Posts filed under ‘Features’

Twenty years in medical school? What’s so mini about that?

Penn State College of Medicine’s Mini Medical School participants, from left, "Sir" Robert Griscavage, Bonifacio Dewasse, Robert Hairston, Ruth Miller, William Miller, Rebekah Miller, Perry Emes, Marylou Martz and Joan Decker pose in front of a Nittany Lion statue in the rotunda of Hershey Medical Center. Behind them a hallway is visible.

From left, “Sir” Robert Griscavage, Bonifacio Dewasse, Robert Hairston, Ruth Miller, William Miller, Rebekah Miller, Perry Emes, Marylou Martz and Joan Decker celebrate 20 years of participating in Mini Medical School.

By Bill Landauer

In her seat near the front of Junker Auditorium at Penn State College of Medicine, Ruth Miller chuckled.

Teams of her younger classmates were using CPR to revive two mannequins simulating cardiac arrest. The exercise was meant to show the importance of teamwork in a crisis.

“But how do you learn to think on your feet?” someone asked.

Ruth thought of a joke.

In her 81 years on the planet, among all the lessons about art, music and medicine she’s collected, Miller knows comic timing.

For 20 springs, Ruth has been coming to the College of Medicine Mini Medical School — the program in which faculty and full-time students share their knowledge with the community. She might move a little slower than when she was a 61-year-old freshman, but Ruth is just as engaged as ever and is, by now, an expert class clown.

How do you learn to think on your feet? “You stand up a lot,” Ruth said.

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April 10, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Penn State Health doctors help Ephrata baby born with rare condition breathe easier

Natasha Himes kisses her newborn baby boy as she holds him on her chest. He has surgical tape on his face and his wearing a striped shirt. Natasha has long curly hair and is wearing a cotton top.

Natasha Himes comforts her son Knoxley as he recovers from surgery.

There was nothing unusual about Natasha Himes’s seventh pregnancy or delivery. Like her previous six, both were easy and uncomplicated. While all of her other children were born in a hospital, the Ephrata woman wanted to have this baby at home.

Dec. 19, 2018, started out as any ordinary day. Himes’ children, ranging in age from 2 to 13, completed their homeschool lessons, and the midwife visited. The baby wasn’t due until Christmas, but he had other plans.

At 3:53 p.m., Knoxley came into the world, weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and 21 inches long. “I was in labor just 53 minutes,” Himes said. “The midwife walked in as I was pushing.”

When the midwife saw Knoxley had a cleft palate, he was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital where he was diagnosed with Pierre Robin syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health, the rare condition occurs in about 1 per 8,500 births. (more…)

March 27, 2019 at 10:00 am 2 comments

Taking PULSE: on 10th anniversary, educational outreach program gets more diverse

Seven high school students who won the 2018 poster session at Penn State College of Medicine’s PULSE program smile in front of a poster presentation on endocarditis. One young man and six young women stand in a row and smile. They are dressed in casual clothes. Behind them on the left several people are visible through a doorway.

The 2018 PULSE poster session winners celebrate their prize-winning presentations. From left are Ian Hammond of Central Dauphin East High School, Nivedita Dubey of East Pennsboro Area High School, Avni Sanghvi of Central Valley High School, Jerusha George of Hershey High School, Dalia Shvartsman of Harrisburg Academy, Gellila Asmamaw of Manheim Township High School and Alexis Singleton-Robinson of Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus.

By Bill Landauer

Three high school students sat in the front row of a Penn State College of Medicine lecture hall and listened to Madison Goss.

They actually paid attention. That can be rare in a room full of teenagers, Goss has found — even well-accomplished ones handpicked to be part of college-level program designed to introduce potential doctors and nurses to the field.

“These students were so attentive to my lecture and weren’t playing on their phones or computers like some of their classmates,” she said.

The image stuck with Goss, who wanted these students, in particular, to hear her. Though she was excited about working with all 100 participants, the three girls had been part of a new group. The Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion had provided transportation so they could participate in the PULSE program. The office works to increase diversity at Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

The rides to the Hershey campus are helping the program get back to one of its key goals — helping a greater variety of people learn about medicine.

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March 20, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Are you up-to-date? Penn State Health colorectal screening survey gains national attention

Bobbie Mann of Lebanon, Pa., smiles with her arm around Dr. Thomas McGarrity, a gastroenterologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She has blonde hair and is wearing a sweatshirt. Dr. McGarrity is wearing a white lab coat with the Medical Center logo on the right and his name and “Gastroenterology & Hepatology” on the left. They are standing in front of a colonoscope and three monitors.

Bobbie Mann of Lebanon, Pa., right, has been getting an annual colonoscopy from Dr. Thomas McGarrity since 2008.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Life could look a lot different for Mike Hamonko than it does, thanks to a screening colonoscopy that many people turning 50—the recommended age for average-risk screening—dread and often postpone.

