On April 4, Zeke, the Harrisburg canine officer who was recently shot in the line of duty, and his handler, Cpl. Ty Meik, were reunited with the Penn State Hershey Life Lion Critical Care Transport team that treated Zeke in the moments after the shooting and flew him to an animal trauma center. It was at that center that Zeke received life-saving care.
Crew members say caring for Zeke was a first, but it was made easier by his demeanor. “He was never, ever nasty toward anybody,” said Steve Weihbrecht, flight paramedic. “Obviously, he was extremely frightened. Ty, his handler, did a great job of keeping him under control.”
“It looks like he’s doing well,” said Daniel Mease, a flight nurse who administered intravenous fluids to Zeke after the March 15 shooting. “It was fun watching him on the news, getting better each day.”
When you walk into a room filled with smiles, laughter, toys, games, and an over-all atmosphere of fun, it’s easy to forget you’re in a hospital.
That is exactly the goal of the Child Life Program at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Child Life offers patients support through its programming, including a fall visit from Olympic gold medalist Jamie Gray. Originally from nearby Lebanon, Pa., Gray was inspired to visit Hershey by the young patients she met at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Baton Rouge, La.
Much to the delight of the Hershey children and their families, Gray recently participated in their weekly BINGO game, spending time with families and answering questions about the Olympics. Sharing her gold medal in 50-meter rifle three position, she didn’t even mind when one little friend got chocolate from his hands on it.
Gray was touched by the children’s resiliency, especially after watching her mother, Karen Beyerle, battle and defeat breast cancer.
“I think it’s amazing to see how happy they are going through so much adversity,” she said. “I think they’re inspiring, honestly.”
It isn’t hard to see the difference Child Life makes with while watching 8 year-old Izaiah Robinson from Boalsburg, Pa., nearly running to the prize table, with a huge smile across his face.
His mother, Shanika, said that Izaiah is a frequent visitor to the hospital and that they are grateful to have the activities available.
“I love it for the kids,” Robinson said. “It’s something for them to do. Bingo is his favorite. He’s a pro at this.”
Izaiah said it was “cool” to meet someone who won a medal, and he got his picture taken as he and his mother waited to hear if he could go home.
According to Ashley Kane, program manager, special guests like Gray bring out a bright side of being in the hospital.
“If they weren’t here, many kids would not have gotten to meet an Olympic gold medalist,” Kane said. “They are going through a difficult time, trying to get better and get out of the hospital and our special visitors bring in something extra special. It gives them the motivation to get out of bed.”
The Child Life Program provides psychological, social, emotional and developmental support for patients and families predominantly through play.
“Play is the work of a child,” Kane said. Through play, staff helps kids and their families understand what’s happening in the hospital and in their bodies. Their job is to do anything they can to make the hospital environment easier, less frightening, more child friendly and allow children to be children while in the hospital.
While financial support comes from the Children’s Miracle Network and the Four Diamonds Fund, Child Life also has been well supported by donations from local organizations that regularly provide toys, books and other items needed for their play areas and programs.
“Everyone seems to feel strongly about helping the kids in the children’s hospital,” Kane said. “The community helps to fill any funding gaps we have.”
In addition to donations from church and scout groups, the program has received support and visits from the Hershey Bears, Harrisburg Senators, local police and fire departments, Chocolate World and many more who all make the days a little bit easier for children in the hospital.
Besides daily activities and special visitors, Child Life offers pre-op tours, coping assistance, teachers to keep up with schoolwork, pet therapy, monthly parent meals to facilitate parent-to-parent support, classroom visits to help the children understand what is happening to their classmate, and more.
And all of this supportive activity will be able to grow in scope now, as Child Life moved into its new home—the 263,000-square-foot, five-story (plus one below ground) freestanding Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital—this week.
In addition to more playrooms and another teen lounge for Child Life, the freestanding Children’s Hospital has a new sibling play center, a family resource center, a Ronald McDonald House room-to-room cart for families, and a new performance stage for special events that can be broadcast via closed-circuit television to patient rooms.
