Surgery Services updates at Veterans Memorial Hospital

Some of the Surgical Staff members at Veterans Memorial Hospital are pictured with the new microscope purchased by the hospital for use by Dr. Cindy Calderon during cataract surgeries. Pictured in the front row, left to right, are William Loebig, CRNA; Breanne Bernau, RN; Tara Reisinger, RN; Brooke Weighner, RN; and Suzette Mahoney, RN, Surgery Supervisor. Back row, left to right, are Jessica Jones, RN; Rachel Berns, RN; Heidi Whalen, RN; and Juli Viet, RN. Submitted photo.

The Surgery Department at Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) has seen some changes over the last few months. Long-time orthopedic provider Dr. Val Lyons is currently on medical leave from Veterans Memorial Hospital, with his return anticipated sometime in January. Dr. Lyons has arranged for coverage during his absence, so orthopedic services continue to be available at VMH provided by Dr. Lee Merritt and Dr. Thomas Distefano.

Winneshiek Medical Center and the Decorah Mayo surgeons have decided they will no longer have a presence at Veterans Memorial Hospital. Gundersen surgeons, who have served VMH since 1992, continue their strong support covering both scheduled procedures and emergency cases.

“We were very disappointed that Mayo in Decorah made this sole decision, but we have always enjoyed our relationship with Gundersen,” states Mike Myers, Administrator of Veterans Memorial Hospital. “The Gundersen surgeons have been providing quality service to our patients for many years and we appreciate they have volunteered to provide even more services here.”

Dr. Phillip Yee offers scheduled general surgery services at VMH every Monday, and alternating Thursdays and Fridays. “For over a decade, I have been privileged to serve Allamakee County and beyond for surgical services. My commitment to the community hasn’t changed. I am happy to continue to provide this surgical care at our local hospital.”

Emergency surgery coverage is provided by Dr. Yee, and his fellow Gundersen general surgeons, Dr. Scott Bierman and Dr. Michael LaBelle.

Colonoscopies continue to be a commonly performed procedure in the Veterans Memorial Hospital surgical suite. This procedure typically takes approximately three hours from start to finish.  Both men and women are at risk for colon cancer, and the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age.

All men and women 50 years of age and older should be screened, or earlier for anyone with a sibling, parent or child with colon cancer.

“Despite the lethal nature of colon cancer, fewer than half of all Americans undergo regular screenings,” explains Dr. Yee. “Colon cancer can be greatly reduced through screenings that help us find cancer in an early, more curable stage, as well as precancerous growths, called polyps. Removing polyps can prevent cancer from ever occurring. Most people hate the idea of having a colonoscopy. Whether they are worried about the discomfort, embarrassment or fear of what might be found,” says Dr. Yee. “But if you ask most people who have had a colonoscopy, you’ll hear, ‘It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.’”

Dr. Yee also routinely performs a wide range of surgical interventions, including laparoscopic procedures (such as gall bladder removal or tubal ligation), hernia repair, and Cesarean sections. High-def technology by Olympus is always used at Veterans Memorial Hospital during all laparoscopic procedures, arthroscopies and colonoscopies. The benefit of high-def is the outstanding picture quality that allows the surgeon to work with greater precision and safety.

Gundersen ophthalmologist Dr. Cindy Calderon is now available in Waukon the first and last Tuesdays of the month to perform cataract surgery. This allows one eye to be done one week, and the second eye to be performed the following week, as most patients prefer.  VMH recently purchased a new Alcon microscope and phaco unit (used to remove the cataract), so Dr. Calderon has state of the art equipment at her disposal.

Dr. Greg Valkosky travels to Waukon each week to consult with patients at the Gundersen Clinic and perform any needed surgical procedures at Veterans Memorial Hospital. Typical procedures performed by Dr. Valkosky include bunionectomies and joint fusions, as well as repair of foot and ankle fractures.

Gundersen podiatrists Dr. Brooke Tappe and Dr. Craig Sullivan also maintain privileges at VMH and may perform surgery here when a patient desires to do so.

Call Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411 to inquire about any surgical procedure.

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