Friday, February 26, 2010

Presciptions in Pregnancy

It’s a common fear: a woman becomes pregnant and starts worrying about the medications she is taking.

According to Michael Carson, M.D., who presented at Sinai Hospital Grand Rounds yesterday, internists need to become more familiar with the impact of disease on a pregnancy, and what medicines are safe. Carson is an assistant clinical professor in the Departments of Medicine and Obstetrics at the UMNDJ – Robert Wood Medical School and the director of research and outcomes at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

“Women of childbearing age bear children. You need to address pregnancy with your patient before she becomes pregnant,” he told the group of Sinai physicians. “Fifty percent of pregnancies are unplanned.”

It’s estimated that anywhere from 14 to 45 percent of women beginning prenatal care in the United States have medical problems. Physicians should talk about resources and options available for the patient, Carson said. According to a study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, pregnant women ingest an average of three difference prescription medications during pregnancy. The most common are antimicrobial (to treat infections), antiemetics (to treat nausea), tranquilizers (to treat stress) and analgesics (to treat pain).

“Medication use is not a yes/no issue,” Carson said. “You have to weigh the risks and benefits.”

Patients and physicians also need to discuss what is realistic. For example, a smoker may not be able to go cold turkey, but she can use a nicotine patch. A woman who is depressed may be able to cut back on her medication, but needs to be able to function.

There's a tendency to undermedicate during pregnancy, Carson says. The bottom line is internists need to make sure they're looking at the whole picture.

“The best thing for a healthy kid is a healthy mom,” Carson says.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Orthopedic Surgeon Reflects on Haiti Experience

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, several LifeBridge Health employees have volunteered their time and services to earthquake victims. Among these are physicians Shawn Standard and Albert Aboulafia.

An orthopedic surgeon and co-director of sarcoma services at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, Aboulafia traveled to Haiti from Feb. 3-7 to work with Project Medishare. Before he left, fellow orthopedic surgeon John Herzenberg sent over 50 pounds of donations that included soap and blankets.

An estimated 300,000 Haitians were injured in the 7.0 earthquake. Once Aboulafia arrived, there were roughly 140 adults and 65 children and adolescents in the Medishare tents who were awaiting treatment.

He worked at a breakneck pace, estimating that he performed 50 operations over a two-day period, including wound care, skin grafts, amputations and fracture realignments. When a severe wound is left untreated, infection can develop, leaving no choice but to amputate.

“I think we did a lot of good,” he says. “There, you could really make an impact. Would I fix a fracture different in Baltimore? Yes. But there were no lab tests, no blood. We did the best possible care that we could under the circumstances.”

One patient who sticks in his mind is a 90-year-old woman with a femur fracture.

“She understood the risks of surgery, and we were able to help her,” he says. “She had a place to go home to, and we were able to get her thigh fixed, put her into a wheelchair, and send her with relatives to go home.”

Aboulafia said he was lucky to have physical therapists, nurses, physician assistants, and volunteers who were dedicated to helping treat patients.

“Lots of times it was the people who were very much out of their element who excelled,” he says. “It was a tense and emotional time, but you saw a lot of people who were at their best.”

He hopes to return soon. To learn more about Project Medishare, click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

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It's just our way of saying thank you for reading!

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Battling the Winter Blues Through Fitness

by Tim Hyland

(The following is an excerpt from an article appearing in the 2010 Md.MD for Life, available now.)

Matt Carlen knows a thing or two about the winter blues.

Growing up in not-so-sunny Sweden, Carlen became all-too-well acquainted with that Nordic nation's long, gloomy, dark winters. Cold, too. Put it this way: By comparison, Maryland winters (even this one) are paradise.

And while Carlen isn't a doctor, he says he's picked up tidbits over the years, both in Sweden and here in the United States, about how long stretches of dark weather can lead directly to dark moods - a condition that doctors now call seasonal affective disorder (SAD). He's also learned how to fight off those winter blues.

"I'm not a scientist," says Carlen. "I can't tell you if the link between exercise and reduced seasonal affective disorder has been proven or not. But I know that I grew up in Sweden, and it's dark for four months a year there. But by being active, by exercising, that definitely helps."

