Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knowledge is Power: The Know Your Health Program at LifeBridge Health

The following is an excerpt from MdMD for Life 2011, available now.

For 50-year-old Patricia Smith*, nothing beats a bowl of Cocoa Krispies or a stack of Oreos, paired with a tall glass of whole milk. These days, however, you’re more likely to find her eating Cheerios with soy milk or munching on an apple when cookie cravings strike. She attributes her healthier habits to news she received while attending a low-cost health screening last year at Baltimore’s Woodlawn Senior Center.

“Hypertension and diabetes run in my family, so I figured it was a good idea to go and get checked out,” Patricia recalls. She was working full-time, but did not have health insurance at the time, and hadn’t seen a physician in several years. At the screening, part of LifeBridge Health’s Know Your Health program, a nurse checked her height, weight and blood pressure; calculated her body mass index (BMI) and took a blood sample to measure Patricia's total cholesterol, triglyceride and fasting glucose levels.

Results showed that she was overweight and that her blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar readings were slightly high, suggesting she was on the verge of a battle with the same health problems as her parents.

To read more, click here.

-Amy Novotney

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Walking: A Simple and Effective Way to Stay Healthy

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

Research results could hardly be clearer: Taking a walk is one of the best ways to take charge of your health, so get out there and start your walking workout routine! A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (February 11, 1998) showed that walking briskly for half an hour just six times a month cut the risk of premature death in men and women by 44 percent. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (January 8, 1997) reported that men 61 to 81 years old sharply reduced their risk of death from all causes, including cancer and heart disease, by walking two miles a day. Other research has shown similar results for women.

The added benefit of walking is that it’s simple to do anywhere, anytime! Walking requires no special equipment and can be performed outdoors or inside through hallways and stairwells. With a walking routine, you can begin at your own pace and find a level of intensity that is appropriate for your own personal starting point; therefore, whether you’re 21 or 61, walking can serve as an ideal form of activity.

Begin by moving at a comfortable pace and use the “talk test” ” to measure your intensity:
Talk Test
- Too Intense – You can barely breathe and can’t carry on light conversation.
- Too Easy – You can recite Shakespeare.
- Just Right – You can speak in short phrases but still feel breathing and heart rate slightly elevated.

Here are some other tips for making the most out of your walking workout:
1. Partner Up – Studies have shown that individuals are more likely to adhere to a routine when paired up with another person. Find a friend or coworker and agree to walk together each day at lunch. Using the “buddy system” like this can also help each of you keep one another accountable.
2. Warm Up First, Then Stretch – Begin your walking workout with a brief 5 minute light walk then stop to stretch before continuing on for your extended routine. Focus on stretching the shoulders, hips and calves as these muscles are most involved in your walking pattern.
3. Practice Posture – As you walk, keep your shoulders back, chest out and chin up. Poor posture creates aches and pains and prevents optimal breathing. By keeping your posture “tall,” you’ll open up your lungs to take deeper, fuller breaths as you walk and prevent tension in the neck, shoulders and back.
4. Arm Action – Pump your arms as you walk to create more motion in your upper body. The more muscles you move, the more calories you burn so get the arms involved in the action.
5. Let Go – Forget about the stress and worries of the day and let your mind focus on what your body is doing. Avoid talking about work or other stressful situations throughout the time of your walk. Give your brain a break, smile and have fun!
Aim for a 10-15 minute walk when you first begin, and then gradually add 2 minutes to your walk each week until you reach a 30 minute walking routine. Now get up, get going, and walk it out!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby Fat: Sinai Hospital Helps Women with Gestational Diabetes

The following is an excerpt from MdMD for Life 2011, available now.

As a nurse, Lakecia Lewis knew what she needed to do to have a healthy pregnancy, including eating better. But when she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2006, Lewis kicked into high gear, becoming more motivated to follow a healthy meal plan and to keep her weight gain minimal.

“I realized it wasn’t just about me now that I was pregnant,” Lewis says. “The gestational diabetes was going to affect the baby, and I wanted both of us to be healthy.”

Lewis received the support she needed through Sinai Hospital’s Diabetes and Pregnancy Education and Management Program. Anna Osztreicher, a certified nurse practitioner and diabetes educator and program manager, meets with each patient to formulate an individualized plan.

“I have a nonjudgmental attitude,” Osztreicher says of the “intimate relationship” she develops with her patients. “I ask about their fears and keep everything in a realistic perspective. These women are obviously very concerned about their baby’s well-being.”

Gestational diabetes occurs as a result of a resistance to insulin during pregnancy. It is estimated that between 6 to 8 percent of all pregnancies involve gestational diabetes, says David Schwartz, M.D., chief of the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology at Sinai Hospital. Risk factors include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, or being considered pre-diabetic.

The impact of gestational diabetes on the health of mother and baby should not be minimized, Schwartz says.

“Gestational diabetes can cause the baby to get too big, which can obstruct labor or result in other complications during delivery,” he says. “There’s also a concern about stillbirth. That’s why we help these women get their blood sugar level under control.”

The number of cases are increasing, as Schwartz explains below:

To read more, click here.
-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bariatric Services Now Offered at Sinai and Northwest

While its patients are slimming down, the Bariatrics Program at LifeBridge Health is expanding, with services at Northwest and Sinai hospitals.

Kuldeep Singh, M.D., joined the Division of General Surgery at Northwest Hospital as the division head of Minimally Invasive Surgery, specializing in bariatrics. Cynthia Long, M.D., joined the Department of Surgery at Sinai Hospital, also specializing in bariatrics. Along with Christina Li, M.D., division head of Minimally Invasive Surgery at Sinai Hospital, Singh and Long will offer the following options for patients who are eligible for bariatric surgery: laparoscopic gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure.

Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery involves stapling the stomach and rerouting the small intestine to form a small stomach pouch about the size of an egg. A limb of intestine is attached to the pouch to create a bypass. After surgery, food enters the pouch and empties into the small intestine. As a result, food bypasses almost all of the stomach and a segment of the intestine.

Sleeve gastrectomy is a nonreversible procedure that generates weight loss solely through reduced food intake. Divided vertically, the stomach is reduced by more than 85 percent. The portion of the stomach that remains is shaped like a very slim banana or sleeve. There is no intestinal bypass, only stomach reduction.

With the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure, an inflatable band is placed around the upper part of the stomach increasing the feeling of fullness. When less food is consumed, the body draws on its own fat reserves for energy, which in turn results in weight loss. The procedure is less invasive than the other two procedures. It requires no cutting or stapling of the stomach or bowel, and is also associated with a lower risk of malnutrition. Adjustments to the band can be made without additional surgery, and it is reversible if necessary.

The bariatrics surgeons will educate patients and help them to select the best weight loss surgery that will suit their needs, fit with their health and lifestyle, and match their comfort level.

Each bariatrics physician is board certified. Li specializes in laparoscopic gastric bypass and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Long specializes in laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Singh specializes in laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and laparoscopic gastric banding; and soon he will offer laparoscopic greater curvature plication.

To meet with a physician, call 410.601.WELL.

Friday, March 25, 2011

LifeBridge Health Heroes

Health Care Heroes

Congratulations to The Daily Record’s 2011 Health Care Heroes. The LifeBridge Health winners are:

Tamika Gladney, R.N., Northwest Hospital
Rosa Griffith, volunteer, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital
Gerami Seitzman, M.D., ophthalmologist, Krieger Eye Institute, Sinai Hospital
Michael Zollicoffer, M.D., pediatrician, Sinai Hospital

Seitzman, director of Cornea, External Disease and Uveitis at the Krieger Eye Institute at Sinai Hospital, was the top winner in the physician category.

“Just doing my job is an honor in itself,” Seitzman says. “And this honor adds icing to the cake.”

Dr. Seitzman comments on her award:

Here what Tamika Gladney, R.N. has to say about this recognition.

Rosa Griffith’s sons accepted this posthumous award on her behalf. Rosa began volunteering at the age of 77, and continued even after surviving a stroke. In the spring of 2010, at age 82, Rosa was diagnosed with cancer. She continued to volunteer, amassing 1,400 hours during her nearly five years as a Levindale volunteer.

The Daily Record received nearly 150 nominations for its annual Health Care Heroes awards, which recognizes individuals in eight categories including physician, volunteer, community outreach, nurse, midlevel practitioner, health care professional, advancements in health care, and animal care provider

About 400 people attended the award ceremony this week at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Baltimore.

The Daily Record, a daily newspaper published five times a week to provide legal and business news, created Health Care Heroes in 2003 "to honor those heroes in the health care industry who impact the lives of Marylanders." For a full list of the 2011 finalists, visit

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Body’s Preparation for Labor and Delivery

Editor's note: This is the latest installment from our mother-to-be who will be delivering at The BirthPlace at Sinai.

I was aware that one of the signs that the body is preparing itself for labor was having the baby drop into one’s pelvis, but I didn’t expect mine to be such a dramatic experience. This phenomenon is also called lightening or engagement, and for first time moms, usually occurs 2 to 4 weeks before the baby is born. (For moms who have already given birth, sometimes it happens right before labor – or not at all.) For many women, lightening provides some relief; they can breathe better and eat larger meals. However, they might also experience added pressure on the pelvic floor or bladder, leading to more frequent bathroom trips.

I was sitting at the dining table, talking with friends, when lightening happened to me: I literally felt my belly slowly fall into my lap. Thinking that it couldn’t possibly be time yet – my due date was 5 weeks away – I said nothing. However, at my OB appointment a couple days later, the doctor confirmed that the baby had indeed dropped, and she could even feel the baby’s head during my pelvic exam.

Apparently, my cervix has also started dilating (opening up) and effacing (getting thinner) in preparation for labor. This doesn’t mean that I will necessarily go into labor in the next few hours or even days (it could take weeks), but it’s an exciting sign that the baby’s almost here!

I’ve been also feeling more of those Braxton Hicks contractions. Last week, I even felt a few in my lower back, but they didn’t move forward towards the front of my uterus like they would in true labor.

Even so, if you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and experience four or more Braxton Hicks contractions in an hour for two hours or more, contact your OB-GYN. Your doctor will want to make sure that you’re not in premature labor. If you’re 37 weeks pregnant or more and your contractions get closer together, start timing them. If you’re experiencing contractions that last at least 60 seconds and having them every five minutes, call your OB-GYN. You might just be in labor!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Choosing Healthy Drink Options

by Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, Live Well @ LifeBridge

Did you know that a 20-ounce soda has about 17 teaspoons of sugar and over 200 calories? While many of us focus on food when we think of controlling calories, how often do we stop and think about our drinks? Empty calories and high doses of sugar are found in many drink options, stifling our goals of healthy weight maintenance.

Poor drink choices are ones that contain a lot of extra calories without very many vitamins and minerals. Choosing these types of drinks regularly can keep you from maintaining a healthy weight. Beware of sport drinks, sodas and fruit-flavored beverages. These types of drinks contain large amounts of added sugar and are packed with calories without many nutrients. Diet sodas are also problematic as they contain artificial sweeteners that our bodies do not readily recognize, leaving us hungry or thirsty for more.

Drinks and Diabetes
A recent study published in Diabetes Care indicates that soft drinks sweetened with sugar may be contributing to the rise in cases of type 2 diabetes, as these drinks add significant quantities of calories and carbohydrate to the diet. Since these drinks contain large amounts of rapidly absorbable carbohydrates, they may induce a fast and dramatic increase in both glucose and insulin concentrations, compared to drinks made with no sugar or a sugar substitute. If you are diabetic or looking to prevent diabetes, cautiously monitor your sugar and calorie intake of these types of drinks.

