News Center

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New medical staff officers selected to serve at St. Francis Health

INDIANAPOLIS – Three physicians affiliated with Franciscan St. Francis Health have been appointed to new leadership roles for 2013-2014.

Steven Carr, MD, and Don King, MD, will serve as president and vice president, respectively. Heidi Dunniway, MD, moves into the role of immediate past president.

Carr is affiliated with Southeast Anesthesiologists; King is a member of Franciscan Physician Network Indy Southside Surgical; and Dunniway has a practice with Otolaryngology Associates of Indianapolis.

The president is responsible for communicating the needs of medical staff to Franciscan St. Francis administrative and clinical leadership and chairs the Medical Executive Committee.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

High-end technology used at St. Francis Health prevents esophageal cancer

INDIANAPOLIS – An outpatient treatment that destroys pre-cancerous tissue in the lining of the esophagus is being used by physicians at Franciscan St. Francis Health–Indianapolis.

The procedure, endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy using the HALO System, is a highly effective treatment for complete eradication of Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition that affects three million adults in the United States each year. Esophageal cancer is presently the fastest growing form of cancer in the country.

“Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the esophagus is chronically exposed to gastric acid of the stomach caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD,” said Brian Sperl, MD, with Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells in the esophagus can undergo a genetic change and are then vulnerable to further changes that can lead to cancer.”

During the procedure, a catheter (HALO360 or HALO90 Ablation Catheter) is positioned on the abnormal esophageal tissue. Using the HALO Energy Generator, the physician delivers a rapid burst of energy which removes a very thin layer of the diseased tissue.

The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting, without incisions, and usually takes less than 30 minutes.

“The main purpose of the ablation procedure is to ablate, or remove the abnormal lining of the esophagus,” Sperl said. “The tissue then regenerates and normal tissue grows back. This eliminates or markedly reduces the chances of cancer developing.”

For a person with Barrett’s esophagus, Sperl said the risk of developing esophageal cancer is similar to the risk of developing colon cancer for patients who have a colon polyp. However, unlike a colon polyp which is removed immediately upon diagnosis through a colonoscopy, the standard treatment for Barrett’s esophagus was “watchful waiting” or surveillance to monitor the progression of the disease.

With the HALO System, clinicians can be proactive in treating Barrett’s esophagus just as they are with colon polyp removal.

“Previously we could use ablation therapy to remove or destroy pre-cancerous tissue, but the technology had limitations and wasn’t widely used,” said Sperl. “The HALO System provides uniform and controlled ablative therapy, which not only removes the abnormal cells but also allows for regrowth of normal cells. It also effectively treats patients without injuring healthy underlying tissue.”

Individuals with Barrett’s esophagus have a 40 to130 times higher incidence of developing esophageal cancer than those without the condition. Sperl said esophageal cancer is often incurable because the disease is frequently discovered in the advanced stages.

Esophageal cancer has a five-year patient survival rate of just 16 percent.

“It usually starts with GERD, which can cause Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer,” Sperl said. “That’s why it’s important to seek medical treatment for symptoms of GERD, the most common being heartburn.”

St. Francis Health employees conjure holiday ‘magic’ to benefit bereavement program

 INDIANAPOLIS – Employees and volunteers at Franciscan St. Francis Health opened up their wallets – and more important, their hearts – in a recent activity to bolster a hospital program which provides support to parents grieving the loss of their babies.

More than $5,000 was raised in a recent auction dubbed “Christmas Magic.”  Donations included gift and food baskets, toys, decorated Christmas trees and wreaths and myriad items.

The proceeds will benefit St. Francis Health’s Memories to Hold program, which offers support to families who have lost a child due to ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

“Many of our departments and employees, both clinical and support, generously offered items for bid and also placed their bids,” said Joni Cutshaw, bereavement coordinator for the hospital’s Women and Children’s Services. “We are grateful for their support.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Franciscan St. Francis Health nurses lauded for going extra mile for their patients


INDIANAPOLIS – Two registered nurses at Franciscan St. Francis Health have been praised by patients and peers for above-and-beyond the call in caregiving.

Registered nurses Erika Nance and Nina Patterson have been named the November 2012 recipients of the hospital’s DAISY Awards.

The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses is a national program that honors the compassionate care and clinical excellence. Franciscan St. Francis localized the program in 2010 to recognize its nurses for their achievements.

