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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Carlos Ochoa’

As a follow-up for all the overseasradio.com radio listeners (and all my loyal readers) I have posted some additional information on the topics covered during the radio program with Ilene Little from Traveling for Health.com including contact information for several of the physicians mentioned.

in the Operating Room at New Bocagrande Hospital

Thoracic Surgery

Esophageal cancer – during the segment we highlighted the importance of seeking surgical treatment for esophageal cancer at a high-volume center.  One of the centers we mentioned was the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA – and the work of Dr. Benny Weksler, MD.

Dr. Benny Weksler*, MD

Hillman Cancer Center

5115 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Phone: (412) 648-6271

He is an Associate Professor in Cardiothoracic Surgery and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at UPMC and the UPMC Cancer Center.  (For more information on Dr. Weksler, esophageal cancer, and issues in thoracic surgery – see my sister site, Cirugia de Torax.org)

(To schedule an appointment via UPMC on-line click here).

We also briefly mentioned Dr. Daniela Molena*, MD at John Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital

600 N. Wolfe Street

Baltimore, MD 21287

Phone: 410-614-3891

Appointment Phone: 410-933-1233

(The link above will take readers to the John Hopkins site where they can also make an appointment.)

* I would like to note that I have not observed either of these physicians (Weksler or Molena) in the operating room.

We also talked about several of the thoracic surgeons that I have interviewed and observed numerous times, including both Dr. Rafael Beltran, MD & Dr. Ricardo Buitrago, MD at the National Cancer Institute in Bogotá, Colombia.  These guys are doing some pretty amazing work, on a daily basis – including surgery and research on the treatment of some very aggressive cancers.

in the operating room with Dr. Rafael Beltran

Dr. Rafael Beltran is the Director of the Thoracic Surgery division, and has published several papers on tracheal surgery.   He’s an amazing surgeon, but primarily speaks Spanish, but his colleague Dr. Buitrago (equally excellent) is fully fluent in English.

Now the National Institute website is in Spanish, but Dr. Buitrago is happy to help, and both he and Dr. Beltran welcome overseas patients.

Dr. Buitrago recently introduced RATS (robot assisted thoracic surgery) to the city of Bogotá.

Now, I’ve written about these two surgeons several times (including two books) after spending a lot of time with both of them during the months I lived and researched surgery in Bogotá, so I have included some links here to the on-line journal I kept while researching the Bogotá book.  It’s not as precise, detailed or as lengthy as the book content (more like a diary of my schedule while working on the book), but I thought readers might enjoy it.

In the Operating Room with Dr. Beltran

There are a lot of other great surgeons on the Bogotá website, and in the Bogotá book – even if they didn’t get mentioned on the show, so take a look around, if you are interested.

in the operating room with Dr. Ricardo Buitrago

Contact information:

Dr. Ricardo Buitrago, MD 

Email: buitago77us@yahoo.com

please put “medical tourist” or “overseas patient for thoracic surgery” in the subject line.

We talked about Dr. Carlos Ochoa, MD – the thoracic surgeon I am currently studying with here in Mexicali, MX.  I’ve posted all sorts of interviews and stories about working with him – here at Cartagena Surgery under the “Mexicali tab” and over at Cirugia de Torax.org as well.  (Full disclosure – I assisted Dr. Ochoa in writing some of the English content of his site.)

out from behind the camera with Dr. Ayala (left) and Dr. Carlos Ochoa

He is easily reached – either through the website, www.drcarlosochoa.com or by email at drcarlosochoa@yahoo.com.mx

HIPEC / Treatment for Advanced Abdominal Cancers

I don’t think I even got to mention Dr. Fernando Arias’ name on the program, but we did talk about HIPEC or intra-operative chemotherapy, so I have posted some links to give everyone a little more information about both.

HIPEC archives at Bogotá Surgery.org – listing of articles about HIPEC, and Dr. Arias.  (I recommend starting from oldest to most recent.)

