Local doctors talk about the care they provide and why your health matters to them.
By the Editors
Health care continues to be an important part our lives. Everyone wants to be healthy, but sometimes you need some help to get that way. Luckily, the Miami Valley is home to fantastic doctors in a variety of fields. We spoke with 11 local doctors about the care they provide and why your health matters to them.
Dr. David W. Key
Dayton Physicians Network
Dr. David Key’s career was set in motion as a teenager when he saw his grandfather die of cancer.
“I ended up going into urology because I saw my grandfather go through a lot of pain,” he says. “He had kidney cancer and ended up dying from it. I saw him suffer a really intolerable death and that made an impression on me.”
A multispecialty group, Dayton Physicians this year introduced its Advanced Prostate Cancer Center, led by Key and Dr. Mark Monsour, one of only a few programs like it in Ohio.
“The advantage of the clinic is that it allows us to use real-time data to make decisions about prostate cancer care,” Key says.
They’re taking that approach a step further in early 2018 with Dayton’s first Active Surveillance Prostate Cancer Clinic.
“It’s for men diagnosed with prostate cancer who don’t necessarily need to be treated but should be followed in a formal setting so if things change and they need to be treated we’re right on top of it,” he says.
Active surveillance has become more widely accepted as a management strategy in the wake of concerns that surgery and radiation were being overused to treat the disease. As many as 40 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer may fit the criteria for active surveillance, he says.
At the same time medical science is making a lot of progress in treating prostate cancer.
“There are at least five treatments utilized for advanced prostate cancer that didn’t exist five years ago,” he says. “The response to these treatments has been phenomenal improvement in the overall quality of patients’ lives.”
Dr. Deborah Mowery
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Dayton Children’s Hospital
Dr. Deborah Mowery knew from the time she was a little girl that she wanted to help children with disabilities. She just didn’t know how at the time.
But growing up with an older sister who was a counselor at a camp for children with disabilities and making friends with some of the kids at that camp, including her now best friend, instilled in Mowery a desire to learn how to help children with disabilities.
Mowery, who is now a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, also known as physiatrist, at Dayton Children’s Hospital, says she didn’t know about that particular field of medicine until she was helping a child in wheelchair racing. “She needed some medical care and then we found out what physiatry was because that was what she needed,” Mowery says.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation is the diagnosis and management of children with physically disabling conditions such as brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neuromuscular disorders and musculoskeletal conditions in order to maximize quality of life by improving function.
Mowery says her job at Dayton Children’s Hospital involves helping children with disabilities who have any difficulties with function. “That’s our big thing,” she says. “We try to optimize their functional independence.”
Another function of Mowery’s practice is to make sure children with disabilities are receiving the proper physical, occupational or speech therapies. She also assesses children for their equipment needs or braces. “Whatever the kids might need to just be the best they can be,” says Mowery.
Dr. Robert Short
Vascular Interventional Radiologist
Dayton VA Medical Center
For someone whose intention in graduate school was to become “an overeducated engineer,” Dr. Robert Short instead ended up a “glorified plumber.”
His path to “plumbing” started once he completed his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Wright State University. “I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a doctor, a teacher or an engineer,” he says.
While in an M.D./Ph.D. program at The Ohio State University he met an interventional radiologist who asked Short to accompany him to the lab to watch him perform an image-guided procedure that made a large tumor in a child’s neck basically disappear. “It just blew me away,” he says.
It also convinced him that he should study medicine and become what he is today: a vascular interventional radiologist at the Dayton VA Medical Center. “I often tell my patients that really I’m a glorified plumber,” says Short.
That’s because many of his procedures are performed inside blood vessels using a needle, a wire and a catheter or ablation probes. “The blood vessels provide us with a route to reach almost any tissue in the body,” he says. “I can go into a pipe in the wrist or the leg and I can steer a catheter right up next to a tumor and put beads that are loaded with chemotherapy into that tumor and cause that tumor to shrink and die.”
Dr. Bryan R. Ludwig
Clinical Neuroscience Institute – Premier Health
As a member of the stroke team at Premier Health, Dr. Bryan R. Ludwig helps take care of patients who come in with strokes. A neurointerventional surgeon, he is able to repair and unblock arteries and use new therapies that can even reverse symptoms of a stroke. For these therapies patients need to get help as quickly as possible. However, Ludwig says many people don’t know how to identify a stroke.
