Monday, August 31, 2009

Treatment of Tumors at the Berman Brain & Spine Institute

by James E. Conway, M.D.
Director, Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery, and Director, Skull Base Neurosurgery,
Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute
Department of Neurosurgery, Sinai Hospital

The recent deaths of columnist Robert Novak and Senator Edward Kennedy from brain tumors have brought forth many questions about the disease. Both Mr. Novak and Senator Kennedy were diagnosed with primary, malignant, grade 4 gliomas in the summer of 2008.

Numerous types of tumors may affect the brain, including benign and malignant tumors such as gliomas, meningiomas, and metastatic tumors. While some tumors are not as aggressive, a primary malignant, grade 4 glioma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme, is generally very aggressive and usually fatal. Sometimes, patients with brain tumors appear asymptomatic until the tumor has reached a large size. Symptoms of brain tumor include headache, seizure, weakness, or difficulty in speaking. Generally, the presence of a brain tumor is diagnosed after a patient experiences symptoms, and it is confirmed by CT and MRI scans. Treatment options are very specialized and may involve biopsy, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Treatment of brain tumors at the Berman Brain & Spine Institute involves a team of clinical experts that includes neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. Our interdisciplinary approach permits us to closely interact and focus on individual patients’ symptoms, treatments, and treatment responses to determine the best management for each patient, from diagnosis to treatment with advanced, cutting-edge therapies.

To learn more about treatment of brain tumors at the Berman Brain & Spine Institute, call 410-601-WELL.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Northwest Hospital Auxiliary Honored

Northwest Hospital relies on the energy, expertise and kindness of its dedicated volunteers. The Northwest Hospital Auxiliary is a steadfast champion of the hospital, working as an advocate in the mission of improving the well-being of the community. Throughout the years, the auxiliary has contributed $6.1 million in support.

As a reflection of their commitment, the Northwest Hospital Main Lobby was dedicated to the auxiliary on Monday.

"Every dedication is significant but this one holds a special place in my heart because of what it represents – which is almost 45 years of unprecedented support for this hospital," said Northwest Hospital President Erik Wexler at the dedication.

In the above picture, from left to right, are LifeBridge Health CEO Warren Green, Erik Wexler, Auxiliary President Audrey Lifcovich, Auxiliary Officers Estelle Golberg, Ruth Rothbard and Eileen Jacobs, and Northwest Hospital Chairman of the Board Walter Amprey.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Going Green at LifeBridge Health

LifeBridge Health continues to make strides in "going green." In an effort to do our part in the reduction of bio-carbons and volatile organic compounds (VOC), the Environmental Services department at Sinai has officially jumped on the “green” bandwagon. This has been a very calculated and methodical process that includes periods of product assessment and training.

Our most significant green effort is education. We found both an opportunity and obligation to educate about the impact each individual has on the environment and our ability to reduce our carbon footprint. If we convey the importance of our green practices in creative ways, then employees will be more apt to implement these practices in their own lives, as well as support our efforts within the facility.

Our green journey examined the entire cleaning processes based upon an assessment of cleanable spaces and the products and work practices to maximize cleanliness. Yet we also want to reduce unnecessary hazardous cleaning chemical exposures to patients, staff and visitors, and reduce the environmental harm of sending used chemicals down the drain.

Some of our changes include using water to strip floors, rather than using caustic strippers. We are now using a closed system floor finish applicator, which reduces the smell of chemicals, and are using microfiber floor burnishing pads that eliminate airborne particles.

We have made great strides in protecting the Sinai family from the dangers of unsafe products. Our transition to environmentally friendly and safe products will reduce our impact on the earth. We are committed to doing our part. Becoming green isn’t always easy, but it is the right thing to do!

Leather Sale at Sinai Hospital

Leather coats and jackets are on sale this Friday in the Zamoiski Auditorium at Sinai Hospital. All sizes are available, and items for men, women and children are on sale. The sale, run by the Sinai Hospital Auxiliary with benefits going to the hospital, runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Save the Wrapping

by Jill R. Adler, M.S.
Manager, Community Health Education, LifeBridge Health

So what’s the largest organ in the body? If you said skin, you win! The wrapping that covers our internal organs, protects them from injury and also provides a barrier between germs and our internal organs. Our skin regulates body temperature too!

