Friday, December 31, 2010

Courtland Gardens Exemplified Teamwork in 2010

Dignity, respect, fun and teamwork are just four of the many words that come to mind when we look back at the past year at Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Randallstown.

The year began with teamwork as Mother Nature blanketed Maryland with nearly 80 inches of snow. Staff members dug, and dug and dug until they somehow managed to get out of their homes and into work to make sure that their residents were well taken care of. Employees even figured out how to have a good time, sharing stories about their adventures.

However, the big story at Courtland Gardens this year happened inside the facility. Construction was completed on a brand new $1 million state-of-the-art rehabilitation center. Highly skilled therapists there help residents regain their independence, stamina and strength.

Of course, staff members and residents continued to work together every day to nurture their minds and spirits with dignity and respect. Although 2010 was a tough economic year, you wouldn’t know that when it came to the way Courtland Gardens staff members reached out to help others. They figured out how to have fun while raising money for people who were in need around the community.

Among the activities; they opened the Courtland Gardens Dollar General. Proceeds from sales went to the United Way. Residents especially loved shopping because they don’t always get the opportunity to find their own bargains.

The Therapeutic Recreation staff partnered with Maryland Food Bank for the second year. They asked employees, family members and visitors for non-perishable food items. Collection boxes were placed throughout the building.

Therapeutic recreation employees didn’t stop there. They promoted the concept of “Give and Get.” With the support of the Food and Nutrition department, on Wednesday, December 8, every staff member who brought in three cans of soup for those less fortunate received a hot bowl of soup for him or herself.

Members of the dietary team also began composting food scraps to reduce the carbon footprint.

Not to be forgotten during 2010, heart health, breast cancer awareness and flu facts were also top priorities at Courtland Gardens. The Employee Activities Committee came up with innovative ways to remind people about the importance keeping their families and themselves healthy and happy. Among the organized events were a $5 jean day, a penny war, raffles and bake sales.

It’s hard to believe that another year has gone, but here’s to 2011 and more joy, happiness and fun at Courtland Gardens.
-Helene King

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Levindale Looks to the Future


Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital
has been a pioneer in the field of elder care since it opened its doors more than a century ago, and the year 2010 only added to this ongoing journey.

While there were many accomplishments at Levindale during 2010, the spotlight was definitely shining on the future.

Ground was broken in January on a $31 million construction project to build a modern, elegant, friendly place for Baltimore area elders. This expansion will serve as a model for future generations of caregivers in every way.

The moment anyone walks through the doors at the new Levindale, they will be surrounded by sophisticated, sleek two-story atrium. The breathtaking, contemporary town center will offer residents and visitors shopping, a Jewish-theme museum, a grand piano, a fireplace, sitting areas with computer portals and a café. It will be perfect for seniors “on the go” and for seniors who want to relax in a bright, stylish environment.

No matter how residents spend their day, they will always want to go back to a beautiful room with the things that they love around them. Luxury and personal service will be combined with:

  • Private rooms
  • Private shower and bathrooms
  • Room temperature controls
  • Flat screen televisions
  • Wireless Internet connections
  • Space for visiting, reading and writing
  • A lot of storage
  • Design for safety and accessibility

During this project, the 87,000 square foot build-out and expansion will include of a three-story resident complex. Each resident’s room will be located within a neighborhood that will consist of 84 resident rooms, which will be divided into six households with 14 rooms each.

As with every household in America, the kitchen is the gathering place. At Levindale, each household have a country kitchen reminiscent of “bubbie’s (grandmother’s)” kitchen with the smells and tastes of their favorite foods.

For residents and families looking for intimate places to relax, there will be cozy sitting and hearth areas for playing music, reading and kibbitzing. Dens at Levindale will provide big screen televisions and stereos for families who want to watch and listen to their favorite entertainers.

Outside, there will be a big front porch, a playground for grandchildren and sensory gardens, designed to stimulate the five senses when residents choose to enjoy nature.

In order to make the dream into a reality, the staff members at Levindale and LifeBridge Health have been working hard to minimize the inconveniences that come up during a project of this scope. It was taken teamwork, communication, cooperation and patience.

In addition, thanks to the support and generosity of philanthropists in our community, the construction project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2012, so elders will have a cheerful, invigorating place to call home.

Levindale prides itself in leading the way to the next generation of caring.

To learn more about Levindale, call 410-601-WELL (9355).
-Helene King

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Northwest Hospital Concludes Astounding Year

2010 has been a great year for Northwest Hospital. We thought 2009 was a banner year with the conclusion of the Renaissance Campaign and opening of the new Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center, but this year was also met with some equally important milestones:

In January, the Northwest Professional Center on Carlson Lane opened. The 51,000 square foot medical office building houses the hospital’s administrative offices as well as physician practices and the new SurgiCenter – a state-of-the-art, outpatient surgery center features four large operating rooms, a special procedures room and an endoscopy suite.

