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Archive for the ‘Patient Experience’ Category


Forthcoming e-Book on Amazon.com

The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Care Givers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

2017 

 

Author, Curator and Editor

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Chief Scientific Officer

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence, Northampton, MA

Larry.bernstein@gmail.com

and

Contributing Editor and Author

Gail S. Thornton, PhD(c)

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence, New Jersey

gailsthornton@yahoo.com

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Editor-in-Chief BioMed e-Series of e-Books

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence, Boston

avivalev-ari@alum.berkeley.edu

BioMedical e-Books e-Series:

Cardiovascular, Genomics, Cancer, BioMed, Patient-centered Medicine

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/biomed-e-books/

Abbreviated electronic Table of Contents (eTOCs)

Part One: Perceptions of Care

Chapter 1

1.1    Personal Tale of JL’s Whole Genome Sequencing
1.2    Live Notes from @AACR’s #cbi16 Meeting on Precision 
1.3    Live Notes from @AACR’s #cbi16 Meeting on Precision 
1.4    Supportive Treatments: Hold the Mind Strong During Cancer
1.5    Finding My Voice: A Laryngectomee’s Story
 

Chapter 2

2.1     Delivery of Care – See Live links in the body of the e-Book, below

2.2  Hospital CEO:  A New Standard in Health Care – Farrer Park 
2.3  Drug Discovery for Cancer Cure:  Value for Patients – Turning 
2.4  Hospital CEO: A Rich Tradition of Patient-Focused Care 
2.5  Hospital CEO:  University Children’s Hospital Zurich 

2.6 Hospital CEO: Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland – A World-Class Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries

Part Two: The Voice of Cancer Survivors

Chapter 3

3.1    Cancer Companion Diagnostics

3.2    lncRNAs in Human Cancers
3.3    Liquid Biopsy Assay May Predict Drug Resistance
3.4    Pharmacogenomic Biomarkers for Personalized Cancer 
 

Chapter 4

4.1 Personalized Medicine: Cancer Cell Biology and Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)

4.2    Cardiotoxicity and Cardiomyopathy Related to Drugs Adverse 
 

Chapter 5

5.1       Thyroid Cancer

5.1.1    Experience with Thyroid Cancer
5.1.2    Cancer Signaling Pathways and Tumor Progression
5.2      Brain Surgery
5.2.1   A Cousin’s Experience with a Pituitary Acromegaly
5.2.2    Loss of Normal Growth Regulation
5.2.3    Glioma, Glioblastoma and Neurooncology
5.3       Breast Cancer
5.3.1    Faces of Breast Cancer – Find Your Story, Join the Conversation
5.3.2    An Emotional and Thoughtful Decision Over BRAC1 and Surgery
5.4       Ovarian Cancer
5.4.1    A Curated History of the Science Behind the Ovarian Cancer
5.4.2    Good and Bad News Reported for Ovarian Cancer Therapy
5.4.3    Almudena’s Story:  A Life of Hope, Rejuvenation and Strength
5.5       Hematological Malignancies
5.5.1    Hematological Malignancy Diagnostics
5.5.2    Hematological Cancer Classification
5.5.3    Chemotherapy in AML
5.5.4    Update on Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
5.5.5    Rituximab for a variety of B-cell malignancies
5.5.6    T cell-mediated immune responses & signaling pathways 
5.5.7    Gene expression and adaptive immune resistance mechanism
5.5.8    Sunitinib brings Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) to R
5.5.9    Management of Follicular Lymphoma
5.5.10   Gene Expression and Adaptive Immune Resistance Mechanisms 
5.6       Other Types of Cancer
5.6.1    Lung Cancer Therapy
5.6.2    Non-small Cell Lung Cancer drugs
5.6.3    Colon Cancer
5.6.4    GERD and esophageal adenocarcinoma
5.6.5    Melanoma
5.6.6   Adenocarcinoma of the Duodenum – Nathalie’s Story: A Health 
5.7     Organ Transplantation
5.7.1     Marcela’s Story: A Liver Transplant Gives the Gift of Life 
 

Chapter 6

6.1   Nutrition: Articles of Note @PharmaceuticalIntelligence.com
6.2   Epigenetics, Environment and Cancer: Articles of Note 
6.3   The relationship of stress hypermetabolism to essential 
6.4   Cancer Drug-Resistance Mechanism
6.5   Biochemistry and Dysmetabolism of Aging and Serious Illness
6.6   Experience of and Alleviation of Pain
 

Chapter 7

7.1   Metabolomics: its applications in food and nutrition research
7.2   Neutraceuticals

Part Three: The Voice of Open Heart Surgery Survivors

Chapter 8
8.1   A Patient’s Perspective: On Open Heart Surgery
8.2   Triple-bypass operation at age 69 – Ralph’s Story
8.3   A Fantastic Vessel-Clearing Innovation on The vessel-clearing 

 

VIEWS – All time for HEALTH CARE PROVIDER INSTITUTIONS –

LIVE Interviews by Gail Thornton

 

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Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland – A World-Class Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries

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University Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich), Switzerland – A Prominent Center of Pediatric Research and Medicine

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/12/21/university-childrens-hospital-zurich-universitats-kinderspital-zurich-switzerland-a-prominent-center-of-pediatric-research-and-medicine/

 

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A Rich Tradition of Patient-Focused Care — Richmond University Medical Center, New York’s Leader in Health Care and Medical Education

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/10/17/a-rich-tradition-of-patient-focused-care-richmond-university-medical-center-new-yorks-leader-in-health-care-and-medical-education/

 

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Value for Patients – Turning Advances in Science: A Case Study of a Leading Global Pharmaceutical Company – Astellas Pharma Inc.

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/08/24/value-for-patients-turning-advances-in-science-a-case-study-of-a-leading-global-pharmaceutical-company-astellas-pharma-inc/

 

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A New Standard in Health Care – Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore’s First Fully Integrated Healthcare/Hospitality Complex

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/06/22/a-new-standard-in-health-care-farrer-park-hospital-singapores-first-fully-integrated-healthcarehospitality-complex/

 

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VIEWS – All time for Patient Experience

LIVE Interviews by Gail Thornton

 

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WEGO Health Awards Competition Focuses on Patients

 

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Almudena’s Story: A Life of Hope, Rejuvenation and Strength

 

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Nathalie’s Story: A Health Journey With A Happy Ending

 

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Ralph’s Story: An Entertainer at Heart

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/07/30/ralphs-story-an-entertainer-at-heart/

 

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Marcela’s Story: A Liver Transplant Gives the Gift of Life

 

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/07/23/marcelas-story-a-liver-transplant-gives-the-gift-of-life/

 

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The Role of Big Data in Medicine

 

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/05/16/the-role-of-big-data-in-medicine/

 

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A Revolutionary, Personalized Approach in Brain Tumor Research

 

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https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/04/11/a-revolutionary-personalized-approach-in-brain-tumor-research/

 

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Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland – A World-Class Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

The Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC, www.paraplegie.ch) in Nottwil, Switzerland, is a privately owned, leading acute care and specialist hospital employing more than 1,500 health professionals in 80 different occupations that focuses on world-class primary care and comprehensive rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries. In addition to the SPC’s extensive range of medical and therapeutic care, treatment and services, the hospital offers advisory services, as well as research in the areas of paraplegia [paralysis of the legs and lower body, typically caused by spinal injury or disease], tetraplegia [also known as quadriplegia, paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso], prevention and related conditions. With 150 beds, the SPC provides modern facilities for rehabilitation and therapy, diagnostics, surgery, ongoing care, orthopedic technology, as well as social services and 24-hour emergency care.

In its 26-year history, the SPC has provided treatment and care to more than 20,000 in-patients. That number continues to grow exponentially due to the reputation of the SPC. In fact, the SPC’s staff performs their duties with effectiveness, expediency and cost-efficiency measures, requiring highly developed process-led medicine, centered around the needs of the patient.

The areas of medical specialty and centers of excellence include the Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC), the Swiss Spinal Column and Spinal Cord Centre (SWRZ), the Centre for Pain Medicine (ZSM) and the Swiss Olympic Medical Center (SOMC). These centers respectively offer patients cutting-edge medical treatment based on the most advanced research in areas covering treatment and rehabilitation cases of acute paraplegia, vertebral and spinal cord surgery, as well as services relating to pain management, sports medicine and preventive health checks.

Alongside the core focus on paraplegiology, the SPC is also equipped with the necessary medical facilities, allowing for the lifelong care of paraplegic patients. The SPC provides individually-tailored, comprehensive treatment in three phases (acute, reactivation and integration) using highly skilled staff and state-of-the-art equipment. The aim is always to re-establish a patient’s personal functionality, self-image and lifestyle to the fullest possible extent, with a holistic approach to treatment that includes mental, physical and psycho-social aspects, such as career, family and leisure activities.

Specialist services available at the SPC include amongst others orthopedics, neuro-urology, pain medicine, sports medicine, prevention, clinical research, emergency medicine, vehicle conversion and rehabilitation techniques. Medico-therapeutic treatments, such as physiotherapy, ergotherapy and training therapy are available, alongside advice and counseling services, such as professional reintegration.

The SPC is the largest of Switzerland’s four special hospitals for paraplegics and tetraplegics located in Nottwil/Lucerne, a town in central Switzerland on the shores of Lake Sempach. The other three facilities are in Basel, Sion and Zurich. Nowadays, the SPC consistently treats more than 60 percent of people with spinal cord injury in Switzerland and is fully occupied year-round. 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland.  Interior and exterior photographs of the hospital.

 

Below is my interview with Hospital Director Dr. Med. Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., which occurred in March, 2017.

 As a privately owned clinic with a specialty in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries, how do you keep the spirit of research and innovation alive?

Dr. Med. (medicinae) Gmünder: The goal of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, an umbrella organization that encompasses the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, is to create a unique network of services for people with spinal cord injury, from primary care through to the end of their lives. Its aim is to provide comprehensive rehabilitation and to reintegrate those affected into family life, society and the working environment.

We want to maintain our pioneering and leading role in the fields of acute medicine, rehabilitation and lifelong assistance to people with spinal cord injuries. By providing a comprehensive network of services featuring solidarity, medical care, integration and lifelong assistance, as well as research all in one place, we are unique in Switzerland and in other countries around the world.

People with spinal cord injury rely upon our network of services, which are at their disposal throughout their lives. The challenge facing us is to continually adapt these services to reflect current research and treatment to comply with our mission of delivering high-quality services. The trust which has been placed in us obliges us to continue our success story.

We have our own research department, closely linked to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, and dedicated employees who draw upon their wide-ranging professional networks to stay on top of the latest international research.

We have a few examples that we’d like to share with you.

  • In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its first international health report on the topic of spinal cord injury, “International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury.” It was developed in collaboration with Swiss Paraplegic Research in Nottwil and a team of international experts.
  • In the summer of 2014, the Swiss Paraplegic Centre became the first rehabilitation center in Switzerland to implement exoskeletons [external covering for the body that provides both support and protection] in the rehabilitation and training of patients with spinal cord injury. Our experiences are included in an international study, and will contribute to the development of useful mobility aids for people with spinal cord injuries.

At the end of October 2016, an estimated 9,000 visitors came to Nottwil for two days of celebrations to mark five anniversaries — the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation turned 40, the Swiss Paraplegics Association was 35, the Swiss Paraplegic Centre celebrated 25 years, Swiss Paraplegic Research reached 15 years, and it was the 80th birthday of the founder and honorary president, Dr. Med. Guido A. Zäch, M.D.

What draws patients to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre?

Dr. Gmünder: We support people with spinal cord injuries throughout their lives. It is the unique, holistic approach to acute medicine, rehabilitation and lifelong medical, professional and social assistance that draws patients from Switzerland and many other countries to our clinic in Nottwil.

For example, in cases where we have individuals involved in serious accidents, the comprehensive rehabilitation of a patient with spinal cord injury begins at the scene of the accident. The aim of comprehensive assistance follows in three stages – acute, reactivation and integration phase – through the appropriate, individual deployment of specialist personnel and instruments. We rescue the individual at the scene of the accident and provide the right acute therapy. What follows is an initial rehabilitation through specialists in diagnosis, surgery, therapy and care, and then comes lifelong support and care with the aid of specialists.