Given all the amazing things that our skin does to protect us, it’s a wonder we then injure it by spending too much time in the sun. This is my story - I hope it isn’t yours too.

I am a two-time melanoma survivor. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. I was diagnosed first at age 23 and then again at age 33. Having one melanoma put me at increased risk for having a second one. A couple of nasty sunburns in my youth combined with several risk factors such as light skin, red hair, and family history put me at a greater risk.

So what prompted me to change my evil ways? No. 1: At the age of 22 I attended a lecture given by a dermatologist. She said “If you see color on your skin, any color-red, pink, tan, brown-consider that an injury to your skin.” Something clicked and that day marked the end of my sun-seeking behaviors. No. 2: Coincidentally, several months later a friend noticed a small, very dark mole on my skin and encouraged me to get it checked it out by a dermatologist.

After visiting with a dermatologist and getting my mole removed and sampled, I received a phone call about a week later with the news that I indeed did have melanoma. Since it hadn’t spread too far it could be removed surgically and the chances of survival were pretty good. Pretty darn good, I would say, as I didn’t have another incident until 10 years later. My second melanoma was caught at a much earlier stage, as I knew what to look for and had been pro-active with my follow-up care with my dermatologist.

Today – I am happy to say I am melanoma free! I do the right stuff. I wear protective sunblock every day. I try to plan outdoor activities early in the morning or in the late afternoon when the sun is not at its strongest. I wear my shades. Finally, I look at my skin from head to toe every month to see if any moles have changed and may need further examination.

Today there are additional risks such as new environmental hazards and using tanning beds. Tanning beds are now recognized to increase the risk of melanoma by 75 percent if the user is under the age of 30, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer's recent report in the Lancet Oncology.

Remember - it's up to protecting your unique birthday suit, your biggest organ, the skin you are in for life!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cooking Demo at LifeBridge Health & Fitness

Peaches are one of the best ways for your body to receive Vitamin C, necessary for the healing of wounds, and the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. One small peach provides 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C.

Peaches should always be rinsed before eating. If you are peeling or cutting up peaches, you can keep them from turning brown by dabbing lemon juice on them.

To see how you can make a fresh peach salad or salsa, attend Sarah Mogol's healthy cooking demo tomorrow at 10 a.m. at LifeBridge Health & Fitness. Mogol is the owner of The Bountiful Experience.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Golf Challenge Benefits Cancer Patients

Imagine playing golf on a beautiful fall day while also helping cancer patients.

With the LifeBridge Health Golf Challenge, that vision can become a reality. The 2009 challenge, presented by Radcliffe Jewelers, will take place on Tuesday, October 27 at Chestnut Ridge Country Club, with the shotgun start beginning at noon. The club is located at 11700 Falls Road in Lutherville.

The event will feature golf, a putting contest, lunch, snacks and beverages on the golf course, a silent auction; plus hors d'oeuvres and cocktails at the tournament's end.

The proceeds will provide financial relief for underserved cancer patients being treated at Sinai and Northwest hospitals. Funds will assist with prescription drugs, transportation to and from treatments and other expenses not covered by insurance.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. To learn more, contact Jen Doyle at 410.601.4438 or at jpolkow (at)

Friday, August 21, 2009

VSP Receives Funding Awards

Sinai Hospital's VSP has been providing vocational services and employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities in the Baltimore metropolitan area for over 35 years. VSP has recently received numerous grant funding awards.

The United Way of Central Maryland has re-funded the Youth Achieving Potential program, an in-school transition service for high school students from Northwestern and W.E.B. DuBois high schools. This program provides career assessment, paid internships and job/education placement services. During the 2008-2009 academic year, VSP's YAP initiative provided transitioning services to 40 exiting seniors with special needs from Baltimore City Public High Schools.

