Treatment & Care At NCH

Gastroenterology (GI)

Leading-Edge Care for Digestive System Disorders

Advanced treatments, therapies, and procedures usually found only at university medical centers. A new standard for prevention, early detection, and treatment of digestive disorders like colon, esophageal, and pancreas cancer. Our Gastroenterology Center draws patients from across the Midwest and physicians around the world, for the only GI teaching gallery in Illinois. But for you, it’s conveniently close to home.

The NCH Advantage

  • Renowned Standard of Care – For prevention, early detection, and treatment of colon, esophageal, and pancreas cancer
  • Destination for GI Treatment – NCH draws patients from throughout the Midwest and performs more than 16,000 procedures annually
  • Teaching Center – Home of the only gastroenterology teaching gallery in Illinois, NCH draws physicians from across the U.S. to learn advanced methods for treating digestive disorders like GERD, ulcers, and pancreaticobiliary disease
  • Latest Technology - Continually investing in the latest technology to ensure that you receive the best and least invasive treatments possible for digestive disorders
  • National Awards and Recognition –  NCH has been the Recipient of the Healthgrades Gastrointestinal Care Excellence Award™ for 2 years in a row (2014-2015). NCH has been named among the top 5% in the Nation for GI Medical Treatment for two years in a row (2015-2016), among the top 10% for overall GI services for 2 years in a row (2014-2015), the top 10% for GI medical treatment for 3 years in a row (2014-2016), Five-Star Recipient for Treatment of GI Bleed for 3 years in a row (2014-2016), Five-Star Recipient for Treatment of Bowel Obstruction for two years in a row (2015-2016), Five-Star Recipient for Treatment of Pancreatitis in 2016, Five-Star Recipient for Esophageal/Stomach Surgeries in 2016 and Five-Star Recipient for Colorectal Surgeries in 2016.

At the NCH Gastroenterology Center, you'll find the most technologically advanced GI facility in Illinois designed for you and your physicians. The latest technologies provide you with faster, safer and more accurate diagnoses for digestive illnesses like colon, esophageal and pancreas cancers, as well as quicker recovery times. For physicians, the Center provides the first and only teaching gallery for GI procedures in the state.  

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Detection & Diagnosis

Don't ignore gastrointestinal problems

Many people suffer from problems of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, which includes the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. These problems may come and go. Sometimes they are simply a reaction to something you ate.

However, even minor problems can lead to more serious disease like Crohn's disease, gallstones, GERD or ulcers unless they're diagnosed and treated early.

Gastrointestinal symptoms may include:

  • An unexplained change in your bowel habits
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Persistent blood in your stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Chronic tiredness or sudden fatigue

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to consult your physician. Once your problem is identified, your physician can discuss diagnoses and treatment options for digestive disorders. And, Northwest Community Hospital will be here to support you every step of the way.

We treat patients for a wide range of GI conditions, including:

  • Swallowing disorders
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Gas, bloating and burping
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Gastric outlet obstruction—pyloric stenosis
  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Crohn's disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Gallstones
  • Cancer of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, small intestines, colon, rectum and anus
  • Pancreatitis

A variety of less invasive procedures. Accurate diagnoses. Safer and more comfortable.

  • M2A capsule enteroscopy—Very small, pill-sized cameras that when swallowed, painlessly transmit digital images from the digestive tract.
  • A capsule that monitors and reports acid levels in the esophagus without a catheter.
  • Routine and therapeutic colonoscopies to check for colorectal cancer.
  • Virtual colonoscopies that are less invasive.
  • Safer, less invasive alternatives to exploratory surgery for removing tissue samples.
  • Advanced procedures to diagnose and stage cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Other diagnostic tests include:

  • Colonoscopy—One of the most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer or detect it in the early and most treatable stages. Recommended for adults age 50 and older and in young people with a family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Endoscopic ultrasound with fine needle aspiration
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Liver biopsy
  • Cellvizio Endomicroscopy
Treatment 1

HALO360 Ablation System Innovative

A non-surgical treatment for Barrett's Esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition affecting the lining of the esophagus. HALO360 Ablation Therapy uses radiofrequency electrodes to remove or destroy pre-cancerous cells, thus reducing the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Treatment 2

Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)

CT colonography uses CT scanning to obtain an interior view of the colon (the large intestine) that is otherwise only seen with a more invasive procedure where an endoscope is inserted into the rectum.

Treatment 3

CyberKnife® Stereotactic Radiosurgery System (SRS)

NCH offers the latest technology in radiation treatment for patients without other options. CyberKnife is a radiation treatment that shrinks and destroys tumors once considered inoperable, with accurate precision, non-invasive surgery. It offers comfortable, quick and painless treatment plans. NCH was the first in the Chicagoland area to offer CyberKnife treatments and is the longest running CyberKnife program.

NCH Treatment Module

Advanced endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a technique that uses a combination of luminal endoscopy and fluoroscopic imaging to diagnose and treat conditions associated with the pancreatobiliary system.

NCH Treatment Module

The only Gastroenterology Teaching Gallery in Illinois

NCH provides the only teaching gallery in Illinois where medical professionals come from around the country to learn advanced procedures for the treatment of pancreas disease, pancreas cancer and GERD.

Meet the Team
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Multidisciplinary teams of gastroenterology physicians, nurses and technicians.

  • The Gastroenterology Center is staffed with nationally recognized gastroenterologists, highly skilled nurses and technologists.
  • Together these teams performed more than 16,000 gastrointestinal procedures last year, including more than 8,000 colonoscopies, while providing comfort, convenience and privacy.
  • Nurse navigators provide individual care coordination, education and support to assist you throughout your diagnosis and treatment process.
Willis Parsons, MD

Willis Parsons, MD

Willis Parsons, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist and medical director of the Gastroenterology Center, where he specializes in advanced interventional GI procedures and the management of pancreaticobiliary disease. He completed his residency and fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital—an affiliate of Harvard Medical School—followed by an interventional endoscopy fellowship and chief medical residency at The Maine Medical Center. He has directed more than 150 live endoscopy courses and has been published extensively.

NCH Team Member

Mitchell Bernsen, MD

Chief of gastroenterology since 2011, joined the medical staff at Northwest Community Hospital in 2002. He attended Rush Medical College and completed his residency and fellowship at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Bernsen completed his GI fellowship at Loyola University of Chicago. He is board certified in gastroenterology.

NCH Team Member

Nikos G Christopoulos, MD

Vice chief, is a Gastroenterologist with the Northwest Community Hospital Medical Group. He completed his residency and fellowship training at The University of Illinois in Chicago. He has been affiliated with Northwest Community Hospital since 2008.


Kathy Quinlan, RN, BS, MBA

Executive Director of the Gastroenterology Center at NCH since 1994, graduated from National Louis University with a bachelor's degree in healthcare leadership and a master's in business administration.

Patient Stories
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Judith's Story

Judith's Story

Judith's discomfort with Heartburn turned out to be something more serious. Read about her diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus and how Dr. Parsons provided her relief from pain and cancer using the new HALO radiofrequency ablation procedure.

Read Judith's Story

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