Get Your Legs “Wedding-Ready”

January 23rd, 2015 | News | 0 Comments

Dr. Andy Chiou and Nurse Practitioner Melissa Glass appeared on HOI-19’s Good Company this week to talk about how women can get their legs “wedding-ready” by treating spider and varicose veins. Watch the clip:

OSF Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Center Awarded Prestigious Accreditation

December 5th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

OSF-wound-healing-accreditationThe OSF Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center has achieved accreditation by the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS), following a lengthy application and site-survey process. It is one of only three facilities with this accreditation in Illinois.

Accreditation from the UHMS is recognized by the Joint Commission and holds a facility to the highest performance standards with a demonstrated commitment to patient care and safety. The OSF Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center received a Level 2 certification for providing high-quality care Monday – Friday in an outpatient setting.

“Being a UHMS-accredited program provides peace of mind for our patients, knowing that they are receiving excellent care in a facility which meets the high performance and safety standards required for accreditation,” said Andy Chiou, MD, MPH, medical director of the center.

During the accreditation survey, the UHMS sent a team of experts to the facility, located in the OSF Center for Health – Route 91 in Peoria, to examine staffing and training, documentation, equipment installation, operation and maintenance, facility and patient safety, and standards of care. The expert survey team included two hyperbaric-certified physicians and a certified hyperbaric registered nurse. The OSF designation is good for three years.

Click here to learn more about the services at the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center.

Dr. Chiou on Good Company

November 21st, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Dr. Andy Chiou appeared on HOI-19’s Good Company this week to talk about Peoria Vein Center’s recent milestone of becoming the only fully accredited vein center in Illinois. This accreditation means that Peoria Vein Center has undergone intense screening for safety, quality and appropriateness and meets the highest quality of standards for patient care, according to a national board. Whether you are suffering from a cosmetic issue or a more severe vein issue, Peoria Vein Center is here to help. Watch the clip:

Bradley University to Help Medical Community

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on Bradley University to Help Medical Community

Originally Appeared on WEEK, February 2009
Watch the video

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command is giving 850 thousand dollars to Bradley University.

The money will go to Bradley’s colleges of Engineering and Technology and the Liberal Arts and Sciences, who will work with medical professionals to create programmable robotic testing dummies to practice medicine.

“We’re developing an internal hemmorhage simulator. That sounds like blah, blah, blah, blah, to a lot of people, but what if I said we were developing a better training tool to detect breast cancer, to detect prostate cancer, to make it more realistic and to save lives,” said Dr. Andy Chiou from Bradley Engineering.

Peoria Robotics, a group founded under the Peoria NEXT innovation center, received the money for the project.

Congressman Aaron Schock says this research will be crucial to lower healthcare costs and create longer lives from Central Illinois Citizens.

Medical simulator team wins federal grant

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on Medical simulator team wins federal grant

Medical simulator team wins federal grant: $850,000 from Army will develop diagnostic tool to mimic touch advertisement
by Steve Tarter
Originally Appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, February 2009

Peoria researchers have received an $850,000 federal grant to develop a medical training simulator.

The announcement was made at a news conference Wednesday at the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center, 801 W. Main St., where a contingent of Bradley University professors, led by John Engdahl, are working on a simulator to help make medical diagnoses. The grant was provided by the U.S. Army.

“We look to create a system that can record and reproduce a haptic (the use of touch) experience. The idea is to use the human hand as a probe,” said Engdahl, adding that the simulator could accelerate training in the diagnosis of internal bleeding.

“By simulating tests using the sense of touch and feel, we can help the medical community develop a means to teach and duplicate a wide-range of exam experiences and pathological conditions,” he said.

Such a system has numerous medical applications but would be extremely useful for the military, said Engdahl.

Dr. Andy Chiou, a faculty member at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and Engdahl’s partner in Peoria Robotics, the firm set up to develop the simulator, cited his own experience to acknowledge the device’s benefits.

“As a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, I served on several surgical teams. This (simulator) could save lives on the battlefield,” he said. “It may take several more years to produce the (simulator) realism that we hope to. We’d like to become a spinoff company and serve as the poster child of Peoria NEXT.”

Two employees currently work on the project at the Peoria Robotics lab with a third to be hired soon, said Engdahl.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Peoria’s former congressman, were credited by Bradley President Joanne Glasser for helping secure funding for the project, while LaHood’s successor, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, pointed to what the research meant to the Peoria community.

“This will create jobs — new jobs — right here in central Illinois. Ways to reduce costs on health care are getting a lot of attention now. Research is one of the ways. That’s why programs such as this are so important,” said Schock.

