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  • January 18, 2022

    By MedStar Team

    Structural racism is one of the most pressing issues facing healthcare today.  Unfortunately, academic medicine historically exacerbating the exploitation of vulnerable communities to achieve educational and research goals, especially in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. For example, many traditional research practices among marginalized communities highlight and, in most cases, magnify inequities in care. These can include:   

    • Community members are under informed about research methods and strategies. 

    • Researchers prioritize extraction of information from communities rather than community ownership of information.

    • Researchers accrue funding, prestige, and publications (in which academics’ voices predominate over the narrative perspective of community members) without similar accrual to participating communities.  

    • Researchers’ understanding of questions to be answered may lack cultural context because of their incomplete comprehension of community conditions.  

    The relationship between research institutions and many BIPOC communities is estranged and needs mending to dismantle racial disparities and inequitable research practices. As the area’s largest healthcare provider, MedStar Health is committed to do the work needed to address these issues in everything we do in order to advance health equity for everyone we serve.

    “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    (March 25, 1966 speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights)


    Advancing Health Equity in Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Research

    MedStar Health investigators Arrealia Gavins, Celene E. Domitrovich, Christina Morris, Jessica X. Ouyang, and Matthew G. Biel recently published research emphasizing the need to co-learn and to co-develop research with community members themselves to prioritize benefits for both participants and researchers. “Advancing Antiracism in Community-Based Research Practices in Early Childhood and Family Mental Health” was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This work was done through the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN),  a community-based partnership between two academic medical centers (MedStar Georgetown University Hospital & Children’s National Health System) and several community-based organizations in Washington, DC that strives to provide support to families through caregiver and child mental health services, family peer support, child social and emotional learning, initiatives to address social determinants of physical and mental health for families, and place-based support to families within select communities.  

    In this study, researchers found that to begin to undo the inherent inequities within academic medical research, particularly in studies involving children and caregivers, investigators need to consider how best to build equitable, long-term partnerships with communities through Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) or more specifically, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). CBPR offers an alternative to traditional non-participatory research with a collaborative, strengths-based orientation that equitably involves researchers, community members and other stakeholders in all phases of research while embracing their unique expertise. 

    Recently documented increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide in BIPOC youth, compounded by the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on BIPOC communities, has heightened the urgency for progress in community-based research.

    The research team started to utilize CBPR practices to advance antiracism in their clinical research work in child and family health along with working with BIPOC communities. This approach to integrate CBPR practices into the development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based interventions seeks to support early childhood mental health in primarily Black communities in Washington, DC. 

    Making an Impact: Insights & Lessons Learned from CBPR

    Through this work of the EICN, the research team found five valuable lessons from applying CBRP principles to research collaborations in community settings. 

    Intervention Practices

    Lessons Learned and Applied

    ECIN launched a group-based mindfulness parenting program to explore how to support the emotional health of parents at a Head Start early education center with the intention to reduce caregiver stress and enhance caregiver-child relationships.


    Lesson 1: Invest the time to build trusting relationships

    Providers set up several discussion groups with community partners and medical center-based researchers to review proposed assessment tools to be used with children and families receiving psychotherapy services.

    Lesson 2: Involve community partners in the development of the intervention theory of change and measurement strategy


    Clinical staff organized peer specialists to provide support to families with young children through 3 evidence-based strategies: enhancing parents’ knowledge about caregiving with young children;optimizingparent use of existing resources; and increasing parents’ access to social supports.


    Lesson 3: Create interventions in partnership with community members

    Clinical staff providedearly childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) in preschool classrooms to enhance educators’capacitiesto support early childhood development and to recognize early signs of mental health concerns

    Lesson 4: Interpret findings in partnership with community members

    ECIN membersparticipatedin formal antiracism training with external experts to incorporate antiracism principles into ECIN’s operations and into the culture of the Network. ECIN formed a Racial Equity Community of Practice (RECOP), that supports 8 intervention teams in developing practices that advance racial equity goals.

    Lesson 5: Embed an antiracism focus in research structures and processes


    The research team found this community-based approach to be helpful in conducting research that will have a long-lasting impact on not only the community, but also on members of the research team. During a time where BIPOC families are experiencing the effect of COVID-related deaths and grief, unemployment, housing instability, and police violence; researchers have an opportunity to be engaged in the community and work to eliminate racial inequities within academic medicine and research. 

    Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2021.06.018

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  • January 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Researchers from MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare and Georgetown University School of Medicine analyzed electronic health records (EHR) surveillance data collected by The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for safety issues that could lead to patient harm.  The ONC collects data to determine whether EHR systems, which were certified as meeting specific design, functionality, and security standards set forth by the ONC, still meet those standards when implemented and used. 

    The research team included Raj Ratwani, PhD and Aaron Z. Hettinger, MD from MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare; and Thomas B. Pacheco, BS from Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C.,

    The ONC may perform surveillance on EHR vendor products in response to a reported issue (reactive) or by randomly selecting products for investigation (randomized). The researchers examined the surveillance data from January 2016 through June 2019 to determine whether identified issues had the potential for patient harm, and the frequency of these issues. The research focused on nonconformity issues that may have patient safety implications.

    The analysis surveilled 697 EHR systems and 358 of all vendor products examined had a certified capability nonconformity issue. The study found that close to 4% (275 EHR systems), had an issue with the potential for patient harm. Most surveillance was reactive, with 352 product IDs having a certified capability nonconformity issue and 273 were coded as being associated with possible patient harm. With most issues being identified through reactive surveillance, 41.8% of product IDs were classified as having a possible patient harm issue.

    The study concluded the need for an EHR safety reporting program.  To date, the health information technology industry does not have a method for clinicians or patients to openly report safety issues with EHR software. “This research highlights the need for proactive safety surveillance. We need to develop algorithms to identify safety issues before the issues reach patients, “ said Raj Ratwani, Ph.D.

    Dr. Ratwani is supported by AHRQ grants R01HS023701 and R01HS025136. Dr. Hettinger is supported by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) grant R01HS025136. Mr. Pacheco is supported by the Frank S. Pellegrini, MD Medical Student Research Scholarship Endowment.

    JAMA, 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.17242  

  • January 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MedStar Health Research Institute and Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and bring together the MedStar Health community for a learning experience focusing on a different topic each month.

    On behalf of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and MedStar Health Research Institute, you are invited to Clinical and Translational Research Grand Rounds on Friday, January 17, 2020 from 12:00 Noon pm to 1:00pm. The speaker will be Jacqueline Jonklaas, MD, PhD. The Talk is titled, “Hypothyroidism Treatment: The Basics and Beyond”. Grand Rounds will be held at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center True Auditorium (East Building, 1st Floor) rather than in the CTEC Auditorium. Lunch will be served at 1pm.

    Dr. Jonklaas is Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, Co-Director of the Participant and Clinical Interactions component of the GHUCCTS, and Director of the Clinical Research Unit at Georgetown. Dr. Jonklaas obtained her MD, residency, and fellowship training at Georgetown University. Her NIH-supported clinical and translational research and patient care both focus on management of thyroid cancer and on the assessment and treatment of hypothyroidism.

    Her research spans from early molecular work through biomarker studies, novel therapies, clinical trials, and patient reported outcomes and then to translation into clinical practice via her leadership of the guidelines committee of the American Thyroid Association.

    Hypothyroidism Treatment: The Basics and Beyond
    Jacqueline Jonklaas, MD, PhD
    Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, Co-Director of the Participant and Clinical Interactions component of the GHUCCTS, and Director of the Clinical Research Unit at Georgetown

    January 17, 2020

    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, True Auditorium (East Building, 1st Floor)

    For those located at remote sites and unable to attend in-person, log on to: on January 17, 2020 at 12:00 Noon to hear Dr. Jonklaas’ presentation.

    If you have any questions regarding the Research Grand Rounds program, please contact

  • January 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in December 2019. The selected articles and link to PubMed provided below represent the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates and published in peer-reviewed journals last month. The list is compiled from PubMed for any author using “MedStar” in the author affiliation. Congratulations to this month’s authors. We look forward to seeing your future research.

    View the full list of publications on here.

    Selected research:

    1. Combined Vascular Brachytherapy and Stenting for the Treatment of In-Stent Restenosis.
      The American Journal of Cariology, DOI: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2019.11.035
      Chen Y, Buchanan KD, Chan RC, Zhang C, Torguson R, Satler LF, Waksman R.

