GLASGOW, Ky. (Aug. 27, 2015) – T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow, Ky., announced that it has entered into a formal collaboration with the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center to further develop its oncology service line.
“At T.J. Samson we have wonderful medical professionals that are excellent at providing individualized treatment options. By collaborating with the Markey Cancer Center, we have just provided them a whole new world of resources to offer their patients locally,” Bud Wethington, CEO/President of T.J. Regional Health.
Kentucky faces some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the nation. By working with Markey, T.J. Samson is committed to providing top-notch care for its cancer patients. The hospital is considered a candidate member of the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network (MCCAN) and is making steps toward becoming a full affiliate member.
As part of the formal collaboration, the UK Markey Cancer Center will assist T.J. Samson in preparing for their American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer accreditation, which is the quality standard for all MCCAN sites.
"We are excited to work with T.J. Samson in building a strong oncology program," said Dr. Timothy Mullett, medical director of the MCCAN. "Our state unfortunately ranks at the top in terms of cancer incidence and mortality, but by working together with hospitals across the state, we have the potential to make a serious impact on cancer prevention and care."
T.J. Samson currently provides oncology services at the T.J. Health Pavilion under the direction of Dr. Donald Goodin. Goodin is board-certified in hematology/oncology and works closely with Dr. William Tyree at the Barren River Regional Cancer Center, a joint venture between T.J. Samson Community Hospital and The Medical Center of Bowling Green. Tyree is board-certified in radiation oncology and has been practicing in southcentral Kentucky since 2013.
These physicians, along with their highly trained staff, provide complex oncology services including diagnostic imaging, surgery, radiation, palliative care and chemotherapy close to home. The new relationship with Markey will strengthen patient navigation, psychosocial support, survivorship and rehabilitation services.
“I look forward to being able to expand the scope of services at T.J. Samson Community Hospital,” Goodin said. “Our specialized physicians desire to provide opportunities for their patients to participate in clinical trials through a collaborative affiliation with a nationally recognized program such as the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.”
The Markey Cancer Center was founded in 1983 and is a dedicated matrix cancer center established as an integral part of the University of Kentucky and the UK HealthCare enterprise. Markey functions as a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary complex whose mission is to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality through a comprehensive program of cancer education, research, treatment and community engagement.
In July 2013, Markey was designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to receive research funding and many other opportunities available only to the nation’s best cancer centers. Markey is the only NCI-designated center in Kentucky and one of only 69 in the country.
The clinical programs and services of the Markey Cancer Center are integrated with the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Markey's cancer specialty teams work together with UK Chandler Hospital departments and divisions to provide primary patient care and support services as well as advanced specialty care with applicable clinical research studies. All diagnostic services, clinical and pathology laboratories, operating rooms, emergent and intensive care, and radiation therapy services are also provided to cancer patients through UK Chandler Hospital. Attending Physicians affiliated with the Center are board certified in their respective oncologic specialties, and its research scientists are generously funded by nationally prominent funding agencies, including the National Cancer Institute.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 19, 2015) – For women younger than 40, cervical cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related death. With modern vaccines to protect against the underlying cause, human papilloma virus (HPV), cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancers.
As a society, we have the opportunity to wipe out or significantly reduce a disease by vaccinating the population. Still, many American health care providers and families aren’t getting their children and teens vaccinated, and our youth are suffering the consequences.
Cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the throat, penis, rectum, vulva and mouth, can develop from changes in cells caused by HPV. Since the FDA approved the first versions of the HPV vaccine in 2006, nearly 7 billion doses have been administered worldwide. HPV continues to spread because of a national resistance to accepting the vaccine as part of standard preventive care.
Because of social stigmas surrounding HPV vaccinations, only around 30 percent of men and women under the age of 25 have been vaccinated in both Kentucky and nationwide. Only 27 percent of women between the ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended dosages of the HPV vaccine. Many health care providers and parents view these vaccinations as elective or irrelevant unless a youth is sexually active. In reality, HPV can be transmitted a number of ways, including from a mother to a child during delivery. Statistics show most people will contract one form of the virus at some point in their lives.
Until 2014, the two vaccination options were Gardasil 4 and Cervarix, both of which protect against HPV strains 16 and 18 or the strains responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers and Gardasil 4 also protects against 90 percent of genital warts (Strains 6 & 11). Last year, Gardasil 9 entered the market targeting strains 16 and 18, as well as five additional strains, covering HPV types responsible for almost 90 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine also protects against HPV strains 6 and 11, which cause genital warts.
Parents and adolescent providers must seize the opportunity to vaccinate their youth before infection occurs. Countries that provided massive free vaccination such as Australia have experienced a 70 percent drop in cervical cancer rates, as well as other cancers associated with HPV.
Next time you visit your pediatrician or adolescent health provider, insist on including an HPV vaccine in your child’s preventive health care plan. Both boys and girls should be vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, and prevents 70 to 90 percent of the disease. As a parent, doing everything in your capacity to protect your child from harm means making the decision to get the HPV vaccine — the only certain way to prevent these forms of cancer.
Dr. Omar is the chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
This column appeared in the Aug. 16 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader
Media Contact: Elizabeth Troutman Adams at email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 14, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear held a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 82 on Thursday at the University of Kentucky.
The measure aims to increase research dollars designated for the study and treatment of pediatric cancer by creating a “check-the-box” option for an individual’s tax refund to be diverted to a newly created Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund.
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, of Campbellsville, whose young son is a pediatric cancer survivor. Senate Bill 82 became law June 24.
“Every child deserves to live a healthy, active life, but many children in this state - and all across the country - are battling cancer,” said Gov. Beshear. “In fact, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children. This law will help us raise more funding for research for pediatric cancer in the hope that one day we can celebrate finding a cure.”
The Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund will be administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. A board will be established to provide additional oversight and guidance.
“As the first pediatric cancer bill to be signed into law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, this bill is dedicated to the families who have been affected or are dealing with pediatric cancer,” said Sen. Wise. “SB82 is a testament to our republican & democrat legislators working together to do what is right for Kentucky families.”
From 2008-2012, Kentucky had approximately 200 cases each year of cancer among children up to the age of 19, according to the National Cancer Institute. The American Cancer Society, meanwhile, reports that about 10,380 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
“This legislation will fuel innovative pediatric cancer research being done here at the University of Kentucky and will directly benefit some of the sickest children in the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs. “Thanks to this bill, now all Kentuckians will have the opportunity to advance pediatric cancer research.”
The bill also allows individuals to designate a portion of their tax refund to a new trust fund to support rape crisis centers throughout Kentucky.
“I was proud to include this provision in the law, because these centers play such a critical role in giving rape victims the care and support they need,” said Rep. Chris Harris, of Forest Hills. “This additional revenue will provide better financial stability and enable the centers to do even more to help.”
Gov. Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to look for the check-off option when filing their taxes next year so they can donate a portion or all of their refund to the Pediatric Cancer Trust Fund, or the Rape Crisis Center Trust Fund.
“I hope all Kentuckians will take advantage of these new check-off options and join us in the fight to end childhood cancer and support for victims of assault,” said Gov. Beshear.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 13, 2015) — As a final step before leaving the United States to serve abroad, U.S. Army Logistical Chief Warrant Officer Four Josie Evans went for a routine medical exam at her base in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Expecting to be found medically fit for deployment, instead Evans was given much different news.
“They first thought it was a cyst,” said Evans. “After going to a doctor in Elizabethtown to have it cleaned out, a biopsy came back that it was odontogenic myxoma.”
Odontogenic myxoma is a rare abnormal growth in tissue, in many cases, seen in the lower jaw area. Young adults are more commonly diagnosed with odontogenic myxoma, although cases have been identified in patients ranging from ages 10 to 50 years old. While painless and benign, it is often referred to as “locally malignant.” If left untreated it grows aggressively, and is invasive and destructive.
“After seeing how extensive the problem was, and what all it entailed, Dr. Larry Cunningham at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry was the only surgeon my doctor in Elizabethtown would recommend.”
At the suggestion of her local doctor, Evans made the trip to UK to undergo an extensive surgery performed by Cunningham of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department and Dr. Daniel Stewart of the Plastic Surgery Division. Her first surgery, which lasted over 14 hours, involved the resection, or removal, of her entire lower jaw and the reconstruction of the area.
“I lost from the left side of my chin all the way down the right side completely. All my chin, my lower teeth, there was nothing. My left fibula bone was used to rebuild my face.”
After Dr. Cunningham and his team removed the tumor and rebuilt the area, Evans began her road to recovery. The tumor had been very invasive. With the amount of facial reconstruction preformed, Evans remained in the hospital for some time following the operation. Due to swelling, she relied on a breathing tube for one month and a feeding tube for two months during recovery.
When recalling the support of her family, local church, Army organization, and health care team, Evans says, “God put the right people in my life. I had to learn to do everything all over again. I had to learn how to speak with the breathing tube. I refused to leave the hospital in a wheelchair. Before I left, I learned to use a walker. I had to learn how to walk without the one bone in my leg. I didn’t eat solid food for months after the feeding tube was removed. It was all very difficult.”
Following the initial surgery, Evans visited Drs. Cunningham and Stewart regularly for check-ups to review progress. Several additional surgeries were needed in order to care for issues involving infection. Engineered bone was added to address damage caused by infection to the fibula bone used during the reconstruction process.
“After the final surgery to treat infection, my lips and face were swollen again. They were two times their normal size. It was another hard process to go through,” says Evans. “The swelling went down really fast. I’m at the point now where I can get dental implants.”
“The staff at UK, the doctors, everybody was just awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. It’s been a long road, a hard transition. When people see me, unless I tell them my story, they don’t know. That’s how great a job Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Stewart did on the resection and the reconstruction work.”
"Part of UK’s mission is to serve as a resource for community providers. Working as a multidisciplinary team, UK HealthCare providers are able to offer the support patients need in such complex cases, and assist community physicians in helping their patients reach a favorable outcome. Opportunities to make such a positive impact and take care of patients like Josey makes my work very fulfilling,” says Cunningham.
Just several months after the last surgery, Evans was able to return to teaching aerobics, running five miles or more every other day and go back to active status in the armed forces, where she has served for nearly 20 years.
“When you think you are in a bad place, you can look to your left and your right. There are people in worse conditions than I was in, so I thank God things are as good as they are for me. I just believe that God orchestrated it so I was put in the right place, at the right time, to get the right care. The University of Kentucky was the right care for me. I was absolutely blessed with the doctors I had. Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Stewart have blessed hands. They will always be a part of my life. They changed my life…I’m very grateful.”
“I met a lady at church that has been going through a similar process for about four or five years now. She had surgery somewhere else and things didn’t go well. When she saw me, and she learned my story, she asked for my doctors’ names. She’s now coming to UK after seeing me and hearing what great care I was given.”
Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 13, 2015) – The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded a $750,000 grant to University of Kentucky researcher Fredrick Onono to study the potential link between obesity and breast cancer.
Obese women are four times more likely to develop treatment-resistant breast cancer, but the exact mechanism for this observation is still largely a mystery. The link between high-fat diets and cancer development provides a clue that fats themselves may somehow be responsible for causing cells to malfunction.
Onono, who recently became an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, will work with fellow UK researchers Andrew Morris, Ashwini Anand Professor of Cardiology; Dr. Susan Smyth, Jeff Gill Professor of Cardiology; Kathleen O’Connor, professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry; and Andrew Lane, professor of toxicology and cancer biology.
This research is made possible by an award from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number 1K01CA197073-01 and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 12, 2015) — You finish some online window-shopping for a new pair of Nikes and move on to check your Facebook feed. Something to the right of the feed catches your eye: it's that same pair of Nikes you haven't yet bought, with a link to a website that has it in your size.
Big Brother? No, Big Data.
In The Digital Doctor, big data's daunting definition is: "High volume, high velocity and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery, and process optimization."
