Whenever someone needs common surgical intervention for a hernia, gastrointestinal condition or even cancer, they will likely wind up under the care of someone like PeaceHealth’s Dr. Joshua Schulte.
Schulte, a general surgeon at Sedro-Woolley’s PeaceHealth United General Medical Center, began treating patients at the hospital’s adjacent Surgery and Orthopedics Center after moving here from Minneapolis, Minnesota this summer. He brings a decade of board-certified surgical experience with him, as well as several years of experience as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic.
General Surgery at United General Medical Center
General surgeons, Schulte says, are tasked with surgeries generally covering an area from the upper legs to below the chin.
The abdomen is an area especially practiced in, including procedures involving the appendix, gall bladder, esophagus, stomach, small/large intestine, spleen, and adrenal glands. General surgeons also perform endoscopies, which are internal screenings like colonoscopies and esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGD) which look for ulcers and hiatal hernias in patients with heartburn.
They also handle some soft tissue and skin surgeries, including those for non-cancerous and cancerous cysts and lumps.
Patients will usually end up seeing a general surgeon through a trip to urgent care or the emergency department, or through a referral from their primary care physician. They may also come to someone like Schulte directly, if they already have a diagnosis.
Despite being known as a “general surgeon,” Schulte’s specialties are many and include minimally-invasive procedures – known as laparoscopies – for hernias, gallbladder disease, reflux (heartburn), bowel disorders, and appendicitis. Laparoscopic operations are performed on the abdomen or pelvis using small incisions with the aid of a camera.
Schulte also specializes in surgical oncology, including surgery for bowel and breast cancer. Schulte says that being with a patient through the entirety of their cancer journey, from diagnosis to final removal of their chemotherapy port, is very important to him. “That’s where I get the most satisfaction out of being a surgeon,” he says, adding that he works particularly hard at staying up-to-date on new cancer surgery techniques. Schulte gained considerable experience in breast surgery during his time in Minnesota.
Find Collaborative Health Care and Resources at PeaceHealth
If a cancer surgery is particularly advanced, Schulte and his patients will travel to Bellingham’s PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, where more cancer care resources are available. The proximity of PeaceHealth St. Joseph to PeaceHealth United General and the spirit of collaborative care they share, he says, is one of the things that drew him to the area.
“Most general surgeons in smaller towns, get kind of cornered in all by themselves,” Schulte says. “They don’t really have the resources, and a lot of patients end up getting referred to other bigger institutions that are far away. Here, even if we have to go to Bellingham for a more complex procedure, we can do most of the patient’s pre-operative and follow-up care here in Sedro-Woolley.”
PeaceHealth United General is working more and more on its expanding its surgical capabilities, Schulte says. While robotic surgery is still only available in Bellingham, he can still perform many of those same procedures for patients here laparoscopically with the same amount of recovery time.
“The staff and support here is just amazing,” Schulte says of care in Sedro-Woolley. “We can often keep patients from having to drive far away to get the same top-notch care they would at a bigger institution. Hopefully we can just keep doing more and more.”
To learn more, visit the PeaceHealth website.