Lucky for him, the Harrisburg-area resident didn’t attach any particular aversion to the procedure—or the colon-cleansing process the night before—so he scheduled it right away.

“The prep was annoying, but annoying isn’t that bad, considering they can catch something as bad as cancer,” said Hamonko, whose primary care physician recommended the screening test.

He awoke from the procedure to the surprising news that he had a precancerous tumor.

“Mike’s case shows the importance of the family doctor making the screening recommendation and the patient following up,” said Dr. Thomas McGarrity, gastroenterologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Mike had no symptoms and no family history of colon cancer.” (more…)

March 6, 2019 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Lifesaving help from across the globe

Jim Miller, center, toasts his donor, Stefan Eichert, right, with John Moore, left, the businessman who invited Miller to accompany him on a trip to Germany. All three men are wearing casual shirts and jeans and holding mugs of beer. A candle is on the table in front of them. Behind them is a marbled wall and a wall decorated with slats of wood.

Jim Miller, center, toasts his donor, Stefan Eichert, right, with John Moore, left, the businessman who invited Miller to accompany him on a trip to Germany.

By Carolyn Kimmel

Sometimes the worst things in life can turn up gifts that far outlast the trial. That’s what Jim Miller tells people.

The Red Lion man was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome—a pre-leukemic syndrome—in October 2012 and given the choice of a stem cell transplant or other treatment alternatives that may have resulted in about two more years of life. He chose the transplant.

Although the wait for a match lasted a year—during which time chemotherapy and 27 blood transfusions achieved partial control of the disease—Miller never expected his donor would hail from across the globe.

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February 27, 2019 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Project ECHO prepares doctors to manage addiction care closer to home

A large screen contains 12 mini screens showing physicians participating in Project ECHO. The participants are looking into their own web cams as they participate in the session; some are smiling and giving a thumbs up while others are serious. In the foreground, an out-of-focus screen reads “Pop Quiz: Which of these drugs is an opioid?”

Physicians from across Pennsylvania discuss best practices for treating opioid use disorder during the first Project ECHO session at Penn State College of Medicine.

By Katherine Brind’Amour

For patients suffering from opioid use disorder, and for the physicians in small towns across Pennsylvania who are their first level of care, Project ECHO offers hope. The effort aims to give primary care physicians the tools they need to treat the growing group of Pennsylvanians addicted to opioids—many of whom live in regions with no specialized addiction resources. It’s a win-win: patients get a doctor who can treat them close to home, and physicians get to expand their knowledge, their professional network and their relationship with their patients.

The concept comes from a physician at the University of New Mexico who wanted to shorten the wait list at his gastroenterology clinic. Now, more than 220 institutions around the world use Project ECHO for at least 90 disease topics. And Penn State Health researchers hope to influence them all.

“Research evaluating the project hasn’t kept pace with growth of the movement clinically,” says Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski, director of Project ECHO at Penn State College of Medicine and a Penn State Health primary care clinician-investigator who studies community health interventions. “It is our goal to create an evidence base to support the model and its ability to mentor primary care providers outside of urban academic hubs. We also aim to learn how to best grow and use Project ECHO as an intervention.”

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February 20, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Patients find this prescription for therapy is music to their ears

Marissa Aulenbach, right, a board-certified music therapist at Penn State Children’s Hospital, plays a guitar while registered nurse Lauren Libhart tends to 4-month-old Caden Hoover. The baby is lying in a crib with wires and monitors attached to his body. Aulenbach is wearing a blue, long-sleeved shirt and jeans. Libhart is wearing blue scrubs, a headband and glasses. Several toys are in the crib.

Marissa Aulenbach, right, a board-certified music therapist at Penn State Children’s Hospital, plays her guitar while registered nurse Lauren Libhart tends to 4-month-old Caden Hoover during his stay for a heart condition.

By Carolyn Kimmel

After 12 days in the hospital, Hershey resident Anita Heckert could tell her optimism was waning, so when her occupational therapist suggested music therapy, she was game.

“To have someone come and spend time with me that didn’t involve needles, drawing blood or an MRI was very appealing,” said Heckert who was in Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for complications due to colon cancer.

As Jan Stouffer, board-certified music therapist with the Music Therapy Program at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, quietly played guitar, she gave Heckert an ocean drum to play.

Hundreds of small ball bearings in the drum combined to sound like gentle waves at low tide coming across the sand—and transported Heckert back to a happy day years ago when she and her sister, each with their small sons, visited Assateague Island and frolicked on the beach with six wild ponies splashing nearby.

As Stouffer encouraged her to remember the strong and faithful mother she had been in that moment, she reminded her, “That person still exists—you are that person.” The encounter served as a turning point in Heckert’s emotional outlook.

(more…)

February 13, 2019 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

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