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.
March 08, 2018
‘It Came On With No Warning’
Gloria and Francis Bean were walking on July 4 — a typical sticky summer day, like many in Southern Maryland — when, without warning, Francis went into cardiac arrest.
They’d just completed a walk around Francis’ brother’s farm: a pleasant routine for the Valley Lee couple. Francis typically joins his wife for an hour before Gloria completes another 30 minutes on her own.
The two stood chatting on Independence Day when, as Gloria recalls, Francis suddenly collapsed, grasping at his wife’s shirt as he fell. He was not breathing.
“There were no warning signs,” Francis says. “You know how, with heart attacks or cardiac events, there are symptoms or warnings? There were none.”
Gloria has spent 36 years as a registered nurse at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, but this patient in sudden distress was her husband. They were just a five-minute walk from their own home, but it might as well have been miles. “We didn’t take our cell phones,” she says.
Driven by adrenaline, Gloria began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): the technique of administering chest compressions and giving breaths to assist a person who has stopped breathing or is experiencing a cardiac event. CPR restores oxygenated blood flow to the vital organs by pumping blood through the body, and/or giving breaths to oxygenate the blood being pumped.
“I was probably out there for 15 minutes,” Gloria says, “but then I really thought I needed to get help.”
She sprinted to find her brother-in-law and call 911, then returned to continue CPR. It took an additional 10 minutes of mouth-to-mouth before first responders could arrive.
“You’ve never been so happy to see anyone in your life,” Gloria says.
Members of the Second District Fire Department and Rescue Squad — where Francis has also volunteered — revived him using a defibrillator. He was then transported to the Emergency Department at MedStar St. Mary’s, where he was seen by Dr. Daniel Geary, medical director of the Emergency Department, and the emergency staff before being flown to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
The Cardiac Catheterization Lab at the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute determined Francis had a 100 percent blockage in one artery. Surgery was required to clear it and place a stent to keep the artery open. Francis was able to be discharged after just two days with a LifeVest — a wearable defibrillator — providing protection and peace of mind while he recovered at home.
Three months later, Francis smiles at his wife of 35 years. The pair has four grown children and three grandchildren. How grateful they are that Gloria was by Francis’ side that day.
“It’s so important that CPR was started immediately. Your chances of recovery drop with every minute until help arrives,” he says.
Francis started a supervised exercise program at the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at MedStar St. Mary’s, where his vital signs are monitored during low-impact routines. The intensity of his workouts has been gradually increased to safely return him to an active lifestyle.
The couple advocates strongly that everyone take a CPR course to be able to assist others in a crisis. At least 10 of the Beans’ family members have become certified since July.
“You never know when you’re going to need CPR,” says Gloria. “You think the skills aren’t going to come back to you, but they do. You never know whose life you’re going to save — it could be your loved one.”
Today, the Beans are back to walking again: an hour around the farm and home again.
“But we take a cell phone now,” Gloria smiles.
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February 23, 2018
Lucky To Be Alive
In mid-August, Jennifer’s husband drove her to the Emergency Department (ED) of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis, a deadly infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and all too often, death.
“There was a point when I was in the Emergency Department and I remember feeling like I was not going to make it out of there. I have never felt so sick in all of my life,” said Jennifer, 49, who survived a battle with breast cancer 13 years ago.
A few days before she was admitted to the hospital, she noticed an infected, ingrown hair on her leg. She treated it and thought nothing more of it, but that small infection would lead to much bigger problems. Still recovering from a flu-like illness the previous week, she started to feel sicker over the weekend and stayed home from work Monday.
“I could not get out of bed,” Jennifer, a California, Md., resident said. “I stayed in bed all day Monday, and that’s not like me.” Tuesday, Jennifer went to work, but her symptoms worsened and she began having chills and uncontrollable shaking. Her coworkers called her husband who drove her to the hospital.
“The ED was full, but by the time my husband got back from parking the car, I was in a room and they were hooking up IVs,” Jennifer said.
When Jennifer arrived in the ED and was being triaged, the nurse recognized her symptoms and a Code Sepsis was called. In September 2016, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital instituted the Code Sepsis, a treatment protocol designed to quickly diagnosis sepsis patients so that life-saving medications can be started. Antibiotics are effective in battling sepsis, but because the infection spreads rapidly delayed treatment increases the risk of death.
“My doctor said it would take a lot of time for my body to recover,” she said. “And he told my husband, if I had stayed home by myself, my husband probably would have come home to find me in a coma or dead.”
Although it has taken several months for Jennifer to regain her strength, she has made a full recovery. For Cheryl Douglas, of Chevy Chase, the outcome was very different.
