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Posts Tagged ‘The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC)’

UTMC Joins Select Group of Hospitals Offering Robotic Kidney Transplant

The University of Toledo Medical Center has completed its first robotic-assisted kidney transplant surgery, joining a select group of hospitals nationwide that perform the state-of-the-art procedure.

The successful surgery, completed April 12, was led by Dr. Obi Ekwenna, a transplant and urologic surgeon at UTMC and associate professor at The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

“We’ve been doing transplantation the same way for nearly 70 years,” Ekwenna said. “Only within the last 10 years have people seriously begun looking at robotics for kidney transplant. There are significant benefits for the patient, but it hasn’t yet been widely adopted. We at UTMC are doing now what everyone else is aiming to do.”

UTMC is the second transplant center in Ohio to offer robotic-assisted kidney transplant and one of only a handful nationwide.

Ahmadou Diallo, a nurse from suburban Indianapolis, received the kidney from his wife. Diallo had been on dialysis since 2018.

“I can’t tell you how blessed I am today to have a kidney and I’m hoping to get back to normal life, to do what I used to do with my family,” Diallo said.

One of the key benefits of robotic kidney surgery is how much less invasive it is than a traditional open surgery.

Rather than a large hockey stick-shaped cut, the robotic-assisted technique employs five small keyhole-size incisions for surgical instruments and 1.5-inch-wide incision to bring the donated kidney into the abdomen.

“Robotic-assisted transplantation allows for all the clinical benefits of minimally invasive surgery,” Ekwenna said. “There tends to be less pain, less blood loss, a lower risk of infection and a faster recovery.”

Diallo was discharged within 48 hours of his procedure, far sooner than what would be expected had he undergone a traditional open transplant.

“This hospital has done a lot for us,” he said. “The care here was fantastic. All the people in the clinic were phenomenal.”

UTMC’s transplant program has grown significantly in recent years, going from 98 transplants in 2019 to a record 174 last year. As the program expands, Ekwenna said it’s critical to continue innovating and incorporating the latest methods and technologies.

The transplant team at UTMC has been preparing and training for the groundbreaking robotic procedure for more than three years.

Ekwenna expects most future robotic transplants will be done on patients who, like Diallo, are receiving a living donor kidney and therefore are able to be planned in advance. With time, he believes the technique will be adopted more readily in deceased donor kidney transplants.

The greatest potential for robotic-assisted transplant may be in individuals who have a high body mass index. Unlike at some transplant centers, a high BMI is not on its own disqualifying at UTMC. Each patient’s overall whole health is evaluated, and UTMC does perform transplants on high-BMI individuals.

However, Ekwenna said those surgeries are more challenging, take longer and tend to bring higher risk of complications like surgical site infections and wound complications.

“Robotic surgery can be a game changer for those patients,” he said. “Being able to introduce the kidney through a small incision and then sew under high magnification allows us to avoid some of those challenges. We think there’s a lot of potential to help more patients and improve outcomes. The entire team deserves a lot of credit for making this first procedure successful.”


UTMC Upgraded to Level II Trauma Center

The University of Toledo Medical Center is now a Level II trauma center.

UTMC announced late last year it was seeking provisional approval to operate as a Level II trauma center. The state officially granted that request effective Tuesday, May 3.

“Our goal remains to provide the highest level of care to the Toledo community and that includes our trauma services,” UTMC CEO Richard Swaine said. “Enhancing our trauma care has been an important part of our overall initiative to expand and grow UTMC, and part of our commitment to the community. We are proud of this accomplishment.”

UTMC had been a Level III trauma center since August 2019. The major difference between Level III and Level II is the size of the team and the speed with which UTMC can respond to incoming trauma cases.

As a Level II trauma center, UTMC has 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons and orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care specialists.

“This new classification represents an important expansion of our capabilities for treating trauma patients,” said Dr. Aela Vely, a fellowship-trained trauma surgeon and medical director for trauma and surgical critical care at UTMC. “We now have a larger team of clinicians who are readily available to address the most complex trauma cases quickly. We also now have a dedicated ICU for those trauma patients.”

