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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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  • October 14, 2021
    (COLUMBIA, Md) – MedStar Health hospital pharmacies are participating in a national effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration to help people dispose of unwanted prescription drugs with National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Saturday October 23.

    With 93,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States last year, a 30% increase from the previous year, this is an important effort aimed at reducing the chances of medications getting into the wrong hands. 

    “We know from studies that when people abuse or overdose on prescription drugs, those medications were often acquired from either the home medicine cabinet, a friend or a family member,” says Bonnie Levin, PharmD, MBA, FASHP and Assistant Vice President of Pharmacy Services for MedStar Health.  “We hope this effort will help to address the drug overdose crisis which is a serious public health challenge in our communities.”

    Hospital pharmacy drop off locations are open year-round but those that are open on Saturday Oct. 23 are:

    • MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, open 24/7 with a drive-through drop-off from 10am-2pm.
    • MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, open 24/7.
    • MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, 9am - 2pm.
    • MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, open 24/7.
    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 10am – 4pm outside the Physician’s Office Building (POB) Pharmacy.
    • MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital will hold a drive-through drop-off from 10am-2pm.

    “People are invited to stop by and drop their unwanted prescription drugs in one of our DEA-approved receptacles.  They can do this safely and anonymously,” says Levin. “If this event prevents even one person from becoming addicted or one overdose in our community, we will consider this a great success.”

    This effort coincides with National Pharmacy Week October 17-23.  Levin says National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is supported by pharmacists from around the MedStar Health system.  A MedStar pharmacist may be available at the take-back unit to talk with you about your medications.

    “MedStar Health is strongly dedicated to patient safety. As pharmacy professionals we understand the seriousness and tragic consequences of opioid abuse and we’re committed to doing everything we can to raise awareness and prevent it from happening in our communities,” says Levin. 

    Unwanted drugs could be stored in the medicine cabinets of surgical patients who were prescribed opioids for pain, cancer patients as well as families who recently lost a loved one who was prescribed pain medications.  Other medications, such as those that are expired or medications have been stopped by your doctor, can also be dropped off at the take-back units.

    In addition to being an important patient safety issue, there are environmental benefits to the proper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications, which people often flush down the toilet.

    “We know that small doses of certain medications are getting into our water supply, which because it’s a closed system, can never fully rid itself of these trace amounts,” says Levin. 

    Take Back Day in April 2021 brought in 839,543 lbs. (420 Tons) of medication.

    To find the DEA drop-off collection location closest to you, please visit the DEA website which provides a site locator by zip code.  

  • October 13, 2021

    Honored for Demonstrating Excellence in Patient Care, Research, and Education

    BALTIMORE, Md. — Aviram M. Giladi, MD, MS, research director at Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, was named the 2021-2022 Richard H. Gelberman Scholar at the 76th annual meeting of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) in San Francisco, Oct. 1st.

    The ASSH honors only one surgeon with the Gelberman award each year. It is designed to propel a young surgeon, in the first four years of practice in the field of hand surgery, on both the national and international stage. Dr. Giladi was selected for demonstrating a strong potential for excellence in patient care, research, and education.

    “Dr. Giladi serving as the Gelberman award recipient for 2021 is an honor that recognizes his leadership in the field of hand surgery currently, as well as his potential for future achievements on the international stage,” said James P. Higgins, chief of Curtis National Hand Center. “It is a fantastic benefit to his career, but also a tremendous honor for our hand center, which has been built on a foundation of mentorship and education. We couldn’t be prouder of what Dr. Giladi has achieved in patient care, research, and education, or in what his future in hand surgery holds.”

    The Gelberman scholar award affords the recipient a chance to visit other centers of excellence around the globe, exchange ideas with the world leaders in Hand Surgery, and gain operative or research experience that will be utilized in his/her academic career.

    After his travels, Dr. Giladi will submit a report summarizing where he traveled, what he learned, and how the experience has influenced his approach to difficult problems in hand surgery. He will present this report to the society membership at the 2022 ASSH Annual Meeting in Boston.

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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.