Nance, a nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis, was nominated by a co-worker for her compassionate caring way with a patient. “Erika takes wonderful care of her patients. She was extraordinary when she gave one of her patients a spa day,” wrote her co-worker. “Her simple act of kindness really helped boost her patient’s morale and spirit.”

Patterson, an Emergency Room nurse, was nominated by a family member who also happened to be a nurse. “Nina is patient, kind and compassionate not only with her patients but with staff she is also kind and helpful,” wrote the family member.

 “I never felt rushed and she never seemed to be in a hurry and took the time to explain everything.” She went on to say that, “We love St. Francis and your philosophy of caring for others in such a compassionate way at the time when it’s really, really needed. Nina is an extraordinary nurse.”

The DAISY Award was established by the DAISY Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes who died at 33 an auto-immune disease. His family was so impressed by the clinical skills, caring and compassion of the nurses who cared for him that they created this national award to say “thank you” to nurses everywhere. For more information, go to

To learn more about nursing careers and programs at Franciscan St. Francis, go to

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

St. Francis Health Sister selected for national executive board

INDIANAPOLIS –Sister Martha Ann Reich of Franciscan St. Francis Health has been appointed to the board of directors for the International Executive Housekeeping Association (IEHA).

A member of the Order of Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration (OSF) she has been affiliated with Franciscan St. Francis Health for many years and active in helping lead hospital-wide housekeeping and recycling initiatives.  Sister Martha Ann also has spearheaded many “green” programs, which contribute to a better hospital environment and operate more efficiently.

A long-time member of the Indiana chapter of IEHA, she recently began her four-year term on the board of directors.

Founded in New York City in 1930, IEHA is a 3,500-member professional for persons who direct cleaning, maintenance, housekeeping, groundskeeping, safety and/or indoor environmental programs in commercial, industrial or institutional facilities. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

St. Francis Health surgeon offers free joint replacement to needy patient

“This is a blessing. I really appreciate this  opportunity.” --  Duana Ulrich

MOORESVILLE, Ind. – While more than 1 million hip and knee replacements are performed in the U.S. each year, countless men and women continue to live with severe arthritic pain and immobility because they cannot afford joint replacement surgery.

One such patient received a free total joint replacement surgery Dec. 7 at the Center for Hip and Knee Surgery in Mooresville as part of an Operation Walk USA program.

The patient, Duana Ulrich from Franklin, Ind., met the hospital’s criteria for financial assistance and joint replacement surgery.


Center surgeon Michael E. Berend, MD, donated the surgery, a single knee replacement. Implant manufacturer Biomet of Warsaw, Ind., is donating the implants, and the Mooresville hospital and staff are contributing the rest of the services.

Ulrich, a church custodian for 18 years, was progressively unable to do her job because of the arthritis in her right knee and was recently laid off as a result. She found out about the Operation Walk program from fellow church member Melinda Quarles, RN, who works in the Franciscan St. Francis Health—Mooresville Intensive Care Unit.


Ulrich had no health insurance and “would’ve been freaking,” she said, if the Operation Walk program had not been available.


“This is just so amazing,” Ulrich said. “This is a blessing. I really appreciate this opportunity.”


She said she hopes her new knee will help her pursue a new career, using the master’s degree in business administration/health care administration she earned from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2010.


Her surgery took place at the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery in Mooresville, ranked No. 1 in Indiana for joint surgery five years in a row (2007-2011) by HealthGrades, one of the nation’s premier health care rating companies.

Arthritic disease is the most common cause of disability in the United States, affecting approximately 48 million Americans, or more than 21 percent of the adult population. Hip and knee replacement surgeries are the most cost-effective and successful of all orthopedic procedures, eliminating pain and allowing patients to resume active, productive lives.

Operation Walk is a private, not-for-profit, volunteer medical services organization which provides free surgical treatment for patients in developing countries and in the United States.

Established in 2000 by Merrill Ritter, MD, who also founded the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery, Operation Walk Mooresville also educates in-country orthopedic surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and other health care professionals on the most advanced treatments and surgical techniques for diseases of the hip and knee joints.

