St. Clair Hospital HouseCall_Vol IV Issue 1

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s the South Hills and western suburbs


Total knee replacement patient JIM METZ had almost full range of motion within a month of surgery, allowing him to return to his duties as a substitute school crossing guard with the Mt. Lebanon School District.

continue to grow, so does the need for quality

physicians to serve residents’ health care needs. Over the last few years, St. Clair has attracted


nspiration comes to us in many forms— a movie, a song, a book, and even the people we meet along our journey through life. For Derrick J. Fluhme, M.D.,

dozens of outstanding young physicians from top

an orthopedic surgeon with South Hills Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, P.C.,

medical schools and teaching hospitals. HouseCall

a St. Clair Hospital-affiliated practice in Mt. Lebanon, that inspiration came from

recently sat down to talk with six new physicians—

a surgeon who took care of him following a hockey injury during junior high.

Drs. Nithin Bhandarkar, Matt Cooper, Brett Perricelli,

The doctor made quite the impression on the South Hills native and inspired him

Jennifer Totten, Samuel Urick, and Zachary Young.

to pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon.

While these physicians could have chosen to practice

Dr. Fluhme specializes in a multitude of procedures, including arthroscopic

anywhere in the region, they each chose to bring

surgery of the shoulder and knee. He also specializes in joint replacement of

their skills to St. Clair. Here are their stories.

the knee, including partial and total, as well as the hip.



“ T h e

c l a s s e s

p r o v i d e d


Dr. Fluhme lives by one philosophy —to be passionate about what you do. Patients like Bob Wright would be the first to tell you about the passion that Dr. Fluhme displays. Bob works full-time for the Quaker Valley School District as a school resource officer, as well as for the Sewickley Police Department and Sewickley Heights Police Department, where he is also the Emergency Management Coordinator for Sewickley Heights. Thirty years of intense training, SWAT teams, foot pursuits, and physical altercations had finally taken their toll on Bob’s knees. Throughout the years, the pain only worsened for the 60-year-old ex-athlete. “My knees were shot,” says Bob. “I damaged my knees in high school and college playing football and weightlifting as a powerlifter.” Thanks to serendipity, Bob met Dr. Fluhme who would help him begin living pain-free and avoid retiring prematurely. At Bob’s daughter’s wedding in September 2009, Dr. Fluhme’s physician assistant, Kristina, one of the bridesmaids, introduced Bob to Dr. Fluhme after noticing how much pain Bob was experiencing when walking. “This big, strong, strapping man was imprisoned by his fragile knees, which had been pulverized into bone on bone,”

Orthopedic patient BOB WRIGHT


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says Dr. Fluhme. “He had one of the worst bone-on-bone knee conditions that I had ever seen.” Within weeks, Dr. Fluhme performed double knee surgery on Bob. “There was an immediate connection,” says Bob. “I liked the fact that he was honest with me. Dr. Fluhme explained the whole procedure to me and I knew there was going to be some pain, but when I realized that my quality of life was going to improve greatly, it was worth the risk. The classes provided by St. Clair Hospital also gave me more insight as to how the surgery was going to improve my life.” Immediately after his surgery, Bob was pleasantly surprised to feel little pain. “When I woke up, I knew I was in pain, but not the pain I had gone through for 15 years,” he says. “For once my knees felt solid.” Eighteen months after the surgery, Bob says that he’s feeling wonderful and is pain-free. He was able to

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s u r g e r y

w a s

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return to his favorite activities of bike riding, weightlifting, competition shooting, as well as spending time with his wife,

replacement in mid-October. “It was just wear and tear to the point where I had to get

Wanda, daughters Amy and Heidi (Majocka), and granddaughters

something done,” says Jim. “Dr. Fluhme told me that I would

Myka and Aivah.

know when I was ready for the surgery.”

“My quality of life has improved greatly. Dr. Fluhme is honest and will be straight up with you. He has surrounded himself with a true team of professionals.”

The results have been dramatic, according to Dr. Fluhme. “He has soared like an eagle,” he says. “Within a month of surgery, Mr. Metz had almost full range of motion. He came back recently for a post-operative visit as though nothing has

When I woke up, I knew I was in pain, but not the pain I had gone through for 15 years. For once my knees felt solid.

