Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center honors its doctors every year on March 30, National Doctors’ Day. We celebrate the service they provide through inspired compassion towards patients and commitment to the advancement of medicine through research and teaching. They play a collective role in fulfilling our missions and changing the lives in the communities we serve.
Over the last couple of weeks via Facebook, patients and family members have shared with us their inspiring stories about our doctors over the years. We received numerous stories and a few of them are shared below. (Submissions have been edited for spelling, grammar and context.)
Dr. Michael Glantz – My husband, William Lilyquist, was diagnosed with brain cancer. We were sent to Hershey Medical Center by Dr. Sharma. We were fortunate to get Dr. Glantz as our physician. Dr. Glantz is one of the most caring doctors I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He would take the time no matter how long it took to explain things so we felt more at ease. He talked to us not above us. Unfortunately my husband lost his fight with the cancer three years ago but, I will never forget the man that gave me my husband for two more years. Thank you, Dr. Glantz.
Dr. Tom Dispenza – After nearly 17 years as a pediatric nurse, I am quite good at caring for other people’s sick and injured children. The tables turned last fall when our 6 month old, Ivy, was diagnosed with several congenital heart defects. From our first meeting with Dr. Tom Dispenza, we knew our Ivy girl was in good hands. Over the past several months Ivy has had many obstacles and roadblocks. Dr. Dispenza has gone out of his way to make sure she has gotten the care that she needs (even coming to the office on his day off to see her) and has patiently answered all of my “nurse mom” questions. He showed due diligence and discussed her case with not only local colleagues, but also with contacts around the country. His calls after office hours to check on Ivy, or to check if we had any questions or concerns show his true commitment to her care. Ivy always has a big smile during her visits with “Dr.Tom.” We are thankful to have such a talented and caring physician to walk this road with us!
Dr. Kristine Widders, Dr. Dino Ravnic – Just over a year ago, I had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate autologous reconstruction. I arrived at Hershey Medical Center seeking a third opinion on my medical situation. My first appointment was at the Breast Center on Hope Drive. I knew within moments that I had found a competent, compassionate doctor in Dr. Kristine Widders and her staff. I walked in terrified and confused. I left feeling reassured and more confident. Dr. Widders explained what would need to be done during surgery in a way that I understood. She took the time to answer all of our questions and put our minds at ease. The next appointment was with Dr. Dino Ravnic in the plastic surgery office. The type of reconstruction I was seeking requires a highly qualified surgeon and is performed by a small percentage of doctors. Dr. Ravnic and his nursing staff spent an extended amount of time addressing our concerns, never making us feel rushed. Both medical offices replied promptly to phone calls in the weeks before surgery to answer questions, to repeat explanations as frequently as needed, to calm my reeling emotions. Their expertise during surgery resulted in an excellent outcome (medically and esthetically). Dr. Widders saved my life by removing the cancer and Dr. Ravnic (with the assistance during surgery from Dr. Timothy Johnson) made me feel whole again. Those accomplishments cannot be expressed in words alone. During my time in SICU, Dr. Widders and Dr. Ravnic made regular visits. They were sincerely concerned and interested in my recovery. Dr. Ravnic took me for my first stroll around the unit. Without a doubt, I know I found the right match for me. I would not be where I am a year after my (second) breast cancer diagnosis without these amazing doctors. They are an integral part of getting me back to my life—teaching, being a wife, mother, grandmother, friend. I wish the same for anyone effected by a life-changing medical event.
Dr. Ashokkumar B. Jain – We would like to share our story about our son Jason Parlo and his doctor, Ashokkumar B. Jain. There are simply not enough words to describe this most amazing man. On Dec. 16, 2014, Dr. Jain and his remarkable team performed a miracle kidney transplant surgery on Jason. I say “miracle” because that is what our family truly witnessed that day at Hershey Medical Center! During our entire transplant process, Dr. Jain showed nothing but pure kindness, consideration and, most of all, compassion, not only to Jason, but to our entire family. How truly blessed we were to have Dr. Jain by our son’s side. On March 16, Jason will be 27 months post-transplant and as Jason would say, “Life is Good!” We have also been blessed beyond measure by our beautiful “Angel” of a kidney donor and her family, who at one time were perfect strangers, but now are a part of our family. Two separate families became one family that miraculous day, Dec. 16, 2014! Thank you, Dr. Jain and thank you to that amazing team in the Transplant Department! God Bless you all.
