Monday, November 30, 2009

Children's Cancer Foundation Founder Honored

It’s not uncommon for people, sometimes strangers, to come up and hug Shirley Howard. After all, for many pediatric oncology patients and their families, she is a guardian angel.

For more than 30 years, Howard has been a tireless advocate and fund raiser for children’s cancer research and facilities. Howard, the president and founder of the Children’s Cancer Foundation, was honored last month by the Association of Fund Raising Professionals with the 2009 Impact of One Award and received a standing ovation as she went to accept her award, which was the first of its kind. Howard was nominated by Sinai Hospital, and is pictured above with Sinai Hospital President Neil Meltzer.

“I felt very humbled by the award,” Howard says. “It never goes to my head.”

When she began her work, originally through the Variety club, hospitals had nothing for pediatric oncology patients. Children were often put in the same ward as other sick pediatric patients, meaning their weak immune systems had to try to fight cancer and diseases like chicken pox. There was very little research or funding for research on pediatric oncology.

Since its inception in 1993, CCF has raised 30.5 million dollars, which has benefited the National Institutes of Health, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Lombardi Cancer Institute, the Children’s National Medical Center and Sinai Hospital. The foundation is one of the few funding sources for up and coming researchers. One example: many years ago, one of the recipients of its research grants was a fellow at Johns Hopkins named Joseph Wiley, M.D., who is today the chief of the Herman & Walter Samuelson’s Children’s Hospital at Sinai.

Last year, a $50,000 grant helped establish the pediatric oncology laboratory at Sinai, and this year $75,000 is going toward the capital campaign to expand the Herman & Walter Samuelson’s Children’s Hospital. The groundbreaking for the expansion and renovation of the children’s hospital will be Thursday, December 3.

“The support of the Children’s Cancer Foundation is invaluable, not only for our capital campaign, but for our research-driven efforts in pediatric oncology,” says Shannon Wollman, development manager at LifeBridge Health.

CCF Executive Director Diane Perry, who is also Howard’s daughter, says it’s hard to find a pediatric oncology unit in the area that hasn’t benefited from the foundation and her mother’s dedication.

“This is my mother’s legacy,” Perry says.

While Howard’s work is by no means done, she says it’s encouraging that while only one child in 10 used to survive cancer, that number is now 8 in 10. Now 85, she’s showing little signs of slowing down. She has been invited to weddings, christenings, bat mitzvahs and other life markers for pediatric oncology patients who have benefited from the foundation’s work.

“I have the best partner in the world – I have substantial help from God,” Howard says. “There’s a lot of love that has poured out.”

Blood Drive Today at Sinai and Northwest

Please help us meet our 2009 LifeBridge Health goal by collecting 200 successful units of blood today at Sinai and Northwest hospitals.

LifeBridge Health is thankful for those who are able to donate a unit of blood at this blood drive and participants will be provided a meal ticket. Blood donors will also have the opportunity to personalize a dedication or in honor of message to someone special in their life, which will be displayed within the hospital.

Walk-ins are welcome. The Sinai drive runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Northwest drive runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Magic of Life Gala Chairs Named

LifeBridge Health is proud to name Joseph Cooper and Jon Levinson of Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Inc. and John Shmerler, co-owner of Radcliffe Jewelers, as the chairs of the 2010 Magic of Life Gala, which is scheduled to be held Saturday, June 5 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

“We are pleased that these three prominent businessmen have agreed to preside over our biggest fundraising event,” says Warren Green, president and CEO of LifeBridge Health.
“Each is recognized for his strong commitment to improving life for people in need, which includes many years of dedicated service to LifeBridge Health and its centers.”

Cooper is a principal of Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Inc. He has been a significant
fundraiser for decades. He has devoted more than 25 years to Sinai Hospital and LifeBridge Health and is currently on both Boards of Directors. He also supports THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and Israel Bonds.

Levinson is executive vice president at Alex Cooper Auctioneers, Inc. He tirelessly lends his fund raising experience and auctioneer skills for educational, artistic and health care endeavors, which incorporates his work on the Sinai Hospital Board of Directors. He has twice served as co-chair to The Magic of Life Gala. He is a former chairman of THE ASSOCIATED’s annual campaign and is a current board member. Levinson was past chair of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gala and presently is a BSO board member. In 2002, he chaired The North American Maccabi Games.

Shmerler staunchly supports a variety of health causes. He is a member of the Sinai Hospital Board of Directors and a former board member of the National Kidney Foundation. In addition, he raises money for a wide range of cancer charities.

The 2010 gala is the sixth Magic of Life event, since the inception of LifeBridge Health in 1998. It has consistently earned the distinction of being one of the largest one-day nonprofit fundraisers in Baltimore history, raising millions of dollars for projects at Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (formerly Jewish Convalescent & Nursing Home).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Read about Stroke. Hear about Stroke. Know about Stroke

by Linda Pazdalski, B.S.N., R.N.
Stroke Program Coordinator, Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute

You read it in any number of publications, hear it on any number of radio programs, and see it on any number of TV commercials almost daily…..Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the US. STROKE IS THE THIRD LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE US. STROKE IS THE THIRD LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN THE US.

But…..are you able to recognize a stroke when it happens?

