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  • 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.

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  • November 30, 2021

    Washington, D.C., November 30, 2021 – MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute physicians at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have completed their 300th implant of the HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), which treats patients with advanced heart failure. MedStar Washington is among the first four LVAD programs nationwide to reach this historic milestone.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center participated in the MOMENTUM 3 clinical trial and its post-pivotal study Continuous Access Protocol (CAP), testing the efficacy of the HeartMate 3 LVAD for safety and sustainability as short- and long-term support for patients with advanced (stage D) heart failure. The FDA approved the HeartMate 3 device as a bridge-to-transplant, or as destination therapy treatments. As a result of the trials, the HeartMate 3 pump became the most-often used LVAD therapy with high success rates and lower complication rates.

    “Over the last two decades, LVADs have revolutionized the way we treat patients with stage D heart failure. With a modern technological design that includes full magnetic levitation of the impeller, this pump represents the best LVAD our field has ever seen,” said Ezequiel Molina, MD, surgical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The HeartMate 3 device is a small, more portable and quieter LVAD than previous generations. Patients enjoy longer survival, experience fewer complications, and return to a fairly active lifestyle. And that is our goal – to improve the quality of life of our patients.”

    Many heart failure patients rely on LVADs, which are heart mechanical support devices that can keep blood pumping throughout the body when medications are no longer effective. LVADs can mean the difference between life and death for patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood adequately on their own. These devices are an effective option as a patient waits for a heart transplant or as long-term treatment.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is one of the most experienced LVAD programs in the country, implanting more than 80 devices each year. It has been at the forefront of all the major clinical trials to test new devices. In 1988, it became one of the first four hospitals in the world to implant this potentially game-changing technology in mechanical circulatory support. To date, MedStar Washington has successfully implanted more than 800 VADs.

     


    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a not-for-profit, 912-bed, teaching and research hospital in the nation’s capital, and is a major referral center for treating the region’s most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed, and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. MedStar Washington operates the region’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center and the District’s only Cardiac Ventricular Assist Device program, both certified by The Joint Commission. The hospital is also home to 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.

  • November 24, 2021

    COLUMBIA, Md – A high school teacher from Northern Virginia has become the 5000th COVID-19 patient to receive life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy with MedStar Health. Kacey Meakes, 35, came down with a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting and headache during the second week of November. A trip to MedStar Health Urgent Care confirmed a COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, on Friday November 19, she went to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s specially designed monoclonal antibody infusion center to receive the 25-minute infusion.

    “I thought the treatment was only for people who got really sick,” said Meakes. “But by day six and seven, I was getting worse not better, and I thought maybe I should get the monoclonal antibodies because they’re the main treatment available.”

    MedStar Health began providing monoclonal antibody therapy in November 2020 and providers saw the same positive results as those seen nationally.

    “We’ve learned that we have a treatment – monoclonal antibodies that - if they’re given early in the infection can prevent death and hospitalization from covid infection,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, infectious diseases specialist with MedStar Health.

    Meakes, who describes her covid experience as “not particularly fun,” is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has a history of asthma, which puts her at high risk of having a severe case of the virus and makes her a good candidate for monoclonal antibodies.

    “If you’re at risk for severe covid - if you’re over the age of 65, you’re pregnant, or you have other medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, bad heart disease, COPD – those things put you at risk for severe covid – you’d be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies,” said Wortmann.

    Dr. Wortmann says the treatment must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to be most effective. Treatment is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized and require oxygen due to COVID-19.

    In addition to sickle cell, COPD, heart disease and being over 65, positive COVID-19 patients 12 years and older with the following conditions may benefit from the monoclonal antibody infusion:

    • Pregnancy
    • Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 (or for pediatrics BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • Poorly controlled hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease or Congenital Heart Disease
    • Other respiratory diseases
    • Neurodevelopmental disorders
    • Medical-related technological dependence (i.e. tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
    • Other medical condition or factor (i.e. race or ethnicity) that may place the patient at a higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19

    The therapy is available at MedStar Health emergency departments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as four MedStar Health monoclonal antibody infusion centers:

    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    “I was happy to come in and get the monoclonal antibodies and hopefully get better faster,” said Meakes. “It wasn’t a big deal. I have to go back to work and get back to my life, so I’m really hopeful this is going to help me on my way. I’m really grateful.”

    Learn more about this therapy treatment 

  • November 19, 2021

    Funds to Aid Transportation Costs for Patients Going to and From Cancer Care

    BALTIMORE—The MedStar Health Cancer Network (MHCN) was awarded a $15,000 transportation grant by the American Cancer Society (ACS), to help relieve some of the financial burden on cancer patients needing to travel to and from specialized cancer centers for treatment.

    The transportation grant will benefit all eligible patients receiving treatment at any of our cancer center locations:

    • MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
    • MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus
    • MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    More than 27,000 Marylanders are diagnosed annually with invasive cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and getting to scheduled treatment may be one of their greatest roadblocks.

