Now, more than ever, it’s apparent the far-reaching impact physicians have in the world. Their self-sacrifice, dedication and passion for keeping the world healthy continue to inspire. Castle Connolly’s exclusive Top Doctors listing showcases some of those heroes – Oklahoma’s brightest and most innovative physicians. These selections are truly merit-based, with nominations from peers, esteemed health systems and medical centers. From strong research to impeccable technique and a positive influence on others, these physicians are at the top of the game. Categories range from adolescent medicine and endocrinology to pulmonology and urology; for whatever issue you face, there is a Top Doctor to help.

Doctor profiles by Tracy LeGrand
Health boxes by Rebecca Fast


Castle Connelly’s Top Doctors List 2020

Fred Garfinkel

Fred Garfinkel

Pulmonologist
OU Medicine
Tulsa

After medical school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine – City University of New York, and a residency that included time at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Fred Garfinkel chose Tulsa as his family’s home after visiting a fellow physician in Oklahoma. 

Practicing at OU Medical Center and the OU Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic, Garfinkel’s specialty in pulmonology includes an emphasis on pulmonary disease and critical care. He chose the field after working with nationally known pulmonary physicians on “modeling air flow in the bronchial tubes, developing a test for non-invasive measurement of lung tissue properties and high frequency ventilation,” he says. 

Garfinkel advocates nutritional management in relation to lung problems and enjoys helping patients handle their pulmonary disease with more than just drug therapy. When it comes to lung health for all, Garfinkel says that there is “an intimate interaction with heart, blood and kidney function.” 

He is also optimistic about the advancements in his field.

These include “advancing non-invasive ventilation techniques for helping manage severe lung diseases,” as well as “new factors in the development of new drugs, particularly combination drugs with different delivery systems for managing disease.” – TL


Probiotics vs. Prebiotics

Prebiotics are plant fibers found in many fruits and vegetables that serve as food to help grow healthy bacteria in the gut. These can be found in foods like whole grains, bananas, apples, onions, garlic and artichokes. 

Probiotics, found in foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut, contain live microorganisms that help maintain or improve ‘good’ bacteria – normal microflora – in the body. Both probiotics and prebiotics are also available as dietary supplements.

Source: mayoclinic.org

-RF


Photo by Shane Bevel

Edward G. Ford

Pediatric surgeon
Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis; Warren Clinic
Tulsa

For Edward Ford, the biggest reward of being a pediatric surgeon is “seeing kids who may have severe congenital anomalies and tumors progress from a serious problem, having the problem attended to, then following these kids for years and years,” he says.  

Advances in his field – which he explains as a branch of general surgery – often have to do with minimally invasive techniques.

“Most of what we do these days is done laparoscopically or thoracoscopically,” he says. “This is doing surgery through small incisions and using instruments. Recovery is faster and results are as good, or better, than open operations.” 

In a typical week, Ford conducts hospital rounds before dawn, spends two days a week in outpatient clinic and three days a week in the operating room. His training includes medical school, residencies and family practice at the University of Texas, Houston; fellowship at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles; and professorships at Tulane University and Texas A&M before coming to the Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis to be closer to family. – TL 


First Aid Kit Basics

A basic first aid kit should include the following:

• Ace bandages

• Adhesive tape roll

• Antibiotic ointment

• Aspirin

• Band-aids in assorted sizes

• Cold pack

• Cotton swabs

• Disposable gloves

• Gauze

• Hand sanitizer

• Hydrogen peroxide to wash

and disinfect wounds

• Needle and thread

• Plastic bags

• Safety pins

• Sanitary napkins

• Scissors and tweezers

• Splinting materials

• Thermometer

For a complete list of items, visit redcross.org.

-RF


Photo courtesy OU Medicine

Ian Dunn

Neurosurgeon
Stephenson Cancer Center; OU Medicine
OKC

A typical day for Ian Dunn starts well before sunrise as he handles surgeries, clinic visits, a research lab and the training of residents in his specialty, neurosurgery. Dunn, who grew up in central Missouri, studied at Harvard Medical School with residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He received subspecialty training in skull base neurosurgery, which he describes as “attacking difficult-to-reach tumors.”

After tenures at institutions and building a complex practice, Dunn joined OU Physicians in November of 2018 as a professor and the chair of the department of neurosurgery. 

“We have a wonderful team that can serve any patient in the state at a very high level,” he says.

Dunn is excited about the breakthroughs happening in neuroscience, and with brain tumors specifically. 

“There are revolutionary changes occurring in our understanding of what drives brain tumors, and how that can be translated to treatment options; improvements in imaging neurosurgical problems; the introduction of artificial intelligence to interpreting data; and of course, the rapid introduction of telemedicine.” – TL


When is Heartburn Something More?

Many people suffer from occasional heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest caused by stomach acid irritating the esophagus. However, frequent heartburn can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Additional symptoms of GERD include difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food or sour liquid and/or the sensation of a lump in your throat. 

While GERD can often be controlled by diet and/or over-the-counter medications, some people may need a prescribed medication or surgery to relieve symptoms.  

Source: mayoclinic.org

-RF

Photo courtesy Allergy Clinic of Tulsa

Jane Purser

Allergist/Immunologist
Allergy Clinic of Tulsa; Saint Francis Hospital; Ascension Saint John Hospital
Tulsa

A Colorado native, Jane Purser studied and trained at the University of Colorado, the University of California at Los Angeles – St. Mary Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center. She is board-certified in allergy/clinical immunology. She believes patients need to be well-versed and educated on the medications they take for their conditions, and that treatment should be a true partnership between patient and physician. 

