Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month in April

In one of the most iconic superhero films of all time, Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne’s father says, “Why do we fall? To pick ourselves back up.” As much as we would all like to be as strong as Batman and have the physical and mental strength to pick ourselves up from a fall, not everyone can do it on their own. That’s where occupational therapists come in and work their magic. Occupational therapists help you both “pick yourself up” so that you can live a fully-functioning, productive life.

April is Occupational Therapy Month. Regardless if you have ever been to an occupational therapist, it is important to know that they exist and are here to help. What exactly is occupational therapy? It’s a service that helps patients with mental, physical, developmental and emotional disabilities perform everyday tasks. Occupational therapists provide these services to everyone, from young children with learning disabilities to elderly adults who have suffered from a stroke.

Natan Berry, MS, OTR/L at Sinai Hospital says, "One of the most satisfying things about being an occupational therapist is being able to see the tremendous progress that people make. A patient can be completely dependent for all of their activities of daily living, but through aggressive rehabilitation, even basic remedial tasks such as putting toothpaste on a toothbrush become possible until maximum independence is achieved. I was recently shopping at BJ's Wholesale Club when I ran into a former patient of mine. She was dependent on a mechanical ventilator for over a month, yet here she was walking and shopping the aisles independently!"

Here is a video that highlights the occupational therapy student program at Sinai Hospital:

At Sinai Hospital there are currently 22 occupational therapists who work in various departments such as NICU and geriatrics, offering both inpatient and outpatient services. “We all do various treatments that relate to the specific area that we work in, but treatments can range from completing basic activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and toileting, to instrumental activities of daily living such as cooking, medication management, and laundry. We also do range of motion of the upper extremities, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, splinting, and teaching how to use adaptive equipment to make daily life easier. We work on improving cognitive skills to make functioning in the real world safer and more efficient. We also have specialties, including our outpatient driving rehab program,” Berry says.

The goal of an occupational therapist is to help a patient accomplish their goals and maintain their independence, so help promote Occupational Therapy Month by thanking an occupational therapist or occupational assistant today!

To learn more about Occupational Therapy visit the Sinai Rehabilitation Center, or our previous blog post titled Occupational Therapy Can Be a Rewarding Career.

-Trish Smith

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrate National Healthcare Volunteer Week April 10-16

Every year thousands of people generously donate their time to hospitals. These volunteers assist with the comfort, care and happiness of hospital patients and their families, as well as the needs of hospital staff.

The week of April 10-16 has been designated as National Healthcare Volunteer Week. This week recognizes the significant contributions that volunteers make to the healthcare community. Most importantly, it is a time for people to thank these volunteers for enriching their lives.

LifeBridge Health centers Sinai Hospital, Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital and Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center each accept applications for their volunteer programs. People of all ages, from high school seniors to retired senior citizens, are encouraged to apply.

Some of the volunteer positions include:

· Office/clerical positions
· Therapeutic recreation assistants
· Friendly visitors
· Gift cart volunteers
· Book-Mobile volunteers
· Entertainers
· Spiritual support volunteers
· Horticulture therapy assistants
· Adult day care service assistants

Jennifer Terrell, Director of Volunteer Services and Business Outreach at Northwest Hospital, says “Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and help others, and health care facilities are always in need of caring, compassionate people to devote their time and talent as volunteers.”

"Every day Sinai's team of volunteers make meaningful contributions to the patient care and administrative operations of the hospital. They are a constant reminder that helping others is the most important reason for working in health care," says, Beth Markowitz, Volunteer Manager for Sinai Hospital.

Janine Boulad, Volunteer Services Manager at Levindale and Courtland Gardens, says "First I want to say that I as the manager of volunteers I have the best job in the world. I have a job that reaffirms my faith in humanity everyday. Health care volunteers provide the human touch to our patients and residents. They give the gift of time and time can never be repaid. Typically in nursing homes 50 percent of the residents do not get visits, but with the help of our outstanding volunteers, every resident who wants a visit can have one."

Volunteering at a health care facility is a great way to give back to the community and to help the less fortunate. It will also help you gain valuable skills that you can use for the rest of your life.

Learn more about:
Volunteering at Sinai
Volunteering at Northwest
Volunteering at Levindale
Volunteering at Courtland Gardens

-Trish Smith

Monday, April 11, 2011

Congestive Heart Failure

Elizabeth Taylor died of congestive heart failure (CHF) at the age of 79 on March 23. Her death raises awareness of this serious condition that affects an estimated five million Americans.

Congestive heart failure means that the heart muscle cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. CHF may develop over a long period of time, sometimes over years, or almost immediately.

“There are many different reasons that CHF occurs,” says Dr. Ali Tabrizchi, an interventional cardiologist at the Heart Center at Sinai in Baltimore. “Genetics, which are passed down through families, as well lifestyle choices, can be to blame.”