Stroke warning signs:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Use the mnemonic: F.A.S.T.

Face…….Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arm……..Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech…Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
Time……If someone you know has one or more of these signs, call 911 immediately.

The speed with which one who has sustained a stroke receives medical attention greatly influences the speed and quality of their rehabilitation and their return to normal activities. Regardless of type, all strokes can have a devastating impact on the survivors and on all of those who care for them.

Learn the signs. Use the mnemonic. Help someone survive and thrive.

For more information about stroke, visit the Power to End Stroke Web site or contact the American Heart Association, 1-800-AHA-USA-1 (1-800-242-8721). To learn more about stroke programs at LifeBridge Health, click here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Help for Uterine Fibroids

Women with painful uterine fibroids were once told they had a single recourse—a hysterectomy. But now there’s another option. Uterine artery embolization, performed by interventional radiologists at Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital, is an effective, minimally invasive treatment that results in relief of symptoms.

Uterine fibroids, which grow within and around the uterus, are the most common, non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age, according to the National Institutes of Health. They occur in approximately one-third of all women, and African-American women are estimated to be at three to five times greater risk of developing fibroids.

“There’s a huge population of women who are debilitated by fibroids,” says Craig R. Suchin, M.D., head of Interventional Radiology at LifeBridge Health. “These fibroids can cause severe menstrual bleeding, pelvic bloating and cramping, and frequent urination. In the past the main recommendation for fibroid treatment was a hysterectomy.”

Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging guidance, such as X-rays or ultrasound. These procedures are less painful and require less recovery time than open surgery.

The uterine artery embolization procedure involves placement of a catheter into the uterine artery where material is deposited to block the flow of blood to the fibroid. Blockage of the blood supply causes shrinkage of the fibroids resulting in resolution of symptoms.

In addition to fibroid embolization, interventional radiologists also perform minimally invasive varicose vein treatments, where radiofrequency energy and foam sclerotherapy are used to seal off unsightly veins. Other interventional radiology procedures include chemoembolization, where cancer-fighting agents are sent directly to a malignant tumor, and needle biopsies.

Interventional radiologists also can insert gastrostomy tubes for patients unable to eat, and perform balloon angioplasties, where a small balloon is inserted into a blocked or narrowed blood vessel.

“Interventional radiology procedures are a major advance in medicine that do not require large incisions, and offer less risk, less pain and shorter recovery times compared to surgery,” says Dale B. Johnson, M.D., an interventional radiologist at LifeBridge Health.

Dr. Johnson will give a talk on uterine fibroids and the latest treatment options at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2 at Grey Rock Mansion, 400 Grey Rock Road, Pikesville. The cost is free - to register, go to or call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Get Moving This Holiday Weekend

For many of us, the most activity exerted on Thursday will be cheering/booing the football game (or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, whichever is more popular in your home).

But before the dinner, or pre-dessert, consider doing the following family-friendly activities that burn calories, get your heart rate up, and help you bond with your out-of-town relatives. All calorie estimates are based on a 154-pound person. Those who weigh more will burn more calories and those who weigh less will burn less calories.
  • Dancing: One hour (330 carlories); thirty minutes (165 calories)
  • Walking (3.5 miles per hour): One hour (280 calories); thirty minutes (140)
  • Walking (4.5 miles per hour): One hour (460 calories); thirty minutes (230 calories)
  • Basketball (vigourous): One hour (440 calories); thirty minutes (220 calories)
  • Football (touch/flag): One hour (563); thirty minutes (281)

And don't forget, the Know Your Health Baltimore program will have a free heart and lifestyle screening at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 1. This analysis includes blood pressure, cholesterol/triglycerides, body composition analysis and brief counseling with a registered nurse. Visit Know Your Health or call 410-601-9355 (WELL) for more information or to register.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Better Breathing Through Music

Learning how to play “Jingle Bells” on the harmonica may do more than lift your spirits – it may also be the key to better breathing.

Sinai Hospital respiratory therapists, with harmonica player Buddy Wakefield, presented “Tune into Better Breathing” Thursday to Sinai staff members, including pediatric residents. A harmonica and elementary music book were provided to participants.

“Playing the harmonica is like doing push-ups for your lungs,” Wakefield, 86, told the crowd. He is pictured above demonstrating the techniques for playing. As a long-time musician, Wakefield became interested in the therapeutic powers of the harmonica when his brother Fred had end-stage Parkinson’s disease. Wakefield worked with his brother’s speech therapy group to teach breathing techniques. From there, he realized playing the harmonica helps with pursed-lip and diaphragmatic breathing, and research suggests it can strengthen the muscles needed to inhale and exhale.

Performance Improvement/Education Coordinator Ann Ludwig in Sinai Hospital’s Respiratory Therapy Department said the harmonica involves many of the techniques therapists use with pediatric patients, with children often responding more positively.

“All of our therapies are not fun – this is,” she said. “This incorporates many of the same things, like pursed breathing, but it gives you a happy feeling. It lifts the spirits.”

Participants like Sharon Rossi, R.N., M.S.N., the director of patient care services in Women and Children's Services, pictured at left, quickly picked up the tools used to play the harmonica.

Wakefield has worked with the American Parkinson Disease Association, the American Lung Association, and the Asthma Foundation, taking his instructional lessons across the country.