– Double knee replacement patient Bob Wright

He adds, “If you want to improve your quality of life and get back into it instead of standing on the sidelines watching life pass you by, by all means consider knee replacement surgery. St. Clair Hospital is the place to get it done. They are true professionals and will work with you in every way to get you back into life and on your feet.” Jim Metz, a retired Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher and

happened. His goal was to try to get back to refereeing within a month. He’s the perfect example of someone who is goal-oriented and was using those goals to help motivate him during his rehabilitation. He’s made it clear to me several times that this has been a life-changing event.” Jim only spent three days in the Hospital, and Dr. Fluhme came to see him every day. “He told me it would be painful,” says Jim,“but he said because I was in great shape, I should have no problems with the recovery.” Jim says that he never felt better. Strength-building exercises during his physical therapy regimen have enabled him to walk without any pain, and he credits Dr. Fluhme and the rest of the surgical and physical therapy team. As was the case with Jim and Bob, there are several ways to

now a substitute school crossing guard with the Mt. Lebanon

determine whether a patient is a candidate for

School District, agrees.

knee replacement surgery. A surgeon can look

Dr. Fluhme had performed surgery on Jim’s wife’s knees

at an X-ray and see how good or bad the patient’s

two years ago. Soon after his wife’s surgery, Jim began to see

knees are. He or she can also

Dr. Fluhme for his own persistent and overwhelming knee pain.

look at the patient’s overall

For Jim, over 60 years of playing sports, refereeing, and

clinical picture.

umpiring just made it painful for him to walk anymore, and began to affect all areas of his life. “Mr. Metz was the quintessential procrastinator,” says

“As a surgeon, it’s my job to fix that person,” notes Dr. Fluhme. “I pay

Dr. Fluhme. “For five years, he’s been my patient and had

attention to their

bone-on-bone pain in his knees, but was apprehensive about

clinical complaints.

having his knees replaced.”


Arthroscopic knee surgery on Jim’s right knee in January 2010 alleviated some of the pain. However, when the pain gradually returned, he finally decided to have total knee

Orthopedic patient JIM METZ and DERRICK J. FLUHME, M.D.


“ Individuals age 50, and in some cases younger, should have a screening


If a patient has bad-looking X-rays, but they are not being held back by their knees, we can take a more conservative route with them via anti-inflammatory medication, lifestyle modifications, and even some injections.” But when patients come in and are having issues with their daily activities and things they take for granted, like walking up and down the stairs or getting in and out of bed, that’s when it’s time to consider knee replacement surgery. “Surprisingly for most patients who have had bone-on-bone

While the surgery was a little painful for Chris, he says that it was definitely worthwhile. “The rehab was rigorous, but I was fortunate that I was in good shape when I had my knees done, which probably played a large part in helping me recover quickly,” he says. “Today, my knees feel great.” “I’ve been extremely happy with the results,” Chris continues. “I lift weights, walk, and run lightly with no pain. I’ve had many surgeries at St. Clair Hospital and have been treated very well

pain for years, the biggest complaint is not pain,” says Dr. Fluhme.

there. Dr. Fluhme was just great to deal with. I think very highly

“Usually, it’s more function. They’ve adapted to the pain and

of him and his team.”

accepted it. But when their functions are limited and their quality of life is affected, that is a big indicator for joint knee replacement.” Take, for example, Chris Moran, a construction worker from Beechview, who had been experiencing significant pain in his knees and was a candidate for double knee replacement surgery. “I had no cartilage remaining in either knee,” says Chris, 56. “I also had an MCL tear in my left knee and I was in constant pain.” In fact, Chris had seven surgeries and five scopes before Dr. Fluhme recommended double knee replacement surgery. “Mr. Moran was another athletic person who played sports his entire life and still enjoys playing basketball and working out with regularity,” he says. “However, like Mr. Wright, here was another weekend warrior who completely pulverized his knees over the years to the point where they were just bone on bone.” For several years prior to Dr. Fluhme’s arrival, Chris was a patient of South Hills Orthopaedics. “I heard he was a great physician and checked on his reputation, which was impeccable,” says Chris. “I decided to stay with the practice and go with Dr. Fluhme and it was a great decision.” Chris had his first knee replacement surgery a couple of years ago, and the other knee replaced in February 2010.

DERRICK J. FLUHME, M.D. earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, from the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University. He was awarded his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, and a fellowship at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic, Department of Sports Medicine, Los Angeles. He is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Fluhme practices with South Hills Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, P.C.

“Mr. Moran had a great response with his replacement surgery and it greatly improved his quality of life as well,” says Dr. Fluhme. 4

To contact Dr. Fluhme, please call 412.429.0880.

co l o n o s co p y a n d t h e n co n t i n u e t h e m e ve r y 1 0 ye a r s.”


ASK THE DOCTOR Q: What can I do about my bothersome and

(protruding) internal

bleeding hemorrhoids?

hemorrhoids. Both IRC


and RBL might need

Many people ask me about hemorrhoids and rectal

to be repeated until all

bleeding. Hemorrhoid symptoms include rectal bleeding,

hemorrhoidal columns

burning, itching, protrusion, and swelling. Straining,

are treated. If bleeding and

constipation, and heavy lifting can cause swelling and hemorrhoid symptoms. Although most rectal bleeding or

other symptoms

spotting is hemorrhoidal in origin, other more serious

persist despite office

conditions can cause bleeding. Rectal or colonic polyps, tumors, colitis, anal fissures, and other conditions may be


treatment, there are minimally invasive

the source of rectal bleeding, even in individuals with large

outpatient procedures that can be offered. Two excellent

hemorrhoids. Therefore, it is important to inform your

procedures are stapled hemorrhoidopexy (PPH-Procedure for

primary care physician if you see any blood in your stool.

