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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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  • August 22, 2018

    MEDSTAR NATIONAL REHABILITATION NETWORK PRESENTS 15TH ANNUAL FUNDRAISER AT SPORT & HEALTH, TYSONS CORNER

    McLean, Virginia – MedStar National Rehabilitation Network (MedStar NRN) will host the 15th annual Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel on Sunday, Sept. 23 for runners, walkers and adaptive athletes. The event begins and ends at the Sport & Health Club in Tysons Corner (8250 Greensboro Dr., McLean, Virginia 22102). Registration begins at 7 a.m., and the race begins at 8 a.m. The post-race party begins at 9 a.m., with free food, refreshments and an awards ceremony.

    All proceeds from the race support MedStar NRN’s adaptive sports programs. These programs enable athletes with disabilities to compete in various sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, adaptive rowing, sled hockey, quad rugby, Boccia ball, hand cycling, and more.

    Funds raised from the Super H race have enabled all of MedStar NRN’s adaptive sports teams to compete at the National level. Our wheelchair basketball team is currently ranked number 3 in the nation! Additionally, one of our players, Trevon Jenifer, is a gold medalist on the U.S. Paralympic basketball team, while Hallie Smith is a member of the U.S. Paralympic Rowing team! MedStar NRN’s programs range from introductory clinics to elite competitions.

    “It is a thrill to see the adaptive athletes take off on their hand cycles, wheelchairs and some with just crutches doing the same event able-bodied athletes do…just a little differently,” said Harry Freedman, founder of the Super H 5K.

    The race registration fee of $30 (until Sept. 1, $35 after Sept. 1) supports the Adaptive Sports Program with MedStar NRN for children and adults with physical disabilities to pursue healthy, active lifestyles through recreational and competitive sports. On-site registration on race day is $40. Online registration closes on Friday, Sept. 21.

    Packet pick up will take place on race day, Sun. Sept. 23 at Sport & Health, prior to the race.

    For more information and to register online, go to: MedStarNRH.org/SuperH5K (https://www.medstarnrh.org/ways-to-give/events/super-h-5k-run-walk-and-wheel/#q={}).

     

    About MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

    The MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is a regional system of rehabilitation care that offers inpatient, day treatment and outpatient services in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.

    The Network’s interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation experts provides comprehensive services to help people recover as fully as possible following illness and injury.  Rehabilitation medicine specialists, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists work hand-in-hand with other rehab professionals to design treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs.  Rehabilitation plans feature a team approach and include the use of state-of-the-art technology and advanced medical treatment based on the latest rehabilitation research.  

    The Network provides comprehensive programs specifically designed to aid in the rehabilitation of adults and children recovering from neurologic and orthopaedic conditions such as amputation, arthritis, back and neck pain, brain injury, cancer, cardiac conditions, concussion, fibromyalgia, foot and ankle disorders, hand and upper extremity problems, post-polio syndrome, stroke, spinal cord injury and disease, and sports and work-related injuries.

    Inpatient and day treatment programs are provided at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital located in Northwest Washington, D.C., and at more than 50 outpatient sites conveniently located throughout the region.  MedStar National Rehabilitation Network is fully accredited by The Joint Commission,  the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), with CARF accredited specialty programs for Amputations, Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke.

    For more on MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and to find a location near you, log on to MedStarNRH.org.

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  • August 16, 2018

    Leonardtown, Maryland – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently recognized MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Diabetes Prevention Program, Simple Changes. The program was awarded CDC Full Recognition which is reserved for “programs that have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets all of the standards for CDC recognition,” according to a letter from the CDC.

    To be recognized by the CDC, programs must:

    • Have trained lifestyle coaches who can help build participants’ skills and confidence to make lasting lifestyle changes
    • Have a diabetes prevention program coordinator who uses a CDC approved curriculum
    • Obtain a minimum average weight loss of 5 percent during the 12 month program
    • Submit program data related to attendance, weight loss, and physical activity

    The CDC also requires at least 35 percent of participants in the programs be diagnosed with pre-diabetes through blood testing (or have a history of gestational diabetes).

    As part of the MedStar Diabetes Institute, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital also offers a diabetes education program recognized by the American Diabetes Association and provided by a registered nurse and a dietician trained in diabetes management. 

    Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Calendar for class information or call 301-475-6019.

    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.

  • August 14, 2018

    Many doctor’s appointments begin with the same question: what medications are you taking? Though going through the list might feel tedious, it’s important to share an up-to-date rundown every time to determine how these drugs may interact with each other — and even how they could impact important blood tests.

