Helping Patients Realize They are Their Own Best Advocate

May 06, 2021 at 03:47 pm by pj

Peter Edelstein, MD, Surgical Specialty Group of Seminole

Whether he’s leading a talk about patient care or treating his own patients at the Surgical Specialty Group of Seminole, Dr. Peter Edelstein has one consistent message: “Own your health.”

“Living with an illness can be overwhelming and as a surgeon, I see many patients whose conditions are life-threatening and seriously impact their everyday quality of life,” said Edelstein, who received board certification in both General and Colon & Rectal Surgery. “But no matter how frightening a diagnosis feels, remember: You are your own best advocate.”

That philosophy is one he has pursued throughout his three decades of experience in the healthcare industry. Edelstein received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at the University of California, San Diego. It was there that he was introduced to patients living with colorectal cancer, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease — an impactful experience that led him to a colon and rectal surgery fellowship at the University of Minnesota. 

“Working with patients and their families, I found a field that was both deeply challenging and immensely rewarding,” Edelstein said. “I knew I wanted to improve health in any way I could — whether by working with an individual patient or managing policies that would impact entire populations.”

After graduating, he left clinical medicine to serve as an International Chief Medical Officer for a health information company; later, he served the U.S. Army as a civilian, treating soldiers and veterans at Fort Polk, Louisiana. But after working in 40 countries in two years and then living in California, Edelstein and his wife — who is also a physician — decided they were ready for a change of pace from the hectic Silicon Valley lifestyle. 

Together with their two daughters, they moved to Florida, where Edelstein joined the Surgical Specialty Group of Seminole. In his current role, he provides broad-spectrum care for a variety of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, thyroid gland and abdominal wall. 

Because his patients face severe and complicated conditions, Edelstein sees it as a responsibility to continuously assess and improve his methods. “Of course, technology advancements like laparoscopic surgery have been a major move forward in all gastrointestinal surgery procedures, and the addition of biologic agents has allowed us to alter our algorithms for inflammatory bowel disease. But we continue to pursue a range of new techniques — like ileal pouches for ulcerative colitis or Kono-S anastomosis for Crohn’s disease — that are shown to improve recovery. I’m also using new surgical approaches for Crohn’s disease in an attempt to prevent recurrence, which is a serious concern for our patients.”  

But he’s quick to add that it’s a team effort: “Far-and-away the greatest impact on my patients' successful recovery is our high quality post-operative nursing care.  While I greatly impact what happens to our patients in the operating room, the vast majority of post op direct patient care is provided by our nurses. The team caring for our patients following surgery is outstanding and my patient outcomes attest to that.”

While treatment options continue to evolve, one thing hasn’t changed: Edelstein says he strives to be a partner in health — not just a provider. “I want to work with my patients to create individualized care plans. That’s why I encourage people to take control of their decisions. Ask questions, learn about your condition, understand your physician’s recommendations, but continue to be the one who ultimately decides your course of action. After all, it’s your body, your health, your disease and your life.”

After serving the U.S. Army as a civilian, Edelstein will soon be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Corps. Beyond his hospital duties, he and his wife can be found outdoors, biking, hiking and fishing. Florida, he’s happy to say, has been “everything we hoped for and more.” 



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