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March 3, 2016
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Upstate is named a National Pancreas Foundation Center for Care and Treatment of Pancreas Disease

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Upstate Medical University has been named a National Pancreas Foundation (NPF) Center for Care and Treatment of Pancreas Disease.

With this designation, Upstate becomes one of only 37 medical institutions nationwide and the only one in New York outside of New York City to be recognized by the NPF.

The designation means that Upstate has all the services, health care professionals and programs necessary to provide multidisciplinary treatment of the pancreas, with the ability to treat the “whole patient,” focusing on ensuring the best treatment outcomes for an improved quality of life.

Matthew Alsante, executive director of National Pancreas Foundation, indicated that for people coping with pancreatitis or other pancreatic disorders today, there are inconsistencies in the level of care they receive. The NPF Centers designation will help facilitate the development of high quality, multidisciplinary care approaches for the field. Designated centers will also seek to advance research and lead the way for heightened awareness and understanding of pancreatitis and related conditions among community physicians, allied health professionals, patients, families and the general public.

“NPF Centers are of great benefit to the whole community,” said NPF Center Task Force member Timothy Gardner, MD. “Having the NPF Center designation will help distinguish institutions whose focus is on patient-centered care either for the treatment of their disease or to get an expert second opinion.”

“It’s a seal of approval for how we care for patients with pancreatitis,” said Upstate University Hospital interventional gastroenterologist Nuri Ozden, MD, and the medical director of the National Pancreas Foundation, New York State Chapter, who was instrumental in winning the designation for Upstate. “We have all the experts here: dieticians, endocrinologists, epidemiologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists, (interventional) radiologists, pain management specialists, and surgeons, that work together as one multi-disciplinary team to develop the best treatment plans for our patients with chronic pancreatitis.”

Rainer W.G. Gruessner, MD, Upstate’s transplant chief and professor of surgery, said the designation also “highlights the breath of treatment options at Upstate Medical University in dealing with the many complications of chronic pancreatitis, ranging from diabetes to cancer. Upstate will soon offer islet autotransplantation for patients undergoing total pancreatectomy for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis, a treatment option offered only at a handful of medical centers in the nation.

Pancreas and islet transplant programs for the treatment of patients with endocrine pancreas failure and for those suffering from diabetes mellitus, are also currently being developed at Upstate.” Upstate already plays a major role in the region in patient and physician education for all kinds of diseases of the pancreas and serves as a resource to patient support groups.

“This puts Upstate on the map with regard to our expertise in the treatment of this and other pancreatic diseases,” Gruessner said, noting that Upstate could become a medical destination center for the treatment of pancreatic disorders for patients throughout the Northeast.

Jane Cross, the chair of the CNY Chapter of the NPF, who has battled pancreatic disease for 15 years, says the designation at Upstate will be helpful to many individuals like her. “It has been difficult to find treatment here in the Northeast that looks at the health of the entire patient, not simply the pancreatic disease,” she said. “Those of us living with this disease know the disease brings to bear many health concerns. Upstate’s designation as an NPF Center gives patients the assurance that care here meets a high standard.”

To be designated as a NPF Center, Upstate went through an extensive auditing process to assess how well it met criteria that were developed by a task force made up of invited subject matter experts and patient advocates. The criteria require that patients have access to a host of medical experts and clinical trials, various imaging technology and electronic medical records, to name a few.

Pancreatic diseases range from acute pancreatitis to pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas sits behind the stomach and is a vital part of the digestive system. It secretes enzymes to help the digestion of food and specializing in controlling blood sugar levels. Common disorders of the pancreas include:

• Acute pancreatitis is a sudden attack causing inflammation of the pancreas and severe abdominal pain that may last several days. Most patients with this disorder recover completely.

• Chronic pancreatitis is an irreversible disorder associated with the destruction of the pancreas that can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. In latter stages patients can develop malnutrition, weight loss and diabetes mellitus.

• Hereditary pancreatitis is a progressive disease with a high risk of permanent problems.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in men and fifth in women. It accounts for more than 37,000 new cases each year.

Diabetes mellitus is the most common metabolic disease caused by the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, affecting over 30 million Americans, and remains the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, major amputations and cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks and strokes.

Caption: Rainer W.G. Gruessner, MD, professor and chief of transplant, and interventional gastroenterologist Nuri Ozden, MD, who serves as medical director of the local chapter of National Pancreas Foundation (NPF), were instrumental in obtaining the NPF Center designation for Upstate Medical University.  The designation means that Upstate has all the services, health care professionals and programs necessary to provide multidisciplinary treatment of the pancreas, with the ability to treat the “whole patient,” focusing on ensuring the best treatment outcomes for an improved quality of life.

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