Oneida Health: A Comprehensive Approach to Gastroenterology

Friday, February 26, 2021
Specialty: 

Since 2019, Oneida Health has quickly developed a first-class Gastroenterology program led by fellowship-trained physicians and an experienced advanced medical provider. As a local hospital-based outpatient office, they provide a patient-centered approach focused on safety for all types of gastroenterology conditions with specialized advanced therapeutic treatments.


Oneida Health has invested over $1.5M in 2019 in new technology and the expansion of its Endoscopy Center.

Oneida Health has been providing endoscopic procedures to patients in Central New York for almost 30 years. In 2019, Oneida Health was faced with the anticipated closure of a privately-owned outpatient GI practice that provided patient procedures in the hospital for more than 20 years. With a desire to keep care local, Oneida Health began the process of recruiting and building its own GI outpatient network.

What began as a few exam rooms in the hospital in the mid-90s has now evolved to a modern endoscopy center with the latest advanced technology and an outpatient office lead by fellowship-trained and board-certified physicians who provide a comprehensive approach for all types of gastroenterology procedures, testing and treatment.

“Providing exceptional care close to home is at the core of everything we do,” says Gene Morreale, President and CEO at Oneida Health. “With the inevitable departure of the only outpatient GI office located in Oneida, our leadership team was determined to create continued access to digestive disease services for the patients we serve. This opportunity provided us with the ability to develop a newly designed program focused on the highest level of safety and patient experience, second to none.”

A Comprehensive Approach

Oneida Health’s new outpatient office, Oneida Health GI Specialists, opened in August 2019 with the recruitment of Uzma Abbasi, MD, Nurse Practitioner Deborah Clarey, and a well-experienced care team with decades of gastroenterology experience. In 2020, Oneida Health also welcomed Rashaan Friend, DO, MBS.

Together, they provide a one-stop shop for patients with a focus on patient safety and care.

“Myself, Dr. Abbasi, and Deborah offer in-office visits for all types of gastroenterology conditions in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting,” Dr. Friend says. “We also provide advanced diagnosis in a hospital nationally recognized for patient safety and experience.”

“Our goal is to be a comprehensive digestive disease center that can provide for the needs of every patient right here in Oneida,” Dr. Abbasi says. “Beyond colonoscopies and gastroscopies, we provide numerous specialties including endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). We are always seeking to provide patients with the latest in advanced diagnosis for increased disease prevention — it’s the baseline of our approach to care.”

In 2019, Oneida Health also invested over $1.53 million into its endoscopy center located on the third floor of the hospital. Renovations included new, state-of-the-art scopes and HD-video processors that lend to more enhanced imaging, as well as an expansion of its admitting, recovery, and waiting rooms, and a reimagined patient flow.

Increased Access to Advanced Diagnostics: EUS and ERCP

Patients often sacrifice treatment modalities when accessing care in a rural setting. Oneida Health prevents that by providing a number of support services and specialties which are not commonly found in a rural community.

“EUS is one of the best technologies to detect anomalies of the digestive tract and nearby structures and organs,” Dr. Abbasi says. “We can visualize pathology in the pancreas, biliary tree and lymph nodes in the abdomen and mediastinum.”

ERCP is often a service that needs to be referred out in GI offices. With the arrival of Dr. Friend in 2020, Oneida Health now specializes in it.

“ERCP is a nonsurgical outpatient exam that only requires sedation,” Dr. Friend says. “It can be used to provide therapeutic treatment of diseases of the liver, pancreas, cholangiocarcinoma, and extract stones from the bile duct along with radio-frequency ablation. Most importantly, ERCP can reduce the risk of other more serious complications down the line while aiding in early detection.”

Both EUS and ERCP allow for the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of illnesses and anomalies, particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of early-stage cancers that are undetectable with other diagnostic tools.

Patients who need additional testing and treatment, including surgery, also benefit from Oneida Health’s network, such as its affiliated medical and radiation oncology program with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In addition to these services, Drs. Abbasi and Friend continue to envision more advanced treatment options at Oneida Health.

“With these advanced endoscopic modalities, we can provide precise staging of early digestive cancers. We can safely biopsy abdominal and mediastinal lymph nodes, and pancreatic mass, and can endoscopically remove large colon polyps with minimal risks,” Dr. Abbasi says. “We also recently started providing video capsule endoscopy and will soon be providing ablation treatment of Barrett’s esophagus to prevent esophageal cancer. Our vision for a comprehensive digestive disease center in Oneida is quickly becoming a reality.”

“I have been providing outpatient care in GI for over 20 years in Oneida,” says Deborah Clarey, NP, at Oneida Health. “The transition to Oneida Health and additions of Drs. Abbasi and Friend, has evolved our approach to patient care. I couldn’t be more excited for the patients and families we serve.”


For more information, call 315-361-2385 or visit oneidahealth.org.