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Vail Health recognized for excellence in lymphatic disease treatment

Vail Health Shaw Cancer Center is a newly designated LE&RN Referral Network of Excellence

Vail, CO (Dec. 15, 2021) - Vail Health has been awarded Lymphatic Education & Research Network’s (LE&RN) Referral Network of Excellence designation due to the collaborative work between Shaw Cancer Center and Howard Head Sports Medicine. The Referral Network of Excellence designation indicates that Vail Health can provide high level, collaborative and innovative care to patients suffering with Lymphatic Disease (LD). 

Vail Health’s national recognition was earned because Shaw Cancer Center and Howard Head Sports Medicine have demonstrated proficiency in diagnosis, imaging, conservative management, assessment tools, interventional therapies (with three Certified Lymphatic Therapists on staff), surgery (with a minimum of three surgeons performing lymphatic surgeries within the referral network), genetics, consultation, research, accountability, collegiality, administration and community involvement. 

“Shaw Cancer Center has long been a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of those suffering from lymphatic diseases, and our partnership with the therapists at Howard Head Sports Medicine bolsters the oncology and lymphedema therapy options we offer,” said Stacy Toyama, VP of Shaw Cancer Center. “To be recognized nationally for these efforts highlights the strides Vail Health has made across its entire network to streamline and enhance care for patients. From early detection and intervention utilizing SOZO, to treatment plans, to recovery, we are able to utilize our vast array of services to ensure a continuum of care not typically found in a mountain community.”

Early detection helps reduce a person’s risk of getting life-long lymphedema, by testing for early stages of lymphedema with the goal of reversing it prior to symptom onset. Shaw Cancer Center and Howard Head Sports Medicine have acquired technology called SOZO which uses bioimpedance spectroscopy to help detect lymphedema at its earliest stages. 

“Vail Health has the only SOZO technology between Denver and Salt Lake City, and we have not just one, but seven machines across Eagle and Summit Counties,” said Mary Ellen Broersma, Acting Vice President of Howard Head Sports Medicine. “Having this technology in our communities means we can better care for patients here, instead of needing to refer them out of the mountain region.”  

SOZO provides a lymphedema measurement called the L-Dex® score. The L-Dex score helps healthcare providers know if their patient is getting lymphedema before they feel or see any signs or symptoms. This early alert allows patients to take steps to stop lymphedema from getting worse – or to avoid getting it at all. 

“There are three key steps involving the SOZO, which are: Test, Trigger and Treatment. Obtaining an L-Dex score prior to a person’s first treatment allows us to have a baseline so that we can perform testing every three months after treatment begins for the first year. If there are increases in that person’s L-Dex score, we are able to evaluate for early signs of lymphedema and then begin a conservative and short term treatment plan that best fits the condition,” said Broersma. “This preventative process allows for minimizing what could have been life-long impacts of lymphedema.”

Howard Head Sports Medicine’s certified lymphedema therapists specialize in providing education, performing manual therapies and compression bandaging as needed to improve lymphatic flow and decrease edema. These techniques can be used to treat lymphedema related to cancer surgeries and treatments, along with decreasing postoperative edema. Howard Head offers lymphedema therapy at the Frisco, Edwards, and Eagle Clinic locations with the following providers:
  • Dillon - Nicole Wente DPT, OCS, SCS, CLT
  • Edwards - Andrea Shannon OTR/L, CHT, CMLDT
  • Eagle - Laura Watrous OTR/L, CLT-LANA, CHT
  • Eagle - Christy Hasselbach DPT, CLT, OCS

For more information on Oncology & Lymphedema Therapy, visit

About LE&RN
Founded in 1998, the Lymphatic Education & Research Network is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to fight lymphatic disease and lymphedema through education, research, and advocacy. LE&RN provides valuable educational resources for the millions of people who suffer from lymphedema and lymphatic disease. LE&RN fosters and supports research that can deepen the medical community's understanding of the lymphatic system. For more information about lymphatic diseases or the Lymphatic Education & Research Network, please visit or call (516) 625-9675.

About Vail Health
With a focus on providing access to higher quality, more affordable care, Vail Health is a nonprofit community health care system offering one of the world’s most advanced mountain hospitals. Vail Health includes award-winning oncology care and a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab, as well as internationally renowned orthopaedic specialists led by The Steadman Clinic and Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery. Primary, specialty and behavioral health care are provided through its partner, Colorado Mountain Medical. Vail Health is committed to meeting the growing and ever-changing needs of the diverse region and encouraging wellness and prevention through effective population health management. Vail Health is locally operated and governed by a volunteer board of directors. For more information, visit