Dr. Fernando Arias

Oncologic Surgeon at the Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogotá in Bogotá, Colombia.  You can either email him directly at farias00@hotmail.com or contact the International Patient Center at the hospital.  (The international patient center will help you arrange all of your appointments, travel, etc.)

Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogota

   www.fsfb.org.co

Ms. Ana Maria Gonzalez Rojas, RN

Chief of the International Services Department

Calle 119 No 7- 75

Bogota, Colombia

Tele: 603 0303 ext. 5895

ana.gonzalez@fsfb.org.co  or info@fsfb.org.co

Now – one thing I would like to caution people is that email communications are treated very differently in Mexico and Colombia, meaning that you may not get a response for a day or two.  (They treat it more like we treat regular postal mail.  If something is really important, people tend to use the phone/ text.)

Of course, I should probably include a link to the books over on Amazon.com – and remind readers that while the Mexicali ‘mini-book’ isn’t finished yet – when it is – I’ll have it available on-line for free pdf downloads.

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Wow..  a long couple of days – but I am sure not complaining!  Still having a blast – and as they teased me in the operating room, “Cristina, Cristina, Cristina!” I felt more like I belonged – instead of as a student, often lost/ confused.  Even more so – when I found myself irritated on rounds – irritated when the answers were obvious!!  Obvious – that’s certainly making progress..  (Irritated is such an improvement over clueless, I must say..) But the interns are a good bunch, even if they don’t love surgery like I do!

Residents at Mexicali General

The good doc gave me some homework – as we work on a ‘mystery diagnosis’ which I am enjoying.  Of course, it won’t be a mystery as soon as the pathology comes back, but I am surely enjoying the intellectual challenge (and kind of hoping that my preliminary leaps aren’t completely off-base..)  Of course – the doc is so smart – he probably already has it all figured out, and is just checking on the faculties of his student.  (He is secretly brilliant, and just hides it behind his braces and freckles.. Kind of scares me sometimes.. )

Deceptively normal looking..

Bumped into Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Perez (the anesthesiologist) this morning, which reminds me that I still need to write about my visits to his operating room last week.  So I haven’t forgotten – expect it in just a couple of days..

It’s nice too when we run into people I know as we round at different hospitals around the city..  But then – as I glance at the calendar and realize that time is passing – I get a little sad.  Just as I am starting to understand things (Spanish, the hospital systems etc..) and I am enjoying it here so much, learning so much, yet time is flying, and before you know it – I will be returning home again (wherever that is!)

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It turns out that Lalo’s parents are reading – so just for them, I am posting some more photos of Lalo (Dr. Gutierrez).  I emailed copies to Lalo to send to them – but he’s a superbusy intern, so just in case – I want them to be able to see how great he’s doing.. (and so they don’t worry).  I know there have been plenty of times in the past (probably well before blogs became popular) that my family and friends would have liked some regular updates.. (like that summer in Siberia!)

el dr. gutierrez esta operando

el dr. gutierrez esta operando

el dr. gutierrez esta operando con Profesor Ochoa

Happy to say that we have some video footage too (my first Spanish language movie!!) – I previewed it with Dr. Gutierrez, (so he wouldn’t be embarrassed..)  As you all know – my Spanish, particularly my Spanish grammar isn’t great – so don’t be surprised if it’s not perfect in the film.

 

[In other news – the good doctor (Ochoa) kindly requests that the next movie be set to Coldplay..  So noted..]

Here I am with Lalo - (of course, I'm am looking like heck - but that seems to be a regular thing for me..)

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Oops! probably shouldn’t be part of any blog about thoracic surgery – but I say – “Oops!” because as I look over some of my writing – I see that I have definitely fallen into old habits (of writing reviews).  But I won’t fight my natural tendencies – and just maybe, when we get done – there will be another ‘Hidden Gem’ for my loyal fans..

