Archive for the ‘SIH Medical Group’ Category

Dr. Jeff Parks and Hands of Hope

A mission trip with an initial goal of providing school physicals in Liberia turned into a calling for Dr. Jeff Parks, friends and colleagues. The Hands of Hope medical ministry to the West African village of Weala has endured the Ebola crisis, war and political unrest while providing care to thousands of individuals.

In March, Dr. Parks completed his sixth visit as mission medical director alongside SIH Medical Group’s Cindy Hardin (physician office specialist for New Life Weight Loss Center), Marion ophthalmologist Dr. Ukeme Umana, retired Herrin Hospital ER nurse Nancy Bierman and a handful of providers and volunteers from across the state.

“I happened to be at the right place at the right time in history,” says Dr. Parks of his involvement which dates back to 2010.

Since then, Dr. Parks, Community of Faith Church Pastor Troy Benitone and more than 30 SIH registered nurses, physicians, staff and surgeons have joined the effort. The group skipped 2015 due to the Ebola crisis and 2017 because of upheaval surrounding the country’s presidential elections. SIH System Director of Laboratory Services Steve Howerton is credited with designing and setting up the field lab that remains in use today. Last year, a surgeon with SIH Medical Group, Dr. Lance Hale., made the trek as well.


Medical milestones:

Dr. Umana and an ophthalmologist from Nigeria completed a major milestone during the most recent trip: the 1,000th cataract operation. Cataracts are endemic in Liberia and the leading cause of blindness, says Dr. Parks, including few ophthalmologists among three million people, sun exposure (no sunglasses) and congenital cataracts.

Dr. Umana and an ophthalmologist from Nigeria completed a major milestone during the most recent trip: the 1,000th cataract operation. Cataracts are endemic in Liberia and the leading cause of blindness, says Dr. Parks, including few ophthalmologists among three million people, sun exposure (no sunglasses) and congenital cataracts.

“It’s not uncommon for us to treat children for blindness,” explained Dr. Parks.

In his role, Dr. Parks and team provided care to over 200 patients this time around, primarily for conditions such as typhoid fever, cancer, untreated hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and chronic back problems.

“I saw fewer cases of malaria this time, due to a 90-day dry season. They have pretty much the same problems we have but with added tropical and third world issues.”

Hands of Hope works to provide training and support to Waela’s physicians and nurses, which instills additional trust in the country’s medical providers.

“If the Americans trust them, then we can trust them,” Dr. Parks said of the collective mindset.


Click here for more on volunteer and scholarship activities associated with Hands of Hope.

New Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Carlos Rivera-Serrano, MD

SIH Medical Group Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery welcomes plastic surgeon, Carlos Rivera-Serrano, MD. Dr. Rivera-Serrano is a US trained plastic & reconstructive surgeon with additional training in Asia and Europe. He trained in plastic surgery at the University of Florida and then completed fellowships in some of the most widely recognized and sought after plastic surgery centers in the world.

He completed his surgical internship at the coveted Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He then accomplished his residency in Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

After his residency in Pittsburgh, he followed his passion and decided to train in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, graduating from the University of Florida. To further refine his skills, he then fulfilled a one year clinical fellowship in Craniofacial Surgery/Reconstructive Microsurgery at the world renowned Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, arguably the leading and prime plastic surgery center in Asia.

Lastly, Dr. Rivera-Serrano did a clinical Reconstructive Microsurgery Fellowship at Gent University Hospital in Belgium, widely regarded as one of the premier plastic surgery programs in Europe, focusing on complex microvascular breast reconstruction and perforator flaps.

Dr. Rivera-Serrano is excited to bring his services to southern Illinois. His main interests are reconstructive and cosmetic facial and breast surgery, including nasal, eyelid and facelift surgery, and body contouring. His world class training background set his expectations to deliver state-of-the-art plastic surgery services.

