Friday, October 29, 2010

Celebrating National Healthcare Facilities and Engineering Week

If you're a patient in a hospital, there are obviously clinical staff members that you will see regularly, from a physician to a technician. But this week we're celebrating the unsung heroes of LifeBridge Health: the dedicated Maintenance and Engineering staff.

They're what allow our hospitals to have power and running water, not to mention heat, air conditioning and a safe environment. The staff is occasionally tested in a major way, such as during the Baltimore Snowpocalypse of 2010.

"We take great pride in our work and just like the postman, neither rain, snow, heat or cold stop us from fulling our mission," says Odell Hall, director of facilities at Northwest Hospital."Our job is to help employees do their jobs!"

At Northwest, facilities staff handles an average of 1,500 service calls per month, on top of the preventive maintenance work performed each month. During last winter's snow, the staff removed 38 tons of snow, Hall says.

This year's theme for the week is "Quality Work For Quality Healthcare Environments." National Healthcare Facilities and Engineering Week is observed annually during the fourth week of October. It is sponsored by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Thank you to all members of the facilities, maintenance and engineering staff! If you are interested in working in the maintenance department, you can see open listings at LifeJobs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LifeBridge Health Goes Pink

If you’ve been to Northwest Hospital after dark the last few weeks, you may have noticed a rosy glow cast over the main entrance. That’s because pink lights have been installed to mark October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It sounds simple, but adding pink lights to the front of our main building and lobby makes a statement and creates awareness about this common cancer. Awareness is the first step in finding a cure, and awareness and education lead to early detection – the best cure we have right now.

When breast cancer is caught early, it is over 98 percent curable. However, early detection is only possible when a woman is getting her regular screenings. If you are a woman age 40 or older, a recent study indicates that yearly mammograms are recommended. (Depending on your personal risk factors for breast cancer, your doctor may want you to be screened at a younger age or more frequently.) Ask your doctor or nurse how to do a breast self exam. Then use this knowledge to examine your breasts every month.

Northwest Hospital is home to the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center, where patients can get their mammograms in an inviting, spa-like atmosphere. We are the only mammogram provider in the area to offer our patients MammoPad® – a soft, warm pad that dramatically reduces the discomfort some women feel while getting a mammogram.

Meanwhile, Sinai Hospital's Employee Activities Committee is also showing its support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by holding a Think Pink Departmental Decorating Contest. If you are a Sinai employee, help decorate your office or unit with PINK in mind. All employees are encouraged to wear a pink ribbon, pink t-shirt or breast cancer awareness t-shirt on Friday.

If you’d like to schedule a mammogram with us, call the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at 410-601-WELL (9355).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Harmonica Therapy Takes Off at Sinai Hospital

Recently we brought you the story of how harmonicas were being used to help our youngest patients. In the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children's Hospital at Sinai, respiratory therapists like Ann Ludwig are teaching children with breathing problems how to blow in and out on the harmonica. In addition to making music, the patients are also working on proper breathing techniques.

Yesterday Jennifer Franciotti from WBAL-TV stopped by to do a story. To see it, click here!

Community Health Fair Saturday

This coming Saturday afternoon, a free health and wellness fair will be held at the Randallstown Community Center. Representatives and specialists (including doctors and physician assistants) from Northwest Hospital will be hosting the fair, manning expo booths, offering free screenings, giving brief talks and answering questions. Plus, attendees will enjoy free refreshments, door prizes and a chance to win a raffle drawing.

Free screenings at the fair will include:

• Blood pressure – For your overall health, it’s important that yours is in a normal range.
• Sports injuries – Does your injury need medical attention?
• Falls risk assessment – Do you have potential balance issues or other factors that increase your risk for falling?