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur and State Reps. Michael Sheehy and Lisa Sobecki wrote letters in support of UTMC’s application with the state.

UTMC will operate under provisional status until its next regular review from the American College of Surgeons in the next year.


UTMC to Host Donate Life Flag-Raising Ceremony April 6

In recognition of National Donate Life Month, The University of Toledo Medical Center and Life Connection of Ohio will host a flag-raising ceremony on Wednesday, April 6.

The event, which will begin at 11 a.m. outside UTMC’s main entrance near Mulford Library, serves to celebrate donors and recipients while also raising awareness about the ongoing need for organ, eye and tissue donors in northwest Ohio and around the country.

Nearly 110,000 Americans, including more than 3,000 Ohioans, are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, with another person added every 10 minutes.

UTMC, northwest Ohio’s only organ transplant center, completed a record 174 kidney transplants in 2021, up from 112 in in 2020.

This year’s flag-raising ceremony, which coincides with National Living Donor Day, will feature a father who received a life-saving kidney transplant at UTMC in 2017 after his daughter donated one of her kidneys.

For more information on organ, eye and tissue donation or to register as a donor, visit Life Connection of Ohio’s website.


Early Days of HIV Epidemic in Toledo Subject of June 5 Event

The latest segment of the in-process documentary “HIV in the Rust Belt,” which focuses on the lives of local long-term HIV survivors and those who cared for them in the early days of the pandemic, will be presented as part of a virtual event on Saturday, June 5.

Organized by the Ryan White Program at The University of Toledo Medical Center, the event coincides with the 40th anniversary of the virus’s first official virus description by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The free, public event begins at 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. Registration is not required.

“HIV in the Rust Belt” is a collaboration of director Holly Hey, professor of film, and co-producer Dr. Ally Day, associate professor of disability studies at UToledo.

“I think most of us would agree we’ve heard some variation of these stories from the coastal perspective, but never anything focused on the Rust Belt and specifically, not on the Toledo region,” Hey said.

Day and Hey have spent the last two years researching and filming for the project, which aims to explain the epidemic through the perspective of those who were on its front lines, either as patients, healthcare providers or leaders of community resource organizations.

The new material being screened on Saturday focuses heavily on Dr. Joan Duggan, a UTMC infectious disease specialist who has long served as medical director of UTMC’s Ryan White Program.

Ahead of the documentary, Duggan will be joined by Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious disease specialist from Augusta University Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., for a discussion about the early days of the HIV response in Toledo. MacArthur, a widely recognized HIV/AIDS expert, worked at the former Medical College of Ohio at the time.

The event is sponsored by the Ann Wayson Locher Memorial Fund for HIV Care held at The University of Toledo Foundation, a fund created for HIV care and research.

The filmmakers expect to spend another year or two shooting before beginning to work on the final cut. They also are exploring other ways to present the material, potentially including a podcast.

“People are connected to the virus and to the time in really unexpected ways, and I find as the director that’s really appealing and one of the most interesting facets of it,” Hey said. “It completely breaks down and explodes stereotypes about who gets it and why they get it.”

The June 5 date is significant for this early showing because it marks 40 years since the virus was officially recognized in the U.S. — and led to changes in how infectious diseases were thought about.

“We thought we had contagious disease covered. When this hits in 1981 and we finally recognize it as a virus we’re terrified because it’s telling us we haven’t actually conquered contagious disease,” Day said. “It was a major wake-up call to the medical community. Forty years later, we’ve made a substantial amount of progress with what we do about HIV, but we still don’t have a vaccine or a cure.”

The HIV in the Rust Belt team also includes co-producers Sue Carter, an HIV social worker with The University of Toledo Medical Center Ryan White Program; Lee Fearnside, development director at Girls on the Run of Northwest Ohio; and Richard Meeker, manager of community engagement and development at the Ryan White Program

The Ryan White Program at UTMC offers high-quality comprehensive care for individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The program offers adult primary care, mental health counseling, case management, advocacy and HIV testing in Lucas County and the surrounding area.


