Posts filed under ‘Features’

Strong Links in Chain of Survival Give Heart Attack Victim Second Chance

By Carolyn Kimmel

Cardiac arrest survivor Marty Woodfin smiles as she hugs Life Lion Paramedic Jeff Gewertz in the Life Lion garage. In the background, other paramedics smile and talk.

Marty Woodfin hugs Life Lion Paramedic Jeff Gewertz during a lunch to thank the first responders who saved her life.

When Penn State Children’s Hospital pediatrics nurse Marty Woodfin changed her walking routine from her neighborhood to the medical campus last July, she had no idea that decision would save her life—literally.

“It could have so easily been the end of my story that day,” said Woodfin, whose plan was to walk the path around the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center before going home to nap and work nightshift in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Woodfin, 56, who has no health risks for cardiac arrest, was on the portion of the path that runs along Governor Road when she collapsed in view of passing traffic on Route 322.

“What happened on that day was a ‘perfect storm’ in the chain of survival, where all the links worked,” said Scott Buchle, Life Lion Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program manager. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. We say it take a small village of first responders to save a life.”


March 13, 2018 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

College of Medicine Student Works to Improve Hygiene of Women and Girls in Nepal

Dozens of men, women and children from a village in Nepal sit in a semi-circle. Aditi Sharma, a student at Penn State College of Medicine, stands in the back row, second from left.

Penn State College of Medicine student Aditi Sharma, standing in the back row, second from left, and wearing a white top, poses with community members in Mid-west Nepal.

Aditi Sharma, a student in the doctor of public health program at Penn State College of Medicine, wants to enhance the quality of life for women and girls living in Nepal through a program that improves feminine hygiene.

A member of the Young Leaders Fellowship Program for the global advocacy group Women Deliver, Sharma was awarded a seed grant from Johnson & Johnson. Sharma developed an educational program for underserved populations living near Surkhet, Nepal, through a non-governmental organization that she co-founded called Kalyani. The program teaches women and girls the importance of feminine hygiene and aims to improve access to sanitary products and shed stigmas about menstruation.

“The aim of our project is not only to promote proper menstrual health and hygiene among women in Far- and Mid-west Nepal, but also to restore the dignity they have been denied for so long,” she said.


March 5, 2018 at 10:20 am Leave a comment

A Beacon of Excellence

Nurses Victoria Lutz and Tabitha Eckert turn a patient lying in a hospital bed. The patient is wearing a hospital gown and has monitor wires on his chest.

Nurse Victoria Lutz, left, and Tabitha Eckert, right, work with a patient in the Surgical and Anesthesia Intensive Care Unit at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

It takes heart, soul, perseverance and empathy to care for critically ill patients. The nurses in the Surgical Anesthesia Intensive Care Unit (SAICU) at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center have been honored for those qualities by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). The Silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes critical care units for exceptional patient care and healthy work environments.

See photos of the unit’s staff in action on the Medical Center’s Flickr page.

SAICU’s Beacon brings the total to four Beacon Awards for critical care units at the Medical Center, a significant accomplishment. The award is presented at three levels: gold, silver, and bronze. The AACN has presented 36 Beacons to critical care units in Pennsylvania since the award began in 2003. SAICU joins the Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit as a Silver Beacon Unit. The Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) and Heart and Vascular Progressive Care Unit obtained the Gold Beacon designation.

“What makes the Beacon Award so unique,” explains Judy Himes, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, “is how the application process is driven by the nursing staff.” Long and complex, the application takes many hours to complete and, “recognizes excellence for nursing care that results in positive patient outcomes.”


February 26, 2018 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Just dance: Sweat, tears and stretching goes into two students’ journey to THON

By Lisa Maresca

Two students, one female and one male, stand with their backs to the camera, facing an arena full of people. They stand with their hands in the air, making a diamond shape with their fingers.

Emma Dahmus, left, and Clay Cooper look out from the stage during the My Hero Zero concert post-pep rally.

Clay Cooper has been stretching twice a day, every day for the past several weeks. The fifth-year MD/MBA student began running on the treadmill again and got as much sleep as he could.

It’s all part of the preparation for dancing in his first THON.

“I started doing P90X yoga, which is an hour and a half,” added Emma Dahmus, another MD/MBA student and first-year THON dancer. “I also bought compression socks.”

She needed them.


February 19, 2018 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Pediatric Cancer Treatment Advances Bring New Hope to Children Battling Cancer

By Marianne Clay

Dr. Barbara A. Miller, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital, discusses the significant improvements in the treatment of pediatric cancer over the past four decades that have boosted survival rates.

Woman with brown hair and glasses wears lab coat with Penn State College of Medicine logo.

Dr. Barbara A. Miller is the chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

How have treatments for pediatric cancer improved since 1974?

  • The treatment regimens are much more complex. Multi-drug regimens are very common, often with higher drug doses and incorporating new or improved drugs.
  • Risk-directed therapies are more commonly used. Patients are now often stratified into “low” risk, meaning that their disease responds better to current therapies, and they require less intensive therapy, compared to “high” risk, meaning they are at high risk for a relapse and require more intensive therapies to give a better chance of cure. The genetic and biological criteria for designing therapies are continually being better defined.
  • New drugs are available that are biologically targeted and have fewer side effects, and more of these are currently being developed. However, we still need to learn a lot about how to use them, including what diseases they are effective in, how to use them with conventional chemotherapy and with each other, and for how long. (more…)

February 12, 2018 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

Head, and heart, in the clouds

Helping others is in Jim George’s nature. As the director of community relations at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, he’s made it his career. In 2011, he became a licensed pilot. That same year, he started building his flight hours so that he could start to volunteer with Angel Flight East.

The nonprofit organization provides free air transportation to financially needy patients and their families by arranging flights to distant medical facilities.

“It’s a great excuse to fly,” George says of Angel Flight. “You get to do what you love and do something good for someone else at the same time.” (more…)

February 5, 2018 at 8:05 am Leave a comment

For This Advocate, Sweet Victory

By Carolyn Kimmel

Weighing 380 pounds, Bellefonte resident Dean DeVore was pre-diabetic and struggling with lethargy and sleep apnea. The AccuWeather meteorologist and game announcer for the Penn State Nittany Lions realized he had to do something to gain control over his health. He turned to surgical weight loss and lost 160 pounds.

Pennsylvania residents who, like DeVore, are struggling with obesity have a new option, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Ann Rogers, director of the Penn State Surgical Weight Loss program. After more than a decade of advocacy and more trips to Capitol Hill and the State Capitol than she cares to count, she is celebrating a victory.

As of Jan. 1, Pennsylvania state employees who have a BMI of 40 or more and diabetes are able to get weight loss surgeries covered by their health insurance. The benefit is thanks in large part to Rogers’s tireless efforts.


January 17, 2018 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

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