Prolapsed Hemorrhoids) and THD (Transanal Hemorrhoidal Dearterialization). Both procedures are usually associated with

You may be of age for a screening colonoscopy. Currently,

minimal post-op pain. Each procedure takes about 30 minutes

it is recommended that individuals age 50 or older undergo

and is performed under light anesthesia. Excisional

colonoscopy every 10 years. African-Americans should begin

hemorrhoidectomy (removing the hemorrhoids) might be

screening at age 45, and individuals with a family history of

necessary if the external component is very swollen or inflamed.

colorectal cancer or polyps should begin screening at age 40

Analgesic catheters can be placed at the time of surgery to

and in some cases sooner if there is a young family member

minimize the post-op pain.

with colon cancer or certain hereditary syndromes. Treatment of hemorrhoids begins with adding fiber to the diet,

Although most bleeding is hemorrhoidal in origin, it is imperative to inform your primary care physician about these

drinking plenty of fluids, and using a fiber supplement daily to

symptoms and undergo evaluation to be sure there are no other

avoid straining and constipation. Over-the-counter creams,

more serious conditions.

suppositories, and sitz baths may provide some relief. Prescription suppositories and creams would be the next step in treatment. For individuals who do not respond to prescription medication, office treatment with infrared coagulation (IRC) or rubber band ligation (RBL) might be helpful. These procedures only take a few minutes to perform in the office setting and require no anesthesia. IRC uses infrared light above the inflamed

LEIGH H. NADLER, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.S.C.R.S. earned his medical degree at the University of Health Sciences/Chicago Medical School. The board-certified surgeon completed a residency and internship at Beth Israel Medical Center Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y. He completed a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at the University of Illinois Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, Ill. He practices with the Colorectal Surgical Associates, a division of St. Clair Medical Services.

hemorrhoidal column to decrease blood flow and “shrink” the hemorrhoid. Band ligation is more useful for larger prolapsing

To contact Dr. Nadler, please call 412.572.6192.


EART Patient Profiles: The Mericli Family

has always been a thought in the back of my mind. My father has ventricular tachycardia. My mother’s dad died at 66 and her grandfather passed away at the age of 70, both due to massive coronaries.” Last year, Kurt began having chest pains and went through


ardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the world,

a series of stress tests, including wearing a heart monitor for

causing more deaths than all forms of cancer combined.

a month. He was soon diagnosed with mild tachycardia,

It claims an average of one life every minute, according to the American Heart Association.

brought on by stress, diet, and lack of exercise. “My cholesterol was through the roof,” says Kurt. “But my

For the Mericli family, heart disease is a serious family matter.

cardiologist said that it’s 50 percent cheeseburgers and 50

In the fall of 2001, at the age of 47, Kam Mericli, a deputy

percent your parents. Your genes have a lot to do with it, but you

attorney general at the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s

can also watch your diet and exercise more to live a heart-healthier

Office in Pittsburgh, was diagnosed with coronary heart disease

life. When you’re facing mortality, it serves as an incentive for you

and had two stents put in to prop open his blocked arteries.

to live healthier.”

Six years later, Kam’s mother, Mary Jane, 76, of Green Tree, also had to have two stents. “That was an awakening for me,” recalls younger brother Kurt, 45, of Mt. Lebanon who is a high school social studies teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. “Heart disease runs in our family, so that

In all three cases, the Mericlis sought treatment from St. Clair physicians James MacDougall, M.D. and Harshad Mehta, M.D. Today, all three family members are taking statin medication (to lower cholesterol) and blood thinners, while also watching their diets and exercising daily. In fact, after her surgery, Mary Jane was in cardiac rehab for six months, and she has since converted her rehab to a gym where she works out three times a week. Following her lead, Kam and Kurt also stay as active as possible. “You don’t think of heart disease, or any type of illness, until it happens to you or someone close to you,” adds Kurt. “Dealing with something like heart disease helps if you have caring physicians who explain things clearly to you as well as a good support network. St. Clair is a solid organization. I felt good going there and knew they were going to take care of my problems.” Kurt wanted to express his appreciation to the St. Clair cardiology team and to also help make others aware of the risk factors of heart



disease. He contacted the Hospital

STRONG earlier in the year requesting t-shirts with St. Clair’s marketing

proactive with your health, ideally before there is an issue,”

slogan for the cardiology team, “Heart Strong,” emblazoned

he says. “Do what you need to do and stay on this earth as long

on them.

as you can. What you put into your body matters. Try to be

Kurt’s advice for others who want to reduce their risk of

active, like walking more, and eat in moderation. Finally, just

heart disease is simple. With diet, exercise, and greater

enjoy life and try to manage your stress to the best of your

awareness of your risks, heart disease is preventable.

ability. You only get one heart with a billion beats, so you need

“You need to take it upon yourself to investigate and be more

to take care of it.”

