May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Bring on the sunshine (and sunscreen)

With the snow we had in late April, it may be hard to believe, but warmer weather in Michigan is just around the corner! I’m sure we are all looking forward to putting away our heavy coats and snow boots, and enjoying some sunshine.

Those who already know me and the rest of our providers at IHA Dermatology may get a chuckle from that previous sentence, particularly the part about “enjoying sunshine,” given how often we stress to our patients the importance of protecting oneself from the sun and using sunscreen regularly.

As some of you may know, the month of May has been designated Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which makes it an ideal time to remind our family, friends, and colleagues to become educated about the importance of protecting our body’s largest organ, the skin.

To illustrate why this is such an important topic, I’ll share with you some facts and figures that are nicely summarized in websites for the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation, where you can find even more information about this serious subject.

Did you know that skin cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year? In fact, more new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed yearly than the combined incidences of lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

Of particular concern, about 140,000 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, will be diagnosed this year, and on average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. Unfortunately, the incidence of skin cancer is rising, particularly in younger people and in women, and melanoma is now the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25 to 30. The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable and the vast majority can be cured relatively easily, especially if they are diagnosed and treated early.

That is why we recommend that everyone seek protection from the sun by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, and reapplying sunscreen at least every 2-3 hours. Staying shaded and wearing sun-protective clothing whenever possible is also very helpful. Tanning and using tanning beds are harmful, and if you are worried about cosmetics at all, be aware that tanning and excessive sun exposure ages your skin dramatically.

To aid in early detection of skin cancer, we also suggest that you become familiar with your own skin and check yourself about monthly for any spots, bumps, moles, or lesions that look different from the rest, or are changing in any concerning way, such as by bleeding, itching, not healing, or growing rapidly. For those with a lot of moles, you can use your handy cell phone cameras to take pictures and look at them monthly to see if any have changed.

In addition to performing self-skin examinations regularly, it is generally a good idea to have yearly full skin evaluations by your board-certified dermatologist or primary care physician.

If you are interested in having a skin cancer screening or would like to have a concerning lesion evaluated, our board-certified and experienced dermatologists at IHA Dermatology are always happy to help in any way that we can. Just call us at 734-667-DERM (3376) to schedule an appointment. On behalf of IHA and IHA Dermatology, we hope you have a warm, fun, and most importantly, healthy May and summer. Bring on the sunshine (and sunscreen)!

March of Dimes March for Babies

IHA and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System are proud to sponsor March of Dimes March for Babies! Look for St. Joseph Mercy walkers on May 3 at Kensington Metropark. The IHA OB/GYN Division walkers will be on hand at Hudson Mills Metropark for the May 17 walk. Sign up today and join a walk! Please note that both Metroparks require a park entry fee, unless you have a recreation pass on your vehicle. Both walks will take place along the paved exercise paths at the Metroparks.

IHA names Chief Quality Officer

News Release
April 9, 2015
For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Amy Middleton

IHA names Chief Quality Officer

ANN ARBOR, MI – (April 9, 2015) – IHA is pleased to announce that Martha Walsh, MD, FACOG, an obstetrician and gynecologist with IHA since 2007, has been selected as IHA’s Chief Quality Officer (CQO). Dr. Walsh will assume her new role effective July 1, 2015.

Dr. Walsh received an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Political Science from Albion College.  She later earned a medical degree from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Following her medical training, Dr. Walsh worked as an attending physician in a private practice in the mid-Michigan area before joining IHA as an attending physician in Associates in Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2007, where she practices in both their Ann Arbor and Brighton locations.  In 2013, Dr. Walsh was named Associate Division Head for Clinical Quality Improvement, and has participated in numerous clinical quality improvement initiatives and was instrumental in the creation of the OB/GYN Shared Call program and the formation of IHA’s Certified Nurse Midwife practice.  

“Dr. Walsh has been a valuable and well-respected member of the Clinical Quality Improvement and the Evidence-Based Medicine committees for the past two years.  Her contributions were instrumental to the successful completion of several initiatives,” notes Richard Duffy, Vice President for Quality and Performance Improvement. “Dr. Walsh is a strong advocate for improving quality while simultaneously improving the patient experience of care.”

In her new IHA wide role, Dr. Walsh will work with IHA’s Quality and Performance Improvement Department to develop and implement a comprehensive quality improvement and patient safety program.  She will also focus on working collaboratively both within and across IHA’s primary care and specialty divisions, as well as with other health care organizations with whom we share responsibility for patient populations.

“Dr. Walsh is an outstanding physician and will immediately impact IHA’s Quality and Performance Improvement team,” notes Mary Durfee, MD, Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer for IHA. “Her enthusiasm for working with our primary and specialty care divisions will ensure that IHA has a strong, innovative and effective clinical quality program.”