    To help patients get the critical care they need, American Cancer Society community transportation grants are awarded at a local level to health systems, treatment centers and community organizations. These grants are available in select communities through an application process and focus on addressing unmet transportation needs of cancer patients, particularly vulnerable populations experiencing an unequal burden of cancer.

    The funds will be used toward any direct patient transportation barrier to pay for gas cards, Ride Share rides, taxi rides or vouchers, bus passes, etc.

    “We’re very grateful to the American Cancer Society for providing this grant,” said Albert Aboulafia, medical director for the MedStar Health Cancer Network. “The funds are an essential boost to efforts to minimize disparities in patient access to care, that may result from inequities in work, wealth, income, education, housing and overall standard of living. The ACS collaborates with community health partners to reach individuals in areas with higher burdens of cancer who are limited or have no access to transportation. Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there.”

    “Some patients don’t have access to transportation at all or are just too sick to drive themselves,” said Billie J. Baldwin, manager of the MHCN Oncology Support Services Program.

    “Access to care is a big problem in our country, with lower income families, or patients living out in rural communities suffering the most from disparities. Transportation programs are vital for these patients to get the treatments they need and deserve.”

    For additional information about the MedStar Health Cancer Network, go to: https://www.medstarcancer.org/ or for for information on ACS, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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    About MedStar Health

    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

  • November 16, 2021

    Columbia, Md. – MedStar Health is taking COVID-19 vaccines on the road to make sure the newest group of eligible children who live in underserved communities of Washington, D.C., have easy access to the life-saving shots. Children age 5-11 are now getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at pediatric offices across the system, including MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics in Tenleytown and onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at its regular stops in wards 6 and 7.

    “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to our younger populations is critical to our overall vaccination strategy,” said Christina Hughes, vice president, Healthcare System Preparedness & Chief Preparedness Officer and a leader in the coordination and logistics of vaccine arrival and distribution for MedStar Health. “As we work to address health disparities in our community around COVID-19, the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic helps us improve their access and get the vaccines to groups who have been disproportionately affected by this virus.”

    “We are pleased to be able to vaccinate our pediatric patients five days a week at both our Tenleytown office and on the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in wards 6 and 7 in the District,” said Michael Donnelly, MD, chair of Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    Onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which has served as a medical home to underserved children across the District especially in wards 5,6,7, and 8 for some 30 years, teams are vaccinating this newest group on Tuesdays starting November 16 and circling back to locations to ensure kids get their second dose.

    “We’re just very relieved,” said Dwight Miller whose two sons were vaccinated onboard the mobile clinic. “I was stressed about getting calls from school about positive cases at school wondering if my child would be next, so it’s a huge sigh of relief.”

    “Getting the vaccine is very easy and only takes five minutes,” said Harriet Huntley whose son also got the COVID-19 shot onboard the medical clinic. “My son wanted to play football and they told him he couldn’t play football until he got the shot.”

    “We’re really excited to have this opportunity to provide vaccines for all our patients in the mobile clinic which is the medical home that families in these wards know and trust,” said Janine Rethy, MD, MPH, division chief of Community Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    The Kids Mobile Medical Clinic serves communities that have expressed concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Rethy says their long-standing presence in the community has made a big difference.

    “When we started to give vaccines to the older kids over the summer, I thought it was going to be a hard sell for some of our families, but it really wasn’t,” said Dr. Rethy. “It was a matter of them knowing us and trusting us and just having one or two questions answered and then they were good to go.”

    “This is a really special opportunity for MedStar Health to take the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine directly to the children and their families in the District’s most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Senior Director of Community Health for MedStar Health, Diana Quinn. “We know this is the next important step towards getting our families and our communities back to normal.”

    “We feel like this vaccine is safe and effective and the risks of taking the vaccine are lower than the risks of getting the disease itself and spreading it to others in the community,” said Dr. Rethy. “For 5-11-year olds, the vaccine decreases the risk of getting the virus by 91 percent which is really excellent. In fact the side effects such as sore arm, fatigue and low-grade fever are even lower than those experienced by the older teens, which is very promising.”

    “Think about your loved ones. Think about your community,” said Miller who will be taking his sons to their grandmother’s house for the holidays. “Most importantly think about protecting the health of your family, especially your kids.”

    To make an appointment with the mobile clinic call 202-295-0547. To learn more and to find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, visit vaccines.gov.

  • November 08, 2021

    Today, 20 health system partners of Truveta are one step closer to the goal of saving lives with data with the unveiling of its platform.  Earlier this year, MedStar Health joined 16 other healthcare systems as founding members of Truveta, the first health system led company that offers scientists and clinicians access to real-time, de-identified clinical data from across the country. 

    “Finding answers to questions quicker and with greater accuracy is critical to advancing medicine. Having access to a vast de-identified dataset that Truveta is offering opens up tremendous opportunities,” said Neil Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “Investigators can use data analytics to uncover insights on equity, quality and safety measures across diverse populations. With the knowledge from this data, physicians can develop new therapies and provide better care to our patients, sooner.”

