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Publisher’s Word: Dr. Andrew W. Phillips and the Pioneering ECMO Program at DHR Health

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A Year of Lifesaving Triumphs

Dr. Andrew W. Phillips, MEd, FAAEM, ECMO. Photo by Roberto H. Gonzalez
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Over the past year, the Rio Grande Valley has witnessed groundbreaking medical advancements, with DHR Health’s Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program leading the charge. Under the pioneering leadership of Dr. Andrew W. Phillips, MD, MEd, FAAEM, the program’s medical director, this initiative has revolutionized critical care, offering a new hope for patients in dire conditions. Celebrating its first anniversary, the program exemplifies innovation, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of saving lives, marking a significant milestone in the region’s healthcare landscape.

The celebration, led by Marissa Castañeda, Senior Executive Vice-President of DHR Health, and Dr. Manish Singh, Chief Executive Officer, highlighted the ECMO program’s success and vital role during challenging times, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative has advanced medical care locally and prevented the heart-wrenching need to transfer critically ill patients away from their families. The program’s first anniversary honored key figures like Dr. Phillip Mason and Bernadette Elliot, RN, whose expertise and mentorship were fundamental in its development and success.

Dr. Phillips, a native of the Rio Grande Valley, has been instrumental in establishing a comprehensive ECMO service that directly responds to the local community’s needs. Before the program’s inception, the disparity in ECMO services was stark, with no centers in the Valley compared to several in cities like San Antonio. Dr. Phillips’ efforts have ensured residents have immediate access to this critical service, marking a significant leap forward in the region’s healthcare capabilities.

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The ECMO program’s success is a proof to the advanced technology and treatments it offers and the multidisciplinary collaboration it embodies. From critical care and cardiology to cardiothoracic surgery, the program demonstrates the power of teamwork in providing comprehensive care. Dr. Phillips’ passion and dedication have improved survival rates for patients undergoing ECMO and set a new standard for healthcare innovation and quality in the Rio Grande Valley. As the program enters its second year, it continues to be a source of hope and healing, embodying the best medical innovation and compassionate care.

Get to know more about Dr. Phillips and his team, an in-depth story in this issue.


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