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  • HIPEC testimonial Eddie

    Hot Chemo Procedure Providing Hope for Advanced Abdominal Cancer

    After several rounds of chemotherapy that ‘tore him down,’ 51-year-old Eddie Thornton decided to put his fate in God’s hands.

    He had just learned the disease had spread from his colon to abdomen and the thought of more toxic treatment was too much to bear. At the minimum, the Pembroke Pines resident reasoned, he’d preserve whatever quality of life he might have left and get off the emotional and physical rollercoaster he’d been riding since the death of his father and cancer diagnosis. It’s a decision he made in the absence of hope.

    Shortly thereafter, a recommendation of the Memorial Cancer Institute led to a meeting with Omar Llaguna, MD, a surgical oncologist that is one of the few in South Florida performing a procedure that provides a viable option for patients like Thornton that have peritoneal surface malignancy or cancerous tumors that have spread to the lining of the abdominal cavity.

    “During surgery we remove all the visible disease from the abdomen,” said Dr. Llaguna. “We then infuse a heated chemotherapy solution directly into the area for 90 minutes, washing the abdomen and killing any remaining cancer cells.”

    Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), also known as “hot chemo,” reaches areas that traditional chemotherapy can’t, attacking cancer with a much stronger chemical cocktail than could be tolerated in the veins. It has been especially effective treating gastrointestinal tumors that spread from the colon, ovaries, appendix, and rectum.

    For Thornton, being a HIPEC candidate meant there was reason for hope. “I walked out of there feeling like my old self, like there was something better than what I was going through. I believed there were better days coming.”

    HIPEC can be a cure for some patients and extends the quality and quantity of life for others, with results depending on the aggressiveness of individual disease process. The Memorial Cancer Institute has treated nearly 20 patients to date with the high-tech, high- touch solution, some of whom, like Thornton, believed they had exhausted all other options.

    Thornton spent close to a week at Memorial Regional Hospital following surgery before being discharged to further convalesce at home. Within a week, he was regaining the strength cancer and its treatments had stolen and was walking unassisted for 20 minutes in his backyard. He’ll get bloodwork done moving forward to monitor his condition.

    “I’m happy,” said Thornton, a City of Miami Beach employee. “I feel like the surgery was what I needed and I can go back to living the life I had.”

    The Memorial Cancer Institute (MCI) is one of the largest cancer centers in Florida, treating more than 4,300 new patients a year. Part of the Memorial Healthcare System, MCI offers diagnosis, integrated treatment, support, clinical trials, and research customized for the patient and his or her family in an environment close to home.

    For more information, read more about cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC or call 954-844-9520.

    Smart Snippet: Video
    Datasource: Eddie's HIPEC testimonial      
  • pharmacist holding monoclonal antibody infusion

    Memorial Hospital Pembroke Offers Monoclonal Antibody Infusions to Qualifying COVID-19 Patients

    As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise and vaccines are in short supply, Memorial Healthcare System is offering qualifying COVID-19 patients an alternative that is showing great signs in helping them feel better and avoid hospitalization.

    Memorial Hospital Pembroke has provided monoclonal antibody infusions to 270 patients who have high risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Of these high-risk patients, only four patients have needed to be admitted to the hospital post infusion. Memorial Hospital Pembroke set up an outpatient treatment center next to the Emergency Department, where a team of nurses and doctors are infusing qualifying COVID-19 patients either Bamlanivimab, by Eli Lilly, or Casirivimab and Imdevimab, by Regeneron.

    “Everything points to a life-saving drug, because the results have been outstanding,” said David Starnes, Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Hospital Pembroke.

    Community members who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days and meet the criteria outlined below are encouraged to contact their primary care physicians. PCP offices can fax the order (including symptoms and risk factors) along with a copy of the patient’s positive COVID-19 test to Memorial Centralized Scheduling at 954-985-3034.

    Appointments are available Monday through Saturday. The outpatient process takes about two hours: one for the infusion; the second for observation by medical professionals.

    Adult patients (over age 16) must weigh at least 88.19 lbs., must have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days, have mild to moderate symptoms and one additional criteria, including:

    • Body mass index more than or equal to 35
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease OR receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • People over 65
    • People over 55 with underlying conditions such as obesity, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and immunodeficiency.
  • Memorial Begins Inoculating Seniors 65 and Older

    On January 7, Memorial Healthcare System (Memorial) began inoculating seniors 65 and older with the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The healthcare system is vaccinating at two locations, including Memorial Regional Hospital Conference Center in Hollywood and Memorial Specialty Pharmacy in Miramar.

    At this time, Memorial's COVID-19 vaccine appointments have been filled. As soon as the healthcare system receives the next shipment of vaccines, it will reopen appointments via MyChart and its Centralized Scheduling at 954-276-4340. Everyone in the community who is 65 and older is encouraged to open a MyChart account to help expedite the appointment process.

    “Memorial has always been part of this community and we are honored to offer this potentially life-saving vaccine to our seniors,” said, Melida Melida Akiti, VP, Memorial Healthcare System Ambulatory and Community Services, and Vaccine POD leader at Memorial Regional Hospital.

    In addition to inoculating older adults, Memorial continues to vaccinate employees and medical staff, and community licensed healthcare professionals regardless of hospital affiliation.

    Memorial is one of only five healthcare systems in Florida chosen as host for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The initial shipment of 19,500 vaccines to inoculate medical staff arrived on Dec. 14, and the second doses arrived in late December. The shipment of 7,800 vaccines to expand vaccines to seniors 65 and older arrived the first week of 2021.

    To learn more, visit our COVID-19 Vaccine page, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.