Following the disproportionately high percentage of people with tetraplegia admitted to the Centre for initial rehabilitation in 2014, our specialist clinic reported a higher proportion of people with paraplegia in 2015. Spinal cord injuries resulted from an accident in around half of all initial rehabilitation cases: falls led to the spinal cord injury in the case of 43 percent of people affected, sports accidents with 35 percent and road traffic accidents in 18 percent. In fact, 52,482 nursing days were clocked for a total of 1,085 in-patients who were discharged from the clinic after initial rehabilitation or follow-up treatment in 2015.

In fact, some of our patient success stories mentioned on our web site involve these individuals:

“I was a cheesemaker for 33 years with my own dairy; gardening was my second love. That was before I had my accident helping out on my son’s farm. I need a new hobby now that I will enjoy, that will fill my time and give me something to do when I get back home. Making art out of lime wood could appeal to me. While it is difficult for me to make the small cuts in the wood as I lack strength in my hand, patience will reap rewards. My most important objective? To be able to stand on my own feet and take a few steps again. I should have achieved that by the time I am discharged from the clinic in five months.” — Josef Kobler (58), tetraplegic following an accident.

“Since being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, I come back to Nottwil a lot. For instance, to go the Wheelchair Mechanics Department to have the settings of my new wheelchair optimized. It replaces my legs and must fit my body perfectly. However, in most cases I attend the Centre for Pain Medicine of the SPC as an outpatient in order to have the extremely severe pains and muscle cramps, which I suffer from every day, alleviated. They became so severe that I had a pain pump with medication implanted at the SPC. It is apparent now that unfortunately the effect isn’t permanent. We are now giving electrostimulation a try. This involves applying electrodes to the vertebral canal. If I could finally get my pain under control, I would be able to return to work and set up my own business. That is my biggest wish. I have had an idea about what I could do.” — Hervé Brohon (41), paraplegic following an accident.

“I have always been passionate about cooking and have enjoyed treating my family and guests to my dishes and to the aperitifs that I have created myself. I absolutely want to be able to do that again. As independently as possible, of course. That is my objective. I have availed of the opportunity on a few occasions to try out the obstacle-free practice apartment and kitchen at the SPC. If I am able to go home in four weeks, my kitchen will also be adapted to be wheelchair-friendly. Whether I am cooking for two, four or six people is a much bigger consideration as a wheelchair user. I now have to consciously allow for time and effort. However, one thing is certain: I can’t wait to welcome my first guests.” — Isa Bapst (73), paraplegic following an accident.

How is the Swiss Paraplegic Centre transforming health care?

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Centre offers an integrated healthcare structure, including a wide range of medical specialists covering every aspect of medical care for those with spinal cord injuries.

In selected core disciplines for the care of people with spinal cord injuries, we also treat a large number of patients without spinal cord injuries. This relates primarily to pain medicine, spine- and spinal cord surgery and respiratory medicine.

In fact, the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, our umbrella organization, has been an unbelievable success story, operating a network of services to benefit people with spinal cord injury.

Our Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Sc. Techn. (scientiae technicarum) Daniel Joggi, knows what it’s like to become totally dependent as he has been in a wheelchair for the past four decades.

Dr. Joggi tells his story: “I have been a wheelchair user ever since I had a skiing accident 39 years ago. I know what it is like to become totally dependent from one second to the next. How doggedly you have to battle to recover as much of your mobility as possible and, more especially, to be able to live a self-determined life again after a long process of resilience. The inner resolve it takes to plot a new course in life, to have relationships with others from a different perspective and to acquire new job skills. Therefore, I am eternally grateful along with all the other people in Switzerland with paraplegia and tetraplegia for the help, support and great solidarity that allow the Foundation to deliver all the services which are so immensely valuable to us.”

At the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, a 24-hour emergency department is staffed to handle any emergency. Please provide your thoughts on this critical component of diagnosis and care for newly diagnosed patients.

Dr. Gmünder: Yes, our Centre is recognized by the Swiss Union of Surgical Societies as a specialist clinic for first-aid treatment of paraplegics.

Statistics and experience clearly show that in 80 out of 100 cases, the damage to the spine and the spinal cord is not definite immediately after an accident. In the first six hours, there are real chances to mitigate or even avoid an imminent cross-paralysis. After that it is usually too late.

In addition to transferring an individual directly to the SPC, appropriate acute care is another important criterion for the success of the individual affected by spinal cord issues. That means that individuals are in the right place for the subsequent, comprehensive rehabilitation.

The benefits for our patients are:

  • Emergency service around the clock by specialists trained to minimize damage to the spinal cord and spine;
  • Admission and treatment of all patients with paraplegia from all over Switzerland;
  • Specific knowledge and practical experience in comprehensive rehabilitation of paraplegics;
  • Comprehensive range of medical and therapeutic services under one roof;
  • Modern equipment for precise, careful diagnostics and operations;
  • Consultancy and network for external experts in areas not covered by the SPC;
  • Interdisciplinary work in well-established teams; and
  • Central location proximity and quick access from all parts of the country.

What is your connection to the Swiss Paraplegic Research and its mission of getting “strategy into research” and “research into practice?”

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPR), connected to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, is part of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation (SPF) and is an integral part of the Nottwil campus.

It is the mission of Swiss Paraplegic Research to sustainably improve the situation of people with paraplegia or tetraplegia through clinical and interdisciplinary research in the long-term. The areas that are aimed to be improved are functioning, social integration, equality of opportunity, health, self-determination and quality of life.

Our Swiss Paraplegic Research has been supported by the Federal Government of Switzerland and by the Canton of Lucerne for eight years as a non-university research institution. We are proud of this accomplishment.

Our main research domains are in the areas of aging, neuro-rehabilitation, musculo-skeletal health, preserving and improving function of upper limbs, pain, pressure sores, respiration, urology and orthopedics.

The goal of Swiss Paraplegic Research is to promote the study of health from a holistic point of view, by focusing on the ‘lived experience’ of persons with health conditions and their interaction with society. We are, therefore, establishing a research network for rehabilitation research from a comprehensive perspective on a national and international level. This network will make it possible to practically apply the latest research findings to provide the best possible care and reintegration for people with paraplegia or tetraplegia.

This year, we received the approval of 18 new research projects and we had a total of 36 studies in progress under review, undertaken by and with the involvement of the Clinical Trial Unit (CTU), the department for clinical research at the Centre. For example, the successful implementation of a multi-center study on the use of walking robots (exoskeleton) merits special mention. Research was carried out in that study into the wide range of effects of maintaining movement for people with spinal cord injury.

The CTU will continue to carry out research in Rehabilitation Engineering in a cooperation with Burgdorf University of Applied Science and the research group headed by Professor Kenneth Hunt. The “Life and Care” symposium on breathing and respiration organized by the CTU provided a platform for an international knowledge exchange with national and international experts. This is crucial for further scientific development in respiratory medicine. In 2015, the CTU also launched the CTU Central Switzerland, in association with Lucerne Cantonal Hospital and the University of Lucerne. It supports clinics which are actively engaged in research with specific services, thereby enhancing Switzerland’s standing as a center of research.

How does the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation support your vision?

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Group includes the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, which was established in 1975, two partner organizations — the Benefactors’ Association and the Swiss Paraplegics Association, and six companies owned by the Foundation. Those six companies are the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, the Swiss Paraplegic Research, Orthotec AG, ParaHelp AG, Sirmed Swiss Institute of Emergency Medicine AG, Seminarhotel Sempachersee AG.

The Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, founded by Dr. Med. Guido A. Zäch in 1975, is a solidarity network for people with spinal cord injuries, unrivaled anywhere in the world. Its work is based on the vision of medical care and comprehensive rehabilitation for people with paraplegia and tetraplegia, with a view towards enabling them to lead their lives with self-determination and with as much independence as possible, supported by the latest advances in science and technology.

The unique network of services of the Foundation is a strategic mix of Solidarity, Research, Medicine and Integration and Lifelong Assistance. Let me elaborate on these services.

  • Solidarity
    • The Foundation provides a comprehensive range of services for every area of a person’s life who has a spinal cord injury. The Nottwil campus serves to be a center of excellence for integration, assistance and lifelong learning for our patients.
    • The Foundation ensures that its benefactors and donors are aware of our list of services and can support us longer term.
    • The Foundation establishes a national and international network that will guarantee better basic conditions for people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation encourages training of specialized personnel in the field of spinal cord injury.
  • Research
    • The Foundation contributes to the sustainable improvement of health, social integration, equal opportunities and self-determination of people with spinal cord injury by carrying out rehabilitation research.
    • The Foundation works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and encourages exchanges with universities and institutions locally and globally for the latest scientific findings and conducts academic training at the University of Lucerne.
    • The Foundation develops high-quality care standards for its patients.
  • Medicine
    • The Foundation offers all medical services needed for professional acute care and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury and encourages patients to become involved in their therapy and to take responsibility for their lives.
    • The Foundation strengthens relationships with partners in specific disciplines and local institutions to benefit people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation is a member of committees with political influence to ensure that its patients receive highly specialized medical care.
  • Integration and Lifelong Assistance
    • The Foundation establishes a network throughout Switzerland to help people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation offers comprehensive services to meet people’s needs to improve their integration into society.
    • The Foundation encourages people with spinal cord injury to lead an independent life and educate family and friends so they can provide the necessary support.

Moreover, in cases of hardship, the Foundation makes contributions towards the cost of walking aids, equipment and amenities for people with paraplegia and tetraplegia. It also takes on uncovered hospital and care costs.

 Current market research shows that the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation ranks among the three most highly rated aid organizations in Switzerland. Can you please elaborate on why?

Dr. Gmünder: That is true. The Foundation is highly rated in terms of goodwill, innovation, competence and effectiveness. In addition, it is regarded as undoubtedly the most competent organization representing people with disabilities in Switzerland, according to several market research surveys.

So that we can continue to meet the demand for our patients, families and other visitors, plans are under way to upgrade our clinic and hotel on our premises.

We generally have interest from visitors to visit our Centre. Our guided tours and events enabled the general public to see how the foundation concept is put into practice, day in, day out. In Nottwil, 160 guides provided more than 11,000 visitors with a glimpse into the operations at our specialist clinic.

Additionally, we organized more than 5,000 scientific meetings attended by more than 170,000 people in 2015. And our wheelchair athletes take part in two major competitions, the IPC Athletics Grand Prix and the UCI Para-cycling World Championships, at our Nottwil site. It is our hope to continue to motivate individuals with spinal cord injuries to be involved in healthy exercise.

Since you became Hospital Director, how have you changed the way that you deliver health care or interact with patients?

Dr. Gmünder: It is important to me that the patients and their needs are the focus of our efforts. As such, one of my main tasks is to align our processes with our patients.

Here are some examples:

We started construction with a newly expanded Intensive Care Medicine, Pain Medicine and Surgical Medicine department last year to provide patients with an expanded variety of cross-linked treatments.

Certified as a nationwide trauma center, our Swiss Spinal Column and Spinal Cord Centre has become increasingly recognized throughout the country with large numbers of non-paralyzed patients, who have severe spinal cord injury, being referred to our facility. It is under the medical leadership of the Head of Department Dr. Med. Martin Baur, M.D. This highly specialized acute care facility recently received certification as a specialist center for traumatology within the Central Swiss Trauma Network.

We believe in developing the next generation of professionals and our Department of Anesthesia was recognized as a center of further training; the first two junior doctors have been appointed and postgraduate courses in anesthesia nursing are already available.

Our Swiss Weaning Centre, where individuals learn to breathe without a machine, has brought specialists from Intensive Care Medicine, Speech Therapy, RespiCare and Spinal Cord Medicine even closer together in a new process structure for respiratory medicine. At the same time, the Swiss Weaning Centre reported increased referrals from university hospitals and private clinics, as well as numerous successes with patients who had proved to be difficult to wean from respiratory equipment.

Our Centre for Pain Medicine, one of the largest pain facilities in the country, reported a further increase in inpatient treatments. Epiduroscopy, which was introduced in 2014, has proved to be a success. It is a percutaneous, minimally invasive procedure which is used in the diagnosis and treatment of pain syndromes near the spinal cord.