The fair will have an open house format, but at designated times there will be speakers and demos:

• 1:30 p.m. – “Diabetes Management” by Bruce H. Sindler, M.D.
• 2:15 p.m. – “Cardiac Conditions” by Jonathan Dubin, M.D.
• 2:45 p.m. – Healthy cooking demo
• 3:00 p.m. – Exercise for Life: Basic 6 demo
• 3:20 p.m. – Yoga demo

Some of the centers, services, and educational demos and information that will be at the fair include:

Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center
Women’s Wellness Center
Sleep Disorders Center
• Outpatient services
• Sports medicine
• Rehabilitation
• Heart health and exercise
• Calcium scoring to detect heart disease
• Stroke
• Diabetes
Domestic violence
SurgiCenter and the latest surgical technology
• and more!

Did we mention there will be free food and giveaways? The fair will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 30 at the Randallstown Community Center, 3505 Resource Drive. Please pre-register here or by calling 410-601-WELL (9355).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Proper Nutrition for Lung Health

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

Studies abound that support the benefit of healthy dietary measures and their positive influence on respiratory health, but can a lack of healthy nutrients lead to respiratory illness and disease?

It's National Respiratory Care Week and tomorrow is Lung Health Day, so there's never been a better time to look at the link between nutrition and healthy lungs. A study conducted by researchers for the journal Chest (2007; 132, 238–45), looked at a group of 2,112 high-school seniors from 13 different communities in the United States and Canada. The investigation focused on the association between low dietary nutrient intakes and pulmonary function/respiratory symptoms in the teens.

Low dietary fruit intake and low intake of omega-3 fatty acids were both associated with higher rates of the symptoms of chronic bronchitis. Low intakes of omega-3 fatty acids also increased wheezing and asthma among the teens.

“Adolescents with the lowest dietary intakes of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory micronutrients had lower pulmonary function and increased respiratory symptoms, especially among smokers, suggesting that adequate dietary intake may promote respiratory health and lessen the effects of oxidative stress,” the researchers concluded.

The findings are not surprising. The overall health benefits of nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and omega-3-rich foods such as wild salmon and walnuts has been well-established. The interesting piece is the actual affect on respiratory processes and resulting impact on disease symptoms. While physical activity is a major contributor to enhanced cardiorespiratory health, nutrition should also be taken into consideration when seeking to improve or maintain lung health.

Based on the findings, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you consume proper nutrition for healthy lung support:

  • Eat a variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables DAILY. Try having a fruit and/or vegetable with EVERY meal and for snacks. Any fruit/vegetable will suffice, and you can never “over eat” fruits and veggies.
  • Consume omega-3 rich foods with your meals. Opt for those foods highest in DHA and EPA such as wild alaskan salmon (and other cold-water fish), walnuts, flaxseed and omega-3 enriched eggs.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hess Garden Provides A Place of Respite

Those visiting Sinai Hospital now have an additional place to sit, relax and take in natural beauty: the Jacqueline H. Hess Memorial Garden.

"This is a place of quiet respite for employees, patients and visitors," said Carol Macht, the landscape architect and senior principal of architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht.

Jacqueline H. Hess was a founder of the Sinai Auxiliary and Gift Shop. Sitting outside of the Lowell and Harriet Glazer Atrium, her memorial garden is part of the heart of the new additions to Sinai.

This is the third location of the Jacqueline Hess Garden, as the previous two were moved because of Sinai building projects. A gift from George Hess and his sister Diane Pelham Burn in 1984 established the Hess Garden Fund. Burn also created the metal tree sculpture, and grandchildren David and Bill Hess created the new sun dial in the garden. David Hess also created the benches.

Pictured above are LifeBridge Health CEO Warren Green and Sinai President Neil Meltzer with George and Betsy Hess, and their sons David, Bill and Michael.

Flowers and trees in the garden include ginkgos, river birches, roses, hydrangeas, and nepetas.

This version of his mother's garden "is the nicest of the three," George Hess said. "My mother would be pleased. This is a fitting tribute to her."

Macht says the garden completes the landscape, as it sits outside of the Greenspring Cafe, designed by Hord Coplan Macht in 1995. The cafeteria, atrium, south tower and garden form a modern look reflecting Sinai's vision of moving forward.

