Posts tagged ‘patient care’

Kidney recipient gives thanks for anonymous donor and the gift of a second chance

On July 23, Melissa Masse celebrated her 34th birthday in the operating room of Penn State Hershey, watching Dr. Riaz Shah hold up a kidney while the medical team sang “Happy Birthday.”

Earlier that morning, doctors had harvested a kidney from her husband, Chris, and sent it to a major metropolitan area where it would be given to someone as unknown to the Masses as the donor whose organ became a birthday present for Melissa.

Melissa and Chris Masse holding flowers between them where their scars forever bind them as recipient and donor.

Melissa and Chris Masse hold flowers between them to mark the scars that forever bind them as recipient and donor in a chain that gave Melissa and three others a second chance at life with a healthy kidney.

The surgeries were just two links in a complex transplant chain that allowed four people to receive healthy kidneys despite not having compatible live donors. Known as a “kidney swap,” Penn State Hershey offers the program as an alternative to dialysis and years of waiting for a deceased donor organ.

Melissa had been diagnosed with diabetes at age 11, but it wasn’t until stomach trouble and vomiting sent her to an emergency department in August 2012 and doctors noted her poor kidney function that she was sent to a specialist. By the end of the year, the South Williamsport woman was added to the list of people waiting for a healthy kidney.

Because the average person waits more than six years for a kidney, and because the mortality rate for those on dialysis is 50 percent after five years, Melissa’s husband offered to be a live donor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a match. Nor was her boss. Or her best friend.

“I was devastated,” Chris said. He knew his wife was hoping for a live donor so there would be less chance her body would reject the new kidney. So he told transplant coordinator Vicky Reilly that he would donate his kidney to someone he had never met so that his wife could receive a healthy kidney from someone she had never met. (more…)

November 26, 2013 at 8:54 am 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 1 comment

Teddy Bear adoptions provide opportunities to clear up hospital misconceptions with kids

Children learned how to properly swaddle their new teddy bears

Children learned how to properly swaddle their new teddy bears

Penny is a small, fuzzy gray bear with deep brown eyes who wears pink overalls with heart-shaped buttons. She has a floppy hat with an equally pink flower. Her first memory was waking up at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital nestled among her other bear and animal friends who were available for adoption at the Teddy Bear Clinic at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Penny and her friends were in Hershey to celebrate Child Life week and to help the Child Life specialists talk to the children about their fears of hospitals and going to the doctor. Child Life specialist Carrie Myers, who organized the event, works in the emergency department and sees scared little patients all the time.

“This is a time when we, as Child Life Specialists and other medical professionals can address misconceptions children have about the hospital or medical procedures,” she said. “It also teaches them that the hospital can be a fun, safe place.”

Clara and Laura Wade (ages 3 and 1) from Williamsport, Pa, whose new baby brother was born with a ‘broken’ heart that the doctors needed to fix, took home two of Penny’s friends, Bear and Dog. The girls listened to their new friends’ heartbeats and took their temperatures as they visited the stations where nurses and therapists helped them give their bears checkups. They saw many of the same instruments that the staff uses when taking care of 14-day-old Timothy after his open heart surgery. Their dad, Martin, hoped the experience would help the girls understand their brother’s surgery and recovery. “I told them baby brother’s heart was broken and had to be fixed,” he said. “I think this will help them when he’s getting poked and prodded, to know that It’s all to make him healthy, not hurt him.”

(more…)

April 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm 2 comments

The magic of the Child Life Program

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.”

Izaiah Robinson with Jamie Gray and the Nittany Lion

Izaiah Robinson with Jamie Gray and the Nittany Lion

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. (more…)

February 13, 2013 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Medical Center patient first in Pennsylvania to go home with total artificial heart

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.”

On his way out, Bob Phillips is greeted by the Nittany Lion, who presents him with a ballcap and a t-shirt signed by well-wishers.

On his way out, Bob Phillips is greeted by the Nittany Lion, who presents him with a ballcap and a t-shirt signed by well-wishers.

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…)

February 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

A one-minute vote that could help fund a cure for breast cancer—and support a darn good video

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 http://pinkglovedance.com . 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.

October 24, 2012 at 9:32 am Leave a comment

Paz reports on highlights of Medical Center’s fiscal year

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.

Read more about Dr. Paz’s presentation in this article >>

The presentation also included the following videos, each highlighting a key story from the past year:

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September 14, 2012 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

The lifecycle of a cancer

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.”

>> Hear from Dr. Loughran and a patient whom he treated for LGL leukemia in this edition of Penn State Hershey’s Sound Health podcast. <<

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…)

September 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm 4 comments

Collaborating to make central Pennsylvania healthier

Community Health Needs Assessment Report - September 2012A new report evaluates the state of healthcare in central Pennsylvania – and lays the groundwork for efforts to make the region’s residents healthier. Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center collaborated on the community health needs assessment with Holy Spirit Health System and PinnacleHealth System.

The assessment was compiled using interviews, surveys, data analysis and other methodologies. It was conducted by Tripp Umbach, a national leader in conducting health studies and assessments. Penn State Hershey, Holy Spirit and PinnacleHealth will now use the information gathered to develop individual plans to best address their community’s health needs and improve the overall health and well-being of residents of Central Pennsylvania. The findings show that there is a need for additional information and services that promote healthy lifestyles and make health education and healthcare easier to access.

Read more about the community health needs assessment:  Executive summary | Full report

September 11, 2012 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

Advancing to the next level of technology

With the addition of the new Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™, Penn State Hershey Medical Center welcomes the first significant advance in Gamma Knife technology in the past thirty years. Gamma Knife surgery is a well-established method used to treat selected targets in the brain. More than 50,000 patients undergo Gamma Knife surgery every year.

There are many additional benefits of the new stereotactic radiosurgery system. In particular, the new positioning system moves the entire table during the procedure, rather than just moving the patient’s head back and forth. This enables physicians to treat a greater area, including the upper cervical regions.

“With the current Gamma Knife technology, we have to be concerned about the location of multiple tumors,” says Sandra J. Brettler, M.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N., C.N.R.N., nurse coordinator, neurosurgery. “Sometimes, we have to treat them twice, because we cannot reach all of the tumors in the same session. Now, with Perfexion, we can treat them all at once.” (more…)

August 23, 2012 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

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