    2. Frequency of Advanced Cardiac Life Support Medication Use and Association with Survival During In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.
      Clinical Therapeutics, 2019. DOI: 1016/j.clinthera.2019.11.001
      Benz P, Chong S, Woo S, Brenner N, Wilson M, Dubin J, Heinrichs D, Titus S, Ahn J, Goyal M.

    3. Adherence among post-partum women living with HIV.
      The Lancet HIV, DOI: 10.1016/S2352-3018(19)30403-5
      Scott RK.

    4. Microbiologic Failure Despite Clinical Cure in Pneumonia: Cum Hoc and Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc.
      Clinical Infectious Diseases, DOI:10.1093/cid/ciz1191
      Shorr AF, Spellberg B, Zilberberg MD, Kollef MH.

    5. Creating a Care for the Caregiver Program in a Ten-Hospital Health System.
      Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America, 2019. DOI:10.1177/1078390319878781
      Morales CL, Brown MM.
  • January 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    In December, MHRI associates took some time out of their busy schedules to celebrate the successes of 2019 with their fellow associates. These events are also our opportunity to recognize associates with milestone years of service with MedStar Health.

    Through feedback and collaboration with our Associate Engagement Committee, we moved to two parties for this year. Both celebrations brought together leadership and associates to embrace our circus/carnival theme, “Step Right Up!”. This year we recognized excellence as we acknowledged our High Recruitment Studies that have reached their goals.  We also recognized our 2019 SPIRIT Award Recipients: the Ryan White Team, Allison Selman-Lovell and Surafel Zenebe.  Our associate recognition program, KUDOS was highlighted as we congratulated individuals for sending and receiving Kudos from one another.  We played a competitive game of trivia that challenged our knowledge of carnivals, state fairs and the circus. The events also featured our service award presentations and our wonderful raffle and associate gifts!  

    Thank you to all of our MHRI performers and ringleaders, who achieve great things through the year on a daily basis and help make a difference in the lives of our patients and the organization they represent.

    Many thanks to all the associates who assisted with planning, set-up, and clean up at each location. Your efforts made the events a success! Thank you to all the associates who brought a donation for Dr. Bear’s Closest at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., We’d also like to thank Amy Avergas and Karen Vaughan for organizing donations from the Greater Baltimore Oncology Nurse Society. More than 60 toys were donated to help children and their siblings celebrate this season.

    Congratulations to our service award recipients for your years of dedicated service to MedStar. Your work and support allow us to continue our commitment to advancing health in our community.

    25 Years of Service
    Barbara Rector

    20 Years of Service
    Grace Nasrallah
    Petros Okubagzi
    Mary Park
    Jianhui Zhu

    15 Years of Service
    Lin Han
    Suman Singh

    10 Years of Service
    Rachel Campbell
    Brandon Clark
    Teshome Deksissa
    Stephen Fernandez
    Xia Liu
    Theresa Moriarty
    Patricia Tanjutco

    5 Years of Service
    Abdul Naser Alkhalil
    Susan Cranford
    Abera Dengezo
    Preethy Feit
    David Gaviria-Munoz
    Daniel Hoffman
    Matthew Hoffman
    Audrey Jenkins
    Ji Jin
    Chad League
    Florence Mwicigi
    Sarah Null
    Shreejana Pokharel
    Kevin Reeves
    Timothy Rodriguez
    Jose Rodriguez-Weisson
    Christina Stanger
    Sharon Taho
    Surafel Zenebe
    Amir Ali Zohdi­­­­­

    You may view and download photos here, along with the slide presentations:

  • December 30, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Along with the holiday festivities, December brings an opportunity to reflect on the past year, and it’s been a busy one here at MedStar Health!!

    Over the past 12 months, we’ve covered a wide range of topics with one goal in mind—helping you stay healthy. From wellness tips, diet reviews, and nutritional advice to injury prevention strategies and screening recommendations, we published 33 healthcare articles this year and more than 9,000 of you read them!

    In case you missed a few, we combed through our most popular posts to bring you our top five health tips of 2019. If you’re setting some healthy New Year’s resolutions, you may want to consider adding one of these to your list.

    From all of us at the blog, we wish you health and happiness as you ring in the New Year!
    Are you setting healthy New Year’s #resolutions? From making better food choices at work to knowing when to use MedStar eVisit, check out our top 5 #healthtips of 2019 in @MedStarHealth’s #LiveWellHealthy blog.