To learn more about Sinai Hospital’s pediatric programs, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Swine Flu": Myths, Facts and Communication

I was recently interviewed by Philip and Lisa Mulford for this week's episode of their audio show, Communication 360. From the episode description:

Every day [swine flu] is in the news, often with conflicting information. Even the medical community is inconsistent. So what do you do? And more importantly what is the best decision for your child? Having already experienced the H1N1 with both their boys, Philip & Lisa are joined by infectious disease specialist Dr. John Cmar to identify the fact from the myth and put the H1N1 back in perspective.

Communication 360 in general focuses on the different roles that communication has in relationships, understanding how it can break down, and ways to mediate it after it has. Given how much of the recent "swine flu" hysteria has been due to often poor communication from news media and medical authorities to the general public, I was eager to explore influenza from this perspective.

Our hour chat was fun, and ended up covering a lot of ground. We had a good discussion of how many aspects of talking about influenza - such as basic questions like "is this a bad flu season?" or "is there more than one H1N1?" - are not straightforward, and require a nuanced discussion that is often difficult to communicate to laypersons in limited time. There were many questions raised that I didn't have a chance to discuss in detail, including some aspects of influenza vaccines and overhyped side effect possibilities. Now that some of the reactionary influenza coverage has died down a bit in the media at large, I'll be taking a closer look at some of these issues in future posts.

(Please note that I was accidentally credited as being an "infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins" early in the episode, but this was corrected later on in the program to reflect my infectious diseases and clinical work here at Sinai, and my teaching appointments through Johns Hopkins University.)

da Vinci Arrives at Sinai Hospital

Sinai Hospital is now offering the minimally invasive robotic surgery with the da Vinci® Surgical System. Presently, surgeons are offering robotic minimally invasive surgery for gynecology and urology procedures.

"Robotic-assisted surgeries begins a new era in minimally invasive procedures that will allow quicker recovery, less complications and safer overall outcomes," said Fouad Abbas, M.D., the first surgeon at Sinai to use the new system

Using the da Vinci Surgical System, surgeons may operate while seated comfortably at a console viewing a 3D image of the surgical field. The surgeon's fingers grasp the master controls below the display, with hands and wrists naturally positioned relative to his or her eyes. The system seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.

"We are very pleased to offer robotic-assisted surgery to our patients to improve overall patient care," says Neil Meltzer, president and COO of Sinai Hospital and senior vice president of LifeBridge Health. "Our highly skilled surgeons now have the ability to perform procedures more quickly and easily which enables increased clinical capability."

The da Vinci Surgical System also allows more surgeons to perform complex procedures using a minimally invasive approach - routinely and with confidence. By enhancing surgical capabilities, the da Vinci Surgical System helps to improve clinical outcomes and redefine standards of care. Patients may experience the following benefits: reduced trauma to the body, reduced blood loss and need for transfusions, less postoperative pain and discomfort, less risk of infection, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery and return to normal daily activities, and less scarring and improved cosmesis.

To learn more about the robotic surgery program at Sinai Hospital, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Surgeon Responds to Mammogram Controversy

by Holly Hosler

By now, you have likely heard about the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s controversial new recommendation on Monday that most women should refrain from getting mammograms in their 40s. Their rationale is that most breast cancer is found in women after age 50, and that mammography spots too many false positives for women in their 40s.

So when should women get their first mammograms? Dawn Leonard, M.D., breast surgeon and medical director of Northwest Hospital’s Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center, says that current standards as outlined by organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network should still be followed. Annual mammograms, in conjunction with annual clinical breast examination should begin for women starting at age 40 – and perhaps even earlier if a woman has a strong family history of breast cancer.

“When a woman has a family history of the disease, she should get her first mammogram 5 to 10 years before the earliest age of breast cancer diagnosis among her relatives,” says Dr. Leonard.

She also points out that even with advances in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, there are still populations that are more vulnerable with higher breast cancer mortality rates. For example, breast cancer tends to strike African American women at a younger age than is often expected by the medical community, and their mortality rates are higher.

“Practice guidelines that post-pone mammographic screening and eradicate self and clinical examinations will have detrimental impacts on early diagnosis and cancer survival. The medical community and the advocacy community have worked tirelessly since the ’70s to empower women to be more aware of their breast health needs and to make choices that improve breast cancer survival. The recent USPSTF recommendations appear to be a step in the wrong direction,” concludes Dr. Leonard.

The American Cancer Society stands by its guideline that by age 40, all women should be getting an annual mammogram. This group also recommends that each woman get a baseline mammography between the ages of 35 and 40 so that doctors have a record of what is likely “normal” for her. Our bodies are all different, so if you are a woman aged 20 and older, it is important to do a self breast exam on a monthly basis. This way, you know what is normal for your own breasts, and when you feel something out of the ordinary, you can alert your physician. For directions on how to perform a breast self exam, visit the American Cancer Society.

Finally, the task force also made the statement that breast self exams are of no value. However the fact remains that, though at a much lower rate, breast cancer occurs among young women as well. I know of at least two women, without family histories of breast cancer, who were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40. Had it not been for breast self exams, these women would not be with us today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Geriatricians Help the Elderly

by Helene King

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, geriatricians and the services they need will be in more demand. One report by the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs and the American Geriatrics Society estimates that while there are currently 7,500 certified geriatricians in the nation, 36,000 geriatricians will be needed by 2030.