Other Bradley faculty members involved in the simulator project include Julie Reyer, Arnold Patton, Robert Podlasek and Dean Kim.

Peoria’s pulse: City’s medical sophistication continues to grow sky high

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on Peoria’s pulse: City’s medical sophistication continues to grow sky high

by Ryan Ori
Originally Appeared in the Peoria Journal Star September 23, 2008

To recognize Peoria’s level of medical sophistication, Dr. Sara Rusch simply looks to the sky.

“We have all these helicopters flying in and out for a reason,” said Rusch, dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. “We do offer lots of care that’s not available elsewhere.”

Peoria serves as a regional referral center, meeting the advanced medical needs of 23 counties.

“I think Peoria doesn’t realize how good the speciality community really is here,” Rusch said. “I recruit people who come from other places throughout the country, and they tell me that we have an exceptionally good medical community.”

A combination of factors provides Peoria with a mix of medical specialists surpassing many similar communities.

Downtown not only enjoys the presence of two large, expanding hospitals in OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Methodist Medical Center. Peoria also is rare in that it has a St. Jude affiliate and, within the walls of St. Francis, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

Among children’s care, central Illinois enjoys relative rarities in pediatric heart surgeons Dale Geiss and Randy Fortuna and pediatric neurosurgeon Julian Lin. Pediatric ophthalmologist Steve Lichtenstein of Illinois Eye Center, former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatricians Section on Ophthalmology, provides testing for retinopathy of prematurity in babies born at 30 weeks or earlier.

“It just means that we can take care of almost any problem that comes up with kids,” said Dr. Jim Hocker, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. “We do have to occasionally send some things to Chicago or someplace like that. But in little old Peoria, if your child has some type of disease or surgical problem, almost always they can get treatment here. They don’t have to go to Chicago or St. Louis.”

Also Downtown are the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP) and its new neighbor — the Illinois Medical Center, a 127,000-square-foot home to about 45 sub-specialty physicians.

One of the movers of that project is Dr. Andy Chiou, another example of a unique Peoria specialist. The Peoria native, a partner with Peoria Surgical Group, is one of just 2,500 board-certified vascular and endovascular surgeons in the United States.

“We’re doctors’ doctors,” Chiou said. “When doctors need help, they call the specialists. If you don’t have a good core of specialists, you would likely hemorrhage patients off to other communities.”

Chiou estimates Peoria’s medical community covers about 95 percent of patient needs, with only rare procedures — heart and liver transplants, for example — requiring a trip elsewhere.

“The strength of our specialists is reflecting overall the strength of where we rank as a health-care community,” Chiou said. “That has permutations across the board for our community as far as economics — who retires here, who moves back here, who raises their family here.”

Nevertheless, Rusch and Dr. John Halvorsen, UICOMP’s associate dean for community health, see problems ahead, not just here but everywhere as fewer doctors choose to become primary care physicians. The problem will be two-fold as baby boomers age: large numbers of primary care physicians reaching retirement age, and an overall bump in America’s senior citizenship.

Halvorsen, a proponent of primary care, wrote the initial grant to start the Rural Student Physician Program at UICOMP. In a decade since RSPP started, 76 percent of participants have gone on to practice in rural communities, where there are shortages of doctors.

But Halvorsen still sees the need for large-scale changes.

“A lot of medical students are choosing not to enter primary care for a variety of reasons,” Halvorsen said. “One of them is lifestyle. The perception is, there’s a number of specialties out there that will give them a better lifestyle where they can work a 9-to-5 job and not have to take calls as often. Furthermore, those jobs pay more. If I can make three times as much and have a more livable lifestyle, why not do that?”

By the time a budding doctor finishes undergraduate education, medical school, residency, and in some cases a fellowship, debt has accumulated. Rusch said the average indebtedness of a UICOMP graduate is about $180,000.

During three to seven years of residency, a doctor might make less than $50,000 per year while working 80-hour weeks.

“When you’re 24 or 26 and you have $150,000 or $200,000 in debt, are you going to get into a job that makes $100,000 a year or one that makes you $350,000?” Chiou said. “Sometimes there’s the decision-making right there.”

Halvorsen praises the quality of Peoria’s specialized physicians but believes surgeries are reimbursed disproportionately.

“How are we prioritizing how we pay for services in this country?” Halvorsen said. “We’re underpaying for cognitive services — doing the exam, looking at lab data, finding a solution and explaining it to the patient — and over-paying for procedural services. We need to balance that out in some way.”

