additional services open to public
Sleep Airway Solutions offers those on Medicare affordable, healthy sleep treatments Mon, 18 May 2020 21:54:53 +0000 Curtis Hankins Those with Medicare often worry about a lot of different health concerns, be they seniors or younger people with disabilities. For seniors especially, it is easy to dismiss snoring or chronic fatigue as inconveniences or simply part of aging, but that is often not the case. Both of those traits are warning signs for possible obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous and sometimes fatal condition.

“Sleep apnea weakens your body and stresses the heart,” said Tiffiny Sperry, dental hygienist and Office Manager for Sleep Airway Solutions. “Underlying conditions like heart disease can all be aggravated by sleep apnea, which puts them at a much bigger risk.”

There are a number of ways to treat the problem with devices that improve airflow and promote a restful sleep. Unfortunately, despite the Medicare-eligible population being disproportionately impacted by sleep apnea, it is very rare for local dental offices to qualify their apnea treatments for Medicare coverage. Sleep Apnea Solutions went the extra mile and did just that.

“We’re the only dentist in the area that I know of who offers sleep apnea treatment under Medicare,” Sperry said. “We’re getting a lot of patients whose physicians refer them to us.”

Although snoring is often the butt of jokes in comedy shows and movies, often even the most severe snorers do not know exactly why it happens.

“Snoring isn’t an indicator of how tired you are. Likewise, you also don’t snore because of any specific behavior, like drinking alcohol,” said Michael Uzelac, D.D.S, and dentist at Sleep Airway Solutions. “Snoring isn’t a result of your behavior, it’s usually an indicator of a restricted airway.”

Over time, the tissues in the throat relax and swell to the point where they can even block breathing. This disrupts sleep, amplifies preexisting conditions, and is linked to heart disease and other major conditions. But even if you are not a snorer, it is still possible that you could have sleep apnea.

“If you’re sitting at your desk or behind the wheel and you’re falling asleep, you have sleep issues,” Uzelac said. “If you wake up with frequent morning headaches, you could have sleep issues. If you’re getting up to urinate at night, you could have a sleep problem. You can’t just write off these indicators because you don’t think of yourself as a typical sleep apnea patient.”

With Sleep Airway Solutions accepting Medicare and working with their patients to match their individual needs, Sperry urged those who suspect they might have sleep apnea to refrain from putting off treatment.

“Medicare is so crucial, it’s so beneficial for our patients,” she said. “We want to treat your health issues without breaking the bank.”

To learn more about Sleep Airway Solutions, visit them at

Sleep Airway Solutions offers those on Medicare affordable, healthy sleep treatments
Community Healthcare System Celebrates a COVID Story Fri, 08 May 2020 20:38:26 +0000 Community Healthcare System Community Healthcare System Celebrates a COVID Story Methodist Hospitals ED Medical Director brings new protective device to Northwest Indiana Hospitals Fri, 03 Apr 2020 02:03:54 +0000 Methodist Hospitals The term PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) most often refers to the gowns, gloves and masks that health providers don to protect them from exposure to infectious diseases, but Dr. Mohammad Zaman, Medical Director of Methodist Hospitals Emergency Services, has brought a new type of protective device to Northwest Indiana.

The new device is an intubation box.  Intubation is the process of inserting a tube into a patient’s airway so they can be placed on a ventilator.  It is a high risk procedure for the emergency medicine physicians, anesthesiologists, pulmonologists and respiratory therapists who perform it on suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients.

Made of plexiglass, with openings for a physician’s arms and hands, the box provides an additional layer of protection for health care providers executing the procedure.

While brainstorming ways to improve patient and physician safety during the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Zaman came across an article about use of such a box in Asia.  Finding blueprints for it had been placed on the internet for the free use of physicians across the world, Dr. Zaman turned to Facebook to find sources that could quickly produce it.  “I was amazed at how quickly we received responses from people who said they could make the boxes.  We sent out the request on a Monday and by Friday we had them,” said Dr. Zaman.

Twelve of the boxes were produced and hand-delivered to hospitals served by Dr. Zaman and his colleagues at Vituity Inc., which provides emergency medicine services to Methodist Hospitals.  Methodist Hospitals has two of the boxes at each campus. Boxes were also delivered to other NWI and Illinois hospitals.  Says Dr. Zaman, “We are happy to be able to provide these boxes to hospitals.  Physicians and other emergency room staff are excited and grateful to have this extra layer of protection. It really improves providers’ confidence and security in their ability to safely care for their patients.”

About Methodist Hospitals

Methodist Hospitals is a community-based, not-for-profit health system with two full-service acute care facilities in Gary and Merrillville, Indiana, that has been leading the way to better health for residents of Northwest Indiana for almost 100 years.  Methodist Hospitals offers a number of award – winning programs, including its Neuroscience, Oncology, Heart and Vascular Institutes and Breast Care Center. Its range of services also includes Women & Children’s Services, Bariatric Surgery services, Emergency & Trauma services, Immediate Care Centers, an Orthopedic & Spine Care Center, Sports Medicine, comprehensive Rehabilitation Services, Behavioral Health and Home Health Services.  It has earned Magnet® designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation. 