Think Before You Drink Tips
1. Drink water throughout the day. Carry a water bottle with you and refill it often.
2. Trade large cream and sugar-filled coffees for lower calorie versions. Downsize your large, calorie-packed mocha latte for a medium coffee with an artificial sweetener like Stevia.
3. If you drink fruit juice, ensure that the label reads “100% juice” and not “fruit beverage” or “fruit drink.” Limit your daily intake of fruit juice - experts recommend getting no more than 4 ounces of fruit juice each day.
4. Switch to plain tea (green, white, black) or plain coffee. An additional bonus? Teas contain high quantities of antioxidants.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Celebrate World Water Day Today!

Today is World Water Day, which draws attention to critical water issues around the world. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and since then has blossomed into an international day of advocacy and celebration.

Last year the UN dedicated the theme of World Water Day to water quality. This year the theme is “Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge.” This year’s goal is to encourage governments, communities and people around the world to provide urban areas with proper water management systems. The official World Water Day event will be celebrated today in Cape Town, South Africa.

Do you want to learn more about this March 22 event? Here are a few videos created by international non-profit organizations that address World Water Day:

Charity: Water

Sri Lanka Red Cross Society


Here are 10 ways that you can celebrate World Water Day:

1. Turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth.
2. Make your own water filter.
3. Calculate your H2O use with the EPA Water Savings Calculator.
4. Design a World Water Day poster and hang it up in your office.
5. Instead of taking a bath take a short shower.
6. Sign the Sierra Club’s Clean Water Pledge.
7. Post social media status updates from
8. Fix leaky faucets and toilets in your home.
9. Turn off water when you’re washing dishes.
10. Read the book The Secret of Water by Masaru Emoto.

-Trish Smith

Health Care Hero: Tamika Gladney, Northwest

The Maryland Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards ceremony honors special caregivers who exemplify extraordinary commitment to their profession. The breakfast to honor the 2011 finalists, which includes Northwest's Tamika Gladney, is on Wednesday, March 23.

Tamika Gladney, B.S.N., R.N., B.C., is an acute care clinical specialist and an energetic advocate for implementing evidence-based practices into the nursing care delivered at Northwest Hospital. Since May 2006, she has been instrumental in the hospital’s adoption and success of several evidence-based programs. Gladney has a forte for solving problems, and though they may not know it, patients have benefited because of her work to improve the safety conditions surrounding their hospital stays.

Those who know Gladney are quick to say that she possesses self-initiative and is passionate about improving the quality of patient care through applied research. She worked with Johns Hopkins Hospital to share best practices to prevent patient falls and developed a falls risk assessment protocol customized for Northwest Hospital. Thanks to her efforts, all LifeBridge Health hospitals now have implemented the STOP Falls Program, which has dramatically reduced the number of patient falls.

Through her work alongside endocrinologist Bruce Sindler, M.D., Gladney became aware of an issue affecting diabetic patients: while nurses were taking great care to make sure patients’ blood pressures were regulated, the same level of concern was not being applied to the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients. Tamika consulted American Diabetic Association research and assembled an interdisciplinary workgroup that performed a comprehensive literature review and lent their insights to determine the best practices for insulin management. She then helped instruct her fellow nurses about how to implement this protocol.

In 2009, Gladney spearheaded and became the chairwoman of a Practice Board that introduces and maintains evidence-based medicine practices throughout the hospital. She made sure that one of the board’s goals would be to give bedside nurses a greater opportunity to recognize and promote improved practices.

Gladney has been inspirational to her colleagues by being an excellent clinical resource and getting other nurses at Northwest similarly engaged about research and best practices. During the past five years, despite a challenging workload and becoming a mother, Tamika has earned her bachelor's degree in nursing and has nearly completed her Master’s degree in nursing, with an acute care emphasis. She teaches other registered nurses how to conduct literature reviews, and leads new groups on how to structure and execute evidence-based projects. Gladney's presence has made Northwest Hospital a catalyst for nursing innovations, ultimately improving the care and comfort of Northwest’s patients.

-Holly Hosler

Monday, March 21, 2011

Health Care Hero: Rosa Griffith, Levindale

The Maryland Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards ceremony honors special caregivers who exemplify extraordinary commitment to their profession. The breakfast to honor the 2011 finalists, which includes Levindale's Rosa Griffith, is on Wednesday, March 23.

by Janine Boulad, Director of Volunteer Services at Levindale and Courtland Gardens

With a twinkle in her eye and a smile, Rosa Griffith showed everyone at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital how much she cared for them, especially the residents who were the most challenging. She didn’t even start volunteering here until the age of 77, after she had survived a stroke. Rosa passed away late last year, but leaves a legacy of love and inspiration with everyone who knew her.

Rosa was one of the most remarkable people I had ever met. When she started visiting residents, she chose those who needed the most tender-loving care; the residents who were unresponsive, the residents who were extremely angry about their situation, as well as the ones with no families. She delighted in the humanity of every living soul. They were “her people,” and she was devoted to them.

As an example, when one particularly angry young man was transferred to another facility, she promised him that she would visit him wherever he went- and she did. This was a woman who used a walker and took public transportation to get where she needed to go. She was always trying to be a better volunteer. She was an example to residents, patients, staff and other volunteers.

Rosa never missed an opportunity to learn the most she could about each patient and resident she visited. She would find out what each one liked before he or she became impaired. She attended every training session offered. She learned skills to work with people who had aphasia and dementia. She learned to feed residents who needed assistance.