We reached a milestone in tetra hand surgery. The team of our doctors has been consulting at two other spinal cord injury centers and have used these occasions to show doctors around the country what possibilities there are for improved hand and grip functions, leading to an enhanced quality of life.

In what ways do you rehabilitate the whole patient? Why is this important early on in treatment?

Dr. Gmünder: In accordance with our vision, we are not just focusing on physical rehabilitation but on the entire person in their social environment (leisure, work, housing, mobility). Due to our broad organizational structure, we have many resources at our disposal. The rate of reintegration for people who did their primary rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre is almost 65 percent – one of the highest in the world.

Because we work to address diagnosis, treatment and management of traumatic spinal cord injuries with our patients, we take great care in working with patients on their medical disabilities, physical disabilities, psychological disabilities, vocational disabilities, social aspects and any health complications. That means that we not only treat patient’s medically, but also we treat them through therapy and complementary medicine, such as art therapy, sports and water therapy and homeopathic medicine.

At the SPC, we nurture a culture which is characterized by common values and shared objectives, namely commitment, leadership, a humane approach, cooperation and openness and fairness in our dealing with one another and with our patients.

As you follow patients throughout their rehabilitation and treatment, what are you most proud of at the Centre? 

Dr. Gmünder: Research has shown that early referral of a patient with a traumatic spinal injury lessens the complications, shortens the length of time in the hospital and is, therefore, more cost-effective.

We are confronted by individuals every day whose abilities have been limited by disease, trauma, congenital disorders or pain – and we are focused on enabling them to achieve their maximum functional abilities. Our patients have a better outcome and quality of life, patient-focused treatment, ongoing case management, and lifelong care.

It’s important to emphasize that our comprehensive rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injuries begins on the first day after the accident or trauma. On one hand, the medical treatments with paraplegia or tetraplegia are performed by a multidisciplinary medical team. And on the other hand, it is our goal to give those individuals their personality and life structure as quickly – and as best – as possible. An individual’s medical condition affects their psychological, physical and social aspects of life.

We focus on individualized treatment for the greatest possible independence for our patients. When patients are satisfied with our work and its results, they can resume a self-determined life. That is our greatest joy.

Hans Peter Gmuender

Image SOURCE: Photograph of Hospital Director Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., courtesy of Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland.

Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D.
Hospital Director

Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., assumed the role of Hospital Director of the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in 2011.  He is a German-Belgian double citizen.

Previously, Dr. Gmünder was Chief Physician and Medical Director of the Rehaklinik Bellikon, a rehabilitation and specialist clinic for traumatic acute rehabilitation, sports medicine, professional integration and medical expertise for 10 years in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland. He began his career at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in the 1990s as Assistant and Senior Physician, and later as Chief Physician and Deputy Chief Physician.

He completed a B.S. degree in Business Administration at SRH FernHochschule Riedlingen in 2010 and an M.D. degree at Freie Universität Berlin in 1987.

He is married to Sabeth and is the father of two children.

 

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Claudia Merkel, head of public relations, Swiss Paraplegic Centre,  for the help and support she provided during this interview.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

The Swiss Paraplegic Centre (http:// www.paraplegie.ch), Nottwil, Switzerland.

Choosing the right rehabilitation facility is one of the most important decisions a survivor of a brain or spinal cord injury will make as the type and quality of care will have a significant impact on the patient’s long-term outcome. The top 10 rehabilitation centers in the United States are (http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/2016/04/15/top-ten-rehabilitation-hospitals-usa/):

  1. Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
  2. TIRR Memorial Hermann
  3. Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
  4. University of Washington Medical Center
  5. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital
  6. Mayo Clinic
  7. Craig Hospital
  8. Shepard Center
  9. Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center
  10. Moss Rehab

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (https://www.sralab.org/new-ric), located in Chicago, Illinois, has been ranked as the number one rehabilitation hospital in the United States for the past 24 years by U.S. News and World Report. It is a 182-bed research facility that focuses solely on rehabilitation in many areas, including spinal cord, brain, nerve, muscle and bone, cancer and pediatric. For example, the rehabilitation course for patients with spinal cord injury requires precise medical and nursing expertise, respiratory and pulmonary care and sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. For several years, the hospital has dedicated investments in talent, space and equipment that attract a high volume of patients with challenging conditions. The high volume, diversity of condition and greater complexity enables them to expand their experience in helping patients recover from spinal cord injury. Primary goals for patients include the emergence of meaningful motor function, sensation, coordination and endurance, resolution of respiratory and vascular instability, and overall continued medical recovery from the injury or disease.

The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston (http://spauldingrehab.org/about/facts-statistics) is ranked number five in the country by U.S. News and World Report and number one in New England.  As a unique center of treatment excellence and a leading physical medicine and rehabilitation research institution, Spaulding Boston is comprised of major departments in all areas of medicine requiring rehabilitation. They are a nationally recognized leader in innovation, research and education.  The facility also has been the source of significant treatment innovations with dramatic implications for a range of conditions, including amputation and limb deficiencies, brain injury, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation and spinal cord injuries, to name a few. http://spauldingrehab.org/conditions-and-treatments/list.

Whether individuals are adjusting to a life-altering illness or recovering from a back injury, they will find the care they need within the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.  Rehabilitation specialists have the training, experience, resources and dedication to help individuals:

  • Regain function after a devastating illness or injury,
  • Develop skills to be active and independent when living with chronic illness and/or disability,
  • Recover from surgery, work and sports injuries, and
  • Grow to the fullest physical, emotional, cognitive and social potential. http://spauldingrehab.org/conditions-and-treatments/

The ACGME accredited Harvard Medical School/ Spaulding/ VA Boston Fellowship Program in  Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Medicine is a 12-month training program that offers advanced clinical training in SCI, a strong didactic component, and opportunities for research with protected elective time.  The curriculum is designed to provide exposure to the full spectrum of SCI care and includes rotations at VA Boston, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Brigham & Woman’s Hospital. Requirements include prior completion of an approved residency program in a specialty such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, internal medicine, family practice, surgery, or other specialties relevant to spinal cord injury.  http://spauldingrehab.org/education-and-training/spinal-cord-fellowship.

Specifically, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is at the forefront of innovative treatment for major disabling conditions, including spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), other traumatic injuries, stroke, and neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease. At Spaulding, the treatment goals go far beyond immediate rehabilitation to address long-term health and function, as well as giving patients encouragement and hope as they return to their lives in the community.

The hub of their spinal cord injury program is the Spaulding-Harvard Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) Rehabilitation Program, led by experts at Spaulding Boston, a Center of Excellence in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. With the guidance of their  physicians and other rehabilitation specialists and access to some of the most advanced technologies available today, their patients have the resources to strive for their highest level of neurorecovery – and to develop successful, enriching strategies for independent living.

When potentially life-altering spinal cord injury occurs, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network clinicians are dedicated to pioneering improved therapies that can make all the difference to a patient’s immediate and long-term recovery. Their goal is to support a patient’s return to an active, productive and fulfilling life.

Whether the spinal cord injury is due to traumatic injury or illness, their team of experts will develop a treatment plan in collaboration with the patient and family. Depending on the severity of the injury, their teams work on improving function in: walking, balance and mobility; speech, swallowing and breathing; thinking (cognition), behavior and safety; dressing, bathing and other activities of daily living; incontinence, bowel and bladder function.

Their commitment is to offer a full spectrum of rehabilitation services for adults and children with spinal cord injury:

  • Intensive, hospital-level rehabilitation with goal-directed therapy 3 – 5 hours a day, at least 5 days a week for inpatients.
  • Long-term care and rehabilitation for patients with complicating conditions.
  • Cutting-edge spinal cord injury technologies and therapeutic techniques.
  • Emphasis on family participation throughout the course of care. with an inpatient comprehensive training and education series.
  • Seamless transition to multi-disciplinary outpatient rehabilitation.
  • Coordination of care with Spaulding’s outpatient centers.
  • Vocational training, participation in research, support groups.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is the official teaching partner of the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). The Spaulding network’s facilities are members of Partners HealthCare, founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The knowledge and expertise of this entire healthcare system is available to patients and caregivers. Their continuum of superb healthcare ensures that patients will find the care they need throughout their journey and the strength they need to live their life to the fullest.

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Use of Sensors, Data and Devices to improve Health, San Francisco, April 5-6, 2016: Wearable Tech + Digital Health Conferences

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Essential for Rehabilitation

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University Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich), Switzerland – A Prominent Center of Pediatric Research and Medicine

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

University Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich —  http://www.kispi.uzh.ch), in Switzerland, is the largest specialized, child and adolescent hospital in the country and one of the leading research centers for pediatric and youth medicine in Europe. The hospital, which has about 220 beds, numerous outpatient clinics, a day clinic, an interdisciplinary emergency room, and a specialized rehabilitation center, is a non-profit private institution that offers a comprehensive range of more than 40 medical sub-specializations, including heart conditions, bone marrow transplantation and burns. There are approximately 2,200 physicians, nurses, and other allied health care and administrative personnel employed at the hospital.

Just as important, the hospital houses the Children’s Research Center (CRC), the first research center in Switzerland that is solely dedicated to pediatric research, and is on par with the largest children’s clinics in the world. The research center provides a strong link between research and clinical experience to ensure that the latest scientific findings are made available to patients and implemented in life-saving therapies. By developing highly precise early diagnoses, innovative therapeutic approaches and effective new drugs, the researchers aim to provide a breakthrough in prevention, treatment and cure of common and, especially, rare diseases in children.

Several significant milestones have been reached over the past year. One important project under way is approval by the hospital management board and Zurich city council to construct a new building, projected to be completed in 2021. The new Children’s Hospital will constitute two main buildings; one building will house the hospital with around 200 beds, and the other building will house university research and teaching facilities.

In the ongoing quest for growing demands for quality, safety and efficiency that better serve patients and their families, the hospital management established a new role of Chief Operating Officer. This new position is responsible for the daily operation of the hospital, focusing on safety and clinical results, building a service culture and producing strong financial results. Greater emphasis on clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and partnering with physicians, nurses, and other medical and administrative staff is all part of developing a thriving and lasting hospital culture.

Recently, the hospital’s Neurodermatitis Unit in cooperation with Christine Kuehne – Center for Allergy Research and Education (CK-Care), one of Europe’s largest private initiatives in the field of allergology, has won the “Interprofessionality Award” from the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.  This award highlights best practices among doctors, nurses and medical staff in organizations who work together to diagnose and treat the health and well-being of patients, especially children with atopic dermatitis and their families.

At the northern end of Lake Zurich and between the mountain summit of the Uetliberg and Zurichberg, Children’s Hospital is located in the center of the residential district of Hottingen.

 

childrens-hospital4childrens-hospital3childrens-hospital2childrens-hospital1

Image SOURCE: Photograph courtesy of Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich), Switzerland. Interior and exterior photographs of the hospital.

 

Below is my interview with Hospital Director and Chief Executive Officer Markus Malagoli, Ph.D., which occurred in December, 2016.

How do you keep the spirit of innovation alive? 

Dr. Malagoli: Innovation in an organization, such as the University Children’s Hospital, correlates to a large extent on the power to attract the best and most innovative medical team and administrative people. It is our hope that by providing our employees with the time and financial resources to undertake needed research projects, they will be opened to further academic perspectives. At first sight, this may seem to be an expensive opportunity. However, in the long run, we have significant research under way in key areas which benefits children ultimately. It also gives our hospital the competitive edge in providing quality care and helps us recruit the best physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers and administrative staff.

The Children’s Hospital Zurich is nationally and internationally positioned as highly specialized in the following areas:

  • Cardiology and cardiac surgery: pediatric cardiac center,
  • Neonatal and malformation surgery as well as fetal surgery,
  • Neurology and neurosurgery as well as neurorehabilitation,
  • Oncology, hematology and immunology as well as oncology and stem cell transplants,
  • Metabolic disorders and endocrinology as well as newborn screening, and
  • Combustion surgery and plastic reconstructive surgery.

We provide patients with our special medical expertise, as well as an expanded  knowledge and new insights into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prophylaxis of diseases, accidents or deformities. We have more than 40 medical disciplines that cover the entire spectrum of pediatrics as well as child and youth surgery.

