Generous Donors Lead Movement Toward “No Recovery” Surgery
By Kermit Cantwell
How do you eliminate weeks of painful recovery following complicated gastrointestinal surgery? That’s easy – don’t have surgery.
Instead, consider having an outpatient procedure at the Paul May and Frank Stein Interventional Endoscopy Center at CPMC. There are no incisions, no pain, and virtually no recovery time. You literally can get up and walk away about 10 minutes after the treatment is done.
By using flexible endoscopes with miniature surgical devices, our team of “super-specialist” doctors, nurses and technicians gently reaches affected areas through the body’s natural openings. Then they can treat various types of blockages, polyps and gastrointestinal cancers, internal bleeding, stones, tumors and other conditions that – until a few years ago – required major surgery.
And the reason it doesn’t hurt? “Because the gastrointestinal tract has no pain receptors,” says Program Director Dr. Kenneth Binmoeller. “That’s why this new breed of endoscopy will fundamentally change how surgery is performed.”
A Shared Vision
Before 2008, the center didn’t exist. Some of the services did, but as Dr. Binmoeller says, “We just shared an operating room with everyone else.“
Enter Paul May and Frank Stein. In a twist of fate, both men had family members who had died from pancreatic cancer, a condition that today is often treatable with interventional endoscopy. Stein’s mother and sister suffered greatly from the disease, and he says, “It was agonizing to see them in so much pain, so I wanted to help others avoid going through the same thing.”
Their common interest in fighting pancreatic cancer led them to Dr. Binmoeller, and when he shared his vision for the new center, Stein says, “You could tell this man was very unusual in his field, and he was so enthused he just sold us on interventional endoscopy.”
“The next thing we knew,” says May, with a big grin on his face, “we were knocking holes in the wall with a sledgehammer at a groundbreaking ceremony.”
Knowledge Combined with Experience
The center’s entire team has training far beyond that of typical specialists, and their practice is totally focused on interventional endoscopy. That dedication allowed them to handle very complex procedures during more than 3,300 patient visits in 2010, and has made this one of the best programs of its kind in the country.
“These guys are rock stars,” says Hamila Kownacki, chief administrative officer, VP Operations at CPMC’s Pacific Campus. “If a referring physician calls them, they do whatever they can to see that patient on the same day.”
The center also conducts extensive research, and Dr. Binmoeller says they’ve pioneered or enhanced virtually every major procedure used in their field today. This reputation often results in medical device companies asking the center to test new prototypes, which means they also have the most up-to-date technology available.
But for all of the center’s early success, Dr. Binmoeller is quick to acknowledge that May and Stein’s support helped elevate the program to a new level: “You don’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘I have a vision for a new facility, let’s build it.’ In today’s health care environment, cost containment is a necessity, and funding things like this is a challenge. So you need someone else who shares your vision, and we are tremendously fortunate to have found that in Paul and Frank.”
Plans to Help Even More People
The center has fast developed a stellar reputation, handling nearly 9,000 patient visits in just three years. That success prompted plans for an ambitious expansion and, once again, these two gentlemen have come across to make this all a reality.
When asked about their gifts, Stein says that helping others “is a wonderful feeling!” May pauses, and then shares a story of how someone thanked him for saving a friend’s life: “The man has pancreatic cancer, but after going to the center, he’s still alive – knowing that is a very good feeling.”
To learn more about the Paul May and Frank Stein Interventional Endoscopy Center, visit the Interventional Endoscopy Services page. To support expansion of their groundbreaking work, call CPMC Foundation at 415-600-4400 or visit the CPMC Foundation website.