In March, the Women’s Wellness Center opened. The center offers a holistic approach for not only a woman’s gynecologic care but also her other health needs. The center is led by Dr. Dee-Dee Shiller, a board-certified gynecologist, and employs a health coach, a registered nurse who works with patients to coordinate all aspects of their medical care.

In April, the Sleep Disorders Center was awarded accreditation by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Fewer than 20 percent of sleep centers in the Mid-Atlantic have earned this distinction, and Northwest was granted it only after a rigorous survey of areas such as patient safety, testing protocols, environmental cleanliness, and ongoing training of center physicians and staff.

In June, Northwest Hospital acquired a da Vinci® Surgical System, which allows surgeons to operate with robotic precision, making minimally invasive surgery safer and easier to perform.
In July, Northwest Hospital was the first in the United States and the second in the world to perform robotically assisted hand surgery. Stacey Berner, M.D., nationally recognized orthopedic surgeon and director of the Hand & Upper Extremity Center, performed this leading-edge surgery on the da Vinci robot.

In other surgical news, throughout the year, mini-port and single-port surgeries were performed with increasing regularity by Chief of Surgery Alan Davis, M.D., and W. Peter Geis, M.D., head of the Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery. Through the use of smaller and more sophisticated instruments, these new surgical techniques permit patients to experience smaller incisions and less surgical trauma, leading to less pain and faster recoveries. With single-port surgery, procedures can be performed with small instruments inserted through a single incision in a patient’s navel, resulting in no visible scar.

From July 2009 through June 2010 over 60,000 visits were made to the Northwest Hospital ER-7, making 2010 the emergency room’s busiest year on record. That Northwest is now a Primary Stroke Center, the growing population in the Randallstown area and the H1N1 flu outbreak all contributed to the increase in ER-7 patients.

In November, Northwest’s cardiac rehabilitation program earned certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACPR). The AACPR looked at 14 different program aspects, including the skill level of the cardiac rehab staff, individual patient treatment plans and an assessment of the program’s patient outcomes in awarding this certification.

Also in November, ground was broken on a new healing garden, located near the hospital’s main entrance. The cost of the garden will be offset by the generous gifts of donors, and trees and shrubs have been planted. The garden, which will be receiving additional plantings in the spring, will provide a place of respite for patients, visitors and employees, helping to relieve stress and promote healing.

Northwest Hospital wishes everyone at happy and HEALTHY 2011!

-Holly Hosler

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sinai Hospital Wraps Up Banner Year in Baltimore

The holidays are a time to celebrate family. At Sinai Hospital, we’re part of a large family of dedicated health care providers, which is why we wanted to look back and highlight some of the accomplishments of 2010.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, some of the year’s highlights included:

Additionally, Sinai Hospital President Neil Meltzer concluded being the chairman of the American Heart Association and was appointed the U.S. Government Accountability Office's National Health Care Workforce Commission.

We are looking forward to tackling 2011 with the vigor and dedication that makes us special. May the next year be healthy and happy for you and your family!

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Message from the LifeBridge Health CEO

by Warren Green, CEO, LifeBridge Health

As I look back on the year we are about to end at LifeBridge Health, it strikes me that we have so much to be grateful for. We are blessed with a terrific staff (more than 7,000 strong) who demonstrate every day their commitment to our patients and our communities. I will always be proud that LifeBridge Health was named to the Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” along with Apple Computer, Google, Four Seasons Hotels and Nordstrom. It shows that we recognize the incredible talent and dedication of our LifeBridge Health team, and that we have put programs and services into place to nurture our employees.

In spite of the challenges we faced with the massive economic downturn in the country, we continued our forward momentum in 2010. Ground was broken for the new Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai, as well as the new pavilion and first phase of construction at Levindale. New programs, such as the Women’s Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital, were launched. And, we have received some wonderful gifts supporting programs and facilities throughout our system.

As gratifying as it is to look back on what has happened, it is crucial that we direct our gaze forward and try to anticipate, as best as possible, the new world that health care is entering. Only a few months ago, national health care reform legislation was signed by President Barack Obama, forever changing the way care will be provided to millions of Americans.

One thing that I feel certain about is that demand for the services we provide is going to increase. By the year 2014, we expect that more than thirty million uninsured people in this country are going to carry plastic cards which will give them access to care that they live without today. And the senior population will continue to mushroom. We see now that the fastest growing segment of the population is seniors over the age of 85. The trend is bound to increase, and this spells more demand for health care services.