    Last fall, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert regarding the water-soluble vitamin B7, or biotin, frequently found in multivitamins and supplements. Daily biotin recommendations range from 5 to 35 micrograms, depending on one’s age, gender, and other factors including pregnancy. Biotin can also be ingested naturally through common foods such as sweet potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, and spinach.

    “Many dietary supplements promoted for hair, skin, and nail benefits contain biotin levels up to 650 times the recommended daily intake of biotin,” states the FDA. “Biotin in blood or other samples taken from patients who are ingesting high levels of biotin in dietary supplements can cause clinically significant incorrect lab test results.”

    The FDA has seen an increase in the number of reported adverse events — including one death — related to biotin interference with lab tests. Biotin in patient samples can cause falsely high or falsely low results, depending on the test, and the influence of biotin may not always be apparent to healthcare providers or laboratories.

    “Incorrect test results may lead to inappropriate patient management or misdiagnosis,” the FDA cautions. “For example, a falsely low result for troponin, a clinically important biomarker to aid in the diagnosis of heart attacks, may lead to a missed diagnosis and potentially serious clinical implications.”

    High levels of biotin can skew common tests used to diagnose conditions including pregnancy, cancer, thyroid disease, heart disease, anemia, and other hormonal-related conditions. Fortunately, often only a day without taking the supplement is required for accurate test results.

    Keep an up-to-date list of your current medications on file with your physician to have them available for other medical providers. Be sure to note if you are currently taking biotin, and consider bringing your labeled multivitamin to appointments to be sure its contents are recorded.

    Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Laboratory to learn more about laboratory services offered through MedStar St. Mary’s and prepare for your next blood test.

    MedStar St. Mary's Laboratory Centers 

    Belmont Building
    23000 Moakley St.
    Suite 205, Leonardtown

    East Run Center
    45870 East Run Drive
    Lexington Park

    MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    25500 Point Lookout Road
    Leonardtown

  • August 14, 2018

    We asked MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute Cardiologist Athanasios Thomaides, MD, FACC, to give us answers to the following common health questions he most often deals with as a cardiac electrophysiologist.

    What is Tachycardia and how is it treated?

    Tachycardia is a heart rhythm disorder characterized by the heart beating faster than normal, which is caused by rapid electrical signals in the heart. Because the heart muscle is beating so quickly, it can weaken the heart.

    Typically, tachycardia is treated by catheter ablation, a newer process with a 70 to 80 percent success rate that replaces the use of drugs, which were less effective at a 30 to 40 percent rate of success. Ablation destroys the tissue that is causing abnormal electrical signals in the heart, stopping the arrhythmia.

    Like with other heart conditions, people with tachycardia should limit their alcohol and caffeine intake, maintain a healthy weight, control their blood pressure, and treat complicating conditions, such as sleep apnea, asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

    What is Atrial Fibrillation?

    This and atrial flutter are the most common types of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat). It can be described as a quivering of the heart and indicates an electrical problem. Atrial Flutter means around 300 beats per minute, and Atrial Fibrillation could cause heartbeats of 500 to 600 in the upper chambers, which puts the heart into a kind of electrical chaos.

    Symptoms include sudden fatigue, palpitations or feeling as if your heart is racing, shortness of breath and diminished energy. People most at risk are the elderly, those with hypertension, sleep apnea, and diabetes, as well as those who smoke or consume too much alcohol and caffeine.

    Sometimes, a person with atrial fibrillation does not appear to have symptoms, but the young may be at risk for passing out and older people are at risk for having a stroke.

    How is Atrial Fibrillation Treated?

    Treatments can range from something simple like reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption or prescribing blood thinning medication, to a more complex solution, including the installation of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, to a more invasive solution, including a cardiac ablation or surgery.

    What is a WATCHMAN device?

    A WATCHMAN is a device that is implanted in the heart during a catheter-based procedure. This new technology does not allow clots to form, thereby reducing the risk of stroke. It is a great alternative to taking blood-thinning drugs, eliminating the food and drink restrictions of these drugs, as well as the possibility of bleeding problems from these medications.


    To better understand common terms used by medical professionals who treat veins and arteries, this guide should help. It is important to know these terms and work with your primary care physician to prevent these conditions, when possible.

