From minor procedures to advanced operations, Carbon Surgical Associates provides a full range of surgical services.

It's been that way for the past two decades, as this year marks the practice's 20th anniversary of service to Carbon County and surrounding areas.

Since its inception in 1989, Carbon Surgical Associates has provided the breath of general surgery care to the two hospitals of the Blue Mountain Health System – Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital in Lehighton, and Palmerton Hospital in Palmerton.

The practice specializes in minimally invasive surgery and cancer surgery of the breast and colon, according to Dr. Michael F. Martinez, who has practiced general surgery in the county since 2000.

More recently, Martinez said the practice has evolved into a minimally invasive surgery practice, with the majority of their elective surgery cases being performed using laparoscopic techniques.

Some examples of the cases performed using these minimally invasive techniques, include gall bladder removal and hernia repairs as well as emergency surgery for appendicitis. Martinez said the practice also performs advanced minimally invasive surgery for the diagnosis and treatment of breast and colon cancer.

Two examples of minimally invasive surgery to be performed first by Carbon Surgical Associates at the Gnaden Huetten Memorial and Palmerton hospitals are stereotactic and ultrasound guided needle core breast biopsies and laparoscopic colon resections for the treatment of diverticulosis and colon cancer, Martinez said, adding that the practice realizes its achievement is no small feat in the health industry.

"We're very proud to be the leading provider of general surgery to members of the community," he said. "Our goal is to continue to strive to provide the highest levels of care to members of the community locally."

This past spring, Martinez, who resides in Palmerton, became the first surgeon in the area to become certified by the American Society of General Surgeons as a laparoscopic surgeon.

"Twenty years is a long time," Martinez said. "I've been here for half of that, and I hope to be around a lot longer."

The practice was founded by Dr. Mark T. Vandenberg following the completion of his general surgery residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Martinez said said Vandenberg practiced exclusively out of the Gnaden Huetten campus for the first six years of his career. Vandenberg was joined by Dr. Scott D. Croll, who also completed his surgery training at Lehigh Valley Hospital in 1995, Martinez said.

It was then that Carbon Surgical Associates expanded its coverage to Palmerton Hospital, he said. That summer, Martinez and his family moved to Palmerton, where he joined the business.

In the summer of 2004, Martinez said Croll left the area. Then, in April of 2005, Dr. James W. Kramer joined Martinez to become the fourth partner of the practice.

Both Kramer and Martinez completed their surgical residencies at the Guthrie Clinic and Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Both are certified by the American Board of Surgery.

The practice expanded to include physician assistants with the addition of Joanne Yaich and Heather Hausman, in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

That he's able to assist people in the area in which he lives is a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed, said Martinez.

"It's a privilege to care for the members of my community," he said. "It's a unique opportunity to be able to live in the community that you serve, and I feel very fortunate to be in that situation."

Anyone interested in learning about the services Carbon Surgical Associates provides can visit www.carbonsurgical.com.