If you’ve never even heard of a geriatrician, you’re not alone. To find out why their skills may help you enjoy a healthy fulfilling life as you get older, read on.

What is a Geriatrician?
A geriatrician is a medical doctor who has further training and experience in diagnosing and treating people as they get older. The challenges we face as we age can involve ongoing, complex medical conditions and/or physical, emotional and social issues. Geriatricians can also be crucial when it comes to maintaining normal care and wellness routines.

Geriatricians are board-certified in internal or family medicine and have a minimum of one year of clinical training in geriatric medicine.

A geriatrician is different than a gerontologist because the later has an advanced degree in the study of aging but does not have a medical degree.

Additionally, geriatricians work with family members and caregivers for approaches to cope with their own worries and stress.

Common Elderly Issues
With major advancements in medical care, people are living longer. However, as the body ages, it changes and different conditions can develop. Factors of both the environment and genetics play roles in how we grow older.

Heart disease is the most common illness that people 64 and old develop, but it’s often not the only thing. Many times elders are dealing with two or more of the following health issues at the same time.

  • Heart conditions (hypertension, vascular disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease)
  • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Incontinence (urine and stool)
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • Breathing problems
  • Frequent falls
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Eye problems (cataracts, glaucoma, Macular Degeneration)
  • A weakened immune system

Multi-Disciplinary Team
“Caring for the elderly is really a team effort,” says Susan Levy, MD, medical director of Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “A geriatrician often works with medical experts in a variety of fields to treat the whole person, both physically and psychologically.”

Other team members can include primary care doctors, social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, cardiologists, urologists and neurologists.

Sometimes people who are 60 or older and are healthy stay with their primary care doctors. Other times, they decide to also work with a geriatrician, so he or she has a baseline to analyze any changes if, or when, they happen.

Getting Help
If you are wondering where can find a geriatrician, in the Baltimore area, you can call LifeBridge Health at 410-601-WELL. For other areas, you can call American Geriatrics Society at 212-308-1414.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Breast Surgeon Talks about Therapies; New Trends

by Holly Hosler

Although breast cancer incidence is declining in the U.S. overall, it is actually increasing among residents of Baltimore city and Baltimore County, says Dawn Leonard, M.D., presenter at last week’s Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute oncology grand rounds on “Advances in Breast Cancer: Current Therapy and New Trends.”

Leonard, fellowship-trained breast surgeon and medical director of the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center, gave LifeBridge Health clinicians an up-to-date summary of the current standards of care for the detection and treatment of breast cancer. She also mentioned trends and technological advances that will likely shape the future of breast care.

In terms of imaging and cancer detection, mammography is the only modality that’s been shown in clinical studies to improve survival rates, says Leonard. Moreover, digital mammography has been proven 28 percent more effective than traditional mammography in detecting cancer in pre- and peri-menopausal women, women with dense breasts and women under age 50. Leonard gave the group a glimpse into the future of breast imaging with pictures of 3-D mammography/ tomosynthesis and positron electron mammography, modalities that are not yet FDA-approved but appear to be promising.

For biopsies, Leonard says she avoids excisional biopsies, and even incisional biopsies are becoming somewhat passé. Less invasive needle biopsy techniques are now standard, and core needle biopsies are preferable to fine needle aspiration because they give pathologists better cell samples from which to ascertain more information about a tumor.

Leonard stresses the importance of patients’ desires when it comes to breast surgery. There has been an increasing trend lately towards mastectomy, and she understands why many patients would want to take this prophylactic measure. However, most patients are good candidates for lumpectomy.

“Survival rates are not impacted by breast conservation when combined with indicated adjuvant therapies,” says Leonard.

If a patient elects for a lumpectomy, which conserves as much breast tissue as possible, it’s imperative that she receive radiation treatment. Patients who have lumpectomies without radiation follow-up have a 20 to 40 percent chance of breast cancer recurrence in five years. (Therefore, most patients receive full breast irradiation, which makes the lumpectomy nearly as effective as a mastectomy at preventing future cancer development.) Leonard described IMRT, partial breast irradiation (PBI) and MammoSite (a form of PBI), adding that PBI is still relatively new and at this time the body of data is small to accurately gauge its effectiveness over the long term. (The American Society of Clinical Oncology considers it investigational.)

Breast care surgery may one day see a revolution in that surgery will be replaced by ablative therapy. (Ablation uses a probe to heat or freeze tumors, effectively destroying them from the inside out.) A final trend that Leonard mentioned was the focusing of breast care in a single, multi-modal, multidisciplinary care center, such as the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital.

To schedule an appointment at the breast care center, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Monday, November 16, 2009

LifeBridge Health Has WINGS

LifeBridge Health employees are dedicated to helping others. The latest beneficiary of this is a shelter that provides help to women in need.

My Sister’s Place Women’s Center offers shower and laundry facilities, case management, life skills workshops, parenting classes, GED preparation, breakfast, lunch and dinner. A part of Catholic Charities, it is a beneficiary of the LifeBridge Health Women’s Initiative Next Generation (WINGS) committee.

