Follow Your Gut

Photographs by Kristin Hynes for YNHH

Westport is now home to an innovative Digestive Health Center that offers general gastroenterology care as well as a variety of experts who specialize in colorectal, bariatric and hernia disease prevention and surgery. “This is the first center at Yale New Haven Health (YNHH) where patients have access to a multidisciplinary team that provides everything our system offers in digestive health care,” explains Marie Gratton, vice president of Digestive Health Services.

Staffed by a team of digestive disease specialists from Yale Medicine and gastroenterologists from Northeast Medical Group, this new center will offer consultations and pre- and post-operative care at the Riverside Avenue location in Westport. Most surgeries will be performed at Bridgeport Hospital’s main campus or the Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull.

The center provides care with a multidisciplinary health team.

“It’s a novel concept to have medical and surgical sub-specialists integrated together under one roof,” says Gratton, adding that they’re thrilled to be able to serve Westport where the demographic can benefit from screening and treatment for a variety of digestive issues. She notes that since colonoscopy screening guidelines changed from age fifty to forty-five in 2021, there’s a significant unmet need in many communities to have access to this type of medical service. “Colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening, is proactive and has potential life-saving benefits,” she says.

Many people who shy away from colonoscopies now opt for a FIT test, where a patient mails in his or her stool sample, awaits results, then may pursue further testing if the test comes back positive. “Ten to fifteen percent of FIT tests come back with further testing recommended,” warns Gratton, “plus the FIT test has to be done annually whereas a colonoscopy is only once every ten years. I can’t stress enough that people should make the effort to get colonoscopies, because they help with early detection. Prevention is key, and with colon cancer many people are asymptomatic—when they’re diagnosed, it’s often at a late stage with more limited treatment options.”

Patients can see digestive disease specialists from Yale Medicine in one place.

Since the Digestive Health Center’s opening in June, they’ve seen a steady influx of patients that Gratton credits with the comprehensive care and streamlined service all at one location. “The Center has been well received and is a great prototype for us to launch other like-minded centers.” Based on the Westport model, the Yale New Haven Health group is planning to open another location in North Haven in January 2023. “We’ve become a real touchpoint for all things gastrointestinal and are so glad to be serving Westport and more of Connecticut soon,” she reflects.

 

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