“Along with desensitizing thousands of patients to the bountiful pollens and molds of this beautiful state, we have also helped protect individuals with life threatening allergies to venoms and to foods,” she says. “It’s exciting to know we can now help protect these severe anaphylaxis patients.” 

Treating allergy patients means acquiring an in-depth history, along with a physical examination to help solve the puzzle of each person’s needs. A typical day includes working with a wide variety of patients, which drew Purser to this arena of medicine.

“This is a very rare specialty that includes board certification in both adult and pediatric allergic diseases,” she says. “Allergy is an inherited disease, and this means that I have the opportunity to care for, often, three generations within a family.” – TL


Asthma 101

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects approximately 25 million people, including six million children under the age of 18. Symptoms include tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. There is no cure for asthma and no singular cause.

Genetics, allergies, respiratory infections and the environment may all play a role in the development of asthma. While asthma can be life-threatening, individuals can manage their symptoms through a physician-ordered treatment plan and by reducing environmental triggers.  

Source: American Lung Association

– RF

Photo by Josh New

John Frame

Breast surgeon
Breast Health Specialists of Oklahoma; Oklahoma Surgical Hospital; Saint Francis Hospital
Tulsa

John Frame has participated in the advancement of breast cancer treatment since medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, general surgery residency at University of Oklahoma, and research at Duke University. He began his general surgery practice in Tulsa in 1984, at a time when breast cancer usually required a mastectomy.

“Over the years, more and more can have breasts saved, and more often, we’re able to combine reconstruction with other surgery,” he says. “Chemotherapy is better and tailored to specific cancers. Also, radiation technique and technology have improved dramatically. Overall, prognosis has much improved, even for more aggressive and advanced cancers.” 

Frame specializes in breast cancer surgery. Early in his career, he realized his passion “was to shepherd women through a very emotional time,”  he says. “The majority of women with breast cancer today are cured – contrary to what they believe when diagnosed. I’m part of the team to encourage and guide them to the final results, which, most of the time, is a happy ending.” – TL


A Rundown of Digestive Diseases

Digestive diseases cover a wide spectrum. 

Diverticulitis involves weak, inflamed spots in the colon with symptoms including fever and abdominal pain. Obesity is a major risk factor. Mild cases are treated with a high-fiber diet. Severe attacks may require surgery.

Crohn’s disease commonly affects the connection at the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon. It can interrupt and inflame any part of the digestive tract. Causes are unknown, but the most common symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss and fever.

Ulcerative colitis has symptoms similar to those of Crohn’s. It impacts the colon’s lining, where sores or ulcers develop. Severe cases may result in the surgical removal of the colon.

Inflammatory bowel disease causes stomach pain or discomfort at least three times a month over several months. It affects an estimated 10-15% of the world’s population. Symptoms vary widely and include constipation, diarrhea and bloating. Treatments include avoiding triggers, such as dairy products, alcohol and gas-producing foods. Probiotics, stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapy and low-dose antidepressants have been shown to help.

Source: mayoclinic.org

– TL


Photo courtesy INTEGRIS Health System

Sudhir Khanna

Nephrologist
INTEGRIS Health System; Kidney Specialists of Central Oklahoma
OKC

Sudhir Khanna received his medical degree from S.N. Medical College in Agra, India, and continued with residencies and fellowships in Canada, the United Kingdom and India. He practices with INTEGRIS Health System and Kidney Specialists of Central Oklahoma. His typical day includes working with physicians and physician assistants, helping patients with their kidney treatments and performing kidney transplantations. 

“Choosing nephrology was serendipity,” says Khanna. “As all residents do, I was doing rotations in different specialties and liked it, and that was the trajectory of my professional life.” 

Khanna finds great satisfaction in teaching, and in the human interaction of treating patients with chronic problems to help them gain back some of the normalcy they’ve lost. 

“Nothing can restore lost body function, but we want to increase life quality,” he says. “And with transplantation, life can go back to 75 to 80% of normal.”  

Khanna is particularly looking forward to the eventual development of wearable or artificial kidneys because “not everyone is able to get a transplant that needs one, and this can help them,” he says. “Other exciting developments include anti-rejection medications on antibodies that will increase success of transplantation.” – TL


Types of Arthritis 

Arthritis, which refers to joint pain or joint disease, affects more than 50 million adults in the U.S. While there are many types of arthritis, typical warning signs include swollen, painful and/or stiff joints and decreased range of motion. Risk factors for arthritis include family history, age, sex, previous joint injury and obesity.

Osteoarthritis, the most common type, occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of bones wears away, causing bone to rub against bone. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joint, causing it to become inflamed and swollen – eventually destroying cartilage and bone within the joint. Psoriatic arthritis affects those who suffer from psoriasis, a chronic disease characterized by red patches of skin with scales that can be itchy and painful. 

Source: mayoclinic.org

-RF


Photo courtesy Norman Regional Health System

Gary D. Ratliff

Internist
Norman Regional Hospital
Norman

Gary Ratliff chose the specialty of internal medicine out of a passion to share preventative medicine with patients and help them maintain overall health. He’s excited about new techniques and research, including ways to monitor blood sugar without a finger stick drawing blood. 

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine with a residency at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Department of Medicine, Ratliff practices at Norman Regional Hospital. A typical day means near constant interaction with patients, which he finds incredibly rewarding.

“I had a young, late 30s patient with shortness of breath and found, unexpectedly, that anemia, not a lung issue like asthma, was causing the issue; further workup showed colon cancer,” he says. “Thankfully, we got it early, and he got a chance to get cancer-free. 

“Times like that are special when it’s a success story – an early diagnosis, as that is not always the case. It’s why I love the teaching part of what I do, educating patients so they understand why certain things are recommended. If they understand, they’re more likely to change.” – TL



Castle Connelly’s Top Doctors List 2020