There is an increasing body of evidence indicating that exercise may be among the most effective means of staving off SAD. Simply put, says Carlen, exercise does more than keep your body well. It also keeps your mind well.

That's one of the main messages Carlen delivers as executive director of LifeBridge Health & Fitness, one of the Baltimore area's finest health and fitness centers. Carlen truly believes that regular exercise can make for a better life, and he says he sees more poof of that every day at his club. There, on the rows of treadmills and stationary bikes and elliptical machines, people of all ages and all abilities find fitness, relaxation and happiness in their daily workout - even during the darkest days of winter.

To read more, click here. To learn more about LifeBridge Health & Fitness, call 410-484-6800.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cardiac Rehabilitation Can Lead to Better Outcomes

By Paul A. Gurbel, M.D.
Director of Cardiovascular Research at the Center for Thrombosis Research at Sinai Hospital

Results of a recent study published in Circulation reveal that patients who complete a full complement of 36 cardiac rehabilitation sessions reduced their risk of suffering a heart attack and lived longer lives. The results drive home the importance of cardiac rehabilitation in the continuum of care for patients with heart disease and illustrate the importance of doctors prescribing and encouraging this vital practice.

Conducted by researchers at Duke University School of Medicine and Jefferson Medical College, the study examined the medical histories of more than 30,000 Medicare patients (ages 65 and older) who took part in at least one cardiac rehabilitation session during a five-year span. People who took part in all 36 sessions, which were reimbursed by Medicare, had a 14 percent lower risk of death and a 12 percent lower risk of a subsequent heart attack than those who attended 24 sessions. These percentages increased when compared with patients who took part in 24 sessions or less.

Perhaps the most dramatic finding was that patients who attended all 36 sessions had a 47 percent lower risk of death and a 31 percent lower risk of subsequent heart attack compared to patients who only attended one session.

As a cardiologist, I have continually observed that patients who complete a full cardiac rehabilitation program end up experiencing better outcomes, feel better physically, and have a good chance of continuing a regular exercise routine after rehabilitation concludes.

The patients we treat for heart disease at Sinai Hospital and the other facilities throughout the LifeBridge Health are fortunate to have access to a world-class cardiac rehabilitation program.

The LifeBridge Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is housed in a new state-of-the-art facility at Northwest Hospital under the direction of Program Manager Lisa Gerberg, RN. Lisa is also the Vice President of Maryland Association of Cardiovascular Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Through her close affiliation with this program, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the latest rehabilitation techniques and shares the insights with her outstanding staff and our patients to improve the rehabilitation process and improve outcomes.

The LifeBridge Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is tailored to fit each patient’s needs and physical abilities and includes counseling about cardiovascular disease, nutrition, reducing stress and proper use of medications.

This recent study should serve as a strong reminder to physicians and caregivers to educate patients on the importance of starting a cardiac rehabilitation program as soon as possible after surgery and maintaining it for the full 36 sessions. Doctors also need to pay attention to the cardiac rehabilitation reports during follow up appointments and offer continued positive reinforcement to the patient about their progress. This type of encouragement goes a long way towards improving patient outcomes and as this study shows, can save lives.

To learn more about the cardiac rehabilitation program, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sinai Hospital: A CyberKnife® Leader

Since opening the CyberKnife® Center at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute in 2003, Sinai Hospital has become recognized as a national leader in the treatment of pancreas, lung, spine, liver, brain and prostate tumors. More than 1,200 CyberKnife procedures have been performed at Sinai, where physicians from all over the country are trained in how to use the cancer treatment technology.

Sinai Hospital’s CyberKnife Center ranks in the top 10 worldwide in total volume of patients treated for pancreas, lung and other soft tissue tumors. To support the center’s continued growth and to pioneer new therapies, Sinai Hospital acquired a second CyberKnife. Only four other centers in the world have this capacity.

CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery is a frameless, linear accelerator-based system mounted on a robotic arm. Because there are no surgical incisions, anesthesia is not required.