WINGS members provide dinner for between 50 to 70 women at My Sister’s Place on the first Thursday of each month. The roughly 30 members plan, shop, cook, transport and serve the meal.

“Everyone who participates or volunteers really feels fulfilled,” says LifeBridge Health Vice President Barbara Epke. “My Sister’s Place really helps women take the first step toward regaining their lives. Really, these women could be any of us, and that’s why it feels so good to share our time and talent.”

An employee becomes eligible for WINGS membership for a year by donating a minimum of $1,000 to United Way, but other volunteers in the LifeBridge Health system are always welcome to help out with serving dinner, Barbara says. The WINGS group also purchased new silverware for My Sister’s Place, and some departments have collected toiletries for the women.

The women’s center underwent a facelift a year ago, and is providing a new model of service, says Jill Kusner, relationship associate manager with United Way of Central Maryland. Located at 17 W. Franklin Street, My Sister’s Place is the combined new home of three existing Catholic Charities programs: My Sister’s Place, the Samaritan Center and Families that Work.

"Once people get involved, and see where the money goes, it creates a different mindset,” Jill says. “The women at LifeBridge have their fingers on the pulse to see what’s needed there.”

Mel Lindenmuth, R.N., safety and performance improvement specialist at Levindale, is pleased to be in her second year with WINGS. She runs the shopping component of the meal served at the shelter.

“It’s a way of giving back,” Mel says. “When I look at these women, you know a lot of them are there because of the economy. There’s a good feeling inside you when you help.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sinai Hospital Anniversary Cookbook Debuts

Are you looking for a unique holiday gift? Consider purchasing the Sinai Hospital Employees' 50th Anniversary Cookbook, on sale now.

Whether it’s for Thanksgiving or just a casual dinner at home, this collection of 142 recipes has something for everybody. The recipes were submitted from LifeBridge Health employees and their family members. The cookbook has breakfast, cookies/goodies, dessert, entree, hors d'oeuvres/appetizer and side dish recipes.

“I think everyone loves cookbooks,” says Shannon Wollman, manager in the Department of Development and head of the Sinai Employee Activities Committee, which spearheaded the project. Shannon credits the original idea to Paula Kirschensteiner, a medical technologist in the Sinai Blood Bank.

The cookbook is extra special because each recipe has a personal connection to a LifeBridge Health employee, Shannon says. Offered at $10, the cookbooks will be on sale through the end of the year in various locations, and make wonderful holiday gifts, Shannon says. All proceeds will benefit charitable causes at Sinai.

While not everything in the cookbook may strike your culinary fancy, Shannon says it’s all about sharing family recipes.

“After all, we’re a family here at Sinai and LifeBridge Health, and that’s what makes us a success,” she says.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blood Drives Save Lives

It was a red letter day at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital on November 10. That’s because the semi-annual Red Cross blood drive was held in the Schwaber Multi-Purpose Room.

Levindale employees, volunteers and visitors took time out of their busy day to roll up their sleeves to give the gift of life to someone they will never meet.

When the final tally was taken, 27 pints of blood were donated during the six-hour drive. There were four first-time donors. Sheila Pate, GNA, was nervous but pushed past her fears to give. She was all smiles afterward and proudly put an “I gave blood” sticker on her badge.

For Sheila and everyone else who donated, pretzels and two kinds of cookies were at the finish line. In addition to show appreciation, each person received a goodie bag of a cup, change purse, jar opener and pen from Levindale.

This time instead of giving out T-shirts, the Red Cross made a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure in honor of every donor, which benefits the fight against breast cancer.

Forty people were tested for the drive, but for different reasons, they were not able to give blood this time. However, if low iron was the reason for the refusal, before the next drive, you can increase your level by eating iron-rich foods, which include raisins, spinach and other greens, lean meats, sardines and other seafood, turkey and beans.

The next blood drive at Levindale is July 12, 2010. The next blood drive at Sinai and Northwest hospitals will be Monday, November 30. The Northwest drive will be from Northwest drive will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the Sinai drive will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We need everyone's help to make our 2009 goal, which requires us to collect almost another 200 units. Members of the community are welcome to walk-in during operating hours in order to give the gift of life. Your donation is the perfect way to honor a loved one or sick friend, or in memory of someone during this holiday season.

Sign up today by clicking here !

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LifeBridge Health Celebrates Diversity with Fashion Show

by Sandra Crockett

Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital became many different worlds Friday afternoon as the Diversity Council presented its Fashion Parade. The colorful event was open to all LifeBridge Health employees (and family members), and several Levindale residents attended.

At the show, ten brave souls strutted their stuff around the packed room. Actually, they danced to the beat of Liberian, Indian, Jamaican, Bolivian and Estonian tunes. In the picture above are Victoria Shaw (Bolivia), Kris Jogi (Estonia), Carol Stewart (Jamaica) and Johnson Gaye (Liberia).

Johnson Gaye, a Sinai Hospital radiologic technologist, wore a traditional Liberian male black and white gown complete with headwear and snakeskin shoes. Johnson, whose wife and son joined him in their Liberian attire, treated the Levindale residents and others with a joyous dance to African music as he modeled his attire. It just might have been the showstopper.