As an example, for many years, we have treated all congenital and acquired heart disease in children. Since 2004, specialized heart surgery and post-operative care in our cardiac intensive care unit have been carried out exclusively in our child-friendly hospital. A separate heart operation area was set up for this purpose. The children’s heart center also has a modern cardiac catheter laboratory for children and adolescents with all diagnostic and catheter-interventional therapeutic options. Heart-specific non-invasive diagnostic possibilities using MRI are available as well as a large cardiology clinic with approximately 4,500 outpatient consultations per year. In April 2013, a special ward only for cardiac patients was opened and our nursing staff is highly specialized in the care of children with heart problems.

In addition to the advanced medical diagnostics and treatment of children, we also believe in the importance of caring and supporting families of sick children with a focus on their psychosocial well-being. For this purpose, a team of specialized nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers are available. Occasionally, the children and their families need rehabilitation and we work with a team of specialists to plan and organize the best in-house or out-patient rehabilitation for the children and their families.

We also provide therapeutic, rehabilitation and social services that encompass nutritional advice, art and expression therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, psychomotor therapy, a helpline for rare diseases, pastoral care, social counseling, and even hospital clowns. Our hospital teams work together to provide our patients with the best care so they are on the road to recovery in the fastest possible way.

What draws patients to Children’s Hospital?

Dr. Malagoli: Our hospital depends heavily on complex, interdisciplinary cases. For many diagnosis and treatments, our hospital is the last resort for children and adolescents in Switzerland and even across other countries. Our team is fully committed to the welfare of the patients they treat in order to deal with complex medical cases, such as diseases and disorders of the musculo-skeletal system and connective tissue, nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system, and ear, nose and throat, for example.

Most of our patients come from Switzerland and other cantons within the country, yet other patients come from as far away as Russia and the Middle East. Our hospital sees about 80,000 patients each year in the outpatient clinic for conditions, such as allergic pulmonary diseases, endocrinology and diabetology, hepatology, and gastroenterology; about 7,000 patients a year are seen for surgery; and about 37,000 patients a year are treated in the emergency ward.

We believe that parents are not visitors; they belong to the sick child’s healing, growth, and development. This guiding principle is a challenge for us, because we care not only for sick children, but also for their families, who may need personal or financial resources. Many of our services for parents, for example, are not paid by the Swiss health insurance and we depend strongly on funds from private institutions. We want to convey the feeling of security to children and adolescents of all ages and we involve the family in the recovery process.

What are the hospital’s strengths?

Dr. Malagoli: A special strength of our hospital is the interdisciplinary thinking of our teams. In addition to the interdisciplinary emergency and intensive care units, there are several internal institutionalized meetings, such as the uro-nephro-radiological conference on Mondays, the oncological conference and the gastroenterological meeting on Tuesdays,  and the pneumological case discussion on Wednesdays, where complex cases are discussed among our doctors. Foreign doctors are welcome to these meetings, and cases are also discussed at the appropriate external medical conferences.

Can you discuss some of the research projects under way at the Children’s Research Center (CRC)?

Dr. Malagoli: Our Children’s Research Center, the first research center in Switzerland focused on pediatric research, works closely with our hospital team. From basic research to clinical application, the hospital’s tasks in research and teaching is at the core of the Children’s Research Center for many young and established researchers and, ultimately, also for patients.

Our research projects focus on:

  • Behavior of the nervous, metabolic, cardiovascular and immune system in all stages of growth and development of the child’s condition,
  • Etiology (causes of disease) and treatment of genetic diseases,
  • Tissue engineering of the skin and skin care research: from a few cells of a child,  complex two-layered skin is produced in the laboratory for life-saving measures after severe burns and treatment of congenital anomalies of the skin,
  • Potential treatment approaches of the most severe infectious diseases, and
  • Cancer diseases of children and adolescents.

You are making great strides in diagnostic work in the areas of Hematology, Immumology, Infectiology and Oncology. Would you elaborate on this particular work that is taking place at the hospital?

Dr. Malagoli: The Department of Image Diagnostics handles radiological and ultrasonographic examinations, and the numerous specialist labs offer a complete  range of laboratory diagnostics.

The laboratory center makes an important contribution to the clarification and treatment of disorders of immune defense, blood and cancer, as well as infections of all kinds and severity. Our highly specialized laboratories offer a large number of analyzes which are necessary in the assessment of normal and pathological cell functions and take into account the specifics and requirements of growth and development in children and infants.

The lab center also participates in various clinical trials and research projects. This allows on-going validation and finally introducing the latest test methods.

The laboratory has been certified as ISO 9001 by the Swiss Government since 2002 and has met the quality management system requirements on meeting patient expectations and delivering customer satisfaction. The interdisciplinary cooperation and careful communication of the laboratory results are at the center of our activities. Within the scope of our quality assurance measures, we conduct internal quality controls on a regular basis and participate in external tests. Among other things, the work of the laboratory center is supervised by the cantonal medicine committee and Swissmedic organization.

Additionally, the Metabolism Laboratory  offers a wide variety of biochemical and molecular diagnostic analysis, including those for the following areas:

  • Disorders in glycogen and fructose metabolism,
  • Lysosomal disorders,
  • Disorders of biotin and vitamin B12 metabolism,
  • Urea cycle disorders and Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD),
  • Congenital disorders of protein glycosylation, and
  • Hereditary disorders of connective tissue, such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome.

Screening for newborn conditions is equally important. The Newborn Screening Laboratory examines all newborn children in Switzerland for congenital metabolic and hormonal diseases. Untreated, the diseases detected in the screening lead in most cases to serious damage to different organs, but especially to the development of the brain. Thanks to the newborn screening, the metabolic and hormonal diseases that are being sought can be investigated by means of modern methods shortly after birth. For this, only a few drops of blood are necessary, which are taken from the heel on the third or fourth day after birth. On a filter paper strip, these blood drops are sent to the laboratory of the Children’s Hospital Zurich, where they are examined for the following diseases:

  • Phenylketonuria (PKU),
  • Hypothyroidism,
  • MCAD deficiency,
  • Adrenogenital Syndrome (AGS),
  • Galactosemia,
  • Biotinide deficiency,
  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF),
  • Glutaraziduria Type 1 (GA-1), and
  • Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD).

Ongoing physician medical education and executive training is important for the overall well-being of the hospital. Would you describe the program and the courses?

Dr. Malagoli:  We place a high priority on medical education and training with a focus on children, youth, and their families. The various departments of the hospital offer regular specialist training courses for interested physicians at regular intervals. Training is available in the following areas:

  • Anesthesiology,
  • Surgery,
  • Developmental Pediatrics,
  • Cardiology,
  • Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry,
  • Neuropediatrics,
  • Oncology,
  • Pediatrics, and
  • Rehabilitation.

As a training hospital, we have built an extensive network or relationships with physicians in Switzerland as well as other parts of the world, who take part in our ongoing medical education opportunities that focus on specialized pediatrics and  pediatric surgery. Also, newly trained, young physicians who are in private practice or affiliated with other children’s hospitals often take part in our courses.

We also offer our hospital management and leaders from other organizations professional development in the areas of leadership or specialized competence training. We believe that all executives in leadership or management roles contribute significantly to our success and to a positive working climate. That is why we have developed crucial training in specific, work-related courses, including planning and communications skills, professional competence, and entrepreneurial development.

How is Children’s Hospital transforming health care? 

Dr. Malagoli: The close cooperation between doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers is a key success factor in transforming health care. We strive for comprehensive child care that does not only focus on somatic issues but also on psychological support for patients and their families and social re-integration. However, it becomes more and more difficult to finance all the necessary support services.

Many supportive services, for example, for parents and families of sick children are not paid by health insurance in Switzerland and we do not receive financial support from the Swiss Government. Since 2012, we have the Swiss Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG) guidelines, a new tariff system for inpatient hospital services, that regulates costs for treatment in hospitals all over the country and those costs do not consider the amount of extra services we provide for parents and families as a children’s hospital. Those DRG principles mostly are for hospitals who treat adult patients.

Since you stepped into your role as CEO, how have you changed the way that you deliver health care?

Dr. Malagoli: I have definitely not reinvented health care! Giving my staff the space for individual development and the chance to realize their ideas is probably my main contribution to our success. Working with children is for many people motivating and enriching. We benefit from that, too. Moreover, we have managed to build up a culture of confidence and mutual respect – we call it the “Kispi-spirit”. “Kispi” as abbreviation of “Kinderspital.” Please visit our special recruiting site, which is www.kispi-spirit.ch.

I can think of a few examples where our doctors and medical teams have made a difference in the lives of our patients. Two of our physicians – PD (Privatdozent, a private university teacher) Dr. med. Alexander Moller and Dr. med. Florian Singer, Ph.D. – are involved in the development of new pulmonary functions tests which allow us to diagnose chronic lung diseases at an early stage in young children.

  • Often times, newly born babies have a lung disease but do not show any specific symptoms, such as coughing. One of these new tests measures lung function based on inhaling and exhaling pure oxygen, rather than using the standard spirometry test used in children and adults to assess how well an infant’s lungs work by measuring how much air they inhale, how much they exhale and how quickly they exhale. The new test is currently part of a clinical routine in children with cystic fibrosis as well as in clinical trials in Europe. The test is so successful that the European Respiratory Society presented Dr. med. Singer, Ph.D., with the ‘Pediatric Research Award’ in 2015.
  • Another significant research question among the pediatric pulmonary disease community is how asthma can be diagnosed reliably and at an earlier stage. PD Dr. med. Moller, chief physician of Pneumology at the hospital, has high hopes in a new way to measure exhaled air via mass spectrometry. If it succeeds, it will be able to evaluate changes in the lungs of asthmatics or help with more specific diagnoses of pneumonia.

In what ways have you built greater transparency, accountability and quality improvement for the benefit of patients?

Dr. Malagoli: Apart from the quality measures which are prescribed by Swiss law, we have decided not to strive for quality certifications and accreditations. We focus on outcome quality, record our results in quality registers and compare our outcome internationally with the best in class.

Our team of approximately 2,200 specialized physicians largely comes from Switzerland, although we have attracted a number of doctors from countries such as Germany, Portugal, Italy, Austria, and even Serbia, Turkey, Macedonia, Slovakia, and Croatia.

We recently conducted an employee satisfaction survey, which showed about 88 percent of employees were very satisfied or satisfied with their working conditions at the hospital and the job we are doing with patients and their families. This ranking is particularly gratifying for us as a service provider for the children and families we serve.

How does your volunteer program help families better deal with hospitalized children?

Dr. Malagoli: We have an enormous commitment from volunteers to care for hospitalized children and we are grateful to them. We offer our patients and their families child care, dog therapy, and even parenting by the Aladdin Foundation, a volunteer visiting service for hospitalized children to relieve parents and relatives and help young patients stay in hospital to recover quickly. The volunteers visit the child in the absence of the parents and are fully briefed on the child’s condition and care plan. The handling of care request usually takes no more than 24 hours and is free of charge. The assignments range from one-off visits to daily care for several weeks.

malagoli_m_905

Image SOURCE: Photograph of Hospital Director and Chief Executive Officer Markus Malagoli, Ph.D., courtesy of Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich), Switzerland.  

Markus Malagoli, Ph.D.
Director and Chief Executive Officer

Markus Malagoli, Ph.D., has been Hospital Director and Chief Executive Officer of the University Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich), since 2007.

Prior to his current role, Dr. Malagoli served as Chairman of Hospital Management and Head of Geriatrics of the Schaffhausen-Akutspital, the only public hospital in the Canton of Schaffhausen, from 2003 through 2007, where he was responsible for 10 departments, including surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, rheumatology/rehabilitation, throat and nose, eyes, radiology, anesthesia, hospital pharmacy and administration. The hospital employs approximately 1,000 physicians, nursing staff, other medical personal, as well as administration and operational services employees. On average, around 9,000 individuals are treated in the hospital yearly. Previously, he was Administrative Director at the Hospital from 1996 through 2003.

Dr. Malagoli began his career at Ciba-Geigy in 1985, spending 11 years in the company. He worked in Business Accounting in Basel, and a few years later, became Head of the Production Information System department in Basel. He then was transferred to Ciba-Geigy in South Africa as Controller/Treasurer and returned to Basel as Project Manager for the SAP Migration Project in Accounting.