Through generous donations of time, money and supplies, Operation Walk Mooresville has been able to touch the lives of countless citizens in several countries, including Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Most recently, a medical team sponsored by Operation Walk Mooresville traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, from Feb. 26 to March 3, 2012, to perform life-changing surgery for patients suffering from immobility and joint pain. 

In four days, the group performed 104 surgeries for 84 patients, including 89 joint replacements and 15 foot and ankle surgeries.

The team of volunteers included surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and many others, who pulled together to perform more surgeries in one week than they normally can do in a year. The team brought the necessary equipment and donated supplies along with the expertise of the Operation Walk Mooresville group to get this important mission accomplished. 

The next medical mission trip will be to Guatemala City, Guatemala, Feb. 24–March 2, 2013. 

Each trip costs approximately $175,000 for transportation, cargo, shipping, medical supplies, medications, room and board. For more information, visit

Operation Walk USA began in 2011 following the tremendous success of Operation Walk, an international volunteer medical service organization that provides treatment for patients with arthritis and joint conditions throughout the world. To date, more than 6,000 patients have received new knees and hips through the International Operation Walk. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Surgeons tune into iPod for more precise, less-invasive orthopedic procedures

Franciscan St. Francis Health first in Indiana and among first nationally to use new device

Dr. Tim Williams (l) checks the iPod touch instrument and calibration
with an assistant as they  prepare to proceed with the knee replacement procedure

INDIANAPOLISFranciscan St. Francis Health orthopedic surgeons are using new technology in tandem with the Apple iPod touch ® to more effectively treat patients undergoing knee and hip joint replacements.

Timothy Williams, MD, a surgeon with the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports, today (Dec. 4) successfully treated a patient receiving a knee replacement, using a portable navigational system called the Dash ® Smart Instrument Technology by Brainlab. Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administrations, the system is designed to provide the benefits of traditional surgical navigation in a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.

Unlike more complex computer-assisted surgical navigation systems, the iPod is a common, off-the-shelf device. The nuance is in the actual application.

A computer animation displays a "real time" step during the procedure.

Williams is the first in Indiana and among the first nationally to tap into the new application, developed by the Germany-based software company, Brainlab.

“This technology allows us to more precisely target the surgical area in a less invasive way,” said Williams. “In the end, this means better outcomes for our patients.”

Here’s how it works: In the operating room, the iPod is placed in a sterile clear bag and inserted into a small cradle with reflective spheres. An infrared camera system is then affixed to a mobile, easy-to-maneuver platform. The surgeon touches a digitizing probe mounted to the iPod to surgical landmarks as the navigational system records the information.

Williams uses the navigation system to fine-tune
adjustments to surgical instruments.

Calculations are made in milliseconds, and the camera sends a 3-D image of the treatment area to the surgeon.

“The intuitive navigation provides accurate navigation throughout the procedure and allows the surgeon to make fine-tuned adjustments to surgical instruments to ensure correct placement of artificial knee and hip implants,” Williams said.  “Well-placed implants can reduce initial post-operative complications, as well as potential revision surgeries in the future. The Dash technology provides me with information to ensure proper implant placement.”

Franciscan St. Francis Health    With hospitals in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel, Franciscan St. Francis Health is a member of Franciscan Alliance, which operates 13 hospitals in Indiana and Illinois. Franciscan Alliance provides care for 3 million outpatient visits and more than 100,000 inpatient discharges every year with the most effective medical treatments and innovative technology. Franciscan Alliance, one of the largest Catholic health-care systems in the Midwest, employs 18,200 co-workers and has more than 3,300 affiliated physicians – both primary care and specialists – serving nearly 4 million people in the system’s service areas. To learn more about Franciscan Alliance and Franciscan St. Francis Health, go to and

Brainlab     Brainlab develops, manufactures and markets software-driven medical technology that supports targeted, less-invasive treatment. Core products are image-guided systems and software that provide real-time information used for surgical navigation and radiosurgical planning and delivery. Brainlab technology drives collaboration between hospitals and clinicians from a wide variety of subspecialties—from neurosurgery and oncology to orthopedics, ENT, CMF and spine & trauma. This integration delivers better access to improved and more efficient treatment. Founded in 1989, the privately held Brainlab group has more than 5,000 systems installed in about 80 countries. Based in Munich, Germany, Brainlab employs 1,070 people in 17 offices worldwide. To learn more, visit