After volunteering at Levindale for about a year, I suggested to Rosa that she might be interested in becoming a hospice volunteer. She agreed immediately. Being a hospice volunteer requires a lot of additional training and a lot of extra paperwork for every visit. I thought Rosa might cut back on her other visits…but no, she just worked longer days, sometimes eight or nine hours- or she would come in an extra day to make sure she saw everyone.

In addition, Rosa was gifted with her hands and crocheted beautiful blankets and shawls to give to Levindale residents. She prayed with them, for them and held their hands. She was never bothered by bad smells or odd behaviors. When one of her hospice patients passed she would make the effort to attend his or her funeral service.

One incident I will never forget involved a freelance photographer who was supposed to take a picture of Rosa with a resident. It just so happens, Rosa was reading the Bible to the resident with a magnifying glass because she couldn’t see very well. However, when I turned around, the photographer was outside of the room crying. I asked her what was wrong, she answered through her tears, “no one is that kind.”

In the spring of 2010, at age 82, Rosa was diagnosed with cancer. She continued to volunteer, amassing 1,400 hours during her nearly five years at Levindale. She knew her cancer could not be treated, and sometimes she was too weak to volunteer, but she continued to spend time with our hospice patients whenever she could, never complaining about her own problems. Rosa eventually had to stop volunteering completely last July.

Rosa finally succumbed to cancer late in 2010. However, her spirit lives on in the people she truly cared about. For a time that was entirely too short, she brought real joy to everyone.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Health Care Hero: Gerami Seitzman, Sinai Hospital

The Maryland Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards ceremony honors special caregivers who exemplify extraordinary commitment to their profession. The breakfast to honor the 2011 finalists, which includes Sinai's Gerami Seitzman, is on Wednesday, March 23.

Gerami D. Seitzman, M.D.

Two words come to mind when anyone thinks, or speaks, of Gerami D. Seitzman, M.D., excellence and compassion.

Dr. Seitzman is director of Cornea, External Disease and Uveitis at Sinai Hospital’s Krieger Eye Institute. She is an ophthalmologist skilled in caring for patients with very complicated and various inflammatory eye diseases.

Dr. Seitzman was the first Maryland doctor who implanted an artificial lens and iris into a patient who sustained a terrible screwdriver accident to an eye. She had to secure special FDA approval to implant the device. The outcome is that the patient has regained his pilot's license.

And when it comes to compassion, Dr. Seitzman is unparalleled in her selfless service to those in need. She has volunteered with the Maryland Society for Sight Vision Van for nearly ten years. She began volunteering in 2000 as a resident at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and continues to this date.

In that role, she provides vision screenings for those some may think of as “the least among us.” The homeless and the indigent people Dr. Seitzman sees at the Vision Van probably are unaware they are being examined by a top-notched medical specialist. If one of these patients needs follow-up care, Dr. Seitzman will make certain they know of the services available at the Krieger Eye Institute.

When she began work as an attending ophthalmologist, Dr. Seitzman learned about the Chase Brexton Organization, a community health care center. She learned that this organization had no medical providers who could evaluate their patients for eye diseases. Dr, Seitzman did not hesitate to step up where she saw a void. Since 2005, every three to four months Dr. Seitzman has been examining Chase Brexton patients at the Vision Van, some with HIV or other illnesses.

Dr. Seitzman, who is described by her peers as “a brilliant resident teacher” and “outstanding surgeon” saw that too may Baltimore residents are going blind from preventable diseases. She decided that as part of Sinai’s ophthalmology residency, residents would have regularly rotations on the Vision Van. She believes it is crucial that doctors know of the barriers some people face in getting decent medical care.

. If looking for a ophthalmologist who is successful with patient outcomes and who also believes in treating every person with respect and dignity, one can do no better than Dr. Gerami Seitzman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

After the Cancer Diagnosis

"A cancer diagnosis can be scary, but don’t let fear take over your life," says Lavanya Yarlagadda, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist at LifeBridge Health.

Yarlagadda presented “Wellness Tips for Cancer Survivors” this week at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at Sinai Hospital. “Fear is a common emotion anytime you hear the word, ‘cancer.’ It is scary, especially if it’s a family member. It’s still scary for me,” she says.

“But fear is manageable. Always choose hope. Always. Even if it is not curable. Enjoy your life as much as possible,” Yarlagadda says.

There are ways of managing the fear including gaining a sense of control over what has happened to you. “Get organized. Know as much as possible about the medicine you have to take. Get as much information as you can about the disease,” she says.

And never underestimate how much your emotions can affect your health. “I tell my patients it is important to keep a very good attitude,” the doctor says. “And that can be with meditation, prayer, whatever it takes.”

Although, she adds, some times cancer happens even if we appear to be doing all the right things. “Some things are out of our control and that is just life,” Yarlagadda says. However, patients can severely lessen their chances of getting cancer by making nutritionally sound choices, exercising, not smoking and controlling stress.

Solicit family help and choose your friends wisely. “A diagnosis of cancer – or any illness – is a very tough time. Get support from your family, from your doctor’s office, through social workers or support groups or through friends.”

A final caution is to choose your friends carefully. “You have to pick your friends,” she says. “Friends who scare you and tell you horror stories, you should stay away from. People who tell you, ‘you can get through this,’ are people you want to be around.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Freedom to Have a Healthier Life

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

The 2011 LiveWell@LifeBridge Program is underway! This year, we’re offering even more opportunities for employees to improve their health & well-being.

What is the focus of our LiveWell@LifeBridge wellness program? Capitalizing on 2010, LiveWell@LifeBridge for 2011 will focus on engagement in the wellness program to promote awareness about one's own health, participate in activities, and to drive compliance with preventative screenings like physicals, mammograms, colonoscopies, etc. There will be numerous ways to engage this year through on-line and on-site programs, opportunities to participate in community events, and self-help opportunities like eating better in our system-wide cafeterias. A point system will be introduced this month with the goal of each member of our team reaching 400 points by August 31, 2011. Those employees that meet this goal of 400 points will benefit from lower health insurance costs going into 2012.