Dr. Malagoli received his B.A. degree in Finance and Accounting and a Ph.D. in Business Administration at the University of St. Gallen.

He is a member of the Supervisory Board of Schaffhausen-Akutspital and President of the Ungarbühl in Schaffhausen, a dormitory for individuals with developmental impairments.

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Manuela Frey, communications manager, University Children’s Hospital Zurich, for the help and support she provided during this interview.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

University Children’s Hospital Zurich (Universitäts-Kinderspital Zürich —  http://www.kispi.uzh.ch)

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A Rich Tradition of Patient-Focused Care — Richmond University Medical Center, New York’s Leader in Health Care and Medical Education 

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

Richmond University Medical Center (www.RUMSCI.org), an affiliate of The Mount Sinai Hospital and the Icahn School of Medicine, is a 470+ bed health care facility and teaching institution in Staten Island, New York. The hospital is a leader in the areas of acute, medical and surgical care, including emergency care, surgery, minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, gastroenterology, cardiology, pediatrics, podiatry, endocrinology, urology, oncology, orthopedics, neonatal intensive care and maternal health. RUMC earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for quality and patient safety.

RUMC is a designated Level 1 Trauma Center, a Level 2 Pediatric Trauma Center, a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is the highest level attainable, and a designated Stroke Center, receiving top national recognition from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.  Their state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab has Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) capabilities, for elective and emergent procedures in coronary angioplasty that treats obstructive coronary artery disease, including unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction (MI), and multi-vessel coronary artery disease (CAD).

RUMC maintains a Wound Care/Hyperbaric Center and a Sleep Disorder Center on-site at its main campus.  The facility also offers behavioral health services, encompassing both inpatient and outpatient services for children, adolescents and adults, including emergent inpatient and mobile outreach units.  RUMC is the only facility that offers inpatient psychiatric services for adolescents in the community.

In April 2016, RUMC announced its intent to merge with Staten Island Mental Health Society in order to expand its footprint in Staten Island and integrate behavioral health services alongside primary care. As part of New York’s Medicaid reforms, funding is available to incentivize providers to integrate treatment for addiction, mental health issues and developmental disabilities with medical services.

With over 2,500 employees, RUMC is one of the largest employers on Staten Island, New York.

rumcexteriorrumcexterior2rumcinterior

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island, New York. Interior and exterior photographs of the hospital.

 

Below is my interview with President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. Messina, Ph.D., FACHE, LNHA, which occurred in September, 2016.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Dr. Messina: Professionally, my greatest achievement is my current responsibility – to be President and Chief Executive Officer of one of the greatest hospitals with a strong, solid foundation and rich history. I was born in this hospital and raised on Staten Island, so to me, there is no greater gift than to be part of a transformative organization and have the ability to advance the quality of health care on Staten Island.

My parents taught me the value of responsibility and motivation and instilled in me the drive and tenacity to be the best person I could be – for my employees and for my family. I am a highly competitive person, who is goal-oriented, hands-on and inspired by teamwork. I rarely sit behind my desk as I believe my place is alongside my team in making things happen.

As a personal goal, I recently climbed the 20,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was the experience of a lifetime. I could not have completed this challenge without the support of the guides and porters who helped me and my group along the way. For me, it was a challenge in proving to myself that I could be out of my comfort zone. My group and I hiked hours and hours each day, dodging rocks and scrambling along rock walls with the goal of reaching the summit. In many ways, it takes a village to climb the mountain, relying on each other in the group to get you to the next level.

In many ways, that is how I see my professional day at the hospital, working with a strong team of dedicated medical staff and employees who are focused on one goal, which is to continue our hard work, continue to improve care and continue to move forward to advance life and health care.

The mission of Richmond University Medical Center, an affiliate of The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, serves the ethnically diverse community of Staten Island, New York, by providing patients with a range of services.

How has your collaboration with the Mount Sinai network helped to expand health care delivery and services for patients of Staten Island, New York?

Dr. Messina: Being able to serve our patients year after year continues to be a top priority, so we are constantly improving upon our rich history of 100 years of exceptional patient-focused care given by our medical and surgical health care professionals as well as innovative technologies and programs created by our award-winning hospital team. We have committed medical specialists, passionate employee staff, exceptional Board of Trustees, supportive elected government officials – all who in their own way contributes to providing the highest level of patient care to the more than 500,000 residents of Staten Island, New York.

As a member of the Mount Sinai Health network, we have found ways to work collaboratively with our academic partner to ensure that our patients’ health care needs not only are fully met but also exceeded. This alliance will facilitate the development of a new, Comprehensive Breast and Women’s Healthcare Center. We have leveraged our Breast and Women’s Health Center with our RUMC general surgeons in conjunction with breast imaging, fellowship-trained physicians from Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. The physicians who are granted this renowned fellowship interact with our patients and become an active participant in multidisciplinary breast conferences and resident and medical student education. For patients, this means that they have access to the best minds and latest research, therapies and treatment regimens throughout our network.

What makes Richmond University Medical Center and its specialty areas stand out from other hospitals?

Dr. Messina: We bring the highest level of advanced medicine to our patients. For more than 100 years, we have built a rich history of delivering patient-focused care that is unique. Our organization is recognized as a family organization with strong community spirit and family values. We are proud to be a high-technology/high-touch organization of caring professionals that go above and beyond the standard of health care. Our strengths lie in the areas of acute, medical and surgical care, including emergency care, surgery, minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, gastroenterology, cardiology, pediatrics, podiatry, endocrinology, urology, oncology, orthopedics, neonatal intensive care and maternal health.

Each year, we embark upon a comprehensive, robust strategic planning process that involves our senior leadership team, clinical chairs, Board of Trustees as well as our medical and surgical staff and hospital employees that looks out three to five years in the future to determine what is best for the patient. We are each committed in our own way to quality patient care and building an even stronger organization.

Some of our achievements are noteworthy:

  • As a New York City Department of Emergency Services designated Level 1 Trauma Center and Level 2 Pediatric Trauma Center, the only Trauma Center dually verified in New York City, we rely on sophisticated equipment so our medical and surgical specialists are prepared to treat severe conditions within minutes.
  • Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a designated Level 3 facility, the highest level attainable. The unit delivers 3,000 babies annually and it was recognized as having the lowest mortality rate in the metropolitan area and a survival rate of 99 percent, that exceeds national benchmarks. Our specialists in our pediatric ambulatory services department treat over 10,000 patients annually and our children’s urgent care area records over 23,000 visits annually.
  • Our state-of-the-art, 38,000-square-foot Emergency Department (ED), which will be replaced by an expanded facility and projected to open in 2018, will provide for more focused care, operational efficiency and flexibility for our staff and patient. We also will be better integrated and connected to the entire hospital campus.

Originally designed to serve 22,000 patients each year, the ED is expected to accommodate an increased volume of patients, which is estimated at 70,000 and give our medical specialists the tools they need to provide the best in care for this volume of patients. In a new patient and family-centered space with 49 treatment positions, the new ED will be connected to the existing hospital, close to surgical services, the radiology department and lab services.

Equally as important, the hospital has been strong in the face of natural disasters, especially Hurricane Sandy which occurred a few years ago, and the new ED is being designed with storm resilient and redundant design to minimize impact from severe weather conditions.

In fact, the New York City Council and the Staten Island Borough President have set aside a combined $13.5 million for this $60+ million project and believe in the transformative impact that it will have on emergency care on Staten Island. These local officials believe that Staten Island residents deserve quality, readily accessible health care.

  • Heroin addiction is an epidemic on Staten Island, so we have a number of programs in place at RUMC’s Silberstein Center to provide outpatient treatment, rehabilitation and clinics, along with group therapy sessions, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and individual therapy sessions.
  • Our new primary care/walk-in facility in the heart of Staten Island borough is operational and there are no appointments required. Patients can visit with one of three physicians or a nurse practitioner. This off-site facility is not located in the hospital complex and is an expansion of our services outside of the hospital walls.
  • We also maintain a Wound Care Center, Pain Management Center and a Sleep Disorder Center at our facility. In fact, we are the only local facility that offers inpatient psychiatric services for adolescents and we are expanding our capacity to meet the needs of the community.

 

RUMC has been awarded a top designation jointly by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. What does that mean to the hospital?

Dr. Messina: This designation makes us proud as the recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Quality Achievement Award for six consecutive years and its first Elite Plus recognition. This means that we have achieved 85 percent or higher adherence in indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods to improve quality of patient care and outcomes for stroke patients.

Our cardiac catheterization lab with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) capabilities – the newest facility of its kind on Staten Island — now treats semi-urgent and elective coronary procedures.

For patients, this means that we have a commitment to ensure that stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. With a stroke, when time is lost, brain is lost, and this award demonstrates our commitment to ensuring patients receive care based on evidenced-based guidelines. We are dedicated to continually improving the quality of stroke care and this recognition helps us achieve that goal.

Studies have shown that hospitals that consistently follow these quality improvement measures can reduce length of stay and 30-day readmission rates and reduce disparities in care. To qualify for the Elite Plus recognition, we met quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. We earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

The values of Richmond University Medical Center are summarized in the acronym, WE CARE (Welcoming Energized Compassion Advocacy Respect Excellence). How is this part of your day-to-day life?

Dr. Messina: For more than 100 years, Richmond University Medical Center has

been building a rich history of exceptional patient-focused care for the residents of Staten Island. Each year, we carry that tradition forward by our medically innovative and patient-focused care and services we offer. It is the passion, creativity and caring of everyone who is part of our ‘hospital team’ that moves the organization to new heights.

The chart below summarizes our credo, the values that guide us every day and help us focus on the care and well-being of the people who come through our doors.

We are welcoming and gracious toward each other, and toward all who come to receive our services.

Personnel are energized for quality, creativity, commitment and teamwork.

Compassion is the way we share deep concern and care toward each person.

Advocacy is our activity that promotes the rights and responsibilities of patients, families and staff, in the hospital setting and in the community.

We show respect by recognizing the basic dignity of every person in all our interactions and in the formulation of policies and procedures.

Excellence is our way of demonstrating that we can always be more and always be better.

 

The Richmond University Medical Center Board is comprised of distinguished leaders of the Staten Island community who are committed to the success of the hospital and to the health of Staten Islanders.

How is this local approach revolutionizing health care for the Staten Island community?

Dr. Messina: The members of our distinguished Board of Trustees, who represent a cross-section of business professionals and community leaders, continue our goal of meeting the needs of our patients and our hospital.

Our Board remains committed to providing solutions for our patients to challenging healthcare issues they face every day and to making a difference in the lives of patients by providing the latest thinking and technology solutions. Our Board Chairperson Kathryn K. Rooney, Esq., and Vice Chairperson Ronald A. Purpora, as well as the other Board members, and even our elected government officials, have a strong connection to Staten Island and we believe it truly ‘takes a village’ to make this organization flourish.

Each year, our Board of Trustees is presented with new opportunities and possibilities for growth and development. That is why their top priority for this past year was approving the construction of a state-of-the-art Emergency Department (ED) as this undertaking will serve both the patients and staff equally. In order to serve the residents of Staten Island properly, the new ED will accommodate an increased number of patients and our medical staff will receive the tools and technology to provide the best in care for our patients.

This past year, we were provided with a $1.5 million gift from the Staten Island Foundation that will go toward the hospital’s capital campaign to construct the new $60 million Emergency Department. We decided to name the RUMC’s Allan Weissglass Pavilion Center for Ambulatory Care, in honor of our long-time community and business leader, who is a founding Board member and Board of Trustees member. Allan Weissglass devoted his time, energy and talent to the success of this hospital over many years.

We are positioning our organization for the future and we continuously build on our strengths, being responsive to the needs of the community. In the past, we saw the patient was the only ‘customer’ of the hospital. Today, that perception is evolving and our ‘customers’ are many.  With the help and support of donors, local foundations, volunteers, staff, and the community, local government officials, we are building a bright future for Richmond University Medical Center.

What is RUMC’s commitment to graduate medical education?