Among the possible causes:
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Problems with the heart’s valves
  • Thyroid conditions
  • A heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • An infection of the heart muscle
  • Vitamin deficiencies
People of all ages and of both sexes can have congestive heart failure. Among some people who died from it are actress/dancer Ginger Rogers, makeup founder Max Factor, Jr., jazz musician Lionel Hampton, NBA center Kevin Duckworth, and actor Andy Hallett who had a recurring role in the TV series “Angel.”

Chest pain is only one possible symptom of a heart problem. Other symptoms can be:
  • Constantly tired or weak
  • Dizzy spells
  • Frequent urination during the night
  • Problems breathing when lying down
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing when you exert yourself
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Waking at night coughing or short of breath
Adds Dr. Tabrizchi, “through intensive treatment, outpatient management and education, many patients improve their health quality of life.”

Based on examinations and tests, your physician will develop a treatment plan for you, which can include:
  • Increased activity as recommended
  • Dietary changes to reduce intake of salt and sodium
  • Medication to help the heart work better
  • Rest to give the heart a break
  • Referral for heart transplantation
For more information, contact the Heart Center at Sinai, the Northwest Hospital Division of Cardiology at, or call 410.601.WELL.

-Helene King

Friday, April 8, 2011

National Heimlich Maneuver Week is April 10-16

Every five days a child in the U.S. dies from choking to death. Most of these deaths could have been prevented if the parents knew how to administer the Heimlich maneuver. This emergency technique, which was developed by American Henry Heimlich, was founded in 1974. Since then it has saved over 100,000 American lives and countless more around the world.

This year National Heimlich Maneuver Week will occur from April 10-16. The week-long observance will celebrate the life-saving technique and educate the public about proper ways to perform it.

Do you want to learn the proper way to administer the Heimlich maneuver? Watch this video:

To learn more about the Heimlich Maneuver visit the Heimlich Institute.

-Trish Smith

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7 is National Alcohol Screening Day

Every year thousands of people fall victim to alcohol-related injuries. The scary fact is that many of these injuries are caused by alcoholics who took their first drink when they were underage. The Screening for Mental Health website says “Approximately 20 percent of eighth graders, 35 percent of tenth graders, and 48 percent of twelfth graders report having consumed alcohol during the past month.”

By the time young people graduate college, many of them will be consuming four or five alcoholic drinks in one night. This puts them and their peers at a higher risk for injury, and will likely lead to alcoholism. Before the cycle of alcohol addition occurs, people need to become educated about alcohol use and its health concerns.

National Alcohol Screening Day is an annual event that raises awareness about alcohol consumption. It is a day for people to receive free advice on alcohol use problems, and for them to take anonymous alcohol screenings to determine if they need help.

The following video was created by students from the Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University to promote National Alcohol Screening Day:

If you think that you or someone you know may have an alcohol addiction, please take an anonymous alcohol self-assessment on How Do You Score or Alcohol Screening, or find an Alcohol Treatment Center Any Place in the U.S. on the National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center website.

-Trish Smith

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LifeBridge Health Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Associates Open New Physical Therapy Clinic in Reisterstown

LifeBridge Health Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation powered by Physiotherapy Associates announces the grand opening of its sixth physical therapy clinic today in Reisterstown, Md. The Reisterstown facility offers expert, individualized physical therapy treatment from a team of licensed physical therapists in a non-hospital setting.

Patients have access to a comprehensive list of services: back and neck care, orthopedic physical therapy, post-operative rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, work injury rehabilitation and other specialty services.

“We are excited about the opportunity to care for the residents of Reisterstown and to further expand our brand of individualized high-quality physical therapy services to even more people in the Baltimore area,” said Dave Gray, P.T., Area vice president, Physiotherapy Associates.

In addition to the Reisterstown clinic, there are clinic locations in Eldersburg, Owings Mills, Pikesville, Timonium and Towson. Patients have the option of receiving care at any of the clinics within the system. The Pikesville clinic, located within LifeBridge Health & Fitness, offers additional services such as aquatic therapy and a fitness center.

To learn more visit LifeBridge Health & Fitness.

-Noel Lloyd

5 Ways to Eat Healthy at a Ballpark

Baseball season is officially here! What does that mean? It means going to your local ballpark, watching your favorite team battle it out and eating a lot of unhealthy ballpark food.

Besides paying an arm and a leg for beer and food, you’ll be paying with your health if you keep ingesting all those hot dogs and French fries.

By making a few healthy decisions you can feel good about what you’re eating, even if you don’t feel good about how well your team is playing. Here are five ways that you can eat healthy at your local stadium or arena.