But Joe Labianca describes big data in simpler terms.
"Our use of computers, smartphones and other devices generates massive amounts of data, much of which can be used to customize your shopping experience and make life easier," he said. "For example, with Google, perhaps the world's leading corporate user of big data analytics, users can download their smartphone app that tells you how long it will take you to get home (taking traffic into account) and whether the books you ordered from Amazon have arrived on your doorstep."
According to Labianca, Gatton Chair in Management at the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics, companies around the world are rushing to adopt big data analytics as a means to streamline product delivery, improve the shopping experience and boost sales. And that, in turn, is catching the eye of the health care industry, where the health records of a single patient can easily top thousands of pages and a larger health system, processes about 10 million computerized transactions a day — twice the number of transactions that takes place every day on the NASDAQ.
Dr. Mark Williams, chief transformation & learning officer at UK HealthCare and director of the Center for Health Services Research, is one member of the team committed to explore how UK HealthCare can use big data analytics to make the patient experience better.
"Health care is a contradictory enterprise, generating terabytes of data in the course of a month but still requiring a high level of human touch," Williams said. "The challenge for us is to find ways to use that data to help patients get better faster while maximizing efficiency and lowering costs — all without compromising the human element of the patient experience."
A visit to one of UK Chandler Hospital's Intensive Care Units (ICU) illustrates Williams' assertion. A single patient can be connected to as many as 12 machines monitoring blood pressure, IV drips, dialysis, ventilators and so forth. The nurse assigned to that patient must watch each and every one of those monitors for signs of trouble and coordinate care with each element in mind. Though technology has made health care better, it has also fostered new challenges for the people who are responsible for delivering it.
The greater UK health care enterprise already has big data analytics available. Jeff Talbert, professor in the UK College of Pharmacy, runs the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science Enterprise Data Trust, a repository of health care data from a number of sources, including links to the state's Medicaid program, the Kentucky Cancer Registry and health data from the insurance industry. He sees data as a strategic asset with enormous opportunity to inform policy and change the way patients are treated, and points to patient research participation as a prime example.
"We can cull through the data to find patients who have a certain disease and might be eligible for a clinical trial, which can increase research participation and collect feedback about new treatments on a faster timetable," said Talbert.
But there are large pieces of it scattered around campus, and none of it thus far directly addresses the enabling technology for big data and patient experience. To tackle that, UK has recently brought acclaimed computer scientist and informatician GQ Zhang to campus to lead the newly formed Institute of Biomedical Informatics. Zhang is charged with integrating and leveraging large data systems across the academic and medical enterprises to improve patient care, research and education, creating what is increasingly known as a "Learning Health System."
"Many people refer to volume, velocity and variety when discussing big data, but I like to add two extra 'Vs' — vision and value," said Zhang. "If someone doesn't have the big idea that will help leverage the data in the right way to answer a relevant question or provide a new way to solve a problem, the untapped potential of big data will not be realized."
As an example, Zhang tells the story of a program developed by the mayor of the city of Boston to improve the driving experience in an unusual way: by fixing potholes.
Bostonians can download a free app to their smartphones and let the app run in the background while driving through town. The jolt of a pothole is sensed by the phone, which then transmits georeference data to the city's databases, requiring no active input from the driver. As increasing numbers of drivers bump through the same pothole, the accuracy of the pothole's location increases significantly and road crews are dispatched to the area to repair the pothole with pinpoint precision. Saves time, saves money and makes countless drivers happy.
The same principle can be applied to critical care, said Zhang. Currently, nurses collect basic data about an ICU patient from the monitors at periodic intervals and enter it into the patient's chart.
"A trend can be more important than an absolute value and this sporadic recording of data may not be responsive enough in spotting subtle trends that predict whether that patient is in need of immediate attention," said Zhang. "If that equipment recorded data second-to-second, we could potentially develop a real-time index or score for each patient in the ICU that would allow us to monitor subtle changes in vitals that are predictive of real trouble and respond accordingly."
Furthermore, says Zhang, because this data would be stored cumulatively, researchers may use the data to develop analytics that look at outcome trends for large populations of patients and provide new ways to improve patient care. Like the Boston pothole app, data gathered over time in a larger setting can help provide important information useful to improve real-life experience.
Dr. Peter Morris, chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine at UK HealthCare, embraces Zhang's ideas, saying big data capture and analysis is crucial to process improvement in ICU management. Morris and Philip Eaton, DNP, director of Nursing -Medicine Service Line, will apply Zhang's techniques in the ICUs to simultaneously improve health outcomes while lowering the costs of expensive ICU care.
"If we can use data to, say, predict how flu season will spread and peak in Kentucky, we can anticipate the ICU resource allocation needs — for both staff and equipment — and have all the necessary personnel and equipment on standby and ready to deploy as needed," said Morris. "The same is true for day-to-day operations: we have learned patients admitted to the Medical ICU from outside hospitals peak between 2 p.m. and midnight, so we have adjusted staff levels to meet that demand."
Morris ticks off other opportunities: GPS locators on gurneys, for example, might help track wait times for imaging and other testing. "We need to look at ourselves every minute of every day to get patient care optimal and cost-efficient," he said. "Big data analytics will help us get the right care to people at the right time."
Media Contact: Laura Dawahare, Laura.Dawahare@uky.edu
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2015) — The debilitating pain of tophaceous gout, a chronic form of arthritis, has shackled William Tincher from a decent quality of life since he was a young man.
Eager to serve his country, 18-year-old Tincher enlisted in the Marine Corps only to be sent home because of his chronic medical condition. After participating in Future Farmers of America as a teenager, Tincher bought a small farm in Carlisle, Kentucky, where he owned horses, cattle and chickens.
“I used to pick up a 100-pound sack of feed and bale of hay and off I’d go,” Tincher said.
Eventually, the excruciating pain, manifested in the form of nodules on his hands and feet, prevented him from performing regular farm duties or working any job. He once enjoyed walking down to his fence line to watch the baby calves, but even walking short distances became unbearable. Today, with massive nodules on the bottom of his feet and swelling in his legs, Tincher can’t wear shoes and rarely leaves his house.
As the pain intensified through the years, Tincher continued to receive higher doses of anti-inflammatories and opioids. Fifteen years ago, surgeons removed three-quarters of Tincher’s stomach because of an ulcer attributed to years consuming high dosages of the drug. He’s suffered from many other serious medical conditions, including blood clots, and had surgeries to replace his hip and remove cartilage in his knees.
Then, two years ago, Tincher met the “man who saved” his life. After seeing countless pain specialists through the years, Tincher was referred to Dr. Roberto Cardarelli, the chief of the Division of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Kentucky. While Cardarelli couldn’t completely erase the pain of an incurable and late-stage disease, he knew of interventions to improve Tincher’s quality of life that weren’t limited to writing a prescription.
“He is the only one who’s ever sat down, looked me in the eye, and talked to me and helped me,” Tincher said of Cardarelli.
Rather than examining a single organ or treating a definitive disease, Cardarelli focuses on addressing his patients’ whole being, taking into account many environmental, physical and lifestyle factors influencing wellness. This holistic approach to managing pain relies on a team of multidisciplinary health professionals and involves adjunctive therapies, such as medical massage, behavioral medicine and physical therapy. Cardarelli puts his patients in control of their wellness decisions, allowing them to take the lead during conversations regarding their care. The integrative health care team supports patients suffering from chronic pain by helping them set realistic goals and providing both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to optimize their function and comfort in daily life.
In addition to gout, Tincher suffered from a number of secondary health complications, including high blood pressure, kidney disease and a swelling in the legs caused by lymphedema. Cardarelli prescribed a regimen for Tincher accounting for all the complexities of his physical body, as well as mental and emotional state. He eliminated all medications for one month to delineate each of Tincher’s symptoms and the trace the cause of those symptoms. Through this holistic wellness evaluation, Cardarelli discovered Tincher’s blood pressure medication was causing inflammation exacerbating the pain from the gout. Instead of raising his dosage of opioids to fight the pain, Cardarelli included a non-opioid medication to relieve the inflammation caused by the other drug.
“Having everything balanced and controlled contributes to him and his overall wellbeing, but also helps him feel better knowing that his physical health is balanced,” Cardarelli said. “We are trying to take care of his whole being.”
As part of his treatment philosophy, Cardarelli strives to keep care as close to home for his patients. Cardarelli and his team arranged for a local home health service to visit Tincher on a daily basis and provide physical therapy services. Cardarelli also found a health care provider locally to change bandages on Tincher’s legs. Tincher performs exercises in his home and keeps a journal of all the activities he completes during a day. Working with Cardarelli and the entire health team, Tincher has gained a renewed sense of hope.
“I told the doc, they aren’t going to close the lid on me because of you,” Tincher said.
Cardarelli and Dr. William Elder, a faculty member and behaviorial specialist in Family and Community Medicine, have worked with colleagues around the region to develop a training program based on the pain management principles effective in helping Tincher. The Central Appalachia Inter-Professional Pain Education Collaborative (CAIPEC) provides educational resources centered on chronic pain management for heath providers in the Appalachian region. Divided into several online modules, the program addresses important pain management questions, including when to prescribe opioids, how to reduce the risk of opioid abuse, when to incorporate adjunctive therapies and more.
Funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer, CAIPEC is a collaborative effort uniting the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Ambulatory Network, West Virginia University, Kentucky All Schedule Prescriptions Electronic Reporting Agency (KASPER), West Virginia RxDataTrack Controlled Substance Automated Prescription Program (CSAPP) prescription monitoring agencies, Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kentucky and West Virginia Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), and various Kentucky and West Virigina professional organizations.
CAIPEC is offered through the University of Kentucky’s CECentral website (www.cecentral.com/CAIPEC), which provides free continuing education for health professionals. Emphasizing the interdisciplinary team approach, the trainings are targeted to a variety of professionals including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, behavioral scientists, massage therapists, and physical therapists. The modules address topics such as managing the risks of opioid addiction, psychosocial factors influencing chronic pain, involving the patient in care decisions, and applying the team-based approach to clinical workflow. The program highlights the benefits of non-pharmacologic adjunctive therapies, which are scientifically proven to help mitigate pain in patients.
Cardarelli has led the implementation and distribution of the toolkit, hosting live roundtable sessions and talks on chronic pain management in both Kentucky and West Virginia. Since the program launched in February, more than 350 health care providers have participated in conference trainings. The online modules are available to any health care professional around the nation.
According to the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain affects 100 million Americans and costs the U.S. government more than $635 billion annually. More Americans suffer from chronic pain than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
Tincher attests to the effectiveness of the integrative approach to pain management implemented by Cardarelli and his colleagues. For the first time in years, he’s regained his strength and is able to do 25 pull-ups. He said he feels like “Hulk Hogan.” He acknowledges some level of pain from his disease will always be with him, but he’s relieved it’s under control with the help of Cardarelli and his medical team.
“I’m not healthy, but I’m in a whole lot better shape than I was,” he said.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2015) – Kentucky Regional Extension Center (Kentucky REC), based at the University of Kentucky, has announced six Kentucky health care organizations participating in Kentucky REC’s inaugural Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Cohort, have received national recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a well-respected, non-profit organization that has been a central figure in driving improvement throughout the healthcare system. PCMH designation by NCQA is an indicator that healthcare practices and clinics are providing high-quality, patient-centered care to their clients and in their communities.
Recognized are: UK HealthCare Family and Community Medicine – Lexington - Level 3 Georgetown Pediatrics – Georgetown - Level 3 Central Internal Medicine - Lexington – Level 3 Bluegrass Community and Family Practice – Bardstown – Level 3 Family Medicine Clinic of Danville – Danville, KY – Level 2 Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky – Hazard – Level 2
The pioneer provider organizations, representing more than 75 primary care providers, joined Kentucky REC’s inaugural group of PCMH practices in early 2014 and have worked diligently to improve patient care in their practices and communities.
