New Gastroenterologist at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco
inspired to pursue specialized field by medical residency,
ordeal of dealing with cancer in her father
Dr. Nicole Grigg-Gutierrez, M.D. – whose interest in gastroenterology
was sparked in part when her own father developed cancer of the stomach
– is now offering potentially life-saving colonoscopies as well
as endoscopies and advanced gastroenterology-related services in the Mid-Valley area.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Grigg has opened a gastroenterology office
in the Knapp Medical Center Medical Arts Building, 1330 East Sixth Street,
Suite 201 in Weslaco.
While Dr. Grigg eventually went on to complete a fellowship in Advanced
Endoscopy at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, she
said the decision to focus on the specialty of gastroenterology was actually
a very personal decision -- which took root when she was still a medical
resident at the Department of Veterans Affairs / Caribbean Healthcare
System in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“As part of my curriculum in internal medicine residency, I had the
opportunity of performing a two-week elective rotation in gastroenterology
in my first year,” Dr. Grigg recalls. “This short rotation
reinforced my interest in this field and gave me a feel of what a career
in gastroenterology comprises.”
“After all the clinical exposure -- and then the unexpected personal
ordeal of dealing with my father’s diagnosis of gastric adenocarcinoma
(gastric cancer) -- I realized that continuing a career in gastroenterology
was my true passion and next academic goal,” she added.
Dr. Grigg-Gutierrez is now helping in the fight against the potentially-deadly
disease of colon cancer by offering colonoscopy screenings at Knapp Medical
Canter’s gastrointestinal lab, as well as at Harlingen Medical Center.
Colonoscopies are recommended for men and women 50 years of age or older,
in most cases, as a way to prevent colon cancer – which is one of
the most common cancers, but also one of the most preventable cancers.
During a colonoscopy screening, pre-cancerous polyps (growths of cells
that form inside the colon, or large intestine) can be removed -- before
cancer develops and spreads throughout the body.
“Now is an ideal time to highlight the importance of a colon cancer
screening,” Dr. Grigg said. “March is national colorectal
cancer awareness month -- and screenings can help us find and treat this
disease before it becomes deadly. You can help save the lives of your
loved ones by encouraging them to get a colonoscopy as recommended by
Regular screening starting at age 50 is crucial because, in most cases,
colorectal cancers do not produce noticeable symptoms in its early stages.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 136,119
people in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2013
– and 51,813 people died from the disease.
“Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of death among cancers
that affect both men and women, and 60 percent of it is preventable, according
to the CDC,” Dr. Grigg added.
While colonoscopy is one of the most common procedures that Dr. Grigg performs,
she also brings advanced capabilities to the Mid-Valley area. During her
fellowship, she received training in a number of procedures that represent
the leading edge of medical technology -- including Endoscopic Retrograde
Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – a procedure that treats problems
associated with the bile and pancreatic ducts, ranging from gallstones
to tumors or cancer.
In addition, Dr. Grigg performs HALO Radiofrequency Ablation, a prime treatment
of a complication of acid reflux. This complication can increase the risk
of esophageal cancer (known as Barrett’s Disease).
Knapp Medical Center is also one of a few hospitals in the area that can
perform endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), a minimally-invasive procedure which
is performed to assess gastrointestinal diseases. With endoscopic ultrasound,
Dr. Grigg and other physicians can view pictures inside the patient’s
digestive system, as well as the pancreas and liver.
“My gastroenterology fellowship was a dream come true,” Dr.
Grigg-Gutierrez said. “Exposure to endoscopic ultrasound and ERCP
impacted me the most, due to their impressive diagnostic and therapeutic
significance. It awakened my profound desire of further education in the
advanced endoscopy field.”
“In addition, the lack of specialists where I come from has made
me aware of the need for advanced endoscopy physicians committed to the
patient’s care and well-being,” she added.
Dr. Grigg said that pursuing a career in medicine was a lifelong dream
of hers -- as she wanted to do something to help others live healthier,
more fulfilling lives.
“It has been so long since I decided to pursue a career in medicine
that I can’t recall the exact moment when that idea first crossed
my mind,” she said. “Throughout college I deeply realized
that I couldn’t dedicate my life to anything else but this field.
I love the fact that medicine is one of the very few careers that provide
a true possibility to help others improve their quality of life and therefore,
make a positive impact in society.”
“The thought that this career is a lifelong commitment to improving
mankind encouraged me to participate in volunteer work early on my medical
training, which ranged from health fairs and an assistantship program
with a specific community with limited resources, to working in free health
clinics for the homeless,” she added.
Dr. Grigg is board certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology
by the American Board of Internal Medicine. In addition to her fellowship
in Advanced Endoscopy at the Carolinas Healthcare System / Carolinas Medical
Center -- and her fellowship in Gastroenterology and residency in Internal
Medicine at the Department of Veterans Affairs / Caribbean Healthcare
System – she also received a medical degree from the Universidad
Central Del Caribe-Escuela de Medicina in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In her free time, Dr. Grigg-Gutierrez enjoys the Valley’s abundant
sunshine and partakes in a number of outdoor hobbies, including hiking
and paddle boarding. In addition to the weather, Dr. Grigg-Gutierrez said
she has quickly fallen in love with the Valley’s close-knit community.
“I like how people here are really friendly and family-oriented,”
she said. “I love the culture, and this is a great opportunity to
be part of a close community where everyone is treated like family.”
Dr. Grigg’s office is located in a three-story building on the north
side of Knapp Medical Center (1330 East Sixth Street, Suite 201 in Weslaco).
For more information, please call (956) 854-4342 or visit