Inflammatory Bowel Disease represents a group of autoimmune conditions in which the gastrointestinal tract is injured by an immune system that is mistakenly attacking one’s self. The colon (large intestine) is the site of injury in Ulcerative colitis. In Crohn’s disease the colon and/or small intestine are the primary sites of involvement but any portion of the GI tract can be involved; from the mouth to the anus. Extra-intestinal sites including the eyes, joints, mouth, liver, skin, and pancreas can also be involved in IBD. Approximately 1.6 million Americans may be affected by IBD. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are chronic relapsing and remitting illnesses that may cause weight loss, malnutrition, persistent diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, rectal bleeding, bowel obstructions, abscesses, fatigue, and/ or loss of appetite. Symptoms can be obvious or extremely subtle.
Over the past few years there have been a number of very important advances in the IBD management. In addition to mesalamine, corticosteroids, mercaptopurine, and methotrexate a large number of biologic agents have recently become available. These include anti-TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) agents (e.g. infliximab, adalimumab) as well as the newest agents (e.g. ustekinumab, vedolizumab) which target different receptors and non-TNF factors in the inflammatory cascade. Further, we are now involved in research that allows some of our patients the opportunity to receive other new agents not yet available to the general public. It takes a well-trained gastroenterologist to make the proper diagnosis and initiate the best treatment options to control symptoms and prevent disease progression and we have that experience.
We believe that numerous factors in IBD care set us apart from other practices and we strive to make that so. One of these is our model of care. We have gathered a diverse, multidisciplinary group to provide comprehensive care to our patients with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. This team consists of numerous physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and infusion nurses that work together to provide guidance and care. Our group collaborates closely with pediatric gastroenterologists to ensure a thoughtful transition from pediatric to adult care. We utilize a network of top tier colorectal surgeons to ensure timely and appropriate consultation in the event surgical treatments are indicated. We also avail ourselves of nutritionists, mental health providers, and social workers. We believe they are critical resources to complement medical and surgical solutions. The total patient remains our focus. We also have monthly conferences attended by CTGI providers, nursing supervisors, NP’s, PA’s, and GI fellows to discuss unusual situations in a patient’s care, current issues in IBD, and advances in IBD management. For the past few years we have also held a bimonthly IBD clinic in which our focused team of CTGI providers meet to discuss the most challenging patients and cases. Our providers pride themselves on providing state of the art care. Additionally, two of our IBD specialists serve on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board of the Connecticut Chapter of CCF (Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation).
Some of our newest initiatives include the creation of a formal IBD consortium that will streamline the referral process from other providers that are not part of Connecticut GI so as to expedite 2nd opinions. We host patient-centered support groups that meet on a monthly basis, allowing people to connect and learn from one another. The CTGI family participates in the CCF’s Greater Hartford Take Steps Walk and Shoreline Take Steps Walk yearly. We have been participants in Team Challenge Run/Walks for the CCF for the past 14 seasons. Our latest endeavor is to provide yearly scholarships to college students with chronic gastrointestinal medical conditions such as IBD through our own Connecticut GI Charitable Foundation.
Connecticut GI is one of the largest single specialty (Gastroenterology) medical practices in the country. This, too, comes with benefits to our patients. Our facilities are state of the art with offices, infusions centers, and endoscopy units extending throughout the state of Connecticut. We strive to make the patient experience with CTGI as stress-free as possible.