"This is a major accomplishment for these practices. These six practices worked with us over 15 months, dedicating the time and resources needed to transform their practices to this patient-centered care model," said Dr. Carol Steltenkamp, executive director, Kentucky REC. "The hard work by everyone involved allowed the practices to achieve the highest levels of recognition and improve the quality of care for their patients."
Kentucky REC provides coaching and assistance to support practices and clinics as they transform from a traditional sick care model to new models focused on comprehensive, coordinated care that keeps patients healthier and reduces complications. At the center of the PCMH model is a primary care physician office, where healthcare professionals work as a team to provide care that is individually determined to meet each patient's specific need.
This approach fosters an environment in which patients develop and maintain an ongoing relationship with their primary care physician and a healthcare team focused on enhanced care coordination and office-based disease management planning. As such, the practice becomes the patient's "home" for preventive, chronic, and ambulatory care.
The Kentucky REC PCMH Cohort focused on helping the practices demonstrate that they meet nationally recognized NCQA PCMH standards. Practices that achieved recognition worked with Kentucky REC to demonstrate the practice is able to:
· Provide access during and after business hours and communicate effectively with patients
· Use readily accessible, clinically useful information to assist in comprehensive care
· Collaborate with patients and families to pursue goals for achieving optimal health
· Improve effectiveness of care, safety, and efficiency by accessing timely information for tests and results, measuring and reporting performance, giving physicians regular feedback, and taking actions to improve, and maximizing use of electronic communications to facilitate coordination of care
Care provided by primary care physicians in a PCMH is consistently associated with better outcomes, reduced mortality, fewer preventable hospital admissions for patients with chronic diseases, lower utilization, improved patient compliance with recommended care, and lower Medicare costs.
“UK congratulates these pioneer practices for becoming nationally recognized Patient-Centered Medical Homes,” stated Trudi Matthews, managing director, Kentucky REC. “UK and its Kentucky Regional Extension Center are pleased to provide support for innovative approaches to improving care for Kentuckians.”
Kentucky Regional Extension Center is a trusted advisor and strategic partner for healthcare providers in their efforts to improve care and patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs and improve the overall health and well-being of the Commonwealth and beyond. The Kentucky REC offers a comprehensive set of transformation services include: Meaningful Use Assistance, EHR Implementation & Optimization, HIPAA Privacy & Security Risk Analysis, Patient-Centered Medical Home Consulting, ICD-10 Training, and Quality Improvement Support. For more information about the Kentucky REC, visit www.kentuckyrec.com. Follow @KentuckyREC on Twitter and connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EHRResource
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 10, 2015) – The University of Kentucky's Dr. John D'Orazio recently received grant funding totalling $375,000 over three years to further his research on melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Three organizations provided an equal share of the funding: the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the largest private funder of melanoma research; the Markey Cancer Foundation; and DanceBlue, the University of Kentucky's student-run fundraiser for pediatric cancer. Additionally, much of the preliminary data used in the MRA grant application was facilitated by pilot funding from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences.
D'Orazio's research focuses on the hormonal pathways that protect the skin from sun damage and how efficiently the skin's DNA may be able to repair itself. In a previous study, D'Orazio's team discovered a genetic defect in the melanocortin1 receptor (MC1R) leads to a reduced ability to repair DNA, making people more susceptible to developing melanoma.
The new project will focus on the specific hormones that appear to "turn off" MC1R signaling, also leading to an increased likelihood of developing the cancer.
Melanoma of the skin is one of the most common cancers in the United States and among the top 10 causes of new cancer cases. In the United States each year, more than 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, and it is one of the most common cancers for young women. While the overall five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with melanoma is high at 92 percent, the survival rate decreases dramatically once melanoma spreads to other parts of the body.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 6, 2015) – Jennifer Bradley, the Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, has been nominated for a Buffalo Trace Distillery Eagle Rare Life Honor for her hard work and devotion to Markey's Jin Shin Jyutsu program.
Buffalo Trace Distillery recognizes and honors those who share a passion for excellence with their Rare Life Award. The nominee in each of five categories who receives the most public votes will win $5,000 for the charity of their choice and the top overall winner receives $50,000.
Bradley became interested in Jin Shin Jyutsy after seeing how the practice helped two of her own family members who had been diagnosed with cancer. Jin Shin Jyutsu is an ancient form of touch therapy similar to acupuncture in philosophy. Studies have shown that it can help to reduce the physical and emotional effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Jin Shin Jyutsu has been offered at the Markey Cancer Center since 2009.
Voting for the award is open through December and you may vote up to once each day.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2015) – Dr. Darren L. Johnson, professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Kentucky, was elected the 33rd Southern Orthopaedic Association president.
Johnson is the first president from the state of Kentucky. There are more than 1,400 orthopaedic physicians who are members of the SOA.
Johnson earned his medical degree at UCLA and began his UK career in 1993. He currently serves as director of sports medicine and head orthopedic surgeon for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Johnson has been awarded several honors during his career, including 2012 SEC Physician of the Year and being selected for Castle Connelly America's Top Doctors List annually since 2002. In 2013 he was named one of the top U.S. sports medicine specialists by Orthopedics This Week, the most widely read publication in the orthopaedics industry.
The Southern Orthopaedic Association was founded in 1983 by a small group of orthopaedists with a goal to establish a regional orthopaedic association for physicians living in the southern states of the United States. The purpose of SOA is to develop and foster scientific medicine in the specialty of orthopaedic surgery.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2015) -- The inaugural International Society of Neurogastronomy symposium will be held at the University of Kentucky on Nov. 7, 2015. Featuring speakers like Emmy-winning chef Sean Brock and the father of neurogastronomy, Dr. Gordon Shepherd, the symposium will explore the concept of brain and behavior in the context of food.
The term Neurogastonomy was coined by Dr. Gordon Shepherd, professor of neurobiology at Yale University, in 2006 in an article in Nature and six years later in an eponymous book. While Shepherd has been interested in the concept from a research perspective, UK neuropsychologist Dan Han and a group of neuroscientists, chefs and food scientists are enthusiastic about making it a clinical translational science, with applications in cancer, stroke, and brain injury (which can destroy the sense of taste) and disease like diabetes and heart disease.
The day's format differs from the typical symposium, featuring brief presentations modeled after the popular TED talks and punctuated with breaks for tastings and an iron chef-like contest where the food from regional and national chefs will be judged by patients with taste impairments.
Symposium registration opens Aug. 7. For more information about the symposium and how to register, click here.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 4, 2015) – The University of Kentucky College of Medicine welcomed the Class of 2019 on Friday, July 31 at UK's Singletary Center for the Arts. The presentation of white coats, provided by the UK Medical Alumni Association, symbolizes the commitment to clinical service, care and professionalism.
"The white coat is an important symbol of the medical profession," said Dr. Charles H. Griffith, III, senior associate dean for Medical Education. "It was an honor to participate in this ceremony acknowledging the students' entrance into the profession. Although the future physicians in the Class of 2019 face many changes in today's health care environment, I am confident that over the next four years they will become exemplary physicians. We welcome them to the UK College of Medicine family." Dr. Griffith delivered the keynote address.
The Class of 2019 includes 137 medical student, 99 of which are Kentuckians and 54 are from rural and Appalachian counties. The class is 42 percent women. Ten students will enter the Rural Physician Leadership Program. This program works to better serve the Commonwealth by training future physicians in medically underserved rural areas through a regional medical school site Morehead, Ky.
Taking the "Pledge of Professionalism for Students of Medicine" during the ceremony, the students committed themselves to a life of compassion and respect for their patients, educators and colleagues.
Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 3, 2015) —Your liver processes all the nutrients the body requires. It produces bile, which helps the body absorb food and also eliminates potentially toxic substances. Damage to the liver can impair these and many other processes.
Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver and is a result of various disorders that can damage the liver over time. The damage and scarring caused by these disorders is often irreversible and may potentially lead to the need for a liver transplant.
Many people don’t realize they have cirrhosis until it has significantly progressed. There’s a misconception that cirrhosis is due to heavy alcohol use, but there are many other potential causes of cirrhosis, including:
· Hepatitis B and hepatitis C
· Non-alcoholic liver disease
· Alcoholic liver disease
· Primary biliary cirrhosis (destruction of the bile ducts) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (scarring of the bile ducts)
· Autoimmune hepatitis (a condition where your immune system attacks your liver)
A person with liver disease may experience fatigue, jaundice, itching, easy bruising, fluid buildup in the abdomen and even poor memory or confusion due to high ammonia levels in the body. It's extremely important to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms prior to the disease progressing further.
Though liver damage is irreversible, there are numerous medications that can be helpful in controlling some of the symptoms of liver disease if diagnosed in time. Your doctors may also perform endoscopic procedures to screen for abnormalities.
To help determine how sick your liver is and if you need a transplant, a MELD score is calculated using basic lab tests. A MELD score is used to determine your risk of mortality without a liver transplant and prioritizes people for liver transplant based on how sick they are.
Waiting times for a liver transplant vary greatly. The higher the MELD score, the quicker you may be transplanted. At each clinic visit prior to transplant, your labs will be checked for changes in your MELD score. If your score changes significantly, your position on the waitlist may change.
Once on the transplant list, you will be “on-call” for a new liver. You can be called in at any day or time to come in for a liver transplant. A liver transplant surgery usually takes 4-6 hours.
In general, people spend between 7 and 14 days in the hospital recovering from a liver transplant. You will receive antirejection medications that you must take for the rest of your life to prevent your body from rejecting the liver. After a few months of frequent check-ups, patients typically check in with their doctor on a yearly basis.
Following a successful liver transplant, patients are able to return to their normal everyday, healthy lives. It is likely you have seen people who have had a liver transplant without even realizing they had a transplant.
Dr. Malay B. Shah is the Surgical Director of the Liver Transplant Program at UK HealthCare.
This column appeared in the August 2, 2015 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 31, 2015) — University of Kentucky College of Nursing professor Sharon Lock was one of four Kentucky nurse practitioners recently inducted as a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANPs).
Lock and her Kentucky colleagues were among 70 nurse practitioners nationwide to receive the honor, which recognizes members of the profession who have made significant contributions to health care through clinical practice, research, education or policy. FAANPs are considered visionaries within the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), and convene every year to strategize about the future of the nurse practitioner profession and health care. Lock participated in an induction ceremony on June 11, 2015, during the AANP National Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Other Kentucky nurse practitioners inducted include Elizabeth Partin, Julianne Ewen and Kit Devine. The new FAANP members will continue the tradition of impacting national and global health through their outstanding contributions and uphold the mission of the AANP.
Lock serves as professor, director of faculty practice and coordinator of the primary care doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program at the University of Kentucky. She provided leadership in the first Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the country and taught in the program since it began in 2001. In addition, Lock is co-director of the UK College of Nursing Norton Healthcare Academic Partnership, which will prepare 150 advanced practice nurse with the DNP degrees. She is currently heading up the development of a UK College of Nursing Clinic, which will provide health care for residents in rural Kentucky.
The FAANPs program was established by the AANP in 2000. The ANNP is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners of all specialties. It represents the interests of more than 205,000 NPs, including approximately 58,000 individual members and 200 organizations, providing a unified networking platform and advocating for their role as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered and personalized health care.
Facts about the Ebola Virus: October 2, 2014. The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has involved the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. This has become the largest outbreak of Ebola to date. At the end of September, the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Texas from West Africa. Although an outbreak in the United States is unlikely, it is important to know the facts.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 30, 2015) — Kentucky Children’s Hospital is giving Lexington families another great reason to beat the heat with a chilly soft-serve treat on Thursday.
