Advocating for Better
Care Around the World

Regardless of what corner of the world she may be in...

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Impacting the Heart
of our Community

Sometimes you are lucky enough
to find a job that combines...

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Advocating for Better Care Around the World: Dr. Amy Wandel

Regardless of what corner of the world she may be in, Dr. Amy Wandel is an advocate for better healthcare. Here in Sacramento, she is a respected plastic surgeon with Mercy Medical Group, specializing in breast reconstruction, hand reconstruction and general plastic and cosmetic surgery, encouraging her patients to speak up and take control of their healthcare. But at least twice a year, she can be found in the far corners of the globe, providing plastic surgery in small villages and training local physicians so they can better serve their patients. "I want to partner with the local doctors to have a lasting impact," she explains.

Dr. Wandel describes her hometown as a sleepy little beach town in Southern California. She attended Cal as an undergrad, earned her medical degree in Chicago and went on to serve 27 years in the Navy. She says her military career was marked by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing Afghan and Iraq wars. "During peacetime, a plastic surgeon in the military is doing the same sort of things that most plastic surgeons do - breast reconstruction, cosmetic surgery, those sorts of things," Dr. Wandel says. "But during war time, we are faced with much different cases. I saw a lot of traumatic injuries, lots of limbs lost... It was very intense.:

Eventually, Dr. Wandel felt the pressure to either serve as an administrator in the Navy (which would mean leaving the operating room) or retire and begin private practice. "I knew that I didn't want to give up that direct interaction with patients and that I wanted to continue to be a surgeon, so I chose to retire."

Dr. Wandel says the first year in private practice was a tough transition. "There is a certain structure of care in the military - the doctor decides what needs to be done and that's it. But in private practice, you are part of a team and your patient needs to have a voice too. That was a big change for me. But it has been a great move for me and I love the team here at Mercy Medical Group and really enjoy my work here."

In the past few years, Dr. Wandel has become a very vocal advocate for empowering patients to be more participatory in their healthcare. She says women in particular tend not to ask questions of their doctors or to question their healthcare choices. "I've cared for so many breast cancer survivors and I've also spoken to many more through support groups like 'Save Ourselves,'" explains Dr. Wandel. "One of the most important messages I share with them is that they always have choices in their healthcare and that they need to ask questions to determine what is the best choice for them. I encourage them to ask questions - about their diagnosis, about their treatment options, and even about their physicians and his or her experience in relation to this diagnosis or treatment. Patients need to be actively involved in their care or it won't be successful."

In addition to patient advocacy, Dr. Wandel is also passionate about putting her skills to work in underserved regions of the world, participating in medical missions for more than 20 years. In 2009, she co-founded Women for World Health, an organization aimed at organizing medical mission trips to provide surgical and dental care to parts of the world where it is needed most. For Dr. Wandel though, the mission goes beyond just providing medical care to a few individuals. "I knew I didn't want to just fly in, care for a few patients and leave. I wanted to affect the community. I perform surgeries but I also train local surgeons on the same procedures."

Dr. Wandel recruits medical professionals from around the world to work with Women for World Health and travels with the group twice a year, traveling to South America, Asia and Africa. She's been on more than 25 medical missions with various organizations. "The trips are emotionally exhausting, but they have opened my eyes to conditions in other parts of the world. It is satisfying to be able to help."

To learn more about Women for World Health, visit their website.

To learn more about Dr. Wandel and the procedures she offers, visit the Mercy Medical Group Plastic Surgery Center website.

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Impacting the Heart of our Community: Doris Frazier

Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a job that combines your strengths, your interests and your passions... For Doris Frazier, RN, MS, her current job (Vice President for Cardiovascular Services for Mercy General Hospital and Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute) is exactly that. "I've always loved educating and I'm fascinated by cardiac anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology - how our heart and vascular system works, disease conditions, and treatments," she explains. "In this field, there is always something new - new technology, new procedures, and new knowledge. I have seen so much advancement in the understanding of cardiovascular disease in my career. It's very exciting."

A native Texan, Doris attended the University of Texas and Texas Woman's University, earning her Bachelor's degree in nursing as well as a Master's of Science degree. As a new nurse graduate in Austin, she honed her bedside skills working on a medical/surgical floor before moving into the intensive care/trauma units at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Eventually she transitioned to hospital administration, becoming the nurse leader of the cardiac surgery ICU. "I enjoyed my first administrative job and I found that I also really liked to teach," she says. That passion for combining managing with educating would continue to be a theme throughout her career.

A few years later, Doris found herself ready for a new challenge and adventure. "I pulled out a map and looked at different parts of the country for my next step in life. I targeted San Diego and found a perfect job as the nurse leader of intensive care (cardiac, trauma, general surgery, and neurosurgery) at UC San Diego and headed to California!"

In San Diego, Doris advanced her career in nursing and hospital leadership and education and eventually became the cardiac service line leader at Sharp HealthCare. After many years, she moved on to become the corporate cardiac director for a national healthcare organization in Tennessee. Eventually she returned to California and made the move to Dignity Health in Sacramento in 2006. She now draws on all of her past experience as she is part of the team overseeing construction and operations of the new Alex G. Spanos Heart and Vascular Center, set to open on the Mercy General Hospital campus in just a few weeks.

Doris and her team are busy prepping what she believes will be a wonderful environment for the renowned heart care patients receive at Mercy General. "We've always had a stellar program, this new facility just ensures that it looks like what it is - a world class heart and vascular program." With state-of-the-art technology as well as enhanced comfort and convenience for patients and their families, Doris firmly believes the Spanos Center will make a difference in the lives of Mercy General's patients and the community it serves.

In addition to her work on the Spanos Center, Doris is also passionate about another major initiative she's taken on at Dignity Health - the effort to improve education, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease among women in our community. Three years ago, with input from women in the community, she and her team created Heart Shaped Community, a program that provides education to the community and to physicians. "The goal of Heart Shaped Community is really two-fold," explains Doris. "First, we want to change how women take care of themselves. Typically as caretakers, they don't tend to pay attention to their own health. Secondly, we want both women and the physicians who care for them to understand that heart disease in women is different - different symptoms, different risk factors, and it can require different treatment. It is just over the past few years that the medical community has really begun to understand this."

Doris and her team use a series of annual events to help women in the community see first-hand the changes they can make in their lives to improve their heart health. "We focus on nutrition - not diet; activity - not exercise; and relaxation. Each of these things can have a huge impact on your risk factors for heart disease."

Through Heart Shaped Community, Doris has found yet another outlet for her passion to educate people about their health and well-being. "We hear from attendees that these events do have an impact on their life and their choices. And that is fantastic!"

To join Doris and experience heart healthy changes in your life, register to attend one of Heart Shaped Community's upcoming free events. On March 15, comedian Jack Gallagher will be performing at "Laugh, Learn, Lounge" - a morning focused on the benefits of laughter and relaxation. Space is limited so register today!

To learn more about the heart disease risk factors and symptoms specific to women, visit the Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute's website.

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