Third Catheterization Lab added at St. Clair Hospital


t. Clair Hospital opened a third Catheterization Lab

exposure to the patient. The staff

in October, following three months of construction.

will also be exposed to less radiation

HouseCall sat down with Shawn Balaschak, R.N., BSN,

now, too. The overall radiation output

MSM, Manager, Cardiac Catheterization & Electrophysiology,

is less, without diminishing the

at St. Clair to ask him a few questions about the new lab,

imaging quality.

which will help accommodate the more than 2,300


procedures done annually in the department. HouseCall: Why did St. Clair need a third Cath Lab? Shawn: We have been experiencing increasing volume of catheterization cases. That, along with a growing number of longer, more complex cases, necessitated the addition of a third Cath Lab. HouseCall: Was there other construction involved? Shawn: We relocated and built a new waiting room for Echo/EKG patients and their families. All of the areas were outfitted with modern fixtures, furniture, and flooring. HouseCall: How much did the project cost? Shawn: The total project cost was $2.4 million, including the new equipment, waiting room, etc. The recovery area and all of the hallways are also being given a facelift. HouseCall: What are some of the new features and capabilities of the new lab? Shawn: The new lab features a 54-inch high-definition monitor that offers physicians unparalled views of the heart. The lab’s new imaging system has a larger field of imaging, so we are able to perform procedures such as bilateral lower extremity run-offs with one shot. That permits us to give less contrast and (radiation)

Cardiologists ROBERT N. SHOGRY, M.D. and RYAN W. ZUZEK, M.D. in St. Clair Hospital’s newest Catheterization Lab.



St. Clair offered Dr. Bhandarkar the best opportunity for his career interests and goals. “I was looking for a primary care opportunity with a hospital that had a lot of modern technology and medical innovation,” he says. “St. Clair is all that and much more. I fell in the right place at the right time and it was a great fit for me. The position also encompassed everything I was looking for in primary care and internal medicine. When I first saw St. Clair, I thought of a hospital deeply rooted in the community with the latest advancements, innovations, and technology in modern health care, like utilization of radial (through the wrist) heart catheterizations and the da Vinci Si robotic surgical system.” Moreover, Dr. Bhandarkar found that everyone on staff, from the administrators to the physicians, nurses, and technicians were courteous. As a resident, Dr. Bhandarkar taught medical students to never take a patient presentation for granted, no matter how mild a patient’s case might appear — a philosophy he still abides by. “I have been surprised before by simplicity of presentation in contrast to severity of disease,” he says. “That’s what I try to live by when I see

DR. NITHIN BHANDARKAR, Internal Medicine, Fatigati/Nalin Associates

patients. You have to pay attention and listen to your patients.” A Robinson Township resident, Dr. Bhandarkar’s passion outside of health care is sports. He follows baseball, soccer, football, and


more recently, hockey.

environment at that young age proved nurturing for him and

that was great to be part of,” he says.

uring his four years of high school in the San Francisco suburbs of San Ramon, Dr. Bhandarkar spent 500 hours

volunteering at a local hospital. Being exposed to the health care triggered his love for the medical profession. “It helped me get started in the field and sparked an interest,” he says. “I was constantly immersed in that environment, which was

nice. I also found it to be an intricate, interesting profession that was always changing and advancing, which keeps you on your toes.” Dr. Bhandarkar earned his bachelor’s degree in molecular/cell developmental biology at UCLA and later attended Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the

“When I came to Pittsburgh in 2009, the Steelers had won the Super Bowl and the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, so as a sports fan, Dr. Bhandarkar’s goal is to have a flourishing and successful practice. “I want to take care of patients and build the practice,” he says. “More importantly, I also want to have a very personable practice where I can interact with my patients.”

NITHIN V. BHANDARKAR, D.O. earned his medical degree at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Pomona, Calif., and specializes in internal medicine. He completed his training in internal medicine at UPMC Mercy Hospital. Dr. Bhandarkar practices with Fatigati/Nalin Associates.