Education Can Save Lives
In 2006, Cheryl, who had recently retired, returned home one afternoon and suddenly started feeling ill like she had the flu. She sat in an ED for hours waiting to be seen. Two months later, she woke up from a coma with no recollection of what had happened.
While she was unconscious, her husband, Paul, and her doctors had to make the painful decision to amputate her hands and feet to save her life. It has taken years of physical therapy and relearning basic life skills such as walking and cooking, but Cheryl has regained her independence. She loves to cook and travel with her husband and is determined to help others survive sepsis.
“Two hundred and fifty thousand people die each year in this country due to this totally treatable health condition,” said Paul, who with Cheryl recently shared their story at the Southern Maryland Sepsis Collaborative hosted by MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.
“Paul and I had never heard of sepsis and we had no idea what to do,” said Cheryl. “If people know the symptoms, they are more likely to go to the doctor.”
Cheryl and Paul believe that education of healthcare workers and the public is the key to reducing sepsis deaths. “We could save so many lives in such a relatively easy way,” said Paul.
Visit MedStarStMarys.org/Sepsis to learn more.
Know The Signs and Symptoms of Sepsis
S ► Shivering, fever, or very cold
E ► Extreme pain or discomfort
P ► Pale, discolored, clammy or sweaty skin
S ► Sleepy, confusion or disorientation
I ►" I feel like I might die."
S ► Shortness of breath
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February 19, 2018
WASHINGTON — Family history of breast cancer continues to significantly increase chances of developing invasive breast tumors in aging women — those ages 65 and older, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings could impact mammography screening decisions later in life.
The large study of more than 400,000 women is the first to specifically look at family history as a breast cancer risk factor in two groups of women, age 65-74 and 75 and older, says the research team, led by Dejana Braithwaite, PhD, associate professor of oncology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and a member of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Family history of breast cancer does not decline as a breast cancer risk factor as a woman ages. The relationship didn’t vary based on whether a first-degree relative’s diagnosis was made in a woman age 50 or younger, or older than age 50,” Braithwaite says. “This means that women with that first-degree family history — breast cancer in a mother, sister, or daughter — should consider this risk factor when deciding whether to continue mammography screening as they age.”
Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends mammography screening every two years between ages 50 and 74 for women at average risk. After age 75, the evidence is insufficient to assess risk and benefit of mammography, according to USPSTF’s most recent update in 2016.
The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms in women age 45, and then biennial screening at age 55 and on “as long as a woman is in good health.”
“As breast cancer screening guidelines change from age-based to risk-based, it is important to know how standard risk factors impact breast cancer risk for women of different ages,” said Karla Kerlikowske, MD, senior author of the new study and a member of the UC San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The goal of our work is to provide evidence that helps inform breast cancer screening guidelines for older women,” Braithwaite says. “Older women who are in good health and have a first-degree family history may consider a screening mammogram even as they age beyond the screening recommendations for average risk women.”
Researchers from Washington, California, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire and North Carolina participated in the research by examining 1996-2012 records from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortiums (BCSC) registries in their regions.
The team found that while age is the strongest risk factor for breast cancer — any adult woman in the general population has a baseline 12 percent risk of developing the disease — first-degree family history can almost double that risk.
Overall, a first-degree family history leads to an absolute increase in 5-year risk of breast cancer ranging from 1.2 to 10.3 percentage points depending on breast density and age. For example, in women 65-74 years old with scattered areas of dense tissue in their breasts, the team found an increased 5-year risk of breast cancer that ranged from 15.1 percent in women without a family history of the disease to 23.8 percent in women whose first degree female relatives had developed breast cancer.
Similarly, among women 75 years or older with the same scattered breast density, 5-year cumulative risk of breast cancer increased from 15.9 percent for women without a family history to 23.1 percent for women with a family history.
Researchers also discovered that breast density, one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer, did not attenuate the association of family history of breast cancer and breast cancer risk in the women studied as a whole. But when broken into age groups, fatty breasts added a little risk to women age 65-74 years with a family history; in the older cohort, the association was flipped — dense breasts added slight risk.
Study co-authors include: Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD, from the University of California, Davis; Weiwei Zhu, MS, and Diana S. M. Buist, PhD, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle; Joshua Demb, MPH, Elad Ziv, MD, Jeffrey A. Tice, MD, and Louise C. Walter, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco; Amy Trentham-Dietz, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison; Brian Sprague, PhD of the University of Vermont College of Medicine; Tracy Onega, PhD, of Dartmouth; and Louise M. Henderson, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The authors report having no personal financial interests related to the study.
This work was supported by a National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute–funded Program Projects (P01 CA154292, 1R01CA207361-01A1). Data collection was additionally supported by the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (HHSN261201100031C).