Long, wonderful day in thoracic surgery – which started at the Hospital de la Familia, a private facility on the outskirts of Mexicali by the ‘new’ border crossing.. It’s way out on Avenue Maduro (after it changes names a couple of times) in an industrial area.  But – like most of the private facilities I’ve seen so far in Mexicali – its sparkling, and gleaming with marble floors, and plenty of privacy for the patients..  Don’t worry – I’ll be writing more about this, and the other private hospitals in Mexicali soon..

Hospital de la Familia

While I was there – I got to see Dr. Octavio Campa again.  He’s an anesthesiologist – and a pretty darn good one (and if you’ve read the previous books, you know I won’t hesitate to mention when anesthesia isn’t up to par, either.)  This picture* should show you exactly why I am so fond of him – as you’ll note, he pays very close attention to his patients, and their hemodynamic status.

Dr. Campa – Anesthesiologist

This is my second time in the operating room with Dr. Campa – and both times he has consistently shown excellence in his care of the patient.  (He’s pretty skilled with a double lumen tube, which helps.)

Dr. Octavio Campa Mendoza  MD

Anesthesiologist

(if you want to contact him to schedule anesthesia for your surgery – email me.)

Dr. Campa was born and raised in San Luis, Mexico. In fact, along with Dr. Gabriel Ramos – he’s known Dr. Ochoa for most of his life.  After completing his medical education, he did a three-year residency in Anaesthesia, and has been practicing for seven years.

Prior to starting the case, he started a thoracic epidural for post-operative pain control – using a nice combination of Fentanyl and bipivicaine, so this should be fairly comfortable for the patient when (s)he wakes up.   A lot of anesthesiologists don’t like performing thoracic epidurals (it’s an extra hassle, and takes more skill than a standard lumbar epidural) but I am sure the patient will appreciate the extra effort.

He was attentive during the case – and the patient’s vital signs stayed within acceptable ranges during the entire case – good oxygenation, no tachycardia, and no hypotension at all during the case.  He didn’t delegate any of his responsibilities to anyone else – he administered all the drugs, and stayed by the patient’s side during the entire case.  (Like, I said before – if you’ve read the books, you know that this is not always the situation.)

Recommended.

Dr. Vasquez, the cardiac surgeon joined us in the operating room today.  It was nice to see him.  I posted a picture of him in his surgical regalia so everyone will be able to recognize him when I interview him next week.

Dr. Vasquez (left) and Dr. Ochoa at the end of another successful case.

I can’t (and won’t) tell you much about the individual cases but I did get some great photos to share today.. (It’s too bad – because I always meet the most interesting people – disguised as ‘patients.’  But it wouldn’t be fair to them.)

* I don’t believe in ‘staged’ operating room photos – what you see is what you get – sometimes the photos aren’t perfect, because I take them while people are working – but I don’t want to add any artificiality to the scene.  Of course – the casual, between cases photos are a little different.

a more casual photo now that the case is over.. Dr. Vasquez, Dr. Campa and Dr. Ochoa

I promised everyone more photos – so don’t worry – I still have a lot more to share.  This is one of my favorite ones of Dr. Ochoa – he’s notoriously hard to get ‘good’ photos of – because he’s always in action, so to speak – so a lot of the operating room photos don’t always capture him well.

Dr. Ochoa, writing orders

After the first case – we headed over to Mexicali General – where I was able to get some more pictures of my friends.. However, this photo below – is probably my favorite that I’ve taken in Mexicali so far.. (Which is surprising because: a. it’s not a surgery photo and b. I had to set aside some of my ego to even post it.)

But then again – no one is going to look good in a photo next to Carmen – she’s a stunningly beautiful woman – even after an evening in the operating room.  Carmen is one of the circulating room nurses at Mexicali General – and she’s pretty awesome – in addition to having these amazing expressive eyes that peep out from behind the surgical mask.  I really enjoy talking to Carmen – because at the end of the day – whether I am taking on the role of medical writer, photographer or student – I am a nurse, and I always enjoy talking to other nurses and hearing about their work, and lives. (I know there is a great book there – a compilation of nursing stories from around the world – but try getting a nurse to slow down for five minutes for an interview..)

with Carmen, a circulating nurse at Mexicali General

Of course, I couldn’t end my post without more pictures of my two favorite people; Lalo and Jose Luis..

