Marcus Ortega, MD, recently completed his Urogynecology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and is now an attending physician and faculty member in the Mass General Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Below, Dr. Ortega talks about what drew him to this specialty, his new practice in Danvers and his research that aims to help patients recover faster following surgery.
Q. You speak English, Portuguese and Spanish. How does that help you connect and/or better care for with patients?
Being multilingual, especially in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, allows me to connect with a diverse range of patients on a more precise level. Language can be a significant barrier in healthcare. When patients can communicate in their native language, they often feel more understood and at ease. Ultimately, this facilitates better care, trust, and overall improved patient outcomes.
Q. A lot of the conditions you treat can be hard to talk about for patients. How do you make patients feel more comfortable and empowered throughout their care?
I completely understand that discussing certain conditions can be challenging for patients, often because of the stigma surrounding pelvic health conditions. I make it a priority to establish a safe and non-judgmental environment from the outset. Actively listening to their concerns, being empathetic, and using patient-centered communication are key strategies I employ. Furthermore, I take time to educate my patients about their condition, ensuring they have a thorough understanding and feel empowered to take an active role in their care. Knowledge is power, and by providing them with the necessary tools and information, I aim to demystify their conditions, reducing fear and anxiety.
Q. What’s your advice to patients struggling with pelvic floor disorders?
My primary advice to patients dealing with pelvic floor disorders is to understand that everything begins with a precise diagnosis. It's pivotal to comprehend your specific condition and its implications. Once accurately diagnosed, maintain open and regular communication with your healthcare provider, ensuring your treatment is tailored to your unique needs. With the right diagnosis, tailored treatment, and support, many patients find meaningful relief and regain control over their lives.
Q. Why did you choose to specialize in urogynecology?
I was captivated by this field due to its profound emphasis on enhancing quality of life. The treatments we offer can swiftly transform a patient's well-being, which I find deeply fulfilling. My primary focus is on addressing pelvic floor issues, encompassing conditions like pelvic organ prolapse and both urinary and fecal incontinence.
Secondly, as mentioned, there are many research opportunities to take part in that are exciting and novel.
Q. Where do you practice?
I perform surgical procedures at the Mass General Boston, Waltham and Danvers locations as well as Newton Wellesley Hospital.
The Danvers and Waltham locations are particularly accessible for North Shore residents and those west of Boston. Parking is more straightforward and often nearer for patients who don't usually want to travel into Boston.
Q. Tell me about your career trajectory. What brought you to Mass General?
After graduating from the University of Sao Paulo, I completed my residency at the University of Massachusetts. I then came to Mass General to complete the Urogynecology Fellowship, which is one of the most prestigious fellowships in my field; it’s a really well-established program that has served the New England community for over 30 years.
The Mass General program not only offers continued training in general urogynecology but also the opportunity to treat complex cases. The Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders brings together nationally renowned physicians from across specialties to treat patients with complex pelvic floor issues collaboratively and comprehensively.
I also wanted to participate in innovative research that will help advance a field that is still relatively new within obstetrics and gynecology and improve the quality of the treatments offered to patients. I knew Mass General would be the best place for my subspecialty training.
Q. Tell me about your research work.
My main research focuses on two main concepts, the first being surgical outcomes. The Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Initiative looks at how a series of interventions, before and after surgery, improve recovery and help patients resume their day-to-day activities more quickly.
My second research focus is patient experience. Specifically, I research how to offer better surgical experiences for patients — which can actually start before they’ve even decided to have surgery by giving them clear information, so they feel more empowered and supported when making decisions about their care.
My mission is always to advance the treatment of pelvic floor disorders as well as develop and continue refining better surgeries and procedures that improve the outcomes that matter the most to patients.