Providence Medical Center
Delivering Excellence in General Surgery Care
At Providence Medical Center, delivering high quality outcomes with the latest surgical advances, experience and a high degree of specialization is always standard operating procedure.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
“A successful surgeon should be a person who, when asked to name the three best surgeons in the world, would have difficulty deciding on the other two.”
~ The late Denton Cooley, Founder and Surgeon-in-Chief of The Texas Heart Institute
While that sentiment offers a subtle dose of humor, it also touches upon the expertise of the General Surgery team at Providence Medical Center. Standing in their own individual spotlights, each of the four surgical specialists on this high-respected General Surgery team are true champions: champions of their craft; champions of their team; champions of the hospital; champions of their community; and most of all, champions of their patients, as those are the ones most truly deserving to stand in the spotlight of quality care, excellence and surgical expertise geared towards the best possible outcomes each and every time.
Being a surgeon creates a bond between patient and surgeon in which the patient has put his or her life into the hands of the practitioner. A surgeon not only has to learn a variety of surgical procedures, but must also possess a solid foundation of medical knowledge, as most patients not only present with the surgical issue alone; they might also have an underlying medical condition of which the surgeon must be aware and understand how that may or may not impact the outcome of the procedure. Due to the ever-evolving nature of the medical field, surgeons must also stay on the forefront of knowledge and education. After all, it is their job to ensure their patients are the beneficiaries of top-notch medical care. Because of the talented General Surgery team at Providence Medical Center, this type of care and service typically exceeds patients’ expectations.
When entrusting your health to the surgical providers at Providence Medical Center, you can be assured you are in excellent hands. A member of Prime Healthcare, Providence Medical Center is the recipient of Healthgrades® America’s 100 Best Hospitals for General Surgery two years in a row (2018, 2019). Providence Medical Center was also honored with Healthgrades® Five-Star Recipient in 2018 for Gall Bladder Surgery and is the Five-Star Recipient for Colorectal Surgeries in 2019. With the surgical team operating at Providence Medical Center, that distinction comes as no surprise, as this group of skilled, dedicated and passionate surgeons understand the significant role they play in the lives of their patients and whole-heartedly take to the task of understanding each patient’s needs and concerns while simultaneously applying their unique skill sets to provide patients a superior level of treatment and care.
From humble roots arose a highly-respected practice
This highly-respected practice was initially founded and overseen by the late Dr. Paul Carpenter, who was a board-certified general and thoracic surgeon who compassionately served his patients and the surrounding community for 42 years. His desire was to be a good physician and help others. This simple life philosophy by which he humbly lived his life has since left an indelible impression and an outstanding legacy to which the current surgical team wholeheartedly subscribes. Working alongside Dr. Carpenter was Dr. Jae Lee, now retired, a general surgery specialist who practiced for 45 years. Together, this duo established what has consistently been regarded as a leading surgical practice in the metro area.
Now a four-physician group, this dynamic surgical team boasts general surgical talents that span the medical spectrum. While they are all Board-Certified general surgeons, each physician also specializes in certain procedures. Therefore, there is no general surgery problem with which a patient can present that cannot be addressed by someone in the group. Translation? It’s always a good thing for patients to have a surgeon who frequently performs a particular procedure and understands and has vast experience with all aspects therein. With a goal of high quality outcomes utilizing the latest surgical advances coupled with a high degree of specialization and experience, the top ratings this team has continually received only further solidify the confidence and comfort patients have when entrusting their lives to these respected practitioners.
Comprehensive medical care given in a compassionate environment
The General Surgery team at Providence Medical Center offers complete general surgery services for adult patients. Among the comprehensive range of surgical care offered includes, but is not limited to, abdominal pain, appendix, breast mass, colon, duodenum, esophagus, fistulas, gallbladder, hemorrhoids, hernias, lymphadenopathy, neck masses, small bowel lesions, spleen, stomach, thyroid, tracheostomy, ulcerative colitis, and wounds.
A Level IV Trauma Designation
Ensuring the best possible outcomes for patients is always at top of mind for the health care providers at Providence Medical Center. Designated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Providence is recognized as a Level IV Trauma Care Center, where patients have access to trauma care for life-threatening and limb-threatening issues. Overseen by Medical Director Stephen Lowry, M.D., also a member of the general surgery team, this trauma center is part of a pathway laid out by the State to accurately assess patients and determine if treatment at a higher level is needed.
“We can take care of critically injured patients here, but it also opens a doorway into the statewide program,” explained Dr. Lowry. “For example, we can initially see a patient with brain trauma and then send them to another facility or we can assess a pediatric issue and then send the patient to Children’s Mercy Hospital, if needed. There are many protocols in trauma evaluation – before the patient arrives at the hospital; in the emergency room; in the hospital and in the transfer to another facility as needed.”
Providence Medical Center continually engages in quality improvement efforts alongside higher level trauma centers, such as the University of Kansas Medical Center. Providence acts as a part of the pathway and can help patients get stabilized and treated prior to transferring them to a higher level of care if needed. Because Providence can accept trauma patients, the care received will save time and increase the chances for survival and recovery. Further, the trauma protocols observed at Providence Medical Center offer more streamlined care, again positioning the hospital as a trusted place of care in the event of a traumatic injury.
Providence Medical Group General Surgery – Hall of Fame
Lee V. Ludwig, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Upon first meeting Dr. Ludwig, an immediate sense of calm overtakes you. His welcoming demeanor, coupled with his engaging personality, quickly put you at ease. It is obvious he has a strong passion for the practice and the patients he so graciously serves.
