January 06, 2022
Christine R. Wray announces Jan. 2022 retirement after 42 years of service in healthcare
CLINTON, Md. – Christine R. Wray, FACHE, president of MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital who also serves as a senior vice president for MedStar Health, announced that she will be retiring on January 28, 2022.
Wray was named president of MedStar Southern Maryland in September 2014, two years after MedStar Health acquired the hospital located in the Clinton area of Prince George’s County. With Wray at the helm, MedStar Southern Maryland saw the development and growth of several new service lines.
In 2016, the hospital received national recognition from U.S. News & World Report, having ranked among the top 50 of best hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery. In 2017, MedStar Southern Maryland joined the prestigious MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute-Cleveland Clinic Alliance. Wray also helped facilitate the opening of the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in February 2020. This 25,000 square foot facility offers unmatched medical expertise, leading-edge therapies, and access to robust clinical research, all under the same roof.
Moreover, the construction of MedStar Southern Maryland’s new Emergency Department (ED) expansion project took place under Wray’s leadership, and remained on schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The $43 million ED expansion project has been deemed the largest construction project in the hospital’s history. The new emergency department opened its doors in April 2021 to provide local residents with seamless access to the most advanced care.
Wray’s focus on providing quality care has helped MedStar Southern Maryland build a foundation of excellence that will serve local communities for decades to come. MedStar Southern Maryland is grateful for the innumerable and lasting contributions that Wray made throughout her 42-year healthcare career.
“I have so cherished working with all of you in our commitment and service to our wonderful communities. It has truly been an honor and a privilege,” Wray said in an announcement that was emailed to hospital associates. “Please always be proud of the work you do and how you care for each other as you care for our patients. It is incredibly important work and you are the best of the best!”
Dr. Stephen Michaels, who currently serves as the chief operating and medical officer for MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, will take over as president of MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.
October 19, 2016MedStar Health Home Care announces the promotion of Steve Baur, DPT, to Vice President of Therapy Services.
October 17, 2016
Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood Program Launched, Part of White House Cancer Moonshot
Washington, D.C., October 17, 2016 – Colon cancer is one of the very few preventable cancers, but too many residents from the District of Columbia’s Ward 5 are diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Today, MedStar Washington Hospital Center is launching its “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” program, to increase early detection and prevention of colon cancer. The program focuses on African-Americans in the Ward 5 neighborhood, where a crisis of late-stage colon cancer exists. “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” is part of Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot efforts to ensure cancer care is equitable throughout the nation.
Of 1,314 men and women treated for colon cancer from 2006 to 2011 at the Hospital Center, 892 of them, or 68 percent had stages 2 through 4 colon cancer. Of those, nearly 50 percent of stage 3 and 4 colon cancer patients were from Ward 5, echoing a number of studies that consistently show the highest yearly prevalence of colon cancer in the District is among Ward 5 residents. The data also revealed 91 percent of those with stage 3 and 4 colon cancer were African-Americans. Even more alarming, 97 percent of those presenting with advanced colon cancer had health insurance at the time of their diagnosis.
“It is shocking to see that this many residents who have insurance coverage are presenting late, with a disease that could have been detected earlier with screening,” said Elmer Huerta, MD, MPH, director of the Cancer Preventorium at MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Washington Cancer Institute. “This data validates the need to offer accessible colon cancer screening and education in the community.”
The “Colon Cancer Prevention in the Neighborhood” program will deploy patient navigators to work with Ward 5 residents, building community-based partnerships to deliver colon cancer education, perform risk assessments and distribute easy-to-use fecal immunochemical (FIT) tests that can be done at home. The FIT test measures tiny amounts of blood in the stool that can be a sign of cancer or large polyps. The program will also offer services to connect patients with colonoscopy services, supporting the goal of significantly increasing screening rates among Ward 5 residents. The community-based program is supported by the Herb Gordon Foundation for Gastrointestinal Cancer, the American Cancer Society and private donors.
For the past three years, breast health navigators at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have been actively working in the Ward 5 community to improve breast cancer screening. Hospital Center data found similar results as with colon cancer: 97 percent of the Ward 5 patients with advanced breast cancer were African-American women with health insurance coverage. Thanks to grants from the AVON Breast Cancer Crusade, the breast cancer outreach program is now expanding across the city into Wards 7 and 8.
About the Cancer Moonshot:
During his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to lead a new, national Cancer Moonshot, focused on making a decade's worth of progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer in five years - ultimately striving to end cancer as we know it. A Presidential Memorandum on January 28, 2016 established the Cancer Moonshot Task Force.
After meeting with experts across the country and the world, Vice President Biden identified areas of focus for the Cancer Moonshot -- based on barriers to progress and opportunities for improving patient outcomes - and announced a first wave of accomplishments at the Cancer Moonshot Summit on June 29, 2016 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. On Monday, October 17, Vice President Biden is releasing the final report of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, along with his own Executive Findings after traveling to many of the major nerve centers in the cancer community. He will also unveil a new set of Federal actions, private sector actions, and collaborative partnerships to further advance the goals of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force. More information on the Cancer Moonshot can be found here.