The Baltimore City's Mayor's Office of Employment Development has provided funding to provide training and job placement services in Patient Transportation, Environmental Services, and Food and Nutrition Services to 24 qualified trainees over the next 12 months, starting in November 2009. Eligible participants would be referred from the City's One Stop Career Centers and are either dislocated, unemployed, or low-income workers. That office's Youth Opportunity department also has provided funding for an eighth year to VSP to serve out-of-school youth with LifeBridge Health-paid internships and job placement services.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Supplies Delivered to Local Schools

As part of Sinai Hospital's year-long 50th anniversary celebration, employees donated enough food and school supplies to fill a LifeBridge Health shuttle in July. Today $800 in school supplies were delivered to Cross County Elementary and Middle School and Pimlico Elementary and Middle School.

LifeBridge Health Marketing Communications Coordinator Betsy Haley, a member of the 50th anniversary committee, is pictured here taking some of the supplies into Cross Country.

Employees donated items ranging from spiral notebooks, pencils, binders, puzzles, crayons, glue, construction paper and scissors. The amount of supplies filled 30 boxes, with 15 going to each school.

In this picture, Pimlico principal Elneeta Jones and Acting Assistant Principal Cynthia Schley stand by some of these supplies. The administrators said the supplies are very appreciated. One recent study showed that almost half of parents spend up to $250 on back-to-school supplies.

Baltimore City Public Schools begin August 31. To read their back-to-school checklist, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Helping Your Child Eat Healthy

As children head back to school, many parents are wondering about what their loved ones will eat during the day. After all, there's no good way to know if the healthy lunch of carrots, yogurt and tofu is being tossed aside for a diet of chips and cookies.

Pediatric dietitian Angie Eshleman of Sinai Hospital says the way to make lunch more appealing is by getting your children involved.

Instead of automatically making a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, let a child tell you that she'd rather have ham on multigrain, Eshleman says.

Why throw an apple into your son's lunch box when he would rather have carrots? she asks. If children like dressing, pack a small container of low-fat ranch, Eshleman advises.

"For instance, one of the best ways to make sure your kids like their lunches is to let them be in on the planning and packing process," Eshleman says. "It may take a little longer in the beginning, but they'll like having a choice and be more apt to eat their food."

For kids tired of the same old foods, Eshleman suggests a pasta salad with different color pasta or a cheese wrap, instead of a cheese sandwich.

Be creative, and if you have tips on how to get your children to eat healthy at school, post them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Skimping on Sleep Can Impact Health

Short on sleep? Join the crowd. Many of us have too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it – and often sleep pays the price.

Health care workers can face exceptional challenges, especially medical residents, who can log up to 80 hours a week. While the number of hours can seem grueling, a few years ago the number was much higher. But six years ago, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) instituted a new policy that limited residents to working a maximum of 80 hours a week, explains Charles Albrecht, M.D., the program director for the Johns Hopkins/Sinai Hospital Residency Program in Internal Medicine and interim chief for Sinai Department of Medicine. Hospitals realize the importance of physicians getting enough rest, he says.

"We are mandated to inform and teach about fatigue," Dr. Albrecht says. "We discuss with our physicians how to recognize the effects of a lack of sleep.

One point made is that residents should recognize whether their sleepiness stems from overwork or from a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, or a psychological disorder, such as depression. That's true for everyone – ask your physician if you're getting more than eight to nine hours of sleep, but are still tired.

It's a common fallacy for people to think they can get by on four, five or six hours. The increasing recognition of sleep being critical to successful patient outcomes is a big improvement, Dr. Albrecht says. Nine years ago, when he was a resident, he remembers struggling to stay awake on the drive home after logging a long hospital shift. Since that's a danger for both the doctor and other drivers, Sinai started a transportation fund. If a resident feels sleepy before driving home, the transportation fund is available for use of a taxi.

Recommendations for getting a good night's sleep include making the room very dark, using earplugs, staying away from coffee or trying a cup of herbal tea. Experts also agree that nutritional and fitness routines are key components in a good night's sleep. Stick to a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner schedule, and don't work out too close to bedtime.

Al Kafrouni, M.D., who runs the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwest Hospital, says problems falling or staying asleep are among the symptoms of a sleep disorder.

"There are different modalities for treatment including pharmacotherapy, cognitive and behavioral techniques or a combination of these modalities," he says.

Another common sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to be excessively sleepy during the day and experience disruptive sleep during the night. It's also treatable, Dr. Kafrouni says.