A respected presence in the practice since 1991, Dr. Ludwig, who earned his medical degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center and completed his residency at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas, came on board when Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Lee were at the helm.
“Those gentleman established a culture of excellent surgical care and when given the chance to work with them, it was important to establish my practice here,” reflected Dr. Ludwig, who noted it was just the three of them working together until 1995, at which time Dr. Carpenter retired. Dr. Lee continued on as Senior Partner before bringing Dr. Ellison on board.
“When Dr. Lee retired in 2007, I guess that is when I became the elder statesman,” quipped Dr. Ludwig, his relaxed smile rarely leaving his countenance while his humble confidence confirms that entrusting one’s life to his experienced hands is a decision easily made.
A family man at heart, Dr. Ludwig, originally from the small rural town of Beloit, Kansas, planted roots in this community with his wife, Patrice, a Kansas City, Kansas native. Together they raised four daughters, and that deep sense of family has extended well into his practice.
“It was so easy for me to feel like part of this community when we first moved here, and that inspired me to continue the legacy Paul and Jae developed for providing quality surgical care and delivering that to this community and to the patients of this hospital.”
While Dr. Ludwig values and appreciates the meaning behind the prestigious awards so often presented to this hospital and to its various medical groups, as it represents a reflection on the surgical group and on the hospital, his focus steadfastly remains on the task at hand.
“You always try to do your best and hope you are, and when you get recognized for that, it’s very rewarding,” he smiled. “I am so comfortable here. This is my home. I like the people I work with and the people I take care of.”
Among Dr. Ludwig’s special surgical interests are gallbladder hernia repair, and breast surgery.
Scott D. Ellison, M.D., F.A.C.S.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Dr. Ellison came to Providence immediately after completing his residency at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in 2001, and there was no hesitation on his part to join this outstanding surgical team.
“The reputation of this group is what appealed to me,” he noted. “I admired what this group did and was impressed by their reputation and level of quality of the practice when I joined them, and I wanted to contribute with my specialty in laparoscopic surgery. For me, it has been a privilege to join the team and add to the tradition.”
What drove Dr. Ellison to pursue a career as a surgeon was the hands-on approach focus of the craft.
“I like the types of intervention surgery can provide,” he noted. “It is very rewarding to really help someone and make an impact on that person’s life. I enjoy being in a good group where we all help each other out, and I am glad I can be a part of that effort.”
Dr. Ellison’s special surgical interests include breast surgery and treatment of thyroid disease. He performs Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, as well as hernia repair and colon procedures laparoscopically in most cases.
Stephen J. Lowry, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Dr. Lowry joined forces with the practice in 2004 and enthusiastically accepted the invitation to join when extended by Dr. Ludwig.
“I knew I wanted to stay in the Kansas City area, and I knew I wanted to continue with the legacy established here,” expressed Dr. Lowry, who earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, followed by the completion of his residency at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Like his colleagues, Dr. Lowry has a keen eye for homing in on an issue, a steady hand, and an inquisitive mind that demands a positive resolution, and he will admit the more intricate a surgical issue is, the more engrossed he becomes.
“I like the complicated, interesting problems to solve,” he emphasized. “Every day is different here, and we have no idea what is going to walk through our door and need our attention.”
Dr. Lowry enjoys keeping pace with the ever-changing world of technological advances in surgery and appreciates how it continually keeps him on his toes.
“Surgery has a long history, dating back to the Greeks, and to see the future of where it is all going fascinates me,” he noted.
Those advances, coupled with working in the community Providence Medical Center serves, are what inspires Dr. Lowry to greet each day.
“This is such a fascinating population, and Providence is right in the middle of it,” he indicated. “It’s great to be able to take care of people in a hospital that is focused on quality. Our job is to do things right, and we do this by using up-to-date technologies to the extent we know how.”
Dr. Lowry’s special interests include the pancreas, bile duct, and stomach surgery.
Thomas W. Wilder, M.D., F.A.C.S.
With the practice since 2011, Dr. Wilder is a born problem-solver.
“The idea of surgery appeals to me because it allows me to define a problem and then fix that problem,” he assessed.
He appreciates the solid foundation upon which this practice has been built and enjoys the collegiate nature of working with the other surgeons.
“We support and assist each other,” he stated. “Yes, we each have different interests, but that allows us to discuss and manage patients as a group instead of solely by ourselves. As a diverse practice, we can manage even those different and unusual cases.”
Dr. Wilder’s primary focus is incorporating the use of the da Vinci Robotic® Surgical System into his practice. This system enhances the skills and expertise of the surgeons with a minimally invasive approach.
“The robotic system is a tool,” explained Dr. Wilder. “It uses modern technology in software and optics to enhance our natural abilities. It also allows for better visualization with its 3-D optics. The small instrumentation within allows for more dexterity and precision.”
Dr. Wilder uses the robotic system for most hernia surgeries and indicated the advantages for the patients include less post-operative pain; less use of narcotics to manage pain; the patients tend to recover more quickly and realize less discomfort. “There is also less chance of inadvertent injury when using the robotic system. However, the robot doesn’t change the way the surgery is done; instead, it enhances one’s ability to perform.”
Dr. Wilder’s special interests also include laparoscopic hernia surgery and thyroid disease.
Come Visit Us
In addition to providing services at Providence Medical Center and Saint John Hospital, members of the surgical team also operate at Advent Health Shawnee Mission Hospital.
For more information on Providence Medical Center and its General Surgery team, visit them online at providencekc.com or call 913.334.6800.