Pacific in Pomona, Calif. He finished his internal medicine residency in June at UPMC Mercy and joined Fatigati/Nalin Associates (FNA),

To contact Dr. Bhandarkar, please call 724.731.0090.

part of St. Clair Medical Services. While Dr. Bhandarkar, who is based out of FNA’s new Peters Township office, could have stayed on the West Coast, he was eager

are the keys to a happy and healthy lifestyle,”

to see what other opportunities were available. He ended up finding

says Dr. Bhandarkar. “It’s easy to come to a

some good matches for his residency in the Pittsburgh region and

doctor’s office when you are sick. It takes that

it was also a central location to family members living in Chicago,

extra step to schedule a well-visit physical

New York, and West Virginia. “I also heard great things about Pittsburgh and saw that it was


HEALTH TIP: “Screening and prevention

where we go over your health maintenance and screen for things like diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure,

rated as one of the most livable cities by several publications,” he says.

women's health, and prostate health, among many other medical

“After meeting some really good people during residency and

conditions. These maintenance visits are underrated. I like to put an

making some great friends, it only further motivated me to stay.”

extra emphasis and focus on maintenance and prevention.”

PRACTICE AT ST. CLAIR HOSPITAL and meeting the people there, we just felt very welcome.” Dr. Cooper’s medical philosophy is simple — listen to your patients. “If you listen to patients, they’ll lead you directly to the answer,” he says. “Rather than giving your patients your opinion, letting them know what you know about them from just listening was my biggest learning experience.” When they have some spare time, Dr. Cooper and his wife enjoy watching movies and trying new restaurants throughout the area. “Cars are also a hobby,” he says. “I’ve been restoring cars with my father since I was a teenager, so I have a car fixation.” As he begins his practice, one of Dr. Cooper’s goals is to become more ingrained into the South Hills and western suburbs. “I see myself staying with the group I’m with for as long as possible,” he says. “In fact, I don’t see myself leaving and would be happy to spend my entire career here.”


DR. MATTHEW COOPER, Family Medicine, Preferred Primary Care Physicians


or Dr. Cooper, the challenge that the field of medicine brings daily is what attracted him to the profession in the first place.

“Medicine encompasses procedure, thinking, and analytical skills — all those rolled into one and each day is different,” says the Westmoreland County native. “I like the challenge and I also never get tired of learning.” Dr. Cooper took a non-traditional route to becoming a physician,

which he believes has helped to shape him. In fact, he took other non-medical positions before deciding to go back to medical school.

earned his osteopathic degree from LECOM and completed his residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Cooper practices with Preferred Primary Care Physicians.

To contact Dr. Cooper, please call 412.531.2902.

HEALTH TIP: “When we hear discussions on lifestyle modifications, it seems that everyone is interested in one extreme or the other,” says Dr. Cooper. “I try to stress moderation, whether it’s how you eat, drink, or exercise. Finding the right balance and not going too far in either direction gives you better outcomes. Just stick to moderation and avoid extremes.”

“I feel that my life experience, and having other positions before I decided to go back to medical school, taught me a lot of life lessons, such as how to deal with people,” he says. “I’m proud of the path that I took. I don’t think I’d be the physician I am today if I didn’t take the long winding path it took for me to get there.” Dr. Cooper earned his medical degree at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM). He completed an internship with UPMC Mercy and a residency in Family Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He resides in Shadyside with his wife, Dr. Kimberly Hewitt, a physician who is a hospitalist at St. Clair Hospital. Dr. Cooper joined Preferred Primary Care Physicians in September and is located in their Scott Township office. The choice for Dr. Cooper and Dr. Hewitt to come to St. Clair was multi-faceted. “We chose to begin our careers as attending physicians here because the quality of care is exceptional,” says Dr. Cooper. “St. Clair is also a growing health system and, after interviewing CONTINUED ON PAGE 10



he had developed a passion for orthopedics. So he completed an additional five-year orthopedic residency, serving as chief resident during his final year. He then continued his training with a fellowship at the OrthoCarolina Hip and Knee Center in Charlotte, N.C. During his fellowship, he was introduced to the most advanced techniques in primary and revision hip and knee replacement, including the anterior hip approach, alternative bearings, multimodal pain management, and infection prevention. Dr. Perricelli accepted a job offer from South Hills Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, P.C. He was most impressed with the competency and knowledge of the partners of the group. “Our practice has every orthopedic problem covered by a surgeon with special expertise in each particular field,” notes Dr. Perricelli. “Besides my hip and knee replacement expertise, we have a spine specialist, someone who handles hand and upper extremities disorders, a sports medicine specialist, and foot-ankle specialist. If someone comes in with a complicated problem out of my area of expertise, I know that I can seek advice from one of the

DR. BRETT PERRICELLI, Orthopedic Surgery, South Hills Orthopaedic Surgery Associates

other physicians.” For Dr. Perricelli, his proudest moments occur anytime his patients come back to his clinic, pain free. “I love when patients


t. Clair Hospital’s high standards for patient-centered care were an immediate draw for Dr. Perricelli, an orthopedic

surgeon practicing with South Hills Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, P.C. After looking at multiple orthopedic groups in the Pittsburgh area, the hospital that impressed him the most in terms of delivering quality patient care was St. Clair. “It’s a great hospital for patients and that is what matters,” he

come in feeling great, are more functional, and no longer have any limitations,” he says.