In addition to cutting back on caffeine, exercise and good nutrition, Dr. Kafrouni advises:

  • Avoid steady use of sleeping pills.
  • Use your bedroom as a place to sleep, not as an office or place to watch television.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed.
To learn more about the Sleep Disorders Centers at LifeBridge Health, call 410-601-WELL (9355) or visit us at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tweeted Surgery a Success

Today's gastric sleeve surgery, which LifeBridge Health tweeted live, was a success. The patient, a morbidly obese man weighing 362 pounds, is expected to fully recover. His ideal weight is 159 pounds.

Gastric sleeve is not gastric bypass. In the sleeve procedure, surgeon Alex Gandsas, M.D., removed up to 85 percent of the stomach, and there was no rerouting of the small bowel or insertion of plastic devices. This procedure is considered safer, especially for those with heart ailments.

To see pictures of the surgery, visit us on Twitter under the name "LBHealth."

To read more about today's surgery and the history of tweeted surgery, view this Maryland Daily Record article.

If you are interested in learning more about gastric sleeve, call 410-601-9355 (WELL).

Gastic Surgery Today on Twitter

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter this morning as Dr. Alex Gandas performs a
sleeve gastrectomy on a 49-year-old male with a history of hypertension and sleep apnea.

In this procedure, the stomach is reduced to about 15 percent of its original size, and is performed

To access the live twittered surgery, search for LBHealth on Monday beginning at 10:30 a.m. Then follow us by using #LBOR. You can always find out the latest in health news and what's going on at LifeBridge Health by following us on Twitter -

Friday, August 14, 2009

Breast Friends Offers Support

Do you know a woman under 40 who has been diagnosed with breast cancer? Breast Friends is designed to address their unique needs.
The program offers support and educational activities. A program of LifeBridge Health, the group was originally funded by a grant from the Maryland Affliate of the Susan G Komen for the Cure. Components of Breast Friends include:
• Biannual educational speakers for young survivors, supporters, and health care providers.
• Breast health educational sessions for young women in colleges and other women’s groups.
• Educational outreach for low-income or uninsured African American women.
• Monthly professionally facilitated support group for young women.
• Individual support and advocacy provided by the program coordinator.

To learn more about Breast Friends, call 410-601-WELL (9355) or e-mail Deb at dkirklan(at)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Follow Our Gastric Sleeve Surgery on Twitter

Do you have questions about what surgical weight loss looks like?

Now is your chance to follow it live on Monday, August 17 at 9:30 a.m. Dr. Alex Gandsas, Division Head, Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, will perform a sleeve gastrectomy on a 49-year old male with a history of hypertension and sleep apnea. The patient's body mass index is 57 and he currently weighs 362 lbs. His ideal weight is 159 lbs.

In this procedure, the stomach is reduced to about 15 percent of its original size, and is performed laparoscopically.

To access the live twittered surgery, search for LBHealth on Monday beginning at 9:30 a.m. Then follow us by using #LBOR. You can always find out the latest in health news and what's going on at LifeBridge Health by following us on Twitter -

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sinai Nurse Wins Spirited Women Award

Sinai Hospital oncology nurse Bunny Kohn, R.N., was honored as the 2009 Spirited Women of Baltimore this afternoon. The event was held at Morton's Steakhouse and benefited the American Red Cross.

The Spirited Women Awards recognize women making extraordinary contributions to the community. Kohn, who works in the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute Outpatient Infusion Center, has worked at Sinai for 37 years. She began her career in Women’s Surgery and continued on with the program after it was combined with the Department of Oncology in 1995. Since that time she successfully completed a local oncology and chemotherapy curriculum and earned her National Oncology Nursing Certification in 1999.

In her spare time, and using her own funds, Kohn organizes "card parties" to make homemade cards for cancer patients, and also knits scarves and hats for those undergoing chemotherapy.

The award recognizes someone who is a leader and mentor in her profession, as well as exemplifying volunteerism, generosity, compassion, sensitivity and humility. In this picture, Kohn poses with MyCity4Her founder Monyka Berrocosa.

"I was more than overwhelmed to be honored for the things I do in the community," Kohn says. "I was speechless."