Dr. Messina: Our six Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Diagnostic Radiology and Podiatry, signify our commitment to teaching as a cornerstone of our philosophy. Our medical staff are seen as role models for our medical residents and provide quality training, medical education and research capabilities. Our existing medical staff functions as supervising physicians and gives medical residents exposure to specific responsibilities and patient care, as well as scholarly opportunities. One interesting fact is that the doctors we train come back to help treat our patients by using their knowledge and experience to work in our community.

You mentioned that ‘outreach in the community’ as a key factor in the success of the hospital’s mission to enhance the quality of life for residents of Staten Island. What types of activities are under way?

Dr. Messina: Our lifesaving work takes many forms. We are constantly finding new and different ways to engage with our community – to raise awareness and educate on a number of diseases and conditions, and, hopefully move toward better health care. We believe that our patients need to see us outside of a clinical environment, which strengthens our relationship.

For example, over the past year:

  • We sponsored an annual health and wellness expo with the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation that was attended by over 2,000 people to equip the community with knowledge about their health and the local health services available to them.
  • We pioneered an organ donor enrollment day by welcoming 59 visitors and guests who can potentially donate their organs to save lives.
  • We partnered with the New York City Department of Transportation and our own Trauma team to demonstrate and educate the community on car seat safety.
  • Our Dermatologist team took part in the Borough President’s “Back to the Beach” festival by performing skin screenings and distributing sunscreen and information on skin cancer.
  • Our Obstetrics and Gynecology team hosted a baby expo to talk with new mothers and mothers-to-be about services available at the hospital.
  • Our Diabetologist team partnered with the YMCA on a 16-week partnership to curb the diabetes epidemic on Staten Island through information talks and health screenings.
  • We were even present at last year’s Staten Island Yankees home opening baseball game to throw out the first pitch and conduct a blood drive while distributing wellness information.

 

Since roughly one third of the residents on Staten Island are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare, what steps are you taking to improve the delivery of treatment for them?

Dr. Messina: We started several initiatives last year that were funded by the federal and state governments to look at the way care is delivered to patients who are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. So far, we’ve reduced costs by $3.75 million and realized $1.8 million in shared savings that are re-invested in key hospital programs.

As you know, Medicare and Medicaid are two different government-run programs that were created in 1965 in response to the inability of older and low-income Americans to buy private health insurance. They were part of our government’s social commitment to meeting individual health care needs. Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage if you are 65 or older or have a severe disability, no matter your income, while Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage if you have a very low income.

We’ve set up our own Richmond Quality Accountable Care Organization (ACO), that comprises 30 providers serving 7,500 Medicare patients. This innovative program is accountable for the quality, cost and overall care provided to people on Medicare and who are enrolled in the traditional fee-for-service program.  One program that is ongoing is one that we’ve partnered with the Visiting Nurse Service of Staten Island to prevent hospital readmissions and to identify hospitalized patients who would benefit from a higher level of care and home care services.

Another program that is under way for our Medicaid patients is teaching our staff to prevent hospital readmissions by creating an accurate list of medications that a patient takes and comparing that list against physician’s admission, transfer and discharge orders to ensure that the correct medication plan is in place.

We believe that we are transforming the underlying systems with a focus on delivering quality care and hopefully better outcomes for patients.

RUMC recently announced a merger with Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) to integrate SIMHS’ broad range of behavioral health programs into the hospital’s existing medical and behavioral program throughout Staten Island. What does this merger bring to the community?

Dr. Messina: We believe that the proposed merger between RUMC and the Staten Island Mental Health Society (SIMHS) will provide a strengthened, comprehensive network of behavioral health services across Staten Island.

This partnership will bring together two Staten Island institutions, with a combined 230 years of service to the borough, and create one strong and vibrant organization dedicated to meeting the health needs of the diverse community.

Merging the range of community-based behavioral health services provided by SIMHS with the solid foundation of primary care services provided by RUMC will create a seamless range of behavioral and medical services for our residents. We are in the unique position to transform and enhance the services of these two vital health care providers. The SIMHS will keep its name and become a division of the hospital. The merger is expected to close during calendar year 2017.

 rumcdanmessina

Image SOURCE: Photograph of President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. Messina, Ph.D., FACHE, LNHA, courtesy of Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island, New York.

Daniel J. Messina, Ph.D., FACHE, LNHA
President & Chief Executive Officer

Daniel Messina, Ph.D., FACHE, LNHA, became President and Chief Executive Officer of Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) – an affiliate of The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine – in April 2014.

Dr. Messina, a life-long resident of Staten Island, is a seasoned executive with nearly 30 years of healthcare leadership expertise. For the previous 13 years, he served as the System Chief Operating Officer of CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, New Jersey, where his responsibilities included all System Operations for the Medical Center, Assisted Living Facility, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Continuing Care Retirement Community. While in this role, Dr. Messina developed additional growth strategies that include a new Cancer Center, a Proton Therapy Center, Radio-Surgery, a new Infusion Center and programs in Robotics, Minimally Invasive Surgery, Bariatric and Neurosurgery. Other accomplishments include a new state-of-the-art 26-bed Critical Care Unit, a 49-bed Emergency Department, and the development of an 180,000 sq. ft. Ambulatory Campus and Wellness Center anchored by a 35,000 sq. ft. Medical Fitness Center. Additionally, Dr. Messina developed the Linda E. Cardinale MS Center – one of the largest and most comprehensive MS Centers in the tristate area – leading to a fundraising event that has generated over $2 million.

Dr. Messina received his B.S. in Health Science/Respiratory Therapy from Long Island University Brooklyn, and earned his M.P.A. in Healthcare Administration from LIU Post. He obtained his Ph.D. in Health Sciences and Leadership at Seton Hall University where he currently serves as an adjunct professor in the School of Health and Allied Sciences. He is active in the American College of Health Care Executives, is board certified in healthcare management as an ACHE Fellow, and recently completed a three-year term as Regent for New Jersey.

Dr. Messina serves as trustee on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the New Jersey Metro Chapter, and the Alumni Board of Trustees at Seton Hall University. He is a Board member of the VNA Health Group of New Jersey and a member of the Policy Development Committee of the New Jersey Hospital Association. Dr. Messina has been honored by various organizations for his service to the community, including Seton Hall University with the “Many Are One” award, the American College of Healthcare Executives with Senior, Early and Distinguished Service Awards, New Jersey Women Against MS, CentraState Auxiliary, and the Staten Island CYO.

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank William Smith, director of Public Relations, Richmond University Medical Center, for the help and support he provided during this interview.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

 

Richmond University Medical Center (http://rumcsi.org/Main/Home.aspx)

Other related articles:

Retrieved from http://rumcsi.org/main/annualreport.aspx

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_University_Medical_Center

Retrieved from http://rumcsi.org/main/rumcinthenews/si-live-5202016-170.aspx

Retrieved from http://rumcsi.org/main/rumcinthenews/merger-agreement-4132016-159.aspx

Retrieved from http://blog.silive.com/gracelyns_chronicles/2016/06/rumc_receives_presitigious_bab.html

Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2016/10/17/vivan-lee-hospitals-utah/

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

2016

Risk Factor for Health Systems: High Turnover of Hospital CEOs and Visionary’s Role of Hospitals In 10 Years

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/08/08/risk-factor-for-health-systems-high-turnover-of-hospital-ceos-and-visionarys-role-of-hospitals-in-10-years/

Healthcare conglomeration to access Big Data and lower costs

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/13/healthcare-conglomeration-to-access-big-data-and-lower-costs/

A New Standard in Health Care – Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore’s First Fully Integrated Healthcare/Hospitality Complex

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/06/22/a-new-standard-in-health-care-farrer-park-hospital-singapores-first-fully-integrated-healthcarehospitality-complex/

2013

Helping Physicians identify Gene-Drug Interactions for Treatment Decisions: New ‘CLIPMERGE’ program – Personalized Medicine @ The Mount Sinai Medical Center

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/04/15/helping-physicians-identify-gene-drug-interactions-for-treatment-decisions-new-clipmerge-program-personalized-medicine-the-mount-sinai-medical-center/

Nation’s Biobanks: Academic institutions, Research institutes and Hospitals – vary by Collections Size, Types of Specimens and Applications: Regulations are Needed

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/01/26/nations-biobanks-academic-institutions-research-institutes-and-hospitals-vary-by-collections-size-types-of-specimens-and-applications-regulations-are-needed/

Read Full Post »


WEGO Health Awards Competition Focuses on Patients

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A., PhD(c)

WEGO Health, a network of over 100,000 influential members of the online health community, empowers patients who drive the health care conversation online.

For their annual “health activist” award competition this year, Gail Thornton, was nominated as the editor/author of a series of compelling patient profiles on chronic and invasive medical conditions that are posted on the online scientific journal, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence.

“The story of patients and their health journey is a critical one to tell and I was blessed to have such inspirational, caring people who shared their lives with me,” said Gail Thornton.” Also many thanks to  Aviva Lev-Ari for her vision in creating this series — and for considering me to be part of it all.”

The series also will be part of an e-book, entitled, The VOICES of Patients, Health Care Providers, Care Givers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group. Here is the link:  https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/biomed-e-books/series-e-titles-in-the-strategic-plan-for-2014-1015/2014-the-patients-voice-personal-experience-with-invasive-medical-procedures/

final series E covers volumes 1_4-vol1

 

“Your contribution to the e-Book is very substantial in bringing the LIVE voices of Patients and Health Care Providers to the EAR of the Public at large,” said Aviva Lev-Ari, Ph.D., R.N., on 9/13/2016, Director and Founder, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group, Boston.

Also thanks to Gabriela Contreras for suggesting some of these patients.

Please visit the the link below to review Gail’s nomination details and to endorse her!

https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/12485

Read Full Post »


Almudena’s Story:  A Life of Hope, Rejuvenation and Strength

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

Patient had ovarian clear cell adenocarcinomas (OCCAs) and underwent a complete hysterectomy at age 52. Interview was conducted 15 months’ post-surgery. Earlier in life, patient had thyroid cancer and removal of her thyroid gland and all the lymph nodes in her neck.

 

Almudena Seeder-Alonso, originally from Madrid, Spain, and now living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with her Dutch husband, René, is the eternal optimist, embracing life, reinventing herself, and looking for opportunity in every moment. She is an influential blogger of international relations issues, a career professional in human resources management in both corporate and consulting businesses in Legal, Accounting and Technology, and a lawyer and political scientist with an advanced degree in international relations who is also pursuing a Ph.D. in international relations and diplomacy. And she speaks four languages fluently – Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and English.

Her story is one of hope, rejuvenation and strength that defines her effervescent personality. One year ago, a routine gynecology exam changed her outlook and perspective on life. She would have never thought that her diagnosis would be ovarian carcinoma of the clear cell, the most aggressive form of cancer.

 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Almudena Seeder-Alonso. Top Left: Almudena’s parents, María and Angel, and sister, Cristina, and her husband. Top Right: Almudena during chemotherapy last summer (2015). Middle: Almudena attending a wedding in Asturias (northwest Spain – May 2016), Almudena and René in Comporta, Portugal (Summer 2014) and in New York (April 2014). Below left: Almudena in New York (April 2014). Below Right: Almudena’s sisters, María and Cristina with nephew, Jaime (May 2016). 

A Small Cyst Turns Into Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

In early 2015, Almudena visited her gynecologist in Amsterdam for a regular, yearly appointment.

“I was feeling fine. I had no physical complaints, except for my monthly periods which were heavy. I didn’t think much about it. During my examination, my doctor told me that she found a small cyst on my right ovary and we would just observe it to make sure it was not growing.”

Almudena went back to her gynecologist at the OLVG (Onze Lieve Vrouw Gasthuis https://www.olvg.nl/) in Amsterdam twice over the next month to monitor the cyst, only to find that the cyst was growing slightly. Her gynecologist recommended blood tests, an ultrasound, and a specimen of the cyst to be removed through a laparoscopy, a procedure requiring small incisions made below the navel using specialized tools.

“The pathology report said that the cyst was an aggressive cancer, called ovarian carcinoma of the clear cell. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office once she told me the results of the test, and I got very quiet. I could not believe that this was happening to me. While I was meeting with the doctor, I called my husband to let the doctor inform him about the situation. I was listening to this conversation but from far away. He immediately left his meeting with his client (he is one of two founding partners of SeederdeBoer, a Dutch Consulting & Technology firm), to come home. I left the doctor’s office, went home and cried in my husband’s arms.”