    • Arrhythmia: Arrhythmia means an abnormal heartbeat.
    • Atrium: The upper two chambers of the heart. The top right pumps blood to the lower chamber and the top left atrium pumps oxygenated blood out into the body.
    • Blood Flow: Deoxygenated blood travels from all parts of the body through your veins, back to your heart, to be pumped into the lungs to receive oxygen. Once the blood is oxygenated, it is pumped back through and out of the heart into the body through your arteries.
    • Cardiologist: A cardiologist is a physician who is specialized in the heart.
    • Electrophysiology: This is the study of the electrical activity of your heart, which is used to find where an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) is coming from.
    • Pulmonary: Simply, this refers to the lungs.
    • Stroke: Cardiologists who are electrophysiologists deal with blood clots that can form in the heart and travel to the brain, reducing or completely blocking blood flow that can cause a stroke, resulting in temporary or permanent damage.
    • Ventricles: The lower two chambers of the heart. The right ventricle takes blood pumped in from the upper chamber and pumps it into the lungs and the left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the left atrium to travel throughout the body.
  • August 14, 2018

    New Facility Unlocks New Model of Care and Patient Experience

     

    Washington, D.C., June 14, 2016 – The first dedicated heart and vascular hospital in the nation’s capital is opening on the campus of MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital is a 164-bed state-of-the-art facility, which will be the cornerstone of the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute and will advance cardiovascular care for patients throughout the Washington and mid-Atlantic regions.

    “This is an extraordinary milestone for our patients,” said Stuart F. Seides, MD, physician executive director, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. “The new heart and vascular hospital, its construction, its design, its philosophy, was designed with patients’ needs in mind, coupled with our long-standing commitment to providing the most advanced heart and vascular care.”

    MWHC_Patient-Unit-4---press-releaseAs one of the highest-volume and nationally recognized heart and vascular surgery programs in the nation, MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the founding member of MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, which has cared for patients with highly complex cardiovascular disorders for nearly 60 years. It has been at the forefront of innovative new treatments and prevention of heart and vascular disease.

    The four-story, 160,000-square-foot facility centralized all cardiovascular services in the Hospital Center’s North Addition. The new space ushers in a new model of care and patient experience. Patients with similar medical conditions are cared for on designated specialty-care units that have dedicated teams of cardiologists, cardiac and vascular surgeons, nurse practitioners and nurses, to collaboratively deliver the highest quality cardiovascular care and achieve the best patient outcomes.

    “We want to make the overall experience for the patients and their families as good as it can be,” added Dr. Seides. “Every team member who works at the heart and vascular hospital takes great pride in their work. As a team, we are all focused on patients getting the best clinical care possible. And the only way to safely provide that kind of highly advanced care is through highly coordinated teamwork.”

    Increased critical care capacity was an important linchpin in the new design of the heart and vascular hospital. The 44-bed cardiac intensive care unit on the second floor was built to meet the increasingly complex needs of patients from all over the region. The ICU rooms are much larger, with wider doorways facilitating access for team members and advanced equipment to the bedside. Each ICU room is equipped with ceiling-mounted booms carrying medical gases, and electric and data outlets, offering greater flexibility and providing clinicians unrestricted access to the patient from all four sides of the bed.

    “The booms give us 360-degree access to patients. Beds pushed up against walls limit our ability to perform certain procedures in patient rooms. Opening the space in this way allows us to position patients, ourselves, and needed equipment for optimal care,” concluded Dr. Seides.

    Construction of the Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital took three years to complete and was divided into four phases. In January 2015, a 60-bed inpatient unit opened to patients on the fourth floor of the hospital, followed by the third floor inpatient unit. The first floor, with a separate entrance and lobby, opened in December and is solely dedicated to outpatient care. The second floor cardiac ICU, the final phase of construction, is scheduled to open in July.

    The Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital was named to recognize long-time Washingtonians Nancy and Harold Zirkin for their generosity and extraordinary philanthropic support to the heart and vascular hospital. Their $10 million leadership gift is the largest single contribution in the history of MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Health.

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    *A dedication ceremony for the Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital will be held on Thursday, June 16, starting at 6 p.m.  View the Media Advisory here.

    B-roll footage and photos of the facility are available to download. Click here to access.

     

     

    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, founded at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., is a national leader in the research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and has been consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons as one of the top cardiovascular programs in the nation. In January 2013, MedStar Heart formed a first-of-its-kind clinical and research alliance with world-renowned Cleveland Clinic Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, the #1 heart program in the country. Together, MedStar Heart and Cleveland Clinic have forged a relationship of shared expertise that is transforming cardiovascular care, enhancing quality, improving safety and increasing access to advanced heart and vascular services. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute comprises more than 140 cardiovascular physician specialists throughout the mid-Atlantic region, as well as the nationally recognized heart care of all nine MedStar Health acute care hospitals and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. For more information, visit MedStarHeartInstitute.org.

    Washington, D.C., August 14, 2018 – MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the first hospital in Washington, D.C., to use the Brainlab Airo® Mobile Intraoperative CT, an advanced imaging scanner that gives surgeons a real-time look at the brain or spine during surgery in order to make immediate decisions when it counts the most.