How will the LiveWell@LifeBridge wellness program help employees? The goal of the wellness program is to help improve health and well-being. It has been implemented to support action and provide tips and strategies to get us on a path to healthier lifestyles. Employees will save money by participating in the wellness initiatives that commence now through August 31, 2011. There are a number of requirements and options to reach a total of 400 points which once completed, will allow you to keep your premiums for 2012 plan year at 80 percent subsidy from LifeBridge Health. Those employees who do not wish to participate will pay a higher premium in 2012.

For employees: To receive the LiveWell@LifeBridge premium participation rate, you must reach the goal of 400 points as specified on the program outline sheets. Remember, LifeBridge Health has absolutely no access to personal health information in accordance to Federal HIPAA law. All information is managed by third-party wellness partner, Innovative Wellness Solutions (IWS). A detailed explanation of the criteria is located on the 2011 LiveWell@LifeBridge program outline sheet.

For questions regarding the program, please feel free to contact either me, Jason.bosleysmith (at) or Amy.price (at)

We look forward to providing you with the freedom to have a healthier life!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Five Healthy Green Foods to Eat on St. Patrick’s Day

When you think about the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, you think about all things green. However, you don’t necessarily think of green food. Most people want to eat traditional Irish food like corned beef, potatoes, Irish stew and soda bread. These aren’t the healthiest of foods, and when you throw in a few pints of Guinness beer, you definitely have a calorie-packed celebration!

But there are many healthy green foods that you can eat on St. Patrick’s Day that won’t disrupt your diet or cause you to pack on the pounds.

Sinai Hospital Clinical Dietician Kelly Bliss, RD, LDN, says that dark green vegetables are "loaded with important vitamins and minerals that can reduce the risk of chronic disease, protect against development of cancer, decrease bone loss and are linked with healthy levels of blood pressure."

"Over the course of a week men and women should aim to consume three servings of dark green vegetables," Bliss says. "On a daily basis try to incorporate vegetables from all colors of the rainbow.”

Here are five green foods that you can eat to celebrate the luck of the Irish:

1. Asparagus

Did you know that asparagus is from the same vegetable family as onions and garlic? It’s true, and luckily it doesn’t smell as bad. Asparagus is jam-packed with vitamins A, B, C and K and is loaded with calcium and fiber.

Health Benefits: Rids your body of excess water and prevents birth defects in pregnant women.

Recipe: Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Asparagus with Ginger Video:

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family (and cousin to the cauliflower). It’s a great source of vitamins A and C, as well zinc, calcium and iron.

Health Benefits: Contains phytonutrients that help reduce cancer-related genes.

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli

Cream of Broccoli Soup Video:

3. Arugula

Arugula is an easy-to-grow salad green that has a peppery taste. It contains vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, which helps form genetic material in the body.

Health Benefits: Helps prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Recipe: Pesto with Arugula

Fresh and Easy Arugula Salad Video:

4. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are edible fruit that are composed of 90 percent water. They are a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium.

Health Benefits: Regulates blood pressure, helps construct connective tissue, promotes hair growth and helps heal sunburns.

Recipe: Japanese Cucumber Salad

Cool as a Cucumber Soup Video:

5. Spinach

Spinach was the No. 1 food of choice for Popeye, and here’s the reason why: It contains vitamins A, B2, B6 and C, as well as iron, zinc, protein, potassium and fiber.

Health Benefits: Promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure and protects against eye diseases.

Recipe: Wilted Spinach with Cherries and Goat Cheese

Garlic Sautéed Spinach Video:

You can have fun on St. Patrick’s Day without sacrificing your health, so how about trying one of these green foods to get the party started!

-Trish Smith

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prostate Cancer: A Roller Coaster of a Ride

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society, “about 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.” Out of every 36 American men, one will actually die from prostate cancer.

Although that is an unpleasant statistic, there are at least two million American men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer that are still alive today, thanks to ongoing advancements in cancer treatments.

Prostate cancer is exactly what it sounds like: it’s cancer of the prostate (the male reproductive gland found in the urethra that secretes semen). Slowly over time cells located in the prostate glands begin to mutate into cancerous cells. In some cases, the cancer spreads quickly, but in most cases it spreads slowly over time. In fact, most men live their entire lives without exhibiting symptoms of prostate cancer.

Stanley M. Redwood, M.D. FACS, Chief of the Department of Urology at Sinai Hospital, gave an enthusiastic Grand Rounds presentation last week that addressed prostate cancer, its risk factors and its various methods of treatment titled “The Prostate Cancer: A Roller Coaster.” For those who aren't familiar with the disease, some of the symptoms include:

• Frequent urination
• Burning during urination
• Painful ejaculation
• Inability to have an erection
• Blood in the urine and semen

If left untreated, advanced prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as the pelvis, ribs and spine. It can also lead to bone pain and tenderness.

Although prostate cancer causes many physical problems in men, Dr. Redwood explained that it can also be a major cause of male insecurity. Since women naturally go through menstruation, society is more accepting that they need to buy items such as feminine pads. But for a man with prostate cancer who can’t control his bladder, it’s almost always humiliating to walk down an isle in a store to buy male sanitary napkins.

Dr. Redwood also explained the different risk factors for prostate cancer. These include:
• Genetics – Occurs in 5-10 percent of males.
• Diet – A diet higher in fat leads to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Soy products are a great way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
• Hormones – Using anabolic steroids increases the risk of prostate cancer.
• Race - African American males have a much higher risk for prostate cancer than Caucasian males. In fact, darker pigmented males (such as those of native African descent) are at an even higher risk of getting prostate cancer.