    Truveta’s platform currently represents more than 16% of U.S. clinical care across diagnoses, demographics and 42 states, with plans to keep growing.

    “We’re proud to be a member and look forward to seeing the possibilities that this platform offers come to life,” said Weissman. Please visit the Truveta website to learn more. 

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  • November 01, 2021

    WASHINGTON — MedStar Georgetown University Hospital announced today a historic $50 million philanthropic gift from entrepreneur, venture capital investor and philanthropist Grant Verstandig, and the Verstandig Family Foundation, to support the new Medical/Surgical Pavilion currently under construction at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    This transformational gift from Mr. Verstandig is one of the largest philanthropic gifts ever made to health care in the Washington, D.C., region, and will support one of the most significant healthcare projects to take place in the region.  Upon its completion and in recognition of this generous gift, the new pavilion will be named in honor of Mr. Verstandig.

    “We are incredibly grateful to Grant Verstandig for his generous support of MedStar Health and in particular, for making this naming gift to the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Medical/Surgical Pavilion,” said Kenneth A. Samet, President and Chief Executive Officer of MedStar Health. “Grant is a true visionary, and his commitment to the health and well-being of patients in our region is highly impactful. I believe Grant’s leadership gift will inspire others to join him in partnering with us, as we build a world-class facility to support the world-class care we provide.”

    Mr. Verstandig developed a deep personal commitment to advancing healthcare systems of all kinds after his own experience as a patient with a knee injury that required 16 surgeries, and from observing numerous care experiences of family members and close friends. These care experiences ignited a determination to help make health care easier and more accessible for everyone, and to empower people to take control of their health and well-being. Core to his approach is advancing cutting-edge, transformative health care and new technologies that support it, including using large data sets, analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create novel methods for characterizing and curing disease.

    “I believe in the positive and profound impact that innovation and technology can have on medical facilities and treatments, and I am proud to support the development of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s world-class Medical/Surgical Pavilion that will impact people for generations to come,” said Mr. Verstandig. “With its state-of-the-art capabilities, the Medical/Surgical Pavilion will completely transform healthcare options in the region, bringing unparalleled patient care and advanced technology to the area. I am pleased to offer my gratitude by supporting this campaign and investing through philanthropy in the incredible work being done by the amazing care teams at MedStar Georgetown.”

    Slated to open in 2023, the Medical/Surgical Pavilion will accelerate the region’s healthcare capabilities and usher in an even stronger future of providing excellent clinical and patient care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health has one of the largest Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs in the country.  The Medical/ Surgical Pavilion will advance the work of the partnership in critical areas of research and support an even greater commitment to medical education. The new facility will also be a place that serves to reinforce the spirit of cura personalis, care of the whole person, which complements Mr. Verstandig’s passion of caring for a patient’s mental-spiritual well-being, in addition to their physical health.

    The Medical/Surgical Pavilion will foster growth and training in the specialty services for complex diseases, including oncology, gastroenterology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, and transplant. The Pavilion will also be comprised of 477,213 square feet, featuring 156 private patient rooms; a rooftop helipad with direct access to 31 state-of-the-art Operating Rooms; and 32 exam rooms in a modernized Emergency Department.

    The most recent contributions by the Verstandig Family Foundation to MedStar Health build on their enduring commitment to the greater Baltimore-Washington community.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation generously donated a total of $750,000 to MedStar Health in support of the procurement and delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for care teams, as well as enhancing the MedStar Health Mobile Health Center, which traveled the Baltimore-Washington area to provide critical COVID-19 vaccine awareness and distribution.

    An accomplished entrepreneur, investor and technology advisor, Verstandig has founded and scaled numerous businesses, including Rally Health, a consumer-centric digital health company acquired by UnitedHealth Group; Epirus, an AI-enabled power management company focused on directed energy defense applications; and Zephyr AI, an AI platform developing novel methods to characterize and cure disease. He is a Founding Partner of Red Cell Partners, an investment and incubation platform that backs, builds and scales transformative, technology-led businesses in health care and defense.

    A respected technologist as well as practitioner, Verstandig advises numerous public and civic institutions, including the National Security Agency (NSA), where he serves as senior advisor on advanced analytics, technology and AI. From 2017 to 2021, Verstandig served as Chief Digital Officer of UnitedHealth Group and now serves as Senior Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer. In 2013, he was awarded Forbes “30 Under 30,” and in 2018, Business Insider “30 Under 40” in the healthcare category.

    He has backed many technology-led companies from their earliest stages, including NexImmune (NEXI), where he serves on the board. He also serves on the boards of the Greater Washington Partnership, the International Spy Museum and the Third Option Foundation, which seeks to heal, help and honor members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s Special Operations community and their families.

    “Finalizing this transformational gift with Grant has allowed me to see how deeply he cares about our region; about giving back; and about advancing health care from both a care and caring standpoint,” commented Samet. “Grant and the Verstandig Family Foundation are making a difference for generations to come.”

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