"We commend Sinai for seeing the value of incorporating these architectural elements in a cohesive fashion," Macht says.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Northwest Hospital's Cardiac Rehab Program Achieves Certification

Cardiac rehabilitation is a crucial way for those with heart problems to become healthier, especially following a heart attack. That's why LifeBridge Health is delighted that the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) recently recognized the LifeBridge Health Cardiac Rehabilitation outpatient program at Northwest Hospital by bestowing certification.

The AACVPR has high standards and guidelines, and certification for the cardiac rehab program at Northwest was awarded after a rigorous review. This places LifeBridge Health on the map as a leading provider of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.

Cardiac rehabilitation at Northwest is a 12-week, medically supervised and telemetry-monitored exercise program. It's designed to help with lifestyle changes and risk factor reduction. In addition to exercise, the program includes diet and nutrition counseling, stress management, smoking cessation classes and education. The program features:
  • State-of-the-art private exercise area including large screen TVs and comfort station.
  • An individualized exercise program incorporating the area's largest array of high-tech equipment and facilities, including recumbent and upright bikes; stretching station; seated and standing elliptical trainers and rowing machines.
  • Educational programs designed to answer questions about lifestyle changes, nutrition and exercise.
  • Expert staff members including nurses, fitness technicians, a physical therapist, a board-certified cardiologist/medical director and medical supervision.
  • On site registered dietitian for nutritional counseling.
  • Licensed psychologist available by referral.
  • Flexible schedule with hour-long classes meeting Monday, Wednesday and Fridays mornings at 7:00, 8:15, 9:30 and 10:30 and afternoons at 3:00 and 4:00.
Following the 12 weeks at Northwest, which is called Phase II, patients are referred to LifeBridge Health & Fitness to keep up with appropriate exercise and wellness.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pilates for Pink At LifeBridge Health & Fitness

Pilates exercises can help you improve your range of motion, become more flexible, increase circulation, and strengthen your posture, while decreasing your back, neck and joint pain.

Now there's a way to try out Pilates while giving back to a great cause.

LifeBridge Health & Fitness is excited to be a part of Pilates for Pink. The premiere fitness center will host this Pilates class at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 28 in Studio B. The class is taught by a master STOTT Pilates instructor.

Your $30 donation will not only allow you to take the class, but to receive a special Pilates for Pink bracelet. Proceeds benefit the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Make checks payable to LifeBridge Health & Fitness.

Sign up at the Service Desk at LifeBridge Health & Fitness, 1836 Greene Tree Road in Pikesville. Space is limited. Call Kimberlee at 410-318-6831 for more information.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sinai Gastroenterologist Receives Prestigious Award

Sudhir K. Dutta, M.D., the head of the Division of Gastroenterology at Sinai Hospital, was awarded the designation “Master of the American College of Gastroenterology” at the ACG’s annual scientific meeting last weekend.

The ACG is a national association representing more than 11,000 clinical gastroenterologists and other specialists in digestive diseases. The ACG names very few of its Fellows as Masters, says President Philip O. Katz, M.D.

“It limits this distinction only to those few, who because of their recognized stature and achievement in clinical gastroenterology, and because of their contributions to the College in service and leadership, have been recommended by the Awards Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees,” Katz says.

Dutta said he is honored by the recognition of his peers.

“It is a rare distinction bestowed by the College. They have given it to only 104 people in the entire history of the College," he says.

Dutta has represented Maryland at the annual meeting for several years as governor of the ACG. He has published more than 300 articles and abstracts in scientific journals. In 2000, Dutta was selected by Baltimore magazine as one of its “Best Physicians in the Region."

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Dutta, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Women's Wellness Center and Wellness Wednesdays

Massage is not only a nice way to relax – it may also make you healthier.

One 2005 study published in The International Journal of Neuroscience showed that cortisol levels decrease during massage while serotonin and dopamine levels rise. High cortisol levels are common among people who are stressed, and there is often a correlation between high cortisol levels and those who are not sleeping well, struggling with their weight or dealing with high blood pressure. Low levels of serotonin and dopamine, meanwhile, are often linked to depression and anxiety disorders.

Massage also can help with blood circulation, which is especially important for those with diabetes or arthritis. It may reduce pain, especially for those with joint soreness.

