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Dr. Jean Moves to Trauma

February 19th, 2020

University Surgical Associates is excited to announce that Robert Jean, M.D., board certified in general and surgical critical care, is joining the trauma and critical care team at USA. Dr. Jean specializes in trauma and acute care surgery and advanced minimally invasive surgery, including robotic-assisted procedures. The trauma group at USA provides surgical care for the broad spectrum of injuries seen from blunt and penetrating trauma, providing support to Erlanger Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center, pediatric comprehensive care center and the Life Force team. The adult Level 1 Trauma Center is manned 24-hours a day, seven days a week by USA’s board-certified surgeons. 

After completing medical school and surgical residency, Dr. Jean completed a fellowship in surgical critical care and spent a short period of time working in the arena of trauma surgery. For the past few years and when he joined USA more than two years ago, he’s been focused on a general surgery practice. 

“I’ve always liked the variety that comes along with general surgery – no two days are the same. It’s a great combination of structured activities, but nearly every day brings something unexpected. It was really important to me to pursue a specialty that would allow for the unexpected to come up,” says Dr. Jean. “Trauma surgery has always been a passion of mine as well, and it still held a special place in my heart. Late last summer when USA was discussing the transition of some of our surgeons, they offered for me to move over from general surgery to a trauma based and critical care surgery role. I knew it would be a great fit.” 

Trauma and critical care surgery requires minute-to-minute decision making and the ability to think on your feet in emergency situations. These aspects combined with the chance to work with colleagues who once taught him in residency and fellowship was an interesting prospect for Dr. Jean. 

“I completed my residency and fellowship training at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the same team is in place today. I spent six years training under these surgeons, and they taught me pretty much everything I know,” says Dr. Jean. “The idea of joining them and being partners and colleagues in the same division is really exciting. It’s also an honor to be able to pass along what I know to the new residents who are currently in training.” 

Although Dr. Jean has joined the trauma and critical care team, he will continue to have regular office hours and perform planned, elective general surgery procedures. He sees patients at the USA Medical Mall office on the campus of Erlanger Hospital. 

“Trauma surgeons at their heart are still general surgeons who do elective surgery and see patients in the office, while having that extra element of acute trauma and caring for some of the sickest patients. It’s a big misperception that we focus on trauma exclusively,” says Dr. Jean. “Yes, we perform surgery on gunshot wounds and people who have been in car accidents, as well as perforated ulcers or emergency hernia repairs. But we also use our skills for elective patients who come to us for their general surgery needs.”  

To schedule an appointment at University Surgical Associates, call (423) 267-0466. 

Sara’s Story: Thyroid Cancer

February 10th, 2020

Sara Reid, a registered nurse who works from home reviewing medical charts online, never thought about the possibility of thyroid problems or how they might affect her health. As a healthy 60-year-old, she was surprised at the sudden onset of double vision in January of 2019. This unsettling symptom led her on a health journey to multiple specialists and to the discovery of thyroid cancer. 

“As a nurse, your mind goes to the worst-case scenario thinking about what could be wrong. When I started having trouble seeing, I immediately went to an optometrist who referred me to an ophthalmologist who specializes in double vision,” says Sara. “He quickly realized the problem wasn’t my eyes, and again I was sent to another doctor. This time, it was a neurologist who ordered an MRI of my brain.” 

As all this was happening, Sara was doing research of her own. She thought a brain tumor was unlikely considering her age and health, and she was hoping the double vision was due to high blood pressure or other things that happen as you age. Her neurologist, Dr. Nathan Wyatt, considered the possibility that Sara had suffered a stroke that damaged a nerve responsible for a person’s eyesight. He did a full workup, checking to see what other stroke risk factors that Sara might have. It was during these scans and evaluations that an MRI of her neck showed the presence of thyroid nodules. 

L to R: Sara, with her daughter Lauren, niece Taleah and great nephew Malachi. 

“I was considering returning to my hometown to see a surgeon who had previously operated on my husband for neck cancer in 2010. But my primary care physician wanted me to receive care and follow up from a surgeon who was close to home, and he highly recommended Dr. Roe,” says Sara. 

During her initial appointment, Dr. Roe completed an ultrasound of Sara’s neck, quickly identified the tumor and performed a needle biopsy. A few days later, Dr. Roe’s nurse called to tell Sara that the biopsy had come back positive for papillary thyroid cancer and she would need surgery to remove it.

“When you have any type of finding like this, you want to get it done as quickly as you can. So they scheduled my surgery for the following week,” remembers Sara. “It turns out I had cancer on both sides of my thyroid, which Dr. Roe removed along with 19 lymph nodes. Thankfully this type of cancer is slow growing and unlikely to spread, but no one wants to hear that they have cancer.” 

A Quick Recovery
Sara’s procedure went as expected, and she spent one night recovering in the hospital. Although she had a little discomfort at the site of the surgery, she had minimal pain during recovery. Looking back, Sara realized that she had also been missing other tell-tale symptoms of thyroid issues like fatigue and never feeling rested – even after a full night’s sleep.

