A Purposeful Life

Jul 07, 2019 at 09:04 pm by Staff


Joseph Stewart, MD reinvigorated with PMC robotics program .

On a particularly cold night in Illinois last December, Joseph Stewart, MD, and his wife, Shelly, discussed the possibility of moving to a warmer climate. Having recently become empty nesters, they agreed they would move only if Stewart found the perfect fit. Stewart, a board-certified gynecologist with more than 20 years of experience, connected with Poinciana Medical Center (PMC) and their visions for gynecological care aligned.

"We looked at each other, realized the entire upstairs of our house was empty, and decided it might be time to regroup and move," remembers Stewart. "I was looking for a hospital where I could be part of launching a robotics program to help the community, and that's what I found at PMC."

At PMC, Stewart is providing the full spectrum of surgical gynecologic care for women in Poinciana and the surrounding area, including well-woman exams, contraception, hormonal therapy, in-office procedures and major gynecologic surgery.

"The PMC mission resonated with me, especially with so many people out here and a strong need for full-time local doctors," he admitted. "I'm looking forward to the great things we're going to do for patients."

A Technological Revolution

Stewart realized he wanted to study medicine when he was a high school senior. He describes this epiphany as a lightbulb that came on and never went off. He studied biology at the University of Akron, attended medical school at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Akron General Medical Center. His practice in Illinois included obstetrics and the delivery of approximately 4,000 babies over his career.

Today, Dr. Stewart's special interests include pelvic support work, cancer risk assessment and risk reduction, menopause, bleeding problems, minimally invasive surgery, and treatment and correction of severe pelvic organ prolapse. Stewart executes complex gynecologic surgery using robotic technology, which allows him to perform surgery with less trauma to the patient.

"When we can perform surgery more easily, it translates into less time in the hospital, a faster return to work and less pain," he explained. "With robotic technology, 80 percent of women who have hysterectomies go home the same day. They simply feel better faster."

In 1993, when Stewart was finishing his residency, laparoscopy was new, and performing surgeries through small ports was in its infancy. The evolution of this technology has been transformational for Stewart, reinvigorating his career and steering his focus toward more complex surgeries with robotics.

"The platform for many major surgeries either already is or will be robotic," he asserts. "We'll continue to have the whole realm of tools at our disposal, but as we move forward, robots are here to stay. Building our robotic program now is a good thing for the Poinciana community."

A Family Affair

Stewart and his wife live in the community of Solivita in Poinciana and enjoy an active lifestyle. Notably, they have twin sons who are both in medical school and a daughter in her first year of dental school. Every time Stewart thinks about this, he can't believe it's true.

"I remember them as little kids, seeing me in scrubs leaving for the hospital," he recalled. "They saw me take thousands of phone calls while we were out at dinner, and through most of their childhood they took that for granted, but when each entered high school, the significance of practicing medicine kicked in for them, kind of like it did for me."

Stewart, who's looking forward to seeing where his children's medical careers take them, notes that physicians are all on the same journey to help patients with quality of life. "Something like pelvic organ prolapse can interfere with quality of life if it is not addressed, but it's curable," he concluded. "We can fix these things and make patients more comfortable; it's part of a mission I'm proud to be a part of."