UTMC Among First Hospitals Participating in National COVID-19 Drug Study

The University of Toledo Medical Center is one of the first sites in the country to enroll patients in a National Institutes of Health study aimed at identifying promising COVID-19 treatments worthy of larger, more in-depth clinical trials.

The proof-of-concept study is intended to quickly screen out ineffective experimental treatments while rapidly advancing deployment of therapeutics that show significant benefit to hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

“This is a very important project,” said Dr. Michael Ellis, an infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer at UTMC. “Right now, we have two primary treatments for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone, but we critically need additional therapeutics. The purpose of this study is to quickly identify agents that could have a big impact in keeping patients off a ventilator, getting them out of the hospital sooner and reducing fatal infections.”

Dr. Michael Ellis

The trial will enroll patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who require oxygen or mechanical ventilation who consent to participate. In the initial portion of the trial, UTMC will be treating patients selected for the clinical trial with either risankizumab or lenzilumab, which are monoclonal antibodies directed at different parts of the inflammatory response that are being investigated as potential treatments for COVID-19.

Both experimental drugs in the study will be paired with remdesivir, which has shown benefit to patients with severe COVID-19 infections.

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins based on the natural antibodies our immune system produces to fight off disease. Risankizumab was approved in 2019 for the treatment of severe plaque psoriasis. Lenzilumab is in late-stage development as a treatment for leukemia.

“As we treat COVID, our objectives are to stay safe, provide state-of-the-art care and participate in the public health response,” Ellis said. “In this study, we’re participating in a way beyond just Toledo.”

The Phase 2, adaptive, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial will examine both the safety and efficacy of the monoclonal antibodies compared to remdisivir alone.

Up to 40 U.S. sites will be involved in the study. Currently, UTMC is one of nine facilities recruiting participants.


UTMC Offers New Precision Treatment for Prostate Cancer

The University of Toledo Medical Center is offering an innovative new outpatient treatment for prostate cancer that uses ultrasound waves to precisely target and destroy cancerous areas while leaving nearby healthy tissue untouched.

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men, affecting roughly one out of nine American men during their lifetimes.

Because prostate cancer is often slow-growing, many patients diagnosed with localized cancer take a wait-and-see approach in which the cancer is closely monitored but not immediately treated.

Patients who do elect treatment have traditionally had two options — radiation therapy or surgical removal of the prostate. Those aggressive treatments are effective but often bring serious side effects, including incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

By focusing ultrasound waves on areas as small as a grain of rice, physicians at UTMC can now destroy tumors while minimizing the potential for harming important structures such as nerves responsible for erections, the urinary sphincter, glands responsible for producing semen and non-cancerous prostate tissue.

Dr. Puneet Sindhwani

Dr. Puneet Sindhwani

“In very few cancers do we take out the whole organ rather than removing the cancer itself,” said Dr. Puneet Sindhwani, a board-certified urologist at UTMC and chair and Kenneth Kropp Endowed Professor of Urology at The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “Combining more precise biopsy techniques with high-intensity focused ultrasound provides us an opportunity to treat only the area where we found the cancer and spare the rest of the prostate, reducing the risk of side effects.”

High-intensity focused ultrasound, commonly known as HIFU, has been available in Europe for nearly two decades but is relatively new in the United States.

UTMC is the first and only medical facility in the Toledo region using the state-of-the-art Sonablate device to treat prostate cancer.

“Unlike radical surgery of the prostate where patients may need to be admitted to the hospital, or radiation treatment which requires repeated visits for treatment, another advantage of HIFU is that it can be done in an outpatient setting in one visit,” Sindhwani said. “It is very important in the face of COVID-19 that we minimize patient exposure and also save important care resources for patients who need admission with life-threatening conditions.”