Almudena then called her parents, María and Angel, and her two sisters, María and Cristina who live in Madrid, to tell them the news.

“My Mother was very emotional when she heard about my diagnosis. My Father, who is a quiet man by nature, asked me, ‘How could this be happening to you again?’ I did not have an answer for him.”

Almudena’s father was referring to his daughter’s diagnosis of thyroid cancer in her late 20s.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer As A Young Woman

When Almudena was 27 years old, she was diagnosed with follicular thyroid cancer, a slow-growing, highly treatable type of cancer that forms in follicular cells in the thyroid gland. After a 12-hour surgery to remove the gland through a procedure called a full thyroidectomy, she also needed radiation therapy. Many years later, she is feeling fine and continues to be on thyroid medication for the rest of her life.

“I was not aware at that young age of the scope of the diagnosis, but my life really changed. I was kind of a party animal at the end of the 1980s, and I did not have any amount of energy for that anymore. I needed several months to get back into shape as the scar from the surgery was a large one on the right side of my neck. I could not use my right arm and hand properly for months, even writing was complicated. The worst news came later when I could not get pregnant given the situation that many of my eggs were gone because of radiation. At that moment, egg freezing technology was not as advanced as it is today; it was not normal to freeze eggs for a later time. That was really painful, as I could not become a mother, even after four in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles.”

According to the National Cancer Institute’s web site, thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea (windpipe). It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The isthmus, a thin piece of tissue, connects the two lobes. A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter coin. It usually cannot be felt through the skin. The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormones. Thyroid hormones control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy (metabolism) as well as, it controls the amount of calcium in the blood.  http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq

Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis Continues

Almudena then spoke with her physicians in Madrid, as that is where she grew up, to get a second opinion about her ovarian carcinoma diagnosis. The physicians knew her history well and they told her that they did not believe that the follicular thyroid cancer was directly related to the ovarian cancer.

“My local gynecologist in Amsterdam then referred me to a specialist, Dr. J. van der Velden, a gynecologist/oncologist at the Amsterdam Medisch Centrum (AMC), http://www.cgoa.nl/page/view/name/34-wie-we-zijn, one of the top university hospitals in The Netherlands for this surgery and treatment. My husband, René, and I met with Dr. van der Velden, and he told us that my cancer was a fast-spreading condition and I needed to have it removed immediately. He answered our questions, calmed my fears and said he would do everything to help me.

“I have an open attitude towards people so it was easy to create a good connection with the doctors and medical personnel, which I consider very fundamental in such a process. I talked to them about my concerns or doubts and shared my worries about the process that I was going through. I have to say that all of them were wonderful in every aspect!”

Dr. van der Velden explained to Almudena that as clear cell is an aggressive form of ovarian cancer, it would need to be treated that way. One month later, Almudena underwent a procedure called open surgery, rather than laparoscopic surgery, requiring an incision large enough for the doctor to see the cyst and surrounding tissue.

“My incision from the surgery is a constant reminder of the struggle I went through. The cyst, which was 3cm, was a solid mass on my right ovary. It had adhered itself to the ovary and had to be broken to be removed, so some cells spilled out into my reproductive organs, namely, in my uterus and fallopian tubes. During this surgery, which was a complete hysterectomy, the doctor took additional tissue samples of my reproductive organs to be analyzed by pathology. Weeks later, he found no other metastases or extra cancer cells.”

http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/treatments-and-procedures/ovarian-cyst-removal-open-surgery

https://www.amc.nl/web/Het-AMC/Organisatie/Academisch-Medisch-Centrum.htm

The Process of Healing Begins

One month later, Almudena’s body was still recovering from the operation. Now, she had to start chemotherapy back at the OLVG.

“The doctor, Dr. W. Terpstra, hematologist/oncologist instructed me that I would be going through six full cycles of chemotherapy, which means full doses of carboplatin & paclitaxel every 21 days. At first, I felt reasonably good, then as each week progressed, I became more and more tired, nauseous, and just feeling terrible. I was not sleeping well and even lost the sensation of my fingers and toes as chemo attacks the nerves, too. Then, I started losing my eyelashes and hair so I shaved my long, flowing hair and wore a scarf wrapped around my head.”

Almudena would report to the hospital for her weekly chemotherapy session, starting at 9am and leaving at 6pm. The medical team would put her in a room with a full-size bed so she can relax during the infusion. Her husband, two sisters and some close friends would take turns accompanying her during this time, as she had a nurturing and caring support network.

“I could not have gone through this condition without my family and friends. It tests your relationships and shows you who your friends really are.”

The chemotherapy affected Almudena’s red blood cell count halfway through the process and she felt weak and tired.

“Anemia is normal during this time, but always being tired made me concentrate and focus on things less. I would watch a movie or read a book through the chemo session, and then I would fall asleep quickly.”

After Almudena finished the complete cycle of chemotherapy infusions, she had a follow-up appointment with her doctor, which included blood work, CT scan, and other diagnostic tests.

“My doctor said the tests results were very good. Now, I see him every three months for a routine visit. That was such a wonderful report to hear.

“During this process I learned to love myself, and pampered myself and my body. I learned to improve in terms of beauty, even in the worst circumstances. I wanted to feel beautiful and attractive for myself and for my close family. After three chemo cycles, I started even to think about how my new hair style would be in the moment that I finished chemo.”

Ovarian Carcinoma Pathophysiology Facts

According to published studies, ovarian clear cell adenocarcinomas (OCCAs) account for less than 5 percent of all ovarian malignancies, and 3.7–12.1 percent of all epithelial ovarian carcinomas. By contrast, early‐stage clear cell ovarian cancer carries a relatively good prognosis. When compared with their serous counterparts, a greater proportion of OCCA tumors present as early‐stage (I–II) tumors, are often associated with a large pelvic mass, which may account for their earlier diagnosis, and rarely occur bilaterally. Very little is known about the pathobiology of OCCA. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of ovarian cancers are associated with endometriotic lesions in which there is a predominance of clear and endometrioid cell subtypes, suggesting that both tumor types may arise in endometriosis. http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq

The National Cancer Institute’s web site offers these statistics. In most families affected with the breast and ovarian cancer syndrome or site-specific ovarian cancer, genetic linkage has been found to the BRCA1 locus on chromosome 17q21. BRCA2, also responsible for some instances of inherited ovarian and breast cancer, has been mapped by genetic linkage to chromosome 13q12. The lifetime risk for developing ovarian cancer in patients harboring germline mutations in BRCA1 is substantially increased over that of the general population. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

Words Of Wisdom

“Throughout this journey, I found myself again in some way and found my strength as well. When it seemed I could not stand it anymore, either physically and mentally, I realized that I could.

“At the beginning of my diagnosis, I asked myself, ‘Why me?’, and I then changed it to, ‘Why not me?’ I discovered that I have the same opportunities as anyone who becomes ill. The important perspective to have is not whining and dwelling on my bad luck. The important thing is to heal, survive, and recover my life, which is very good!

“I learned the real value and importance of things: to differentiate and give real meaning and value to the care and support of my husband, René, who was always there for me, and my parents and sisters, who came to Amsterdam very often during the process. I also made sure that René was well-supported and accompanied by my family.  René was feeling terrible for me, but he never showed it — and I learned this fact after I was starting to be back on track.”

Almudena’s Life Today

“At a significant moment in my life during my cancer diagnosis and after a long professional life in many corporate and consulting business in several countries, I decided to re-invent myself and start a new career, this time, in the battle of the opinions. I always liked foreign affairs and diplomacy, so why not share my thoughts and write about current international issues.”

That’s when Almudena started a blog to discuss relevant international political issues with her background specialization in International Relations, International Politics, International Law and Governance.

“I consider myself politically liberal and have been influenced by J.S. Mill and A. Tocqueville’s tradition of thought, as well as their ethical conception of the defense of freedom. This is what I try to capture in my political approach and in this blog. http://almudenas.website/index.php/about-me/

“Regarding my profession, I have already reinvented myself, leaving the corporate life with all that is included regarding life’s standards, and do what really makes me happy, which I´m doing right now. It seems after all, looking back with perspective, I did the right thing.

“I am grateful for my life and never take anything for granted. I am the happiest when I am doing things that please me or give me the utmost satisfaction. I now have balance in my personal and professional life, something that I’ve never had before. My husband, René, likes it too and I have his full support.”

She recently ‘liked’ this saying on LinkedIn, the professional network site, ‘I never lose. I either win or learn,’ which was attributed to Nelson Mandela, the deceased South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist.

Almudena’s life continues on a path of balance, richness and thankfulness for the person she is and the many blessings she continues to have along the way.

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Gabriela Contreras, a global communications consultant and patient advocate, for the tremendous help and support she provided in locating and scheduling time to talk with Almudena Seeder-Alonso.

Almudena Seeder-Alonso provided her permission to publish this interview on August 10, 2016.

REFERENCES/SOURCES

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/health/harnessing-the-immune-system-to-fight-cancer.html?_r=0

http://www.sharecancersupport.org/share-new/support/stories/linda_clear_cell_ovarian_cancer/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq

http://almudenas.website/index.php/about-me/

http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq

http://www.cgoa.nl/page/view/name/34-wie-we-zijn

http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/treatments-and-procedures/ovarian-cyst-removal-open-surgery

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2001101/

Other related articles on the link between Ovarian Cancer and Thyroid Cancer:

https://www.whatnext.com/questions/is-there-a-link-between-ovarian-and-thyroid-cancer

Other related articles/information:

https://www.olvg.nl/

https://www.amc.nl/web/Het-AMC/Organisatie/Academisch-Medisch-Centrum.htm

 

Other related articles on Ovarian Cancer and Thyroid Cancer were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

Ovarian Cancer (N = 285)

2015

A Curated History of the Science Behind the Ovarian Cancer β-Blocker Trial

Model mimicking clinical profile of patients with ovarian cancer @ Yale School of Medicine

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/09/26/model-mimicking-clinical-profile-of-patients-with-ovarian-cancer-yale-school-of-medicine/

2014

Preclinical study identifies ‘master’ proto-oncogene that regulates stress-induced ovarian cancer metastasis | MD Anderson Cancer Center

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/08/15/preclinical-study-identifies-master-proto-oncogene-that-regulates-stress-induced-ovarian-cancer-metastasis-md-anderson-cancer-center/

Good and Bad News Reported for Ovarian Cancer Therapy

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/07/01/good-and-bad-news-reported-for-ovarian-cancer-therapy-2/

Efficacy of Ovariectomy in Presence of BRCA1 vs BRCA2 and the Risk for Ovarian Cancer

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2014/02/25/efficacy-of-ovariectomy-in-presence-of-brca1-vs-brca2-and-the-risk-for-ovarian-cancer/

 

And 
 
Thyroid Cancer (N = 124)
2015
Experience with Thyroid Cancer

 

2012

Thyroid Cancer: The Evolution of Treatment Options

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2012/08/19/thyroid-cancer-the-evolution-of-treatment-options/

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Ralph’s Story: An Entertainer at Heart

Patient was diagnosed with heart disease and pulmonary hypertension in January 2016 and had a triple-bypass operation at age 69. Interview was conducted six months post-surgery.

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

Evergreen, Colorado, an idyllic, peaceful community with an elevation of 8,000 feet west of Denver, offers its residents and visitors a beautiful place for arts and culture, summer and winter sporting activities, and scenic beauty. In fact, Ralph Nichols has lived in the town for more than 20 years.

“This past September [2015] was, particularly, challenging for me, where winter begins quite early for us. It became increasingly painful and difficult to breathe in the freezing temperatures. It seemed that my lungs were inflamed and I couldn’t even stand the cold weather. I thought it might be the beginning of a bad cold, and I wasn’t overly concerned that there was anything terribly wrong.”

At that time, Ralph went to his family physician who performed the usual routine examination with no significant results.

“Many years ago, I developed a mild case of scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease. I thought that perhaps my symptoms were the result of some type of inflammation in my body that could be managed with prescription medications.”