The Women's Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital is now offering massage therapy services on Wednesdays. Call 410-484-6800 and ask for Tammy for more information, including details on an introductory rate. The Women's Wellness Center is located on the fourth floor of the hospital.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sinai Leads Regional Security Project

As a recognized leaders in hospital emergency preparedness and regional planning, Sinai Hospital was one of two hospitals invited to an event Friday with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Secretary Napolitano toured the Maryland Urban Search and Rescue warehouse facility, which is being shared to house assets from the Region III Alternate Care Site project. This is part of the federally funded Urban Areas Security Initiative. Pictured at right are Christina Hughes, Franklin Square Hospital; Beth Neilson, Sinai Emergency Preparedness Coordinator; Bob Maloney, Director of Mayor's Office of Emergency Management with three of his staff members; Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Secretary Napolitano.

This Alternate Care site project has supplies and equipment to set up a field hospital in case of a natural disaster or mass emergency. It has 24-7 deployment options, which further enhances the Baltimore region's capabilities.

Sinai Hospital is the project lead on this regional initiative, one of three projects that received an overall funding award of $2 million.

"Today was an exciting day for Sinai, as there is an intense time commitment and dedication toward making these projects, which are managed over and above the day to day demands within Sinai, a successful endeavor," says Neilson. She also commended Sinai Director of Patient Care Services Diane Bongiovanni on her support for the project.

"Sinai and its leadership remains on the forefront of these initiatives based on its commitment to the safety and well-being of the patients we serve," Neilson says.

Sinai also presented on this project initiative at a national conference in Washington, D.C. in August. It supports Joint Commission emergency management requirements for community alternate care site capabilities.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cancer Screening Myths and Facts Discussed at Northwest

There are many opinions on cancer screening, whether it's who should get mammograms or when to start testing for cervical cancer. That's why the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute wants to help you receive the best information about when to get screened and what to get screened for, as well as help health care professionals encourage

Cancer Screening Myths & Facts for You and Your Loved Ones is a talk that will cover breast, colon, and lung cancer screening guidelines. Breast surgeon Dawn Leonard, surgical oncologist Arun Mavanur and oncologist Mayer Gorbaty will also discuss other cancers and when to screen, and a patient advocate will share.

The talk will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 11 at Northwest Hospital's Pike & Owings Rooms. Those at risk for developing cancer or people who would like to motivate/encourage others to be screened should attend. Pre-registration is required, so call 410-601-9355 today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sinai President Named to Goverment Commission

Neil Meltzer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sinai Hospital, has been named to the U.S. Government Accountability Office's National Health Care Workforce Commission. The new commission consists of 15 members that are appointed by Gene Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO.

The commission, which was created under the health care reform law, will play a key role in recommending ways to create a robust health care workforce, such as the need for more primary care physicians, and to ensure improvement in the overall quality of care. Commission members will act as a resource for Congress, the President, and state officials, plus encourage and evaluate educational and training activities.

As the immediate past National Chairman of the Board of the American Heart Association and President of Sinai Hospital, Meltzer is highly qualified to advise policy makers on ways to improve and expand the health care workforce.

"It is an honor to have an opportunity to work on behalf of those in Baltimore and beyond in helping to shape programs and policies," Meltzer says. "I look forward to ensuring that we have a well-trained health care workforce that can meet the current and future needs of all Americans."

Meltzer earned his bachelor's degree in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts and a master's degree in Public Health and Health Administration from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

You can read an interview with the Baltimore Sun and Meltzer about his position here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Northwest Hospital Celebrates Emergency Nurses Week

Now through October 16, LifeBridge Health is celebrating Emergency Nurses Week. Northwest Hospital is marking the occasion with a festive educational fair for its Northwest ER-7 staff.

There are about 70 registered nurses (RNs), 40 techs, ten administrative care coordinators (ACCs) and ten companions who work in the emergency room at Northwest Hospital. All serve key roles in ensuring that patients receive the emergency care they need.

