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Cottam has helped develop some of the methods used by surgeons across the country. For example, he helped create a procedure known as sleeve gastrectomy, which modifies the size and shape of the stomach to limit the amount of food a patient can eat. He also helped develop a surgery known as revisional endoscopic bariatric surgery. Cottam also teaches other surgeons how to perform these and other procedures.
Among the most gratifying parts of being a surgeon is the ability to save and change lives, he says. “If you would have told me I could have cured diabetes in patients with a one-hour operation when I started medical school, I would have said that you’re crazy, yet that’s what I do every day now.”
Dr. Steven Edgley
Director of Stroke Rehabilitation Program
University of Utah Health Care
Dr. Steven Edgley has a unique gift. On a daily basis, he can relate to exactly what his patients are experiencing. About 12 years ago, Edgley suffered a stroke at the age of 28. He was in his first year of residency, on the path to becoming a doctor of ophthalmology, but after having a stroke, he quickly changed that path. He is now the director of the Stroke Rehabilitation Program at University of Utah Health Care.
“That experience shaped my desires and honed my attention to the rehabilitation of stroke patients,” he says. “There are almost 800,000 strokes in the U.S. each year, and most patients will not die but their lives will be forever altered. Being able to guide patients back to a quality of life that’s acceptable is something I have a great deal of pride in.”
Edgley says he enjoys working at a teaching hospital because he wants to teach the next generation of doctors to look at stroke patients not as they are presently, but what they can become with rehabilitation. “Most doctors think a stroke is the worst thing that can happen to a person, but when you look at the long-term outcome, they are capable of achieving a high quality life,” he says.
Dr. Mark J. Ott
Medical Director of the Surgical Services Clinical Program
Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Intermountain Medical Center
Dr. Mark Ott spearheads initiatives for the entire Intermountain Healthcare system to reduce the cost of surgical procedures. These initiatives save tens of millions of dollars each year.
He says medical care has become so complex, with so many options, that “we have developed and continue to develop solutions faster than we have taken the time to adequately evaluate their efficacy. All of these solutions use precious resources and many are very costly. What physicians and patients need most of all is the means to know which solutions work the best and in the most cost-effective fashion. This is the great need of medicine in our time. Developing and following clinical best-practice guidelines is the best way we currently have to get to this point.”
But Ott, who is a surgical oncologist, is not solely focused on the bottom line. He is also known for his tremendous compassion and warmth for his patients. An ICU nurse explains that Ott is “able to see beyond medicine and machines to what really matters: the patient as a person.”
Before joining Intermountain, Ott was on staff at Massachusetts General Hospital and was assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.
Healthcare Practitioner – Non-physician
Holly Butler Burke, RN, BSN
Jordan Valley Medical Center/Pioneer Valley Hospital
Holly Burke always wanted to become a nurse. As a young child, she spent hours using her toy medical supplies on her sick and injured dolls. As she grew up, her dedication never wavered. “I went straight to BYU one month after graduating from high school, attended year-round and never questioned where I was headed. I just wanted to be a nurse,” she says.
In the 24 years since graduating, her commitment to healing and saving lives has only grown. She spent 11 years working in emergency critical care and the following 12 years in the emergency department at Jordan Valley Medical Center, where she has been a staff nurse, a charge nurse, director of emergency services and, for the past two and a half years, EMS state liaison for Jordan Valley and Pioneer Valley Hospital.
In that position, she established the hospitals’ process for treating patients who suffer an ST-elevated myocardial infarction—a particularly dangerous type of heart attack. She regularly trains emergency responders in methods that increase patients’ chances of survival and recovery and reviews every STEMI case with responders to find ways to improve care.