“I think the education information is much more widespread now than it was probably not even a decade ago, but we still find an enormous percentage of people that we talk to don’t understand how to recognize a stroke, let alone what to do about it if they did,” says Ludwig,
He recommends the FAST method of detection. It stand for facial droop (if a person’s face is asymmetric or one side is dropping), arms (if a person can’t lift their arms or can’t lift them evenly), speech (if a person can’t repeat a sentence that isn’t their name) and take action. “If you identify one of those as abnormal you’ve got about a 72 percent chance of diagnosing stroke accurately. If the patient has all three of them you have about a 92 percent chance of diagnosing stroke accurately,” says Ludwig.
As a founder of the Clinical Neuroscience Institute, he’s leading the way in educating doctors, nurses and others in how to identify and treat a stroke. Started seven years ago, it now has 50 doctors and a residency program.
Dr. Kamal R. Woods
Kettering Health Network
Being treated for back and spine problems is never fun, but Dr. Kamal Wood wants to make sure neurosurgery patients at the Kettering Health Network have a good experience.
“Part of what we’re doing at Kettering is figuring out how we can really obsess over our patients and their experience and build an experience that appeals to them,” says Woods who came to Dayton a year ago from his native southern California as medical director for neuroscience at Kettering.
Woods, who is pursuing an MBA at John Hopkins University, has a strong interest in the business of medicine.
“Other businesses think about the customer experience because they know it brings value if you have happy customers. I believe in health care we’re sort of lagging behind for many reasons.”
Part of his mission at Kettering is to make sure patients “walk away feeling that somebody listened, cared for them and that they got the best treatment,” he says. “We believe we’re on that path at Kettering with the brain and spine program.”
Woods, who got interested in pursuing medicine after watching a reality TV show about surgery while in college, specializes in minimally invasive back and spine surgery.
“I get to be a part of changing people’s lives every day,” he says, “ We’re not like elective surgery. We’re kind of the patient’s last resort. They’ve tried everything else. It’s nice to know that a lot of times we can offer hope to them and transform their lives.”
Dr. Kristen Spisak
Dayton Children’s Hospital
It’s a good thing for some of the children undergoing surgery at Dayton Children’s Hospital that Dr. Kristen Spisak didn’t go into the profession she wanted when she was very young.
If the anesthesiologist had chosen her initial professional choice she would be training dolphins instead of numbing patients before their surgery. “When I was really little I wanted to be a dolphin trainer,” Spisak says.
But then she realized she enjoyed science and being around people more than dolphins. “I’m more of an extroverted-type person so I always felt like being a doctor was sort of that perfect blend of you getting to be around people and … also sort of that critical thinking and sort of the inquisitive scientific side.”
It’s not the first time Spisak has changed her mind about her career path. She originally intended to become a plastic surgeon, but after her second year of medical school realized it wasn’t “cracked up” to be what she thought.
She realized she enjoyed being in the operating room and using her hands, but the lifestyle of an anesthesiologist was much more conducive to having a family in the future.
Now Spisak injects local anesthetic into the spinal fluid of children undergoing surgery below the waist. She says it provides another option for children that need surgery below the waist when there is concern about exposure to general anesthetic.
Children recover a lot faster, they have a lot better pain control after surgery and a lot less nausea and vomiting with the local anesthetic injection, says Spisak.
Dr. Joseph Allen
Family Medicine of Vandalia – Premier Health
For Dr. Joseph Allen of Family Medicine of Vandalia practicing family medicine means treating patients like family.
“You’re involved in a lot of their personal issues through and through,” he says. “This is a really cool thing to be able to influence these folks lives and have them influence yours over many years and even generations.”
Having grown up north of Dayton on a farm, Allen knew he wanted to continue to live and serve the people of the region. “I always felt when I went into practice that I wanted to be north of town. There’s plenty of docs in Centerville—we’re a little short on docs up the north side,” he says. He says that patients appreciate his familiarity with the area and he often finds unexpected connections to patients through families and friends.
In addition to practicing family medicine, Allen also works with the athletic teams of Bethel High School and is even IMPACT test certified, allowing him to test for concussions. Also, he is the Premier Health physician market lead for his region. In this position he acts as the physicians’ voice at the corporate level and assists physicians as they transition from volume-based to quality-based care.
Dr. Mark Marinella
Dayton Physicians Network
Physician, author and business entrepreneur, Mark Marinella wears a lot of hats.
Marinella, who practices mainly from Miami Valley Hospital South’s comprehensive cancer center in Centerville, is a generalist whose focus is on cancers of the breast, blood, immune system, lungs and prostate.
Marinella says the development of immunotherapies, using the body’s own immune system to fight disease, is reshaping cancer treatment.