The CyberKnife’s computer-guided tracking system is so precise that doctors use it to treat inoperable tumors and cancers that have failed to respond to other types of radiation, including radiotherapy. This is especially advantageous near the spinal cord or other vital organs. Additionally, new tracking systems for the CyberKnife allow it to recognize the shape of a patient’s spine and thus increase the degree of precision. Sinai has the largest reported experience with malignant tumors of the spine. Patients from across the country with complex spinal tumors are referred here for treatment.

Over the last six years, physicians have demonstrated CyberKnife’s ability to perform revolutionary, noninvasive procedures to eradicate soft tissue tumors in the pancreas, liver and lungs. Mukund S. Didolkar, M.D., has achieved survival results with patients with inoperable pancreatic cancers not previously possible. Sinai was also one of the first centers to acquire a new program for lung tumors that tracks the patient’s breathing motion, ensuring individual lung tumors are treated. Lynne A. Skaryak, M.D., head of Sinai’s division of thoracic surgery, uses the CyberKnife to treat lung cancers in patients not able to undergo surgery.

Prostate cancer also is now treatable without surgery with the CyberKnife. Research has shown patients undergoing CyberKnife treatment for certain prostate cancers have a lower rate of side effects.

The CyberKnife Center at Sinai also is one of the few CyberKnife centers in the United States to treat children. Tumors of the eye socket and other unique conditions are also treated here. In select instances, patients with pain syndromes or benign tumors that otherwise would require complex surgery (such as acoustic neuroma) also may be candidates for stereotactic radiosurgery.

The CyberKnife Center at Sinai is an integral part of the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute and the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute. For more information about the CyberKnife Center at Sinai, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Breast Health Question and Answer

(The following is an excerpt from the 2010 MdMD for Life, out this month.)

Breast surgeon Dawn Leonard, M.D., is the medical director of the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital. She answered some questions about the center's approach to breast health.

What can a woman expect when she visits a specialized breast center?

Our general philosophy is to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art, individualized and multidisciplinary care. When there is a problem, our job as physicians and health care providers is to provide an unbiased opinion about options.

Why would a woman need to see a breast surgeon?

Women may be referred by their primary care physician after there is a suspicious finding on a mammogram. When I am with a patient, I discuss the best type of biopsy for the patient, whether it is image-guided or surgical, and we go from there. Even if the biopsy is benign, a good surgeon will discuss risk assessment and whether the patient needs more frequent follow-up exams.

If the biopsy reveals a malignancy, then you begin discussing the surgical options such as lumpectomy or mastectomy. Whenever possible, you want to provide the opportunity for breast preservation.

What are your feelings on prophylactic mastectomies?

That is now an option for patients who are high risk, such as those with genetic mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2. It’s a very personal decision.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Benefits of Aspirin After Breast Cancer

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

A study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, “Aspirin Intake and Survival After Breast Cancer,” suggests there is an associated decreased risk of distant recurrence of breast cancer and breast cancer death in women who were taking aspirin. The study results were published February 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The 4,164 subjects were breast cancer survivors participating in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS); these women were from all over the U.S., diagnosed with stage I to III breast cancer between 1976 and 2002, and were followed until June 2006 (or their death, whichever came first).

What can we conclude from this study? Women who took a simple baby aspirin 2 to 5 days per week had a 60 percent risk reduction of their cancer spreading distally and a 71 percent reduced risk of breast cancer death. Women who took aspirin 6 to 7 times per week lowered the risk of distal recurrence by 43 percent and had reduced risk of breast cancer death by 64 percent. Overall, these women taking aspirin had a 50 percent reduced risk of distal recurrence and 50 percent reduced risk in breast cancer death.

This was an observational study, which means it suggests a relationship, but is not designed to prove a cause and effect link. What we do know is that there is an association present between aspirin and a lower risk of recurrence or death. It is believed the aspirin’s anti-inflammatory properties are what contribute to the benefit.

What does this mean if you have had breast cancer? It's important to remember that in the study, the women started aspirin one year post-diagnosis. Aspirin is not indicated for patients currently undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. Women need to be aware there is associated risk involved with taking aspirin, such as bleeding and stomach problems, such as ulcers.

