Physician Profile – Dr. Levy

VCU Health’s medical staff at Baird Vascular Institute reflects fresh thinking about a collaborative approach to vascular care. VCU Health Medical Center’s Division of Vascular Surgery and Department of Radiology joined forces to create Central Virginia’s only academically based vascular center. We’ve brought together leading interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons to provide the Greater Richmond and Central Virginia region with the best in vascular diagnosis and treatment. Together, they offer area patients and referring physicians a level of medical expertise, experience and knowledge usually found only in a major academic medical center, as well as the most advanced technologies and facilities to support their work – all in a convenient outpatient setting.

Occasionally, we like to highlight some of our physicians on a more personal level. We recently sat down with Mark M. Levy, MD, our Chair of Vascular Surgery – to find out a little more about what he’s like outside of the office.

Where are you from?  I’m originally from Elberon, New Jersey – on the Jersey shore. The job at at VCU Health is what brought me to Richmond in the 1990’s.

Levy_1703

Mark M. Levy, MD

Would you say you’re a city person or a country person? I have no idea – I feel like I could be both. I feel comfortable in both an urban environment or a profoundly rural environment. But I would have to say, like most people, I can relax a little more in a rural environment.

What do you enjoy in your spare time? I like to spend time with family on the river in Deltaville, Virginia – both sailing and fishing. My children have small racing sailboats, Optis and Lasers, and they’ve all learned to sail in Deltaville over the past 15 years.

Tell us about your family. My wife & I moved to Richmond in 1998, and we have 5 children, all of which are in school in Richmond or at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

What’s your favorite television show and why? That’s a hard one, that presumes I watch anything other than news and sports and increasingly, only sports. As many folks do, we watch more and more movies on Netflix and online.

What’s your favorite sports team? I love so many teams, but I do like the Richmond Flying Squirrels – since I’m a baseball fan, they would have to be my favorite.

What’s your favorite book? I enjoy reading stories from the Bible, but don’t happen to have a current favorite book.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are 3 things you’d want to have with you? Well, first, a large container of spring water for obvious reasons, a sailboat and mosquito repellent – I’m very susceptible to mosquitoes.

What’s one thing patients would be surprised to know about you? Most people don’t know that I have 5 children – ranging in age from 14 to 19.

What do you like most about working at Baird Vascular Institute at VCU Health? I love taking care of vascular patients with both venous and arterial occlusive disease. I enjoy getting to know them as well.

To share or not to share? Social media and your cancer diagnosis.

VCU Baird Social Media Cancer

There is very little information in today’s world that can’t be found by a few strokes of a keyboard. Information is literally at our fingertips in an instant. Social media feeds expose us to additional sources of information and opinion that we might not otherwise seek out. Social media also allows us to instantly share information across our broad network of friends and family.

When you receive the diagnosis of cancer, it is overwhelming. Most people need time to absorb the news and consider the implications of their diagnosis on their life, their family and their friends. Once the initial shock passes, many struggle with how to, or whether they should, share their cancer diagnosis beyond those in their immediate circle.

Sharing your diagnosis is a deeply personal choice. Some people live their life as an open book, and the cancer diagnosis is simply another chapter that they share as any other bit of news. Some people are more private, preferring to keep such details of their life out of everyday conversation.

Social media brings another element into the decision. Information can spread immediately, and whether or not you choose to keep your diagnosis private, there are a few things to consider.

If you’re requesting privacy, be sure to let any friends and family know that you prefer the news stay out of the social world. Some people send prayer requests or other updates without meaning any harm, but still expose your private situation to the eyes of others, prompting questions.

If you choose to share your journey on social media, be prepared for the inevitable questions and notifications from your friends and followers. Choosing to share such information has benefits and disadvantages. Sharing your condition may help dispel rumors. You benefit from supporters and their positive messages, you may find new information about treatments and clinical trials, and form bonds with survivors and other cancer patients.

“When my mother recently was diagnosed with cancer we shared as a way to stay connected to so many people,” said Shelley Hartmann, daughter of a breast cancer survivor. “The more prayers you have, I believe, does help you get better. It did help to stay connected, as we found so many other people that had similar situations, and it was a way for my mother to talk to them and discuss different treatments, etc.,” she added.

Keep in mind, however, that sharing your diagnosis may mean personal questions from well-meaning friends and family regarding your symptoms, treatments, prognosis and other information.