District 150 forms superintendent search committee

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on District 150 forms superintendent search committee

Originally Appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, October 20, 2008

District 150 appointed 10 local people to a panel to form a search committee to find the district’s next superintendent. They are:

  • Glen Barton, retired chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc.
  • John Erwin, president of Illinois Central College.
  • Rita Ali, Illinois Central College’s executive director of diversity.
  • Carl Cannon, community organizer and founder of C.H.O.I.C.E.S., a youth outreach program.
  • Dr. Andy Chiou, a local physician.
  • McFarland Bragg, president of Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity Inc.
  • Linda Daley, former District 150 School Board member and current member of the Peoria Public Library Board.
  • Jackie Petty, Peoria Park Board trustee.
  • Debbie Ritschel, general manager of the Peoria Civic Center.
  • Barbara Penelton, formerly in the education department at Bradley University and also on District 150’s original strategic planning group.

Homegrown doctor stirs up vision for ‘very complex’ deal

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on Homegrown doctor stirs up vision for ‘very complex’ deal

by Ryan Ori
Originally Appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, June 2008

Illinois Medical Center is expected to open by September.

The opening comes about four years after Children’s Hospital of Illinois first discussed a large expansion project.

Those plans, which necessitated Peoria Surgical Group’s relocation from within OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, came about near the time Dr. Andy Chiou had returned to his hometown to join the thriving surgical group in 2004.

Group practice administrator Stu Patty and several of the group’s physicians — including managing partner Tom Rossi and president Jim DeBord — began extensive legwork in finding a new location. Medical practices had begun moving north to Illinois Route 91.

But based on then-city councilman John Morris’ suggestion to look Downtown, and an inability to take his eye off a piece of land on University of Illinois property along Main Street, Chiou approached then-UICOMP associate dean Dr. Dick Lister. Chiou asked about building on five acres of U of I land.

“There are about (45) doctors who have their money in it, but it was Andy who stirred the vision up,” Morris said. “He deserves a great deal of credit.”

Chiou was pleasantly surprised to hear back quickly from Lister.

The Illinois Medical Center deal was unprecedented in Peoria because it required cooperation of city government, U of I administration and private medical practice — in addition to the support of the city’s two major hospitals located nearby.

Former Caterpillar Inc. chairman Glen Barton, who previously tried to negotiate for construction on the site, also was enlisted.

“We had tried for a number of years to get the University of Illinois to give up some land to first put a cancer treatment center there,” said Barton, who serves with Chiou on the District 150 Foundation board. “Because of the time frame and how long the negotiations took, they opted to go out on Route 91.

“Because that groundwork had been laid, when the conversation got around to building a physician building there we were finally able to push the deal through to a conclusion.”

The U of I agreed to lease the land for 50 years at $1 annually, followed by two 25-year leases at “market value.” A $28.5 million loan will be paid off by about 45 physicians. The city pitched in $4 million, via the Southtown TIF district, for approximately two-thirds of the cost of a parking deck.

Illinois Medical Center agreed to have at least 60 percent of its doctors serve as UICOMP faculty.

After its initial contribution, Peoria will gain about $400,000 annually in property taxes on land previously producing no tax revenue. Through their practices, physicians will bring at least another 200 medical jobs into the building.

“It’s a very, very complex arrangement over there,” Patty said. “People who work in the building actually have to be faculty at the University of Illinois, and things like that. The rules go on and on. There’s a lot of oversight that the dean has on the building.

“There were literally thousands of those issues, and every once in a while one would come up that was a deal-breaker. Somehow, some way, it would get revived. Eventually, it came about. If something’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

The medical community gains continued growth.

UICOMP plans to add a cancer research center on the other side of its property. Not far from there, St. Francis and Methodist Medical Center are set for major building projects.

“It’s like Dr. Chiou said: As a physician, all he can do is treat one patient at a time,” Patty said. “When you do a building like this, you actually get to make Peoria better maybe 1,000 citizens at a time instead of one at a time.”

Doctor’s ‘hobby’ changing Peoria

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on Doctor’s ‘hobby’ changing Peoria

by Ryan Ori
Originally Appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, June 2008

Dr. Andy Chiou has brought his passions for healing, teaching, inventing, and development to the Peoria market. Chiou works as a vascular, endovascular and trauma surgeon for Peoria Surgical Group, recently establishing the OSF Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center. Chiou is also developing the Illinois Medical Center, under construction at the bottom of the hill on Main Street.

Long before Dr. Andy Chiou earned his medical degree, he was president of the Washington Wildcats Candy Co.

As a fourth-grader at Washington Gifted School in Peoria, Chiou was elected to run the in-school company selling sweets during lunch and after school. Chiou created a bank account, and students were allowed to invest $5 in company stock. He still remembers the thrill of increasing sales and the satisfaction of handing each investor $10 per share at the end of the school year.