1. Choose Chicken Over Beef or Pork

It might be considered un-American to not eat a hot dog at a baseball game, but since you do have alternatives, you should choose a healthier option. A typical Nathan’s hot dog has 297 calories, a hamburger 273 calories and a grilled skinless chicken breast sandwich has about 120 calories. If you have to choose between a grilled chicken sandwich and fried chicken fingers, always go with the sandwich.

2. Ditch the Ice Cream and Go for Frozen Yogurt

On a hot summer day you might want nothing more than a delicious ice cream cone, but beware the calories. A traditional vanilla ice cream cone has about 145 calories, while vanilla frozen yogurt has about 117 calories.

3. Popcorn vs. Peanuts

If you’re craving a snack to munch on during the game, choose peanuts instead of popcorn. A typical box of popcorn can have up to 2,000 calories, considering all the butter and oil that was used to cook it. A serving of dry roasted peanuts has about 854 calories, which is still high, but much healthier than those kernels.

4. Avoid the Cheese, Please!

Cheese is one of the tastiest, but most high-calorie foods to eat. That being said, as tempting as it may be to get an order of nachos smothered in cheese (over 1,000 calories), cheese-smothered French fries (644 calories) or a super soft pretzel with cheese (569 calories), opt for food without the cheese. Your stomach will thank you later.

5. Eat Beforehand or Bring Your Own Snacks

Whoever said that you have to spend a huge chunk of your hard-earned money at a baseball game? You can always eat before the game to avoid having the urge to splurge on fatty stadium food. Also, you can bring a Ziploc® bag of healthy snacks like granola or fruit to curb your appetite.

Now that you know how to eat healthy at your local sports stadium it’s time for you to put on your favorite jersey and support your local team!

To learn more about healthy food options visit Sinai Hospital's Diet and Nutrition page.

-Trish Smith

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sinai Hospital of Baltimore Earns Designation as Cardiac Interventional Center

The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) designated Sinai Hospital of Baltimore as a Cardiac Interventional Center on April 1, 2011.

This distinction means that Sinai complies with state standards so that emergency medical services (EMS) workers can bring patients experiencing the most common type of heart attack, called a STEMI, here. Ambulances bypass hospitals that are not a cardiac interventional center.

It is widely recognized that the sooner a patient is treated for the blockage causing a STEMI, the better the heart muscle will recover. That’s why a well-coordinated effort between EMS providers in the field and the medical staff at a cardiac interventional center is generally associated with fewer complications and better outcomes.

“Maryland’s EMS system continues to be a national model for trauma and emergency care,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The designation of cardiac interventional centers complements our statewide system and ensure that Marylanders receive the best treatment possible when it comes to heart attacks and STEMI care.”

The American Hospital Association estimates that 400,000 people in the United States and 5,600 in Maryland experience a STEMI each year, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms and call 9-1-1 immediately.

Symptoms can include:
  • Discomfort in the center of the chest - which can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain - and lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw and/or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
To learn more about heart-related conditions visit the Heart Center at Sinai.

-Helene King

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jennifer Terrell Earns ROMG Chamber President's Award

Jennifer Terrell, director of Volunteers and Business Outreach at Northwest Hospital, was the recipient of this year’s Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce President’s Award.

This is an honor awarded by the chamber’s president and given to the member who has given the most and gone the extra mile for the ROMG Chamber of Commerce.

“Jenn has helped just about every committee we have with events or anything they have needed assistance with,” says Rachel Heird, president of the ROMG Chamber and AVP, branch manager of Farmers & Merchants Bank in Owings Mills. “Jenn also volunteered to co-chair one of our most popular committees, Women In Business. She’s an all around team player who gives over 100 percent to whatever she takes on, and she is a valued member of this organization.”

Jennifer is currently the 1st vice president of the chamber and a very active member of the group. When helping out with chamber events, she’s there from start to end to ensure that everything runs smoothly. She is similarly dedicated to her work in organizing the hospital volunteers at Northwest.

--Holly Hosler

Friday, April 1, 2011

Health Awareness Observances for the Month of April

What are the symptoms of autism? Do you know the best way to protect your infant against vaccine-preventable diseases? How do you prevent meningitis? If you don’t know the answers to these questions and you want to educate yourself about autism, infant immunization, meningitis and other health-related issues, then get ready to celebrate April Health Awareness Month!

The following health observances are recognized for the entire month of April:

Alcohol Awareness Month

According to Psychology Today, “25% of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.” Considering the millions of children that there are in the U.S., that is a tragically high number. Alcohol Awareness Month was created to educate both children and adults about the devastating effects of alcohol. Individuals and organizations can learn how to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse and help people get the treatment they need.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders estimates that “IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States” and “worldwide it's estimated that between 1 in 10 and nearly 1 in 4 people (9% to 23% of populations) has IBS.” What exactly is IBS? It’s a disorder that causes abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month promotes the understanding of IBS, ways to treat it and the raising of money for advancement in IBS research.