At the same time, we are also bracing for steep cutbacks in the growth of health care spending. This is coming at a time when both federal and state governments are financially stressed due to the worldwide recession. What is emerging for us is a classic case of having to do more, but for less.

LifeBridge Health isn’t alone in facing this new reality, for hospitals everywhere will be affected much the same. But I have confidence that we will rise to the occasion and continue our forward momentum. Again, our greatest asset is our people, and we have already shown that in this region, there are none better.

In order for LifeBridge Health to remain strong, a number of initiatives must be undertaken. High on the list is the need to bond with physicians. In spite of all the change taking place, it will still be true that doctors will decide where patients go for care. For that reason, our energies have been invested in strengthening existing, and creating new relationships with physicians. Over the past year, a significant number of new doctors have joined the LifeBridge Health team, and we expect this trend to continue.

We must also redouble our efforts to ensure patient safety and assure good outcomes. Increasingly, the government and insurance companies are going to punish those institutions that have high readmission rates, or commit costly errors in the care of their patients. Fortunately, our profile looks very healthy today, but the bar is going to continuously be raised, and we can’t relax our grip on best practices.

And, too, we must work even harder to provide superior customer service, knowing that patients will want to be cared for at those facilities that treat them with courtesy and respect. Again, we do this well—but not nearly well enough to be self-satisfied.

I predict that 2011 will be a great year for LifeBridge Health and its people, in spite of the pressures that we face. In years past, we have always done what was needed in order to be successful, and we will again and again. I’d like to thank each member of the LifeBridge Health family for his or her loyalty, support, and the skills every person brings to bear.

Above all, I wish every LifeBridge Health staff member, physician and volunteer a joyous and healthy holiday season, and my best wishes for fulfillment in the year ahead.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sinai Hospital Offering Valet Service

Did you know that if you visiting Sinai Hospital's Hoffberger building you can now use valet service?

Simply drive up to the Hoffberger entrance and you will see the valet. The hours are 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cost is identical to the main lot, which is $7 for up to five hours and $12 for 5 to 24 hours.

Those who are visiting Sinai Internal Medicine, Sinai OB/GYN, Ambulatory Surgery Center or other physician practices should enter through Hoffberger.

To see the Sinai Interactive map, click here. To make an appointment with a Sinai physician, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Have a Cold. Should I Work Out?

by Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, FDN
Lifestyle Coach, Live Well @ LifeBridge

The question of whether or not you should work out when sick is one that I often get from clients and one that is somewhat disputed amongst doctors and exercise physiologists. The question is often whether exercising when ill will make you worse, or as some people claim, help “kick the cold out” of you.

Researchers at Ball State University tested a group of athletes, some infected with rhinovirus and another control group that were not, to measure their response in lung function, exercise capacity and symptoms. When their symptoms were at their worse two days later, the subjects exercised on treadmills at moderate to intense levels. To the researchers’ surprise, lung function was not inhibited nor was basic metabolic response. General questionnaires were also provided to the subjects. Most said their symptoms were no worse and a few even mentioned feeling better.

This study was conducted on subjects with a basic head cold with mild symptoms of runny nose and sneezing. The researchers cautioned that while it may be OK to exercise under these conditions, individuals should be wary of exercising while having any illness that brings fever, chest congestion, or other symptoms below the neck.

Another factor to consider in this equation is that of hormonal response; namely cortisol. Cortisol is a stress-response hormone that provides anti-inflammatory benefits and is in essence our “fight or flight” hormone. While exercise is extremely beneficial to the body, it is still a stressor, albeit a positive one, and as such, results in the release of cortisol. Cortisol, although necessary and helpful in some regards, can have a negative effect on the body and in this scenario; it is its impact on immune function that is the key. Cortisol has an immunosuppressive effect, meaning that if your body constantly has high levels of cortisol, you are more susceptible to illness or infection. Since the obvious goal when you’re sick is to have your immune system working at full capacity to heal and eliminate the virus or bacteria that are causing the illness, it may be counterproductive to exercise and release cortisol.

All in all when you are sick, the goal should be to listen to your body, get adequate rest, and eat clean, whole, nutritious foods. This will let your immune system do its job and help you feel better quickly.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chemotherapy & Nausea: What You May Not Know

by Pamela Nickoles, RN, BSN, Oncology Clinical Trials Nurse, Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute

When a person is faced with cancer and the need for chemotherapy, one of the most dreaded side effects of this treatment is nausea. Twenty years or even a decade ago supportive care medications for the treatment of nausea, called anti-emetics, were limited in both numbers and in effectiveness. Many times physicians had to either delay or dose reduce chemotherapy treatments for those patients experiencing severe nausea and or vomiting.

Luckily today, with the development and use of newer classes of anti-emetics, this side effect is much more under control.