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About IHA
IHA is one of the best and largest multi-specialty groups in Michigan. IHA employs more than 1,600 staff members, which includes 450 providers consisting of: physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives across 55 practices in southeast Michigan. IHA provides high-quality medical care and excellent service to more than 355,000 active patients. Recognized as one of Michigan’s top performing medical groups, IHA also ranks in the top quartile for patient satisfaction nationally. Offering extended office hours, Urgent Care, and access to clinical research studies, IHA demonstrates that it cares by bringing safe, high-quality, comprehensive and affordable care to its patients. For more information about IHA, visit

IHA appoints new Department of Surgery Chair

News Release
March 31, 2015
For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Amy Middleton

IHA appoints new Department of Surgery Chair

ANN ARBOR, MI – (March 31, 2015) – IHA is pleased to announce that Andrew Pruitt, MD, FACS, a cardiovascular surgeon with IHA, has been named the next Department of Surgery Chair. Dr. Pruitt will succeed Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, FACS, who has served in this role since 2013. Dr. Whitehouse will retire effective June 30, 2015.

Dr. Pruitt received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Kentucky, graduating with highest distinction as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. He then completed his residency in general surgery and a fellowship in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, during which he received numerous prestigious awards during his training.

Following his fellowship, Dr. Pruitt relocated to Michigan where he joined the St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor medical staff and began practicing with the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons of Ann Arbor. Dr. Pruitt and his partners integrated with IHA in 2013. Dr. Pruitt has served in many leadership roles during his medical career in Ann Arbor, including Section Head for Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery from 2002 – 2011 and Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery from 2009 – 2013. He also served on the board of Michigan Multispecialty Physicians and as President for a two-year term.

After medical school, Dr. Pruitt joined the U.S. Army Reserves and retired from the service in 2009 as a Lt. Colonel. Dr. Pruitt and his wife, Jenny Cotton Pruitt, MD, PhD, a dermatopathologist with IHA, reside in Ann Arbor with their children.

“Dr. Pruitt is recognized as an outstanding surgeon and colleague,” notes Mary Durfee, MD, Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer for IHA. “His extraordinary surgical skills and high ethical character give him the credibility necessary to integrate diverse groups for the delivery of a remarkable patient experience. We are thrilled that he has accepted this positon. He understands how to work within physician organizations and will bring new perspectives and ideas to IHA.”

In his new role, Dr. Pruitt will be responsible for overseeing quality initiatives, developing innovative service delivery methodologies and creating cross-functional teams focused on delivering terrific surgical care. He will also focus on identifying and developing future divisional and departmental leaders.

“On behalf of IHA’s Governing Board and Surgery Department, I want to thank Dr. Whitehouse for not only his many years of dedicated service to his patients, but also for the outstanding leadership he has demonstrated during the past three years as IHA’s first Surgery Department Chair,” says Bill Fileti, president and CEO for IHA. “His commitment to building one of the best surgical divisions in the region has been truly exemplary and we congratulate him on his well-deserved retirement.”

“IHA continues to evolve into one of the largest and best multi-specialty group practices in Michigan,” adds Fileti. “A number of exceptional surgeons were interviewed for this position and our search committee was impressed with the high quality of candidates. We are confident that Dr. Pruitt is the right person for this role and will expand our surgical capabilities in order to provide patients with truly outstanding care.”

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About IHA
IHA is one of the best and largest multi-specialty groups in Michigan. IHA employs more than 1,600 staff members, which includes 450 providers consisting of: physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives across 55 practices in southeastern Michigan. IHA provides high quality medical care and excellent service to more than 355,000 active patients. Recognized as one of Michigan’s top performing medical groups, IHA also ranks in the top quartile for patient satisfaction nationally. Offering extended office hours, Urgent Care, and access to clinical research studies, IHA demonstrates that it cares by bringing safe, high quality, comprehensive and affordable care to its patients. For more information about IHA, visit

Tutu Run 2015

Do you want to run a 5k while wearing your favorite tutu? Join us for Tutu Run on April 18, 2015 at Hudson Mills Metro Park in Dexter. Registration begins at 7:00 am, with the race beginning at 9:00 am. The race cost $25, proceeds benefit Ballet Chelsea. Visit the website to learn more, or to register today:

Beat the Summer Rush

If your child needs a back-to-school physical or is planning on participating in sports during the 2015-2016 school year, don’t wait! A physical is required after April 15, 2015 to participate in sports during the 2015-2016 school year. Appointments are available now! Please log in to our patient portal to schedule an appointment. Did you know your child can get their physical from the office’s nurse practitioner?

