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Bringing holiday cheer: Inspired staff decorate doors in HVI units for the holidays

IMG_0123Tweety Bird, Olaf, Popeye and The Grinch are keeping an eye on patients and staff in the critical and progressive care Heart and Vascular inpatient units at Penn State Hershey this month. Each character hangs out on its own sliding glass door, which — at this time of year — provides both privacy and a canvas for spreading holiday cheer.

This December is the fourth year that critical care unit staff has painted holiday scenes and symbols on the entrances to each of its 30 patient rooms, offering a boost to morale for both employees and patients alike. The progressive care unit next door is in on the fun as well. Glass doors are decked out with snowmen, Santa Claus, elves — even a minion from the popular movie “Despicable Me.”

Across the hall, rooms with wooden doors have been wrapped like gifts. One door displays snowflakes and photographs of the nursing staff, with mustaches drawn on their pictures and the title “Staching through the Snow.” Another has become a penguin, using the standard-issue yellow socks as mittens.

“It’s ingenious how they incorporate things around here,” says Nikki Clutton, a patient care secretary who works night shift in the Heart and Vascular Critical Care Unit (HVCCU). Clutton is responsible for a good part of the art in her unit, together with registered nurse Ron Long.

“I have always been into art and I love to draw, so it was really cool that they let us have this fun and freedom,” Clutton says.

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December 15, 2014 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Scholarship recipients give thanks for alumni support

During this season of thanks, and in honor of National Philanthropy Day (officially celebrated on Nov. 15), Penn State College of Medicine recognizes a group of individuals who have affected the institution in countless ways—our alumni.

Since the first medical class graduated from the College of Medicine in 1971, alumni have been making important contributions to advance scientific inquiry and shape the practice of healthcare. They have:

Pioneered advances in artificial heart technology, cancer care and treatment, primary care practice, pediatric cardiac care and neonatology;

Practiced medicine in rural communities, major metropolitan areas and developing nations around the world; and

Published their research in the most prestigious scientific journals and have been recognized among the Best Doctors in America.

However, our distinguished alumni do not just pay it forward for the communities they serve, they also give back to inspire, mentor and support current students—learners who want to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps but also forge their own unique paths. (more…)

November 14, 2014 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

Free wig program provides a sense of comfort and joy to cancer patients

ACS_Wig_Celebration_11-03-2014_02

Wig Salon volunteers Linda Breniser, Louise Barto and Wendy Heffelfinger

When Patricia Greene learned she would need a stem cell transplant and probably lose her hair, she remembered signs she had seen around the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute about a wig program where patients could get fitted for a free wig.

The Palmyra woman stopped by the Wig Salon — located inside the first floor infusion room– to chat with volunteer and breast cancer survivor Linda Breniser. Together, they tried different colors and styles until they found one suitable for Greene.

“I wanted to be prepared for when I lost my hair, but I wouldn’t have had time to go elsewhere and look for a wig,” Greene said. “It is such an awesome program. To lose your hair is really hard on a woman and they were so considerate and kind and patient… it made me feel so much better.”

Earlier this week, representatives from the American Cancer Society came to Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Wig Salon’s opening, and the fact that Salon volunteers have fitted 228 women with free wigs since then – more than any other Wig Salon in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

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November 6, 2014 at 8:52 am Leave a comment

Advocacy program gives victims of domestic violence a voice

When a woman walks into the Emergency Department at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, she is asked what is wrong. While her physical symptoms may be obvious, there is sometimes more going on than is visible on the surface.

She may actually be one of the 30 percent of women seen by emergency physicians whose injuries are the result of domestic abuse or sexual assault.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends, Shelby Linstrom is now charged with helping potential victims and training Medical Center staff to recognize when a patient may be holding back vital information. Linstrom is the new medical advocate from the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg‘s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program at the Medical Center.

According to Rhonda Hendrickson, program director, part of the advocate’s job is to ensure that the staff is aware of red flags and how to help someone who may have experienced abuse.

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October 31, 2014 at 7:25 am Leave a comment

Inspired by his father, Dr. Joseph Gascho’s photography series highlights support personnel

Keyanna Buchanan

Keyanna Buchanan

While portraits of deans, department chairs and board members are often hung around campus, a series of photographs by Dr. Joseph Gascho, Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute, highlights the importance of those not in the spotlight at Penn State Hershey.

Gascho, a cardiologist, enjoys photography and has had his work featured both on and off campus. His current project is located in the hallway alongside the cafeteria, off the Rotunda elevators. More of his work is also on display at Lebanon Art Center.

“I enjoy capturing moments, recording memories, making something hopefully artistic and pleasing to the eye, seeing something in a new way,” Gascho said. “A lot of my medical photographs are designed to show that patients are people, more than just heart attacks or gall bladders. I want to show the humanity of people.”