Classes of Anti-Nausea Medications:
Serotonin antagonists: Ondansetron (Zofran), Dolasetron (Anzemet), Granisetron (Kytril), Palonosetron (Aloxi)
• Steroids: Dexamethasone
Dopamine agonists: Metoclopramide (Reglan), Haloperidol (Haldol), Prochlorperazine (compazine)
• Neurokinin 1 Receptor Antagonist: Aprepitant (Emend)
• Adjunctive medications: Alprazolam (Xanax), Lorazepam (Ativan), Scopolamine, Benadryl

As a rule, only one medicine from each class should be used. Using medicines from two or more classes is often more effective than is using any one medicine alone.

Not everyone reacts to chemotherapy in the same way. Risk factors for increased nausea include:
• Type of chemotherapy being given – some agents are more nausea producing than others
• Chemotherapy combined with radiation
• Female gender
• Age (under age 50)
• History of nausea with prior treatments
• History of motion sickness
• History of morning sickness during pregnancies.
• Preconceived notions that “chemotherapy and nausea go hand-in-hand”, places one at higher risk.

Ways to Reduce Chemotherapy Induced Nausea:
• Eat small, frequent meals and don’t skip meals
• Eat what appeals to you
• Limit sweet, fried or fatty foods
• Have someone else prepare the food
• Avoid unpleasant smells
Drink lots of fluids
• Use relaxation techniques

These self-care measures may help you prevent nausea and vomiting, but they can't take the place of anti-nausea medications. Today, physicians have an array of choices for the prevention and treatment of chemotherapy induced nausea with many more drugs currently in development. Don’t be surprised if in the future chemotherapy-induced nausea will be eliminated.

To learn more about the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, call 410-601-WELL (93550>

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sinai-ER Offers Rapid HIV Testing

Sinai Hospital’s Rapid HIV program is helping more Baltimore citizens learn their status.

The program, which allows those in Sinai ER-7 to have a quick free test to learn whether they are HIV positive, recently received funding to continue for another three years. The program began in 2008.

“The program as a whole is testing more people than expected,” says Penny Green, Rapid HIV Program Coordinator. There have been about 8,193 people tested as of November 30, 2010 and 69 of those were HIV positive. When people are HIV positive, the sooner they learn their status, the sooner they can begin treatment and increase their life expectancy, as well as reduce the chance of spreading the disease to someone else.

Many people are reassured by the results of being negative, and Green follows up with those who are positive, connecting them to the services offered at Sinai. Those who are positive are also tested for syphilis.

While there are other sites in the city offering free HIV testing, the program is a convenient way to offer the test, especially for those who would not have sought out testing otherwise.

“There’s a gap in routine testing and we are meeting that need,” says Carine Chen-McLaughlin, case management coordinator. “There’s no stigma and it’s less threatening to people, as they are already here.”

To find additional information on free HIV testing in Baltimore, click here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crib Safety Tips from Sinai Hospital

For many families, a crib for a new baby is handed down through generations.

But in recent years, millions of drop-side cribs have been recalled due to safety hazards. Cribs with a drop-side rail that goes up and down can cause strangulation deaths, as parents of at least 35 babies found out tragically from November 2007 to April 2010.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted last week to forbid the manufacture, sale and resale of drop-side cribs, with the requirement that all cribs must have fixed sides by June 2011. Parents currently using a drop-side crib should check the hardware on the cribs to be sure it is working properly and double check that the crib has not been recalled.

Anthony Caterina, Sinai Hospital pediatrician, applauded the new law. He and his wife, also a pediatrician, are expecting twin girls in 2011.

“We thoroughly researched our options before making a purchase, but other parents may not be aware of the hidden dangers of unsafe cribs,” he says. In addition to the drop-side cribs, older cribs can be unsafe from loose parts.

“Tougher laws are long overdue and will save the lives of countless infants in the future,” Dr. Caterina says.

Tips for making sure a crib is safe include the following. Additional tips can be found from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Check for cracked or peeling paint.
  • Corner posts should be flush with end panels. Avoid clothing or ribbons on a crib, which can catch on tall corner posts.
  • Look for Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification.
  • The mattress should be the same size as the crib so there are no gaps to trap arms, body, or legs.
  • Hanging mobiles or toys should be out of a baby's reach.
To find a Sinai Hospital pediatrician, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Friday, December 17, 2010

How to Turn Your Holiday Choices into Healthy Holiday Favorites

By Lindsay Martin, M.S, R.D, LDN, Registered Dietician, Northwest Hospital

Whether your weakness is the loaded green bean casserole, pecan pie or rum-spiked eggnog, the holiday season is packed with one belly-busting temptation after another. Studies show the average person consumes an extra 600 calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Year's, which translates to approximately six pounds of excess weight.