However, if you are a breast cancer survivor and you are taking aspirin for protective cardiac measures, there may be a benefit in reducing breast cancer recurrence. Data suggest further studies, such as clinical trials that include aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, are needed to discover if there is a direct cause and effect link. Currently, there are various studies with the use of COX 2-inhibitors and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in breast cancer. Studies have indicated these anti-inflammatory drugs may also reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coughs and Colds Build Immunity

by Kristin Lemmert

(The following is excerpted from Md.MD for Life 2010, out this month.)

You know the cough – the one from down the hall that wakes you in the middle of the night. Whether your child is 6 months or 6 years old, you start your assessment as soon as you hear it.

But before you hit your doctor’s number on speed dial, Sinai Hospital pediatrician Michael L. Zollicoffer, M.D., recommends that you take a deep breath.

Exposure is Good
Zollicoffer is sympathetic: as a parent, your agenda is to have a healthy child, he says. Like most moms, you want your kid better - now.

But 90 percent of the time, a cough is a just a cough – the frequent dance partner to a cold. With over 200 different cold viruses, gaining exposure to these viruses is a good thing. Zollicoffer even tells parents that their child should have a cold every day from birth to 3 years old. Congestion is normal, he says, which is tough for many parents to hear.

Children strengthen their immune system through repeated exposure to germs and viruses, he says. For exposed children, the “slow down” in colds occurs at the age of 3. For nonexposed kids, it starts when they begin school and typically takes three years.

When “Something’s” Different

When should you contact your child’s pediatrician about a cough? According to Dr. Zollicoffer, the answer varies from child to child. As long as children are active, let them process the cold. For example, a wet or dry cough is fine if your child is at her normal level of activity.

Instinctively, you know what is normal for your child, explains Zollicoffer. So, when you feel uncomfortable about your child’s condition and you recognize that something is different, contact your pediatrician.

These alerts include gasping for air, wheezing, high fever, lethargy, and refusal of all liquids and food. The most severe complications require a call to your doctor or urgent care cent immediately (e.g., being “hungry” for air), while lesser ones may be handled with an office visit. Better-known cold viruses include RSV, croup, and pneumonia.

For more information, request a copy of MdMD. You can visit us at or call 410-601-WELL.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seasons Hospice at Northwest Hospital

Hospices provide quality, compassionate care to those who are facing a life-limiting illness or injury. However, sometimes patients need the capabilities of a hospital.

That's where the partnership between Northwest Hospital and Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care of Maryland comes in. In February 2008, Northwest Hospital became the first hospital in Maryland to open a fully dedicated inpatient hospice unit. An article on the collaboration recently appeared in ADVANCE for Nurses.

The demand for hospice care is growing. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization states that 1,450,000 hospice patients were served in 2008, up from 1,060,000 in 2004. Another change has been the shift from hospice patients with cancer to other diseases. Today, cancer patients in hospice make up almost 39 percent, while other common diagnosis for patients admitted in 2008 include heart disease, lung disease and dementia.

At Northwest, the Seasons unit has soothing earth tones, flat-screen televisions, a communal kitchen and other amenities designed to make it feel homey. Therapy dogs, volunteers, and musicians are all used to provide comfort.

To learn more about Seasons at Northwest, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Staff Pulled Together During Snowstorms

Maryland’s nearly back to back blizzards caused snow outside to grow to amazing heights. Inside at LifeBridge Health, the staff pulled together and did what they had to do: take care of our patients.

It wasn’t always easy. Gerald Miller, a Sinai security guard, can attest to that. Wednesday morning a bit after 5:00 a.m., the Baltimore resident found himself snowed in at home and unable to get out of his driveway. So he followed protocol and called security requesting to be picked up and taken to the hospital.

“Security was so busy picking up essential personnel, like doctors, that they could not get to me,” Gerald said. “But I knew security had to be at work.”

So how did Gerald manage to get to Sinai in a raging blizzard with no available transportation? He walked. For about an hour he walked, trudging mostly uphill from his Baltimore home. And, Gerald, as he puts it “is no spring chicken.”

The 66-year-old had a hard time convincing his coworkers that he trekked in. “Walking up Pimlico Road felt like I was climbing Mount Everest,” he said. “People do not believe I did it. But I got here. There was no other way.”

