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      ICU-trained nurse works as link between hospitals and Rockford Gastroenterology Associates

      Janelle DeFilippis

      A family connection drew Janelle DeFilippis to the medical field, and she pursued advanced training that included work with critically ill patients before joining Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA) as a board-certified nurse practitioner.

      She grew up around hospitals, as her father is a retired physician. Observing his work inspired DeFilippis to pursue a career in health care.

      "I knew I wanted to be a nurse practitioner from the get go," she noted. "I liked the idea of having more responsibility for patient care, as well as helping people solve their health problems."

      DeFilippis was born and raised in Roscoe and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) locally from Saint Anthony College of Nursing in 2007. From there, she worked for several years at UW Health in Madison, Wis., as a nurse in the Trauma and Life Support Center and a medical-surgical ICU. In 2012, she earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Acute Care Certification from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

      While at UW, she became familiar with gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, working with patients after liver transplants, patients with GI bleeds and individuals with end-stage liver disease. RGA was hiring another nurse practitioner right around the time she graduated with her master’s degree, so she jumped on the opportunity. DeFilippis officially joined the RGA team in February 2013.

      "Working at RGA, you really feel like you are part of a big family," she recalled. "The doctors have been wonderful mentors and created such a seamless transition for me as a new graduate."

      DeFilippis works with patients suffering from more acute, or severe, GI issues at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and SwedishAmerican Hospital in Rockford. Many patients have chronic illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) that cause flare-ups. Other common conditions include pancreatitis, GI bleeds and liver disease.

      She likes that the hospital environment allows her to get to know patients, help them manage their illnesses, and, ultimately help them feel better. Working with the hospital team of nurses and support staff has also been a great experience.

      "They make it really easy to work with them. It’s been nice going back and forth and developing a rapport with them," she said. "There is a big variety of patients we get to see and treat. I’m always learning, which keeps the job interesting."

      DeFilippis works alongside an RGA physician in the hospitals, as well. Her typical day starts by consulting with new patients and checking in (doing rounds) on existing patients. The RGA physician typically performs procedures during the morning, and DeFilippis and the physician round together during the afternoon on all patients.

      In addition to more common procedures such as colonoscopies and upper endoscopies, some GI procedures performed in the hospital setting include endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which combines endoscopy and X-rays to address issues in the bile and pancreatic ducts and the gallbladder. If a patient comes to the hospital with GI bleeding, for instance, he or she might need an upper endoscopy or colonoscopy to address an issue such as a gall stone in the bile duct.

      DeFilippis said patients are often nervous to talk about certain topics and don’t recognize that their conditions are quite common. There were 8.2 million visits in 2014 (the most recent year data is available) to emergency departments with diseases of the digestive system as the primary diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      Away from work, DeFilippis enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and reading. She lives with her husband, Nick, and their two daughters in Roscoe. She and Nick were high school sweethearts, and both graduated from Hononegah High School.

      "I can't imagine living and working anywhere else," she said. "I was not expecting to move back to the Rockford area, but it is wonderful to have both of our families in town."