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Published on April 06, 2015

Experience compassionate care at Mercy Philadelphia

They made me feel at home.

GlendaEvery Christmastime, 86-year-old Glenda Wharwood brings homemade Jamaican rum cake and bread to Leon Clarke, MD, Director of the Department of Surgery at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. It’s her way of saying thanks for the many lifesaving treatments she’s received over the years—particularly for one day last spring, when she needed an emergency hernia operation.

Glenda is glad that Dr. Clarke and the staff at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital were there when she needed them. And she’s grateful for the compassionate care she received. “They made me feel at home,” she says.

A sudden turn for the worse

A hernia is a weak spot in the abdominal wall that allows part of an organ to poke through, often forming a lump under the skin. They don’t always cause pain. But over time, they may grow large and cause concerns.

Glenda had been living with a hernia that wasn’t causing problems. But in May 2014, she fell. This caused her hernia to worsen suddenly. A portion of her bowel became trapped within the weakened muscle wall. This meant the tissue’s blood supply became blocked. Fortunately, her children were there and called 911.

An ambulance rushed her to Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. Glenda would need surgery right away. And Dr. Clarke wanted to be sure she got better and stayed that way. That would mean relying on the latest advances in hernia repair.

“For years, surgeons simply stitched the two ends of the weakened tissues together,” Dr. Clarke says. But tissues under tension tend to pull apart again. Dr. Clarke takes a more sustainable approach: tension-free repair, he says. With this method, the surgeon reinforces the weakened tissues with a plastic mesh—sort of like patching a bicycle tire from the inside, he explains.
In time, the tissues grow into the mesh, which actually becomes part of the body. Such a hernia repair generally has a low risk of rupturing again.

And many hernia repairs can be done with laparoscopic surgery—through small incisions. For patients, that means less post-op pain and faster healing.

Happy and healed

“Dr. Clarke came and told me what we needed to do, and I agreed with him,” she says. “And everything was all right.”

“She did splendidly,” Dr. Clarke says.

Glenda healed quickly. And she also didn’t need any pain medicine, which surprised even her doctor.

She is filled with praise for Dr. Clarke and Mercy Philadelphia. And not just for her recent hernia repair—she is also a cancer survivor. Twice. “All my surgeries with him were successful,” she says.

Today, she’s enjoying her days with gratitude. “I’m all right, thank goodness,” she says.

Here for you

Mercy Philadelphia is a place where a patient and provider can enjoy a one-on-one relationship—where good doctors and home-baked goodies are appreciated. After all, it’s a community hospital—with the emphasis on community, says Dr. Clarke, who’s been caring for patients here for 25 years.

“We’re a neighborhood hospital that provides our patients with the high quality care they’ve been looking for,” he says.

Hernias: By the Numbers

5 million: The number of hernias that occur in the U.S. each year.
600,000: The approximate number of hernia surgeries performed in the U.S. each year.
1 in 4: The number of men who will get the most common type of hernia during their lifetime (compared to 1 in 50 women).

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