  • October 07, 2021

    Washington, D.C., – A phase II, randomized clinical trial found that the optimal period for intensive rehabilitation of arm and hand use after a stroke should begin 60 to 90 days after the event. The study, conducted by Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network (NRH) researchers, was published September 20, 2021, in PNAS (Critical Period After Stroke Study (CPASS): A Phase II Clinical Trial Testing an Optimal Time for Motor Recovery After Stroke in Humans).

    The same intensive rehabilitation at less than 30 days after a stroke provided some benefit, but rehabilitation at six months or more after a stroke showed no significant benefit compared to those receiving standard care.

    Approximately 750,000 new strokes occur each year in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of people who have a stroke do not recover complete function in their hands and arms, an impairment that can severely limit everyday activities.

    “Our finding demonstrates the existence of a critical period or optimal time when adults are most responsive to rehabilitation after a stroke,” says lead author Alexander Dromerick, MD, professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Neurology and chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and vice president for research at MedStar NRH. “Previous clinical trials have found few or very small improvements in motor function post- stroke, so our research could be an important breakthrough in finding ways we can make substantial improvements in arm and hand recovery.”

    For their trial, the clinicians enrolled 72 stroke participants, primarily from the Washington, D.C., area, within three weeks after their stroke. The participants were randomly assigned to receive 20 extra hours of activity-focused motor skills therapy, starting at different times after stroke, in addition to their regularly prescribed therapies. The additional therapy began either at 30 days after their stroke, at 60 to 90 days post-stroke, or at six months or more post-stroke. The results were compared to a control group that received only their prescribed rehabilitation therapies but no extra motor rehabilitation training.

    “Our results suggest that more intensive motor rehabilitation should be provided to stroke patients at 60 to 90 days after stroke onset,” said Elissa Newport, PhD, director of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University Medical Center and corresponding author of this article. “It is well known that a young developing brain shows great plasticity, compared to other times in life. Our results show that there may be a similar period of heightened plasticity for stroke patients at a specific time after their stroke.”

    The improvement in hand and arm function found in this study was not only statistically significant, it was large enough to be perceived as functionally meaningful by the patients themselves.

    “Our approach shows that patients can tolerate much more intensive motor training than is traditionally provided if they are free to choose the activities used in their training,” said Dorothy F. Edwards, PhD, professor of Kinesiology and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin- Madison and member of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery. “Knowing there might be a critical period for recovery, there are many techniques one might imagine bringing to bear on understanding and enhancing recovery during this time period.”

    The researchers hope that this study will establish a time window in which future research can combine therapy with brain stimulation or medications aimed at helping remaining healthy areas of the brain recover impaired functions or take over functions lost from the damage inflicted by a stroke. The investigators also plan to design a larger clinical trial to confirm the current findings and to determine the optimum dose of therapy, thereby achieving the best effects during this time-sensitive window.

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    Note: Dromerick passed away after providing information for this press release, but prior to the study’s publication. This release is dedicated to him in memoriam.

    In addition to Dromerick, Newport and Edwards, the authors of the manuscript at Georgetown include Shashwati Geed, Matthew A. Edwardson, Ming T. Tan and Yizhao Zhou; Kathaleen P. Brady, Margot M. Giannetti, and Abigail Mitchell are at MedStar NRH; and Jessica Barth is at Washington University, Program in Physical Therapy, St. Louis.

    The authors report no competing interests.

    This work was supported by funds from Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital; grants from NIH/NINDS StrokeNet SCANR 5U24NS107222-03, NIH/NICHD National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research K12HD093427 and NIH/NIDCD R01 DC016902, and MedStar NRH clinicians and study participants.

  • October 07, 2021
  • October 01, 2021

    Columbia, Md - We are proud to share that each of MedStar Health’s ten hospitals is a 2021 recipient of the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence award, which recognizes health care facilities across the nation that continuously work to improve and expand upon their environmental sustainability programs.  The award distinguishes our facilities for efforts to reduce their impact on the environment, such as waste reduction, energy conservation, mercury elimination, sustainable product sourcing, healthy food initiatives, and more.

    021 PGH Environmental Excellence Award Logo

    “We are committed to environmental responsibility and stewardship as part of our mission to build healthier communities,” said Rachel DeMunda, corporate director of Joint Commission and Environmental Readiness and leader for sustainability for MedStar Health. “Human health is linked inextricably to environmental health, and Medstar Health continually strives for sustainable practices that preserve the earth and all its resources.”

