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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

French, bad breath, and the Kardashians: One medical student’s reflections

If laughter really is the best medicine, Bailey Sanders is going to make a great doctor. Sanders was chosen by her peers in Penn State College of Medicine’s Class of 2014 to give this year’s student commencement address. The future doctor kept the crowd in stitches, threading together humorous examples to illustrate three components to building a life and career free of regrets.

Sanders posited that passion is one key ingredient, and for an example looked to a scientist who drank the contents of his own petri dish and “documented his subsequent suffering with regular biopsies and his mother’s opinion of how his breath smelled.” The unconventional experiment resulted in a Nobel Prize.

To hear Sanders’ full commencement speech, watch this video:

June 18, 2014 at 8:13 am 2 comments

Beyond the gloves of the Pink Glove Dance

Combine a competitive spirit, a desire to overcome breast cancer and a whole lot of pink gloves and you get the 90-second roller coaster of emotion that is the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s entry for this year’s Pink Glove Dance competition. The annual contest is sponsored by Medline, manufacturer of the pink surgical gloves to raise awareness for breast cancer.

For the second year in a row, the Medical Center is asking for community support to help kiss cancer good-bye. Each vote gets Hershey one step closer to a first place win and the $25,000 to benefit PA Breast Cancer Coalition research. Hershey placed second last year, its first year in the competition.

The video, produced in conjunction with Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, the Medical Center’s contest community partner, features breast cancer survivors and their supporters riding Lightning Racer, one of Hersheypark’s eleven roller coasters, to represent fighting the disease through literal ups and downs.Pink Glove 2013_102

“Dealing with breast cancer is kind of like being on a roller coaster,” said Kathy Law, director of nursing-perioperative services and executive sponsor of the Medical Center’s Pink Glove effort. “We thought what better way to bring the two entities together to work on a very worthwhile project.”

And from that partnership, the concept was born. (more…)

November 5, 2013 at 11:01 am Leave a comment

Girl’s quick action credited with brother’s survival

Amy Bair says she owes her son’s life to the actions of her daughter – and medical personnel agree.On the afternoon of June 15, nine-year-old Carrie Bair walked out to their family’s pool to find her young brother, Jackson, lying face-down in the water. He appeared unresponsive. Carrie pulled the three-year-old from the water by the back of his shirt.

“I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t talk,” Carrie said. That’s when she wrapped her arms around her brother’s body and squeezed him. Within seconds, Jackson coughed up water and started breathing again. Carrie beckoned to her mom, Amy, who called 911 then rushed to her son’s side.

(more…)

June 20, 2013 at 7:23 am Leave a comment

Medical student reflects on collaborative Hershey and University Park medical service trip

Top Left to Right: Dr. Hennrikus, Dan Brill, Spencer Johnson, Dana Schirk, Amy Du, Alicia Evans, Dr. Hennrikus Bottom Left to Right: Caitlin Armstrong, Dr. Bandini (local Panamanian physician), Syeda Ahmad, and Eve Thau

Top (L to R): Dr. Eileen Hennrikus, Dan Brill, Spencer Johnson, Dana Schirk, Amy Du, Alicia Evans, Dr. William Hennrikus. Bottom (L to R): Caitlin Armstrong, Dr. Bandini (local Panamanian physician), Syeda Ahmad, and Eve Thau

This spring brought the first collaborative spring break service trip for University Park undergraduates and Penn State Hershey medical students and physicians. From March 2 to 9, the team of two physicians, eight medical students, and thirty-two undergraduates served in the Darien province of Panama—an area reputed in the States as a jungle ridden with malaria and yellow fever.

During the week-long trip, the team provided medical services under the auspices of the Global Brigades organization. These services were much needed by the Darien population of 50,000. According to a local physician, Darien has only five medical specialists and three ambulances to cover an area the size of Connecticut. In contrast, Connecticut has more than 17,000 physicians and 60,000 registered nurses.

After months of preparation and twenty-one hours of travel, the team arrived at 5:30 a.m. at their compound in Santa Fe, where they would serve locals in El Tirao, Panama. Despite a mere four hours of sleep, the team persevered through “frigid showers, putrid porti-potties, and unpredictable electricity,” medical student Dan Brill said, to sort medical supplies provided by generous contributions of donors and team participants.

Over the next three days, the team used these supplies to operate a clinic out of a local elementary school. Using the Global Brigades model, they established five stations to provide care to more than 300 Panaminians:  Triage, Consultation, Dental, Laboratory, and Pharmacy stations allocated space for checking vital signs, conducting patient interviews and exams, providing oral care, performing diagnostic tests, and dispensing drugs, respectively. (more…)

June 11, 2013 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

How the science of anatomy teaches the humanity of healing

First-year medical students participate in the annual memorial service.

First-year medical students participate in the annual memorial service.

Penn State College of Medicine students are told to put emotions aside when they enter the anatomy lab. It is about the science, not the humanity. They quickly realize that is just not possible.

That was evident a few weeks ago in Hershey, as the future physicians honored the people and families who generously donated bodies for study by the students. Through an annual ceremony they organize, students reflect on the people who once were, not the bodies in a lab.

Some conveyed their feelings through song, others through poetry, and all shared their unending gratitude to the donors and their loved ones. “It’s an intimate opportunity for the students to convey to the families of the donors what they learned and what they gained from the experience,” said Michelle Lazarus, Ph.D., assistant professor of neural and behavioral sciences. “It also provides an opportunity for the families to better understand how their family’s gift impacted students.”

Students like class of 2016 president Steven Cornelius, who spoke of the importance of these gifts. “We learned a great deal of information in the lecture hall,” Cornelius said. “In reality, the primary place where we learned something was in the cadaver lab.”

(more…)

May 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

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