While everyone's entitled to a little indulgence, especially around the holiday season, there's a fine line between festive and fattening. Fortunately, making simple food swaps helps keep the pounds down without sacrificing the holiday spirit. You don't have to diet. You don't have to deprive yourself. These are a few favorites I’ve found can be more satisfying throughout the holidays, especially when you don’t have guilt over your head as you make the better choices.

When headed to a party, master the buffet by using a small plate. Be mindful of what you drink. The average American consumes about 450 liquid calories a day. Try protein-based snacks, like jumbo shrimp, or cheese (swiss or mozzarella are your better cheese choices), which will make you feel full longer than carb-loaded breads will.

One of the most frequent questions I hear is, “what is the healthier alcoholic drink to choose?" For the fewest calories per drink, choose light beer or wine. Light or low-carb beers are available with as few as 70 calories, but a typical beer or glass of wine generally contains between 100 and 150 calories. Remember, too, that the size of the glass and serving makes a big difference. A single 'glass' of wine may actually be two servings, so try to measure keep your wine glass consistent with 4 oz. Below are some other popular alternatives when imbibing:

Worst cocktail:
Gin and tonic (8 ounces)
240 calories
22 g sugars

Alternative Drink:
Champagne
100 calories
5 g sugars

The sad truth is that light-tasting tonic water contains as much sugar as two glazed doughnuts, making it nothing more than a glorified soda. Champagne is just as bubbly but contains only one-fourth of the sugar and half the calories.

Dip
Worst dip:
Spinach and artichoke dip
300 calories
19 g fat

Alternative:
Salsa (1/4 cup)
10 calories
0 g fat

The wrong dip can transform healthy veggies and a whole grain pita into vessels for fat and hundreds of extra calories of which is unnecessary. Avoid creamy, cheesy dips at all costs and stick to the tomato-based salsas and bruschetta, which are low-calorie and offer a healthy serving of vegetables to boot.

Side Dishes

Worst side:
Baked potato with butter and sour cream
400 calories
14 g fat (6 g saturated)

Alternative:
Roasted red potatoes (1/2 cup)
100 calories
5 g fat (1 g saturated)

The difference here is in the toppings. Add bacon and cheese to the mix, and add an extra 150 calories. Another smart sides rule: Not all salads are paragons of virtue. Greens with croutons and Italian dressing pack in 140 more calories than a serving of peas with pearl onions.

Hot Drinks
Worst hot drink:
White chocolate mocha (20 ounces)
660 calories
22 g fat (15 g saturated)
95 g sugars

Alternative:
Café au lait with peppermint syrup (20 ounces)
150 calories
5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
17 g sugars

Sugary coffee concoctions are a holiday shopping staple, but the wrong one could deliver more calories than a greasy burger at your local fast food joint! Avoid mochas, lattes and cappuccinos and order a café au lait with a spurt of flavored syrup instead.

Desserts
Worst dessert:
Pecan pie à la mode
810 calories
65 g fat
55 g sugars

Alternative
Chocolate fondue
340 calories
10 g fat
28 g sugars

In the wide world of holiday pies, nothing is worse than a slice of pecan. Blame the filling, which is sickly-sweet sludge of corn syrup and sugar. Fondue, in comparison, is a fun and relatively healthy way to splurge after a big meal. Angel food cake makes an ideal dipper: light, low in calories and virtually fat-free. Fruit is even better, try dipping some apples, pineapple, strawberries or even bananas.

The bottom line is, no one wants to start 2011 with six extra pounds. Some simple food swaps will make holiday weight gain a thing of the past.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sinai Medical Staff Honored


Twelve physicians were honored for their 30 years of active service at Sinai Hospital yesterday.

Physicians Richard Berg, Steven Berlin, Paul Bodnar, Marc Gertner, Lennard Herbst, Martin Kanner, Olusegum Lawoyin, Marshall Levine, Paul Lunis, Ira Mandell, Edward Morris, and Murray Pearlman were recognized.

In his career as a rheumatologist, Dr. Morris said the most important thing he's learned is "how to listen." He is pictured at right with physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor Martin Kanner, M.D.

At Sinai, Dr. Morris says he has found "quality care and a hospital that is responsive to physicians' needs," he says, in addition to high-quality primary care doctors.

Sinai Hospital president Neil Meltzer commended the physicians on their commitment to the hospital.

"They have been mentors and leaders for young physicians, and we greatly appreciate their service," he says.

