By Eleanor Thomas

It is natural to be nervous when you are faced with the need for surgery. Questions race through your mind about the procedure and how it is going to impact your life, both short-term and long-term.

Most people know that choosing their surgeon is one of the most critical decisions they will have to make when faced with surgery. While that is certainly a huge component, it is important to know that there is a competent and caring team working alongside your surgeon.

Surgeons do not operate in a vacuum. Whether in their office or the operating room, there is an entire team that makes sure patients and their families are cared for and supported every step of the way. At Brattleboro General Surgery that process starts every morning with a staff meeting before opening to discuss the patients who have appointments that day.

The administrative staff and nurses make sure they have all the documentation and test results from the referring physician and prepare for any special needs the patients may have. Our providers and staff provide that personal touch which can go a long way toward making you feel more reassured throughout your surgical experience.

During your consultation, the surgeon will discuss the nature of your problem, describe the procedure, answer any questions, and obtain your consent for the procedure. Some procedures require an assistant during the operation. At Brattleboro General Surgery our surgeons assist each other when necessary. Once you finish your consultation, you will meet with one of the nurses who complete the paperwork, help choose a date for surgery, educate patients on what to expect, order necessary tests, and set up an appointment or phone call with staff from the re-op assessment team. The pre-op assessment team will review your tests, medications, and medical history to make sure that you are ready for your surgery. They will answer any additional questions you may have and walk you through the sequence of events on the day of surgery so you know what to expect when you arrive.

The collaboration extends beyond the practice staff. Personnel from other hospital departments that provide patient care, such as radiology, oncology, and pathology, meet on a regular basis to discuss clinical issues and cancer cases for patients. This is geared toward providing the best possible care and outcome for patients.

Following your surgery, you will return to see your surgeon for a post-operative visit. We will assess how you are doing, and in many cases you will be released from care. Some patients will come back to see the surgeon for periodic visits over the next year for checkups. Should you need additional care, i.e. home health, ostomy care, or additional treatment from the surgeon, we will set that up for you.

General surgeons have specialized knowledge related to the diagnosis, preoperative, operative, and postoperative management, including the management of complications, in many different areas: abdominal issues – i.e. appendectomies, gallbladders; breast, skin and soft tissue; vascular (not heart related); tumors and lesions of the skin; hemorrhoids; and treatment of trauma.

The surgeons at Brattleboro General Surgery treat all of these conditions but each surgeon in the practice has a particular area of interest in which they specialize. Dr. Gregory Gadowski has a special interest in venous surgery (varicose veins) and wound care and serves as the Medical Director for the Center for Wound Healing. Dr. Joseph Rosen has a special interest in breast care. He serves as the Medical Director for the Comprehensive Breast Care Program and is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Dr. Thomas H. Lewis has a special interest in colorectal problems and is a fellow in the American Society of Colon/Rectal Surgeons. All of our surgeons are board certified and members of the American College of Surgeons.

Their specialties are greatly enhanced when the team approach expands to include other hospital services, like the Comprehensive Breast Care program, the Community Health Team or the Center for Wound Healing. The relationships and affiliations they have built with other departments in the hospital, and the primary care providers, provide for seamless integration even after you have been discharged from the hospital and are into the follow-up stages of your post-surgical recovery.

Not all patients in our practice need surgery. There are a number of illnesses which can be treated such as diverticulitis and some bowel issues. Hospitalists from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital will call on the surgeons to provide consults for their inpatients and oncology and other providers will call on the surgeons to implant chemo ports or PICC lines for their patients who are receiving chemotherapy or antibiotics. For those patients in need of colorectal cancer screening, our surgeons perform screening and diagnostic colonoscopies.

Of course, nothing provides a patient more comfort than having your loved ones nearby. We want you to have confidence in the choice you make to stay close to home for your surgery. That is why Brattleboro Memorial Hospital has invested so much into its surgical facility and related technological services. It is also why only board-certified surgeons direct and perform operations at the Brattleboro General Surgery practice. You are always welcome to contact us to learn more about the services we provide and our team approach.

Eleanor Thomas is the practice manager at Brattleboro General Surgery, a Department of Brattleboro Memorial Hosptial. She can be reached at 802-251-8650.