Scleroderma is known as an autoimmune disease, which adds an inappropriate amount of collagen to various parts of the body, such as the joints, skin, and later stages, various organs, such as the lungs, in Ralph’s case. Scleroderma can cause the organs to shut down and, eventually, cause death.

“I never let this condition stop me from doing anything as it is life-long condition. It was always something I had to tolerate and work through.”

http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageNavigator/patients_whatis.html#.V5Zrm84luKo

 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Ralph Nichols and Gabriela Contreras.  Top left: Ralph today. Top right: Ralph recovering one month after surgery. Bottom left and center: Ralph with his medical team. Bottom right: Ralph in rehabilitation center.

Over the brutal Colorado winter, Ralph’s symptoms were getting worse. He had no idea that his life would dramatically change over the next few months. He went to see his family physician again. During this physical examination, Ralph was referred to pulmonary and cardiovascular specialists for a routine electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and stress test in order to further diagnose his symptoms. He had always been relatively healthy and fit and never been seriously ill or hospitalized.

“On the outside, Ralph was the picture of good health,” said his wife, Gabriela. “On the inside, his body was telling him that something was wrong.”

Three months later in December 2015, Ralph met with Dr. Alexandra Smart, a pulmonologist, who ordered a chest x-ray and other diagnostic tests, including a right heart catheterization. At that point, Ralph’s medical team grew. It was then determined that Ralph needed to see other cardiovascular specialists and undergo more tests. In January 2016, he met with Dr. Sameer Mehta, cardiologist at Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery Associates, in Lakewood, Colorado, who reviewed his tests to date, listened to Ralph’s symptoms, and told him he needed both a right and left heart cardiac catheterization.

 “They gave me sedation for the catheterization procedure and went through my neck with a camera to see what was going on with my lungs and heart. We were all singing together on the way to the operating room. During the procedure, my cardiologist found more than he had anticipated.”

The result was not good. Ralph had major blockages in two main arteries that supply blood to his heart muscle compounded by the fact that his lungs were affected by scleroderma.

“The catheterization was alarming. It showed that my arteries were in bad shape. They were both clogged with atherosclerotic plaque; one of them was 99 percent blocked and the other was 85 percent blocked.”

His cardiologist believed that the blockages would not respond to medications quickly or a stent.

“Even though my father had major heart disease and died two years later of cancer at the age of 56, I thought that I would be immune to this particular experience. After all, I was in good health, exercised regularly, lived a reasonable lifestyle and had a great diet.”

 Preparing for Life-Saving and Life-Changing Surgery

Unfortunately, surgery was the next step. Ralph was referred to Dr. Mehta’s colleague, Dr. Patrick D. Rudersdorf, cardiothoracic surgeon at Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery Associates.

“I didn’t leave the hospital that day as expected. Instead, I got a visit from Dr. Rudersdorf and couldn’t believe what he was telling me. My only chance to live was having triple bypass surgery which needed to be done immediately. The doctor met with me that same day to explain the procedure, answer my questions and talk through the details of the rehabilitation period after the surgery.”

Dr. Rudersdorf reassured Ralph that he was doing the right thing and calmed my fears.

“He said that I needed this life-saving surgery because I was at high risk for having a major heart attack. I was shocked, at first, at the thought of the intensity of surgery on my body. It’s a situation that no one likes to be in, but I had to make a decision about alleviating the ongoing pain and pressure in my chest along with shortness of breath due to diseased heart arteries. Coronary bypass surgery was my answer to feeling better — and it essentially gave me my life back.”

Dr. Rudersdorf moved his previously planned morning surgery to another day to accommodate me first thing in the morning. Ralph underwent triple bypass surgery at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado. The procedure was complex and took eight hours. He was in the hospital for a total of 31 days.

“It was an ordeal that I thought I’d never have to experience. I had no time to call anyone, or time to even contemplate life and death…or even being scared.  My wife Gabriela spent the entire time in the hospital, supported by our dearest friends, Norma Delaney and Garret Annofsky, in addition to keeping family and friends in other parts of the United States and Mexico updated as well. Once the surgery was over, the medical team woke me up and said the procedure was successful, but I was far from being out of the woods.”

Ralph had some complications because of a condition called pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, in one form of pulmonary hypertension, tiny arteries in the lungs, called pulmonary arterioles, and capillaries become narrowed, blocked or destroyed. This makes it harder for blood to flow through the lungs, and raises pressure within the lungs’ arteries. As the pressure builds, the heart’s lower right chamber (right ventricle) must work harder to pump blood through the lungs, eventually causing the heart muscle to weaken and fail. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-hypertension/home/ovc-20197480

“The pulmonary hypertension limited some of the medications that the doctors would have used during my recovery. It was a tough few days for me in intensive care, hooked up to about 18 monitors. The medical team had to stop and re-start my heart four different times because of atrial fibrillation — finally getting both parts of the heart to dance together in the same rhythm.”

Ralph’s heart was beating abnormally fast and irregular and not functioning the way it should. The doctors restore regular rhythm to the heart by sending an electrical shock to the heart, which is called electrical cardioversion or chemically using antiarrhythmia medications, which is called pharmacologic or chemical cardioversion.

“The doctors shocked my heart first chemically with medications when I was awake. This procedure was the scariest. I was sitting up in bed and felt my heart stop, then the medical team flushed the medication out with saline in order to restart my heart. That procedure was not successful, so that is why the doctors had to shock my heart three more times electrically.

“The reason the doctors stopped my heart was to correct the atrial fibrillation and to get my heart into regular sinus rhythm, which is a wave mode of the heart where everything is synchronized. The doctors did not want me to continue to experience atrial fibrillation because if continued, I would not be able to regain my strength.”

Ralph was finally moved from intensive care to intermediate care after five days and the medical team kept him in intermediate care another 12 days until his heart and lungs got stronger.

“From there, I didn’t go home but instead went to Evergreen Life Center for rehabilitation for two weeks to learn how to walk, climb stairs so that I could access my home on my own, and develop my strength again. The rehab team would let me leave only after making sure I had oxygen in my home.”

After that, Ralph started another phase of his rehabilitation at St. Anthony Cardiac Rehabilitation and Wellness Center. For the next three months, he took part in cardiac rehabilitation three days a week. He passed that with flying colors. Now, he is in another phase of rehabilitation, building his lung capacity two days a week.

Ralph didn’t have the means or even the will to communicate with friends during this tumultuous time, except Gabriela and several close friends who were always at the hospital and rehabilitation center who gave him the strength to continue.

“I finally returned home after many weeks with an enormous feeling of gratitude for each and every one of my friends, as well as the St. Anthony’s hospital team of doctors, nurses, and therapists, who supported me and Gabriela during this exceptional adventure that has certainly changed my life.”

Surely, this experience has been a life-changing experience for Ralph.

 Coronary Artery Bypass Facts

 Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG, often pronounced “cabbage”) is a surgical treatment for blocked coronary arteries. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle and when blockages in these arteries form, chest pain, shortness of breath and heart attacks can occur. Catheter procedures performed by interventional cardiologists address the blockages themselves with stents. Coronary bypass surgery performed by cardiac surgeons reroutes the blood around the blockages to supply better blood supply to the heart muscle and is a better treatment option, although more invasive, for certain patients and more durable for most patients.

http://ctsurgery.com/conditions-procedures/heart-aorta/cardiac-surgery/coronary-artery-bypass-grafting-cabg/

Life for Ralph Today

Today, Ralph is regaining his strength both in mind and body. He visits the cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation center three times a week for the past few months and walks on their treadmill, lifts weights and pedals the bicycle for one hour, supervised by the therapists. He also sees his medical team for regular check-ups every month, eats healthier with no fat and no salt, and takes a cocktail of medicines daily for his heart and lungs, including amiodarone, furosemide, pitavastatin, and aspirin.

“Almost six months after my surgery, although I am not in the best shape of my life, however, I am in the best spiritual place than ever before. This is a huge milestone for me. I continue to improve my strength, which will make my heart more resilient. There is nothing that I can’t do now, and I am doing everything I can to experience a normal life as far as work and regaining my strength. I find it necessary to move to a warmer climate and lower altitude in order to continue to improve.”

Ralph also is the former lead singer of The Letterman and The Sandpipers, two American easy-listening bands during the 1960-70-80s. He is an entertainer at heart with over 3,000 professional appearances to his credit. He has been performing and recording for over 50 years, traveled the world extensively and performed before members of the Vatican with Pope Pius XII and Royalty with Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly, as well as notables such as Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ronald Reagan, Merv Griffin, Danny Thomas, Shirley Bassey, Rosalind Russell and Bob Hope.

Ralph and his vocal group were dubbed by Billboard Magazine as “the greatest romantic vocal group of all time.” He is also a member of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, a prestigious honor. He is a true legend as his group has sold more than 20 million recordings, performed live thousands of times, and whose recording of the song “Love” was left by NASA astronauts in a time capsule on the moon.

“I enjoy each and every day and appreciate all that life has to offer.”

Ralph’s next step is to get back to singing and his solo entertainment business, which he holds dear to his heart. That should be a task that he can easily accomplish.

 

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Gabriela Contreras, a global communications consultant and patient advocate, for the tremendous help and support that she provided in scheduling time to talk with Ralph Nichols.

Ralph Nichols provided his permission to publish this interview on July 30, 2016.

 

REFERENCES/SOURCES

http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageNavigator/patients_whatis.html#.V5Zrm84luKo

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-hypertension/home/ovc-20197480

http://ctsurgery.com/conditions-procedures/heart-aorta/cardiac-surgery/coronary-artery-bypass-grafting-cabg/

 

Other related articles:

Retrieved from http://www.sunset.com/travel/rockies/evergreen-colorado-day-trip-travel-planner

Retrieved from http://www.secondscount.org/heart-condition-centers/info-detail-2/benefits-risks-of-coronary-bypass-surgery-2#.V5dkK_krKUk

Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

2016

People with blood type O have been reported to be protected from coronary heart disease, cancer, and have lower cholesterol levels.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/11/people-with-blood-type-o-have-been-reported-to-be-protected-from-coronary-heart-disease-cancer-and-have-lower-cholesterol-levels/

2015

A Patient’s Perspective: On Open Heart Surgery from Diagnosis and Intervention to Recovery

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/05/10/a-patients-perspective-on-open-heart-surgery-from-diagnosis-and-intervention-to-recovery/

No evidence to change current transfusion practices for adults undergoing complex cardiac surgery: RECESS evaluated 1,098 cardiac surgery patients received red blood cell units stored for short or long periods

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/04/08/no-evidence-to-change-current-transfusion-practices-for-adults-undergoing-complex-cardiac-surgery-recess-evaluated-1098-cardiac-surgery-patients-received-red-blood-cell-units-stored-for-short-or-lon/

2013

ACC/AHA Guidelines for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/11/05/accaha-guidelines-for-coronary-artery-bypass-graft-surgery/

On Devices and On Algorithms: Arrhythmia after Cardiac SurgeryPrediction and ECG Prediction of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation Onset

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/05/07/on-devices-and-on-algorithms-arrhythmia-after-cardiac-surgery-prediction-and-ecg-prediction-of-paroxysmal-atrial-fibrillation-onset/

 

Editor’s note:

I wish to encourage the e-Reader of this Interview to consider reading and comparing the experiences of other Open Heart Surgery Patients, voicing their private-life episodes in the ER that are included in this volume.

I also wish to encourage the e-Reader to consider, if interested, reviewing additional e-Books on Cardiovascular Diseases from the same Publisher, Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence (LPBI) Group, on Amazon.com.

  •  Perspectives on Nitric Oxide in Disease Mechanisms, on Amazon since 6/2/12013

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DINFFYC

  • Cardiovascular, Volume Two: Cardiovascular Original Research: Cases in Methodology Design for Content Co-Curation, on Amazon since 11/30/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018Q5MCN8

  • Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Three: Etiologies of Cardiovascular Diseases: Epigenetics, Genetics and Genomics, on Amazon since 11/29/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018PNHJ84

  • Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume Four: Regenerative and Translational Medicine: The Therapeutics Promise for Cardiovascular Diseases, on Amazon since 12/26/2015

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019UM909A

onepagecvdseriesaflyervol1-4

 

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