Jessica Case, PA-C, Joins Plymouth General Surgery

Plymouth General Surgery is pleased to welcome Certified Physician Assistant Jessica Case
to the team. Jessica joins Dr. Joe Casey and Dr. Jim Koren in providing continuing care for patients post-operatively and in the Wound Care &Hyperbaric Medicine Center. As a physician assistant, Jessica is a licensed and certified health professional who practices medicine with the same standards of care expected from the supervising doctors, and is an integral part of the healthcare team.

From Nashua, Jessica says she has always known she wanted to work in medicine. She began her medical career as an LNA in a long-term care facility in Nashua. After earning her bachelor’s in medical biology from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, she received her master’s from Franklin Pierce University. It was while she was doing her rotations at various facilities—from Dartmouth to a Native American reservation in North Carolina—that she concluded she wanted to work in rural medicine.

“I enjoy the community aspect of providing care in a smaller facility, where there is much more focus on individual patient care and providers working together,” explains Jessica. She says the patients have been very welcoming, and Doctors Casey and Koren are great teachers who are wonderful to work with. “I feel very much a part of the team.”

Feeling the Burn of Chronic Reflux?

New treatment introduced for Barrett’s Esophagus as a result of chronic reflux

From heartburn to more serious symptoms, such as choking or trouble swallowing, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or reflux, affects an estimated 15 million Americans. Of those, 13 percent are estimated to have Barrett’s esophagus.

Barrett’s is the development of abnormal tissue in the lower end of the esophagus due to a chronic acid environment as a result of reflux. The concern with Barrett’s esophagus is that it is pre-cancerous and could lead to the development of esophageal cancer.

“But it is also important to note, you don’t have to heartburn to have reflux,” says Dr. Joseph Casey of Plymouth General Surgery. “Many people with reflux don’t even know they have it because it can present as asthma-like symptoms due to the inhalation of acid, or your dentist might make a referral due to breakdown of enamel on your teeth.   As a result, patients could have Barrett’s and not even realize it.”

Dr. Casey explains that diet, lifestyle and stress are all contributors to the development of chronic reflux. Knowing that it is prevalent in our patient population, more screening endoscopies are being done and more Barrett’s is being diagnosed. Since patients with Barrett’s have .3% – .6% chance of the disease becoming cancer, early detection of Barrett’s and treatment of reflux are key.

That’s where a technique called radio frequency ablation, or RFA, comes in to play. Since Barrett’s tissue is very thin, RFA works well at removing it during an outpatient endoscopy procedure without damaging the underlying normal tissues.

Says Dr. Casey, “I became aware of RFA about five years ago when it was strictly being done in large medical centers with gastrointestinal specialties. As technology has changed, RFA has become more cost effective, making it accessible to community hospitals. Being able to offer RFA for the treatment of Barrett’s enables us to respond to a growing need in our patient population and help prevent the development of esophageal cancer.”

Treating Barrett’s doesn’t cure reflux, and not everyone who has Barrett’s should have RFA, notes Dr. Casey. Partnering with your primary care provider, Dr. Casey can recommend the right care for you based on your specific symptoms and their severity.

To learn more about reflux and understand your risk for Barrett’s esophagus and/or developing esophageal cancer, call Plymouth General Surgery at (603) 536-5670 to make an appointment.