“The FDA has approved it for a lot of different things and they are testing it for lot of other types of cancers. We’re even seeing commercials for some of the therapy drugs on TV. Clearly that’s the future and that’s where things are changing,” he says.
He’s written seven books, including several medical texts and a look at the Crucifixion of Christ from a medical standpoint. His most recent book mixes his interest in cooking and cancer prevention. “I like to cook. I’d love to be chef if I wasn’t doing what I do,” he says.
Metronomic Phytonutrition: How daily, regular intake of plant-based foods may decrease cancer risk (Beacon Publishing and Design) surveys the research on eating a regular plant-based diet and reducing cancer risk.
“Not all cancers stem from diet but it’s felt maybe 20 to 30 percent could be eliminated worldwide with a plant-based diet like the Mediterranean diet,” he says.
His interest led him to start his own company, Phytodense Foods LLC, which offers three salt-free spice grind blends containing phytonutrients and soon a vegan, gluten-free nutrition/energy bar. The products are available at several locations and at phytodensefoods.com.
Dr. Julian J. Trevino
Wright State Physicians
Having a skin condition is more than uncomfortable—it can also affect how you perceive yourself and live your life.
“The impact that skin diseases can have on folks’ lives is really significant. Some people will limit their social activity, going out to the store, going anywhere because they have visible skin rash,” says Dr. Julian Trevino, a dermatologist with Wright State Physicians.
Trevino says he enjoys helping patients of all ages, from newborns to 90-year-olds, get back to having a full life. For example, Trevino, one of the few pediatric dermatologists in the region, says helping young children with eczema can relieve parents of a lot of stress while helping teens with acne can make them feel more secure.
While many skin conditions are genetic, others can be avoided with some smart planning. Trevino says you can decrease your risk of skin cancer by wearing sunscreen or a long-sleeve shirt or by avoiding direct sunlight between the hours of 10 and 4. “If you can do activities in the morning before 10 or in the afternoon after 4 your chances of getting those damaging sun rays is much less than between the hours of 10 and 4,” Revino says. “The sun is the biggest enemy for people’s skin.”
Dr. Nancy Pook
Kettering Medical Center Emergency Department
Dr. Nancy Pook got into medicine because she wanted to save lives, and not just in the emergency room at Kettering Medical Center.
Pook has developed an increasingly in-demand program to help medical providers and pharmacists find alternatives to opiates to manage pain.
The emergency department deals daily with the impact of the nation’s opiate addiction. “We see overdoses every day,” she says.
Called “Pause–Not all Pain is the Same,” the protocol manages chronic or benign pain by asking providers to pause and consider opiate alternatives. The program offers reference materials for clinicians that show alternatives for five key types of pain. The program is supported by training and tracks opiate prescribing in electronic medical records.
“We wanted to provide the best medication and we knew that actually opiates are contraindicated in certain conditions and people weren’t taking that into account,” she says of the development of the program.
As word has spread about the success of the program more providers and others are asking for the information.
“Our goal is to save lives and every community and pretty much everybody knows someone who’s been affected by opiate addiction,” she says.
A native of upstate New York, Pook came to Dayton after graduating from Syracuse University’s medical school to participate in the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s emergency medicine residency program.
She says emergency medicine allows her to treat all ages and types of people from all walks of life. “There aren’t many specialties where you can do that,” she says.
Dr. Rebecca M. Tuttle
Wright State Physicians
Dr. Rebecca Tuttle, a surgical oncologist with Wright State Physicians, wants patients to know that they get can quality and innovative health without leaving the Miami Valley
“People think that they can’t get advanced cancer care, particularly surgical cancer care, in Dayton, but they can,” she says. Tuttle is the first and currently only doctor in the region to offer HIPEC, or heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy. The procedure, used for metastatic colorectal and certain appendix cancers, consists of placing hot chemotherapy in a patient’s abdomen for 90 minutes after surgery to kill any remaining cancers. “I do think the medical oncologists in Dayton are very interested (in having this performed on their patients). I’m starting to see referrals from them. The other general surgeons are interested,” she says.
While Tuttle enjoys bringing new procedures to the region, she also appreciates the opportunity to create long-lasting relationships with her patients.
“We get to know our patients. I take care of them for 5, 10 years. I talk to them at the time of their diagnosis, I go through with them if they have radiation or chemotherapy prior to surgery, we get through surgery, and then I follow them to make sure their cancer isn’t coming back for many years. You really get to know them and establish a relationship with them. That’s why I choose what I do,” she says.