BRETT C. PERRICELLI, M.D. earned his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He completed his residencies in general surgery and orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Perricelli was an Adult Reconstruction Fellow at OrthoCarolina Hip and Knee Center, Charlotte, N.C. He practices with South Hills Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, P.C.

says. “St. Clair has excellent primary care physicians, specialists, and surgeons. I found it to be a very friendly hospital and that includes everyone who works there — administration, physicians,

To contact Dr. Perricelli, please call 412.429.0880.

surgeons, nurses, and the greeters.” Dr. Perricelli grew up in Murrysville. He attended Bucknell


University, where he earned a degree in biology and a minor in

as active as you can,”

religion. He served as the vice president of his class and was

says Dr. Perricelli.

recognized on a national level for his leadership roles. He chose

“Don’t let arthritis or

a career in medicine in order to help people in their time of need.


Growing up, Dr. Perricelli’s grandfather, a machinist with a bad

symptoms get you

heart, was always in and out of hospitals.

down. Go out and find

“I thought the world of the physicians who were treating him,

an orthopedic surgeon

everyone from his cardiologist to his primary care physician,” he

so you can remain

says. “They all helped him tremendously.”

active. Activity is good

Dr. Perricelli earned his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he served as class president, and then did three years of a general surgery residency. As he was rotating through the different surgical specialities, he discovered 10

for your body.”

PRACTICE AT ST. CLAIR HOSPITAL ZACHARY T. YOUNG, M.D. is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary disease. He earned his medical degree at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles. He completed a residency at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria, Ill. and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Allegheny General Hospital. Dr. Young practices with Pittsburgh Chest Physicians.

To contact Dr. Young, please call 412.942.5620.

HEALTH TIP: “From a pulmonary standpoint, to ensure good health, I encourage people to stop smoking,” says Dr. Young.

DR. ZACHARY YOUNG, Pulmonary Diseases/Critical Care Medicine, Pittsburgh Chest Physicians


ike many of his colleagues, Dr. Young was drawn to St. Clair Hospital because of its stellar reputation. He was equally

impressed with the physicians he met at the physician group he ultimately joined, Pittsburgh Chest Physicians, and felt that the practice was a good fit for him. “St. Clair is an excellent hospital and is one of the thriving medical communities in the region,” says Dr. Young. “Also, the biggest draw to the practice group I joined was the cohesiveness

of the other three partners. It was a great fit for me.” Born and raised in Holland, Mich., just minutes from Lake Michigan, Dr. Young attended American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. He was the first person in his family to attend medical school. “When I was an undergraduate at Hope College in Michigan, I decided to study pre-med and determined that medicine was

In this illustration, the lung on the left is healthy, while the lung on the right shows the damaging effects of smoking.

the route I wanted to go in my career,” he says. “It was a new venture for me since no one else in my family had gone to medical school.” Dr. Young completed his residency at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria. He then did a Pulmonary Critical Care Fellowship at Allegheny General Hospital. His greatest educational experience as a resident and fellow was learning how to work as part of a team with other physicians and the nursing staff. “Listening to the patients was also an important learning experience for me,” he says. “It helped me provide better critical care.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 12



where she also received biliary training in Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Dr. Totten came to St. Clair in September and joined the five-physician practice group Southwest Gastroenterology Associates, a well-established group that has been in the South Hills for more than 30 years. “St. Clair has a reputation in this region as an outstanding hospital and one with 24/7 hospitalist coverage,” says Dr. Totten. “I wanted to serve the community that I grew up in. When I was looking for practice opportunities, I focused my job search on groups that came to St. Clair. Working at St. Clair allows me the opportunity to care for the people in the South Hills.” She adds, “St. Clair provides a wonderful patient-centered environment. The physicians, nurses, and other staff members are all dedicated to providing the best in patient care. I know that when I send my patients to St. Clair they will get excellent care from the professional, friendly nursing staff and the hospitalists who provide round-the-clock care. The Hospital offers a wide and impressive

DR. JENNIFER TOTTEN, Gastroenterology, Southwest Gastroenterology Associates

range of comprehensive services.” Dr. Totten has a particular interest in preventative health and women’s gastrointestinal health. She encourages her patients

r. Totten, a graduate of Upper St. Clair High School, has

to be mindful of their health and nutrition and to stay up-to-date

had an interest in science and medicine since she was very

with screening guidelines, such as colonoscopy to detect colorectal


young. In fact, for as long as she can remember, she always wanted to be a doctor because she loves helping people. While in high

cancer. A Mt. Lebanon resident, Dr. Totten says her future career plans

school and college, her interest in medicine was further solidified

are to continue to build her practice in the South Hills. She hopes to

while doing clinical research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical

establish a women’s health clinic, which would cater to the specific

Center during the summer.