Other awards winners were Teresa Hall, named the Spirited Woman on the Rise, and Sharon Perfetti, named the Spirited Woman in Balance.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Extreme Wounds Heal at Northwest

by Helene King

At Northwest Hospital, patients are benefiting from a highly effective approach to treating chronic wounds. Through the Center for Wound Care at Northwest Hospital, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is now used to treat stubborn, non-healing wounds, including diabetic wounds and other ulcers of the lower extremities.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy enables patients to breathe 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized chamber.

“Ulcers that do not heal are often caused by a decrease of blood flowing to a certain area of the body,” says Alan S. Davis, M.D., F.A.C.S., director of the Center for Wound Care and HBOT at Northwest Hospital. “This process assists in healing wounds, fights certain types of infections and helps improve circulation by stimulating new blood vessel growth.”

The hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been in operation for several years at Northwest Hospital, which is one of only a handful of regional hospitals offering this therapy. The results speak for themselves.

What began as slight discomfort for 69-year old Michael Sanner almost cost him the use of his leg. A stone lodged in his shoe had rubbed his ankle raw. Sanner noticed the bruised ankle turning a dark color the following day. His physician’s diagnosis: gangrene in the ankle with the possibility that his food would need to be amputated.

“It took me by surprise, it happened so quickly,” says Sanner, who was referred to the Center.

When conventional treatment didn’t work, it was determined that Sanner, a diabetic, was a candidate for HBOT. Almost immediately after the first treatment, the wound began to heal.

“It was the easiest healing process I’ve ever experienced, no fuss, no pain, no bother,” says Sanner.

In an initial patient consultation, measurements are taken to determine the likelihood of healing with HBOT. After several treatments, measurements are taken again to determine the therapy’s effectiveness.

The hyperbaric oxygen chambers are staffed by surgeons, technicians and nurses- all specially trained in hyperbaric medicine.

For a preliminary consultation, contact the Center for Wound Care at Northwest Hospital at 410-496-7191.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brain & Spine Institute hosts International Hydrocephalus Conference

In mid-September, many of the top hydrocephalus experts from around the world will converge at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Baltimore Inner Harbor for three back-to-back scientific conferences concerned with hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain. Combined, they will provide an unprecedented view of the leading edge of research and treatment of hydrocephalus and related disorders. It’s a “can’t miss” event for those interested in this important topic.

The primary conference ― Hydrocephalus 2009, the official scientific and educational meeting of the International Society for Hydrocephalus and Cerebrospinal Fluid Disorders (ISHCSF) ― will be held September 16–19. More than 130 scientific abstracts will be presented by neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, medical physicists, engineers, and advocacy group leaders. Faculty and staff of the Adult Hydrocephalus Center at the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute are playing a pivotal role as hosts for this conference.

A one-day neuropsychology pre-conference on September 16 will start the process of developing standards for neuropsychologic testing for clinical care and research in hydrocephalus for children and adults. Co-chairs are Cynthia Smith, PhD, Director of the Division of Neuropsychology at the Berman Brain & Spine Institute, and Per Hellstrom, MSc, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Göteborg, Sweden.

James P. “Pat” McAllister II, PhD, from the University of Utah will chair “Improving Outcomes in Hydrocephalus: Bridging the Gap Between Basic Science and Clinical Management” on September 14 and 15. This event is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Hydrocephalus Association, and STARS-kids.

To learn more or to register for the conference, click here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cases of breast cancer among younger women rising

By Deb Kirkland, RN, BSN, MPH
Nurse Navigator, Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Center at Northwest Hospital

This year over 200,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and of those 11,000 will be under the age of 40. This accounts for 5 percent of the breast cancer population. More cases are being seen in younger women; we don’t know if women are actually developing the disease younger, or if due to awareness, we are detecting it earlier. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women aged 15 to 54…and yes…I said 15!

The key message to any woman, regardless of age, if you are not doing formal breast self exams, at least feel your breasts, know your breasts, be your own advocate and follow up with any changes. Since it is not as common in this population, younger women may be dismissed due to their age, therefore diagnosed at a later stage. Screening is also problematic, as there are no effective diagnostic screening tools for younger women. Their breasts tend to be dense, making it difficult to detect cancer on a mammogram. Eighty percent of younger women palpate their own lumps, or it is found by their significant other. By the time a lump can be felt in a younger woman, it is often large enough and advanced enough to lower chances of survival.