Gerald, who doesn’t appear to be carrying any extra weight, credits his physique for getting him to Sinai. “My long legs must have helped,” he said. His dedication and perseverance didn’t hurt either.

At Northwest Hospital, extra attention was placed on making sure staff did not burn out, says Nelson Figueroa, director of Patient Care Services at Northwest. Nelson, who was also the emergency coordinator for the hospital, credits the staff for acting professionally and proactively.

“The weekend staff came in Friday night to make sure they were here on Saturday,” Nelson said. “They were here for the weekend and they went home and the Monday staff came in fresh.”

Nelson is “very humbled and impressed” by the dedication of the staff. “The entire hospital pulled together,” he said. “People slept on cots and the cots are not the most comfortable things to sleep on. But staff morale was up and we got comments that everything was very well organized.”

Not only was the staff dedicated, LifeBridge Health wishes to thank the community for coming through in a crisis.

“Support from the community was amazing,” said Diane Johnson, vice president of Patient Care for Sinai. “People with four-wheel vehicles were calling left and right offering to drive those who needed it."

At one point, there was close to 400 people sleeping over at the hospital, she said. “The snowstorm was disruptive, but we continue to function well.”

It was a different experience, said Vernetta Melvin, an administrative associate in the GIGU.

“I saw the professional staff and the administrative staff transition into family. We all bonded together and it was nice," she said. Vernetta now refers to some of the staff as “my snoring buddies.”

Dee McRae, a patient care associate in the GIGU unit credits everyone for pulling together in the time of need.

“Overall everyone was definitely up to the task,” she said. "I appreciated housecleaning – who cleaned the rooms the staff slept in - transportation, laundry, everyone. Everyone worked hard to make the experience better.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Helping Heart Patients Grow Stronger

If you hurt your back, you would probably get physical therapy to speed up your recovery. But if you had a heart attack, would you know to take advantage of a similar program called cardiac rehabilitation, which strengthens your heart muscle and lowers your risk of future heart attacks?

Cardiac rehabilitation – “cardiac rehab” for short – is an essential part of the recovery process for those who have had a heart attack, heart procedure or chest pain related to heart disease. Rehab consists of three phases, the first of which is usually completed by patients while they are recovering in the hospital. The second and third phases are carried out on an outpatient basis at cardiac rehabilitation programs like the one at Northwest Hospital.

The LifeBridge Health Phase II Cardiac Rehabilitation program is offers patients a customized exercise and diet plan. The program – run out of a new, state-of-the-art facility – is equipped with three flat screen TVs, a comfort station, the latest exercise machines and continuous heart monitoring equipment to ensure patients are exercising safely. In addition, the program offers stress management and other classes focused on risk factor reduction. An on-site dietitian provides diet and nutritional counseling, and patients can bring in their favorite recipes to their rehab sessions for the dietitian to make them heart healthy.

Participating in a Phase II cardiac rehab program lowers the risk for cardiac-related death by up to 25 percent, according to studies reviewed by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation in 2007. In other words, about one in four heart patients could have prevented an early death if they had only gone through Phase II.

“Many patients don’t realize just how important Phase II is to the recovery process,” says Lisa Gerberg, R.N., program manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation. “Some feel that they are too weak and tired to exercise. However, we have equipment that allows us to help virtually any patient – even those who can’t hold themselves upright – get the kind of exercise that benefits the heart.”

“Patients who complete Phase II are less likely to have future heart emergencies,” says cardiologist Andrew M. Barnstein, M.D., medical director of LifeBridge Health Cardiac Rehabilitation. “As an added bonus, they are healthier, more active and have fewer joint problems as a result of their exercise. Those are huge benefits for an investment of an hour’s time just three times a week.”

In Phase III, patients can continue their exercise program at LifeBridge Health & Fitness, where a team of fitness specialists leads exercise sessions three times a week.

“Outpatient cardiac rehab really becomes a part of our patients’ social support after a heart event,” continues Barnstein. “We see improvements in their energy levels, emotional well-being and overall state of health. Our patients actually like coming here.”

For more information about the LifeBridge Health Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, call 410-601-WELL.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Extended Hours for Blood Drive Tomorrow

There is a critical shortage of blood available in the region. If you can, please consider visiting Sinai Hospital or Northwest Hospital tomorrow to give the gift of life. Types O and B are especially needed.

