Sentara's first gastroenterology practice in Hampton Roads opens at Sentara Port Warwick in Newport News
Sentara Medical Group (SMG) has established its first gastroenterology practice in Hampton Roads on the Port Warwick medical campus at the corner of Warwick Blvd. and Loftis Blvd. in Newport News. Sentara Gastroenterology Specialists introduces two new physicians to the region; Dr. George Smallfield, who works with inpatients at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, and Dr. Silvia Degli Esposti, who sees patients in the office. Both physicians come to Sentara from the VCU health system in Richmond.
“We see a need for this specialty on the Peninsula,” says Sara Jane Kelly, regional director of operations for Sentara Medical Group. “We had 5,300 referrals for GI services last year through our primary care physicians and this new practice will help us improve access to care.” An SMG practice also accepts Medicaid managed care plans under the Sentara not-for-profit mission, which broadens access to care for medically indigent patients, especially women.
“Colon cancer is a significant cause of death among women, yet women lag behind men in colorectal screening and preventive care,” says Dr. Degli Esposti. “Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for early detection, but there are cultural barriers to women getting screened and we’ve been working to break down those barriers.” One such effort involves partnering with OB/GYNs, to urge their patients to receive screening colonoscopies at the appropriate age.
The recommended age for a first colonoscopy has dropped from 50 to 45, due to the increase in colon cancers among patients in their 40s. A colonoscopy explores the length of the large intestine with a lighted fiberoptic camera on a flexible endoscope. The physician can often remove pre-cancerous lesions, or polyps, on the spot, reducing the likelihood of developing colon cancer. If there is a cancerous lesion, the physician will schedule appropriate therapies, such as radiation and surgery, to remove it.
“Early detection is key,” adds Dr. Degli Esposti. She notes that home-based fecal testing kits help discover cancers but do not prevent them. “Direct visualization is the most effective preventive tool we have,” Dr. Degli Esposti concludes. “Colonoscopy is one type of cancer screening that can really save lives.”
Sentara Gastroenterology Specialists is in the Port Warwick II building, on the second floor above the free-standing emergency department.
By: Dale Gauding