Occupational Therapy Month

Did you know that occupational therapy helps people who are suffering from arthritis, diabetes and obesity? Occupational Therapy Month is a celebration to appreciate occupational therapists and assistants. Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. to learn Ten Things You Can Do to Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month.

March for Babies

According to the March of Dimes website, “In the United States, about 12.8 percent of babies (more than half a million a year) are born prematurely. The rate of premature birth has increased by 36 percent since the early 1980s.” March for Babies was created by the March of Dimes to help fund research to prevent premature birth, birth defects and other birth-related conditions associated with newborns.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

“Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States,” according to, an organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. National Child Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness about these victims and educates people on strengthening families and communities affected by child abuse.

National Autism Awareness Month

“One percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3 to 17 have an autism spectrum disorder,” states the Autism Society. Autism is a developmental disorder in the brain that affects a person’s social and communication skills. It usually appears within the first three years of life, but with early and effective treatment, it can help children successfully integrate into society. National Autism Awareness Month educates the public about autism and promotes fundraising for the Autism Society of America.

Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month

The Centers for Disease Control estimates “there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.” These sexually transmitted diseases can create long-term health illnesses, and eventually lead to death. STD Awareness Month educates people about ways they can prevent STDs, as well as stresses the importance of talking to a healthcare provider if you have an STD.

National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month was created in 2003 by Donate Life America, an organization whose goal is to motivate the American public to become organ, eye and tissue donors. According to its website, “An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.” Donate Life America proclaimed April as National Donate Life Month to continue its mission of raising awareness for organ donation in America.

National Facial Protection Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that mouth guards can prevent up to 200,000 injuries a year. Although it is mandatory for sports players to wear mouth guards in hockey, football and lacrosse, many people believe that it should be mandatory for all athletes in every sport. National Facial Protection Month is sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Association of Orthodontists and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and it advocates for mouth guard protection and protective facial gear for all sports players.

Foot Health Awareness Month

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, “a 150 pound person walking one mile can exert a force of 63.5 tons on a single foot? That weight can greatly impact a person’s ability to move around. Foot Health Awareness Month encourages people to take care of their feet and ankles so that they can prevent future foot problems from happening.

National Minority Health Month

Did you know that African American men are 80% more likely to have chronic liver disease than white men, or that Asian American women are 2.4 times more likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-Hispanic white women? These are statistics from the Office of Minority Health, an organization established by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Minority Health Month educates the public about ways to improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities in America. Visit the National Minority Quality Forum website for more information.

-Trish Smith

Thursday, March 31, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

To read more, click here.

-Amy Novotney

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Walking: A Simple and Effective Way to Stay Healthy

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby Fat: Sinai Hospital Helps Women with Gestational Diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bariatric Services Now Offered at Sinai and Northwest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To meet with a physician, call 410.601.WELL.

Friday, March 25, 2011

LifeBridge Health Heroes

Health Care Heroes

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

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

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

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

Dr. Seitzman comments on her award:

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Body’s Preparation for Labor and Delivery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Choosing Healthy Drink Options

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Celebrate World Water Day Today!

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

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

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

Charity: Water

Sri Lanka Red Cross Society


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

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

-Trish Smith

Health Care Hero: Tamika Gladney, Northwest

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Holly Hosler

Monday, March 21, 2011

Health Care Hero: Rosa Griffith, Levindale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 18, 2011

Health Care Hero: Gerami Seitzman, Sinai Hospital

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

Gerami D. Seitzman, M.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

After the Cancer Diagnosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Freedom to Have a Healthier Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Asparagus

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

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

Recipe: Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Asparagus with Ginger Video:

2. Broccoli

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

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

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli

Cream of Broccoli Soup Video:

3. Arugula

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

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

Recipe: Pesto with Arugula

Fresh and Easy Arugula Salad Video:

4. Cucumbers

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

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

Recipe: Japanese Cucumber Salad

Cool as a Cucumber Soup Video:

5. Spinach

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

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

Recipe: Wilted Spinach with Cherries and Goat Cheese

Garlic Sautéed Spinach Video:

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

-Trish Smith

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prostate Cancer: A Roller Coaster of a Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




1 in 10149


1 in 38


1 in 14


1 in 7


1 in 6

Treatment options for prostate cancer include:

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

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

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

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

-Trish Smith

Friday, March 11, 2011

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

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

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

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

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman

Thursday, March 10, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Noel Lloyd

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NFL Player Visits Children's Hospital

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

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

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

National Sleep Awareness Week: Not a Snooze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy: Fact Vs. Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Elizabeth Leis-Newman