    Click to Tweet

    1. 4 ways to make better food choices at work

    Eating healthy at work can feel like just another dreaded item you’ll never check off your to-do list. But making better food choices can actually help you boost productivity and increase focus and energy—and it only takes a few simple tweaks to your routine. Licensed Dietician Jessica DeCostole describes four ways you can easily incorporate nutritious habits into your workday so you can look and feel your best without adding stress to your busy schedule.

    Read four tricks to keep a healthy diet at work.

    healthy packed snacks on a desk

    2. Debunking colonoscopy: 3 common myths and what to really expect

    A colonoscopy is important for detecting colon cancer early, but many people delay the procedure out of fear of what to expect. And when that happens, cancerous tissue may not be spotted until it’s too late for treatment to be effective. In this June 2019 blog article, Dr. Michael Blume and Physician Assistant Jennifer Hamilton explain what really happens before, during, and after a colonoscopy so you can confidently seek regular screening if you’re at risk.

    Learn the truth about colonoscopy.

    Doctor explaining colonoscopy to her male patient

    3. Fast facts about hand, foot, and mouth disease

    If you’re a parent, you may have heard of hand, foot, and mouth disease. This contagious virus isn’t as well-known as the common cold, but it affects thousands of children every year. In this January 2019 blog post, we offer tips for reducing your child’s risk of developing the infection and how to quickly manage it if those blisters and rashes pop up on the mouth, hands, and skin. And as a bonus at the end of the post, you can watch Dr. Lee Fireman share how to avoid a doctor’s visit in a video.

    Find out more.

    toddler with hand foot and mouth disease

    4. 6 times to use a MedStar eVisit and when urgent care might be better

    MedStar eVisit makes it convenient to get the care you need at home, work, or while traveling via video chat with a doctor. But when an unexpected medical issue arises, it can be hard to tell if you should use an evisit or seek care from a nearby urgent care center or emergency room. In this blog post from fall 2019, Physician Assistant Megan Walling shares common conditions that can be treated virtually as well as signs you should visit an urgent care center.

    Understand when to use eVisit or urgent care.

    sick woman using her tablet to talk to a medical professional

    5. 7 common STDs and when to test for them

    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise and having multiple partners increases your risk of infection. What’s more, STDs often have no symptoms and they can develop into serious health problems when left untreated. In this February 2019 post, Dr. Jasmeet Bhogal identifies the types of STDs we see the most and why timely treatment is important. If you’re sexually active, our prevention strategies and screening suggestions can help you protect yourself from life-threatening infections.

    Get our top tips on STD prevention and safety.

    happy healthy couple hugging in kitchen

    As you set healthy (and achievable) New Year’s resolutions, which of our top five health tips of 2019 are you adding to your list? We’d love to hear about your health goals for the upcoming year!

    Which of our top five health tips will you be adding to your list for 2020? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook by tagging us @MedStarHealth and using the hashtag #LiveWellHealthy.

    Share Your Health Goals

  • December 23, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Eating healthy is one of the best things you can do for your health. In fact, consuming a healthy diet that prioritizes fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can reduce your risk of:

    As the medical director of Fresh & Savory, an eight-week culinary and lifestyle program in which we teach people how to cook and eat healthy using an actual kitchen, I’ve seen numerous people lose weight and improve not only their health after learning how to cook healthy meals but also the health of their entire family, as they often relay the information they learn during our classes to their loved ones.

    Eating healthy can be particularly difficult during the holidays. The average calorie intake during Thanksgiving alone is about 4,000 calories, and many people gain one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. As a result, it’s important to prepare your meals or snacks ahead of time so you can avoid eating tempting but unhealthy foods.

    What to Make During the Holidays

    1. Date Energy Balls

    Date energy balls are ideal for when you want a snack throughout the day or eating prior to a workout, as they’re filling and have carbohydrates, which are essential to consume before working out. To make date energy balls, combine the following ingredients and mix them together using a food processor:

    • 2 cups of walnuts (substitute almonds, peanuts, or other nuts you prefer)
    • 1 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut
    • 2 cups of soft, pitted Medjool dates
    • 2 tablespoons of almond butter (or preferred nut butter)
    • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

    Scoop the dough using a tablespoon and roll it between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in the freezer for one to two hours before serving. If you want gourmet-looking date balls, you can also roll them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder before chilling.