To view his full profile, visit

“I’m thankful that SIH Medical Group has provided this opportunity to expand plastic surgery care, and to serve the wonderful community of southern Illinois.”
His services include:

  • Reconstructive facial and neck surgery
  • Facelifts and facial rejuvenation
  • Eyelid surgery
  • Rhinoplasty and nasal surgery
  • Breast reconstruction, including microvascular reconstruction
  • Breast reduction, lift and augmentation
  • Body contouring for weight loss patients
  • Mommy makeovers

1400 Financial Park
Carbondale, IL 62902

Southern Illinois Telemedicine Initiative

Technology Puts Specialists Inside Area Emergency Departments

Bedside specialty care, within minutes, with the touch of a button. It sounds like something from Star Trek or The Jetsons from days of yore; but telemedicine is a reality in southern Illinois. Today, this technology puts specialists in neurology and psychiatry inside emergency departments across the region to deliver real-time assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

A $488,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) led to the creation of the Southern Illinois Telemedicine Initiative, SIH and it’s three hospitals in collaboration with the SIU School of Medicine, Connect SI, Illinois Hospital Association and four additional rural, community hospitals, are using this technology to provide life-saving treatment while eliminating transfer and transport times for patients.


Expert Care During a Critical Time

In the area of stroke in particular, the adage is “time is brain.” Almost immediate access to the region’s largest neuroscience team at SIH Brain & Spine Institute expedites expert care at a critical time. Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke; treatment within the initial hours of onset are critical for patients to receive a clot buster to thwart life-threatening and debilitating outcomes. The technology is also being utilized in behavioral health and fetal ultrasound, with plans to integrate cardiology and other medical subspecialties in the future.

Neurointensivist, Alejandro Hornik, MD explains, “We are not trying to replace bedside care we are just trying to compliment it.”

In addition to Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Herrin Hospital and St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, Harrisburg Medical Center and Marshall Browning Hospital in DuQuoin are also using this advanced technology. Hamilton County Hospital in McLeansboro and Franklin Hospital in Benton will go live with telemedicine over the next few months.

Capsule Endoscopy in Two Locations

Capsule Endoscopy is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. It helps doctors see inside your small intestine–an area that isn’t easily reached with conventional endoscopy.

Benefits of Capsule Endoscopy
  • No sedation or radiation exposure
  • No pain or discomfort
  • Capsule is disposable and passes naturally out of the digestive tract
  • Capsule is given at physician’s office but then the patient is free to go about their day
Other services offered:
  • EGD
  • Colonoscopy
  • Esophageal Dilation
  • Fecal Transplants
We have three board certified Gastroenterologists in two different locations.

Nader Dababneh, MD

2601 West Main Street
Carbondale, IL 62901

Mack McCain, MD

2601 West Main Street
Carbondale, IL 62901

Georg Elias, MD

3314 Patriot Court
Herrin, IL 62948

2 Podiatrists in 2 Locations

SIH Medical Group is proud to add two Podiatrists to our list of specialty doctors.

Amanda Brazis, DPM, will be located in Logan Park at 3307 Logan Drive in Herrin. She completed her surgical residency training at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago with a degree in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, as well as Reconstructive Rearfoot & Ankle Surgery. Mitchell Cook, DPM will be located in Harrisburg at 50 Warren Tuttle Drive. He completed his surgical residency training at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, specializing in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery as well as Rearfoot & Ankle Reconstructive Surgery.

