Colorectal surgeon offers patient-centered approach to treatment
UHS is strengthening its capabilities in the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer with the addition of a new physician who specializes in a patient-centered response to the disease. Neil Gibson, MD, comes to UHS with an impressive medical background from leading universities and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
Board-certified in general and colon and rectal surgery, Dr. Gibson heads a clinical team at UHS that cares for the patient every step of the way, from referral through diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care and support. Today’s treatment options range from surgery to radiation to chemotherapy, with each approach tailored to a patient’s specific condition and needs.
A surgical leader
Dr. Gibson received his medical degree from the College of Medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He then completed an internship and residency in general surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and a fellowship in colorectal surgery at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
Since 2015 he has been a general surgeon and chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Kane Community Hospital in Kane, Pa.
Colorectal surgeons are experts in the medical and surgical management of conditions of the colon, rectum and anus. They are adept at the treatment of both benign and malignant diseases and also perform routine screening examinations.
Some common conditions they treat are: cancer, diverticular disease, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, perianal conditions, pilonidal disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Dr. Gibson says a number of factors led him to focus his practice on colorectal disease.
“My residency at the Cleveland Clinic was definitely an influence,” he says. “It’s one of the most respected facilities in the country in this specialty.”
Continuing, he notes: “Although colorectal surgery is limited to three body parts – the colon, rectum and anus – we manage a wide variety of other conditions, which offers a challenge. There’s also a history of colon cancer in my family, which furthered my interest.”
While practicing in Pennsylvania and beginning to seek a new opportunity, Dr. Gibson was impressed with what he witnessed on visits to UHS. The organization exhibits a dedication to patient-focused care.
“At UHS, having medical oncologists in-house, plus two full-time radiation oncologists and the nurse navigator program, adds to the comprehensive approach we offer and truly benefits our patients,” he says.
A team response
The specialized care offered by Dr. Gibson and the colorectal team starts with a referral from a primary care provider or gastroenterologist and continues through diagnosis and treatment. Some forms of surgery can be done laparoscopically, via a “keyhole” incision, which can shorten recovery time.
Three nurse navigators are integral to UHS’ colorectal surgery and other oncology programs. Working with patients who have been diagnosed with any form of cancer, they provide information, guidance and support to patients and their families.
“I’m often asked to be in the room when a patient learns he or she has cancer,” said Mary Mancini, RN, BSN, one of the oncology nurse navigators at UHS Wilson Medical Center. “The time of diagnosis is emotional, stressful and confusing. The patient often doesn’t hear anything after the word ‘cancer.’”
For that reason, it’s ideal for nurse navigators to be involved with patients from the start, she says. They typically develop a long-term care relationship with the patients, helping them understand their treatment options, offering to sit in on consultations, and providing education and emotional support.
Ms. Mancini says that nurse navigators connect patients with social workers, dietitians and physical therapists as needed, and with a support network. Support groups offered at UHS specifically related to cancer include one designed for newly diagnosed individuals and those currently going through treatment, and another one for people who have completed treatment.
In addition, UHS offers a support group for those who are caring for a loved one with a serious disease, cancer or otherwise, and another group for children whose parents or grandparents are dealing with serious illnesses.
An important screening
Dr. Gibson, Ms. Mancini and the colorectal and oncology teams at UHS recommend screening for the early detection of any kind of colorectal issue. This can give patients the best chance for effective treatment, a better quality of life and survival of cancer.
One of the most common and highly recommended screenings is a colonoscopy – and getting one isn’t as bad as people often think it will be, Dr. Gibson says.
“I’ve heard all the complaints: it’s embarrassing, the prep is hard to do, I don’t have a family history,” he says. “None of those are good enough reasons to not have a colonoscopy. The prep tastes better than it used to and the quantity can be split into two doses, so you’re drinking less at one time.”
He urges everyone to have their first colonoscopy at age 50, and every 10 years thereafter. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer should start screening 10 years prior to the relative’s age at diagnosis, or at age 40, which is earlier.
Information and referral
Dr. Gibson’s office is located on the fourth floor of Wilson Square, 30 Harrison St., Johnson City. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Patients with urgent conditions often can be seen the same day. For information or an appointment, call 763-8100.