About MedStar Washington Hospital Center:
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 926-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. U.S.News & World Report consistently ranks the hospital’s cardiology and heart surgery program as one of the nation’s best. It also is a respected top facility in the areas of cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. It operates MedSTAR, a nationally-verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.
October 17, 2016
Valerie Calhoun feels like she’s back. After an exhausting battle with breast cancer, she has thrown her wigs to the back of her closet, she is active in her church again and she is scheduling ice cream dates with her granddaughter. None of this would be possible, she says, without the breast cancer treatment she received at MedStar Southern Maryland and the special attention she received from breast surgeon Dr. Ekaterini V. Tsiapali.
It was during a yearly mammogram last July when Valerie found out she had a tumor. After her mom’s three-time battle with breast cancer decades ago, she was scared. Her primary care physician put Valerie in touch with Dr. Tsiapali, who biopsied the tumor. The initial diagnosis was grim: it was a malignant, aggressive form of cancer, in Stage 3. A lumpectomy followed in September, when Dr. Tsiapali removed the tumor and four lymph nodes.
This understandably difficult time was made a little easier, says Valerie, because Dr. Tsiapali made sure she knew what was happening every step of the way.
“Her bedside manner is the greatest,” says Valerie, of Dr. Tsiapali. “She takes time and explains everything. She gave me so much information and she’s very truthful; this is what it is, these are your options.”
Chemo began last November. Valerie experienced hair loss, along with a loss of energy and appetite. Her husband Thomas stopped working to be there for her, and her church, Woodstream Church in Mitchellville, fervently prayed for her health. Her sister took her wig shopping, her mother, the original cancer survivor of the family, prayed with her, and her children and grandchildren rallied around her. When chemo treatments finished in February, which Valerie recalls as the toughest part of this battle, she began six weeks of radiation treatments.
Now, she is cancer-free, and sees Dr. Tsiapali every six months. The staff greets her warmly when she returns, happy to see her so healthy, and she is equally happy to see them, remembering every kindness, like her appointment around Mother’s Day, when they gave her a flower.
“I’m telling you, this journey has been awesome, because of the entire staff,” said Valerie. “I’m just grateful. I asked God to direct me to a doctor and a team that could take care of me and He did. It’s such a blessing.”
Valerie’s story has a happy ending, like the majority of current breast cancer patients. The diagnosis is no longer as scary as it was years ago, says Dr. Tsiapali, when treatments were, at times, overly aggressive when they didn’t need to be, and techniques had the potential to cause more problems.
“Today, we schedule needle biopsies, like we did with Valerie, instead of surgical procedures,” said Dr. Tsiapali. “The needle biopsy is less invasive, so recovery is easier. We also have made huge strides with techniques to save breasts and reshape them when tumors are removed.”
Dr. Tsiapali is also able to refer patients to MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s genetic counselors, so breast cancer patients can undergo testing to see if they are carriers of cancer genes and determine whether patients who have breast tumors would benefit from chemotherapy, as Valerie did.
The trend, says Dr. Tsiapali, is to individualize treatment to each patient’s unique needs. By taking this tailored approach, she has seen patients over the course of her career recover more quickly than patients did as recently as a decade ago. Her reward for providing treatment, she says, is seeing patients like Valerie return to a happy life after a long, difficult journey through breast cancer treatments.
“Getting to know Valerie has been a pleasure,” says Dr. Tsiapali. “She is easy-going and resilient and it has been wonderful to see her get back to being herself.”
To schedule a mammogram at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, call 301-877-5607.
October 17, 2016
Artist to Donate Portion of Funds Raised to Scholarship Fund
Leonardtown, Maryland – MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is hosting an art show this fall by local artist Bernard “Bernie” Matus. The Leonardtown artist’s photographs and digital designs will be on display in the hospital’s Atrium. Bernie will be donating a percentage from any works sold during the show to the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation’s scholarship fund.
Bernie, a former educator and school administrator, creates intricate designs by marrying various photographic images.
“I love fine arts,” said Bernie, “and one of my favorite print artists is Robert Rauschenberg. I used to study his works and I realized I could do that with a computer, so I developed my own techniques.”
Bernie’s interest in photography started as a 10-year-old boy when he purchased his first camera with money he earned from his paper route. Nearly 60 years later, he is still taking photos. Following a career as a teacher in New York and school administrator in Pennsylvania, Bernie began to devote more time to his passion following his retirement. He and his wife, Nancy, a former dermatologist in practice for more than 30 years, moved to Leonardtown in 2009 to be closer to their daughter and her family.
“I know how important the hospital is to the welfare of the community,” said Nancy, “and I think what is nice about MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is that they have the scholarship program to help students who may not otherwise be able to go to school and learn these skills.”
The St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation provides scholarships to students interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare industry. Since 2001, the Foundation has awarded 132 scholarships.
“We like to keep donations more local so that you know the money is going to people that live in the community,” said Bernie. “It is a nice way to see money being used on a local level.”