The services they will both offer include:
  • Foot/ankle fracture care
  • Sports medicine
  • Ankle instability
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetic wound care and preventative care
  • Limb salvage
  • Ligament and tendon repair
  • Orthotics
  • Bunion and hammertoe correction
  • Treatment of Neuromas
  • Pediatric foot disorders
  • Foot pain evaluations
  • Treatment of heel pain

For appointments please call:

Dr. Amanda Brazis – 618.993.0900
Dr. Mitchell Cook – 618.294.9300

Losing his Ability to Breathe

Bradley Hagy was in a diving accident many years ago that left him paralyzed from the neck down. But he didn’t let anything slow him down. He was a full-time instructor at SIU. Then one day, he started having difficulty breathing out of his nose. He saw a specialist that diagnosed him with having a “collapsed nasal valve.” Unfortunately, nothing was done to help Bradley. He went for two more years, losing his ability to breathe out of his left nostril and the ability to breathe out of his right nostril was diminishing. He was in so much pain. Finally one day, he made an appointment with Dr. Paul Schalch, an Otolaryngologist at Center for Medical Arts. Dr. Schalch immediately ordered a CT Scan in November of 2011. Dr. Schalch discovered a 2 ¾ inch benign tumor in his nasal/sinus cavity.

When Dr. Schalch gave Bradley the news, Bradley never felt fear. He felt relief and a sense of validation—that he wasn’t crazy. He knew something was wrong and was so happy Dr. Schalch could help him. To add to his sense of relief, Dr. Schalch accommodated Bradley’s teaching schedule. The semester ended on a Thursday and Bradley was in surgery on Friday. The tumor was so large that it ripped his nostril, but Dr. Schalch was able to remove the whole tumor and some little tumors as well. They conducted a biopsy on the mass and it came back benign.

Relationship with Dr. Schalch

From the moment Bradley met Dr. Schalch, he felt confident and at ease. Dr. Schalch was certain in his diagnosis, something Bradley never felt before. Dr. Schalch was careful in describing what the procedure would be like and was very quick to getting Bradley in surgery to accommodate his recovery and work schedule. Bradley felt that he took the time to identify and clarify in a way that put him at ease. The procedure was higher risk for him, but Bradley never thought about going to St. Louis to have the procedure done. He knew that when Dr. Schalch got him in so quickly for surgery, he felt that Dr. Schalch truly cared for him as a patient and as a person. Bradley has the utmost respect for Dr. Schalch and his whole staff. Bradley didn’t just feel like another patient, Dr. Schalch made him feel like his only patient.

Paul Schalch, M.D.
Center for Medical Arts
2601 W Main Street
Carbondale, IL 62901

Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

Facts about Hepatitis C

There are approximately 3.2 million people living with chronic Hepatitis C in the United States. Up to 75% of them don’t know they are infected, because Hep C doesn’t cause many symptoms. The Hepatitis C virus damages the liver very slowly, so there are very often no signs of infection for 20 years or more. About 60-70% of people with Hep C will go on to develop some sort of liver disease. Cirrhosis, or advanced scarring, will occur in 10-20% of people, with a portion of those dying from complications directly related to their liver disease. This makes screening for Hep C very important – so we can catch and treat people before the liver damage occurs.

Hepatitis C is spread by blood exposure, which usually occurs when people share needles. The blood supply is much safer now, but transfusions prior to 1992 could be a source of infection. There is some evidence that amateur tattoos and sharing cocaine straws also transmit Hepatitis C. The CDC has found that the infection rate is highest in the Baby Boomer generation – those born between 1945-1965. It is recommended that all people born between those dates get screened for Hepatitis C.

There is a misconception that Hepatitis C is not treatable. Hepatitis C is curable. For most people, after treatment is done, there is no detectable virus left in the body. Once the virus is gone, the liver can actually regenerate and fix itself. We have new medications now, and more on the near horizon, which make the treatment much easier. There are fewer side effects than there used to be, and the cure rate is much higher than before. People with Hepatitis C should talk to their physician to get a referral to a specialist who is knowledgeable in the details of the current treatment options.

For more information or to make an appointment with our Infectious Disease specialists, Dr. Linda Bobo or Dr. Erica Kaufman, please call 618.549.5361.