    Thirty patients have been treated so far at the Hospital Center using the system’s synchronized imaging capabilities. The portable scanner produces high-quality CT images of the patient’s brain or spine in the operating room, allowing surgeons to clearly see their exact position and make the most precise next steps. This eliminates the need to rely on images taken before surgery that might not be as accurate or wait to get images afterwards that could result in a second surgery.

    “Our goal is to provide our patients with safe and precise treatments,” said Edward F. Aulisi, MD, chairman of Neurosurgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “With Airo, we have the ability to perform intraoperative CT imaging of a patient’s anatomy while still in the OR, allowing us to make decisions rapidly and to change course if it’s appropriate. This helps to both save time and, when combined with our image-guided surgery system, enable greater surgical accuracy.”

    Brittani R., a vibrant 32-year-old diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor recently underwent image-guided transsphenoidal surgery performed through the nose and sinus, and will be able to get back to her busy everyday routine in a few weeks.

    “I was trying to cope with extreme fatigue and constant thirst, but the idea of surgery, including incisions and possible scars, was very scary. The fact that Dr. Aulisi was able to use this new non-invasive technique gave me greater confidence and alleviated some of my fears. I am thrilled that my surgery was successful and I am starting to feel like myself again. I am building up my energy, happy to be working from home, and exercising with some light walking.”

    “Having the ability to confirm the surgical progress during procedure is critical,” added Dr. Aulisi. “Verifying one’s work intraoperatively may reduce re-operation rates and lead to improved patient outcomes. Intraoperative imaging can also offer patients the benefit of a less-invasive surgical procedure, reduced trauma and potentially faster recovery times.”

    Brainlab Airo can be used in a wide range of surgical procedures, including cranial, spinal, ear/nose/throat (ENT), head and neck trauma, orthopedic and general surgery.


    About MedStar Washington Hospital Center:
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-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. 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. 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.

  • August 13, 2018

    Martha Ramos of Germantown, Maryland is back to enjoying her active life with her two children thanks to treatment she received for a recurrent brain tumor that included proton therapy now being offered at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    In fact, Ramos, 54, was the first patient to receive proton therapy when the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Proton Therapy Center opened its doors in March 2018.

    “I was a little bit nervous to be the first patient at MedStar Georgetown to get proton therapy,” says Ramos though a Spanish interpreter. “But I trust my medical team wholeheartedly and after the first treatment I knew what to expect and was very happy.”

    Ramos was first diagnosed with a brain tumor called oligodendroglioma in 2006.  She had surgery to remove the tumor.

    But in the fall of 2017 routine follow-up imaging revealed that her tumor had returned.

    Martha-Ramos-with-Her-ChildrenIn January 2018 MedStar Georgetown Neurosurgeon Vikram Nayar, MD removed the second tumor, about the size of a golf ball, in a very complex operation. But there were some cells deep within her brain that couldn’t be completely removed with surgery.

    “She has a long life expectancy so we wanted to eradicate the remaining cells from this second tumor while still preserving her excellent quality of life,” says Brian Collins, MD, Ramos’s radiation oncologist and director of the MedStar Georgetown Proton Therapy Center.

    “There was a little bit of tumor that was left after her surgery,” says Ramos’s neuro-oncologist, Deepa Subramaniam, MD, director of the Brain Tumor Center at MedStar Georgetown.  “That’s why she needed radiation after the surgery to get rid of what was left.”

    “I want to have more time to be a mom to my children,” explains Ramos. “I want to be very healthy so I can be there for them and help them in life.”

    “We chose proton therapy for Ms. Ramos because we could irradiate a significantly smaller area of the brain than we could have with conventional radiation,” says Dr. Collins.

    Dr. Collins explains that with conventional radiation the photons or x-rays travel through the entire brain without stopping; with proton therapy, the radiation is unleashed just inside the target, then stops.  That means there is no exit dose to harm healthy brain tissue.

    “This results in fewer side effects like dementia or memory loss.  For Ms. Ramos this was an advantage because we could deliver radiation just to the tumor without affecting other areas,” says Dr. Collins.

    The proton therapy system at MedStar Georgetown is the first and only in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and is the first in the world to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™ technology. HYPERSCAN produces beams that are sharper than other proton systems and treats patients faster.

    “I feel that I responded very well to the proton therapy treatment,” says Ramos.  “My recovery from the proton therapy was surprisingly fast.”

     “I’m very excited for Ms. Ramos,” says Dr. Collins.  “After a short time, she’s back to living her normal life and we expect her to make a full recovery. Proton therapy was an excellent option and it was a pleasure helping her get through this.”

    “I am very, very grateful that my medical team at MedStar Georgetown told me about proton therapy,” says Ramos. “I now look forward to a long and happy life.”

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