Download the preparticipation physical evaluation history form (long form) or the annual sports health questionnaire (short form) to take to your appointment. Be sure to ask your office which form you need to bring with you (you should not need to bring both).

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

With the recent snow that blew through and the temperatures that are going to stay low over the next few days, many of us are still digging out our cars or way out of our driveways. Anyone can end up with frostbite or hypothermia, it’s important to know the risks of frostbite and hypothermia, especially for those that are at higher risk and are more susceptible to extremely cold weather. Some groups that be at higher risk include:

  • Very young children and our older senior population
  • Diabetic patients and other with conditions leading to poor circulation
  • Patients with heart conditions or those who take beta blockers

Don’t Ignore Shivering!

When you’re exposed to cold temperatures your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will use up your body’s energy, resulting in hypothermia. Some warning signs of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Trembling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred Speech
  • Drowsiness

If you notice any of these signs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Frostbite is literally the freezing of body tissue; fingers, toes, ears and nose are the most vulnerable. Frostbite is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, or shorter exposure to extremely cold temperatures. The warning signs of frostbite are:

  • Red or pale skin
  • Prickling
  • numbness

Frostbite and hypothermia can be prevented; here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Limit the time you’re outside in cold, wet or windy weather
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves
  • Wear socks and liners that fit well and wick moisture
  • Keep moving




New Hope for Inoperable Aortic Stenosis: Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Reposted with permission; originally posted in the 2015 spring edition of Cardiac Advantage

Traditional treatment for severe aortic stenosis – a narrowing of the valve that allows blood to flow from the heart to the body- has been to open the chest, remove the fault valve and replace it with a new one.

Many patients are too sick or too frail to tolerate open-heart surgery. “For a long time, we had little to offer patients with severe aortic stenosis if they were unable to undergo open heart surgery because of their age and/or the severity of their medical condition,” said cardiothoracic surgeon Andrew Pruitt, MD, at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “Now there is new hope. In August 2012, we began performing an exciting new procedure, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), that is holding great promise for patients who formerly had no options.”

Some people with aortic stenosis have no symptoms at all, but for most patients symptoms include: shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty exercising or performing other strenuous tasks, chest pain, lightheadedness or fainting.

“In its earlier stages, aortic stenosis can be treated with medication, but in more advanced form traditional surgery, and now, TAVR are the only options.”

How does TAVR work? The surgeon makes an incision in the groin (transfermorally) or through a space in the rib cage (transpically) and threads a catheter into the blood vessel to reach the aortic valve. A balloon on the end of the catheter is inflated forcing open the stiff leaflets of the damaged aortic valve. This leaves room to replace the original catheter with a second one. The second catheter not only has a balloon on the end, but also a compressed replacement valve. The replacement valve is made of cow heart tissue that is sewn onto an expandable stainless steel stent. The new valve is placed on the center of the disease valve and then expanded into proper position with the aid of the balloon. Physicians can choose replacement valves to fit a wide range of patient sizes.

A key advantage is that the procedure is performed on a beating heart and the patient does not have to put on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, so it is far less stressful for the body. The transfemoral approach usually requires about three hours to complete; the transapical about 30 minutes less.

Developed in 2000 by a French cardiologist, TAVR was approved for use in the United States in 2011, slightly ahead of schedule when clinical trials proved remarkably successful.

However, TAVR is still relatively new and not without risk. “Currently, this approach is limited to patients who must meet very specific criteria,” said Dr. Pruitt. “TAVR brings with it its own set of side effects and has as slightly higher rate of certain complications than traditional, open-heart surgery. The FDA has only approved its use for patients with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis who are felt to be inoperable, or at very high risk for traditional surgery by two independent cardiac surgeons.”

In addition, potential candidates must undergo a series of test to determine if they meet the physical and medical parameters to accept the device safely. “We very carefully have to weigh risks versus benefits, and for those patients who cannot tolerate open-heart surgery, TAVR can be a life saver,” said Dr. Pruitt. “TAVR not only extends patients’ lives, it can significantly improve their quality of life.”

Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at St. Joe underwent intensive training to learn this new surgical procedure. Based on the high volume of surgeries conducted here, the expertise of our physicians and staff, and the collaborative multidisciplinary heart team that evaluates all potential cases, patients who qualify for TAVR can feel confident in the skill level and experience of their heart team.

“The message to prospective patients and their referring physicians is this: Don’t give up hope. Even for the frailest patients with extremely advanced conditions, we can offer solutions and relief,” said Dr. Pruitt. “In cases where TAVR is an option, it literally can mean the difference between life and death.”