Apr 7, 2019 What's New in Pulmonary Care?

A new pulmonary specialty practice makes state-of-the-art lung care available for a wide range of lung conditions.

Patients whose lungs aren’t functioning properly—whether from bronchitis, emphysema, cancer or any of a number of lung-related conditions—often require coordinated treatment across medical and surgical specialties. To centralize and facilitate the most advanced care, Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) has established a pulmonary physician’s specialty practice, which opened in January. Kristin G. Fless, MD, Director of Interventional Pulmonology at SBMC and a member of the Barnabas Health Medical Group, explains what patients can expect.

What does pulmonary medicine include?

Pulmonary medicine encompasses treatment of breathing disorders; lung disease; abnormal pulmonary vascular disease; neuromuscular diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy, that could affect the lungs; and sleep-disorder breathing, which can include conditions like frequent, loud snoring and sleep apnea.

Symptoms that might bring a patient to our offices for a consultation include shortness of breath, coughing, exercise intolerance, snoring or unrefreshing sleep. Abnormal X-ray or CT scan results could also result in a referral to us.

We’re integrated with the lung cancer screening program that Saint Barnabas Medical Center offers, so we offer free yearly screening CT scans to eligible patients. Plus, we can provide pulmonary consultation for those patients as well as perform some of the diagnostic procedures that might be necessary.

Why was the new center created?

We saw there was a need for this kind of practice to enhance the support provided for local doctors, as well as for the transplant and bariatric programs. In addition, we help integrate the pulmonary rehabilitation services and advanced endoscopy services that are available at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Beside me, the other physicians on board are Dr. Vagram Ovnanian, Dr. Killol Patel and Dr. Pooja Raju.

How does the center intersect with the bariatric surgery and transplant programs?

Patients who need bariatric surgery and have sleep apnea need to be evaluated and treated before, during and after surgery. Many patients who have had a renal transplant become immunosuppressed and are at risk of developing infections in the lung. We support them as well.

Are there any plans for expansion of the center?

Yes, we will be expanding our team. In addition to our current location in Millburn, we hope to expand to other locations in the area, including Livingston, to improve convenience for our patients.

I’m loving this new center because I really enjoy working hard to increase services and access for our patients. I’ve been with Saint Barnabas Medical Center since 2007 and have seen these services grow over the years. It’s very exciting. Our patients are happy, too, because our new office and new staffing mean we have more availability to see them.

The new pulmonary physicians specialty practice is located at 235 Millburn Ave #101 in Millburn. For more information or to make an appointment, call 973.376.8034.