GI needs of women in the community.

“I felt that being in medicine would allow me to give back

“Other interests that I would like to focus on include education

something to the community and make a difference. I was also drawn

about the benefits of early detection of colorectal cancer in both

to the variety and complexity that medicine provides. Each day brings

men and women, and to dispel some of the misconceptions regarding

new and interesting experiences,” she says.

colonoscopy,” she says. “I have a particular interest in inflammatory

After earning her bachelor of science in Science Pre-Professional Studies and a minor in Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Totten attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York. It was at the University of Rochester where Dr. Totten was trained in the Biopsychosocial model of medicine. This model emphasizes treating all aspects of the patient and not just a specific disease.

bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and biliary tract disease, and plan to continue to focus on these during my career.”

JENNIFER TOTTEN, M.D. is board certified in internal medicine. She earned her medical degree at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, completed a residency in internal medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as well as a fellowship in gastroenterology at Allegheny General Hospital. Dr. Totten practices with Southwest Gastroenterology Associates.

“The Biopsychosocial model is an approach to patient care that takes into account the psychological, interpersonal, and societal

To contact Dr. Totten, please call 724.941.3020.

influences that affect a particular patient’s health. I use the principles of this model in my practice every day when I am treating my

HEALTH TIP: “Stay up-to-date with your health care maintenance,

patients,” she says.

eat a well-balanced diet high in whole grains,

She completed her internal medicine residency at the University

fruits, and vegetables, take some time each day

of Pittsburgh Medical Center with a focus on Women’s Health, and

just for yourself, and keep a positive attitude,”

then did a gastroenterology fellowship at Allegheny General Hospital

says Dr. Totten.


PRACTICE AT ST. CLAIR HOSPITAL heart attack victim is on the way to the Emergency Room. According to statistics, St. Clair's ER department is the most efficient in Western Pennsylvania. We treat our patients in the most timeappropriate manner. In fact, the ER is also ranked high nationally for its efficiency in treating heart attack patients." After attending the Bradenton, Fla. campus of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), Dr. Urick did his residency in internal medicine at UPMC Mercy Hospital where he treated patients suffering from a host of ailments.

SAMUEL URICK III, D.O. earned his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree at LECOM, and specializes in internal medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Mercy Hospital. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa. Dr. Urick practices with Fatigati/Nalin Associates, part of St. Clair Medical Services.

To contact Dr. Urick, please call 412.494.3339.

DR. SAM URICK, Internal Medicine,

Fatigati/Nalin Associates

HEALTH TIP: “One of the best things people can do is get up and walk,” says Dr. Urick. “Get off the couch and do a little bit of exercise every day. If we can practice more preventative health care, such as


ince he was four years old, Dr. Urick knew he wanted to be a doctor someday.

“I suffered from allergies when I was a kid and any time

I received an allergy shot, I would come home and play doctor

receiving immunizations and even simple things like handwashing to prevent the common cold and spread of MRSA, those are small steps people can take in their daily lives to help contribute to the overall health care of the community.”

with my parents and give each of them a ‘shot’,” he says. Although the Aliquippa native doesn’t make house calls like that anymore, several loyal patients from his residency days at UPMC Mercy Hospital followed him to his current practice with the 11-physician group Fatigati/Nalin Associates. Dr. Urick is part of the new FNA office in Robinson Township and is excited about being one of the first FNA doctors to practice in the western suburbs. His first patient was a former classmate from Aliquippa. “The fact that I was able to build a relationship with these patients as a resident several years ago, and having them follow me to where I’m at today, makes me feel very privileged,” he says. For Dr. Urick, choosing a group practice affiliated with St. Clair was the perfect fit. He says he was attracted by the Hospital’s wide range of subspecialities, its state-of-the-art medicine and technology, and the patient-centered programs it offers, such as the comprehensive Diabetes Center. "St. Clair,” he notes, “uses the da Vinci technique to provide prostate cancer patients with the benefits of robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery. They also offer radial (through the wrist) cardiac catheterizations. When a person is having a heart attack, St. Clair’s goal is to get him or her in the Catheterization Lab within 90 minutes of when St. Clair first receives notice that a 13

W h e n t h e n e w l i n e a r a c c e l e r a t o r i s o p e r a t i o n a l t h i s s u m m e r , t h e U P M C / S t. C l a i r

Cancer Center Expansion Underway at St. Clair Hospital t. Clair Hospital’s main campus in Mt. Lebanon


at UPMC/St. Clair Hospital Cancer Center. “When the

continues to grow in size and stature with construction

renovation and the addition of the new linear accelerator

underway on an addition to the UPMC/St. Clair Hospital

are completed, the center will offer even more advanced

Cancer Center.

services and increased patient access.”

