Inflammatory bowel diseases can be hard to live with - both for the people who have the conditions and their families.
But local doctors who deal with the diseases are sponsoring a conference Friday that's designed to help patients and families manage the conditions - in part by bringing them together with a lineup of IBD doctors and other specialists from New York, Philadelphia and Camden who also will address local health professionals whose practices treat IBD.
Dr. Barry Kauffman, of Northfield, is founder of Atlantic Gastroenterology Associates, whose foundation is co-presenting the conference at Seaview Hotel and Golf Resort in Galloway Township. He calls the afternoon's setup unique because it features sessions for both patients and professionals at the same time - several of which will be led by the same experts speaking at different times.
And plans call for the last session of the day to bring everyone - patients, families, health-care professionals and visiting experts - together in one room for a free-form question-and-answer session set to last 45 minutes.
"I've never been to a conference where that happened," said Kauffman, who has specialized in IBD for more than 30 years. "So it's going to be kind of an interesting experiment to see how it succeeds."
Kaufman will lead one session for health-care professionals on "New Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis and When to Use Them." Other experts lined up to address the conference include Dr. Ari Grinspan and Dr. Thomas Ullman, both of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York; Dr. Howard Ross, the chief of colorectal surgery at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia; Dr. Thomas Judge of Cooper University Hospital in Camden; and Elizabeth Turner, a psychologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Sherry Hoffman, a publicist for the event, said it should be helpful to "anyone who has a problem with inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's or colitis." She added the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, the other co-presenter, has emailed invitations to patients around New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and beyond.
Kaufman, of AGA, said any proceeds from the day will go to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, or CCFA, an advocate and resource for people dealing with IBD.
"We hope it's going to be an annual conference," he said.
The afternoon's formal name is the Dr. Stephen Matarazzo IBD Conference. Kaufman explained the name honors a Philadelphia-based gastroenterologist who also dealt with Crohn's as a patient for decades. Matarazzo died of cancer in 2011, years after he was named doctor of the year by the CCFA's Philadelphia-area chapter.
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If you go
Dr. Stephen Matarazzo IBD Conference held noon to 5:30 p.m. Friday at Seaview Hotel and Golf Resort, 401 S. Route 9, Galloway Township. Prices are $15 for patients and families, $100 for doctors and $50 for allied-health professionals, all including lunch. For more details, including complete public and professional conference agendas, see atlanticgastro.com