The new building’s opening also creates opportunity for community members to support the program and hospital in another way: about 100 new volunteers will be needed to maintain and grow Child Life and other programs designed to support a model of care that focuses on the comprehensive needs of pediatric patients and their families.
For more information on Child Life’s programs, how to donate or volunteer, visit pennstatehershey.org/web/childlife/home.
Before August 2012, if you had asked Bob Phillips of Palmyra, Pa. about his health, he would have told you he’s been nothing but healthy during his 73 years on this earth. No serious health concerns meant he had not been to a doctor in 25 years.
So he never expected to turn 74 amid a five-month stay at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center or that he would become a milestone in medical history.
Phillips has become the oldest in the United States and first person in Pennsylvania who has received a total artificial heart (TAH) to be discharged to live at home with a portable driver, the external power source for the heart, while awaiting a donor heart.
He never saw it coming.
“I was never sick,” Phillips said. “I was 73 years old and I thought if I had gotten that far I’d be cruising down the main stretch.”
Just a few short months ago, Phillips was returning from a Sunday afternoon trapshoot when he noticed an odd pain in his shoulders and chest. During his 30-minute drive home alone, the pain subsided and he thought nothing more of it. The next morning, he mowed the lawn and took his daily walk. His week continued as normal until Thursday afternoon, when the symptoms returned.
His wife Norma insisted he call a doctor immediately. He did so–reluctantly–and was told to go straight to the emergency room.
The couple learned that Phillips had suffered a massive heart attack. He was initially treated with two stents in his heart. He remained in cardiogenic shock and required therapy designed to give his heart time to rest. This therapy, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), uses a machine to do the work of the heart. An ultrasound later revealed a hole in the center of his heart and a heart rupture that was beyond repair.
His only option for survival was a total artificial heart connected to an external power source at all times.
Phillips was in a state of disbelief. How could his heart be damaged beyond repair?
“I always felt good; always exercised,” Phillips said. “I never dreamed that anything like this was happening to me. I was never doubled-over or short of breath or anything like the classic stuff you see.”
What he did not realize is he had coronary artery disease, and that led to advanced cardiogenic shock. On the spectrum of severity, his heart attack was the highest. (more…)
This is an excerpt from the January 2013 edition of Perspectives, an electronic newsletter from Harold L. Paz, M.D., chief executive officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine.
In recent years, the American health care system has experienced dramatic change and restructuring. One of the more noticeable changes — one which is quite evident here in central Pennsylvania — is a growing trend toward the formation of large, integrated health systems. Many different factors are driving this trend, including health care reform legislation, other changes in how health care is paid for, economic factors affecting the financial performance of hospitals and providers, and a growing focus on the need to improve the safety and quality of care. As we look to the future, even more dramatic restructuring lies ahead, and Penn State Hershey must be prepared for a future in which larger and well-integrated health systems are the norm.
We have already made great strides toward developing a more integrated approach to care, through the growth of the Penn State Hershey Health System that expands our network of affiliations and partnerships. In the future, we will need to focus even more heavily on growing our network, not only in order to remain financially strong, but also to better serve the health and well-being of our patients and our region. Our announcement last month of a new agreement with Holy Spirit Health System to provide cardiovascular surgery services is just the most recent example of how we are working in collaboration with other health care organizations to expand access to expert care and the resources of our academic health center, while at the same time making it easier for more patients to receive this care as close to home as possible. Agreements like our new cardiovascular partnership with Holy Spirit offer opportunities to improve patient care while at the same time increasing efficiency and controlling costs.