The 10th Annual Miracle Treat Day will raise funds to support Kentucky Children’s Hospital, a member of the Children’s Miracle Network. For today only, one dollar of every Blizzard sale at Dairy Queen (DQ) and DQ Grill and Chill locations across the country will be donated to a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Last year, DQ operators raised more than $5 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals on Miracle Treat Day.
Lexington DQ Grill and Chill locations include 2300 Palumbo Drive, 350 Virginia Ave., 464 New Circle Road and 3509 Lansdowne Drive. This year the Miracle Treat Day Blizzard treat of the Day is Oreo, the franchise’s most popular Blizzard treat.
Help spread awareness of Miracle Treat Day on Twitter by using the hashtag #MiracleTreatDay and tagging @DairyQueen. Blizzard fans are also encouraged to post about their Miracle Day treat at www.facebook.com/dairyqueen.
Since 1984 DQ and Children’s Miracle Network Hospital have partnered to provide life-saving treatments to children across the U.S. and Canada. More than $100 million has been raised through donations from DQ franchisees, fans and the corporate office. Funds raised by DQ stay local to fund critical treatments, health care services, pediatric medial equipment and charitable care.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 28, 2015) — Carrying a baby with a fatal heart condition, Morgan Drury was presented with a devastating picture of how her pregnancy might end. As soon as her fragile daughter received the gift of life, it would almost certainly be stripped away.
When Drury was nine weeks pregnant, a genetic test detected an abnormal chromosome in her baby Alex’s genetic makeup. Additional tests conducted at 12 weeks confirmed the genetic disorder caused a heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In nine out of 10 cases, the condition is fatal.
After first coming to Kentucky Children’s Hospital, the Drury family sought out second opinions from pediatric heart specialists around the region. All returned with the same grim outlook: no medical intervention could save Alex’s life. Because of complications with her lungs, Alex wasn’t a surgical candidate. She wouldn’t survive the stress of traveling through the birth canal, so a cesarean section was the only option for keeping Alex alive during delivery. Doctors also questioned whether the pregnancy would remain viable until the time of delivery — most babies with Alex’s condition don’t survive the first trimester.
“We were told she would eventually stop growing, and more than likely she would be stillborn,” Drury said.
Soon, the Drury family became accustomed to getting “no” as an answer from health care workers. But in the midst of a dire prognosis, Drury couldn’t deny the image of Alex’s heartbeat flickering on an ultrasound monitor. A little heart doctors deemed unfixable continued to beat, and the baby continued to grow.
Drury decided to carry out the pregnancy until 36 weeks — giving her daughter a chance at life, even if that life was momentary. With mixed emotions and instances of self-doubt, Drury prepared for a cesarean section schedule for Dec. 31, 2014. The plan was to celebrate the birth of Alex, and then grieve her passing, before the close of the year.
During conversations with the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Drury learned not every question regarding Alex’s fate warranted a negative response. Dr. Lindsay Ragsdale, a KCH pediatrician and director of the PACT, met with Drury throughout her pregnancy to develop a birth plan specific to the needs and wishes of the family. PACT, which consists of Dr. Ragsdale, a pediatric intensive care unit doctor, a nurse practitioner, a social worker and a chaplain, is devoted to guiding families through the process of treating a seriously ill child and, in some cases, the bereavement process. PACT members empower families facing an inevitable loss by giving them options, affirming their medical decisions, and providing ongoing emotional support during the many stages bereavement.
“It seemed like everybody was telling her, ‘No, we can’t do anything,’” Ragsdale said. “I told her, ‘Sure, we can take pictures. We can make this a memory for your family that’s not all about saying no,’ and that was a turning point for her.”
Ragsdale, who completed a fellowship in pediatric palliative care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, walks through the birth and dying process with patients whose babies and children suffer from a terminal illness or condition. Ragsdale said often families confronting the loss of a newborn baby aren’t fully aware of the opportunities to bond with their child, even if death is imminent. PACT professionals coordinate special services, such as newborn photography through Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and facilitate opportunities for families to create lifelong memories with their children.
“In my mind, there are always things we can do to make a situation that’s not optimal better for the family,” Ragsdale said.
Early in her medical training, Ragsdale remembers feeling helpless when a grieving mother asked her why her newborn baby was dying. While Ragsdale doesn’t always have answers to her patients’ toughest questions, she’s now more prepared to assist patients in a state of grief. Ragsdale believes patients shouldn’t have to bear the weight of making life and death decisions for their babies alone. PACT members share the decision-making process, so parents are reassured their children are receiving the most compassionate care from a medical professional’s perspective.
In Drury’s case, the PACT plan was designed to keep Alex safe, warm and comfortable until her passing. Drury expressed a desire to hold Alex as soon as possible, so the team arranged for maternal-fetal bonding immediately after the surgery. Ragsdale and Drury discussed the family’s wishes regarding the use of medication if the baby was experiencing discomfort after birth. The baby wouldn’t be bombarded with standard procedures or painful pricks. They discussed whether Alex would receive ointment and what clothes she would wear on the day of her birth. The team also addressed different scenarios and what to expect if each scenario should arise on delivery day. PACT informed Drury’s obstetrics team of the plan, so no question about Alex’s care was left unanswered on delivery day.
“It was a way she could control an out of control situation,” Ragsdale said of the PACT plan. “Parents want to help their kids, and making these plans is a way to put them in control.”
Drury’s only additional wish was to receive some sign of proof the baby was alive. A cry or a heartbeat — something only Alex could give.
On delivery day, Drury, overwhelmed with emotion, hesitated to check into the hospital. Ragsdale, who communicated with the family in the waiting room and was at Drury’s side during delivery, eased her patient’s stress by recounting the plan and describing the goals Drury originally set for Alex’s life. Drury believes having a PACT plan in place helped to create realistic expectations, keep Alex’s care fluid and prevent any surprises, which could have provoked more grief on an already emotional day.
“We were glad she was there because we had built that trust and a relationship,” Drury said of Ragsdale and the PACT. “They are not just there because that’s their job; you can tell that's what they want to be doing.”
The moment Alex was delivered, a sense of relief fell over Drury as she listened to her newborn baby cry. Ragsdale reported Alex’s arrival to family and friends waiting in the lobby, who received the news with joy and relief, but sorrow too. Immediately after surgery, Drury, her 2-year-old daughter Isabella and her husband Russ were able to hold, touch and bond with Alex. Nurses swaddled Alex in a blanket and put a cap on her head.
“That’s the part I love to see,” Ragsdale said. “They are beautiful parents and they cried over her and loved over her and really enjoyed looking at her face, and her ears, and her nose — and just seeing how cute she was.”
With no lingering questions about care or decisions to make in the moment, Drury was able to focus all her attention on the baby. Alex’s heart beat for three hours before Dr. Ragsdale officially called her passing. During this critical time, Drury was granted much-needed closure, which could only come from intimate time with her daughter.
“I just want proof of life — to know that she did live. I wanted her to tell us, ‘I'm okay,’” Drury said. “And she did just that. Then she went on peacefully.”
While Drury recovered from surgery, a pair of butterfly wings was hung on her hospital door to symbolize the passing of a child. Later, Drury got a tattoo of purple butterfly wings and Alex’s footprints as an enduring reminder of the daughter she lost.
“I still dream about her and look at her pictures — she is still my daughter,” Drury said. “But I have that sense of relief that I did what I had to do to keep her alive.”
Now 15 weeks into her third pregnancy, Drury, a nurse in the UK Department of Pediatrics, looks forward to welcoming another child, whose heart is developing healthy and strong.
This article first appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader July 12 edition.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 13, 2015) – As we enter the dog days of summer, when the heat and humidity seems unbearable at times, it’s important to remember steps to protect our children against heatstroke.
Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children younger than 14. In 2014, 32 children died from heatstroke, and heatstroke deaths have been reported in all 50 states, 11 months out of the year. Since 1998, more than 636 children across the U.S. have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle.
Tragically, most child deaths caused by heatstroke are preventable. More than half of all heatstroke deaths occurred when a busy or distracted caregiver forgot a child was riding in the backseat of a vehicle. One-third of heatstroke deaths resulted from a child becoming trapped inside a vehicle after climbing in on their own.
Heatstroke dangers are entirely avoidable when caregivers take time to observe safety protocols. Remember to ACT against heatstroke through these safety tips recommended by Safe Kids Worldwide:
· A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child unattended in a vehicle. A young child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body, and the internal temperature of a car can increase 20 degree in just 10 minutes. Cracking windows won’t make the car environment any safer.
· C: Create reminders for those chaotic days. Hang a note on your rearview mirror or make a habit of placing your purse or briefcase beside a car seat. Create an alarm or alert on your Smartphone. Be accountable to someone else for dropping a child off at a daycare.
· T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
On July 31, National Heatstroke Awareness Day, Safe Kids Fayette County will host an event at Buy Buy Baby in Hamburg to spread awareness of the Never Leave Your Child Alone in a car campaign. The event will take place from 3 to 6 p.m., with car seat checks until 5:30 p.m. In addition to car seat checks, Safe Kids representatives will provide information and tips for preventing heatstroke deaths. For more information about heatstroke prevention, visit kidsandcars.org.
Sherri Hannan is a registered nurse and director of Safe Kids Fayette County based at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 10, 2015) — In the Melton household, the reality of fighting cancer was never an excuse to stay home from school.
So, like most second-graders in Science Hill, Kentucky, Kelly Melton started public school in the fall of 2014. Unlike his classmates, Kelly, a patient at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic, went to school with a compromised immune system. A month and a half later, he ended up back in the hospital because of complications with his disease.
Ever since Kelly was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2012, the Melton family's primary focus has been getting Kelly well again. But despite the frequent late-night trips to the UK Emergency Department and routine inpatient chemotherapy treatments at Kentucky Children's Hospital, Kelly's mom Lisa refused to watch Kelly slip behind in his education. When he was well enough to go, Lisa Melton sent her son to school.
"In our home we think education is one of our top priorities," Lisa Melton said. "We couldn't allow him to not take his education seriously."
For nearly two years of Kelly's treatment, Lisa Melton was responsible for communicating with the school system about Kelly's missed days and coordinating at-home learning opportunities. In addition to taking care of a young child and managing doctor's appointments, Melton was tasked with meeting with school administrators and filing paperwork for special learning accommodations for her son. Now, a new program at the DanceBlue Clinic, which is funded in part by the DanceBlue Marathon and the nonprofit Cowboy Up for a Cure, provides a school intervention specialist to serve as a liaison between educators and the medical teams and families of children who must miss school to fight cancer.
With many families needing assistance with education during a child's cancer treatment, the DanceBlue Clinic introduced the Providing Assistance With School (PAWS) program in August 2014. Courtney White, a certified K-12 teacher who has taught general education as well as special education, was the first interventionist hired with PAWS.
White performs multiple roles, including individualizing academic programs for children unable to attend traditional school hours, communicating with doctors about the learning capabilities of each child, teaching educators in the school system about how cancer treatment interferes with a child's daily life, and working with families to ensure a child remains engaged in learning activities at the home, hospital or school. White accommodates children who are physically unable to attend school on a regular basis by arranging for Homebound, a state-funded program permitting students to progress academically at home with two visits per week from a certified teacher.
"With Courtney helping us, he could have Homebound on a more consistent basis," Lisa Melton said. "As a parent, you don't always know these things. You are so wrapped up in getting your child well that some things fall behind."
Before accepting the job with PAWS, White served as a volunteer for the Kentucky Children's Hospital pediatric oncology survivors' picnic and attended a couple DanceBlue marathons. She remembers crying through her first DanceBlue Marathon.
"I was just in awe over the commitment of the students and their willingness to make a difference," White said of her first DanceBlue experience. "The support of DanceBlue makes me want to be in this position — I know I am not alone in this job."
