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Because of the Temple Head & Neck Institute’s collaborative approach to patient care, Lisa W. was able to finally treat a choking condition that was affecting her quality of life.  Lisa looks back and is grateful that she trusts Temple Health for all her medical needs.

 “I use Temple doctors and I know that I am in good hands,” says Lisa, 54, a married homemaker and mother of two sons from Northeast Philadelphia. “I think it’s wonderful that it’s a teaching hospital and the doctors at Temple are always kept up-to-date with new medical advances and technology. I feel confident that Temple doctors have been taking care of our family for years.”

Lisa was involved in an automobile accident in 2008, and had shoulder surgery performed by J. Milo Sewards, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Temple.  “I was very pleased with my surgery,” recalls Lisa.

During a post-operative MRI of Lisa’s shoulder, a goiter was discovered on the right side of her neck. Dr. Sewards referred Lisa to Jeffery C. Liu, MD, an otolaryngologist with Temple Head & Neck Institute.

Dr. Liu ordered a needle biopsy and referred Lisa to Colleen Veloski, MD, FACE, ECNU, Director of Endocrine Services at Fox Chase Cancer Center.  “This goiter was not cancer thankfully, and while we consulted with Dr. Veloski my husband approached her with an issue that I had been dealing with for a while. I had a problem swallowing for some time.  I often choked on food, especially when eating meat, and I had hard time breathing and would regurgitate.”  

Following Dr. Veloski’s assessment, Lisa was referred to Nausheen Jamal, MD. Dr. Jamal was able to determine Lisa’s condition through testing.

Lisa admits she was a bit nervous before her first appointment with Dr. Jamal, but said Dr. Jamal’s calm demeanor eased her fears. Lisa’s mother had undergone a laryngectomy as a result of cancer and Lisa was scared. “Dr. Jamal assured me that the swallowing difficulties were not from cancer and not to worry about that. I felt relieved to hear that,” remembers Lisa.

Dr. Jamal performed an in-office test to assess Lisa. “Dr. Jamal performed a test where she put a camera up my nose and down into my throat to watch me swallow. Katie Moran [CCC-SLP, a Temple and Fox Chase speech pathologist] gave me graham crackers, water, and fruit, and they would watch me swallow,” continues Lisa. Further testing included an x-ray swallowing test called a Modified Barium Swallow Study “I was given Barium and more foods and they were then able to watch food go down and see where it got stuck and then help me actually swallow it.”

Lisa shares that Dr. Jamal and other Temple staff are patient and spoke to her during the tests to keep her mind off the procedure. “It truly doesn’t hurt, it’s not really uncomfortable, you’re just standing with an X-Ray machine on two sides of you and you stand sideways and they literally watch it go down. But, of course, having caring and attentive staff helps make the testing better,” Lisa adds.

After having these tests done, Lisa says  her problem was accurately diagnosed. “Dr. Jamal was able to see that my larynx was slow. I was told to see Barbara Ebersole, [BFA, MA, CCC-SLP, Director of Speech Pathology at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Temple Head & Neck Institute] so she could teach me exercises to make it stronger which then helps me swallow. Since the exercises, I’ve pretty much been problem-free,” says Lisa.

She said Barbara’s thoughtful approach has helped her learn the exercises and stick with the therapy. “My comfort level with Barbara is awesome. She’s very easy to talk to, she’s very friendly, and we easily get the job done,” she says.

She is very grateful to Barbara. “I am feeling a lot better,” she says.

In addition, she believes the collaborative approach through the Temple network of doctors and specialists benefits patients in so many ways. “It’s been really wonderful that the doctors and Barbara work really close together because they’re all in the same place for me when I go and everything can be done at the same time. It makes it easy for me that they’re in my neighborhood and it also makes it easy that if I can’t get an appointment in my neighborhood because they’re booked up, I can actually come down to Broad Street and get an appointment quickly,” shares Lisa.

Lisa decided to share her story so she could help others. “I would absolutely recommend all my friends and family to go to Temple. I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences with my doctors there,” she says. “I hope people read my story and makes an appointment at Temple. I know they will be treated very well there.”