Here is an age-related breakdown of prostate cancer cases found in African American men:




1 in 10149


1 in 38


1 in 14


1 in 7


1 in 6

Treatment options for prostate cancer include:

• Anti-Androgen Hormone Therapy – Using hormones to block certain cell receptors.
• Taxotere (Docetaxel Injection) – Used with other medications to stop the spread of cancer cells.
• Brachytherapy – Implanting radioactive “seeds” into the cancerous tissue.
CyberKnife® – A non-invasive robotic surgery that uses beams of radiation, available at Sinai Hospital.
• Taxotere Chemotherapy – Intravenous chemotherapy.
• Radical Robotic Prostatectomy – Surgery performed remotely using a robot.
• Intensity-Modulate Radiation Therapy - Small radiation beams are aimed at a tumor from different angles.
Da Vinci Surgical System – Surgeons control a robotic platform with their hands, available at LifeBridge Health.

Even though it’s rare for men to get prostate cancer before they are 40 years old, it is still wise for men in their 20s and 30s to get an exam every few years. Once they hit 45, they should get one every year.

To learn more about prostate cancer and other cancer-related conditions visit the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute.

You can also read these previous blog posts about prostate cancer:
Prostate Cancer Screening at Northwest Hospital
Guidelines for Prostate Cancer Screening Revised

-Trish Smith

Friday, March 11, 2011

Northwest Hospital
's domestic violence program coordinator is using new technology to help those who are strangled.

A forensic light can detect bodily fluids, gun shot residence and bone fragments naked to the average eye. It also can pick up fingerprints around a victim's neck, which will help identify and provide documentation for patients who may have been strangled in episodes of domestic violence.

Strangulation is increasingly being taken seriously, as it can cause a person to fall unconscious. A few minutes can cause brain damage, Northwest case manager Cassie Offutt told WYPR this month.

Maryland legislators are currently reviewing House Bill 819 and Senate Bill 593, which would make strangulation a first-degree assault.

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Proposed Maryland Legislation to Protect Student Athletes from the Dangerous Effects of Concussions

In the wake of concussions sidelining high-profile National Football League players such as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller, public awareness has grown about the detrimental effects a concussion has on the physical and mental well-being of athletes.

Concussions don’t just affect high-profile professional athletes, but student athletes as well.
Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This has led to a call from doctors, parents and coaches from across the nation for state governments to implement legislation for improved safety and educational standards regarding how concussions are diagnosed and treated.

Maryland is one of a number of states considering such legislation. Legislators in both the House of Delegates and Senate have introduced bills that will protect student athletes from the dangerous effects of concussions.

The House of Delegates bill (HB 858) would require a student athlete to be removed from practice or play following a suspected concussion; he or she will only be allowed to return after clearance by a licensed health care provider. It would also require the Maryland State Department of Education to develop an awareness and training program for coaches, school personnel, student-athletes and parents/guardians. Additionally, a student athlete and parent/guardian would sign an information sheet and acknowledgment statement before participating in a sport. The Senate bill (SB 771) has similar language.

LifeBridge Health has joined the NFL, the Brain Injury Association of Maryland and other organizations in support of this legislation.

Kevin Crutchfield, M.D., a neurologist with at the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute at LifeBridge Health, spoke in support of the legislation at a hearing last week in Annapolis.

“We need the concussion bills passed to protect the children of Maryland today, while we accelerate our education efforts around the state regarding the dangers of athletic participation with an injured brain,” he said.

Crutchfield is director of the Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program at the Brain & Spine Institute. He is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the effects of concussions on athletes. He serves on the NFL Player Association’s return-to play committee and as an independent neurologist for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Both Maryland bills are expected to go to a vote in the next few weeks.

-Noel Lloyd

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Matter Close to the Heart: Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

Most of us are familiar with heart-related conditions such as blood clots, stroke, high blood pressure and heart murmurs. If we haven’t been directly affected by a heart condition, we probably know someone who has had a heart attack or undergone heart surgery. In fact, according an article in CNN Health, “more than 70 million Americans live every day with some form of heart disease, which can include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, angina (chest pain), heart attack and congenital heart defects.”

One heart condition that you may not be familiar with is patent foramen ovale (PFO). PFO is an opening or flap in the heart. It is present in everyone before birth, but it closes spontaneously in 80 percent of people a few days after birth.

A few other facts about PFO:
• The cause of PFO is unknown
• Cases have been found in 50 percent of people who have suffered a cryptogenic stroke (stroke of unknown origin) and 50 percent of migraine sufferers
• People with PFO usually exhibit no symptoms
• It may be diagnosed when a child or adult has a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
• Can only be detected by a specialized test, such as an echocardiogram

Dr. Robert J. Sommer, M.D., Director of the Adult Invasive Congenital Heart Services at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, presented at Sinai Hospital Grand Rounds last week on“The On-Going PFO Controversy: Is Closure I the End of the Line?” In the presentation Sommer addressed the results of the Closure I trial, as well as PFO studies related to decompression illness, obstructive sleep apnea and migraines.

Closure I is a 2-year study that began in June 2003. The study compared the effectiveness of using a medical device against using conventional medication to permanently close PFO openings. It compared STARFlex septal repair implants against conventional medications (aspirin and clopidogrel) in 909 patients. At the end of the study it was found that there was no difference in PFO between patients that had received the STARFlex implants and those that received medication.

Some of the questions that Sommer posed that could have affected the study were:
• What if the wrong patients were studied?
• What if the wrong medical device was used?
• What if the 2-year follow-up was too short?
• What if the samples used were too small?

Although the results of the study were disappointing, there are still trials ongoing in the U.S. and Europe.

In addition to the Closure I study Sommer also addressed PFO’s link to:
• Decompression Illness in Divers – It was concluded that the risk for PFO is 5 times higher in divers. This is because some divers produce bubbles in their venous blood before and after decompression. Sommer personally treated New York City policemen and firefighters who were divers who had an increased PFO.

• Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Sommer had closed a PFO on a patient who was suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. She told him that 3 weeks after the operation she was dreaming again!

• Migraines – The MIST (Migraine Intervention with STARFlex Technology) study was a double-blind study that tested the effects of closed PFO on migraines. Some patients were fitted with the STARFlex implant while others were not. The results were that 37 percent of patients with the STARFlex implant had reduced migraines while 17 percent of those without the implants had reduced migraines. Sommer himself had a patient who instantly stopped having migraines the day after closing his PFO.

To conclude, Sommer stated that certain goals need to be met in order to better understand PFO: Doctors need to establish which syndromes are casually linked to PFO, they need to know the benefits of closure therapy, and they need to create proper methods of treating patients selected for PFO intervention. Although he sees the future of PFO at a crossroads, there are still people out there, like himself, whose goal is to expand interest and public awareness of this heart-related condition.

Here is a heartwarming story of a patient who underwent successful PFO surgery:

To learn more about PFO and other heart-related conditions, call 410-601-WELL (9355).
-Trish Smith

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NFL Player Visits Children's Hospital

Baltimore native and NFL Buffalo Bills' player Aaron Maybin spent time at the The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai on Friday, his second visit in the past year to Sinai to cheer on pediatric patients.

Maybin is the founder of Project Mayhem, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing "aid, both personal and economic, to help underprivileged and at-risk youth excel beyond their current conditions." Maybin was in town for Project Mayhem's 2nd Annual “Celebration of the Arts” week and gala, held on Saturday at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The gala topped off the Project Mayhem “Celebration of the Arts” Week, where Maybin and celebrity friends hosted field trips and art workshops at Baltimore City middle and high schools and community centers.

To view a clip of Aaron’s visit to pediatrics at Sinai, click here. To learn more about the Children's Hospital, call 410-601-WELL(9355).

Monday, March 7, 2011

National Sleep Awareness Week: Not a Snooze

March 7 - 13 marks National Sleep Awareness Week, an educational campaign to remind people about the importance of sleep. It’s believed that the vast majority of sleep disorder cases go undiagnosed, and therefore many people suffer unnecessarily.

However, a lack of quality sleep can be dangerous and lead to motor vehicle accidents, if not to other types of health risks. If you have one or more of these signs of a sleep disorder, please contact your primary care doctor:

• Daytime sleepiness
• Frequent nighttime urination
• High blood pressure
• Irritability or moodiness
• Loud, irregular snoring
• Memory loss
• Morning headaches
• Poor concentration

If you’re a loud snorer who doesn’t feel rested enough during the day, you may be unwittingly putting your heart at risk. That’s because you could have untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a disorder directly linked to several cardiovascular syndromes that cause premature death. OSA, in which the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, is a condition that’s estimated to affect 24 percent of men and 8 percent of women.

Over the past decade, several studies have linked OSA to high blood pressure. Patients who require three or more medications to control hypertension have an 80 percent chance of having OSA. Also, compared to the general population the prevalence of OSA is significantly higher among patients with chronic heart failure (50 percent higher), atrial fibrillation (50 percent higher) and coronary artery disease (40 percent higher). For patients with these heart conditions, a sleep study is crucial; if their OSA goes undiagnosed and untreated, they will have a doubled risk for death during the next 5 years.

Given OSA’s direct connection to the heart, it’s important for all OSA patients that it be treated as soon as possible. However, it’s believed that between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with OSA have not yet been diagnosed. Please talk with your doctor as soon as possible if you have one or more of these symptoms:

• Cessation of breathing during sleep, and then waking up with a gasp (most often observed by another)
• Loud, irregular snoring
• Restless sleep with frequent (and possibly unnoticed) awakening
• Morning headache, dry mouth and/or sore throat
• Daytime sleepiness
• Irritability and/or impaired concentration
• High blood pressure

A sleep disorder can only be diagnosed through a sleep study, in which things such as one’s breathing, heart rate, muscle movements and blood oxygen levels are measured while he or she sleeps. Both Sinai and Northwest hospitals have American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited sleep centers, where sleep studies are performed on all nights of the week. For more information about either center, please contact 410-601-WELL (9355).
-Holly Hosler

Friday, March 4, 2011

Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy: Fact Vs. Fiction

When a woman becomes or is trying to get pregnant, there is a long list of precautions, such as no cigarettes, cutting back on caffeine, and either avoiding or greatly limiting the amount of alcohol.

But one piece of advice is commonly misunderstood: how to avoid toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by parasitic protozoa Toxoplasma gondii. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 22.5 percent of the U.S. population 12 years and older have been infected with Toxoplasma. A cat who gets the parasite passes it through the feces in oocyst form, but once a cat is infected it typically acquires immunity. A cat with the symptoms and diagnosis of toxoplasmosis can be treated with antibiotics.

Yet cats are often surrendered to shelters when a woman becomes pregnant, an act that is unnecessary, experts say.

"It's far more risky for a pregnant mother to eat raw or undercooked meat, drink unfiltered water, or travel to countries with poor sanitation/higher endemic toxoplasmosis risk than it is for them to take care of their cats," says John Cmar, M.D., internist at Sinai Hospital. "For someone with a normal immune system with established cats that aren't interacting with the outdoor milieu, the risk of being exposed to an active infection via contact with cat feces that your immune system didn't catch and prevent from circulating to the fetus is vastly small."

If the mother-to-be is worried, it's considered reasonable to ask one's partner or other family member to deal with the litter box. That's what Teresa Frost did. She is due in April, and adopted 1-year-old feline Madeline in January. She also has a 13-year-old three-legged calico cat named Hopey.

"Everyone has their own sensitivities," Frost says. "Tim, my husband, took over the litter box as soon as we started to try to get pregnant, and he's been doing it since then. I did talk to my doctor about the cats and she didn't have any concerns."

