Ochsner Clinic Foundation


The Ochsner Clinic was founded in 1942 inspired by Alton Ochsner’s unwavering commitment to always put the patient first. This vision perhaps inspired Dr Ochsner’s mandate that Dr Patrick Hanley focus his clinical practice on the care of the patient suffering from colon rectal conditions and in so doing established one of the first specialized Departments of Colon and Rectal Surgery at a major clinic or University setting. This unique clinical practice as a separate Department provided an opportunity for its surgeons to focus their efforts of how to best serve this particular group of patients. The Department embraced the concept of specialization and in turn rose to lead other surgeons seeking to best care for these patients. The early members of the Department – Patrick Hanley, Merrill Hines and John Ray – engaged themselves in the activities of professional organizations promoting and defining the specialty care of these patients. Similarly, these same surgeons proved instrumental in the establishment of board certification for such specialization.
This tremendous legacy of participation and leadership in our specialty Society and Board is worth acknowledging. The Department members who have held the office of President of the American Board of Colon Rectal Surgery include Dr’s Patrick Hanley, Merrill Hines, John Ray, J. Byron Gathright, Terry Hicks, and Charles Whitlow. Noteworthy as well are the Ochsner Department members who have risen to become President of the American Society of Colon Rectal Surgeons – Dr’s Hanley, Hines, Ray, and Gathright – affectionately known as the “Big Four,” and subsequently Drs. David Beck, Terry Hicks and David Margolin were also elected Presidents of the ASCRS. While each made their mark on the office and the Society, of note, John Ray suggested the timely change of our Society’s name to better describe the true breadth of clinical practice (“Proctologic” to “Colon Rectal”). Society members agreed and henceforth our organization would become the American Society of Colon Rectal Surgeons.
However, perhaps this Department’s commitment to a specialized practice serving patients suffering from colon rectal disease is best exemplified by the establishment of the CRS fellowship training program dating back to 1944. Since that time, the Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery at the Ochsner Clinic has produced more than 130 surgeon specialists practicing throughout the United States and Canada. This will always be our Departments’ greatest legacy given the tangible impact on patient care delivered to communities throughout by our trainees. Our Department remains singularly focused and committed to the preparation of surgeons equipped with the knowledge and technical skills necessary to excel in caring for the patient suffering from colorectal disease across the spectrum of clinical and academic practice models. Beyond the year of fellowship training we remain committed to our graduates, continuing to mentor and support them in their clinical practices and academic pursuits as well as by encouraging and promoting their involvement in our specialty’s professional organizations. In so doing, we nurture and maintain the strong collegial bonds of the Department family. Similar to a parent, we experience immense gratification and a deep sense of purpose by sharing in the success and satisfaction our trainees experience in their careers.
Currently, the training program consists of seven faculty members. Three faculty completed fellowship training at Ochsner. Charles “Chuck” Whitlow serves as the Department Chair since 2014. He served as Program Director of the Fellowship from 2002 to 2015. He also currently is an at large Council Member of the Executive Council of the ASCRS. He is past President of the American Board of Colon Rectal Surgery and continues to participate as a Senior Examiner. He is past president of the Association of Program Directors in Colon and Rectal Surgery and former member of the Residency Review Committee for Colon and Rectal Surgery. David Vargas is the Vice Chair of the Department and the immediate past Program Director of the Fellowship. Prior to returning to the Ochsner Clinic in 2012 he attained the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Kentucky where he was the Head of the Section of Colon Rectal Surgery for 5 years. He has served the Society as member of several committees and was the Assistant Program Chair for the ASCRS Annual Meeting in 2015. He is a Senior Examiner for the American Board of Colon Rectal Surgery. Dr Brian Kann is the newly named Program Director for the Fellowship. He has served as the Associate PD for the past 5 years. He assumes this position having previously served as Program Director of the Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania where he was an Assistant Professor of Surgery. In addition, he also served as the PD of the General Surgery Residency Program at Cooper Hospital. Dr Kann serves on several committees for the Society and was the Program Chair for the Annual Meeting of the ASCRS in 2019. In addition, he serves the Association of Program Directors in Colon Rectal Surgery as chair for the APDCRS Website committee as well as the CARSITE Exam Chair. We anticipate only continued improvement in the quality of our fellows training under his experienced leadership.
Drs Forrest Johnston and Jennifer Paruch joined the Department in 2017 and 2019 respectively having completed their fellowship training together as co-fellows at the Lahey Clinic in 2017. They are superbly trained and enthusiastic surgical mentors with busy clinical practices. Dr Johnston will assume the role of Associate Program Director of the CRS Clinical Fellowship and also serves as Liaison to the General Surgery Residency Training Program. Dr Paruch heads up the Multidisciplinary Pelvic Floor Clinic at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center and also recently was appointed Head of Colorectal Surgery Research. Matthew Giglia joined the training program faculty in 2019 and practices primarily at Ochsner Baton Rouge. He is a product of the University of Alabama at Birmingham general surgery residency program where he gained experience in robotic surgery and he completed fellowship training at University Hospitals Case Medical Center Cleveland OH. Our newest member of the Department is William Kethman MD. Dr Kethman is a Louisiana native and returns to the State having trained at Stanford University in General Surgery and completed his fellowship training at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland OH. He begins his practice September 2020.
We are confident that the group’s diverse training backgrounds and complementary personalities and skill-sets will provide an outstanding training experience preparing graduates for the breadth of clinical practice across the spectrum of practice models. Alton Ochsner’s belief in always putting the patient first created an environment encouraging specialization and the culture of the Department has always followed this example. Our Department remains wholly devoted to specialty fellowship training as a critical and fundamental aspect of our profession’s mission to serve the patient suffering from colon and rectal disease. We work as a team to best serve our patients and we fully dedicate ourselves to train our fellows in evidenced based, compassionate practice. We are very fortunate to have inherited such a long and storied legacy and a prominent place in the history of specialized practice in caring for the colon rectal patient. This legacy serves as inspiration and undoubtedly a challenge going forward to continually improve the quality of treatment and surgery for patient’s suffering from colon rectal disease, and in so doing, enhance the training of future generations of colon rectal surgeons.