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October 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm Leave a comment

Drugs 101 educational event designed to help parents learn about drugs, the warning signs and the peer pressures facing students

Paula Cameron’s son was just like many high school students – not a big fan of school, but managed to get by academically. He played sports and was captain of both the ice hockey and lacrosse teams.  His friends seemed nice enough, and he didn’t get in trouble.

After graduation, he went away to college for a semester before deciding to come home and get a full-time job. He lived at home with his parents, coming and going as he pleased but respectful of their rules.

It was not until a year and a half ago that Cameron began to suspect something was not right.

Her son lost his job, but found another immediately. Sometimes she would learn he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, but he always had good reasons why. His friends never mentioned anything seemed wrong. It was not until she found money missing from her checking account and his personality began to change that Cameron became concerned.

She worried that maybe she was overreacting, since she works as a care coordinator doing discharge planning at Penn State Hershey’s Children’s Hospital and has a background as a pediatric intensive care nurse. After all, her husband wasn’t seeing what she noticed.

They gave him drug tests. Once, it came back positive for marijuana, but she and her husband did not think that was such a big deal. After all, lots of kids experiment with pot. Still, Cameron felt deep down that something was not right.

And, if something really was wrong, then what?

“He made excuses, and I believed him because he was a good kid,” she said. “Even with all the background I had, I was not aware of what was out there – there were a lot of signs I did not recognizDrugs and alcohole.”

Cameron did not know what to do or where to go for help confirming or disproving her feelings.

“If we hadn’t had a couple of friends who helped us, we probably would have let it go on,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed. I had to learn that I couldn’t blame myself or say I wasn’t a good parent. It is something that happens and is happening more and more – sometimes it is a choice, but there is also a predisposition.”

Eventually, Cameron and her husband kicked their son out of the house and drove him to a friend’s for three days. He called constantly for money because he was going through withdrawal. “I had to stand my ground and not do it,” she recalled. “My husband and I told him we would only meet him to take him to rehab. Finally, he agreed.”

After a month in rehab, her son came home. Three weeks later, he was using heroin again and drinking more than ever. He recognized he had a problem, and told his parents he needed to go back to rehab. When he finished, he went to a halfway house and transitional living in Florida. “We had to get him away from here,” she said. “Now, he’s doing really well.”

Because of her experience, Cameron felt an obligation to share what she has learned with others in the community through an evening of awareness and resources that she is helping to organize together with the Community Resource Committee on campus.

Later this month, representatives from the Susan P. Byrnes Health Center in York will bring their “drug room” to the Children’s Hospital to teach parents about the places and ways children can hide things. They will also talk about signs that might indicate something is awry.

Penn State Hershey employees, as well as members of the local community, are invited to attend the event with their children.

Parents will participate in the “Drugs 101: Parents Need to Know” presentation, which is designed to educate parents about the various forms of drugs and the peer pressures facing students to use them. Those who attend can also learn about synthetic drugs that kids are inhaling as early as elementary school, which can’t always be detected on drug tests. They’ll learn how the addictive personality works, how even the briefest experimentation with drugs can affect the brain and what resources exist in the community to help.

The teens will participate in roundtable discussion and demonstrations designed to share with them the realities of living with addiction. They will spend 10 minutes at each of about a dozen tables learning about everything from rehab options and addicted babies to probation and parole. Participants will get a card stamped at each station and enter the completed cards in a drawing for a door prize.

“There are a so many high schools around here, and probably a lot of our employees have children attending those schools,” Cameron said. “If it even just helps one kid or one family, it’s worth it.”

The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, in the Children’s Hospital near the Tree house Café and in the second-floor conference room.  It is free to attend, but online pre-registration is required.

 

September 5, 2014 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Inaugural event seeks to connect the public with public health concerns and training opportunities

What is the best way to prevent food borne illness? How effective is hospice care? What factors influence hookah use in college students? And, is raw milk safe?

These are the type of questions that public health scientists work to answer each day. Unlike other health professionals, their focus is on prevention, rather than treatment of conditions.

Public_Health_Symposium_05-09-2014_014As the national healthcare climate begins to shift from a reactive to proactive focus – working to reduce costs and improve outcomes for those with chronic diseases through behavior management and education – the field of public health is exploding.

As Penn State Hershey’s new Master of Public Health (MPH) program celebrated the recent graduation of its second cohort of students this spring, it organized a Public Health Day Symposium at the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg to bring together nearly 100 students, faculty, government employees, policy makers and community public health practitioners.

Farrah Kauffman, deputy director of the program, said the department organized the inaugural event “to expose students to professionals in the field, and to provide them with a chance to hear about the latest and greatest of what is happening now — as well as some networking opportunities.”

Vernon Chinchilli, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State Hershey, said the MPH program, which began in 2011, expects to become fully accredited this June. The two-year, full-time program, designed for working professionals with evening classes, will be joined by a doctorate program, possibly as soon as fall 2015.

(more…)

July 22, 2014 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

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