As part of her position, White advocates at the state legislative level for laws accommodating at-home education for pediatric oncology patients. White is pushing to reform laws to increase the number of Homebound instructional hours to five per week for children who are receiving education at home due to illness. She would like to see laws allowing children who miss school for serious illness to have the opportunity to make up more lost hours through Homebound sessions. Currently, in all Kentucky jurisdictions, missed days at school cannot be made up through Homebound, even when a child misses school as a result of the cancer treatment process.
White also assists children with re-integrating back into the school system once their treatment period has come to an end. Chemotherapy and other medications during cancer treatment can stall a child's cognitive development long-term. White can help recommend special education for children encountering learning disabilities.
Dr. Lars Wagner, the chief of pediatric oncology and hematology at Kentucky Children's Hospital, said White's position and the PAWS program was only possible through fundraising efforts of students and the local community. The PAWS program widens the scope of services provided to families at the DanceBlue Clinic. Wagner said offering this kind of specialized service to patients puts the DanceBlue Clinic on par with some of the top pediatric oncology centers in the country.
"Many parents don’t understand what could be accomplished in the school system or how to educate their child fully," Wagner said. "The PAWS program adds a more comprehensive dimension to the care we give kids."
According to Wagner, 80 percent of pediatric cancer patients will survive and grow up to become adults. He believes cancer treatment shouldn't cause major setbacks for people at such a young age. With the PAWS program, Wagner hopes his patients will seamlessly transition back into academic environments and leave the cancer journey behind them.
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 19, 2015) — The University of Kentucky's Health Care Committee of the UK Board of Trustees were presented a strategic plan that will guide UK HealthCare through 2020. The committee met Thursday during their annual retreat.
Building upon the success of the past 10 years, the plan continues to emphasize caring for the most complex, critically ill patients in Kentucky and beyond.
Some of the statistics and figures presented that reflect UK HealthCare's growth include:
In approving the new strategic plan, UK HealthCare officials asked for a commitment from its leaders, stakeholders and partners to move forward and achieve its vision by giving latitude for collaborative models, committing to clinical excellence and providing an outstanding patient experience as well as service line integration. From its statewide partners, it was asked for participation in a statewide collaborative that fosters success against the challenges of the future.
"The 2020 Strategy is built on a foundation of patient-centered care and a patient-centered culture that includes growth in complex care as well as ambulatory care; strengthening partnership networks to reduce costs, and increase efficiency; and value-based care and payments which improve predictability of outcomes and cost while adopting evidence-based leading practices," said UK Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Michael Karpf.
The plan includes developing a cultural change program in order to support the 2020 strategic vision. The program will identify key cultural strengths and opportunities. The goal will be to design a patient-centric experience that positions UK HealthCare to be Kentucky's destination provider for complex care and it will enable staff and leadership to be ambassadors of the patient-centered culture and UK HealthCare brand.
Also detailed in the Strategic Plan is growth in complex care and in ambulatory (outpatient care). As part of this goal, substantial service line growth is needed in the next five years. Additionally, ambulatory specialty care will also need to grow by improving access to UK HealthCare specialists and developing a patient-centered care model as well as partnering with community physicians.
As part of the service line growth, the focus will continue to be on treating the most complex patients and partnering with community providers to keep lower acuity patients in their home community.
Service line areas of primary focus for growth will be the Gill Heart Institute, Kentucky Children's Hospital, Markey Cancer Center, Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, High-Risk Obstetrics and Neonatal Intensive Care, Solid Organ Transplantation, Digestive Health, Musculoskeletal, and Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
Clinical and support services that UK HealthCare will invest in to enable growth in these service lines includes excellence in quality and operational efficiency; redesigning the transfer management processes in order to create capacity and treat patients in the appropriate care setting and return them to our community partners; and develop a service line operating model to support and coordinate comprehensive, multidisciplinary care across the continuum and community.
These same strategies will be used to expand ambulatory specialty care.
To achieve this plan, a new service line operating model will be implemented to enable and enhance the organization's strategic initiatives. This new model will incorporate the transition from department and specialty driven care to multidisciplinary, multi-specialty care; episodic and high-acuity focused care to disease and cross continuum focused care; from provider centric to patient centric; from individual physician or specialty care to team care delivery involving multiple specialties; and UK HealthCare management of high-acuity care to collaboration with external partners to optimize site and level of care.
Integrated technology that standardizes data across the organization and enables population health management will be utilized.
Another overarching premise of the 2020 Strategic plan is the strengthening of partnership networks including acute care partnerships, post-acute care partnerships, primary care and community care. As part of future planning, UK will develop a primary care network to ensure a seamless experience across the care continuum and position the organization for value-based care and population health.
The third selected strategy in the plan is value-based care. In order to provide enhanced value for patients, UK HealthCare will develop a "best in class" quality management program.
This strategy includes improving the predictability of outcomes, cost of care, and adoption of evidence-based practices throughout the enterprise across all settings of care.
"To be successful, patient care in the future must be affordable, accessible, coordinated, efficient and high quality with a shift to improving health outcomes and rationalizing but not rationing care," said Karpf.
He added that although a significant amount of time and effort has been invested in developing this strategic plan, UK HealthCare’s strategic journey does not end here.
"We will continue with work in the weeks and months to come to set priorities, develop timelines, and track progress and results."
Media Contact: Kristi Lopez, 859-323-6363, Kristi.email@example.com
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 16, 2015) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear joined child safety advocates at Kentucky Children's Hospital on June 15 to sign a bill aimed at improving safety for child passengers in motor vehicles.
House Bill 315 brings Kentucky’s current booster seat law in line with 31 other states, including all seven neighboring states. The previous law required children younger than 7 years old who are between 40 and 50 inches in height to ride in booster seats before graduating to adult seat belts. The enhanced bill increases the height requirement to 57 inches and the age requirement to 8 years old, the size and age at which children begin to fit properly in adult seat belts.
“Passage of this bill provides greater safety and protection to our most precious asset – our children. I commend the Kentucky Senate and House for their effort on enhancing our existing booster seat law,” Gov. Beshear said.
House Bill 315, which passed with a vote in March, was championed by child safety experts in the Kentucky Injury and Prevention Research Center (KIPRC), the Kentucky State Safe Kids led by KIPRC and the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and the Fayette County Safe Kids Coalition led by Kentucky Children's Hospital. The bill also received support from the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, safety advocates from Kosair Children’s Hospital, and Safe Kids coalitions, law enforcement officials, emergency responders, pediatricians and booster seat advocates from around the state.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children above the age of 1 in Kentucky," Dr. Susan Pollack, a Kentucky Children's Hospital pediatrician, Safe Kids Kentucky coordinator and director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Injury Program at KIPRC, said. "We know many Kentucky children are saved every year, even in serious crashes, by being properly restrained and protected in a booster seat. The revised law gives parents better guidance for safely transporting their children.”
A properly installed, belt-positioning booster seat lowers the risk of injury to children by nearly 60 percent, compared with seat belts alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The reason is simple: Motor vehicle seat belts were designed for adults, not children. The added height of the booster seat enables the child to fit into a seat belt properly,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said.
Effective on June 24, the bill requires law enforcement officers to issue citations with a $30 fine with no court costs. In addition, violators will have the option to purchase a booster seat instead of paying the fine.
Click here for a link to House Bill 315.
For more information about the bill:
Kentucky Office of Highway Safety
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Kentucky Children's Hospital
Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center
Safe Kids Kentucky
Safe Kids Fayette County
MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 8, 2015) — On Sunday, June 7, 8-year-old Cassie Rickerson boarded a Delta Air Lines flight to Atlanta, Georgia, to kick off the first leg of her Champions Ambassador Tour for Children's Miracle Network hospitals.
Cassie, a Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) patient, will join 52 other “champion” children who have personally benefited from donations to the charity and exemplify how vital community support is for local children’s hospitals.
Cassie was selected to represent the state of Kentucky for bravely facing her unique medical challenges and will serve to illustrate the impact of local donations to KCH. When Cassie was 2, she had unexplained leg pain, nosebleeds, bruising and recurring fevers. Her mother brought her to KCH, where Cassie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). After an aggressive round of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Cassie is now in remission, and is happy and healthy. She is very devoted to her cheer team and loves her pets, reading and the 80s.
The 2015-2016 Champions program is presented by Delta Air Lines, Marriott International and Chico’s FAS, Inc. The tour includes a gathering in Atlanta, Delta’s headquarters and largest hub. The champions will then be transported to the nation’s capital where they meet with local representatives on Capitol Hill, participate in a satellite media tour and continue to raise awareness for the charitable needs of children’s hospitals.
The 2015-16 Champions will reunite in February 2016 for the final leg of their Ambassador Tour in Orlando, Florida. To learn more about the champions, and for a short video of last year’s Ambassador Tour, visit CMNHospitals.org/Champions.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raise funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the United States and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and health care services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 5, 2015) — A resolve to breastfeed her child resulted in many tearful nights for first-time mom Jenny Tzeng. Feeling desperate and alone, she struggled for months to establish a breastfeeding routine with son Jacob.
"It was the biggest stressor from my first pregnancy," Tzeng said. "I cried a lot."
When her second child Jackson was delivered by caesarian section at UK HealthCare Birthing Center last March, the baby was immediately placed on Tzeng's chest to initiate skin-to-skin contact, a technique known as "Kangaroo Care." Tzeng was overjoyed when son Jackson began suckling on his own in the recovery room. Once discharged from the hosptial, Tzeng and baby Jackson received ongoing breastfeeding support through the Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH) Mommy and Me Clinic.
Tzeng is one of many moms who have succeeded with breastfeeding through resources and instruction provided by the UK HealthCare Birthing Center. By fostering a birthing environment that encourages optimal infant nutrition and mother-baby bonding, the center recently obtained accreditation from Baby-Friendly USA. Baby-Friendly USA is a global initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages hospitals to provide breastfeeding mothers with information, confidence, support, and skills necessary to initiate and continue breastfeeding. The UK Birthing Center is the first academic medical center in Kentucky and the second hospital in the state to gain the Baby-Friendly USA accreditation.
Baby-Friendly USA facilities have achieved a gold standard of care in maternity care practices and education. The criteria for this accreditation is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which were developed by a global team of health care professionals representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Nurses, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more. To achieve the accreditation, facilities must demonstrate adherence to the 10 steps, which include routine communication about a breastfeeding policy, informing mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, helping mothers initiate breastfeeding and in-room practice, keeping mothers in-room with their baby 24 hours a day, eliminating the use of artificial nipples or pacifiers for breastfeeding infants, and providing follow-up support after mother and baby are discharged from the hospital.
During her first pregnancy in Houston, Texas, Tzeng read books about breastfeeding and discussed what to expect with her obstetrician. But her decision to breastfeed baby Jacob was complicated by several unforeseen circumstances during and after his birth. Jacob was delivered by emergency caesarian section, which can sometimes interfere with an important period of maternal-infant bonding known as the "golden hour." In addition, the hospital staff prematurely exposed Jacob to bottles and pacifiers, which hindered his motivation to latch to his mother's breast. Once Tzeng brought Jacob home, her breastfeeding challenges continued to persist. Tzeng was producing a small amount of breast milk and had to pump breast milk for six months.
Tzeng could tell the difference in maternal care when she delivered her second child at a facility that upheld Baby-Friendly USA standards. She said every nurse, doctor and lactation specialist at the UK HealthCare Birthing Center encouraged and supported her efforts to breastfeed her second baby. She felt empowered to achieve what she believed was the best decision for her baby and herself.
"This time around it was such a better experience," Tzeng said. "I think a little encouragement goes a long way."
Many evidence-based studies have shown breastfeeding promotes the long-term health of mothers and babies. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are breastfed have a reduced risk of acute diseases, including otitis media and gastroenteritis, and a reduced severity of infections and long-term diseases such as diabetes and certain types of cancer. Breastfeeding babies are also at a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). They are also less likely to suffer from obesity as adults. Moms who breastfeed reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, anemia and osteoporosis. The decision to breastfeed is also economical for every household. All of these benefits are dose related, so the longer a couplet breastfeeds, the higher their protection.