At that moment, Chiou realized it’s fun to make money.

Chiou’s entrepreneurial spirit lives on, and he frequently invests in local businesses. “Andy’s a guy who likes to deal,” said Stu Patty, practice administrator for Peoria Surgical Group, where Chiou is one of 15 partners. The long-term benefit of the candy company is Chiou’s realization that the relationships you make as a child can shape the rest of your life. “You can’t discount those little turning points that people give you,” said Chiou, 40. “That’s why I’m so dedicated to District 150, because of those little things that the teachers gave me. They never even fathom what that does for a kid at the time. It’s huge.”

Renaissance man

These days, Chiou has many titles. Husband and father of two boys. Vascular, endovascular and trauma surgeon for Peoria Surgical Group. Director of the Peoria Vein Center and medical director of the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center, both located at the OSF Saint Francis Center for Health. Investor. Inventor. Instructor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and at Bradley University. Board member for the District 150 Foundation. Developer.

It is the latter two roles Chiou believes will leave a lasting impact on his hometown. As a doctor, he can cure one patient at a time. As an involved central Illinoisan, though, he can aid an ailing school district, improve overall medical care in Peoria and help change the face of the city’s Downtown. “I don’t golf,” the Morton resident said. “This is my hobby, community building and community development.”

Chiou will enjoy the fruits of his labor this fall when his practice and three others move into the 127,000-square-foot Illinois Medical Center at the foot of the Main Street hill. He was amazed how quickly the idea of a Downtown complex took off after a suggestion by boyhood friend and then-city councilman John Morris. The idea progressed to negotiations involving city government, the University of Illinois, physicians and even former Caterpillar Inc. chairman Glen Barton.

“I get my kick out of an idea, cajoling people into following this idea, and having everybody get that critical mass of, ‘Let’s make it happen,’ ” Chiou said. “There are 30 people involved in this, but at first it took one. Now other guys have taken over. I get a kick out of this because it represents growth in Peoria long-term.” Said Barton: “I don’t think without him and his leadership that it would have happened as quickly as it happened, and maybe never would have happened at all.”

Chiou continues pushing other initiatives, such as the not-for-profit foundation’s goal of growing charter schools within District 150. Specifically, Chiou and others are interested in helping create and fund a math and science academy within Renaissance Park boundaries.

“Andy’s one of the physicians in Peoria who can really help build bridges between the community at large and the physicians’ community,” Morris said. “He’s able to articulate a confidence and a vision that central Illinois can be home to one of the leading health communities in the country.

“While he operates on some of the smallest surgical procedures that are done, on the vascular system, in some metaphorical way he understands the circulation of a community — the way it’s all connected, from an educational system to the business community to energy. Andy connects to every vital part of the community.”

Coming home

Chiou’s dad, Sam, a Peoria dentist, and mom, Una, left Taiwan when their son was 2.

Chiou, who speaks Taiwanese, French and some Spanish, spent kindergarten through high school in District 150.

“You can tell when a child’s eyes sparkle,” said Barbara Quickstad, his fourth- and fifth-grade science teacher at Washington. “They are so alert and so interested in whatever you’re doing, you can just tell they are going to grow up and accomplish things. He was that kind of a child.”

But by the time he graduated from Richwoods High School in 1986, Chiou seemed an unlikely advocate for Peoria’s growth.

He earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Boston University, where he was president of his med-school class. From there, Chiou — whose sister, Lisa, lives in Hong Kong — didn’t plan to return home.

Chiou’s medical training took him to the big-city bustle of Boston, Chicago and New York. Chiou, who rose to lieutenant colonel, also spent four years as chief of vascular surgery for the U.S. Air Force. He worked at Wilford Hall Medical Center, the Air Force’s main hospital in San Antonio.

When Chiou’s military obligation ended, Peoria Surgical Group recruited him to join its team of medical specialists.

“Andy’s group deserves a lot of credit for being able to bring him back here,” Morris said. “Andy was recruited back by a group that is filled with dynamic individuals.”

Chiou brought his young family to central Illinois and began renewing relationships.

“The same people who helped me when I was a kid, they need my help now as a vascular surgeon,” Chiou said.

That includes Quickstad.

“When we were studying the body or something, I would say, ‘Now, if any of you go into medicine, you be the very best there is because someday you might have to take care of me’ — never dreaming I’d get old,” Quickstad said. “He put a filter in my lower vena cava. The first time I saw him in his office he said, ‘I’m going to take very good care of you.’ He remembered what I had said, which was really phenomenal. He has a memory like a steel trap.”