What’s interesting about this story is that the double vision wasn’t related to Sara’s thyroid at all – in fact, it went away on its own. However, this deeper dive into her lifestyle and risk factors for high blood pressure and stroke made an impact on Sara’s life. Today, she’s made changes to her diet, has her blood pressure under control, and lowered her LDL cholesterol levels. 

“All of this was such a shock to me, and I felt like things I hadn’t been doing to prioritize my health were catching up with me. As you age, you have to start paying more attention. None of us want to be told bad news, but it’s still important for us to listen closely to the advice our doctors give us and to follow it,” says Sara.  

As for her experience with Dr. Roe, Sara felt confident in her care from the very beginning.  “The minute he saw the thyroid nodule on the ultrasound, Dr. Roe knew that it was cancer. The biopsy was a confirmation of what he’d already known,” she says. “He’s a skilled physician and surgeon who made me feel confident with his knowledge and expertise. Not only was he very caring, his staff was supportive and available for any questions I had. I have complete trust in his ability and am incredibly satisfied with my care.”  

Advanced Thyroid Care at USA

Dr. Roe, board certified through the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), specializes in endocrine and laparoscopic surgery. He joined University Surgical Associates in 1991.

Dr. Roe has office hours at the Medical Mall at Erlanger office on Tuesday (1-4:20 pm) and Wednesday (9-noon) and at our Gunbarrel Road office at Erlanger East on Thursday (8:30-11:30 am). He performs surgery at Erlanger Hospital, Erlanger East, the Plaza Surgery Center at Erlanger, and CHI Memorial Hospital. To schedule an appointment, call 423.267.0466.

Your heart.
You wear it on your sleeve.
You have a heart of gold (or stone).
You have heart-to-heart conversations with the people you love. 

The heart is the symbol of much or our inner lives. But more than just our emotions and feelings, the heart is responsible for so much – sending blood through your body and providing it the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function at its best. Most people are born with a healthy heart, and there are ways we know how to keep it in good shape – helping you live a longer, happier and more active life! Check out these simple healthy heart tips!  

1. Say NO to Cigarettes.
Did you know that smoking cigarettes is the single most preventable cause of heart disease and premature death for men and women in the US? It’s such a destructive habit because it increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), coronary heart disease, and sudden cardiac arrest. Do whatever you can to stop smoking today! 

2. Go vegetarian – ish.
One way to improve heart health is by reducing the amount of red meat in your diet. Red meat is high in saturated fat, so swapping it out for healthier options like chicken, fish or other sources of plant-based protein such a beans or legumes, is a simple way to follow a heart-healthier diet! Bonus tip: focus on eating more fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products along with whole grain breads and nuts to keep you satisfied. 

3. Put down the saltshaker.
For a healthy heart and decreased blood pressure levels, limit your consumption of salt and salt-rich foods like salad dressings, canned soups, cured meats, soy sauce and packaged foods. Processed foods and packaged meals are the worst when it comes to sodium levels, so stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat instead.  

4. Get up and move.
Sitting for long periods is one of the worst things you can do for your heart! Even if you exercise regularly, being sedentary for most of the day (like rarely getting up from your desk at work), more than doubles your risk for heart attacks and diabetes. Set a timer on your phone for once an hour to stretch your legs for at least 2 minutes. 

5. Know your numbers.
High blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease. And that’s why The American Heart Association recommends your blood pressure be less than 130/80. Properly controlled blood pressure contributes to a healthy life by reducing your risk of strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure and other conditions. Following a low-sodium diet and exercising regularly makes a difference, but sometimes prescription medication is needed to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. 

6. Lose those extra pounds. 
Excess pounds increase more than just your weight. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer and depression. If you’re overweight or obese, every 20 pounds you lose you could drop your systolic pressure by five to 20 points! What’s more, exercise can lower your blood pressure, dropping your systolic blood pressure by four to nine points if you exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. 

7. Manage your stress proactively.
Taking time to relax and manage stress is an important part of heart health. The American Heart Association says that chronic stress can increase your risk for heart disease, so do your best to avoid situations that trigger feelings of anxiousness and tension. And when you experience the occasional feelings of stress begin to creep in, use deep breathing, yoga and meditation for a way to positively manage stressful situations. 

8. Keep your doctor’s appointment.
Did you know that regular medical checkups by a primary care physician is one of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease? It’s true – staying connected with a physician who knows your medical history and continuing to take medications that control blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol help decrease your risk!  

9. Make exercise part of your routine.
It’s not always easy to fit into busy schedules, but regular cardiovascular exercise is critical to heart health. If you’re not exercising, now’s the time to increase your physical activity. Don’t start with marathon training – set small goals that you can easily track and reach. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Raking leavings, cleaning house or playing tag with your kids or grandkids counts! If that’s too much, start with 10 minutes a day and work your way up. Consistent exercise has been shown to help you lose weight, decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, not to mention combatting depression and helping you feel great! That’s a win-win-win for your heart!