To find a physician at Sinai Hospital, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Treating Esophageal Cancer

Need another reason to stop smoking or to lose weight? Consider the mortality rate of esophageal cancer. Each year there are around 16,000 people diagnosed and 14,500 people die, putting it alongside lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer as one of the most deadly cancers. Famous people with esophageal cancer include actors Humphrey Bogart, Ron Silver and author Christopher Hitchens.

The risk factors for squamous cell esophageal cancer are tobacco abuse, alcohol abuse and injury, which can include drinking very hot liquids on a regular basis. The risk factors for adenocarcinoma include gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and obesity.

Last week, thoracic surgeon Nikhilesh M. Korgaonkar, MD, MBA, discussed updates in surgery and esophageal cancer at Sinai Hospital Grand Rounds.

“Surgery is achieving its goal, but better systemic treatments are needed to increase the benefits of optimal local control,” he said. While there are many surgical approaches, one with a high rate of satisfaction is a transhiatal esophagectomy. In this procedure, a surgeon removes part of the esophagus and moves up the stomach into the chest, then connects the remaining esophagus to the stomach through the neck. In one study of patients following a transhiatal esophagectomy, 89 percent said they were pleased with the ability to eat and 96 percent said that in hindsight they would choose to have the same operation again.

In addition to surgery, many studies showed that the most positive results were found in patients who had chemotherapy and radiation therapy concurrently. Additionally, patients with chronic GERD symptoms should be monitored for Barrett’s esophagus, Korganokar says. Up to 50 percent of patients who are undergoing an esophagectomy for Barrett’s esophagus with high grade dysplasia end up having adenocarcinoma.

To learn more about Dr. Korganokar or cancer treatment at LifeBridge Health, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nursing Graduates Find Support at LifeBridge Health


For nursing graduates, transitioning from school to a hospital can be tough. That's one of the reasons behind LifeBridge Health's Project Connect, a program aimed at supporting nursing graduates.

Susan Bindon, MS, RN-BC, and the Project Connect Team, pictured at right, recently won first place and a cash prize of $1,500 from their Project Connect poster at the Maryland Organization of Nurse Executives' annual leadership-themed poster contest. The money will be put back into materials and other components of Project Connect.

The poster was accepted at the national conference of the American Organization of Nursing Executives (AONE) and will be presented San Diego in April 2011. It highlighted the success of the program of retaining nurses at Sinai, Northwest and Levindale. The program provides new nurses with individual and life coaching sessions, workshops, graduations and celebrations, evaluations and other support. It was made possible through a five-year grant from the Health Services Cost Review Commission.

"We really want to nurture nursing graduates through that first year,and hope that they end up staying," Bindon says.

The nurses reported high rates of satisfaction with Project Connect, as do nursing leaders. It's also important for a hospital system to retain these employees. Between 35 to 61 percent of new nurses leave their first job within their first year, and the orientation, training and replacement costs for each new nurse who leaves an organization is estimated at $42,000 to $60,000.

To learn more about Project Connect, listen to the podcast here.

Are you an upcoming nursing graduate who wants to learn more about Project Connect? Click here or call 410-601-0727.

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stress Reduction Strategies at Sinai

Health experts all agree that stress can be detrimental to your well being. However, not all experts agree on the best way to relieve stress. If you are interested in exploring alternative stress reduction techniques, come to the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute's Reiki and Acutonics workshop on Wednesday.

“This holistic stress reduction program will help you learn modalities to help you relax and check in with your inner sources of well-being and guidance. Learn to re-balance energy systems,” says Jill Adler, coordinator Patient Information Services in the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute.

Reiki, described as a spiritual practice, was developed in 1922 in Japan. Reiki practitioners hold their hands on or over the person who is fully clothed. Practitioners claim to transfer healing energy through their palms.

Ellen Jacobs, Reiki master teacher, will facilitate the Sinai workshop.

“Reiki involves the practitioner just allowing a beautiful energy flow to come through to the client. The result is a deep state of relaxation and peace,” says Jacobs, who has been a practitioner for two years and has a private practice.

Although there have been small research studies demonstrating evidence that Reiki relieves stress, other studies have found no correlation. Still, many patients at Sinai have said they found it helpful.

Jacobs will also demonstrate Acutonics, which is described as a vibrational sound healing therapy.

“It is a method of using sound and vibration. It balances the energy of the body through sound frequency,” says Jacobs who will use calibrated tuning forks that are placed on parts of the body.
If your curiosity is peaked and you are wondering if these alternative stress reduction techniques are right for you, come to this free workshop. Pre-registration is required.

WHERE: Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute Conference Room, Sinai Hospital, 2401 W. Belvedere Ave., Baltimore
WHEN: 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 15.
TO REGISTER: Call 410-601-9355.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Breaking Down the Myths of Clinical Trials

by Judy Bosley RN, BSN, Oncology Research Nurse Manager
The Alvin and Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute

Hearing the diagnosis of cancer can be a life changing event. The diagnosis can create many different feelings, anger, disbelief, sadness and shock.