I like standing next to Jose Luis – besides being a fabulous guy – doesn’t it make me look thin??

For the last photo today – I’ve got a great, dramatic action photo of Lalo.. You can’t really see – but he’s throwing sutures in this picture – and I just think it will be a great photo for him to have when he’s a practicing cardiac surgeon someday.

Dr. Gutierrez, throwing sutures during a VATS case

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Following surgery at Hospital Alamater, we proceed to the Hospital General de Mexicali.  This is the largest public facility in Mexicali, and is surprisingly small.  After a recent earthquake, only three floors are currently in use, with the two remaining upper floors undergoing demolition for repair after earthquake-related damage.  The facility is old and dated, and it shows.  There are ongoing construction projects and repairs throughout the facility.

On the medical and surgical floors there are dormitory style accommodations with three patients in each room.  Sandwiched across from the nursing station are several rooms designated as ‘Intermediate’ care.  These rooms are full with patients requiring a higher level of care, but not needing the intensive care unit which is located downstairs adjacent to the operating theater.

 

surgical nurses at Hospital General

The intensive care unit itself is small and crowded with patients.  There are currently five patients, all intubated and in critical condition.  Equipment is functional and adequate but not new, with the exception of hemodynamic monitors.  There is no computerized radiology (all films are printed and viewed at bedside.)

We visit several post-operative patients upstairs on the surgical floors, and talk with the patients at length.  All of the patients are doing well, including several patients who were hospitalized after holiday-related trauma (stabbing with chest and abdominal injuries.) The floors are busy with internal medicine residents and medical students on rounds.

Despite it’s unattractive facade, and limited resources – the operating room is similar to operating rooms across the United States.. Some of the equipment is older, or even unavailable (Dr. Ochoa brings his own sterile packages of surgical instruments for cases here.)  However, during a case at the facility – all of the staff demonstrate appropriate knowledge and surgical techniques. The anesthesiologist invites me to look over his shoulder (so to speak) and read through the chart..

Since respiratory therapy and pulmonary toileting is such an important part of post-operative care of patients having lung surgery – we stopped in to check out the Respiratory department.  I met with Jose Luis Barron Oropeza who is the head of Respiratory Therapy.  He graciously explained the therapies available and invited me to the upcoming symposium, which he is chairing.  (The symposium for respiratory therapy in Mexicali is the 18th thru the 20th of this month.  If anyone is interested in attending, send me an email for further details.)

After rounding on patients at the General Hospital – despite the late hour (it is after midnight) we make one more stop, back at the Hospital Alamater for one last look at his patients there.  Dr. Ochoa makes a short stop for some much-needed food at a small taco stand while we make plans to meet the next morning.

Due to the limitedavailable resources, I wouldn’t recommend this facility for medical tourists.  However, the physicians I encountered were well-trained and knowledgeable in their fields.

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As most readers know, Thoracic surgery is my absolute passion – and it’s a big part of my day-to-day life, too.. So, it was a great pleasure to spend this morning talking to Dr. Carlos Cesar Ochoa Gaxiola, here in Mexicali.

Dr. Ochoa is one of those surgeons that make this project so worthwhile.  He is enthusiastic, and enjoys what he does.  Talking with young surgeons like Dr. Ochoa seems to restore my faith in the future – which is desperately needed sometimes after reading (and reporting) all of the negative headlines regarding the health care crisis; shortages of vital medications (and surgeons!), escalating and out-of-control costs, fraudulent practices and patient mistreatment.

For more on this morning’s interview, see my sister site, www.cirugiadetorax.org

He kindly extended an invitation to visit the operating room, and see more about his practice – so I’ll give a full report on my next visit to this city.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the mild (and sunny) winter weather.

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