About Vituity

Vituity is a physician-led, physician- owned partnership combining clinical excellence with business acumen to help healthcare organizations raise the standard of patient care and improve their performance metrics.  It is comprised of top physicians, advanced providers, and industry professionals, practicing in 9 specialties across 14 states.

Methodist Hospitals ED Medical Director brings new protective device to Northwest Indiana Hospitals
New SkinTE procedure offers paradigm shift in wound care in Northwest Indiana Wed, 11 Mar 2020 17:46:43 +0000 Kali Beatty Patients with large, complex, and non-healing wounds are benefitting from a relatively new procedure called SkinTE that is changing the way some wound care is delivered, speeding up healing, saving limbs, and making care more cost-effective for patients.

“Imagine what you could do if you found someone that had a major burn throughout their body and you could take a small 1 by 3 centimeter piece of skin and expand it out to 1,000 square centimeters,” said Mark Jones, DPM, a podiatric surgeon with Methodist Physician Group Foot and Ankle Specialists. “The latest and greatest technology is here in Northwest Indiana, and anyone who can do basic surgery can do this procedure.”

Jones started using SkinTE approximately six months ago to care for patients whose wounds were not healing, or who were facing dramatic measures like possible amputation. From diabetics to smokers, to 3-year-olds or 94-year-olds, this procedure can help anyone with defects of the skin.

“We are able to take a piece of skin graft from the patient versus using other derived products, and then send it out to a lab in Salt Lake City,” Jones said.

The lab then generates the person’s own skin from that sample, so it can be used in their skin grafts.

“We’re seeing wound closure in as little as four weeks, so it’s a whole paradigm shift on how we treat wounds both acute and chronic,” Jones said.

SkinTE was originally created for complex wounds that would require a graft substitute, or, in other words, a graft made of something other than the person’s own skin. When a large skin graft is necessary, the risks of complications and even death are greater, and using substitute materials increases the chance of the body rejecting the graft because it doesn’t recognize it as its own material.

“Now we’re taking a small ellipse and you get a stem cell or a progenerative cell back from that,” Jones said. “So, you’re not just taking skin and putting on skin, we’re using regenerative medicine prepared from the actual patient so it’s low risk and there is no rejection.”

One of Jones’ first patients, Joann Watkins, came to him with a unique wound for the procedure. Around six months ago, Watkins came in with a severely infected and deep wound covering her entire heel. Running out of options, Watkins was faced with the possible amputation of her foot.

“I had stepped on something and my foot got infected. The infection then ended up in my bloodstream which put me in the hospital,” Watkins said. “I was in the hospital for six weeks, and Dr. Jones saved my leg and my foot.”

After cleaning Watkins’ wound, Jones replaced part of the open wound with surrounding muscle before SkinTE was done (known as the two-fold approach). It took about six weeks to ensure the tissue was viable for SkinTE, but after that, it was smooth sailing and Watkins was back on her feet in no time. 

“When he came to me with this procedure, I didn’t have to think twice. I said, ‘let’s do it,’” Watkins said. “That was about three months ago and now I’m doing great. It’s all healed.”

SkinTE offers a shorter recovery time than other procedures and is generally less expensive. When you consider the cost of going to a wound center weekly for several months, patient travel, supplies and equipment, grafts, and everything else that comes with complex treatment, the process can cost tens of thousands of dollars. SkinTE offers a faster healing process which translates to the patient saving time and money, and helping them get back to their normal life, faster.

For more information about SkinTE, go to   For more information about Methodist Physician Group Specialists visit

New SkinTE procedure offers paradigm shift in wound care in Northwest Indiana
Annual Cardiovascular Symposium Tue, 18 Feb 2020 23:35:24 +0000 Community Healthcare System New treatments are here. Your heart belongs here. Join us to learn about heart health and preventative care. Listen to physicians, browse our vendor fair and more.

Our annual Cardiovascular Symposium will be held on March 4 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts at 1040 Ridge Rd., Munster, Ind.

This program is FREE, but registration is required. Call 219-836-3477 or toll free 866‑836-3477. For information on other health-related programs offered by Community Healthcare System visit our website at

Annual Cardiovascular Symposium
Franciscan Physician Network Crown Point Pediatric Health Center holds blessing and dedication for new, larger location Fri, 07 Feb 2020 18:52:32 +0000 Franciscan Health As a chilly snow fell outside, physicians, staff members, and guests shared warmth and excitement inside the new Franciscan Physician Network Crown Point Pediatric Health Center location on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Franciscan Health Crown Point President and CEO Daniel McCormick, MD, welcomed guests to the blessing and dedication, saying, “We’re very proud to have a facility like this in Crown Point. We’re very proud to be able to provide the services that our physicians are providing.”