In fact, her cats have been a comfort when her pregnancy caused her to feel under the weather.

"When I got pregnant we still had Hopey's brother, who has since died, and they were both very sensitive to me when I was sick," Frost continues. "They were very in tune with what was going on. I didn't feel well at first and so they'd come and cuddle with me. They'd put my paws on my belly."

There are situations where a woman may be the only one who can deal with the litter box, which is why hand washing is important, Cmar says. It's also a good idea to keep a cat indoors and to give it canned or commercial cat food, as opposed to sending it outside to hunt down fresh meat.

"If the litter is changed daily, things should be fine (fresh feces are not infectious), and can be done safely by the mother with thorough hand washing after," Cmar says. "Playing or cuddling with a known and established cat carries essentially no risk."

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Thursday, March 3, 2011

House of Ruth Launches Boutique

by Audrey Bergin, MA, Coordinator, Domestic Violence(DOVE)Program at Northwest Hospital

The Domestic Violence Program at Northwest Hospital (DOVE) partners with many local agencies, including the House of Ruth, which provides emergency shelter and legal services for many of our clients. We are very excited to find out about a new consignment shop in our backyard which benefits the House of Ruth.

Ruth's Closet is new resale boutique in Owings Mills with women's clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry. There will be an evening gown trunk show in the Value Village Shopping Center starting today and going through Sunday, and times can be seen here.

We are collaborating with Ruth's Closet, as many domestic violence victims leave their homes with only the clothes on their back. Other times, their abuser destroys their clothes. Some victims may be entering the work force for the first time and need clothes for the work place. We are working with Ruth's Closet to find a way to allow our clients to shop there, with DOVE covering the costs.

This will also be an opportunity for Northwest employees to participate in a clothing drive. Whether it's the trunk show or donating, there are great opportunities to support local victims of domestic violence! To volunteer or donate to Ruth's Closet, click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RIAO Orthopedic Surgeon Leads Mission Trip to India

More than 47 people from the city of Ludhiana in northern India received life-changing joint replacement surgery thanks to a team of 45 dedicated volunteers from Operation Walk Maryland. The hip and knee replacement surgeries were performed at no cost for people who were suffering from disabling arthritis. The recipients would never have had access to this type of care if not for the team of dedicated volunteers.

Operation Walk Maryland was founded by Harpall Khanuja, M.D., Director of Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital and his wife Maria, an orthopedic nurse. Dr. Khanuja serves as medical director and Maria coordinates the never ending list of logistical details for the organization. Cargo and supplies are managed by Dotsie Czajkowski, a nurse practioner at the RIAO. This is the group’s third medical mission trip and it included volunteers from Sinai Hospital and eight other Baltimore-area medical institutions.

The group from Operation Walk Maryland obviously touched many lives during their time in India, but Dr. Khanuja expressed how the patients they treat also have a profound effect on the lives of the surgeons, doctors, nurses and volunteers that donate their time and expertise.

“There’s no doubt we get a lot of satisfaction from taking care of these patients,” said Dr. Khanuja, “It is quite humbling to have these very, very poor people thanking God for you, for not giving up on them and for treating them and changing their lives.”

“But I also value these trips as a way to introduce new people to this sort of medical mission work and seeing it grow,” he added. “I recently spoke to one of the physicians who went with us to India. He told me that this was the most rewarding thing he’s ever done in his medical career and how he’d like to be more involved in the future. That’s perhaps the most satisfying part for me.”

While there are other Operation Walk organizations throughout the country, each one is independent and self-funded through donations. Each team talks all the supplies and personnel to perform state of the art joint replacement surgery for free for poor people throughout the world. To learn more about Operation Walk Maryland, including photo galleries from their mission trips, click here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Latest Research Indicates Gastric Bypass Most Effective Weight Loss Surgery

Two recent studies have been released that indicate the gastric bypass procedure is a more effective weight loss surgery option as compared to other weight loss surgery procedures. More information on the studies can be found here.

Christina Li, M.D, FACS, and Division Head of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Sinai Hospital, says she concurs with the study results.

"The gastric bypass is generally considered to be the gold standard for weight loss surgery, against which other weight loss surgeries are compared," she said. "It is known that gastric bypass is an excellent metabolic as well as weight loss surgery, making it a powerful tool in combating diabetes; in fact, it is the best known surgical treatment for diabetes and one that has been proposed (but not yet approved) as a surgery for poorly controlled diabetics, regardless of the patient's weight."

Dr. Li says she sees improvements in patients' sugar levels within 24 to 36 hours following surgery, and usually makes changes in patients' medication regimens prior to discharge from the hospital.

"In addition, gastric bypass surgery can be done safely and laparoscopically, allowing patients to be discharged after staying only one to two days in the hospital," she says. "I would also agree with Dr. Khalili's assessment that it is difficult to compare the adjustable gastric band data to the gastric bypass data after only one year. It does take patients longer to lose weight with the gastric band - 3 years or more - but this is usually known to and accepted by patients prior to the device being implanted. It is also known that the gastric band can help to improve diabetes, but this is mainly due to the weight loss that people experience rather than a direct metabolic effect as seen with the gastric bypass."

Dr. Li says each of the surgeries mentioned - gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric banding - "appeal to each individual for different reasons, and people may have different comfort levels with each of the surgeries."

"Most importantly, potential patients really need to learn about the surgeries via the internet and at informational seminars, such as the ones we have monthly at Sinai Hospital, and discuss their choices with their physicians. Ultimately, we as bariatric surgeons are here to educate patients and help them to select the best weight loss surgery that will suit their needs, fit with their health and lifestyle, and match their comfort level," Dr. Li says.

For more information on the LifeBridge Health Bariatrics Program with Centers at Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital, call 410 - 601 - WELL (9355) or click here.

-Betsy Haley