While the technology is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for destruction of prostate tissue, approval specifically for treating prostate cancer is pending U.S. trials. At this time, Medicare covers only part of the treatment and most private insurance providers don’t cover the treatment expenses. Individuals should check with their insurance provider.

To help make the treatment available in Toledo, the University received a generous grant for urologic innovation from Dr. Ashok Kar, a California-based urologist who completed his surgery and urology training at the former Medical College of Ohio.


University of Toledo Medical Center lab can now test for COVID-19

The University of Toledo Medical Center’s pathology laboratory now has the ability to test for COVID-19 and deliver results in less than 48 hours. The service will significantly reduce the waiting period for patients and their physicians to confirm a diagnosis.

UTMC is the first laboratory in northwest Ohio with the capability to test for COVID-19.

The medical center is working closely with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and other area hospitals to prioritize testing for patients who are hospitalized with severe pneumonia or who are in intensive care units with severe respiratory illness. UTMC also will test symptomatic first responders and healthcare providers who have had direct exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case while not wearing personal protective equipment.

“Testing supplies are still limited and we have to be strategic about how we deploy our resources,” said Mo Smith, associate vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at UTMC. “However, by working with our community partners, we can significantly increase the pace of testing in northwest Ohio as we work to fight this dangerous virus.”

UTMC has the ability to process 180 samples per day. Patients will not be able to individually request a test. All testing must be ordered by healthcare professionals, following criteria established by the Ohio Department of Health.


UToledo to display AIDS Memorial Quilt ahead of World AIDS Day

The University of Toledo will host an exhibition of more than a dozen panels from The AIDS Memorial Quilt in recognition of World AIDS Day.

The exhibit, which is a partnership between the UToledo Department of Art at the Center for the Visual Arts and The University of Toledo Medical Center Ryan White Program, runs from Friday, Nov. 15, through Friday, Dec. 6, in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery. World AIDS Day is Dec. 1.

A free, public lecture featuring Jeanne White-Ginder will open the exhibition 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.

White-Ginder is the mother of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted HIV in the mid 1980s following a blood transfusion. Their fight against discrimination and for him to return to school gained national attention. He had become a face of the AIDS crisis in America by the time he died in 1990 at the age of 18.

Shortly after his death, Congress passed a bill to establish a federally funded program to care for people with HIV/AIDS that would eventually carry his name as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

Jeanne White-Ginder and her son Ryan White.

White-Ginder has remained a steadfast HIV/AIDS activist, fighting against stigma and advocating for testing as a way to reduce and prevent spread of the disease.

“I want to be around to see the end of AIDS, and I think we’re close to that. This is something Ryan started and advocated so hard for. I enjoy talking about Ryan’s life and the difference he made,” she said. “I think it’s important now to hear stories of those affected. That’s why the quilt coming to Toledo is important. You actually see the faces and the stories. These people were loved and they were cared about. We do not want these people forgotten.”

Joining White-Ginder at the kickoff event will be Robert Sember, an artist, researcher and educator whose work focuses on the intersection of public health and art. He’s currently a part-time faculty member at the New School in New York City.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt was started in 1987. In the three decades since, it has grown to include more than 48,000 panels. Nearly 100,000 individuals are memorialized on the quilt.

Panels to be displayed locally include several recognizing individuals from northwest Ohio, as well as a number of well-known artists, photographers, filmmakers and activists.

The exhibit is supported by The Ann Wayson Locher Memorial Fund for HIV Care.

Dr. Mysoon Rizk, a UToledo professor of art history and one of the organizers of the exhibit, said as the AIDS epidemic spread in the 1980s, artistic communities in major U.S. cities such as New York were hit particularly hard. Because of that, she said, artists have played an important role in fighting to change attitudes toward the disease and giving voice to what it means to be affected.

“Staging such an exhibition makes for educational opportunities to focus discussion on AIDS and HIV, both of which still ravage many communities around the world and both of which remain associated with stigmatizing experiences,” Rizk said. “Young people who never learned about the history of the AIDS crisis may experience consciousness-raising and greater awareness about diseases, whether transmitted sexually or by any other means, such as blood transfusions, as well as to learn about the incredible UTMC Ryan White program.”