The hours for the Sinai Hospital blood drive have been extended for tomorrow. The drive will now run from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Zamoiski Auditorium. To schedule an appointment during the hours of 7:00 AM-1:00PM, please click here. Walk-ins are welcome.

Snow Notes

LifeBridge Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind you to follow the following winter weather tips to stay healthy during this inclement weather.
  • When headed outside, remember to wear a hat, a scarf, sleeves that are snug at the wrist, mittens, water resistant coat and boots, and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Before traveling, clean off your entire car, from the top to the headlights. Otherwise snow can fly onto a fellow driver's windshield and cause an accident.
  • If you are traveling by car today, remember to pack extra warm clothing, a flashlight, blanket, cell phone and water.
  • If you are working outside, dress warmly and work slowly. Persistent shivering is a sign to return indoors.
  • Avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower.
  • To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators and similar items outdoors only.

Please note that today's blood drive at Sinai Hospital is canceled. All outpatient services at Northwest Hospital will resume operations on their normal schedule today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Call for Volunteers

If you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and drive Sinai staff to and from the hospital, please call 410-601-9791.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank You to Our Volunteers!

Between the December snowstorm and the one last weekend, LifeBridge Health would like to give a big thanks to our volunteers with 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Many of these volunteers selfishly give up their "snow days" to help essential personnel make it into Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale and Courtland Gardens.

One of these volunteers is Richard E. Fradkin, who regularly uses his truck to help escort nurses, physicians and other employees to Sinai Hospital. Richard, who was a Levindale board member for 12 years and is a longtime supporter of LifeBridge Health, has driven from Perry Hall to Woodlawn to Mount Washington to Timonium during this winter's snowstorms.

"Giving back to the community is about what you can do," Fradkin says. A vice president at Grubb & Ellis Company, he says it's been a tough time for the commercial real estate industry, making it more difficult to offer financial support. But he can always drive the truck to help.

"If I can't be a nurse, at least I can get a nurse there who can do the job," Fradkin says. "The people I pick up are incredibly appreciative, and I really appreciate them. I have been very impressed by their good nature, especially since they know they might be in for a long shift."

Richard will be on hand again if winter weather wallops us tomorrow. Once again, thank you to all of our LifeBridge Health driving volunteers!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sinai Employees Create "Dr. Snowflake"

It was a busy weekend for LifeBridge Health, with many employees working through Baltimore's historic snowstorm to make sure there were enough staff and beds available.

But when Panama Wiles, Michelle Huncher and Micah Bogle wrapped up one night at Sinai Hospital, they decided to bring a little levity to the situation - hence the creation of "Dr. Snowflake," pictured here.

Diabetes Can Cause Cardiology Complications

by Helene King

Living with diabetes can be challenging by itself. However, if people with type 2 diabetes don’t manage their conditions, they could develop heart disease.

In fact, the numbers are frightening. Heart disease and strokes are the number one killers of people with type 2 diabetes. Both are responsible for the about 65 percent of the deaths of people with diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, those with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

That’s why it’s so important to understand the connection and to learn to take preventive methods.

Cardiologists and endocrinologists from Sinai Hospital and Northwest Hospital say the link makes sense. Diabetes happens when there is a breakdown in the way our bodies turn food into fat and energy. Most of the food we ingest is turned into glucose, also called blood sugar. Glucose is the primary fuel for our bodies. However, over time, if our blood glucose is too high, it can harm our blood vessels and nerves. That’s because both are an important part of our cardiovascular systems.

However, the news is not all doom and gloom. Each person has the power to control many factors associated with both diabetes and heart disease through education and determination.

It’s no surprise that eating healthy is a major factor in delaying or preventing these two health challenges. However, just as important is setting nutritional goals that each person is able to reach and then keep. It’s not question of going on a diet or cutting out certain foods if that will end in failure. The changes need to be a lifestyle change. The key is to work with a dietitian and other heart and diabetes experts to put together a personal plan that gives each individual the best chance of succeeding.