KCH pediatrician Dr. Rebecca Collins emphasizes the numerous benefits of breastfeeding to her patients, colleagues and pediatric residents. Beyond nutritional and health benefits for both members of the couplet, Collins said breastfeeding strengthens an emotional bond between mother and child that will last a lifetime.
"We're teaching moms to act as a couplet with their baby from the very beginning," Collins said. "It's not just about nutrition, it's about bonding."
Extending information and resources about breastfeeding to parents is especially important in Kentucky. Kentucky trails national averages in breastfeeding initiation and duration rates. A 2011 state report cited Kentucky as 48th in the nation in breastfeeding rates, with a 59 percent initiation rate. The national average of breastfeeding initiation is 75 percent.
Gwen Moreland, the assistant chief nursing executive for Kentucky Children's Hospital, led the interdisciplinary effort to transition UK Birthing Center to a Baby-Friendly USA facility. The accreditation, which took two years and several on-site evaluations to obtain, required the entire staff to adopt a new mindset in how to approach maternal bonding and feeding. Even the way the nurses handle and administer formula are strictly regulated to promote a "baby friendly" environment. Moreland applauds collaborative effort of the departmental team in implementing the highest standards of maternal care and infant nutrition.
”Our staff is consistently focused on how to support new mothers and babies," Moreland said. "The goal is to help mothers be successful in providing the best start for their babies.”
For more information about breastfeeding and Baby-Friendly USA, click here.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 3, 2015) — This Friday, June 5, hundreds of patients, friends and family of patients, and University of Kentucky faculty and staff will gather in the UK Markey Cancer Center courtyard to participate in "Expressions of Courage," a creative exhibit celebrating the work of those who have been affected by cancer.
This year's event will feature the creative work of more than 50 participants.
Exhibits include visual art, poetry readings, dance exhibitions, and vocal and instrumental performances by patients, survivors, and friends and family. Light refreshments will be served.
Art displays of survivor contributions will go on display today in the Combs Atrium Building of the UK Markey Cancer Center. On Friday afternoon, Dr. Edward Pavlik will officially welcome attendees at 1 p.m., followed by a few remarks from Markey Director Dr. Mark Evers and Markey oncologist Dr. Edward Romond.
The full schedule of events include:
· 1:45 p.m. - Literary readings
· 2:15 p.m. - Dance exhibitions
· 3 p.m. - Literary readings
· 3:45 p.m. - Vocal and instrumental performances
· 4:30 p.m. - Closing remarks by cancer survivor Darwin Holloway
Markey is currently running two fundraisers that directly support this event. The "Tastes of Courage" cookbook contains more than 500 recipes contributed by Markey patients and staff. The cookbooks are $20 each or two for $30.
Additionally, Expressions of Courage t-shirts are available for sale. The purple short-sleeved shirts are $10 each; the white long-sleeved shirts are $15.
To purchase a cookbook or a t-shirt, send an email to email@example.com with your request.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399; firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 1, 2015) -- Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among people ages 1-44 years. As with most U.S. hospitals, the University of Kentucky experiences the highest number of trauma related hospital visits between April and September.
Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries are devastating and the effects can be irreversible. Your brain is the “boss of your body" because our brain "tells" our body to do virtually everything. Unfortunately, once the brain is damaged, there is not much a physician can do to reverse it. The good news is that most injuries are easily preventable. This is why we need to use our brain to protect our body and to think before we act.
As the school year ends and summer activities pick up, here are some helpful tips on how you and your family can stay safe during "trauma season."
Always wear a helmet and wear it properly. Whether it’s a casual family bike ride or cruising the back trails on an ATV, you should always wear a helmet. According to the ThinkFirst Foundation, helmets are up to 87 percent effective in reducing the risk for a brain injury. If it has wheels but no roof, you need to wear a helmet.
Feet first! First time! Most diving accidents occur in lakes, rivers or other natural bodies of water. If you are unsure of how deep the water is, enter the water feet first the first time to prevent potentially life-threatening brain or spinal cord injuries.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012 a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes due to traffic accidents in the U.S. alone. Be a smart and predictable pedestrian. Walk only on sidewalks or paths. If there is no sidewalk, walk as far away from traffic as possible on the left side of the road. Stay alert and don’t be distracted by electronic devices; make eye contact with drivers and be predictable by following the rules of the road.
More than 200,000 children visit emergency rooms each year due to playground injuries, and 79 percent of those injuries are due to falls from playground equipment.
Never leave your child unsupervised on a playground. Make sure the equipment is sized properly for your child: equipment 4 feet tall or lower is appropriate for children up to age 5; equipment up to 8 feet tall is sized for children ages 5-12. Make sure there are guardrails on all elevated platforms and remove your child's drawstring hoodie or jacket before they play to prevent strangulation injuries.
The University of Kentucky Trauma Program and the National Injury Prevention Foundation offer education programs free of charge. If you would like more information or would like to schedule a program, visit us at: http://www.mc.uky.edu/traumaservices/ or The National Think First Foundation at: http://www.thinkfirst.org/
Have a safe and fun summer!
Amanda M. Rist, RN BSN, is Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator for the University of Kentucky Trauma Program
This column ran in the May 31, 2015 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 1, 2015) -- Two-week old Bransen Roberts sleeps peacefully despite the bustle of the Pediatric Clinic at UK Healthcare. When his mother Becky Triplett removes him from his car seat to be weighed and measured, he grimaces slightly and stuffs his fist into his mouth, annoyed at the interruption, but otherwise submits quietly to the gentle poking and prodding.
Bransen appears the picture of health, with 10 perfect fingers and toes that his parents, like so many parents before, counted when he was born. But he's here today to be examined by Dr. Ali Ziada, a pediatric urologist, who will evaluate Bransen's condition and map out a treatment strategy.
Before Bransen was born, he was diagnosed with hydronephrosis, a rare condition where urine backs up in the kidney as a result of an obstruction in the ureter or backward flow of urine from the bladder. The condition is potentially dangerous and can result in the loss of one or both kidneys without proper intervention.
"They way they described it to me was it was like a kink in a garden hose," Becky said.
Early diagnosis and intervention in most instances is key to assuring the best possible health outcome, and hydronephrosis is no different. In Bransen's case, a new UK HealthCare program called The Blue Angels made this early intervention possible.
Becky and Bransen's father Jason are from Manchester, Kentucky. Kentucky is well known for its poor marks on health measures like obesity, diabetes, smoking and heart disease, and Clay County is among the worst of its 120 counties. The situation is further exacerbated by the lack of specialty health care nearby.
UK HealthCare saw an opportunity to fulfill its institutional mission to keep patients as close to home for their treatment as possible and worked with Manchester Memorial Hospital (MMH) to forge a partnership providing high-level specialty care to MMH patients in several areas, including cardiology, optometry, and obstetrics. In the latter case, UK HealthCare set up a twice-a-month clinic where highly trained obstetricians use special equipment to review fetal ultrasounds remotely, in real time, and talk with the patient simultaneously.
Dr. John O'Brien, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at UK HealthCare, says the program fills a need in a meaningful, expedient and personal way.
"Before Blue Angels, patients had two choices: they had to travel to Lexington for their high-risk consult, or a technician did the ultrasound in their hometown and it was shipped up to Lexington for us to assess," he said.
According to Dr. O'Brien, neither option was ideal, since it meant that either the patient wasn't with him while her ultrasound was evaluated, or she would have to travel -- sometimes a far distance -- for her ultrasound. Furthermore, explains O'Brien, if the patient's ultrasound didn’t answer all of his questions, it had to be repeated.
"It was a burden for the mother to travel, or it was expensive, or both," he said. "And the time spent traveling or waiting and wondering was stressful for the mother."
Now ultrasound techs travel to locations throughout Kentucky with a portable videoconference device, seeing patients whose hometown obstetricians have identified as high-risk based on their own ultrasound technology.
The briefcase-size video system, which includes a camera and microphone, connects to the ultrasound equipment in each location and allows O’Brien to see the ultrasound as it is being performed, guide the technician through difficult studies and communicate with the patient just as if they were in the same room.
"I can talk directly with the patient to explain right away what I see and what the next steps should be," O'Brien said. "It provides a measure of comfort to the mother when we can tell her immediately what’s going on and if necessary we can intervene more quickly, which is always the best option for both mother and baby."
In Becky's case, the ultrasound scheduled as a routine part of her checkups with her obstetrician in Manchester revealed some troubling abnormalities in one of Bransen's kidneys. She was immediately scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound with Dr. O'Brien via the Blue Angels.
“Based on my review of the ultrasound, I was concerned that Bransen's condition was worsening," he said. "I felt it was imperative that we preserve Bransen's kidney function and the best way to do that would be follow up with a pediatric urologist. So I reviewed the information with Bransen's parents and referred them to Dr. Ziada."
"I really appreciated how much time they spent with us explaining the situation, the next steps, and the possible outcomes," Bransen's father Jason said.
Bransen will continue to be followed by Dr. Ziada, who will schedule periodic tests to ensure that Bransen's condition isn't worsening. Ultimately, should the "kink in the garden hose" not resolve on its own, Dr. Ziada might recommend surgery to correct it.
"No matter what," Dr. Ziada said, "Bransen is likely to come out of this a healthy boy."
Dr. O'Brien firmly believes that Blue Angels and programs like it increase access to the highest level of health care for the poor and the rural, both of which are numerous in this state, and therefore promote more equity in the health care system. In particular, by improving access for high-risk pregnant women, the program helps build faith in the healthcare system and reinforce the connection between mothers and their physicians -- both of which serve to maintain good health long term.
"Obstetrics is the most cost-efficient way to invest healthcare dollars, since it helps prevent mortality and improves healthcare outcomes for decades," said Dr. O'Brien. "And Blue Angels is a cost efficient way to bring the highest level of obstetric care to the patient, wherever she may live."
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 29, 2015) – The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center held its sixth annual Markey Cancer Center Research Day, highlighting the work of UK students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty from the past year.
Research Day provides an opportunity for investigators to showcase their work and also view the work of their colleagues across the campus. Markey researchers are housed all across the University, spanning seven colleges and 26 departments.
“We’ve investigators interested in cancer research from all across the campus coming together to talk about their latest findings and sharing those findings,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “We’re seeing new collaborations being formed through this day, and overall it’s just a wonderful event that brings researchers together.”
UK College of Pharmacy graduate student Sherif El-Refai, who presented a poster for the first time at Research Day this year, echoed Evers’ sentiment.
“This is the best way to get a feel for the research being done all across campus, and to find collaborators interested in the same subjects that you are,” El-Refai said, noting that he’d already met several professors and statisticians to collaborate with in the future.
This year’s event featured 122 posters; oral presentations from a current medical student, two graduate students, and one postdoctoral fellow; and faculty oral presentations from Ellen Hahn, the Marcia A. Dake Endowed Professor in the UK College of Nursing, and Dr. John D’Orazio, Drury Pediatric Research Endowed Chair in the UK Department of Pediatrics.
Dr. Edward Romond, breast oncologist at Markey, was honored for his years of breakthrough research and stellar patient care with a lifetime achievement award from the Markey Cancer Foundation.
Additionally, Evers presented his annual State of the Cancer Center Address, highlighting major accomplishments from Markey over the past year. Evers’ annual address is a highlight for many attendees.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to hear Dr. Evers talk about the Cancer Center – especially everything we’ve done well over the past year, and also what we need to do in the future,” said Jamie Studts, associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky and director of the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative.
To finish the afternoon’s presentations, Kentucky native Phil Sharp, Nobel Laureate and Institute Professor for the Koch Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gave the Susan B. Lester Memorial Lecture.