    These snacks store in a sealed container for about a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.

    Get the printable recipe card here!

    Date energy balls are a great, easy-to-make #snack to keep you full during the #holidays. Learn how to make them and other healthy snacks, via @MedStarHealth. #LiveWellHealthy

    Click to Tweet

    2. Aromatic Quick Quinoa

    Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein, and a great source of carbohydrates. Moreover, it can work well as both a main dish and a side dish. To make quinoa, use the following ingredients:

    • 1 cup of quinoa
    • Juice from one lemon
    • 3 tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce)
    • 2 medium-sized zucchini
    • 1 small broccoli head
    • 1 tablespoon of tahini
    • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
    • Salt and pepper

    You’ll want to place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 1.5 cups of water, lemon juice, and the tamari. Stir and cook on high heat until it comes to a boil, then boil for one to two minutes and reduce to a simmer, covered, for 12 minutes (or until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy).

    Now, slice the zucchini in half, chop it into half-moons, and cut the broccoli into florets. Heat your pan on medium heat; add olive oil, tamari, salt, pepper, zucchini, and broccoli; and sauté for seven minutes. Mix the cooked quinoa together with the tahini and sautéed vegetables and drizzle with olive oil.

    Get the printable recipe card here!

    3. Mango Salsa

    Salsa is good for almost any occasion—and, thankfully, it doesn’t contain many calories and can be relatively healthy when you make it yourself. Use the following ingredients for a delicious mango salsa:

    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 jalapeno, diced
    • 1 red onion, diced
    • 3 limes, juiced
    • 3 red mangos or 6 yellow mangos
    • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
    • 1 ½ teaspoon of cilantro, chopped

    You’ll want to combine all of the ingredients together into a large bowl, mix them together, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving with pita chips.

    Get the printable recipe card here!

    4. Glowing Turmeric Latte

    Some people may not initially consider lattes a snack, but they can be filling. A glowing turmeric latte is lightly sweetened with natural ingredients; can contain a good amount of protein (if you opt for regular milk); and contains turmeric, a spice from eastern Asia and Central America. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and a good source of antioxidants, or substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals.

    Use the following ingredients to make a glowing turmeric latte:

    • 1 cup of milk (of your preferred milk type)
    • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon of honey
    • 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom

    To prepare the latte, combine all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium to high heat until the ingredients begin to boil. Then pour into a mug and serve.

    Get the printable recipe card here!

    5. Zesty Curried Chickpeas

    Zesty curried chickpeas is a wonderful dish that’s uncomplicated, fast, and tasty. Chickpeas contain many healthy nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, making them an ideal main ingredient for any meal. To make this dish, use the following ingredients:

    • ½ teaspoon of salt
    • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
    • 1 ¼ teaspoon of cumin seed
    • 1 ¼ teaspoon of kalonji seed (also called black caraway or nigella)
    • ¼ cup of olive oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • ½ chili pepper, chopped
    • One 15-ounce can of chickpeas
    • ½ cup of water
    • ¼ cup of cilantro

    Heat your saucepan and add olive oil, onion, and chili. Saute on low heat or until onion starts to brown at the edges. Add in the remaining spices, and continue to saute until the spices are well mixed.

    Add chickpeas and mix in the saucepan, add water, and let it simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Let the ingredients cool for a few minutes, then add cilantro and serve.

    Get the printable recipe card here!

    The Fresh & Savory Program

    Fresh & Savory consists of a shared medical appointment in which individuals meet as a group. This way they can work together and inspire one another, learn from each other, and share recipe ideas. We also introduce other lifestyle modifications that are known to promote longevity and vitality, including ways to:

    • Exercise regularly
    • Get more sleep
    • Develop a sense of community
    • Reduce stress

    If you’re near Washington, D.C., and interested in participating in the Fresh & Savory program, please call (202) 416-2000 to speak with a member of our team.

    While the holidays can make it easier to eat unhealthy foods, you can still continue eating a healthy diet by planning your meals in advance and sticking to them. Make sure to consider these snacks during this year’s holidays.

    Want to learn more about the Fresh & Savory program? Call us to find out how you can enhance your healthy eating habits.

    Call (202) 416-2000