“We’re proud of our ER team, and are happy to have a week to formally recognize their hard work,” says Nelson Figueroa, RN, director of emergency services. “Being able to successfully handle emergency medical situations takes special dedication and focus, and we are thankful that our nurses and staff give their all at work.”

Throughout the week, all shifts of ER-7 staff will be able to visit the fair to tour interactive, educational exhibits. These exhibits cover topics as diverse as recognizing when an ER patient may be a victim of domestic violence to joining the Emergency Nurses Association to attracting future generations to the nursing profession.
-Holly Hosler

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nutrition During Cancer Treatment

A cancer diagnosis is tough to hear. However, if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, there are things you can do to minimize the impact. Making nutrition a priority is one way to feel better.

There are many benefits to good nutrition during cancer treatment, says Erin Ross, a LifeBridge Health clinical dietitian. Ross spoke at “Nutrition During Cancer Treatment” at the Alvin and Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute last week in a detailed and informative presentation.

“There are many benefits of good nutrition,” Ross explained. With the right nutrition, a cancer patient can maintain strength and energy, weight and the body’s nutrients, tolerate treatments better and decrease risk of infection among other benefits.

Ross said recommendations from the American Cancer Society include eating a plant-based diet including five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruit daily, choosing whole grains, limiting consumption of red meats, especially those high in fat and processed and eat to maintain a healthy weight.

This includes eating adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats. Cancer patients should try to get enough protein because that will help in their recovery.

“Protein is very, very important,” Ross advised. “Without adequate protein, it will take longer to heal.”

A cancer patient nutritional needs include eating 25-35 calories per kilogram, 1- 2.5 protein grams per kilogram. The patient may need a multivitamin, but be careful not to overdo the vitamin supplementation.

“It is a problem when patients take mega doses of vitamins without talking to their doctors,” Ross said. “Talk to your doctor to see if you really need it.”

Consult with your physician or nutritionist before embarking on a new eating plan. To learn more about the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

- Sandra Crockett

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sinai Hospital Hosts A Line in the Sand

If you've been in the Sinai Hospital atrium in the past week, your eye may have been caught by a series of evocative and stunning photographs.

They are part of the A Line in the Sand exhibit, which has toured for two years and is making its final stop this month at Sinai. Against the backdrop of this exhibit, House of Ruth Maryland, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, held a press conference at Sinai Thursday to announce two important initiatives.

The first is a teen-focused website,, which encourages teens to take an interactive "Rate Your Relationship" quiz. This website, funded in part from a grant from Verizon Foundation and CoverGirl, encourages teens to define, in their own words, what "you love me" or "you love me not" means by uploading video clips, texts and photos. The site also provides the warning signs of an abusive relationship and gives tips on staying safe.

The second is a new partnership with Alpha Chi Omega, which is working with the House of Ruth Maryland on a teen curriculum that will be used to help young people understand domestic violence.

Speakers at the press conference included Bill and Michele Mitchell, pictured above, whose daughter Kristin was killed at age 21 by her boyfriend. The Mitchells, who founded the Kristin Mitchell Foundation, have worked since 2005 to educate teens about domestic violence and pushed for high schools to adopt lessons on dating violence into the curriculum. These lessons recognizing the warning signs for an abuser, and breaking up in a public place.

"When Kristin attended middle school and high school here in Maryland, none of this information was available," Bill Mitchell says. "Our family has learned many of the warning signs after the fact."

To see A Line in the Sand, visit Sinai's atrium through November 12. You can also click on the video below of Beth Huber to hear more about the exhibit.

Friday, October 8, 2010

National PA Week: Daniel Martin and Angela Urban, Department of Medicine

It's National Physician Assistant Week, and we're celebrating our dedicated physician assistants at LifeBridge Health by having them share their stories.

Being a Medical PA at Sinai Hospital
by Daniel Martin and Angela Urban, Sinai Hospital, Department of Medicine

For Physician Assistants at Sinai Hospital covering day/evening service, the constants of our daily routine are sign-in and sign-out (when we first become aware of new patients/and updated about current patient), and the gentle lead of a vibrating beeper. Our duties as medical PAs vary with the need of our patient population we serve. If there are no urgent/emergent needs at hand, we see and evaluate patients in the order of medical stability. Our daily goal is to facilitate medical management as prescribed by the attending physician and consulting staff, and to respond to the medical needs of our patient population when their attending physician is not readily available.

