“I’ll get to that later.” It’s a phrase Dr. Stephen Reznicek has heard many times in his 35 years as an urologist. Males past a certain age are not, in general, eager to make appointments to discuss men’s health issues, especially when the word ‘prostate’ is involved. “I’ve seen the resistance,” says Reznicek, a surgeon at the new full service Grays Harbor Urology Clinic.
The clinic is equipped to handle a multitude of issues, and while he also treats women and children, Reznicek has some particular advice for men. “Even though it may seem like everything’s fine, it’s still a good idea to get checked or at least see your doctor once a year. We’ll just talk about general men’s health when they come in.”
A lot of men wrestle with enlarged prostates as they get older, a benign issue that can be addressed in a variety of ways. The first steps are getting a brief evaluation and trying medication, says Reznicek. “The standard procedure is a transurethral resection, but now we have a lot of newer options.”
One alternative is Urolift, an approach that prevents enlarged prostate tissue from blocking the urethra by lifting and holding it out of the way. Unlike most prostate procedures, it doesn’t require cutting, heating, or removing the prostate tissue. Laser treatment has also yielded positive results and is “as minimally invasive as possible,” says Reznicek.
In the case of more serious issues like cancer, Reznicek may refer patients to the local radiation center or perform cryosurgery, the process of using extremely cold temperatures to freeze the cancer tissue in the prostate. A group of medical oncologists journey from Olympia when more radical procedures are necessary.
Reznicek also helps men with fertility issues and cases of erectile dysfunction. Treatments vary depending on cause, he says. “If it’s a hormone issue, we can do a hormone replacement. That’s not too frequent.” He may prescribe a medication like Viagra or offer injections of alprostadil, a drug that makes the blood vessels expand and increases blood flow throughout the body. It can be injected or used as a suppository.
Vacuum devices are another alternative, but for men who’ve had cancer, penile implant surgery may be necessary. “There are a lot of options,” says Reznicek.
Fifty to sixty percent of all the patients he treats are dealing with prostate issues or kidney stones, both of which are often associated with poor diet. Bladder cancer is common in Grays Harbor and associated with smoking. “There’s been a lot of smoking in Grays Harbor,” he notes.
The clinic includes state of the art treatment for kidney stones such as lasers and shock wave therapy. For the latter, the patient is given an anesthetic, and then high-energy acoustic waves are focused on the stone, which break up and dissolve. “It’s a really good option for someone with a kidney stone,” says Reznicek. “We rarely have to do surgery.”
He appreciates the ability to alleviate the excruciating pain that accompanies the condition. “One of the reasons I got into urology is that you generally have very happy and satisfied patients, especially when you’re dealing with kidney stones,” he says. “There are a lot of treatments available.”
In the past, patients in Grays Harbor had to drive to Olympia or even Seattle to get medical care for issues like stones, enlarged prostates, or bladder cancer. The opening of the clinic three years ago means that they can stay much closer to home. “It was a hardship for people to travel so far,” says Reznicek.
When he first arrived six years ago from northern Michigan, no urology services existed. “I wanted the opportunity to start something from scratch,” he says. Today the clinic is located on the fourth floor of Grays Harbor Community Hospital. “We picked a spot on the east campus and spent a couple of years working out of temporary offices on the third floor,” he says. “We had to go to the state legislature for some hearings. Any time you build out a new clinic in an old hospital, there are codes that require approval.”
The clinic includes a Physician’s Assistant and three Medical Assistants, as well as an office manager. Another urologist, Dr. Charles Best, will be joining the team later this year. “We really need him,” says Reznicek. “The practice is expanding.”
Part of the expansion will be a new state-of-the-art laser. “We’re going to be able to offer more services,” he says. “We’re looking to upgrade some of the OR services as well. There’s a lot going on.”
But back to men and the conversation that so many resist. Regarding prostates, Reznicek has some simple advice. “A lot of men ask me, ‘What’s good for my prostate?’” he says. “I tell them, ‘Whatever’s good for your heart is also good for your prostate: exercise, a good diet, and no smoking.’”
To learn more about the Grays Harbor Urology Clinic, visit www.ghcares.org or call 360-537-6470.