Dr. Brian Clark, Dr. John Repke, Dr. Robert Tunks, Dr. Linda Pauliks, Dr. Patrick McQuillan – My husband, Matthew McClain (a former resident at Hershey Medical Center), and I could not be more thankful for the excellent care we received from our amazing physicians throughout our pregnancy and after the arrival of our youngest daughter, Lucy. A routine ultrasound during our pregnancy revealed our sweet baby suffered from a significant congenital heart defect that would require open-heart surgery sometime within the first few months of life. My husband and I were completely devastated and could not have made it through this traumatic and stressful time without the help and support of Dr. John Repke, who provided excellent prenatal and postnatal care. Dr. Robert Tunks also played an imperative role during this time, as he helped clarify the details of our daughter’s CHD and answered the many questions we had along the way. After Lucy’s arrival, Dr. Linda Pauliks ensured that she was thriving and that we had a good understanding of our daughter’s diagnosis. In addition to providing us with support and information regarding our daughter’s health, she helped coordinate the timing of Lucy’s surgical repair. Words cannot express how incredibly thankful we are for Lucy’s anesthesiologist, Dr. Patrick McQuillan, and the amazing Dr. Brian Clark, who saved Lucy (and our entire family)!
We thank the outstanding aforementioned physicians with all of our hearts!
Dr. Howard Weber – In 1994, I was only two weeks old when I was flown to Hershey via Life Lion in SVT. My parents have told me that you were one of the lead physicians who treated me during my days hospitalized in the NICU. I wanted to send this note as a thank you for finding a way to stabilize the SVT, allowing me to lead a normal and fruitful life. I am now 22 years old and will be attending Temple Medical School beginning in August of this year. The early imprints that you and the Hershey team left on me have followed me for all these years and strongly influenced my desire to pursue a career as a physician. I will be forever grateful to you and the many other Hershey staff members who cared for me in my (and my family’s) time of need. Thank you for being an exceptional physician, and thank you to the entire Hershey team for the compassionate and life-changing care I received.
Dr. Cayce Onks – My story begins on June 28, 2012. This is the date I suffered a hemorrhagic stroke while on my way to the Penn State Hershey ER to see my son who was being treated in the ER. I received a call saying he was being taken to the ER and within minutes I experienced the most excruciating pulsating pain in the occipital area of my head. Upon arriving to the ER waiting area, the pain continued. Suddenly I lost vision, a complete left field cut, meaning I saw only one half of everything. My husband quickly told the staff what was happening and they immediately called a “brain attack” alert overhead. I was very fortunate to be in the ER and receive immediate and excellent care. I received excellent care in both the Neuro ICU and at the Hershey Rehab Hospital. Following this event I was very fortunate to have met Dr. Cayce Onks. He was there for my husband and me during the post stroke recovery period. He was so understanding during the times when I would get emotional about the visual impairment the stroke left me with. He not only treated the medical issues but was able to put me on the right path of leading a healthier life. He talked about the importance of nutrition as well as exercise and gave me tools to use. I remember him telling me he would walk by my side and if I failed he would still be my doctor, which meant a great deal. With his encouragement I successfully transformed from someone who never exercised to someone who has become an avid walker, logging 25-30 miles per week. I am much healthier now than when I was in my 30s and 40s. I suffered a setback this past year having torn several tendons in my shoulder and hip but, once again, Dr. Onks was there to keep encouraging me through the recovery from rotator cuff surgery and the needed rest period until my hip healed. He is very knowledgeable, however the way he has treated me with such care and compassion means the world. I owe my lifestyle change to him.
Dr. Meenakshi Singh – Dr. Singh is an excellent doctor. Truly the best who made our 38 day stay in the NICU just a little easier. Thank you from the bottom of hearts for taking such great care of our baby boy Reece. We were terrified and from the very first second you and your team were absolutely amazing. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
**Consent to share submitted stories was received prior to posting the above items.