It’s also not shocking that exercise is another crucial component in the fight against both heart disease and diabetes. Again, what’s significant here is creating a routine that can be followed. Choosing an effective workout that keeps a person motivated is necessary to make sure a person incorporates it into daily life. There are as many ways to become, and stay, active as there are hobbies that people enjoy.

Taking prescribed medication, not smoking and support from family members can also make all of the difference for people with heart disease and diabetes.

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

Friday, February 5, 2010

Donate Blood and Save Lives

Do you know great way to show someone you love them? Donate blood in honor of them.

Sinai Hospital will host a blood drive from 1 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12. Northwest Hospital will host its blood drive from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12.

Gifts for our donors include a T-shirt and discounted tickets to the 2010 Motor Trend International Auto Show at the Baltimore Convention Center. One lucky participant, chosen at random, will win a $100 restaurant gift card.

Additionally, participants are encouraged to fill in a postcard provided that is sent to a loved one stating that you donated blood in their name.

Did you know that 60 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate, but only 5 percent do on a yearly basis? Some other facts: The American Red Cross needs to collect 1,000 units of blood each day to meet the needs of patients and hospitals in the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region, and each blood donation can save up to 3 patients. Those who benefit when you give blood include premature babies, pregnant mothers, transplant recipients, accident victims and those with chronic diseases.

Here is information about giving blood, and here are the eligibility guidelines. Walk-ins are welcome at both blood drives. Even if you are not an employee, Sinai and Northwest happily accept visitors or members of the community at the drives.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up today or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sinai Hospital Auxiliary Awards Grant to Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program

The Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program (CSCP) at LifeBridge Health has been awarded a $5,800 grant by the Sinai Hospital Auxiliary. Designed to diagnose and treat sports-related concussions with the most optimal treatment, the CSCP is a collaboration between LifeBridge Sports Medicine, the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute, and the Sinai Rehabilitation Center.

The CSCP will use the funds to support the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of concussions in student-athletes at schools in underserved communities that surround Sinai Hospital.

“We are honored to have received this award. It provides us an exciting opportunity to identify student-athletes in need of intervention, to promote their recovery and to help them keep pace in class while they are recovering from their concussive symptoms,” said Julie O’Reilly, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at the Berman Brain & Spine Institute. “It will also allow us to further promote concussion awareness and prevention.”

Through the “Keeping Our Most Vulnerable Kids Safe Program,” health professionals at the CSCP will administer Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) to student-athletes. ImPACT is a computer-based self-test that measures brain processing speed, memory and visual motor skills, all of which have been shown to be affected when a person sustains a concussion. In a two-phased model, student-athletes are tested at the beginning of their respective sports seasons to obtain baseline readings of their cognitive abilities. Then, should one of those tested sustain a concussion or suspected concussion during the season, he or she is tested again, and test scores are compared; a decline in scores suggests that the student-athlete has had a concussion and that medical intervention should be sought. Test scores are also used to aid in diagnosis and treatment and to determine the best course of action for the affected child. In addition to testing, grant funds will be used to educate parents and coaches about this very important topic.

“This program is based on realized deficiencies across the country for better education and clinical management of concussions and to accelerate recovery from injury so that children can return to school and to competitive sports quickly in a way that promotes their optimal health,” added Kevin Crutchfield, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program.

To learn more about the Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program at LifeBridge Health, call 410-601-WELL or click here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baltimore Magazine Names LifeBridge Health a Best Place to Work

The accolades for LifeBridge Health keep on coming. This week it was announced that Baltimore Magazine named us a 2010 Best Place to Work. Companies were chosen after filling out a detailed questionaire, which "sought information on 401(k) programs, health benefits, diversity initiatives, career development offerings, maternity and parental leave, and much more."

In light of also being named Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For", we're sharing some of the stories from employees who work at Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale, Courtland Gardens and our related affiliates. If you work at LifeBridge Health and want to share your story, let us know!

"The reason why I love working at LifeBridge Health/Courtland Gardens is because they specialize in caring, prevention and teamwork. If you look at Lifebridge and Courtland you see that caring for patients is a physical manifestation of a caring attitude and calling. The concept of caring and healing for health professionals is based on morals, philosophical and a scientific framework that Lifebridge Health strongly believes in."

