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Barnes-Jewish Hospital
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Doctor Honored for Establishing Prestigious, Comprehensive Colorectal Surgery Department

December 9, 2011

In 1972 a colleague asked Ira Kodner, MD, for a favor that ultimately changed the course of his career.

“One of my mentors asked me to meet with a support group for ostomy patients, who, due to cancer or other diseases, required surgeries in which an artificial opening was made to drain waste from their bodies,” Dr. Kodner says. “I learned that these patients did not have the long-term medical guidance and support they needed to cope with the aftermath of their surgical procedures. At that point I decided the long-term solution was to organize a colorectal surgery department led by a surgeon.”

At the time, Dr. Kodner was a surgery resident at Jewish Hospital, which later merged into Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He and his colleagues started a clinic at Jewish Hospital to meet the needs of these patients. Over the first few years, the clinic expanded adding social workers, chaplains and psychologists. In 1985, the clinic grew into a comprehensive colon and rectal surgery program. Dr. Kodner led the effort.

to our patients, I had to learn from the best program that existed at the time, the Cleveland Clinic,” Dr. Kodner says. “Gifts to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital made this critical experience possible.”

Today, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has one of the most prestigious colorectal surgery departments in the country, offering comprehensive services and training programs for specialists in colon and rectal surgery.

“What truly sets us apart is the spirit of our team,” Dr. Kodner says. “We began this program over 25 years ago to meet the dire needs of our patients. We have maintained that patient-centered spirit and it keeps us motivated to continue to provide them with the best possible quality of life today.”

Reflecting on his time at Barnes-Jewish, Dr. Kodner is grateful that his colorectal work has been supported by so many tribute gifts given in honor or memory of special people, including significant support from the Gershman, Rotskoff, Ruwitch and Markow families.

“The charitable support of these families has given me time—time to teach new doctors, collaborate with other experts around the country and develop innovative treatments that will best serve our patients. Their gifts have allowed us to maintain a registry to support families with inherited colon and rectal diseases so that each family member can live the longest, healthiest life possible,”

Dr. Kodner says. “Donors have made all of our work possible.”

Most recently, Dr. Kodner’s 35 years of service were honored by gifts to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital from colleagues he has worked with over the years.

“Receiving gifts from my colleagues in honor of my work is gratifying,” Dr. Kodner says. “All the people I’ve worked with have been wonderful; medicine is such a team effort. Working together is what makes our great
accomplishments possible.”

Erik Thyssen, MD, who made a tribute gift honoring Dr. Kodner says, “Working with Dr. Kodner has been very satisfying. Since I joined the gastroenterology team at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1993, he has helped me care for my patients and given me a clear understanding of exactly when surgery is needed and when it isn’t.”

Dr. Kodner donates annually to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“Everything that I have accomplished professionally I owe to the hospital. So, for me, giving charitable gifts to the hospital is pay back so that other doctors get the support that I’ve had.”

To support Dr. Kodner’s work, please give to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Ruwitch Family Fund (#1918) by going to our online giving form.

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