We try to have a systematic approach to each day. PAs often try to take care of any pending issues, such as a patient being discharged, obtaining a consent form, following up on lab work, etc. You never know exactly how busy the night will be. Due to the resident's other responsibilities, often 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. can be a very busy time. We can have anywhere from 2 to 6 admissions per night of varying diagnoses.

What is great about being a PA is the autonomy, variation of diagnoses, and the fact that you never know exactly what the day will bring. It keeps you on your toes. Many times during the week we'll go home thinking, “Hmm, I’m gonna have to read up on that.” We feel blessed to have jobs that are challenging on an academic and personal level.

Are you interested in working as a PA at LifeBridge Health? Click here to see our open positions.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

National PA Week: Jess Ridgely, Northwest Hospital Department of Internal Medicine

It's National Physician Assistant Week, and we're celebrating our dedicated physician assistants at LifeBridge Health by having them share their stories.

Why I became a Physician Assistant
by Jess Ridgely, Northwest Department of Internal Medicine and Surgery

When I was looking for a lifelong career, I knew it had to be an active, dynamic and growing profession. When presented with a physician assistant (PA) opportunity, it seemed to fit my expectations.

A native Baltimorean, I went to Campbell University in North Carolina for undergraduate studies, and originally thought I wanted to be an athletic trainer. But becoming a PA offered a range of opportunity in all specialties of medicine with flexible schedules and seemed conducive to family lifestyle.

I completed the Towson University/Essex Community College PA program, and found that becoming a PA provided vast opportunities, from working in a pediatrician's office to an emergency room to a private family practice. Ultimately, working at Northwest Hospital seemed to be the best fit for me. I enjoy managing a wide variety of internal medicine diagnoses, and being a first-assistant in the operating room. Balancing complicated issues on the medical zones AND having the ability to use technical skills in the operating room has proved to be personally rewarding.

But the biggest reward is having a patient say thank you; not only for knowledgeably treating physical ailments, but also for caring about the emotional/mental well-being of the patient. For the family, coming to the hospital is often anxiety provoking, and we are there to help.

Are you interested in working with Jess? Click here to see our open positions at LifeBridge Health.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National PA Week: Allison Lynn and Renee Hunter, RIAO

It's National Physician Assistant Week, and we're celebrating our dedicated physician assistants at LifeBridge Health by having them share their stories .

Working at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics
by Allison Lynn and Renee Hunter, RIAO

Allison Lynn, PA-C, International Center for Limb Lengthening: I've been a PA since 2002, and worked at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics since 2007. There are many aspects of my job at the RIAO that I enjoy. I have the chance to work with so many different people from all over the United States and overseas. We monitor our kids throughout their childhood and have a chance to be a part of their lives and watch them grow up. Because of the unique aspect of deformity correction, the entire family is involved in the process.

Treatment frequently requires a family to move to Baltimore for weeks to months. Patients and their families are away from their own support network of family and friends going through a difficult and painful process. Therefore, we have a rare opportunity to be a part of our patients’ lives not found in other fields of medicine. This week we had a teenager whom after 25-plus surgeries came for one of his final post-operation visits. He now has two feet on the floor with equal limb lengths, walking on his own without assistance, and without a limp. He is off to college this year and wants to be a PA. That's what makes the job rewarding.

Renee Hunter, PA-C, International Center for Limb Lengthening: I've been a PA since 2006, which is when I began working at the RIAO. As my first job out of college, I didn’t really know what to expect. I have seen a lot of conditions and deformities of the bone that, without working here, I would have never heard of, let alone, see. Seeing how well our patients, both pediatric and adult, adapt and deal with these conditions has been an eye-opening experience. I love the fact that I get to work with patients from here and abroad – it makes each day unique and there is never a dull moment. Overall, this job has provided me with a great working environment, staff, a wonderful set of patients and a continuing learning experience.