For young women with a higher risk, such as a family history or carrying breast cancer gene, breast MRIs are suggested for higher surveillance. If you have a first degree relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, screening is recommended 10 years prior to the age of their diagnosis. Always remember, as with any cancer, early detection is key! If you would like more information on younger women and breast cancer, visit The Young Survival Coalition is a resourceful national advocacy group for women under 40 with breast cancer.

LifeBridge Health’s Breast Friends program provides support and education to young women diagnosed with breast cancer locally, as well as, provides education and outreach to young women and African American women in the community. If you are a young survivor and would like to learn more about Breast Friends, please contact Deb Kirkland at dkirklan (at) or call 410-521-8831.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Weight Gain Can Lead to Arthritis Problems

Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to ward off the effects of arthritis.

Wayne Leadbetter, M.D., of the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement and the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital, said on last week's Ask the Expert Radio that the rising obesity among Americans is one factor in the increasing rates of arthritis.

"If you look at arthritis in the lower extremities, such as the knees, hips and ankles, it escalates at an astounding rate when you are at less than a proper weight," he said. "When you have tremendous loads and stresses on the cartilage, the cells can't keep up with the rebuilding of the cartilage, and that's where the trouble starts."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maintaining a healthy weight may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease the occurrence of new knee osteoarthritis.

Every Sunday morning on WJZ (105.7 FM), you can call in to ask questions of experts from Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Courtland Gardens and LifeBridge Health & Fitness as they join host Rudy Miller. If you want to ask the expert, call 410-481-1057 between 8 and 9 a.m. or you can e-mail your questions to This week's guest is Kevin Crutchfield, M.D., of the Sandra and Malcom Berman Brain & Spine Institute.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Attention Northwest Hospital Visitors

A public service announcement for drivers headed to Northwest Hospital: beginning tomorrow, the framing of the Carlson Lane bridge enclosure will begin. For the safety of traffic and pedestrians, the ability to drive or walk under this portion of the bridge will stop. Vehicles will be required to exit at the north end of the "F" Lot onto Old Court Road and pedestrians will be able to walk out onto the sidewalk along Carlson Lane and up the driveway to the front entrance.
This portion of the project is expected to last for about two weeks. Thank you for your patience.

Toenail Fungus Meets Its Match

It's beach season. Are you wearing socks in the sand because you are embarrassed by your toes?

If so, you are not alone. An estimated 35 to 40 million people have toenail fungus, which occurs from exposure to a moist and warm environment, such as sweaty gym sneakers. The result can be discolored, thickened or brittle nails that can make your loved one shriek in horror.

But now a new treatment is available - the pinpoint laser, which zaps the tissue in the nail bed and kills the fungus. Mark Spier, D.P.M., of Northwest Hospital told WJZ that improvement can occur within months. To see the story, click here.

To learn more about Dr. Spier, click here or call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nurses Honored by Dunkin' Donuts

The Greater Baltimore area Dunkin' Donuts' “Thanks to You” heroes program salutes a different group of local heroes each month by offering them a free medium coffee every Tuesday.

This month, it's nurses who are being honored. Any Tuesday in August, nurses can receive the free coffee by showing their hospital badge.

Sinai Hospital nurses joined WJZ's Ron Matz this morning to kick off the celebration. Lia Walker, RN, BSN, a Sinai Labor and Delivery nurse and Maryland Hospital Association nursing representative for the Who Will Care? initiative, spoke with Matz about her career and the need for nurses. To see the clip, click here.

Walker is now in her eighth year of working at Sinai. A native of Pennsylvania, she received her nursing degree from the University of Maryland, and has worked in Labor and Delivery for the past three years.

Dunkin' Donuts will honor teachers in September, firefighters in October, veterans and active military personnel in November, and police officers in December. Stores participating include Baltimore city, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, Talbot, Queen Anne and Kent counties.

Monday, August 3, 2009

White Coats: Medical Professionalism or Infectious Risk?