Chiou’s interest in inventing and investing led him to a Peoria NEXT brainstorming session in 2004, shortly after returning to central Illinois.

From that meeting, Chiou and Bradley professor John Engdahl co-founded Peoria Robotics.

For now, Peoria Robotics is a research group. But after recently being awarded a $1 million U.S. Department of Defense grant for new medical technology, the group expects to soon begin renting Innovation Center space.

The group is designing a medical simulator to be used in training medical personnel to treat combat injuries. With that and other related patents pending, the research group hopes to create spin-off companies and hire at least a half-dozen employees in the near future.

Construction continues throughout Renaissance Park, including heavy activity at both ends: Bradley and the Illinois Medical Center.

Amid that atmosphere, Chiou seeks improvements to the school district’s physical and intellectual core.

An estimated 45 specialized doctors, from Peoria Surgical Group, Peoria Pulmonary Associates, Gastroenterology Ltd. and St. Francis, will soon move into their four-story building. Chiou said those physicians have spoken with District 150 officials about helping fund a math and science academy nearby.

“If we can make this a star school system again, that may actually solve some issues with crime because these kids see a future,” Chiou said. “If we pool our resources, we can fund some programs and fund the technology. It would be a big number, but not big to 45 physicians.”

Patients Prefer VNUS® Closure® for Varicose Vein Treatment

August 19th, 2014 | News | Comments Off on Patients Prefer VNUS® Closure® for Varicose Vein Treatment

by Andy C. Chiou, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S.
Originally Appeared in Times Newspapers Medical Advances, February 2005

If you have have pain, burning, throbbing, swelling or heaviness in your legs, you may be experiencing varicose veins. Fortunately, varicose and spider veins usually aren’t a cause for alarm, but are instead a matter of appearance and varying degrees of discomfort.

However, in rare cases, varicose veins can be an indicator of an underlying medical condition. Because of this, it’s important to have your veins evaluated by a vascular specialist. If your physician diagnoses varicose or spider veins, there are several treatment options. But before we get to treatment, let’s review what varicose veins are and who is likely to have them.

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins near the surface of the skin. Spider veins are small, bluish lines that resemble a spider’s web or branches of a tree. Both are most often found on the legs, but spider veins can also be present on the face. Varicose and spider veins on the legs can be the result of extended periods of sitting or standing, pregnancy, obesity, increasing age, heredity and conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdomen.

If you aren’t dealing with them yet, you may eventually become one of the many adults who have varicose or spider veins. In fact, approximately one in six women and one in ten men in the United States are affected by venous disease of the lower extremity. While varicose and spider veins are more likely to occur as you get older, individuals as young as thirty may begin to notice them.

In the past, varicose vein treatment left varying results and satisfaction levels, but with the VNUS Closure® procedure, 98% of patients would recommend the treatment to a friend or family member with similar leg vein problems. With any procedure, patients often have questions. Here are a few answers:

How does the Closure Procedure differ from vein stripping or ligation?

In several ways. First, the procedure itself is different. While vein stripping or ligation are more invasive procedures, Closure is a minimally invasive treatment using RF ablation (microwave energy) to heat and shrink the vein in a controlled manner. Blood is emptied from the vein during the procedure to maximize contraction of the vessel lumen. The temperature is monitored continuously, resulting in a highly-organized seal of the vein. Second, the procedure is less painful and usually leaves the patient with little (if any) bruising, scarring or swelling. In addition, most patients can return to normal activities almost immediately.

Who is a good candidate for the procedure?

Although only a physician can provide the answer on an individual basis, the general agreement is that patients with superficial venous reflux are appropriate candidates.

Who should not have VNUS Closure performed?

Patients with thrombus in the vein to be treated are not candidates for this procedure. In addition, patients that have a pacemaker, internal defibrillator or other active implanted device should have the vascular surgeon consult with the patient’s cardiologist and the implant’s manufacturer.

What are the complications?

Complications are rare, but potential risks include, but are not limited to: vessel perforation, blood clot, pulmonary embolism, phlebitis, hematoma, infection, parasthesia (numbness around the incision site) and skin burns.

How long does the procedure take?

It is usually done on an outpatient basis and typically takes 40-60 minutes.

What type of anesthesia is used?

Most physicians use local anesthesia, but conscious sedation may be used at the discretion of the physician and patient.

Where can I get this done?

The Peoria Vein Center is staffed by vascular specialists who are certified to use the VNUS Closure procedure. The office is located in Suite 200 of the Center for Health. More information is available by calling 309.683.5052 or by visiting