What you need to know about food allergies

This week is the start of Food Allergy Awareness Week according to FARE-Food Allergy Research & Education network. In 1998, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, now FARE, created Food Allergy Awareness Week to educate the public about food allergies, a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

According to FARE, mild symptoms to an allergic reaction to food may include one or more of the following:
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Redness of the skin or around the eyes
  • Itchy mouth or ear canal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Slight, dry cough
  • Odd taste in mouth
  • Uterine contractions
Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:
  • Obstructive swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Turning blue
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • A weak or “thread” pulse
  • Sense of “impending doom”
Allergist/Immunologist, Dr. Jeffrey Lehman gives some tips on how to manage your food allergies:
  • Complete avoidance of specific food trigger
  • Ensure nutritional needs are being met
  • Educating yourself those around you
  • Anaphylaxis emergency action plan if applicable
  • Dietary elimination
For more information or to make an appointment with our Allergist/Immunologist Jeffrey Lehman, MD, please call 618.549.5361. To make an appointment with Allergist/Immunologist Ronald Mings, MD, please call 618.549.9385.

Food Allergy

Sign up for the Patient Portal

Tired of playing phone tag? An Internet-based Patient Portal simplifies communication with your provider and eliminates time-consuming phone calls to the practice. Whether you want to schedule an appointment or review your latest test results, the Patient Portal delivers the information you need through a convenient, easy-to-use portal.

The Patient Portal is a secure, confidential and easy-to-use Web site that gives patients and their families 24-hour access to their medical records. It uses the latest encryption technology to deliver secure communication between patients and providers. By signing up and enrolling with the Patient Portal, you will be able to:

  • Correspond online with your provider and practice
  • Request appointments and receive appointment reminders
  • Access important health information from your medical record including: medications, immunizations and test results
  • View medication list and request prescription refills
  • Obtain educational information
  • Maintain account information including user name, password, access privileges and email address
Here is a list of SIH Medical Group locations and providers that are on the Patient Portal:
  • All of the providers at Center for Medical Arts
  • All of the providers at Logan Primary Care (Herrin & West Frankfort)
  • New Life Weight Loss Center
  • Colorectal Surgery—Dr. Satyadeep Bhattacharya
  • Family Medicine—Dr. Roger Jones, Dr. Brian Harrison, Valerie Stark-PAC
  • SIH Medical Group Gastroenterology and Urology Clinic—Dr. Georg Elias, Dr. Don Arnold
  • Gynecology & Gynecologic Surgery—Dr. Sylvia Garwin
  • Hematology & Oncology—Dr. Deepak Malhotra & Dr. Muhammad Popalzai
  • Interventional Pain Management—Dr. Gerson Criste
  • Nephrology—Dr. Jignesh Shah
  • Neurology—Dr. Bhargava Trivedi
  • Neurosurgery—Dr. Mark Fleming, Dr. Jon Taveau, Lisa Arnold-NP
  • Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic—Dr. David Mann, Michele Behm-PAC
  • Pulmonary & Critical Care—Dr. Fadi Adra, Dr. Raymund Pineda
  • Surgical Oncology-Dr. Suven Shankar
  • Urology—Dr. Srinivas Rajamahanty, Dr. Sam Stokes, Jo Ann Hine-PAC

For more information, please call your provider.

Paul Schalch, MD is welcomed as a Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (FACS)

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. Members of the American College of Surgeons are referred to as “Fellows.” The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean that the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College. The College has more than 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

SIH Medical Group Otolaryngologist, Paul Schalch, MD at Center for Medical Arts in Carbondale was among 1,622 Initiates from around the world who became Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) during the Convocation ceremony at the College's 2013 annual Clinical Congress in Washington, DC in October. Dr. Schalch received a medical degree in 2002 from The National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Dr. Schalch has a strong professional interest in all aspects of otolaryngology (ENT) and head and neck surgery for adults and children.

We congratulate Dr. Paul Schalch in his initiation into the Fellows of the American College of Surgeons.

For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Schalch, call 618.549.5361.