Before looking at some of the other ways in which Penn State Hershey is developing its network, it’s worth taking a closer look at the trend toward more integrated systems. America’s current health system is expensive and often inefficient, in part because health care is fragmented, resulting in delays in care, duplicated tests, and other inefficiencies. Hospitals and clinicians are still largely reimbursed on a fee-for-service or utilization basis; in other words, we are paid more for doing more to treat people once they are sick. In an outcome-driven, value-based system, we will be paid to keep the population we serve healthy. Health care reform is driving this transition, particularly by encouraging the formation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), which will provide care for a population of patients and be reimbursed on the basis of keeping their patient population as healthy as possible, improving health outcomes and health care quality, reducing costs, and enhancing access. Integration is the defining characteristic of ACOs and similar networks or health systems; these systems will include community, specialty, and tertiary/quaternary care hospitals, primary care and specialist physician practices, urgent care sites, home health, and long-term care.
As part of an initiative to educate students in the surrounding areas about research related to health, faculty members from Penn State College of Medicine, in conjunction with colleagues from Penn State Harrisburg, Juniata College, and the Raystown Field Station offered 16 sophomores from Susquehanna Township High School and five of their teachers a week-long, summer opportunity to take a closer look at environmental and medical research techniques, and the interchange between the two areas of science. The formal title of the program is SEPA-CREST, so named for the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) that funded it and the opportunity it provided for Collaborative Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (CREST). It serves not only as a vehicle for students and teachers to gain more intensive experience in science, but also as a research opportunity for college faculty to gauge their ability to improve science literacy with these groups.
Participants travelled to the Raystown Field Station, an environmental center in Huntingdon, PA operated by Juniata College for a multidisciplinary study of the interactions between humans and the environment.
“The great thing about a week-long experience like this is that we’ve been able to address a wide range of topics and techniques,” said Sarah Bronson, Ph.D., associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology, Penn State College of Medicine. “Each of the students are drawn to different areas in science, so this approach raises the likelihood that we’ll score a hit with one of the 16 kids and they think, ‘I want to know more about that’ or ‘I’d like to do that when I grow up.’” (more…)
The fight against breast cancer is real—that’s why more than 600 Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center faculty, staff, patients, survivors and the Nittany Lion donned pink gloves and broke out their best dance moves to show that no one should fight this disease alone.
Voting is now open for the national Pink Glove Dance Video contest, and Penn State Hershey is in the running to win a $10,000 donation to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
We were inspired by not only our patients, but also each other: Dan, a human resources professional who danced for his wife, a 10-year survivor; Maggie, a critical-care nurse celebrating 12 years of survivorship; and more. Backed by a breast center team that ranks nationally in patient satisfaction; Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute multidisciplinary cancer teams including specialists, nurses, and support staff; and research that has led to promising new discoveries, our commitment to fighting breast cancer goes well beyond the gloves.
Together, we give hope, courage, and faith—and continue to fight for a cure.
Penn State Hershey is currently in second place out of more than 260 entries. Your vote could push us to the top! Every vote counts until November 2. Use your Facbook account to vote for Penn State Hershey’s video at
. Click on the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, click the Vote button, and then use the link provided to share with all of your Facebook friends. Please encourage them to share it with their friends, too.
This is an excerpt from the October 2012 edition of Perspectives, an electronic newsletter from Harold L. Paz, M.D., chief executive officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine.
As an academic health center, we have a proud mission that extends beyond treating the sick – promoting health and wellness has long been a vital part of what we do for our patients, our employees and students, and the community as a whole. Increasingly our nation’s health care system is changing in ways that reinforce the importance of wellness, prevention and effective disease management. More than ever before, hospitals and clinicians are being rewarded for keeping people healthy and out of the hospital, rather than the more traditional model of being paid for taking care of people once they’re sick. With preventable illness and often manageable chronic diseases taking a significant toll in terms of mortality, quality of life, productivity, and health care resources, it’s essential for academic health centers to lead the effort to find effective strategies to promote good health through prevention, wellness programs, and tools to help patients and the public take charge of their health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined obesity as an epidemic. It accounts for more than 10% of U.S. medical costs, or about $150 billion a year. Currently 1 in 3 adults and nearly 1 in 6 children are obese, so finding effective ways to help patients reach and maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important ways an academic health center can improve health and well-being among the populations it serves. We know that cultural changes such as the increased presence of higher calorie foods and larger portion sizes have contributed to the obesity epidemic in the past few decades. At the same time, Penn State Hershey researchers are finding that other societal changes, like the advent of social media, may be useful in fighting it.
