Posts filed under ‘Profiles’
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…)
Profile: The public health and homeland security connection—How a deployment works with the College of Medicine and World Campus
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?
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.
Growing up in Togo, West Africa, Elom Amoussou-Kpeto was acutely aware of the barriers that kept people from accessing quality health care. Not only was there a lack of highly skilled providers, but transportation was a challenge.
He spent a lot of time with his grandfather, a nurse, who cared for the whole community “doing almost what a doctor would do,” he said.
Amoussou-Kpeto realized that by becoming a doctor, he could give so much back to the community: “That is my ultimate objective.”
So, upon graduating high school with good grades, he applied to Camden Community College near Philadelphia, where an uncle lived. Once accepted, he began the process of obtaining a Visa to come study in the United States, where he felt like he would get a better education.
After two years studying biology there, he transferred to Temple University to finish a degree in biochemistry. It was a rocky road though.
Language was a huge barrier. Amoussou-Kpeto grew up speaking Ewe and French. In school, he learned to read and write some English, but had difficulty expressing himself in the new language. “I felt like time was constantly working against me–especially with standardized tests,” he said. “I felt like I was fighting a combat on two fronts–between who I am and who I want to be.” (more…)
This is the metaphor at the heart of Dr. Dan Shapiro’s new book, And in Health: A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together, that was released today (May 14). Part lifejacket, part buoy, the book offers practical advice for spouses and partners whose lives have been upended by cancer.
Shapiro, a clinical psychologist, knows this landscape firsthand. For five years when he was in his 20s, he battled lymphatic cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant and relying upon his spouse Terry for support. A dozen years later, the roles were reversed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Despite living in the cancer world since the 1980s, I underestimated how intense, painful and difficult it is to be the spouse and how important it is to understand that both roles are challenging,” said Shapiro, also chairman of the Department of Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine.
“We’re talking about really practical things we can do to make the experience easier and strengthen our relationship.”
Those “practical things” range from how to interact with the medical team and deal with emotions to how to talk about sex, to name a few of the chapter topics. The chapters themselves contain a mix of personal anecdotes, research findings and specific recommendations such as working less to scheduling weekly date nights when talking about cancer is prohibited.
All are aimed at helping couples navigate this unfamiliar and scary terrain that can include radical body changes, job loss, and role shifts.
They came without warning and didn’t go away: uncontrollable muscle twitches, weakness in his arms and hands, slurring of speech.
Even before the diagnosis in August 2011, Don Farrell and his wife Joan Darrah had figured out what they were confronting: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease that is 100 percent fatal within two to five years after onset of symptoms.
“I can tell you that after the initial shock and grief, one makes a decision to move forward or not,” says Farrell in a documentary made by Penn State College of Medicine students Arissa Torrie and Brian Kinsman.
“It stimulated me to complete my life—not that I know what my life should be—but it stimulated me to finish it out strong, however that may be.”
Told through photographs and audio, “Don Farrell” is one of ten student documentaries that explore in searing and haunting detail the lives of patients facing debilitating diseases and terminal illnesses. Screened on May 1, the “Video Slam: Patient Project Documentary Films” is part of Penn State College of Medicine’s yearlong curriculum focused on giving first-year medical students insights into how patients live with illness.
Man and niece who share a liver now share their story to tout the benefits of living donor transplants
Bill Counsil will never forget that moment three years ago in April, sitting around his brother’s kitchen table in Mechanicsburg, talking about the kinds of things families talk about when they get together. Suddenly, during a pause in the conversation, his then 33-year-old niece Karen MacKay of Dillsburg said, “So, Uncle Bill, about this liver thing, when do you want to do it? I’ve been approved.”
In January 2010, doctors at Penn State Hershey had told the then 57-year-old man from Mill Hall, Pa., he would need a liver transplant. A throng of family members had come along to hear the options, his niece Karen among them. With such a large family and strong support, doctors said living donation might be the best option. If someone were willing—and could make it through the rigorous pre-donation testing—he could get a liver without becoming one of the 15,800 people nationwide trying not to get sicker while waiting for a liver from a deceased donor match.