The Ryan White Program at UTMC offers high-quality comprehensive care for individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The program offers adult primary care, mental health counseling, case management, advocacy and HIV testing in Lucas County and the surrounding area. In 2018, the program served more than 1,000 individuals.


UTMC to host educational program on CryoMAZE, other treatments for atrial fibrillation

The University of Toledo Medical Center now offers an innovative, minimally invasive surgical treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation, eliminating the need to continue on blood thinners.

The procedure, called CryoMAZE, uses precision application of extreme cold inside the heart the heart, establishing a barrier that prevents stray electrical signals from causing the heart to beat irregularly.

“The goal of this procedure is to kill the cells without damaging the walls of the heart. If the cells are dead, they cannot conduct electricity. That makes a fence so the electrical impulses don’t spill over into the rest of atrium. It’s like putting insulation on a wire — you are letting electrical impulse to go through only in the normal path without spreading around randomly,” said Dr. Saqib Masroor, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UTMC.

Dr. Saqib Masroor

Dr. Masroor will give a free, educational presentation on atrial fibrillation and the latest treatment options, including minimally invasive CryoMAZE, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Center for Creative Education on Health Science Campus.

For more information or to register for the event, call 419.383.6939.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia in the United States, affecting between 2.7 million and 6.1 million Americans.

In AFib, the heart’s upper chambers, or atria, don’t beat in coordination with the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles. That can lead to pooling of the blood and clotting in the atria, creating an increased risk of congestive heart failure and stroke.

Blood thinners are commonly used to reduce the risk of stroke in AFib patients, but they can increase the risk of bleeding. Other options for treating AFib require open-heart surgery or the use of catheters threaded through major arteries in either the groin or neck to get to the heart.

In the minimally invasive CryoMAZE procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in the right side of the chest. Through that, they’re able to access the outside of the heart and create scar tissue with the specialized probe that is cooled to approximately -60 degrees Celsius. A surgeon also can put a clip on the left atrial through the same incision.

The recovery time in hospital is typically three to five days.

Masroor said success rates for CryoMAZE are approximately 90%. An added benefit of using cold rather than heat to create scar tissue is that there isn’t a risk of putting a hole in the heart.

“Many people don’t know their options beyond blood thinners,” Masroor said. “We want to educate people that there are many safe options that will prevent them from having to take blood thinners and have complications from atrial fibrillation.”


UTMC takes next step in transition to community hospital

In response to the changing healthcare needs of the Toledo region, The University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) has elected to transition to a Level III trauma center.

UTMC notified the American College of Surgeons this week that it desires to change its verification status from a Level I adult trauma center to a Level III trauma center.

“This has been our long-term strategy, and we have been working for several years to transition to a community hospital focused on serving South Toledo,” UTMC CEO Dan Barbee said. “Most recently we have increased our emphasis on primary care and behavioral health, and we will continue to evolve to meet the healthcare needs of our community.”

Earlier this month, UTMC opened the new Comprehensive Care Center, which offers a variety of primary care services, including family medicine, internal medicine, multi-specialty, X-ray and laboratory services, and an on-site pharmacy. Behavioral health services have been expanded in recent years to include inpatient and outpatient recovery services; electroconvulsive therapy, better known by the acronym ECT, as a treatment option for patients with depression; geriatric psychiatry; and child and adolescent psychiatry. Additional services are being discussed based on the community’s needs.

“Our expert physicians, nurses and medical technicians in our emergency department and throughout the medical center remain committed to providing high-quality care to our patients,” Barbee said.

The city of Toledo currently has three Level I trauma programs, making this continued investment unnecessary to fulfill the needs of our community, Barbee said. As part of our long-term strategy, this move enables us to align our operations with the healthcare needs of South Toledo and our surrounding communities.