Monday, March 26, 2012


High-tech treatment available for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is common in eastern Connecticut. Every year we see an increasing number of patients diagnosed with this condition.

Although prevention with timely colonoscopies should always be the goal, when colorectal cancer is diagnosed, surgical resection is the most important step for a cure.

Recently, minimally invasive surgery for the treatment of colorectal cancer has advanced significantly. However, despite the obvious benefits of this approach, it is estimated that only about of 25% of colon resections are done with laparoscopic, minimally invasive techniques in the United States. This is probably due to the complexity associated with these procedures.

Luckily for those living in our region, a much higher percentage of patients receive laparoscopic surgery – in my practice it is approximately 80%. The benefits associated with laparoscopic surgery vs. traditional “open” resections have clearly been established in numerous studies worldwide. They include:

• Shorter recovery times and length of stay in hospitals
• Smaller incisions result in less pain
• Fewer complications such as infections and hernias
• Possibly better outcomes for cancer patients.

Minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures can only be performed well when you have specially trained physicians and operating room staff. It is crucial that these clinicians are very familiar with the equipment, instruments, operating room set up and overall general needs to perform these complex operations.

Some hospitals also have operating rooms specifically designed for minimally invasive surgery. These rooms have high definition video capabilities, mobile monitors, and plenty of space to accommodate any equipment, including surgical robots, required for the surgery.

All of these factors combined result in higher quality care, and, most importantly, better outcomes for our patients and their families.

Dr. Sergio Casillas is a board-certified colon and rectal surgeon at Backus Physician Services, with additional training in minimally invasive colorectal surgery. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Dr. Casillas or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, March 19, 2012


Proactive patients can add to the hospital experience

Hospitals are constantly finding ways to make its patients as safe and comfortable as possible. But patients can also play a role in this ongoing process. Here’s how:

• You might wonder why staff keeps asking your name and date of birth over and over again. This is to ensure that the right medication or procedure is given to the right patient and in the proper fashion. Be patient with this process, and know that it is our way of ensuring accuracy.

• You might not be yourself when you are hospitalized. Don’t be embarrassed or feel like you are bothering anyone – ask for help getting up or going to the bathroom if you feel unsteady.

• Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your nurses, physicians or other members of the healthcare team. We encourage you to do so.

• Our staff is vigilant about washing their hands between every patient. If you do not see this being done, please ask your healthcare provider if he or she has done so. In addition, make sure that your wash their hands and be sure to advise them that if they are not feeling well to avoid visiting the hospital. All of this helps prevent the spread of infections and other sicknesses.

• Keep an updated list of your medications and dosages, including over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements. Try to use one pharmacy.

• Remember, most hospitals have a patient advocate. If you suspect something is wrong, or your visit is not going the way you would like, contact the patient advocate to help you.

While no one wants to go to the hospital, we want to make sure that your stay is the best it can be. Working together we can achieve this goal, and hopefully make you happier and healthier in the process.

Lauren Mallozzi is the Director of Patient Experience and Service Excellence at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Mallozzi or any of the Healthy Living columnists at


The importance of a medical home

You might have heard of the phrase “medical home.” But what does it really mean?

In short, it is developing a long lasting and meaningful relationship with a healthcare provider, a relationship that can help you stay healthy and manage any existing conditions you may have.

People without medical homes many times end up in emergency rooms, which can be too late, and costly.

In a patient-centered medical home, your care is coordinated with your doctor, who may help refer you to specialists when needed. Because your doctor knows your complete medical history, you can trust that you are in good hands and he or she can help guide you through the healthcare system when needed — including hospitals, physical therapy and home health agencies.

Technology is also a key part of a medical home. Electronic medical records are being developed to create an easier information exchange between physician offices, hospitals and even patients themselves. This increases efficiency and, in the end, improves overall health.

A lot has changed in healthcare. Previously, hospitals only cared for people when they came to the institution. Now, some of the most important healthcare occurs outside the walls of the hospital. Preventative health, aided by medical homes, is a key driver of this.

Linda Lacerte, MD, is a primary care provider at the Montville Backus Health Center. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Lacerte or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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