There were a few models representing India including Pinky Patel, a coordinator at Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Home. Pinky dazzled in a hand-embroidered black and silver sari that is usually worn at weddings and for special occasions. And who better, we ask, to dress the part of young woman in a wedding reception dress than Pinky’s 20-year-old daughter Maryam Nisa.

Maryam, a nursing student at the University of Maryland, was simply gorgeous in an all white hand-embroidered dress from Pakistan and was carrying a beautiful, heavy scarf called a dupatta. Her friend Benita Ubawgu, also a nursing student, wore a fuschia-colored flowing and sparkling Indian party dress called pujabi shalwar kameeze, which is heavy with beautiful embroidery. Also representing India was Carolyn Bland, a coordinator form Courtland, who wore a three multi-colored dress that would be the life of any Indian evening party.

Representing Bolivia was Sinai pulmonary nurse Victoria Shaw, who was festive in a bright, multi-colored full skirt and a matching hat tilted jauntily on her head. Victoria also set up a small table that showcased additional traditional Bolivian wear.

And speaking of colorful, Kristina Jogi, graphic designer in the Marketing department is creative but usually a pretty sedate person. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at her bright attire! Kris was wearing a traditional folk costume from a region called Muhu, which is an island off the coast of Estonia in the Baltic Sea.

Not to be missed was Carol Stewart, radiology manager at Sinai, who made Jamaica proud. Not only did she sport the bright green, yellow and black colors of Jamaica, she proudly carried the Jamaican flag as she modeled for the crowd.

Valerie Brandenburg, human resources director at Northwest Hospital, and Beverly Carrington, R.N., infusion and cancer therapy nurse at Northwest Hospital, were the announcers. Great job! And here’s hoping everyone – and more – is up for doing another fashion show.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Easing Pain Requires Science and Art

Once considered nothing more than a symptom of a larger problem, pain today is acknowledged to be the so-called fifth vital sign. Doctors now believe pain is not only an indicator of a patient's health, but also a real impediment to full recovery. They'll stop at nothing to treat it.

New quality standards now demand hospitals treat patients’ pain aggressively and thoroughly, and advances in pain treatment are helping doctors treat even chronic pain problems.

Although Scott Brown, M.D., Robert Tsuji, M.D., and Ross Sugar, M.D., agree the practice of pain management has come a long way in the past few decades, all three LifeBridge Health doctors are quick to point out one thing has never changed.

Pain management, they say, always starts with the basics.

“The key is to do a full evaluation,” says Dr. Brown, chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, a program of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute. “It has to start with a full evaluation, because you have to identify as best you can where the pain generator is.”

“The most important thing about pain management is finding a diagnosis,” agrees Dr. Tsuji, director of Pain Medicine at Northwest Hospital. “And if you can’t find out that direct cause, you want to find out at least how to manage it.”

Drs. Brown, Tsuji, Ross and LifeBridge Health’s other pain experts treat patients suffering from any number of pain problems: spine, back and neck problems; pinched nerves; muscle pain; carpel tunnel syndrome; diabetes; post-traumatic syndrome; Fibromyalgia; Lyme disease; and many, many others. “But,” Dr. Brown notes, “the basic concepts apply to everyone.”

“I feel that one of the most important services we can offer any patient, and especially pain patients, is listening. All patients have a story to tell, and if the physician is willing to listen carefully to the patient, not only will the physician gain critical insight into the patient's problem, but also an important bond of trust will be established,” says Dr. Sugar, director of Pain Medicine at Sinai Hospital.

Once the problem is targeted, there are a number of pain management techniques doctors can use to help patients overcome their pain and live a normal life. And patients are happier because of it.

In the years to come, Dr. Brown says doctors are likely to have even more effective, wide-ranging treatments for pain problems. Together the team stays abreast of developments in pain management - new drugs, more sophisticated tests and techniques, and a better overall understanding of how pain works.

But the basics, Dr. Tsuji says, will still apply.

“Pain management really is an art. And it's not going to change all that much.”

To schedule an appointment with a LifeBridge Health pain management specialist, call 410-601-WELL.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rescued Levindale Cats Find Homes

by Helene King

From living in a sewer to having a pink bedroom all her own. Sounds like the stuff dreams are made of, and it is, for a cat named Mitzvah (good deed in Hebrew).

You may remember Mitzvah from the post in July on this blog. That’s when Constance Harris, a patient accounting representative at Levindale, rescued her.

Constance had to climb into a sewer grate on West Belvedere Avenue, the road between Sinai Hospital and Levindale, because Mitzvah refused to move, despite coaxing from several LifeBridge employees.

You’d think finding a cat below ground and saving it would be enough surprises for one day. However as you’ll recall, turns out, less than two hours later, Mitzvah had given birth to four kittens. They are all pictured at right.

Belvedere, Levi (for Levindale), Ron (for Levindale’s past President Ron Rothstein) and Kay (Harris’ middle name) were all healthy but still needed with their mother.

So it was “Constance to the rescue” for a second time. She agreed to foster the family until September, when the little ones would be weaned.