Are you interested in working with Renee or Allison? Check out our open positions at LifeJobs.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

National PA Week: Natalie E. Porcaro, Neuroscience House Staff

Wednesday kicks off National Physician Assistant Week, and we're celebrating our dedicated physician assistants at LifeBridge Health by having them share their stories this week. Sinai Hospital will also host a special breakfast for PAs at 7 a.m. on Wednesday in the Sinai Board Room.

A Day in the Life
by Natalie E. Porcaro, Sinai Neuroscience House Staff

Choosing a profession can be one of the most difficult decisions that a person has to make during their lifetime. This life-changing decision usually is forced upon someone at a young age. Studies show that most students are actually spending an extra year in college to obtain their bachelor’s degree because they want to alter their career path - more than fifty percent of college freshman change their major.

In the sense of choosing a career path, I feel rather lucky, as there was no question in my mind as to what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I can’t remember a time in my life when I questioned going into the health care profession. Even as a child, my favorite game was “doctor," as my favorite toys were my plastic stethoscope and reflex hammer.

While the time I come into work varies slightly, my days are anything except routine. I awaken usually when the sun is still sleeping, and I jump start my body and mind by a thirty-minute workout. I either go for a jog or use my elliptical, and I need the wake-up call the exercise gives me to clear my mind and prepare for the day to come. I eat my breakfast, an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly, in my car on my drive to work, and always have a travel mug of coffee at my side. I usually end up getting either peanut butter, or jelly, or both, on my scrubs and, needless to say, the first thing I then do is head to the locker room to change.

The team starts sign-out/report at 6 a.m. We run through our patient list to review each patient’s status, what test or laboratory studies they will have, consults that need to be called or reviewed, and other miscellaneous tasks that need to be completed (i.e. physical and occupational therapy recommendations, social work input, etc). After report is completed, we divide and conquer.

There is no such thing a “typical” day, so referring to “a day in the life” of a physician assistant, or any health care provider for that matter, will stretch across a wide spectrum of events. We have the typical Operating Room patients that need consents, orders placed, and laboratory values reviewed. Floor rounding comes next, with the most critical patients in the Intensive Care Unit being a priority. If only rounds were as simple as seeing patients, life would be a lot easier – but as most of you know, we have to carry around a “rock” or several “rocks” that beep, bong, and screech until you respond – the pagers. To trip up your day, there are undoubtedly consults on the floor, in the Emergency Department, and throughout inpatient units. Some days, as soon as you take a break, you need to report to the ED immediately. The next thing you know, you’re either getting someone ready for the OR to evacuate a large subdural hematoma or stabilize a severe spinal fracture with spinal cord compression. You could be putting a ventriculostomy catheter into someone’s ventricle to relieve hydrocephalus. Whenever you’re finished, your lunch, which could now really be your dinner, is cold and probably no longer safely edible – but that’s “a day in the life,” and secretly, we all love it.

At the end of the madness, we regroup to make appropriate list modifications and updates before we do another round of team sign out/report. The night shift arrives around 7 p.m. and after report is given, has a whole other “to do” list to follow up and check, and I’m certain a whole other story to tell by the time the next morning rolls around to do it all over again.

My drive home at night is a time to unwind. I usually go home and have dinner while sitting in front of the television. I frequently have a glass of wine, or two – that always helps the relaxation process at the day’s end. I’ll share stories sometimes with my roommate when I need a sounding board (while of course maintaining proper confidentiality); she humors me and listens. When I first started working at Sinai as a new graduate, I’d lay awake often, going over my entire day – all my orders, my admits and consultations, my notes, my patients. I still lay awake at night sometimes, but mostly my thoughts are solely on the patients themselves – not necessarily their lab values or therapy recommendations. It’s hard to tell someone that they have a brain tumor and maybe six months to live, or to tell someone that they’ve severed their spinal cord and are now a quadriplegic. It can be hard to go home at night, knowing you are in good physical health, and have a particular patient and their family on your mind.