Faculty Listing

Charles Whitlow, MD, Chairman
David Vargas, MD, Vice Chairman
Brian Kann, MD, Program Director
William Johnston , MD, Associate Program Director
Jennifer Paruch, MD, Research Director
William Kethman, MD, Staff
Matthew Giglia, MD, Staff

Recent Fellow Placement

Danielle Pickham, MD, San Jose Medical Center, San Jose, CA (2014)
Arida Siripong, MD, Spectrum Health Medical Group, Grand Rapids, MI (2014)
Matthew Bailey, MD, Fleming County Hospital, Flemingsburg, KY (2015)
Michael Thomas, MD, Renown Regional Medical Center, Reno, NV (2015)
Laura Altom, MD, University of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC (2016)
Shaun Brown, DO, Womack Army Medical Center, Pinehurst, NC 28374 (2016)
Ramon Brown, MD, Merit Health Group, Biloxi, MS 39530 (2017)
Avery Walker, MD, William Beaumont Army Center, El Paso, TX (2017)
Marco Ferrara, MD, Orlando Health, Orlando, FL (2018)
Nicole Wieghard, MD, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA (2018)

Recent Fellow Publications

Brian Kann, MD
Kris Caccioppi
Ochsner Clinic Foundation
1514 Jefferson Hwy.
New Orleans, La. 70121

Number of Positions Offered:

  • Clinical: 2
  • Research: 1

Accreditation Status

Next Scheduled (Self-Study) Visit
January 1, 2028

Case Numbers – Past Five Years

Abdominal Procedure 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20
Segmental Colectomy 79.5 93 73.5
Laparoscopic Resection 68 62.5 72.5
Low Anterior Resection 40 33 38
Abdominoperineal Resection 11 10.5 11.5
Proctocolectomy Total 9.5 11.5
Proctocolectomy w/Ileostomy 1.5 2
Proctocolectomy w/Ileoanal Reservoir 8 9.5 7
Prolapse Repair Total 13 11.5 11
Prolapse Repair Abdominal 5.5 5 7.5
Prolapse Repair Perineal 7.5 6.5 3.5
Stomas Total 80 102.5 93
Stomas Complications 10 9.5 10.5
Pelvic Dissections 61.5 55.5 62
Abdominal Procedure Total 236.5 249 222.5
Endoscopy/Pelvic Floor 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20
Proctoscopy/Anoscopy 47 192 70.5
Colonoscopy Total 528 459.5 331.5
Colonoscopy Diagnostic 371.5 359 224
Colonoscopy w/Intervention 156.5 100.5 107.5
Pelvic Floor Evaluation 20 51 21.5
Endoscopy/Pelvic Floor Total 609 730.5 470
Anorectoal Procedure 15/16 16/17 17/18 18/19 19/20
Hemorrhoidectomy 36 38.5 39
Fistulotomy 30.5 32 32.5
Endorectal Advancement Flap 15 28.5 27
Fecal Incontinence Procedures 6.5 6.5 3.5
Internal Sphincterotomy 12.5 12.5 12.5
Transanal Excision 25 21 20
Anorectoal Procedure Total 164.5 179 212.5