The event concluded with an award ceremony. Awards were presented in two different categories - basic science and clinical/translational science - for both graduate and postdoctoral fellows. An Overall Winner was honored, as well as a Researcher's Choice Award, based on a popular vote by people who attended Research Day.
The winners are:
Basic Sciences - Graduate
FIRST: Lin Ao
SECOND: Payton Stevens
Basic Sciences - Postdoc
FIRST: Yekaterina Zaytseva
SECOND: Jie Chan
Clinical and Translational Sciences - Graduate
FIRST: Meghana Kudrimoti
SECOND: Kristine Song
Clinical and Translational Sciences - Postdoc
FIRST: Rachel Stewart
SECOND: Swati Yalamanchi
Researcher's Choice Award
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 7, 2015) – A new study led by University of Kentucky researchers suggests a new approach to develop highly-potent drugs which could overcome current shortcomings of low drug efficacy and multi-drug resistance in the treatment of cancer as well as viral and bacterial infections.
Published in Nanomedicine, the study identified a new mechanism of targeting multi-subunit complexes that are critical to the function of viruses, bacteria or cancer, thus reducing or possibly even eliminating their resistance to targeted drugs.
The study was led by Peixuan Guo, director of UK's Nanobiotechnology Center and one of the top nanobiotechnology experts in the world. Guo holds a joint appointment at the UK Markey Cancer Center and in the UK College of Pharmacy.
"Efficacy is the key in drug development,” Guo said. "Inhibiting multisubunit targets works similar to the series-circuit Christmas decorating light chains; one broken bulb turns off the entire lighting system."
By targeting RNA or protein subunits that have multiple sites for inactivation, but that are inextricably linked, this method allows for killing or disabling the RNA or protein without requiring the inhibition of multiple pathways that might be used by the organism to remain active and viable (and thus, multiple drugs are not needed, as well). Using this method, a single subunit targeting to the target RNA or protein subunits that is unique and assenting for the organism, the organism will be disabled or die and thus, no longer able to cause disease.
“One of the vexing problems in the development of drugs is drug resistance,” said Tim Tracy, former Dean of the UK College of Pharmacy and current UK provost. “Dr. Guo's study has identified a new mechanism of efficiently inhibiting biological processes that are critical to the function of the disease-causing organism, such that resistance is minimized or eliminated.”
Guo focuses much of his work on the use of ribonucleic acid (RNA) nanoparticles and a viral nano-motor to fight cancer, viral infections and genetic diseases. He is well-known for his pioneering work of constructing RNA nanoparticles as drug carriers. Guo's research team also includes Dan Shu, Farzin Haque, Mario Vieweger, Fengmei Pi, Hui Zhang, Yi Shu, Chi Wang, Peng Zhang, Ashwani Sharma, Taek Lee and more than 10 graduate students.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 7, 2015) — Ephraim McDowell Health last week announced that Ephraim McDowell Commonwealth Cancer Center (EMCCC) in Danville has joined the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. Kentucky faces some of the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the nation, but EMCCC sees this relationship as stepping up the fight against cancer. The UK Markey Cancer Center is the state's first and only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.
Ephraim McDowell Health’s President and CEO Vicki Darnell said the announcement meant great things for their patients.
“The Ephraim McDowell Commonwealth Cancer Center affiliation with the UK Markey Cancer Center will allow us to provide new treatment options for our patients that are only available to National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers," Darnell said. "We believe this is a big step in the continuing battle against cancer.”
"We are extremely excited and proud that our cancer treatment program is of the caliber that Markey Cancer Center would want to partner with us," said Dr. Tom Baeker, medical director of EMCCC Cancer Program. "This alliance means great things for our patients. It will enable us to offer access to the latest practices in diagnosis and treatment of cancers and blood disorders, including clinical trials – which means providing a higher level of cancer care."
The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network was created to provide high-quality cancer care closer to home for patients across the region, and to minimize the effects of cancer through prevention and education programs, exceptional clinical care, and access to research.
By becoming a UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate, EMCCC is keeping with the organization’s mission to provide safe, compassionate, high quality, and cost-effective services to the communities served. The Ephraim McDowell Health system will now be able to offer their patients access to additional specialty and subspecialty physicians and care, including clinical trials and advanced technology, while allowing them to stay in Danville for most treatments.
The UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network supports UK HealthCare's overall mission of ensuring no Kentuckian will have to leave the state to get access to top-of-the-line health care.
"Unfortunately, Kentucky is home to some of the worst rates of cancer in the country," said Dr. Tim Mullett, medical director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network. "By collaborating with our affiliate hospitals across the state, we have the potential to make a serious impact on cancer care here in the Commonwealth."
"UK HealthCare doesn't just serve Lexington and central Kentucky – our mission is to provide all Kentuckians with the best possible care right here in the state," said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. "The Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network allows us to collaborate with community hospitals to provide top-notch cancer care much closer to home — saving both travel expenses and time for the patients, in addition to keeping them close to their personal support system."
Markey is one of only 68 medical centers in the country to earn an NCI cancer center designation. Because of the designation, Markey patients have access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI centers.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2015) — At one time, the plastic mesh head and neck mask Richard Powers wore during 33 rounds of radiation therapy was bound for the bottom of a lake. When asked what he’d do with the mask after six weeks of treatment, the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center patient told nurses he planned to hurl the mask into the water on a fishing trip.
But once he completed his treatment, Powers changed his mind about the fate of his mask. For the 75-year-old who’s battled three different types of cancer in his lifetime, an art therapy workshop at the UK Markey Cancer Center allowed him to reimagine the mask as a symbol of victory over his disease. Powers, a descendant of the Cherokee Nation, decided to transform the mask into a sculpture of a decorated Native American chief.
“I have Cherokee blood in me from my grandmother – they’re very strong people,” Powers said. “So I’m making him up as a warrior.”
During an art therapy workshop hosted at the UK Markey Cancer Center on May 29, Powers smeared handprints of bright red “war” paint across the cheeks of his Cherokee warrior. With help from his stepson Eddie Roberts, he assembled a headdress of feathers on the top of the chief head and attached a sheet of leather cut from an old purse across as a chest piece. A former member of the military, Powers hung an anchor symbolizing his service on one ear and a tiny fleur de lis, a token from a memorable trip, on the other ear.
“I’m going to take it home and put it in my living room somewhere hopefully or my hall entry way, and it will be a reminder and a conversation piece,” Powers said. “People will come in and say, ‘What is that?’ And I’ll be able to tell them that’s the mask I wore to cure my throat cancer.”
Throughout the summer, Fran Belvin, an art therapist with the UK Markey Cancer Center and UK Arts in HealthCare program, is hosting a series of mask-making workshops for head and neck cancer patients. The workshops include both a therapeutic and expressive component.
Belvin starts the day by leading the participants in a discussion of their experiences with radiation treatment, providing patients with the opportunity to share both positive and negative emotions tied to the treatment process and their mask. Then, the patients transition to an art studio setting where they use a varied array of art materials provided by Belvin, as well as personal items, to paint and embellish their masks.
Radiation treatment to the head and neck requires patients to wear a stiff plastic mesh mask to secure their positioning. Patients feel supressed and confined during the treatment process. Radiation for throat and head cancer causes patients to feel weak and tired, and can have long-term side-effects such as a hoarse voice and difficulty swallowing. Patients commonly fantasize about elaborate ways to rid themselves of the masks after treatment.
But given the opportunity to repurpose the mask, patients finished with radiation treatment are eager to let loose their imaginations and creativity. As a medium for art, Belvin said the large masks tend to inspire dramatic themes and extravagant interpretations of the self. The themes displayed through the masks range from humorous and gaudy to powerful and spiritual.
“It’s a way for the patient to transform the experience of having cancer and having radiation – which can be an uncomfortable and confining feeling – into something really positive and beautiful – or dramatic and exciting,” Belvin said.
Belvin is offering the workshops to any head or neck cancer patient from the Markey Cancer Center who has completed radiation treatment. If a patient did not keep their mask, one is provided. The workshops are scheduled one Friday per month throughout the summer. Participants may come just for the morning or the afternoon, or may stay all day. Patients also may come more than once to complete their sculptures and may bring a friend or family member to help them. Future workshops are scheduled to take place on June 26, July 24 and Aug. 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. To register or for more information, call Christina Jewell at (859) 323-4895.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2015) – Could a fatalistic attitude toward cervical cancer serve as a barrier to prevention of the disease? A recent study conducted by University of Kentucky researchers in the Rural Cancer Prevention Center suggests a link between fatalistic beliefs and completion of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series among a sample of young Appalachian Kentucky women.
The HPV vaccination series consists of three shots and helps prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer. Previous studies have shown that cost, lack of transportation, cultural views, and lack of knowledge about cervical cancer prevention as well as limited support from health care providers has prevented Appalachian women from getting or completing HPV vaccination in the past.
The concept of fatalism as it relates to health asserts that individuals perceive themselves to have limited control over what happens to their health and that health outcomes may be determined by fate. Previous research has found that some Appalachian women have reported fatalistic beliefs regarding their health, including the perception that being diagnosed with or preventing cancer is out of their control.
Published in The Journal of Rural Health, the study involved research nurses administering the first dose of the HPV vaccine series free of charge to Appalachian Kentucky women aged 18-26. The young women were then surveyed about their beliefs regarding cancer and followed for nine months after receiving the first dose to determine vaccination series completion; nearly 350 women participated in the study.
The study found that women who held fatalistic beliefs about their perceived lack of control over their health and cervical cancer had a significantly lower likelihood of completing the HPV vaccination series.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, affecting more than 79 million people. Nationally, Kentucky has some of the highest rates of HPV-related cancers; according to the Kentucky Cancer Registry, these elevated cancer rates are primarily attributable to cancer disparities observed in the 54-county Appalachian region of the state.
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and several other cancers are linked to the virus as well, including head and neck, anal, penile, vulvar, and vaginal malignancies. Completing the vaccination series is the best way for young women (and men) to protect themselves against HPV infection and HPV-related cancers.
Personal beliefs like fatalism can serve as barrier to preventive health care measures such as HPV vaccination. Findings from the study indicate that fatalistic beliefs should be addressed in a culturally sensitive manner through education and tailored communication messaging. Such efforts may help increase HPV vaccination rates and decrease cervical cancer rates in Appalachian Kentucky.
"Results from this study may encourage health care providers to proactively assess and address young women’s personal health beliefs and develop a strategy for helping them complete the HPV vaccination series," Robin Vanderpool, associate professor in UK's Department of Health Behavior and deputy director of the Rural Cancer Prevention Center, said.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 10, 2015) – Erica Radhakrishnan has always been an athlete. The 41-year-old Lexington resident has been active all her life, playing sports as a teenager before moving on to train for more challenging endeavors, including half-marathons and Olympic-distance triathlons.
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, Radhakrishnan's training was put on hold, though she says remaining active was extremely important to her overall well-being.
"Throughout the entire experience, I did try to stay physically active and physically fit," Radhakrishnan said. "Even though you feel like you can't do it, remarkably, it makes your body feel better... and exercise is a good way to purge the mind of negative thoughts and feelings. So I did try, even though some days it was physically challenging just to walk to the front door."
After a round of surgery and chemotherapy, Radhakrishnan was in the clear, but temporarily – less than three years later, she was diagnosed with a local recurrence of breast cancer. Local recurrence, or the return of a cancer to its original location, is a relatively uncommon circumstance. But most of the time, a local recurrence will happen within the first five years following diagnosis.
Luckily, the second cancer was detected early. At the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, Radhakrishnan underwent more surgery and chemotherapy. She also received radiation, where she was treated by Markey radiation oncologist – and accomplished triathlete – Dr. Jonathan Feddock.
"When I initially met him, I pegged him for a triathlete as soon as he walked in," Radhakrishnan said.
The two bonded over their mutual interest in competing, and Radhakrishnan names Feddock as a driving force in helping her get back to fighting form. Just one year after finishing her last radiation treatment, she completed her first post-treatment half-marathon.