What makes it worthwhile? What makes restless nights bearable? Knowing that tomorrow brings a new day of new patients, new ailments, and new opportunities to truly help someone – not always by saving their life with CPR or emergent surgery, but sometimes even on a level as simple as taking time to talk to them, comfort them, and let them know that you’re going to do everything in your power to help heal them. I couldn’t ask for a better team, better attending physicians, or a better support staff than the Neuroscience Center staff at Sinai.

Are you interested in working with Natalie and the other PAs at LifeBridge Health? Click here to see our open positions.

Monday, October 4, 2010

National PA Week: Roy Ruehle, Department of Surgery

Wednesday kicks off National Physician Assistant Week, and we're celebrating our dedicated physician assistants at Sinai Hospital by having them share their stories this week. Sinai Hospital will also host a special breakfast for PAs at 7 a.m. on Wednesday in the Sinai Board Room.

The Life of a Surgical PA
by Roy Ruehle, Sinai Hospital Department of Surgery

I remember when I first discovered what a physician assistant actually was. It was during my enlistment as an Army Medic in the early 1980s. When working alongside PAs during an overseas military deployment in Europe, I decided that this would be a career where I could actually play a front line role in patient care.

After my full-time enlistment was over, I began PA school at Hahnemann University, and later would begin working at Sinai Hospital's Department of Surgery, a role that I've had now for nearly two decades. My role in the Department of Surgery has been ever- changing as requirements and programs within the department have changed.

My role is also a bit different as I was not only a civilian PA at Sinai, but also a senior medical officer in the U.S. Army National Guard. I've served both my community and country, and spent close to a year in Iraq.

When I'm working at Sinai, my day starts off about 4:30 a.m. I begin "rounding" at 5:30 a.m. This is when I see patients, evaluate overnight lab reports, studies, and tests. We prepare the surgical patients for the day's events. Much like the military, we work as a team to fight disease and trauma, and hope to improve the lives of the people who are entrusted in our care. PAs are an important link between residents, attending physicians, patients and families. We are usually working in the front lines of treating and evaluating the needs of those who we serve. As the morning progresses, we are expected to perform a variety of duties from hands-on direct patient care, to ordering vital tests, to going to the operating room. Saving and improving lives, improving quality of life, and always making sure that we always primum nil nocere, which means "first, do no harm."

In addition to our routine care, there are the traumas, which are tragic events that can forever change the lives of the people we see. Our team of physicians, PAs, and nurse practitioners focus our combined skills. We hope to return these victims to the lives and families they had before these tragic events occurred. When you are in the military, these events can be even more stressful, as not only do we have to save a life, but avoid losing ours while helping others. Always remember that freedom is not free, and there are a few men and women that take their turns on the front lines so that we all can live free.

At the end of a 14-hour shift, we are tired, hungry, and sometimes stressed. We return to our own homes knowing that our job is unlike most other jobs. To coin an "Army Theme": It's not just a job, it's an adventure. And this adventure changes every day. We find comfort in our families, have dinner, play with our children. We go to bed, wake up hours before anyone in the house, and begin the next day.

Are you interested in working with Roy and the other PAs at LifeBridge Health? Click here to see our open positions.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Get Your Flu Shot

It's time to get your flu shot.

Along with washing your hands, getting the vaccine are the important things you can do to protect yourself. Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or touching your face and, if possible, avoiding contact with those who are sick. If you do get sick, be considerate of others by covering your nose and mouth with the crux of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

The Influenza Vaccine Kickoff was this week for LifeBridge Health employees, and all employees are encouraged to get the flu shot. The current vaccine includes protection against Inf A/Victori/210/2009 (H3N2), Inf A/California/07/2009 (H1N1), and B/Brisbane/60/2008 Inf B. Those who have already had the H1N1 shot should still get this year's flu shot.

LifeBridge Health employees do not need an appointment if they are visiting Occupational Health at Northwest or Employee Health at Sinai (located in the Hoffberger building) during office hours. There will be a weekly raffle for employees who receive the shot, which is free for employees.

If you need to find a place that provides flu shots, visit and click on "I Want a Flu Shot."