Patients of UPMC/St. Clair Hospital Cancer Center ―

A linear accelerator delivers high-energy X-rays to a

a joint venture between St. Clair Hospital and UPMC ―

patient’s tumor with precision and accuracy, destroying

are already afforded the same diagnosis and treatment

cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.

expertise available at UPMC’s internationally regarded

Image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT, also utilizes two-

Hillman Cancer Center, without leaving the area.

and three-dimensional imaging to target radiation treatments

A 1,885-square-foot addition to the existing 8,000-squarefoot center is being built. The new addition primarily involves

to specific parts and organs of the body. The center, which is easily accessible to patients from

the construction of a “vault” with 84-inch thick walls to

the Fourth Floor of the Hospital and from the driveway off

house a second new linear accelerator. Planning began in

Bower Hill Road, also offers on-site PET (positron emission

July and final approvals were gained in mid-December.

tomography)/CT (computed tomography) imaging services.

Construction is slated to be completed in mid to late summer.

On-site radiologists use the PET/CT images to pinpoint

“Complete cancer care has long been available at St. Clair,” says Robert S. Werner, M.D., a radiation oncologist

the location of cancerous activity in the tissue, so a biopsy can be performed and proper treatment begun.

This architect’s rendering depicts what the UPMC/St. Clair Hospital Cancer Center will look like from Bower Hill Road when a 1,885-square-foot addition to the building is completed this summer. The addition will house a second linear accelerator for treating cancer.



Hospital Cancer Center will offer even more advanced diagnostic services.

St. Clair Hospital’s Emergency Room Wins National and Regional Awards ress Ganey Associates recently named St. Clair Hospital’s


change, and improving performance in its ER. St. Clair is one

Emergency Room a 2011 Success Story Award winner.

of only six organizations across the U.S. to receive the award

The Press Ganey award comes on the heels of the ER winning

for patient satisfaction performance.

a Gold Award in the fourth annual Fine Awards for Teamwork Excellence in Health Care. The Success Story Award from Press Ganey, a national

The Fine Awards, sponsored by Pittsburgh-based The Fine Foundation and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, were established to reinforce the critical role teamwork plays in

organization that measures patient satisfaction, recognized St. Clair

health care. St. Clair won for “Sustaining Excellence in the

for demonstrating leadership, implementing organizational

Emergency Room.”


ST. CLAIR HOSPITAL 1000 Bower Hill Road Pittsburgh, PA 15243 VOLUME II, ISSUE 2


Every month St. Clair Hospital sponsors a host of classes and ST. CLAIR HOSPITAL

groups, ranging

General & Patient Information 412.942.4000

from weight loss

Physician Referral Service 412.942.6560

to childbirth

Outpatient Center —Village Square 412.942.7100

preparation to

Medical Imaging Scheduling 412.942.8150

breast cancer

support. For a Follow us on twitter at:

complete listing, visit and you’ll find upcoming Programs & Events right on the homepage.

HouseCall is a publication of St. Clair Hospital. Articles are for informational purposes and are not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your personal physician.

St. Clair Hospital and South Hills Interfaith Ministries Looked to Community to #Tweet2Help


ome 75 area families enjoyed holiday meals thanks to a

from the @StClairHospital Twitter account, up to $1,000.

social media-powered fundraising campaign by St. Clair

The Hospital pledged another $500 to SHIM if the original $1,000

Hospital and South Hills Interfaith Ministries (SHIM). Beginning

goal was met within 48 hours. Thanks to re-tweets from some

December 13, St. Clair and SHIM asked Twitter users to help

high-profile Twitter aficionados like Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew

SHIM provide holiday meals for needy residents of the area

McCutchen and Upper St. Clair native and former Major League

by participating in the Hospital’s #Tweet2Help drive.

Baseball first baseman and now broadcaster Sean Casey, the

SHIM, based in Bethel Park, is a non-profit, human services

goal was met within the time period.

organization providing family and children services to the suburban poor and to refugee families living in the South Hills. SHIM’s suburban poverty programs include a food pantry, a community clothing closet, and financial literacy classes. SHIM’s programs are designed to serve as a bridge toward self-sufficiency ― meeting the emergency needs of the individuals and families they serve by providing the resources they need to attain self-sufficiency. During the drive, St. Clair Hospital donated 50 cents to SHIM for every re-tweet of the original St. Clair #Tweet2Help message

SOME FAST FACTS FROM SHIM: There are approximately 5,000 families living at or below the Federal Poverty Level within SHIM’s service area. Four years ago, SHIM’s food pantry served an average of 119 area families each month. Last year, SHIM served an average of 301 families, as the number of suburban poor continued to grow. The food pantry distributes more than 31,000 pounds of food each month.

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