Night of awards honors clinicians at Community Regional

Community Medical Centers’ clinicians were highly honored at the fourth annual Business Street Online Healthcare Heroes Awards Gala on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the downtown Fresno’s Banker’s Ballroom.

Awards were presented in five categories and three finalists were picked from numerous nominees throughout the Valley. The categories included physician, nurse, healthcare professional, innovation and volunteer.

Community nominees were awarded the highest honors in both the physician and innovation category as well as receiving top-three honors in the healthcare professional and nurse category.

Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry was awarded the top honor in the physician category. When it comes to matters of the heart, Dr. Chaudhry has a unique record among area cardiac surgeons … he performs the most beating heart surgeries in the Valley. Beating heart surgery is when the physician performs a bypass surgery while the heart is still beating. Other cardiac surgeons will use the heart-lung bypass – a machine that works to pump blood through the  body while the heart is stopped so the surgeon can operate. On average nationwide, beating heart surgery is performed about 22% of the time. However, Dr. Chaudhry performs beating heart surgery in 90% of his cases.

Beating heart surgery provides Dr. Chaudhry’s patients with more benefits than the heart-lung machine, like better preservation of heart function, better survival rate (especially among high-risk patients), a reduced hospital stay and quicker recovery, less chance for heart rhythm, kidney, or liver complications and a reduced risk for neurological injury, including stroke and memory complications.

Just ask his patients who have seen miraculous results or the patients who no one else would operate on as the risk was so high – Dr. Chaudhry is a compassionate surgeon with a quick sense of humor and comforting manner who provides hope to those in critical need.

Dr. Michael Peterson, chief of medicine for the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program, accepted the top award for innovation won by Community Regional Medical Center’s Lung Nodule Program – a first of its kind program in the Central Valley and one of only a handful in the country. Comprised of a multidisciplinary team of specialists that includes pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, radiation and medical oncologists working together, the key objective is to significantly reduce the time from detection to treatment, ensuring greater likelihood of positive outcomes.

To expedite the evaluation and treatment of lung nodules, Community Regional’s team of experts conduct weekly meetings to evaluate new cases and recommend a customized course of treatment. The program simplifies the process for the patient while alleviating unnecessary procedures and office visits. If the patient is at high risk for lung cancer or diagnostic tests indicate the lung nodule is cancerous, further testing or immediate treatment is recommended.  Benefits for the patient include early detection, timely treatment, consideration for minimally invasive surgery or CyberKnife therapy as well as optimizing treatment of late-stage lung cancer.

The program was developed through a collaboration of Community Regional and UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program and is one of only a handful in the country and the first in central California.

Registered nurse Bruce Eliason, director of cardiovascular care at Community Regional was recognized for his and the department’s many achievements over the last few years. Eliason has been instrumental in bringing leading edge treatments to the Valley for cardiac patients and for helping to keep patients close to home while they are undergoing treatment.

Registered nurse Maureen Rico-Buxman was recognized in the nurse category for her dedication to her job in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Community Regional. Rico-Buxman earned two bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and psychology before earning her nursing degree at Fresno State. Her co-workers say she is dedicated, compassionate and caring and known for her ability to care for the sickest of patients.

Dr. Dominic Dizon, CCFMG Faculty Practice, was recognized in the physician category for his numerous endeavors to improve health care in the Valley.  From his work with residents to his dedicated community service Dr. Dizon is well known for his altruistic efforts. Dr. Dizon is an associate clinical professor of medicine at UCSF and serves as the medical director of Community Regional’s Deran Koligian Ambulatory Care Center.

During the awards gala, a special tribute video and photo gallery was presented in honor of the late Dr. Steven N. Parks, who received the Healthcare Heroes Lifetime Achievement award in 2008. Dr. Parks died in August 2010. He built his career by dedicating himself to the sickest patients and victims of trauma. He was heavily involved in surgical education and taught generations of surgeons in Fresno.

Dr. Parks was internationally recognized for his expertise in trauma surgery and teaching. He was sought after in many countries to present at trauma conferences, where he taught Advanced Trauma Life Support. Since 1982, Dr. Parks served as the chairman of surgery and the program director for the surgical residency at the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program. He also was the chief of surgery at Community Regional. Throughout his lifetime he won many awards and was recently recognized with the Steven N. Parks Endowed chair of Surgery in 2009, established to continue his legacy of service and surgical education in Fresno.

This story was reported by Mary Lisa Russell. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@CommunityMedical.org.