Surgical Precision

From specialized breast cancer procedures to comprehensive general surgeries, the newest members of MCMC Surgical Clinic greatly enhance the level of surgical care in the region.

In recent months, two new surgeons have joined the growing MCMC Surgical Clinic. Caitlin McCarthy, M.D., and Phillip Letourneau, M.D., have teamed with Paul Moon, M.D., to offer comprehensive general surgery resources and expertise to patients throughout the region. While Dr. Moon has provided high-quality surgical care for area patients for more than 20 years, we’d like to introduce the new members of the team.

Dr. Phillip Letourneau

Following his earlier stops in New Orleans, Houston, and Portland, Dr. Letourneau says The Dalles is offering much more than just a change of scenery.

“As a general surgeon in a rural area, one is asked to do more than they are in a larger city,” he says. “Here, I am called upon to provide a broader range of services than I would be in larger areas.”

Dr. Letourneau graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine and did his internship and residency in general surgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. A fellowship in surgical critical care at Oregon Health and Science University brought him to the Northwest. He says enjoys the opportunity to care for people at a time of great need and appreciates that working in a smaller community allows him to get to know his patients better. He’s also noticed the distances people in rural areas have to travel to seek care.

“I recognize the effort it takes a lot of people just to get to the hospital,” he says.“That’s not lost on me.”

Dr. Letourneau also appreciates the level of collegiality that exists at MCMC. “The staff seems friendlier, less formal. We’re on a first-name basis, and there’s not such a rigid hierarchy. Large city hospitals can be kind of like a conveyor belt.”

Dr. Letourneau’s surgical interests include benign biliary disease, complex hernia surgery, and anti-reflux surgery. He’s been especially pleased to see the positive outcomes that have resulted from people with hard-to-treat reflux.

“Imagine if you’ve been nauseous after every meal you’ve had for years and then, almost immediately after the procedure,you feel better,” he says. “If you can positively impact someone’s life in that way, that’s a pretty good outcome.”

An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Letourneau likes to spend his free time fishing, hiking, skiing, and rafting and also enjoys golf and cooking. He and his wife, who works at Nike in Portland, have enjoyed experiencing what Oregon has to offer.

For Dr. Letourneau, relocating to the Gorge has been an overwhelmingly positive decision. “What I thought was going to be a temporary visit has turned into a really great opportunity.”

Dr. Caitlin McCarthy

After falling in love with the Pacific Northwest during her time in medical school at the University of Washington, Dr. McCarthy was excited by the prospect of returning to the region.

She grew up in a small Wyoming town, where she enjoyed equestrian pursuits, skiing, and whitewater rafting, so the Columbia River Gorge was a perfect fit. It didn’t hurt that her husband, Luke, comes from a family of orchardists who have lived in the region for generations.

Dr. McCarthy says she was drawn to the surgical specialty because of her love of science and working with her hands. “I love the tactile nature of surgery, and I get the privilege of affecting a noticeable change for my patients.”

After medical school, Dr. McCarthy did her residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver. While there she rotated among 10 hospitals covering diverse specialties including emergency and pediatric services. This allowed Dr. McCarthy to develop experience in a wide variety of practices and procedures and helped prepare her for her career at MCMC, where physicians are often called upon to assist in a broad range of circumstances.

Dr. McCarthy’s surgical interests include breast surgery for cancer and benign disease, minimally invasive laparoscopy,including stomach anti-reflux procedures, colorectal, and gallbladder problems.

She is working toward an advanced certification for breast imaging, biopsy, and partial breast radiation. Dr. McCarthy also is trained in the treatment of thyroid and parathyroid diseases.

Both the community and MCMC have welcomed Dr. McCarthy warmly, she says. “In a larger community, you don’t have the luxury of time to get to know patients and their families. This community has a real family focus.”

Like Dr. Letourneau, Dr. McCarthy says she is also impressed with the collegiality of the medical community. “People reached out as soon as I arrived. Larger institutions often have a greater sense of individual domains. Here there’s more of a sense of ‘Here’s my skill set, how can I help?’ MCMC is more about being inclusive rather than exclusive.”

As for her future, Dr. McCarthy is clear. “I want to be a part of the community,” she says. “I intend to spend my career here.”