By Herbert C. Ruckle ’86, Chair, Department of Urology, LLUSM
The urology department is organized to support the mission of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine by providing state-of-the-art urological care to our patients, teaching residents and medical students, and having a spirit of inquiry leading to research that contributes to the advancement of our specialty. Our goal is to use our experience in providing care to complex urologic patients and performing urological research to continue to be teachers, innovators, and thought leaders for surgical care and a valuable resource to our community, including our alumni.
As I write this, the urology department is adapting to functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have created a system that is safe for patients and staff as we continue to provide time-sensitive urological care to our patients. We are now resuming elective in-person visits and surgery as our local infection rate subsides and local guidelines allow. Due to positive patient feedback, we plan to continue to offer video/telehealth visits after the pandemic. Consistent with the shared experience in health care, COVID-19 is a significant disruption and stress to our department. At this time, 75% of our patient visits are telehealth, our chief residents had a Zoom graduation and have had their qualifying board exam delayed until winter, and we have been doing all teaching conferences and staff meetings by teleconference. In addition, patient care has been further complicated by recent local curfews. We appreciate your prayers for the sustenance of LLUSM and all of LLUH during this chaotic and difficult time.
Some wonderful news is that we recently received approval from the Urology RRC to expand our residency to three residents per year. Finally! This will improve our ability to support the School of Medicine and allow us to offer more “at the elbow” clinical experience for medical students, while right-sizing our residency to current standards. We will concurrently decrease from a six- to five-year residency. We will also continue to offer a two-year robotic and endoscopic surgery fellowship.
The urology department is blessed with a superb faculty that has very close ties to LLUSM. All of the subspecialties of urology are covered by our faculty. We have presented research at multiple major meetings, published articles, abstracts, editorial comments, and book chapters this year, and mentored multiple medical students in research projects. We continue to provide care at multiple sites in addition to the main campus, including the Loma Linda VA hospital, Riverside University Health System, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and the Beaver Clinic community practice. Our practice sites ensure the opportunity to care for a challenging and diverse population, while providing care to the underserved and economically disadvantaged in our region.
Our general urologists include Dean A. Hadley ’74, David S. Benjamin ’91, Tekisha Lindler, MD, Kristene Myklak, MD, Gary R. Barker ’80-B, James Agee, MD, and Mark T. Dickinson ’97. Steven C. Stewart ’71 and Ronald W. Rosenquist ’70 are part-time at the Loma Linda VA Hospital. In minimally invasive surgery and endourology are D. Duane Baldwin ’91 and Mohammad Hajiha, MD. In female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery are H. Roger Hadley ’74, Dean Emeretis, Andrea Staack, MD, PhD, Josh Yune, MD, and Forrest C. Jellison ’05. In reconstructive urology is Humberto Villarreal, MD, and in male infertility and sexual function is Edmund Ko ’05. In urologic oncology are Brian Hu, MD, Paul D. Lui ’84, Robert R. Torrey Jr. ’71, and Herbert C. Ruckle ’86. The department is fortunate to have engaged and experienced administrative leadership and support from Judy Evans.
We are proud of a culture of community, teamwork, and synergy within the department from our diverse group of urology faculty, residents, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and clinical and administrative support staff as we continue to further the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
If you have questions or need assistance connecting with anyone in our department, please contact me directly at 909-558-8724 or HRuckle@llu.edu.
Dr. Ruckle has been professor and chair of the department of urology for 17 years with a clinical practice focusing on complex urologic oncology cases and minimally invasive robotic procedures.
UROLOGY FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS:
Edmund Ko ’05
Dr. Edmund Ko is a Loma Linda native, as he grew up in the area, attended Loma Linda Academy, and graduated from the School of Medicine. Dr. Ko finished his urology residency at Mayo Arizona and then a male fertility, microsurgery, and andrology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic. He later returned to become faculty at LLUSM.
Dr. Ko is the only person of his specialty in the Inland Empire region and has an active practice, where he coordinates with the OB-GYN department’s female infertility program. He participates in LLUSM’s admissions process, interviewing and evaluating prospective medical students. He is a mentor to medical students desiring to pursue urology and became the urology residency program director in 2017. As program director, he supervises the residents’ educational program but also plays an active role in mentoring and guiding each resident as they choose a career path in urology.
Dr. Ko is an excellent role model as a clinician, educator, and academician. He always has a research project underway and is an associate editor of the Journal of Urology and a reviewer for several other journals. He has been co-chair of the department’s annual CME meeting “Contemporary Issues in Urology.”
Dr. Ko is a consummate family man, spending his time off work with his wife, Grace, and two children. Dr. Ko is very active in his church and is also a “foodie,” avid runner, and fitness aficionado. He has always just run or is training for a marathon. Dr. Ko is an accomplished alumnus of whom the School can be very proud.
Andrea Staack, MD, PhD
Dr. Andrea Staack has a special story, as she was born in the former East Germany, where the choice of career was determined more by political connection than aptitude and personal choice. She decided that she wanted to become a doctor and persevered to study medicine at Humbolt University in Berlin. She chose urology as a specialty and is now LLUSM faculty.
On finishing her fellowship training at UCLA in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS), Dr. Staack joined us at LLU to fill a very important void in the department, as at the time our residents’ operative logs were lacking in FPMRS cases. Dr. Staack is a role model and mentor for students and residents. She has an active summer research program and every year incorporates freshmen medical students into her projects, giving them publication opportunities that will strengthen their residency applications. She co-authored many papers with our urology residents.
Dr. Staack is an active participant in the American Urological Association and the Society of Urodynamics and Female Urology. In addition to her research work, she has a busy clinical practice treating female urinary incontinence, bladder dysfunction, and pelvic prolapse. Her clinical skills, engaging bedside manner, promotion of a healthy lifestyle, and ability to relate to her patients make her a much sought after surgeon in our region.
In addition to her professional responsibilities, Dr. Staack makes a point to spend quality time with her husband, Christian, and daughter, Anna. When not working, she enjoys outdoor activities and adventure travel with her family. Last winter they traveled in Patagonia, and this summer are planning to hike the circumference of Mt. Blanc, a two-week trek. Dr. Staack is a good example of living the values of LLUH, and we are fortunate that her journey from East Germany led to a home at LLU.