A recent study conducted by Jennifer L. Kraschnewski, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences, Christopher Sciamanna, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and public health sciences, and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, and colleagues in Hershey and at University Park, demonstrated the effectiveness of a web-based weight loss program that features successful strategies of others who have lost weight. The researchers designed a website called Achieve Together using data gathered from a previous study that identified key behaviors associated with successfully maintaining a weight loss of 30 pounds or more. The website matched users to role models closest to them in age, gender, and target weight, and allowed them to view their role models’ strategies for weight loss, which they could then use to develop their own weight-loss plan. Over the course of twelve weeks, study participants who used the web-based program lost an average of 4.5 pounds more than members of a control group of people trying to lose weight on their own. As the researchers suggest, since web-based programs like this one entail minimal costs, they could prove to be a cost-effective way to promote and support weight loss.
Larry Silver, M.D., could have spent the past 13 years of his retirement like many people do—relaxing, playing golf, traveling. But fortunately for regional heart patients, he has instead been a tireless advocate and community partner for the Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) through his work with the I.O. Silver Foundation.
“HVI is the biggest thing in my life now,” Silver says. “I never dreamed of retiring and when I did, I missed the feeling of being needed. The foundation fills a little part of that, plus I’m astounded by the advances the team makes in heart disease treatment.”
Established in 1996 following the death of Larry’s father, I.O., the foundation has a simple mission of supporting quality cardiac care in central Pennsylvania while honoring the life of its namesake. Through its partnership with HVI, including the proceeds of the 2012 event, the I.O. Silver Foundation has donated more than $1,000,000 toward clinical, educational, and research initiatives at Penn State Hershey. (more…)
Highlights from across all four parts of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s mission were at the center of this week’s annual public board of directors meeting. Dr. Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine, addressed faculty, staff and community members. Paz discussed how new and expanded collaborations, growth in its clinical and research missions, and the presence of the first group of medical students in State College were all part of a successful 2011-12 fiscal year.
The presentation also included the following videos, each highlighting a key story from the past year:
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Imagine if various types of cancer were caused by a common, though currently unknown, virus. The implications for treatment options and methods of prevention could be enormous. The discovery of infectious agents, such as the human papillomavirus as the root cause of cervical cancer, opens the door to the idea that other viruses might be at work in the genesis of cancer development.
This theory is about to be tested further by Thomas P. Loughran, M.D., and his colleagues at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. But Loughran is no stranger to being at the forefront of cancer research.
The LGL discovery
As outlined in this previous Penn State Medicine article, Loughran, who is a professor of medicine at Penn State College of Medicine and director of the Cancer Institute, is responsible for the discovery of large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia while he was an oncology fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington. He has spent most of his career researching the development of the disease and establishing a treatment protocol, which has allowed many patients to live healthier and more productive lives. In 2003, he started an LGL leukemia registry to keep track of patient outcomes.
One of the most challenging aspects of LGL leukemia is getting an accurate diagnosis. Patients often present with chronic symptoms, such as joint pain, fevers, and immune system problems that can be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or aplastic anemia.
“The diagnosis is clouded by the fact that the symptoms are not obvious,” Loughran says. “Patients can have morbidity with tiredness, shortness of breath, pain, and swelling of the joints. Ten to 30 percent have classic RA. This is a chronic disease, though, with a major complication being infections.”
A diagnosis of LGL leukemia is not difficult to come by if medical professionals know what to look for, which is an increased number of LGL cells that can be seen on a blood smear. But because this can easily be overlooked in basic blood tests, it often takes a recurrence of symptoms before an accurate diagnosis of LGL leukemia is reached. (more…)