The $3 million facility, which recently opened at 1141 S. Indiana Ave. next to the FPN St. Clare Health Center, has 10,250 square feet of space with 18 exam rooms and child-friendly finishes. Pediatrician Silvia Vicente, MD, said the new location “will allow us to continue meeting the needs of people in a more comfortable and functional environment.”

Dr. Vicente talked about how the practice, which was founded in 1996, had grown with the surrounding Crown Point community. “There are more young families in the Region, and they keep coming to see us because they trust us as their doctors,” she said. “The one belief that has been at the core of this practice from the beginning is that people matter.”

Father Tony Janik, director of spiritual care services at Franciscan Health Crown Point, presided over the blessing, sprinkling holy water through corridors and rooms painted in bright colors, decorated with photos of dogs to greet the young patients.

The physicians at the Crown Point Pediatrics Health Center are Lisa Gold, MD, who has provided care at the center since 1995; Silvia Vicente, MD, since 1996; Anisha Amin, MD, since 2001; Akilah Cook, MD, since 2015; and Samuel Khairkar, MD, since 2018.

To make an appointment, go online at or call (219) 662-0700.

Franciscan Physician Network Crown Point Pediatric Health Center holds blessing and dedication for new, larger location
Community Healthcare System takes the mystery out of breast cancer clinical trials, offers leading-edge care for high-risk patients Sun, 02 Feb 2020 07:00:18 +0000 Stacey Kellogg The Community Cancer Research Foundation was the first in Northwest Indiana to give patients access to certain breast cancer clinical trials that have since drastically improved the survival of women. Today, they continue to forge paths in this space, offering new trials while working to advance worldwide knowledge about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment alike.

As part of that, the motto “With you every step of the way” just might be the perfect way to describe how the specialists at Community Healthcare System strive to take the mystery out of clinical trials, and offer care, guidance and support throughout a woman’s journey – from screening to treatment, if necessary.

The hospitals are now enrolling women in a new National Cancer Institute trial that may help researchers end the debate about whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional mammography is more effective at detecting advanced breast cancer, and also whether certain women should have their screening mammograms annually or every two years.

“There’s been debate on this – how often you screen, who benefits and who doesn’t – but our main goal is to help women with advanced breast cancer detect their cancer early and increase their chances of survival,” said Amber Kindt, RN, BSN, OCN, Director of Cancer Research for Community Cancer Research Foundation. “When you add to that the idea that we’re also looking for whether women in a certain risk category would benefit from a mammogram every year or every two years, it’s more about prevention of advanced breast cancer, and that’s really exciting.”

Nationwide, more than 20,000 women are enrolled in the trial – the large sample size made possible by the fact that most women are seeking annual mammography screening anyway.

“You know you already have to have your mammogram, so the next step, if you are interested in participating in the trial, is to contact our office,” Kindt said.

“There are two groups in the trial – women who qualify for the trial to have their mammograms every other year instead of annually, and women who qualify for 2D versus 3D. Either way, you are still getting your mammogram and increasing your chances of detecting cancer at an early stage,” she said.

Right now, the mammography trial screenings take place at St. Mary Medical Center’s Women’s Diagnostic Center in Hobart, backed by the expertise of Dr. Mary Nicholson, a fellowship-trained breast radiologist, and Dr. Mohamad Kassar, principal investigator for the Community Cancer Research Foundation.

Kindt said the Community Cancer Research Foundation offers other breast cancer clinical trials that give women with advanced breast cancer access to treatments they would not otherwise be able to try. One in particular is offered to certain women with triple negative breast cancer. This means, in simple terms, that the three most common elements known to fuel breast cancer – estrogen, progesterone, and the Her-2/neu gene – are not present in the breast cancer tumor. Women with this type of cancer who have remaining disease in surrounding tissues after surgery may qualify for a trial that offers two different maintenance therapies that aim to keep the remaining cancer at bay, measuring the efficacy of them and potentially prolonging life.

Yet another leading-edge trial looks at prevention, designed to measure whether aspirin could be beneficial in reducing the recurrence of breast cancer. Still another trial looks at whether a common diabetes drug could help prevent abnormal cells from developing into breast cancer.

“These are all complex trials, but we break it down and make it easy for patients to digest and to participate,” Kindt said. “We are here to educate, and guide them through whatever they need, and our participating physicians are excellent. They know their patients best and are on board with the trials we are offering that could potentially help their patients.”

Outside of the Community Cancer Research Foundation, the hospitals of Community Healthcare System offer a high-risk breast clinic for women who are at higher risk for developing cancer, helping to guide them on the proper screening and diagnostic plans. In addition, breast health nurse navigators help women make appointments, coordinate necessary testing and have their questions answered. Overall, they are strong patient advocates who bridge the gap between patients and the specialists caring for them, helping them to navigate their diagnosis and the healthcare system in general.

The number to the Community Cancer Research Foundation is 219-836-6875. For more information about the breast cancer clinical trials offered through Community Healthcare System, visit

For more information about breast cancer care at the hospitals, visit

Community Healthcare System takes the mystery out of breast cancer clinical trials, offers leading-edge care for high-risk patients