An artist reception was held Oct. 3 in the Atrium as part of the hospital’s kickoff for its annual philanthropy campaign, Giving: The Power to Heal. Donations made during this year’s campaign will help fund a major renovation to the Atrium, which is expected to begin next year. The renovation will include expansion of the eating area, new furniture, new lighting and new flooring and wall treatments.
MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Atrium is located next to the hospital’s cafeteria, the Café at Buena Vista, which is open to the public.
Visit MedStarStMarys.org/PowerToHeal to learn more about the 2016 annual philanthropy campaign.
About MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
MedStar St. Mary's Hospital (MSMH) is a full-service community hospital, delivering state-of-the-art emergency, acute inpatient and outpatient care in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled in a waterside community, MedStar St. Mary's provides advanced technology with a dedication to excellence in all services provided. The not-for-profit hospital has been named among the nation’s Top 100 Hospitals™ and is an eight time recipient of the prestigious Delmarva Medicare Excellence Award. In addition, MSMH received the Maryland Performance Excellence award at the Platinum level in 2014 – the highest in the state. Our staff is committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for all patients by coupling innovation with our outstanding team of Medical Staff members, associates and volunteers. Visit MedStarStMarys.org to learn more.
October 17, 2016
Baltimore—(October 17, 2016)—MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center will host its 10th Annual Drive-Thru Flu Vaccination Clinic on Sunday, November 6 on the Community College of Baltimore – Essex campus beginning at 8 a.m. In an effort to help arm the community against the flu, nurses will administer free vaccinations to all eligible individuals on a first-come, first-served basis.
Since 2007, MedStar Franklin Square has worked closely with county agencies to hold the clinic, including the Baltimore County Health and Human Services, Police, Fire and Public Works departments, and the Community College of Baltimore County, which allows the use of its Essex campus. For the tenth year, this clinic provides a free and convenient way for members of the community to vaccinate the entire family in one stop, without having to leave the car.
WHAT: 10th Annual FREE Drive-Thru Flu Vaccination Clinic
WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016
8 a.m. to Noon (or until supplies run out)
WHERE: Community College of Baltimore – Essex campus, Rossville Boulevard and College Drive
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of flu complications. The number of people who die each year from flu-related causes in the United States ranges from 3,000 to 49,000.
To protect against the flu, the CDC recommends annual vaccination for those six months and older, as well as those at higher risk of developing flu complications, including children under five; adults over 65; pregnant women; residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; those with weakened immune systems; and people with chronic illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
October 17, 2016
“It was like someone had hit me in the chest and knocked me over,” said colon cancer survivor Cheryl “Cee” Alston, after finding out she had cancer. “It was so devastating to find out that my symptoms turned out to be colon cancer!”
Alston was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer at age 56, after a physician initially attributed her symptoms to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
“My mistake was not asking questions, which might have prompted me to get a colonoscopy sooner,” said Alston. “We need to ask more questions and we have to choose life.”
Alston, who also has been cancer-free since January 2015, pledges to learn as much as she can about colon cancer, while educating and engaging the community. In October 2015, Alston and her friend, Sheila Whitehead, directed the Colon Cancer Coalition’s 5K walk and run, “Get Your Rear In Gear.”
The Colon Cancer Coalition (CCC) is an advocacy group dedicated to spreading awareness about colon cancer and empowering patients. Alston and Whitehead contributed to the CCC’s efforts by surpassing the team’s $2,000 fundraising goal. Despite the rainy, cold day, 130 participants, including a man who brought his oxygen pack on the walk, joined “Get your Rear in Gear” at Rock Creek Park. Together the team raised a total of $8,580, which will help patients with colon cancer at MedStar Georgetown.
“When I found out about the patient care fund at MedStar Georgetown, I knew that I wanted to donate the money there. This was the best hospital experience of my life, beginning with my consultation for surgery with Dr. Mohammed Bayasi!” said Alston. “I know there is someone somewhere who might need help getting to their doctor’s appointments or need a place to stay after surgery. We want to help!”
The donation will go to the Lombardi Patient Assistance Fund to financially help patients with colon cancer maintain continued care, safety and quality life. Research shows that cancer costs can interfere with a patient’s focus on recovery. Alston’s donation will be a valuable resource for families in need of financial assistance with taxi rides, nearby hotel stays, purchasing medicine, buying food and more.
“We recognize that cancer can touch so many other parts of a patient’s life that insurance might not cover,” said Joanne Assarasan, LICSW OSW-C. “If we can help for a little bit, we can bridge a gap and lessen the financial burden with this donation.”
Alston and Whitehead’s foundation, “Cee’s Cause 4 a Cure,” focuses on funding support for colon cancer patients and survivors in need of financial assistance. The foundation focuses on fundraising goals and engaging adults, especially African Americans, on colon cancer screening.
“This is one donation to MedStar Georgetown, but our goal is to get more sponsors and keep the funds growing so we can continue to support patients in this way,” said Alston. “I want them to know that there is hope!”