Once a person shifts through these feelings, they have to decide how they are going to go about fighting the cancer. An option that many do not consider is participation in a clinical trial.
There are many fears and misconceptions associated with clinical trials. In reality, clinical trials offer patients access to the most current cancer care available while helping researchers find better ways to treat and prevent disease.

Let’s look at a few of the common misconceptions of clinical trials.
  • MYTH: “I don’t want to be treated like a guinea pig.”
When a patient is enrolled in a clinical trial he or she will receive the best treatment currently available (also known as the standard of care), or a new and potentially more effective treatment. An added benefit: as a trial participant, patients have access to treatments that are not available to the general public. These treatments may be beneficial but are not yet officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • MYTH: “If I enroll in a clinical trial I may receive a “sugar pill” and get no treatment at all for my disease.”
I hear this statement quite often when talking with patients about clinical trials. Placebos or “sugar pills” are never used in place of treatment when an existing standard therapy is available.
  • MYTH: “My insurance company/Medicare won’t cover the cost of trial participation.”
Medicare has been covering the cost of cancer clinical trials since June of 2000. Many health insurers cover the normal cost of treatment on clinical trials and many states, including Maryland, have mandatory coverage laws.
  • MYTH: “I thought clinical trails were a last resort."
Clinical trials are available to patients at the start of their treatment and for all stages of their disease. In addition to treatment trials, clinical trials are available to treat the side effects related to cancer and its treatment as well as trials for the prevention of cancer.

If you or a loved one think that you might be eligible for a clinical trail at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Levindale and Courtland Gardens Fete Volunteers

The beginning of December can be a chilly, gray time of year. However, for volunteers at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, the first week of month was filled with warmth and praise.

The annual Volunteer Dessert Tea was held in Levindale’s Schwaber Multi-Purpose Room on Friday to honor the nearly 200 volunteers who spend some of their precious time assisting residents, patients and staff members at Courtland Gardens and Levindale.

Volunteer Manager Janine Boulad has a special reason for hosting the tea during the first week of the month every year. In 1985, the United Nations designated December 5 as International Volunteer day; a day set aside to thank volunteers their contributions.

And that’s exactly what Janine does. “The words 'thank you' sound very inadequate because the men, women and teens who donate their time at Courtland Gardens and Levindale do an incredible job of providing both tangible and intangible extras," she said.

At this year’s event, the keynote speaker was Gary Applebaum, MD, the executive director of Season’s Hospice & Palliative Care. He spoke from the heart about how important and meaningful the role of volunteers is.

After his speech, Janine presented awards to the volunteers who reached milestones during 2010. Edith Judelson was recognized for volunteer 9,000 hours at Courtland Gardens. Ruth Lebowitz and Carol Werdig hit the 4,000-hour mark at Levindale. Not to be outdone, resident volunteers, Arthur Abrams from Courtland Gardens and Mike Tucker from Levindale, were both honored for their dedication.

Fruit tarts, macaroons and brownies were served at the tea, and all attendees received corkscrews as part of this year’s bountiful harvest theme. Before people left, the volunteers also helped to create poster as part of a contest to share the innovative ways they provide great care at Courtland Gardens and Levindale.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer at Levindale or Courtland Gardens, call 410-601-WELL (9355).
-Helene King

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sinai Hospital Employees Achieve ACMPE Certification


Eight Sinai Hospital employees recently completed a year-long process to achieve certification from the American College of Medical Practice Executives.

Vice President Lorrie Liang led a group of hospital employees - Chris Jorgenson, Mike Stein, Mary Jane Herbert, Nisha Gupta, Donald Abrams, Stefanie Thomas and Charles Efird - in achieving the certification. The group is pictured at right.

"It's been a long journey," Liang says. "To be nominated into the college, one must have three years in a leadership role, 50 hours of continuing education, and letters of reference. To become certified, one must pass a 350 question objective exam and a three essay exam."

In August, the group took the exams, which focused on quality, risk, governance, finance, operations, information technology, human resources and patient care services. The employees began the application process in August of 2009, and all successfully passed the exams on the first attempt.

"It's huge that we all became certified," Liang says. "This designation demonstrates competence and excellence."

Thomas, a financial administrator at Sinai, says the team supported each other through the rigorous certification process. "It is a testament to the dedication of everyone in the group that all eight of us have been certified and passed both exams on the first attempt," she says.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Join the Chanukah Celebration at Sinai Hospital


Chanukah is a Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees' war against Assyrian Greeks in 165 B.C. The holiday lasts eight nights, symbolizing the miracle of a small amount of oil lasting longer than one day.