Nurturing the cats fit purr-fectly into the Eden Alternative philosophy, already being followed at Levindale and Courtland Gardens. It incorporates pets into the daily life of residents, patients and employees to make the atmosphere in both centers more homey and relaxed.

In fact, with the help of an animal fund at Levindale, all of the cats were vaccinated and spayed.

Loving homes were found for each mom and her kittens after 10 weeks. Levindale’s Director of Nursing for Long Term Care, Barbara Church, adopted Mitzvah.

The fuzzy found feline is now one of six cats that Barbara and her husband parent. Mitzvah has her own room with a furry blanket and a perch so she can look out the window whenever she chooses. She has come a long way from the sewer grate!

Mitzvah also is the youngest of the four-legged members of the Church family, so at mealtimes, she’s been known to jump up the steps ahead of her older siblings so she can reach her food bowl first. She also receives all of the love any cat could want.

Other Levindale employees adopted Mitzvah’s kittens. It’s really the cat's meow for each of them.

Levindale employees or visitors, have you met Mitzvah or her kittens? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Friday, November 6, 2009

LifeBridge Health Receives EPA Trailblazer Award

Every day there are efforts in place at LifeBridge Health to reduce our environmental impact. Many are policies that patients and visitors do not see, such as requiring a minimal amount of supplies being ordered to reduce the amount of packaging involved in shipping. Others are more public, such as cafeteria napkin dispensers that give out a napkin at a time, or having recycling bins posted throughout our buildings.

For its corporate waste management policies, food reduction and composting, and environmentally-friendly purchasing policies, LifeBridge Health was one of six hospitals to receive a Trailblazer Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The award, presented by EPA’s Virginia Thompson, Sustainable Healthcare Sector Manager in Region 3, was given at the Maryland H2E conference this morning. The award winners are considered models for other hospitals in that they have shown leadership in a particular area of sustainability.

“These hospitals are paving the way – thus, they are trailblazers,” Thompson said. “This is the first year the trailblazer awards were extended to Maryland, and the applications were very strong.”

Thompson said one of the reasons the hospital systems were successful was because executive leadership listened to ideas from clinical and support staff on the front lines.

What’s neat is that in all cases the support came from the top management. The support of the front management is absolutely critical,” she said.

Going Green at LifeBridge Health

Don't forget - as part of the Sinai Hospital 50th Anniversary "50 Acts of Kindness," both employees and members of the community are invited to drop off their unwanted electronic materials on 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. TODAY and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow.

We are accepting the following items:
  • A/V equipment
  • Biomedical devices
  • Cables/cords
  • Circuit Boards
  • Copiers
  • Diagnostic equipment
  • Fax machines
  • X-ray films
  • Gurneys/wheelchairs
  • Hard Drives
  • Keyboards
  • Lab Instruments
  • Light Fixtures
  • Loose wire/cabling
  • Mainframes
  • Manuals
  • Microwaves
  • Network Equipment
  • Pallets
  • Plastic trays/containers
  • Printers
  • Radios
  • Rigid Plastics
  • Scanners
  • Scrap metal
  • Software
  • Speakers
  • Stereos
  • Stretch wrap
  • Telecom equipment
  • Telephones (including cellular)
  • Typewriters
  • Wire
  • Toys
  • Bicycles
Unacceptable Items:
  • Televisions
  • Computer monitors
  • Tires
  • Batteries
  • Paint
  • Mattresses
  • Box springs
  • Regular recycling items like paper, aluminum, glass, etc.
We'll be blogging and tweeting from the Maryland H2E conference today. Stay tuned!

Medical Mystery Behind Beethoven

by Holly Hosler

It’s not every day that Sinai Hospital Grand Rounds begins with the opening strains of a live rendition of “Romance No. 1 in G major.” But that’s exactly what happened yesterday morning in the Zamoiski Auditorium, where Phillip A. Mackowiak, M.D., gave a historical clinicopathologic presentation on Beethoven’s health problems. (Yes, that’s “Beethoven” as in Ludwig van.)

Before and after the presentation, Netanel Draiblate, Ph.D. candidate in violin performance at the University of Maryland College Park, wowed the audience of physicians with a couple of the extraordinary composer’s masterpieces.

University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Dr. Mackowiak, author of Post Mortem: Solving History’s Great Medical Mysteries, is an expert in using the historical record to shed light on the ailments suffered by luminaries such as Alexander the Great and Joan of Arc. He started the presentation by painting a picture of late 18th century Viennese life, a time of the Enlightenment and revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, high infant mortality and pre-Pasteurian medicine. Beethoven had been raised by an upright mother and an abusive, alcoholic father, who paraded him around courtly society to show off his talent.

Beethoven’s health problems began to show up in earnest when he was in his 20s. He suffered first from diarrhea and abdominal pain, which were to be a lifelong issue for him. (Beethoven himself revealed that the 4th movement of his 2nd symphony is a musical description of the rumblings of his bowels.)

However, Beethoven’s most famous malady is his loss of hearing. He began to notice the problem at the age of 26 and by age 32, he accepted that he would eventually become completely deaf. This plunged him into a deep depression; he was embarrassed that even though he was a composer, he would lose his auditory sense. Beethoven tried to compensate for his loss through the use of headphones, but he never again heard a sound after the age of 50. (Even so, he went on to write his 9th and final symphony, also known as "Ode to Joy", which is lauded by many as the greatest symphony ever composed.)