- Tycina R. Richardson, 1 A Geriatric Nursing Assistant, Courtland Gardens

“There is something about Sinai that quickly makes you feel like a member of a family. I came in 1964 intending to stay for a year to brush up on my clerical skills - not having used them for many years. Here I am 45 years later, still in the Food and Nutrition Services and still enjoying being a Sinai employee. There is the feeling that what you do - even if not directly patient connected - helps our patients to have a better experience. Employees reach out to help one another make our work day more pleasant. The hospital gives us two wonderful parties each year (spring and winter), free meals on the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for those of us who need to be at work, every 5 years there is a wonderful celebration of our service to Sinai and LifeBridge. So yes, it's a great place to work and it's my prayer and hope that I can go on working here for at least a few more years.”

-Bernice Rubinstein, Administrative Assistant, Food and Nutrition Services, Sinai

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Samuelson Breast Care Center Receives American College of Radiology Accreditation

The mammographic imaging services at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital have been awarded accreditation as the result of a recent survey by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Northwest’s first digital mammography unit received accreditation in December 2007 and its second in January 2009. The new accreditation covers both units until April 15, 2013. The Samuelson Breast Care Center has received accreditation from the ACR ever since the organization started awarding this distinction for mammography (then film-based) in 1992.

The Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center is part of LifeBridge Health’s Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute. Last June, the Samuelson Breast Care Center moved to a new, spa-like environment near Northwest Hospital’s main entrance; and in July, breast surgeon Dawn Leonard, M.D., became the center’s medical director.

All of the center’s mammography technology is digital. And as a certified Softer Mammogram Provider, it is one of only a few breast centers in the Baltimore area offering women a free MammoPad®, an FDA-cleared, warmed, foam cushion that dramatically eases the discomfort many women feel when they get a mammogram.

In addition to housing digital mammography services, the Samuelson Breast Care Center is a comprehensive breast center that offers medical services such as breast ultrasound, bone densitometry, and breast cancer diagnosis and treatment including a multidisciplinary approach. The new ACR accreditation continues the center’s exceptional record of providing quality care with leading-edge technology.

The ACR, headquartered in Reston, Va., awards accreditation to facilities for the achievement of high practice standards after a peer-review evaluation of the practice. Evaluations are conducted by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. They assess the qualifications of the personnel and the adequacy of facility equipment. The surveyors report their findings to the ACR’s Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report.

Monday, February 1, 2010

LifeBridge Health Employees Will "Go Red" To Fight Heart Disease

by Helene King

You’re enjoying a sunny day, playing with your kids. Suddenly, you’re short of breath, you have back pain and you’re sick to your stomach.

What’s happening? According to experts at the Heart Center at Sinai, you could be having a heart attack. Surprisingly, especially with women, intense chest pain is not always an indicator of an attack.

February is American Heart Month. In an effort to help raise awareness and educate women about this danger, LifeBridge Health is joining with the American Heart Association and millions of people around the country for national Go Red Day on Friday, February 5.
Employees at Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center are being encouraged to dress in red. The effort is intended to start discussions about what heart disease is, what the symptoms are and how it can be prevented.

The employee activities committee at each LifeBridge Health center is spearheading the efforts. In addition later in the month, Sinai Hospital will donate proceeds from a candy sale from its Employee Appreciation Day to the Go Red campaign. The reasoning is that women should be conscious about their hearts all year, not just for one day.

LifeBridge Health & Fitness
is also celebrating a heart healthy lifestyle this month. Members are invited to a "Heart and Soles" walking club Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m., and those members who wear red on Friday can bring a guest for free on Friday, February 5. Other events include a "heart smart" cooking demo and a Diet-to-Go tasting.

Cardiovascular disease is often thought of as a "man's disease." However, it is the number one killer of women, more than all cancers together.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or pressure that can disappear and return. The other warning signs can include chest pain; discomfort in the arm, back neck or jaw; shortness of breath and nausea. Trouble breathing may happen with or without chest discomfort.

If you or someone you are with has chest discomfort, especially with any of the other symptoms, call 9-1-1 for help.

For more information about the Heart Center at Sinai, call 410-601-WELL (9355).