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Brain Power

Groundbreaking Treatments and Patient-centered Care at the Jewish Hospital’s Brain Tumor Center

Article by Natalie Shawver

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

Facing a brain tumor diagnosis is without question an overwhelming prospect—and for Vincent DiNapoli, MD, PhD, it isn’t something to take lightly. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and support for this community. 

“It’s critical to gather information you need to be comfortable and confident with your care team,” he says. “You want physicians who have the knowledge, skill, experience and care to guide you through this process.”

Dr. DiNapoli is a neurosurgeon at the Brain Tumor Center at the Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health. The BTC partners with Mayfield Brain & Spine (the region’s largest neurosurgical practice) and Oncology Hematology Care (the region’s largest oncology practice), encompassing 33 physicians across eight medical specialties—including neurosurgery, otolaryngology, radiation oncology and medical oncology, as well as highly trained nurse practitioners, registered nurses and medical physicists. The BTC also features the region’s only fellowship-trained team of physicians who treat skull base tumors.

“We have assembled a multidisciplinary team with a passion for taking care of our brain tumor patients,” says Dr. DiNapoli. “The outcomes achieved compare favorably to the best institutions in the nation.”

In February 2020, Dr. DiNapoli was the first surgeon in the U.S. to utilize GammaTile therapy for the treatment of newly diagnosed malignant brain tumors. GammaTile is a permanently implanted device that uses radiation to minimize the risk of tumor growth and maximize tumor control.

“Adopting the Gamma Tile technology at our center allows us to implement this new technology efficiently and provide an opportunity for our patients to receive cutting-edge care close to home,” he says. “Treatment for brain tumor patients presents many challenges—we must continuously improve ourselves and the techniques we employ, ensuring no stone is left unturned that could potentially provide someone a better outcome.”

In 2020, the BTC was also recognized by the North American Skull Base Society Team Honor Roll. Because these tumors are located near areas that control the senses in your head and neck, the team includes otolaryngologists, plastic surgeons and neurosurgeons who work together during these complex surgical procedures. 

“Every skull base case at our center is operated on by two attending skull base surgeons,” Dr. DiNapoli says. “This not only allows for checks and balances in the decision-making process, but also keeps the operative team fresh during these very long operations (up to 8-12 hours)—it’s a unique arrangement that I believe provides exceptional outcomes.”

The care delivered after these operations is equally important—for Director of Nursing Robin Baldauf, investments in education, training and patient-centeredness set the BTC apart.

“As a nurse, we understand that patients have very different goals and expectations,” she says. “Other neuro facilities look at the patient’s test results and let them know what the treatment should be. For our team, the patient is the key player and has all the information before making a decision about treatments. The personalized care you receive here ensures you’ll never feel like a number or research subject.”

Two such patients include Haley Halcomb and Tricia Patty.

Haley had been suffering from headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue for several years before she learned the true source of her discomfort. An MRI revealed an acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor that had wrapped itself around her vestibular nerve) that was placing pressure on the adjacent brain stem. Thanks to a successful retrosigmoid craniotomy by Drs. DiNapoli and Joseph Breen, she’s “back to a complete, normal life.”

Tricia is running half-marathons thanks to her excellent cancer care at the BTC. Three years after her diagnosis of malignant melanoma, Tricia reaped the benefits of state-of-the-art technology like Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Thanks to a more precise technique to pinpoint each tumor and reduced radiation to the normal brain, Gamma Knife is outpatient and minimally invasive. 

“We don’t spend a lot on advertising and marketing—we spend our time on outcomes and treating people as if they were our own family,” says Robin. “Our priorities are clear: providing the most effective treatment so you can get back to living tumor-free.” | 4777 E. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati | 855.823.1537

“Our priorities are clear: providing the most effective treatment so you can get back to living tumor-free.” – Robin Baldauf, Director of Nursing