When the results of Mary Ann Soehngen’s routine blood tests arrived, her family medicine physician, Sandra Arango-Fahmy, M.D., discovered she had unusually high levels of calcium.
She referred 60-year-old Mary Ann to Reema Patel, M.D., FACE, an endocrinologist and medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center, Affiliate at Raritan Bay Medical Center Old Bridge. Dr. Patel treats patients not only with diabetes, but also a variety of endocrine disorders, including high calcium.
Using blood tests and parathyroid scans to determine why Mary Ann’s calcium levels were elevated, Dr. Patel diagnosed her with primary hyperparathyroidism. Parathyroid glands maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorous in the body. There are four parathyroid glands located in the neck besides the thyroid. They are usually very small in size, but if one or more of them are overactive, they can grow in size and produce excessive parathyroid hormone. This, in turn, can cause high calcium levels in the body and may result in the development of kidney stones and osteoporosis.
Dr. Patel also found that Mary Ann had high blood pressure, osteoporosis and calcium deposits in her kidney, which were caused by her primary hyperparathyroidism. “Primary hyperparathyroidism has many metabolic consequences, so proper diagnosis and timely intervention is the key,” says Dr. Patel. “Mary Ann was unaware that her condition, although she had no symptoms, was causing her to develop calcifications in her kidneys, osteoporosis and high blood pressure, which would definitely progress without prompt treatment.”
Surgical Expertise Needed
Dr. Patel referred Mary Ann to an endocrine surgeon, Alexander Shifrin, M.D., FACS, FACE, ECNU, at Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s Thyroid, Parathyroid and Adrenal Disease Center, for the surgical removal of Mary Ann’s affected parathyroid gland. “The strong relationship between the Joslin Diabetes Center at Raritan Bay and Jersey Shore’s Thyroid, Parathyroid and Adrenal Disease Center enables patients to access comprehensive care from multiple specialists,” says Dr. Patel.
In December, Mary Ann had a minimally invasive surgery to remove her affected parathyroid gland at Jersey Shore. During the procedure, Dr. Shifrin made a small incision in her neck and used slender, specially designed surgical instruments to gingerly excise her enlarged parathyroid gland. He performed intraoperative parathyroid hormone level measurements during the surgery to confirm that only one parathyroid gland was involved.
“Removing the gland is an incredibly effective treatment because it immediately stops the overproduction of parathyroid hormone and normalizes blood calcium levels,” Dr. Shifrin says.
Although her diagnosis came as a surprise, Mary Ann is impressed that her medical teams pinpointed her condition and provided her quick and effective care. “I knew that everyone was committed to making me well,” Mary Ann says. “I’m relieved to be healthy again.”
Message from the President
It’s hard to believe it has only been two years since Raritan Bay Medical Center secured its future with acceptance into a world-class health care organization Hackensack Meridian Health. With this foundation in place our efforts have focused on adding new patient services, amenities, and health care technologies, increasing local access to surgical specialists and primary care physicians, and improving the quality and safety of the care we provide.
The future is bright for Raritan Bay Medical Center. I know our physicians, Magnet-recognized nurses, leaders, and team members are dedicated to improving the well-being of our community by providing safe, high-quality care, leading-edge health technology, access to clinical specialists, and the best possible experience at all our facilities.
Michael R. D’Agnes, FACHE
President of Raritan Bay Medical Center
Raritan Bay Recognized for High-Quality Patient Care
Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy and Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge achieved three patient care recognitions in 2017, demonstrating our commitment to providing patients with high-quality services.
After rigorous onsite review, Raritan Bay earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the AHA/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements, including program management, the delivery of clinical care and performance improvement. Raritan Bay is a New Jersey Department of Health designated Primary Stroke Center.
Raritan Bay also earned a three-year term of accreditation from the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in nuclear cardiology. Nuclear cardiology studies use noninvasive techniques to assess the heart’s blood flow, evaluate its pumping function, as well as visualize the size and location of a heart attack, and is particularly useful in emergency situations. IAC accreditation indicates that the medical center has undergone an intensive application and review process, and is found to be in compliance with published national standards. Raritan Bay also holds IAC accreditation in adult echocardiography.