Also, once you have chosen to share the information, it can’t be taken back. You may choose to stop communicating about it, but the news is still out there, and your friends and followers will, naturally, continue to be concerned about your health. Be certain of your decision.

For those who are somewhere in the middle of an open book and intensely private, some social media platforms allow you the option to share information with only a select group of contacts, which may be more comforting for some, rather than broadcast their news to their entire friend or follower group. If you don’t know how to restrict your information to certain groups, ask a social media proficient friend or family member to help you set up this option.

Navigating the frontier of personal news in the age of social media can be a big decision with many implications. When it comes to sharing a cancer diagnosis, there’s no right or wrong choice. Only you can decide if your social network will be an additional unwanted burden or provide support and comfort during your journey.

5 Symptoms of Vascular Disease

Baird vascular leg pain

Vascular medicine and surgery primarily focuses on diseases and disorders of the peripheral vascular system: feet, hands, legs and arms. The health of the peripheral vascular system has a major impact on the health of your overall circulatory system and your overall health, and a vascular screening can reveal the first signs of more serious problems, which is why we offer comprehensive screenings to all our patients.

When your heart beats, it pumps blood back and forth through a complex system of vessels, called the circulatory, or vascular system. These arteries and veins, ranging from very large to microscopic, are elastic tubes that carry the blood to and from every part of the body. The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood from the lungs through arteries, and veins carry the blood back to the heart into the lungs, which remove CO2 and other waste from the blood and replenish it with fresh oxygen. This cycle supplies all the muscles, organs and tissues of the body with the oxygen and nutrients they need to work.

Vascular disease can cause these vessels to narrow, harden, swell, form blood clots or get partially or entirely blocked. When this happens, the tissues fed by these vessels are robbed of the oxygen and nutrients. Sometimes pain in the affected area will signal a problem. At other times, vascular disease shows few symptoms as it worsens over time, sometimes with serious consequences.

Although usually associated with older people, vascular disease can affect almost anyone and may present itself in all areas of the body.

Vascular diseases range from diseases of the arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation. Among the most common types of vascular disease are peripheral vascular disease (PVD), peripheral artery disease (PAD) and coronary artery disease. The terms peripheral vascular disease and peripheral artery disease are often used interchangeably. Many of the problems we diagnose and treat involve peripheral vascular disease in one degree or another.

Some symptoms to be on the lookout for include:

  1. Cramping and pain in the legs and buttocks, indicating poor circulation in the legs.
  2. Fatigue, heaviness and discomfort during exercise or activity that generally goes away when the activity stops or you are resting. This is called “intermittent claudication.”
  3. Leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising
  4. Foot or toe wounds that don’t heal or heal very slowly
  5. A decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot, particularly compared to the other leg or the rest of your body.

If you want to learn more about peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and treatment options, wish to discuss symptoms or problems you may be experiencing or if your doctor has recommended that you see us for a vascular test, please contact us at (804) 828-2600 or email us.

Maintaining optimum health during dialysis

If you are starting hemodialysis treatments in the next several months, one crucial step before starting regular hemodialysis sessions is preparing a site on the body to access the vein. Dialysis access is the site on your body where blood is removed and returned during dialysis. To maximize the amount of blood cleansed during hemodialysis treatments, dialysis access should allow continuous high volumes of blood flow. There are three access options for the dialysis patient – AV fistula, AV graft or a central venous catheter.

To allow for the high volume of blood exchanged, dialysis access to your blood is usually in your arm or leg. Choosing your access is a decision that you and your doctor will make. We discuss the AV fistula, AV graft and central venous catheter options in this blog post.

As with any serious medical condition, you’ll need to make a few lifestyle changes while undergoing dialysis.

One of the most important changes for dialysis patients is diet. Maintaining a healthy diet during dialysis is essential to good health and shorter dialysis time. Toxins in unhealthy foods make the body produce more waste, resulting in longer dialysis treatments. The National Kidney Foundation has a great blog post from a dialysis patient who mastered her dialysis diet. You can read her post here.

Even though you may not always feel up to it, maintaining some form of exercise is still important. The combination of your kidney disease, and sitting for frequent, long periods of time during dialysis can expedite deterioration of your overall physical health. According to a program launched last summer in Australia, “Exercise has been shown to improve physical function, quality of life, muscle condition and the dialysis treatment in patients with kidney disease, as well as decreasing depression, cardiovascular risk and a range of other negative outcomes of kidney disease.”

Finally, mental health contributes to an overall sense of well-being. It’s normal to be concerned or overwhelmed with your diagnosis, but if you need to seek out professional help to sort through your feelings, do it. Try to stay as active and involved in your normal day to day activities as you can.

If you’d like more information about choosing your access site, please give us a call at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

Safe sun tips for outdoor lovers

Baird Outdoor lovers

A few weeks back, we wrote about minimizing skin cancer risks. These were great basic tips for everyone. But what if you’re someone who truly lives to be outdoors – hiking, running, kayaking, skiing, ice fishing – all of it? Scorching sun? No problem. Below freezing? Bring it. How do you enjoy all the outdoor activities you love, while still protecting your skin?

Here’s the obvious first answer – sunscreen. Apply early, liberally and often. If you’re going to be in the water, use one with a higher water resistance.

Beyond that, remember to wear sunglasses. The sun can do damage to your eyes as well as your skin. Wearing sunglasses helps protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays, and also the sensitive skin around your eyes. Choose sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses aren’t just for sunny days either, remember to wear them on overcast days, especially any time you’re on or near the water to protect your eyes from reflected light.

Lightweight, long sleeved fabrics, also provide great protection from the sun. Also gaining popularity are fabrics and outdoor clothing with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. A UPF rating is specifically for apparel, and like sunscreen’s SPF rating, the higher the UPF rating, the more effective the garment is in protecting you from the sun. Many manufacturers are catering to the sports enthusiast market with UPF rated clothing for your specific interest. Have a hard time remembering to reapply sunscreen? There are fitness shirts, hats, jackets, swimwear and more that are cool, comfortable and specifically designed for protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

Consider the time of day when planning your outdoor activities. Choose early morning or later in the evening to avoid the hours between 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Choose shaded areas under awnings or trees if your activity allows, or consider other means of shade (such as a beach umbrella) if it’s possible to set up your own equipment.

Remember that skin protection is not just for warm weather, either. The sun’s reflection off of ice and snow means that everyone from skiers, snowboarders, ice fishermen and sledders also need sunscreen and eye protection.

Ad campaign featuring our new website is a hit

VCU Baird SHSMD awardsBack in September, we launched a new website and advertising campaign to promote our Image-Guided Tendon Treatment, as a better alternative for pain relief for conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow and other tendon issues. The new website, RelieveMyFoot.com, shows an animated character who goes to great lengths to avoid foot pain, including traveling by balloon and being shot out of a cannon.

Created by our advertising agency ndp, and animator Studio Flatlands, the use of a cartoon character to illustrate the pain of plantar fasciitis, and an effective way to relieve it, is unusual, says VCU Health’s Geoff Chestnut.

“We decided that we wanted to pursue something a little more creative than the usual austere and authority driven medical marketing that one so typically sees in the environment today,” he said. “The idea of showing doctors in white coats with smiling patients did not seem to be an approach that would stand out. ndp suggested using animated graphics and interactive, online multi-media components that could easily translate into more traditional forms of marketing such as print, and we’re excited about the results.”

“We wanted each viewer to have an ‘I can relate’ moment when they saw our work,” explained ndp Creative Director Jason Anderson, which is why they compared the pain of plantar fasciitis to stepping on tacks, tiny land mines, and hot coals.

The website recently won a Gold and Best In Show award at the MASHSMD (Mid-Atlantic Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development) conference.

Our Image-Guided Tendon Treatment goes beyond conventional therapies such as ice, rest, stretching and steroid injections and works by removing the damaged tendon tissue so that a natural healing process can occur. Unlike traditional surgery, this minimally-invasive process can be completed in around 20 minutes and requires no general anesthesia. For those suffering from the chronic pain of plantar fasciitis, this is good news, say Chestnut, and the new website and advertising materials help explain it.

 

I’m nervous about my port procedure. What should I do to prepare?

The physician’s recommendation for you to have a port is made when there is a frequent need to administer medication via a central vein, or when there is difficulty for doctors or nurses to access your veins for blood draws or lab checks.

It’s common to have a case of nervousness before an unknown event, and medical procedures are no different. At our office, one of our interventional radiologists takes care of the procedure from start to finish, after working with your physician to decide on type of port is best for your particular case. We are there to answer questions or concerns before or after the procedure.