"The next time I saw him, he said, 'I'm so proud of you,'" Radhakrishnan said. "It was such a motivator for me, to realize that what I was doing was pretty amazing... to have that support has spurred in me the desire to continue to be fit and to share that information with others patients out there."
One way Radhakrishnan is helping to share that message is by competing in this weekend's Survive the Night Team Triathlon. The triathlon is the main event of the Healthiest Weekend in Lexington, a fundraiser developed by Feddock himself. Participants will swim, bike and run for a combined 140.7 miles — nearly the same distance as Feddock's Ironman race last summer, where he fundraised and brought in more than $150,000 for the Markey Cancer Foundation.
This weekend, 22 teams and one solo participant will compete in Survive the Night, beginning their long journey at 7 p.m. Friday night and finishing up sometime Saturday morning at The Club at Spindletop Hall. Radhakrishnan's team is composed of mothers and their children — including three of her own daughters.
"Each person on my team has been affected by a cancer diagnosis, whether it be a parent, grandparent, cousin, aunt or uncle," she said. "Each child has had to live through what it's like to have a cancer diagnosis. I'm very proud of the fact that they feel this desire to do something more — they can't work in a lab right now, but they can run, they can swim, and they can bike. And they're willing to do that in the hopes of raising money and awareness for Ironcology and for Markey."
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The triathletes competing this weekend aren't the only ones helping raise money to support cancer research and patient care. On Saturday morning, the Healthiest Weekend event will host a Something for Every Body Exercise Event and Expo, also at Spindletop Hall next to the finish line.
Numerous local fitness centers have volunteered their time and expertise to create a choose-your-own-exercise format, where attendees can participate in a variety of small group fitness classes throughout the morning including yoga, TRX, Silver Sneakers, water aerobics, boxing, barre, body rolling and more.
Each fitness class will be available for a $5 donation, with proceeds going to the Markey Cancer Foundation.
"I had the idea to create an event where anyone could participate and feel like they were able to contribute something to improve cancer care, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle," Feddock said. "Not everyone can, or wants to, compete in a long triathlon – but maybe you'd be willing to try out a class you've never done before and donate to a great cause at the same time."
For more information on the Healthiest Weekend in Lexington event including a schedule of classes, visit healthylex.com. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to make a donation toward improving cancer research and care at Markey, visit ukmarkey.org.
ABOUT MARKEY CANCER FOUNDATION
The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Foundation’s mission is to reduce cancer mortality in Kentucky and beyond by supporting innovative cancer research and treatments, education and community engagement, state-of-the-art facilities, and compassionate patient care at the UK Markey Cancer Center.
Ironcology is an exercise-based fundraising effort started by UK Markey Cancer Center radiation oncologist Dr. Jonathan Feddock in 2014. Feddock, a long-distance triathlete, originally set out to raise $200,000 through crowdfunding pledges for his efforts in the 2014 Ironman Louisville to put a downpayment on a new, state-of-the-art radiation implant suite at the Markey Cancer Center. With that goal now attained, Feddock is expanding Ironcology to the masses to engage others to participate in pledge-based competition and events to raise money on behalf of the UK Markey Cancer Foundation.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 22, 2015) -- Dr. Gerhard Hildebrandt has been named the Division Chief of Hematology and Blood and Marrow Transplantation at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.
Hildebrandt's clinical focus is cancers of the blood and lymph system. He sees patients before and after blood or marrow stem cell transplantation and treats patients suffering from acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease. He also serves as a professor of medicine in the UK College of Medicine.
Hildebrandt received his medical degree from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Medical School, Germany, in 1997. Upon completing his doctoral research thesis, he was awarded the "doctor medicinae" with magna cum laude.
He then completed a residency in Internal Medicine and a Hematology and Oncology fellowship at the University of Regensburg, Germany and became Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematologic Malignancies Attending at the University of Regensburg. In 2009 he was awarded the "Habilitation," the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by own pursuit in Germany.
After moving to the United States in 2009, Hildebrandt was a faculty member at Louisiana State University in Shreveport and served as director of their bone marrow transplant program. He later moved to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to become director of the Utah Blood and Marrow Transplant program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Hildebrandt is a member of the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the American Association for Cancer Research. He has authored more than 40 articles, books and book chapters, and is strongly involved in clinical trials.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 21, 2015) - Through his Ironcology fundraising organization, University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center oncologist and local triathlete Dr. Jonathan Feddock is partnering with the Markey Cancer Foundation to host "The Healthiest Weekend in Lexington," a two-day event June 12-13 that will focus on community engagement, cancer awareness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle while raising funds for cancer care at Markey.
The weekend includes the first-ever “Survive the Night Triathlon,” an overnight team relay that covers 140.7 combined miles of swimming, biking and running. The triathlon begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 12 at Spindletop Hall, 3414 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, Ky. Registration for the triathlon is $350 for individuals or $425 for a team of up to 10 athletes, and participants must register by June 1.
On Saturday, June 13, the event continues at 9 a.m. with the Something for Every Body Exercise Event and Expo, also at Spindletop Hall. Numerous local fitness centers have volunteered their time and expertise to create a choose-your-own-exercise format, where attendees can participate in a variety of small group fitness classes throughout the morning including yoga, TRX, Silver Sneakers, water aerobics, boxing, barre, body rolling and more.
Each fitness class will be available for a $5 donation. Participants will need to register at the event to reserve a spot for their preferred classes and times.
During the exercise event, local businesses will be on hand with information highlighting a healthy lifestyle for the prevention and treatment of cancer. The expo is free and open to the public.
Feddock, a seasoned triathlete who regularly competes in Iron Man competitions, began using his talents as an athlete to raise money for patient care at Markey last year. He raced in four long-distance events in 2014, using crowdfunding to raise more than $142,000 for Markey.
"After seeing the success I had raising money racing in triathlons, a lot of people expressed an interest in helping raise money for Markey in a similar way," Feddock said. "So I created the Healthiest Weekend in Lexington fundraiser with the idea that there would be something for everyone, whether you are a seasoned athlete or brand-new to fitness."
The Healthiest Weekend in Lexington is sponsored by UK HealthCare, Audi of Lexington, Big Ass Fans, Clark Material Handling Company and West Sixth Brewing. Fitness services will be provided by CycleYou, Fit4Mom Lexington, Legacy All Sports, LiveWell Training Club, Proof Fitness, PureBarre, Source on High, SweatLex and the YMCA of Lexington.
The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Foundation’s mission is to reduce cancer mortality in Kentucky and beyond by supporting innovative cancer research and treatments, education and community engagement, state-of-the-art facilities, and compassionate patient care at the UK Markey Cancer Center.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2015) – Storytelling has always been an essential part of the human experience. From prehistoric tales of the hunt, to fairytales, and even modern blockbusters, stories have reflected the culture, values and experiences of not only the characters but the storyteller himself.
Though storytelling has always been a powerful force in society, only recently has its power been used to encourage healing. The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center is working to recognize the powerful patient stories that result from a cancer diagnosis and use these stories to help patients through a method known as narrative medicine.
During a narrative medicine session, patients sit one-on-one with a health professional to share their personal stories, whether it's as simple as their actual day-to-day experiences or their emotional journeys. As patients share their unique experiences, the narrative medicine facilitator will help to tease out important details and insights and help patients use their story as a way to cope and recover mentally.
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Though talking points vary greatly from patient to patient, one thing that remains consistent in each session are a series of questions asked by Markey's Narrative Medicine Facilitator Robert Slocum.
"What is your source of hope?"
A cancer diagnosis changes a person's life overnight. For many people, fighting cancer can mean taxing treatments, unexpected financial burdens, time away from loved ones and time away from activities they enjoy. It can be easy to focus on treatment, and healing the body, and forget about the toll that the experience takes on the mind.
At Markey, staff is always concerned with finding ways to keep patients engaged and maintain their sense of hope throughout treatment.
Slocum believes that one way to achieve this is through patients sharing their story and experiences.
"This is a person who happens to have cancer," Slocum said. "A person with a life, with dreams, hopes, responsibilities, and ways to share. Staying connected to that during the process of treatment can be very important."
Many patients are open to sharing their experiences but are unsure of how to do it. They feel holding these conversations might burden loved ones or health professionals. They might feel that their personal experience is not important.
Narrative medicine is a chance to express to them that their experiences do matter.
"It is important to hear again and again that we are here to listen," Slocum said. "We want to hear your experience. Your experience matters. That can be the opening that many people felt 'oh there was never a good time to talk,' well, this is a great time to talk."
This adjunct therapy becomes especially helpful for cancer patients in isolation, where they may be confined to a room with few approved visitors for a month or more. Lola Thomason, the patient care manager for Markey's blood and marrow transplantation and medical oncology floor, notes that these patients are at a particularly high risk of developing psychosocial issues, simply due to lack of interaction and conversation.
"Narrative medicine gives patients an opportunity just to get their story out," Thomason said. "Just being able to get those feelings off their chest means so much to them."
Slocum is frequently referred to patients by Thomason and her team, a system that is working well so far.
"Lola has a sixth sense for who needs to be seen and when they need to be seen," Slocum said.
"Where do you get your strength?"
There is, without a doubt, strength that comes from being able to share your personal story.
When Slocum holds these important conversations with patients, he focuses on helping patients discover what their personal strength is and helps them find the strength to share their experience with others, if they choose.
"It is possible to draw out and draw on a patients sense of strength," Slocum said. "It is an opportunity for a patient to come to a clearer understanding of their life and what they are going through presently in the context of everything they have faced before."
Narrative medicine begins with a referral from a health professional and a simple conversation.
"It can be simply 'how are you feeling today', 'what brings you to the hospital' or 'how has treatment been going'," Slocum said. "That can be the start of a conversation that begins to go a little bit deeper."
Once patients choose to participate in narrative medicine, they can share their story in the way that they are comfortable. Patients are free to share as much or as little as they would like to. The purpose is for patients to begin to share their story and also provide an opportunity for them to process their experiences.
One of Slocum's patients at Markey, Dr. David Gagnon, has been very open to sharing his experiences dealing with a rare blood cancer and subsequent brain cancer diagnosis.
Gagnon has a unique story to tell as both a doctor and a cancer patient. Because he understands the doctor and patient viewpoint, he has gained an understanding of the importance of sharing experiences and emotions.
"Patients who don't talk don't seem to do well," Gagnon said. "I have found that talking and sharing with physicians and other patients who are going through this is helpful for me and helpful for them."
During his session with Slocum, Gagnon's topics run the gamut of his life experiences, including thoughts on his career as a physician, to his hobbies and fitness goals, to his spirituality. While Gagnon has an interesting perspective, every patient offers a unique viewpoint that Slocum hopes to help draw out and build upon as a source of strength for the patient.
"Patients come in all sizes, shapes, backgrounds and with different perspectives," Slocum said. "I try to work with whoever they are and whatever they bring."
"What gives you the courage to face the future?"
For some patients, narrative medicine has allowed them to find the courage to share their story with others. This might mean sharing what they are feeling with family members or even writing it down for other patients to read and hopefully relate to.
Many patients come out of a narrative medicine session with a fresh outlook on their treatment, and on life in general.
"I've had patients say wonderful things about how their perspectives have changed in cancer treatment," Slocum said. "They don't take things for granted anymore. Cancer is a terrible diagnosis, but it's also a second chance."
Narrative medicine is just one of the ways that Markey has worked to foster hope, strength and courage in their patients. Their integrative medicine program helps to find alternative medicine practices that complement a patient's existing treatment. Markey offers a wide range of integrative programs including narrative medicine, art therapy, music therapy and Jin Shin Jyutsu.
For more information on narrative medicine or for referrals, contact Robert Slocum at (859) 324-0955 or email@example.com.
MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 323-2399