The Sinai Hospital Auxiliary invites you to join us for the annual Chanukah celebration at 6 p.m. today in the Sinai Hospital atrium. Rabbi Mitchell Ackerson will lead the menorah lighting ceremony.

Please bring a new unwrapped toy for a pediatric patient in the Alfred I. Coplan Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai.

Chanukah refreshments will be served in Café Shalom following the program. Please RSVP to the Auxiliary Office at 410-601-5033. Media are invited to attend and shoot photos of the celebration.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reducing Health Disparities Through Communication

Communication between doctor and patient can be fraught with misunderstandings and assumptions. The “Reducing Health Disparities: Teaching Residents to Deliver Culturally Competent Patient-Centered Care” workshops at Sinai Hospital are a call to action. The three workshops, spread over three months, are designed to provide information, skills and resources that enhance the ability of physicians to understand and communicate with patients from diverse cultural and language backgrounds.

According to research provided at the workshop, U.S. physicians reported “no preference for white vs. black patients or differences in perceived cooperativeness.” However, physicians showed “unconscious preferences favoring white Americans and unconscious stereotypes of black Americans as less cooperative with medical procedures.”

Medical residents and physicians working at Sinai Hospital have a unique opportunity to serve a diverse population that includes Orthodox Jewish and African-American communities.

At Tuesday’s workshop, health care providers completed exercises that promote a better understanding of patients’ diverse backgrounds. In one exercise, participants were given a handout with the picture of a multi-colored wheel. Three rings were drawn on the wheel. Written on the “internal dimensions” ring were characteristics including gender, ethnicity and race. The next ring was labeled “external dimensions” and included appearance, marital status, work experience, religion and personal habits. The outermost ring was labeled “organizational dimensions” and included the phrases "management status" and "work location."

Participants were asked to choose three words or phrases they felt demonstrated who they were. Most of the participants chose one word that was a physical identifying marker, such as gender or race. But the other two choices identified characteristics you would not know by looking at a person such as parental status.

“Only 10 percent of who we are is something I can see with my eyes,” said facilitator Marcos Pesquera, executive director of the Center on Health Disparities, a division of Adventist HealthCare. “Ninety percent are things we can not see. If we don’t talk to each other, we will never know. In other words, what I can see with my eyes is only 10 percent of who you are.”

Facilitators cited an example of an African man seeking medical help (in an unnamed American hospital) who was very unresponsive to the doctor. The physician could have dismissed the man as being “uncooperative.” But upon further questioning, it was learned the patient had recently lost a close relative in tragic circumstances. Information like that can lead to a different diagnosis or make the physician make additional recommendations, such as a referral for counseling.

The lesson? It is not wise to jump to conclusions about someone relying only on what you see.

“Are we really understanding the patient and the patients’ needs?” asked Diane Maloney-Krichmar, director of Graduate Medical Education at Sinai and a facilitator at the workshop. After the exercise, all of the participants had a much more thorough understanding of one another. It was an understanding that didn’t depend only on sight.
-Sandra Crockett

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Get Moving With CardioSculpt

Do you need a way to start burning off those holiday calories? Help is around the corner.

The Sinai Hospital Employee Activities Committee sponsors exercise classes, and an 8-week session of CardioSculpt begins next Tuesday, December 7. CardioSculpt gets you moving and your heart rate up, but also includes exercises designed to tone and build muscles.

The classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Sinai Hospital. The session ends on Tuesday, February 1.

The cost is $30 for all eight weeks. Payment for the classes may be made by cash or payroll deduction for Sinai employees. You do not need to be a LifeBridge Health employee to enroll, so grab a relative or friend and come join the class.

Questions? You can reach Robin at 410-601-8443.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Helping Out Around the Holidays

LifeBridge Health employees show their commitment to less fortunate members of the community by participating in holiday themed drives and programs at this time of the year.

Both Sinai and Northwest hospitals participate in Adopt-A-Family programs. At Northwest, there are 10 families with children. Each participating department receives a list of what the children need, and provides items like clothes, books and toys. At Sinai, there are 42 families with children who are being helped by departments.

The Sinai Employee Activities Committee is sponsoring its annual Hat, Glove and Scarf Drive to benefit pediatric and adult Sinai ER-7 patients. All sizes are appreciated. Collection boxes will be located at the lobby desk in the main hospital, as well as in the Security office on the ground floor. The collection will end Saturday, December 18.

Sinai Volunteer Services
also asks for donations of clothing, especially comfortable athletic gear and men's clothing. Donations can be dropped off at the Sinai Volunteer Services office, located on the ground floor. Volunteer Services also appreciates donations of current news or culture magazines.