Often, mentally preparing for a procedure is as simple as knowing what to expect.

Typically, when a port is put in, a patient is put under conscious sedation, which is a combination of pain medication and a tranquilizer. This combination is designed to relax you and reduce pain, but not put you complete under. It is not the same as general anesthesia. We want you to be comfortable, yet able to breath on your own and speak to the physician if needed.

The physician will make a small incision above your collarbone, and another under your collarbone. A tunnel is formed under the skin between the two openings. The catheter is passed through this tunnel and then gently threaded into the vein. The physician then makes a pocket under the skin, places the port in the pocket, and then sutures the pocket closed.

Afterwards, you may be a little sore, but the pain should be minimal. Your physician will give you detailed care instructions including any movement restrictions, medication instructions and information on how to clean the area.

 

Sources:  VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute,  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute – The History

VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute was made possible by the generous donation of Jane B. Baird Hyde, who passed on the building and land to VCU Health in memory of her late husband, Charles L. Baird Jr., M.D. This resulted in the opening of VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute in October 2011.

Virginia Heart Institute (1972-2010)

Virginia Heart Institute was established in 1972, by Charles L. Baird, Jr. MD, to prove that outpatient coronary arteriography is a safe method to find high-risk coronary disease early. Patients could then receive the care and education needed to reduce the risk of cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction at the first signs of heart disease.

Charles Lewis Baird Jr., M.D. (1931-2008)

“I did what I came to do.” ~Dr. Baird

Charles Lewis BairdDr. Charles Lewis Baird, Jr., MD was a pioneering cardiologist and the founder and director of the Virginia Heart Institute, previously located in the building that now houses VCU Health’s Baird Vascular Institute.

Baird’s lifelong mission was to help people. He was ahead of the game in cardiac care and his “outside of the box” approaches helped develop care so many would not have to wait a year for a cardiac catheterization to find blockages.

Baird’s frustration with the standards of care – developed in the 1960s – motivated him to find new ways to diagnose cardiac disease early so that they can medically manage and promote lifestyle changes for a healthier heart. This approach helped patients remain stable and in many cases avoided angioplasty or surgery.

Baird then opened the Virginia Heart Institute — the first licensed outpatient hospital and the first freestanding cardiac catheterization laboratory in the U.S. right here in Richmond, VA. He modified the cardiac catheterization procedure, taking it from a three-day procedure to a short three-hours. Taking this technique nationwide would save billions of dollars and more importantly, countless lives.

This pioneer passed away in 2008 and on his deathbed, Baird told a local minister that he did what he came to do before departing this life.

Baird’s connection to VCU Health

Born in Richmond, Va., in 1931, Baird graduated from the University of Richmond and went on to attend the Medical College of Virginia (now the VCU Health), graduating in 1957 with his medical degree. After completing his internship and residency at MCV, Baird completed a cardiovascular fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and went on to serve in the U.S. Army and as the director of medical education at Watts Hospital in Durham, N.C. In 1965, Baird was invited to become a member of the faculty of the Department of Cardiology at the Medical College of Virginia, where he was instrumental in starting the Coronary Intensive Care Unit. Even after leaving VCU in 1972 to found the Virginia Heart Institute, Baird maintained very close relations with the physicians at the medical center, specifically in the departments of Cardiology and Radiology.

Things we’re thankful for

Give Thanks

At this time of year, most people pause to reflect on the things that they’re thankful for. VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute is no different – we have many things that we’re grateful for this season.

We’re thankful for great patients who trust us for their care. Our business is built on patients who rely on our expertise to treat a wide variety of conditions and symptoms.

We’re thankful for a committed staff. We’re blessed to have a staff that goes above and beyond their normal duties every day. They treat our patients like family with the utmost care and compassion.

We’re thankful for new technologies. Interventional radiology is often on the forefront of new technologies that allow for treatments that are less invasive, less painful and heal more quickly. We’re thankful that we can bring those technologies to the people of Richmond and help keep our community healthy and active.

We’re thankful for physicians who are exceptional at what they do. Our specialists approach the care and treatment of their patients with the utmost professionalism and commitment to quality care and treatment. We’re lucky to have a team who truly care about the success of our practice and the continued health and well-being of their patients.

As we approach the oncoming holiday season, we’d like to say “Thank You” for your trust in VCU Health. Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday!