Ask the Doctor: Breathing is the Essence of Life


Anthony Bekasiak, MD, a pulmonologist at St. Mary Pulmonary Medicine

What is pulmonary medicine?
As a pulmonologist, I specialize in the respiratory system. If a patient is experiencing an issue with their lungs or breathing, I can help with that. Breathing is the essence of life. I want to be sure everyone does it well by offering the best care possible, striving to optimize a patient’s breathing and treating any lung-related issues.

How did you become interested in pulmonology?
I began working in critical care, which goes hand-in-hand with pulmonary care. Seeing patients on a life-sustaining mechanical ventilator to help them breathe, or even breathe for them, inspired me to become a pulmonologist. I wanted to help care for people experiencing breathing issues and hopefully prevent them from ever needing critical pulmonary care.

How long have you worked at St. Mary’s?
I joined St. Mary’s in August 2023. I’m originally from Canada. I earned my medical degree from Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland. I then completed my Internal Medicine residency at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Mass. and my fellowship at John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois. I frequently visited Maine during my time in the Boston area. I wanted to return to northern New England because it has so much to offer.

Why St. Mary’s and Lewiston?
There is an underserved population in this area, and I wanted to use my expertise and experience to help bridge the gap. St. Mary’s Mission to provide healing care for the whole person in service to all in our communities spoke to me and inspired me to relocate to and be the provider that Lewiston-area patients need.

Why is it important for people to take care of their respiratory system?
It’s simple – we need our lungs to live. My goal is always to optimize my patient’s breathing, no matter what their issues are, which will improve their quality of life.

What are the most common issues you see in your practice?
The most common conditions I see in my patients are asthma, COPD, emphysema, interstitial lung disease, lung nodules and abnormal chest imaging. I also oversee lung cancer screening with the use of low-dose CT scans which is a process to detect the presence of lung cancer in otherwise healthy people with a high risk of lung cancer.

What are the most common causes of respiratory issues?
Common causes are smoking-related lung injury, autoimmune diseases, occupational or chemical lung injury, or exposure to biomass fuels, which is common with Mainers who heat their homes with wood-burning and pellet stoves.

What is your approach to assessing a patient?
My comprehensive assessment of a patient typically includes a chest X-ray or CT scan, pulmonary function testing and reviewing their clinical history to determine how well their lungs are working. Ensuring I have a complete picture of a patient’s issues is essential.

In addition, my practice offers several procedures to diagnose issues. One of the most important is bronchoscopy with endobronchial ultrasound, or EBUS. This EBUS scope has a video camera with an ultrasound probe to take local images of the lungs and nearby lymph nodes. EBUS is not offered by all pulmonologists and can be very helpful in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer. St. Mary’s Pulmonary Medicine is proud to offer it to our patients.

What is one of your greatest strengths?
I have extensive clinical experience after having worked for hospitals in large metropolitan cities like Boston and Chicago. I’m building strong relationships with our primary care providers to ensure they are comfortable referring their patients to me. I’m also a big proponent of working closely with my patients, and including their family members or loved ones, in discussions about a diagnosis or specific treatment plan. I want my patients to feel informed, empowered and supported.

Please click here to learn more about pulmonary medicine.


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