Posts filed under ‘Profiles’

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

Medical student asks the right questions and finishes second on recent episode of Jeopardy!

Each of the past three or four years, second-year medical student Johnna Mahoney took a timed, 50-question online qualification test to see if she could advance toward becoming a contestant on Jeopardy!, the popular TV quiz show she grew up watching.

In April of this year, the Penn State College of Medicine student finally got an e-mail inviting her to travel to New York City for an in-person audition – an honor given to only about 2,500 people annually. About 400 people appear on the game show each year.

“I always thought it was really cool – all the smartest people were on Jeopardy!” she said.

Mahoney appeared on an episode of the show that aired in November, taking second-place and winning $2,000. To get there, she would go from a hope in Hershey to the audition in New York and then a taping in Los Angeles, finishing her Jeopardy! journey back home with family and friends in Lancaster when the episode finally aired and she could talk about the experience. (more…)

December 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm 1 comment

Initiative prepares Penn State medical students to care for veterans

Several events focusing on veterans and military medicine will take place on the Penn State Hershey campus to celebrate Joining Forces Wellness Week, in partnership with the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The College of Medicine is part of the AAMC’s Joining Forces Initiative, which works to train future physicians to better understand, diagnose and treat the health care needs of veterans, service members and their families.

Second-year medical student Eric Jung is part of the AAMC’s Organization of Student Representatives, making military issues a priority on campus.

Working together with the Office of Diversity, Jung received a $500 grant from the AAMC to pay for events and activities celebrating veterans and educating the campus community on issues that veterans and active-duty military often face.

Veterans GroupsStudents

“We have a traditional medical school curriculum here, but there are topics that we don’t get a lot of exposure to, so this is a good way to include some of that,” he said. (more…)

November 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1 comment

Vets bring military service – and sensibilities – to work at Penn State Hershey

More than 30 years ago, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Kurt Holtzer and fellow Navy sailors played cat-and-mouse with enemy Russian ships.

Sometimes, the ships passed so close they could see Russian sailors on deck. At times, they exchanged waves of greeting. In other instances, the gestures were less pleasant. Always, they prepared for battle – ready to take aggressive measures against each other if given the order.

Fast forward to 2012.

Andrey Chuprin and Kurt Holtzer

Andrey Chuprin and Kurt Holtzer

Holtzer, a supervisor for the Penn State Hershey biomedical team, has just been diagnosed with leukemia and is being cared for by oncology nurse Andrey Chuprin. As the two become close and swap stories, Holtzer discovers that Chuprin had served in the Russian Navy in the same part of the Pacific Ocean at the same time he was there.

“On that water, we were mortal enemies,” Holtzer said. “But as I lay in my oncology bed, Andrey (was) fighting to save my life. Today, we are like brothers. What a tremendous turn of events.”

Like any large employer, Penn State Hershey has its share of veterans – men and women who served their country before coming to serve on campus. They aren’t always easy to spot, but they are all over campus, putting the skills and experiences they gained during their time in the service to work for patients and their families. (more…)

November 9, 2013 at 9:00 am 2 comments

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

Profile: The public health and homeland security connection—How a deployment works with the College of Medicine and World Campus

Lt. Col. Guy Moon

Lt. Col. Guy Moon

You would be hard pressed to find a student more perfectly suited for a Penn State Master’s Degree in Homeland Security—Public Health Preparedness (MHS-PHP) than Lt. Col. Guy Moon. A full-time active duty officer with the Nebraska Army National Guard, Moon completed part of his degree while on a deployment in Afghanistan. He formally received his degree from Penn State College of Medicine at its 2013 commencement today.

Moon’s position as the guard’s statewide education services officer put him in a unique position to know exactly what he wanted in an online program and, more importantly, how such a program should work. “I fully understand the value of education for military personal regardless of where they are in the career,” Moon says. He consulted higher education rankings that named Penn State as a military-friendly school and looked for an online program that offered homeland security programs. Moon narrowed his search down to three to four different schools, which he studied closely before make his choice.

So, why Penn State?

(more…)

May 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Profile: The road of life leads College of Medicine student to Hershey

Meagan Horst

Meagan Horst

Penn State Hershey used to be a place of grief for Meagan Horst.

It was the place she went to say goodbye to her father when he died of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 44. Fourteen years old, she was the oldest of four children, waiting her turn to go into his room and say her final goodbyes.

As she sat with her siblings, she saw a little boy walk by, clutching an IV pole. He seemed so happy, excited by the simplest of things. “I knew right then that I was going to be a doctor,” she said. “I knew I was going to grow up to take care of people like him. He was just so happy to be alive.”

After high school, Horst spent a summer between her sophomore and junior years of college in Honduras and the Dominican Republic, shadowing doctors and learning about the world of medicine. There, her experiences in the operating room convinced her she wanted to become an anesthesiologist. “I was always interested in the other side of the curtain, and it just felt right,” she said. “I love everything about it.”

The following summer she traveled to Peru, interpreting for a medical team that needed help with Spanish. “I’ve always been ambitious and had lots of goals,” she said.

(more…)

May 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm 5 comments

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