The great composer had a litany of other health problems: migraine headaches, rheumatism, bronchitis, jaundice, painful eye inflammation and nosebleeds, to name a few. His final illness was a combination of diarrhea, jaundice and pneumonia, among other things, and he died in a delirium at age 56. Among the abnormalities revealed by Beethoven’s autopsy were cerebral atrophy (brain), macronodular cirrhosis (liver) and renal papillary necrosis (kidneys).

Scholars are at odds as to whether Beethoven had one disease, such as syphilis, or several that accounted for his poor health. Diagnostic solutions to Beethoven’s medical mysteries have included typhus, Paget’s Disease and lead intoxication. A couple members of the Grand Rounds audience even suggested that tuberculosis may have contributed to Beethoven’s problems – certainly a possibility, as the disease was widespread at the time and had claimed the life of Beethoven’s mother.

However, syphilis remains the strongest candidate to explain the physical sufferings that Beethoven endured. Though the man came of age alongside actors and actresses (infamous in those days for their promiscuity) and was known to have had affairs with married women, Dr. Mackowiak believes that it was congenital syphilis – probably passed down from his father – that was the source of Beethoven’s ill health. Congenital syphilis does not usually affect its victims until they are in their 20s, which is consistent with when Beethoven started noticing his hearing problems.

In fact, with the exception of his kidney problems, syphilis could explain all of Beethoven’s various ailments. However, even his kidney problems have a plausible explanation: Beethoven’s brother, who was an apothecary, had provided him with analgesics for most of his life. These drugs could have very easily caused analgesic nephropathy leading to the renal papillary necrosis. (In other words, too many painkillers killed his kidneys.)

While a definitive diagnosis is impossible with the limited physical evidence we have left (the temporal bones of Beethoven’s skull were saved, but were lost in the decade or two after his death), today’s Grand Rounds reflects why it's so important to have teaching hospitals like Sinai. The lectures illustrate the fascinating art of diagnosing patients – even long after they are dead.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blood Pressure Screening Next Week

When is the last time you have had your blood pressure checked?

High blood pressure can lead to coronary heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, heart failure, and other problems. High blood pressure is defined as 140/90 or higher. Blood pressure tends to rise with age.

LifeBridge Health is holding a blood pressure screening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Afya Center, 4151 Park Heights Ave., on Wednesday, November 11. The screening, part of the Know Your Health program, is free.

A blood pressure test is easy and painless. To prepare, please wear loose clothing. Do not drink coffee or smoke cigarettes for 30 minutes prior to the test.

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you will need follow-up treatment. The goal is to have your blood pressure "under control," which means that your numbers are normal, or less than 120/80 mmHg.

To learn more, visit or call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Traveling Exhibit Explores Domestic Violence

House Of Ruth Maryland's traveling exhibit, 'A Line In The Sand', is on display in the Northwest Hospital lobby through November.

The exhibit explores domestic violence, which claimed the lives of at least 45 women and children in Maryland last year alone. The photographic exhibit debuted in 2008 and is now traveling through the state.

'A Line In The Sand' displays more than 20 interpretive portraits and short essays that chronicle Maryland's fight against domestic violence. People photographed are those who have taken positive, often brave actions to make life safer for the women and children of Maryland.

"Domestic violence runs rampant in our society and strikes fear in thousands of women and children," says Carole Alexander, executive director of House Of Ruth Maryland. "'A Line In The Sand' is our way of challenging the silence that surrounds domestic violence and profiling those people who have made a real difference in the lives of women and children across Maryland."

Photographers include Connie Imboden, Matthew Kern, Mary Carole Curran, Matthew Girard, and Leo Howard Lubow. Designed by Alex Castro of Castro/Arts, "A Line In The Sand' travels to corporate lobbies, government buildings, schools and museums across Maryland.

House Of Ruth Maryland is the non-profit organization that provides the most comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence in the state of Maryland. For additional resources for domestic violence victims in Baltimore County, click here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Visitor Policy For Sinai and Northwest

Due to the widespread outbreak of H1N1, Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital will temporarily modify the visitation policy to ensure the well being of the patients as well as the health and safety of our staff. Effective November 1, the following visitor restrictions will be in place:
  • No visitors under age 18.
  • Those visitors experiencing flu-like symptoms are asked to remain at home. If you must visit, you may be required to wear a mask.
  • Families are asked to limit visitors to two per patient in a 24 hour period.
  • Visitation hours are between noon and 8 p.m.
  • Exceptions may be made on an individual basis.

We also request your help in ensuring that our visitors follow basic precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the flu. Entrances have been equipped with hygiene stations.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a mask, tissue or upper arm.

These restrictions may be downgraded or heightened based on recommendations of state and federal authorities. We realize this is a change from the usual policy and may present some challenges. We appreciate your continued efforts to provide the best care possible for our patients.

Monday, November 2, 2009

LifeBridge Health Celebrates Top Docs

Are you looking for the top doctors in the Baltimore region? Look no farther than this month's edition of Baltimore Magazine. LifeBridge Health has 59 physicians who were chosen by their peers as top doctors. They are: