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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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  • July 16, 2018

    WASHINGTON, D.C., – July 13, 2018 – Tyrell Williams, linebacker with the Georgetown University football team, has been doing his outpatient rehabilitation here at MedStar Health Physical Therapy at Irving Street in D.C., for several months now, following a career-ending spinal cord injury suffered during a game in 2015.

    Williams told NBC4’s Nicole Jacobs he remembers the moment very well. “It was the fifth or sixth play of the game, maybe near the 10-yard line,” he said. “I heard a snap and a tingle.”

    He put his head down for a tackle and his rammed right into an opposing player’s pelvis. The result was a C6 neck injury and paralysis.

    MedStar NRH Network Physical Therapist Katie Seward has been working several hours a week with Ty since he came to Irving Street for physical therapy. He is slowly beginning to gain back some finger control, his arms and a lot of upper body strength. “My core is coming back – my abs, obliques,” adds Ty.

    The 23-year-old is determined with great positivity that he can do anything. He does not look back, only forward. “I don’t want to let the chair decide what I want to do,” he told NBC4. “I want to decide what I want to do.” Seward agrees with that assessment adding that Ty has an excellent support system around him. “He has a very positive attitude and that has really helped him through his physical therapy,” said Seward.

    While Williams continues his physical therapy he will continue to work towards his undergraduate degree before he embarks on a Master’s in sports management at Georgetown.

    Watch the clip from NBC4/WRC-TV here

  • July 11, 2018
    Earns Accreditation with Commendation from The Commission on Cancer
  • July 11, 2018

    The e-cigarette market has been on fire the past few years. With nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market, according to the American Lung Association, these electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are sparking renewed interest and debates around the use of tobacco products and the harmful effects of nicotine.

    “We feel that it is important to educate the community on the potential harms and risks of vaping,” said Angela Cochran, director of Chronic Disease Prevention & Control for St. Mary’s County Health Department. “As the research evolves we continue to gain more knowledge on how e-cigarette use affects our health.”

    In 2015, the Health Department created the VapeAware awareness campaign to help provide the latest information on this trendy smoking alternative. It also works with the Tobacco Free Living Action Team of the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership to improve tobacco-related health outcomes in the county.

    “The Health Department works on reducing the use of all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” Angela said. “We try to focus on population-level strategies such as including e-cigarettes into smoke-free indoor air policies and restricting youth access to e-cigarettes in retail settings.”

    What is particularly disturbing is the trend among adolescents and teens. According to the Maryland 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 42 percent of teen respondents in St. Mary’s County had tried electronic vapor products within the 30 days prior to taking the survey. 

    “Recent reports are showing substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the likelihood youth and young adults will eventually begin using combustible tobacco cigarettes,” Angela said. “Despite the popularity of e-cigarettes, we continue to promote awareness through a comprehensive tobacco control program that focuses on prevention and cessation of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, among youth.”

    Know the Health Risks

    New studies are also showing that e-cigarettes are not as harmless as many would like to believe. Although not as toxic as smoking regular cigarettes, use of ENDS still comes with many risks including exposure to nicotine and other aerosols which are known cancer causers.

    “Research on this is still pending in a few areas because long-term effects haven’t had a chance to be studied,” said Pam Laigle, BSN, RN, PCCN, clinical leader of the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehab Center. However, research has discovered other effects on the cardiovascular system as well as new evidence of what is called ‘popcorn’ lung, a serious and irreversible lung disease. “Anything other than breathing oxygen,” said Pam, “essentially is not good.”

    Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Tobacco for more information on the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, the risks of tobacco use, and smoking cessation resources.

    What is Vaping?

    Electronic nicotine delivery systems, which include e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookahs, e-cigars, personal vaporizers, and electronic pipes, use a battery to heat liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings, and additives, which are inhaled into the lungs.

    Know the Risks

    ► Exposure to Nicotine: Nicotine is highly addictive and adversely affects the heart, reproductive system, lungs, kidneys, etc., and may increase the risk of certain cancers.

    ► Exposure to Aerosols: Aerosols may contain harmful substances including cancer-causing chemicals and tiny particles that reach deep inside the lungs.

    ► Increases Risk of Using Other Tobacco Products: For teens and adolescents, serves as a gateway to using combustible cigarettes.

    ► Poisoning: Accidental exposure to even small amounts of liquid nicotine – as little as a teaspoon - can be fatal to children and a slightly larger amount could kill an adult.

    ► Burns: Batteries can explode causing severe injury.

  • July 06, 2018

    WASHINGTON, D.C., – July 6, 2018 – Suzanne Groah, MD, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network medical director of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) program, and head of the SCI research program, received the 2018 Goldschmidt Award on Wed. June 6, 2018.

    In addition to receiving this honor, Dr. Groah also gave the annual Goldschmidt Lecture, the 30th time this has taken place at MedStar NRH. This prestigious honor is named after Dr. John Goldschmidt, the National Rehabilitation Hospital’s founding medical director, who worked towards enhancing an interdisciplinary approach to patient care. Recipients of this award, like Dr. Groah, are motivated to positively influence both fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

    Dr. Groah’s lecture focused on the fascinating history of spinal cord injury. She examined the oldest spinal cord injury text – which described SCI as an “ailment not to be treated.” Taking us on a journey through SCI history, Dr. Groah showed us everything from how the Paralympic Games evolved to the movement in the 1970s and 1980s to find a cure for SCI – via medication.

    In fact, in the late 1970s, the very first clinical trial looking at recovery from SCI took place to test a combination of medications and physical therapy. “This provided an opportunity to lead us toward recovery and cure,” she said.

    As the decades turned, public faces of SCI began to emerge – actor Christopher Reeve, one of the most notable spinal cord injury survivors who became a quadriplegic when thrown from a horse during a Virginia equestrian competition; and football players, among them former Detroit Lions star offensive lineman Mike Utley, injured during a 1991 game. Utley is a 1993 Victory Award® recipient.
    These public faces, Dr. Groah says, raised the profile of the disease and perhaps paved the way to get us to where we are now.

    “We began to move away from drugs being the potential cure for SCI to patients working through therapy and newer, emerging technology,” she said.

    Dr. Groah says that the future of spinal cord injury research offers tremendous hope and new possibilities. She highlighted various new research breakthroughs including scaffolds placed around the spinal cord during decompression surgery and optogenetics using light on cells in animals right now with respiratory issues that could be used in the future for those with SCI.

    In addition, Dr. Groah mentioned Networked Neural Prosthesis technology, which can help via a stimulator device allowing patients to use their hands in more ways. “SCI patients might be able to use their hands in ways they never knew, such as using a pen and paper or eating food while holding utensils,” she said. “All of this holds great promise in the years to come.”

    Dr. Groah’s chief takeaway when reflecting on her own career: Exude confidence even if you are not quite sure what you are doing. “I tell residents, future physicians, researchers and anyone the same things – if you’re going to react, use restraint before you react; if you see an opportunity grab it; and develop and keep relationships with your mentors so you can pay it forward.”

    With a career in research that spans many years, Dr. Groah has done that for herself while mentoring many along the way.

    SIDEBAR
    MORE ABOUT THE JOHN W. GOLDSCHMIDT AWARD
    The Goldschmidt Award and Lecture is a prestigious honor at MedStar NRH. It serves to recognize the years and effort devoted by MedStar NRH’s founding medical director, John W. Goldschmidt, who worked towards enhancing an interdisciplinary team approach to patient care. The recipients of the award are those who are motivated to positively influence both fields of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
    This award should be given to an individual who reflects the attributes of Dr. John W. Goldschmidt in terms of voluntary and tireless efforts, enhancement of interdisciplinary multi-specialty team development and approach to patient care, the advancement of facility to care for individuals with physical disabilities as well as intellectual, emotional and academic commitment to the precepts and the intimate intricacies of rehabilitation as a specialty field. Each of these actions must also be performed to the highest professional and ethical standards which emulate the man for which this award has been named.

    Past Awardees Include:
    2018 - Suzanne Groah, MD
    2017 - Randall L. Braddom, MD, MS, FAAPMR
    2016 - Barbara Bregman, PT, PhD
    2015 - Paul F. Pasquina, MD
    2014 - Alexander Dromerick, MD
    2013 - Bruce Gans, MD
    2012 - Kristjian T. Ragnarsson, MD
    2011 - John N. Aseff, MD
    2010 - Brendan Conroy, MD
    2009 - Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA

    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.

  • July 03, 2018

    When D.C. resident Dawn Goodloe started having trouble reading road signs and licenses plates in the middle of last year, her brain jumped to the most logical conclusion.

    “I hadn’t been to the eye doctor for a couple of years, so I just figured I needed a new prescription,” says the 47-year-old legal assistant.

    However, after vision correction failed to clear things up, an MRI revealed the shocking truth: her brain was the problem all along. Those MRI images showed a meningioma – a usually benign tumor – pushing into her optic nerve.

    "I had absolutely no idea that I was walking around with a brain tumor, other than the fact that my vision was really blurry,” Goodloe says. "I wasn't having headaches, I wasn't having dizziness. Nothing.”

    Plans to buy a new pair of glasses suddenly jumped to a potentially life-changing brain surgery.

    “I was beyond fearful because I’ve never been in the hospital for anything, other than to have my daughter. All I could think about were worst case scenarios,” Goodloe says.

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    Just a few days later at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Neurosurgeon Amjad Anaizi, MD, recommended a newly developed surgical procedure for meningioma: the expanded endoscopic endonasal approach. That means using advanced instruments to remove the entire tumor through Goodloe’s nose.

    Not only is it possible but, with the right training and expertise, doctors say the operation is better for the patient’s overall recovery.

    "MedStar Georgetown is one of the few places in the country that offers an endonasal treatment for this particular kind of tumor," says Anaizi. “It avoids incision of the head, avoids the pain associated with that, and avoids any manipulation of the normal brain."

    According to Anaizi, meningioma is traditionally removed by craniotomy, or surgery through the top of the head. The endoscopic endonasal approach gets to the tumor from underneath by navigating the nasal cavity and sinuses. It’s a more direct route and often leaves the patient looking like they didn’t have surgery at all. At MedStar Georgetown, Anaizi tag-teams the operations with Otolaryngologist Timothy DeKlotz, MD.

    “I think having two sets of eyes on a complicated problem is always helpful,” says DeKlotz. “The combination of two endoscopic trained skull-base surgeons who work together on these is very uncommon.”

    DeKlotz and Anaizi in SurgeryThe roughly six and a half hour procedure begins with DeKlotz opening up the nose and sinuses. Then, Anaizi carefully removes the tumor from beneath the membrane on which it sits. The operation relies on longer tools that can reach the tumor from outside the head, and a high quality camera piloted by Dr. DeKlotz.

    “It gives us access to tumors and the ability to manage certain diseases that were not able to be effectively treated at all.” DeKlotz says. “A lot of it comes from the experience of working together, knowing the limits, and continuing to push those limits as we learn more about what can be done safely and effectively.”

    Goodloe’s tumor was not cancerous, but her eyesight continued to get worse at it grew. She had a big decision to make. Any surgery could potentially damage her optic nerve, carotid artery and other complex blood vessels. However, she was determined to get better.

    "I was really scared because I was facing the threat of not being able to watch my daughter grow up, or grow old with my husband and I didn’t know what was going to happen."

    In the end, she leaned on confidence in her two new specialists and elected to have the endoscopic endonasal operation.

    It was the right decision.

    Goodloe was placed under anesthesia throughout the procedure and later woke to a much clearer image of her recovery room. The tumor was gone. Her vision had improved drastically. The operation was a success.

    Dawn Goodloe with her daughter"I opened my eyes and I could see. It was amazing. I'll never forget that feeling," she says.

    In recovery, Goodloe remained in the hospital for four days as her nose was packed with gauze. There, her nasal cavity began to heal. For a week, she only breathed out of her mouth and avoided blowing her nose. Those brief adjustments ended up paying off in the end and after only two months she returned to work.

    “When I came back to work, I think everyone was expecting me to have a shaved head and a big scar on the side,” she says. “I didn’t look like I had surgery. They could not tell.”

     “We get people home more quickly with the endoscopic endonasal approach,” DeKlotz says. “The healing process involves fewer complications and it happens a lot faster.”

    “It’s dramatic,” says Dr. Anaizi. “There’s more recent evidence that shows clear advantages. The visual outcomes are better and the seizure rates are lower.”

    For Goodloe, it meant getting back the one precious thing her tumor was slowly taking away: the clear sight of her husband and 10-year-old daughter.

     “It gets better every day. I feel myself getting stronger every day. I’m just happy to be alive and here and have amazing doctors who helped me,” she says.

  • July 02, 2018

    WASHINGTON — Bladder cancer is relatively common and imposes the highest per patient cost on the U.S. health care system than the management of any other cancer type. Now, a new test could be key to reducing the cost of care while at the same time, relieving some patients of unneeded over-treatment, say investigators led by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers.

    Deciding whether to treat bladder cancer aggressively has been difficult — predictive diagnostic data is limited.  Up to 70 percent of patients treated for early stage lesions that have not invaded the bladder wall will experience recurrence of these lesions, and 20 percent of these patients will develop an invasive cancer. 

    Because clinicians do not know which tumors will become dangerous, they err on the side of caution and perform an extremely intensive post-surgery surveillance regimen, including cystoscopy (a lighted optical scope that examines the inside of the bladder) as frequently as every three months for two years after removal of the tumor, and every 6-12 months for the years after.

    The Georgetown-led investigators offer a new solution to the dilemma. They have found that a fairly simple test that significantly improves the identification of bladder tumors that will likely become invasive.

    The study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, “validates this test that helps predict whether an early stage bladder cancer will recur and progress,” says the study’s senior author, Todd Waldman, MD, PhD, a professor of oncology at Georgetown.

    Working with researchers from the U.S. and Denmark, Waldman has found that, compared with using current diagnostic procedures, the new test is 2.4 times more accurate in identifying tumors likely to recur after treatment, and 1.9 times more accurate at predicting which tumors will likely to progress, invade the bladder wall and spread.

    The test involves examining bladder tumors that had been removed during initial surgery for over expression of the STAG2 gene, which Waldman earlier identified as key to development of potentially deadly bladder tumors.

    Checking for STAG2 is a “very simple and very robust” procedure for pathologists who routinely examine excised tumors, Waldman says. His studies have described how to run this test.

    Using the test could, in some cases, spare patients constant surveillance and, in others, support forgoing aggressive treatment that can produce significant side effects, the researchers say.

    So Waldman and his colleagues have worked on a diagnostic test for years. This study summed up several of those clinical studies, concluding that using the test “offers additional two-fold predictive discrimination,” Waldman says.

    “We are closer to our goal of lowering the risk of both aggressive bladder cancer and over-surveillance and treatment side effects in bladder cancer patients,” he says. “In principle, it might be possible to reduce the frequency of post-resection surveillance and therapy in patients whose cancer is STAG2-negative, and, conversely, treat patients and keep up high frequency surveillance in patients who have positive test results.”

    The study’s first author is Alana Lelo, an MD/PhD candidate at Georgetown University School of Medicine.  Additional Georgetown authors include Deborah L. Berry, PhD, Brent Harris, MD, PhD, George Philips, MD, Krysta Chaldekas, and Jung-Sik Kim, PhD. Frederik Prip, Lars Dyrskjøt, PhD, Jørgen Bjerggaard Jensen, MD, are from Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark; Jeffry Simko, MD, PhD, and David Solomon, MD, PhD, are from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; Ciaran Mannion, MD, and Pritish Bhattacharyya, MD, are from Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey, and Anagha Kumar, MD, is from MedStar Health Research Institute in Washington D.C.,

    The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.

    This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute grants (R01CA169345, T32CA009686, DP5OD021403), and Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA051008) to the Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource); the Danish Cancer Society; the National Center For Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (TL1TR001431); and institutional funds from the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.

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