MacKay went home from the meeting and told her husband she wanted to start the evaluation process. She wanted to find out if she could donate half of her liver to her uncle. “I couldn’t just sit around and wait for somebody else to come forward or hope someone else would be a match,” she said. “I had to at least try.”
Two Penn State College of Medicine professors have written a book that proposes solutions to bullying, bad attitudes, and turmoil in the nursing profession. It will be published Friday, April 12, by Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honor society.
The organization approached Cheryl Dellasega with the idea for the book as a follow up to her 2011 When Nurses Hurt Nurses, which presented the problem. “It hit a nerve of sorts, so they wanted another book that was more solutions focused,” she says.
Dellasega’s research centers on relational aggression, while colleague Rebecca Volpe studies organizational cynicism and ethics. When Volpe came to Penn State Hershey three years ago, she and Dellasega began talking about how both of their research interests fell into the category of toxic environments.
“Toxic environments are everywhere, but the stakes are uniquely high in healthcare – potentially life and death,” Volpe says. Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil not only examines the roots of the problem, but discusses potential consequences and offers solutions. (more…)
When Terry Achey started at Penn State Hershey thirty-four years ago, it was hard for anyone to imagine how much it would grow. There was no Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, no freestanding children’s hospital, not even a dedicated building for the facilities department. But over the past three decades, Achey has a hand in many of the projects that have helped grow Penn State Hershey into a world-class institution.
“Terry really loves this place and he treated the facilities like they were his own home,” says Wayne Zolko, associate vice president for finance and business, who worked closely with Achey for almost twenty years. “It wasn’t just a job for Terry, he really believed in our mission. Both his love of the Medical Center and his knowledge of our facilities from the ground up, having worked in a lot of different areas, gave him an appreciation for the work that had to be done.”
“I looked at this as a place I wanted to work at for a very long time, but I didn’t have aspirations to become director,” Achey says.
He retired on January 2 as director of facilities—a position he held for the past twelve years—where he was responsible for building maintenance and operations, planning and construction, project management, CADD services, and safety. Achey left an indelible print on many facets of Penn State Hershey, but one of the projects he’s most proud of was the work he contributed to the ten-year Master Plan.
The two milestones of the 10-year plan were the Cancer Institute and the Children’s Hospital, both of which took years of planning.
“Being able to work along with the leadership team that has shaped the physical and programmatic growth of the campus over the past 30-plus years has been extremely rewarding,” Achey says. “I have the upmost respect for the professional staff and faculty on our campus and I’ve always felt that our town, our region, is very fortunate to have a world-class resource serving our population and providing a major economic impact.” (more…)
You may know the legend of King Arthur, but chances are you do not know the story of Sir Millard, the evils he faced or the battles he won, even though every year, the new-age knights he has inspired take up his quest to battle pediatric cancer.
Every year, those champions, in the form of 15,000 Penn State student volunteers, fight their battle via year-long fundraising that culminates in THON weekend at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania. This weekend marks the forty-first annual THON dance marathon.
Sir Millard, a.k.a. Christopher Millard, penned his story called “The Four Diamonds” before he died of cancer at the age of 14 in 1972. He had no way of knowing the legacy he would leave behind.
The day he died at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his parents, Charles and Irma Millard, started the Four Diamonds Fund to raise money to assist pediatric cancer patients and their families with expenses outside those insurance will cover while their children are undergoing treatment.
THON weekend is a celebration of the efforts of the volunteers–joined by their fellow students, Four Diamonds Families, and their many supporters–who dedicate their time to raising money and increasing awareness for pediatric cancer.
It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising $89 million to date, more than $10 million last year alone. Participants hope to surpass $100 million with this year’s total, which exclusively benefits the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. (more…)