    Highlights of MedStar Health’s sustainability accomplishments include:

    • Diverted more than 8 million pounds of waste from landfill or incineration through recycling, food composting, single-use device reprocessing, and donations.
    • Partnered with our contracted food service provider to institute a food waste reduction program and a variety of healthier food initiatives. 
    • Partnered with our contracted environmental services provider to use safer, green-certified cleaning chemicals and UV surface disinfection technologies during pandemic conditions that called for increased cleaning and disinfection.
    • Partnered with numerous non-profit and community organizations to improve social and environmental determinants of health ranging from food access, health and wellness support, homeless prevention, violence prevention, and transportation to medical appointments.
    • Significantly increased telehealth services, allowing for safe and increased access to many health services.
    • Promoted alternative transportation methods through EV charging stations, bike and/or walking paths, and collaborating with local city planning teams.

    “We are grateful to the many caregivers, frontline workers, administrators, and contractors who have faithfully committed themselves to this work and persisted through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DeMunda.  “We look forward to continuing our sustainability journey by taking the successes we’ve had with the building blocks of our initiatives and expanding upon them into the future.”

    MedStar Health has received close to one hundred environmental sustainability awards through various national, state, and local award programs.

  • September 30, 2021

    First in Mid-Atlantic Region to Test Efficacy of Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interface Surgery

    BALTIMORE — Dr. Aviram M. Giladi, research director and upper extremity surgeon at the Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, is leading a randomized study to determine the efficacy of a novel surgical approach known as regenerative peripheral nerve interfaces (RPNI), over other procedures, for the treatment of chronic, painful neuromas that develop after finger or hand amputations.

    A neuroma is a benign but chronically painful nerve scar that can form after any cut, crush, or amputation injury. The damaged nerve naturally attempts to heal itself, but because of the trauma it instead grows into a chaotic, disorganized ball-like growth of nerve cells. The result is a debilitating pain that can even impact areas away from the injury site.

    Neuromas can really make a person miserable,” said Dr. Giladi. “Patients can’t use their hands; they lose function and can’t do their jobs. They can’t wear prosthetics.  Most current treatment options are not adequate to relieve the pain.  Depression often follows this chronic pain especially when these patients are no longer able to work or help their families. And certainly, post-traumatic stress disorder from the injury event can accompany these challenges. Quality of life can be substantially impacted by symptomatic neuromas, so there really is a mental health component to the injury and this study will examine that too.”

    Approximately one in 15 patients with hand or finger amputations will develop a symptomatic neuroma and more than half of these patients will undergo revision surgery for neuroma, according to a publication in the Journal of Hand Surgery.

    Non-surgical efforts to mitigate the pain include steroid injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and medications including opioids; however, these options are rarely adequate for neuroma pain. Other surgical approaches have been tried with overall mediocre outcomes.  Therefore, most surgeons only perform “traction neurectomy” – cutting the nerve short and letting it retract, as treatment for painful neuromas; this approach has up to a 50% failure rate.

    Hand surgeons at Curtis National Hand Center have found promise in applying regenerative peripheral nerve interfaces (RPNIs), muscle grafts placed on the injured nerve that serve as targets for the regenerating axons, as a means to promote healthy more natural nerve regrowth and avoid neuromas.  Early findings show that this works approximately 90% of the time to significantly reduce pain.

    Prospective data comparing outcomes of this approach against other surgical options are necessary to confirm early findings and determine the best practice. 

    Amputees in the year-long study will be randomized to undergo one of two different surgical approaches, traditional “traction neurectomy” or RNPIs, with subsequent monitoring for pain, disability, and mental health improvements post-operatively. Such a rigorous study is uncommon in surgery because of the complexity and logistics but is required before a new treatment can truly be determined to be better than current care.  Additionally, this study is unique in combining surgical outcomes, pain, and other mental health components to truly understand the full experience of the patient ailing from a post-amputation neuroma and associated chronic pain and stress. 

    Individuals suffering with symptomatic neuromas are encouraged to call the research team at 410-554-2486, to see if participating in this study is an option for them.

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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.

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