Much More Than Just the Standard Care

Jason P. Harris, MD, FACS, helps Bluegrass Surgery and Gastroenterology Associates expand its services

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LEXINGTON As the only surgeon in Kentucky certified to perform the state-of-the-art LINX® procedure, Jason P. Harris, MD, FACS, knows how important it is to offer his patients cutting-edge treatments and advancements – treatments that lead to a quality of life that once was not available.

LINX, a Torax Medical product, is a band of rare earth magnets placed around the base of the esophagus to restore the body’s natural barrier to reflux, bringing much needed long-term relief to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) sufferers for whom conventional medications have not helped.

Harris’ first successful surgery was performed June 2014 at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington and established LINX as an option for GERD patients in the region. (See MD-UPDATE #85 (April 2014), pg. 21, for more discussion of LINX.) His second surgery was just successfully completed this past June.

“Each patient is doing wonderfully. The first patient is now over a year out from her operation and the second is now about 10 weeks post-op. They were prepared in advance for the expected, early, and transient dysphagia that is customary with the procedure,” says Harris. “They are now off their reflux medication, can sleep lying flat, eat whatever they like, and no longer wake up in the middle of the night with regurgitation.”

Although there are a number of exclusions that limit qualified patients, demand is growing and insurance carriers are slowly beginning to cover the procedure.

And LINX is just the beginning for Harris. His main goal is to continue to offer his patients at Bluegrass Surgery and Gastroenterology the most advanced procedures to treat their ailments.

Previously known as the Bluegrass Surgical Group, Bluegrass Surgery and Gastroenterology is a completely independent practice that has recently doubled in size, adding three new gastroenterologists to their staff. Currently the practice includes the newly added gastroenterologists Albert Castellanos, MD, James Pezzi, MD, and Amy Tiu, MD, as well as surgeons John Harris, MD, and Ross Tekulve, MD.

“It’s been a blessing to have three other physicians in the practice that have a common mindset about patient care and quality, and it provides us the opportunity to offer something we wouldn’t have been able to before. It’s been a very good transition thus far,” added Harris.

Along with the LINX procedure, the practice provides the full gambit of general surgery offerings. Procedures as simple as abscess drainage and breast biopsies to complex, advanced laparoscopic and robotic operations on the fore-gut and hindgut.

“I use robotics currently on select general surgery cases, but I’m hopeful that Saint Joseph Hospital’s robotic program and their plans for a hardware upgrade will allow us to offer additional robotic techniques that have not been available previously,” states Harris. “Single-site gallbladder and colon surgery are some of the options that will be available for robotic surgical procedures. We’ll also be adding robotic hernia surgery, which is an up-and-coming technique for more complex hernias.”

As an independent practice, Harris and his partners are available to perform surgeries at any hospital at which they hold credentials. “We are happy to be able to accommodate both independent and employed referring physicians when scheduling our procedures. Patient preference is also considered when choosing a hospital. “It takes an additional stress out of an already anxious time.”

The practice is proud of their excellent outcomes and continual growth – growth that will keep catapulting them to the forefront of general surgery.

Harris concludes, “We are very proud of our experience and the care we’ve been blessed to provide to others over the last thirty years at Bluegrass Surgical. The group is so happy to have added others who share our vision for quality and collectively we’re very excited about the future.”

Saint Joseph Hospital’s robotic program will allow us to offer additional robotic techniques that have not been available previously, such as single-site gallbladder and colon surgery.