Anyone who's seen me striding about the hospital knows that one of my distinctive Cmar-isms is that I always roll up the sleeves of my white coat, as well as my shirt. Far from being a mere affectation, to me it serves two important purposes, both related to infection control. One is that with sleeves extending to the wrist, there's a chance that they will become dirty or contaminated while examining a patient, and the bacteria involved could be passed on by said sleeves to the next patient I deal with. Secondly, it is easier to wash my hands between seeing patients more thoroughly without having soap and grime absorbent fabric right next to them.

While this represents my personal choice, and not an institutional policy, there is a growing level of concern nationally about the role that physician dress might play in the spread of infections in the hospital setting. Many studies have documented that items which come into contact with patients, from stethoscopes and pens to neckties and shirt sleeves, can easily become contaminated with organisms that can cause serious infections in otherwise ill hospitalized patients. Bugs that can cause life-threatening infections and are difficult to treat, such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (often abbreviated "C. diff."), are of prime concern.

Looking at things from that perspective, it seems obvious that a few simple changes in professional dress - getting rid of long sleeves and neckties, for example - would be an easy way to reduce the transmission of virulent organisms among patients, as well as encouraging physicians to wash their hands. In fact, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom did just that in 2007, instituting a "bare below the elbows" policy in all hospitals that bans long sleeved white coats and shirts, as well as long neckties. However, these changes on the NHS's part have met with some controversy.

For one thing, there isn't a robust body of evidence that looks specifically at how much such a change would actually decrease the rates of hospital-acquired infections in patients. More importantly to some, the white coat has been a symbol of physicianhood for over 100 years. Many doctors and patients alike believe they should not be done away with, because they represent the professionalism of physicians, and their knowledge of both the science and the art of medicine.

As recently reported by the Washington Post, the American Medical Association is currently debating a proposal made at its recent annual meeting to recommend against physicians wearing white coats. In addition to the infection control and professional respect issues noted above, some have opined that the white coat has changed from a symbol of trust to one of possible anxiety for patients. In fact, some doctors have taken to going without their white coats to affect a more casual rapport with their patients, especially in a time when health care is sometimes seen as an industrial, uncaring machine.

There are many nuances to this issue, and it's one that will not be resolved soon, especially in our current health care climate. Until the time when more science and firmer policies are available, I'm going to keep rolling up my sleeves, and of course, washing my hands.

What do you think?

Art and Music Help Patients Heal

by Helene King

Paint, guitars and geraniums are just a few of the office supplies that LifeBridge Health therapists use to improve the quality of life for residents and patients.

“Therapeutic recreation is very hands-on,” says Jamilah Bashir, M.S., C.T.R.S., manager of Therapeutic Recreation at Courtland Gardens. “We give our participants a purpose in life, a way to express themselves that impacts them every day. It is the most rewarding career that I can think of.”

For example, during some art sessions, Courtland Gardens residents make jewelry. This gives them the opportunity to strengthen their hand-eye coordination as they string beads, focus on completing tasks, and wear the bracelets and necklaces that they’ve made.

Visual arts are only one aspect of recreational therapy. At Levindale, David Parker, a board-certified music therapist, both plays instruments for groups and goes to the bedsides of people who are not mobile.

“Music is a great way to reconnect people with special memories,” says David. “Songs spark remembrances about everything from their childhoods to romances to jobs. Residents often sing or hum a tune as I play my guitar. A remarkable time for me was when a non-talking dementia patient sang a song.”

Music therapy can lessen agitation, as well as stimulate people in comas and those with traumatic brain injuries.

Adults aren’t the only ones who benefit from expressive therapy at LifeBridge Health. “It’s involved in everything we do to enhance the social and psychological well-being of our patients,” explains Kristen Mylotte, C.C.L.S., a certified child life specialist in Sinai’s Pediatrics department.

“If a child is going through chemotherapy, he can design a hat to cover his head. If a little girl has diabetes, she can decorate a doll used to show her how to be at ease with her condition,” continues Kristen. The most heartwarming part of her job is to watch “her” children grow into healthy adults.

Seeing plants thrive is key for people who take part in horticulture therapy. “Nurturing another living thing is often the medicine that participants in one of Levindale’s programs need to regain their confidence,” says Dee McGuire, H.T.R. “Cultivating plants lets them know that they’re in control of some areas of their lives.”