Center for Robotic Surgery Surpasses Expectations, Increases Surgical Specialties
Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge added the da Vinci Xi®, the most advanced robotic-assisted surgical system available, to it surgical services and opened the Center for Robotic Surgery in May 2017.
Thanks to Dr. Sabido, the new center surpassed Raritan Bay leadership’s expectations for robotic surgery patient volume in 2017. With the need for state-of-the-art minimally invasive surgery well-established in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay continues to attract surgeons to join the Center for Robotic Surgery. Highly specialized Urology, Colorectal, Breast, and Thoracic Surgeons, as well as several additional General Surgeons have joined the center in the months after its opening. Since robotic surgery has many interventions, including; liver tumors, obesity, pancreatic tumors, kidney tumors, bladder cancer, diverticulitis, colorectal cancer, gynecologic cancers and more, Raritan Bay continues to add an array of specialized surgeons to its medical staff.
Central New Jersey residents are benefiting from not only the nearby, expert surgical care, but also the center’s location, conveniently housed in the Medical and Surgical Pavilion at Raritan Bay-Old Bridge, a “one stop shop” allowing patients to receive pre-operative testing and blood work, visit their physicians and have their surgery in the same location.
Center for Bariatric Surgery Opens at Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy
Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy opened the Center for Bariatric Surgery in 2017 under the medical direction of board certified and fellowship trained general surgeon Karl Strom, M.D., FACS. Designed for people struggling with weight loss through diet and exercise, and having accompanying health problems, the new service offers a safe and healthy option to lose weight and keep it off.
Bariatric surgery or “weight-loss surgery” utilizes one of three different procedures; Lap-Band, Sleeve Gastrectomy, or Gastric Bypass, based on what is best for each patient. “Bariatric surgery is a tool, not a cure. For it to be effective long term, it must be accompanied by lifestyle changes, including getting regular exercise and following a healthy diet,” says Dr. Strom. “That’s where our multidisciplinary team, including experienced surgeons, nutritionists and psychologists, comes in. We create customized care plans based on our individual patients, helping them realize outstanding lifelong outcomes.”
The new center complements the similar Institute for Weight Loss at Raritan Bay-Old Bridge.
Learning Garden Collaborations Growing
Raritan Bay Medical Center Integrative Health & Medicine services’ Learning Garden, a container garden education program, began summer 2015 with the goal of providing hands-on education, for children and adults, about the basics of gardening and the importance of healthy produce and proper nutrition. Initially the garden was created through a donation from Raritan Bay’s medical staff and help from numerous team members and community volunteers under the guidance of Master Gardener Connie Elek.
“It’s a nice way to work together,” Moir said. “It’s a good start. We also spoke about getting our kids’ hands dirty and doing some planting next season. Part of the criteria for our certification as a 3-star green restaurant is utilizing locally grown, organic produce, making our partnership with the Learning Garden ideal.” The Green Restaurant Association granted the certification, which recognizes restaurants that are environmentally sustainable in a number of ways, including food served.
Students from MCVTS’ Project Employ have also worked in the hospital’s garden the past two summers. “It’s been a wonderful learning opportunity for our students,” said MCVTS Superintendent of Schools Dianne D. Veilleux. Plans are now underway to expand the partnership to include the East Brunswick and Piscataway school campuses and Raritan Bay-Old Bridge’s Learning Garden.
Michael R. D’Agnes, FACHE
Thomas Shanahan, CPA
Chief Operating Officer
Michael Ciencewicki, M.D.
Vice President, Clinical Effectiveness
William Distanislao, MPA
Vice President, Operations/Old Bridge Site Executive
Jane O’Rourke, DNP, R.N., NEA-BC, CENP
Vice President, Nursing/Chief Nursing Executive
James Karaman, MBA
Vice President, Physician/Business Development
Medical Staff Leadership
Sanjeev Nayyar, M.D.
Puneet Sahgal, M.D.
Stuart M. Homer, M.D.
Joseph Mathew, M.D.