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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 17, 2017

    Washington, D.C., July 17, 2017 – MedStar Washington Hospital Center has received prestigious international recognition as a designated Baby-Friendly hospital, from Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. The organization’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is part of a global program of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund that seeks to improve breastfeeding rates while encouraging mother-infant bonding. 

    Over the past three years, the Hospital Center has raised the number of newborns being exclusively breastfed from below 20 percent to more than 80 percent. This accomplishment represents a significant health benefit to the Washington, D.C. community. With an average 300 births per month, the Hospital Center is the site of more than 20 percent of all births in the District. 

    “Significant evidence shows that breastfeeding lowers risks for certain diseases and improves health for both babies and mothers,” said Loral Patchen, PhD, MSN, CNM, director of the Midwifery Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “Our Baby-Friendly designation reinforces our goal of ensuring all new mothers receive the information and support, so they can be confident and successful in breastfeeding their baby.”

    The Baby-Friendly designation is awarded after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. More than 200 nurses in the Hospital Center’s Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby and Infants’ Services units received extensive lactation training. In addition, physicians, nurses and other team members have implemented the 10 best practices of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, including initiating skin-to-skin contact with mother and infant at birth and rooming infants and mothers together, minimizing separations.

    According to Baby-Friendly USA’s website, becoming a Baby Friendly Hospital is a comprehensive, detailed and thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. The Baby-Friendly designation is granted for five years.


    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.

  • July 06, 2017

    Leonardtown, Maryland (July 3, 2017) – MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital’s Marketing, Public Relations, and Philanthropy (MPRP) Department earned seven healthcare marketing awards from the Aster Awards Program and the Healthcare Marketing Report (HMR). The Aster Awards Program is an elite competition dedicated to recognizing excellence in medical marketing and HMR is a publications group focused on marketing news and information from around the nation in the field of higher education and healthcare.

    Aster Awards received this year include:

    • Bronze for The Pulse, Newsletter/Internal – Series
    • Silver for Healthy Living, Publication/External – Series
    • Silver for Viva! A Night in Old Havana/Gala 2016, Special Events

    HMR Awards received this year include:

    • Silver, The Pulse, Publications Internal
    • Silver, Viva! A Night in Old Havana/Gala 2016, Special Event
    • Bronze, Care That’s Tailored to Your Changing Life, Direct Mail
    • Merit, Raising the Bar/Nursing Annual Report, Annual Report

    “We have a talented and creative team that works diligently to accurately and professionally communicate the news from our hospital as well as our services,” said Holly Meyer, director of Marketing, Public Relations and Philanthropy at MedStar St. Mary's. “Teamwork is the main ingredient that helps us continually tackle challenging projects with creative marketing solutions.”   

    The MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Marketing, Public Relations and Philanthropy team pictured, from left to right: Holly Meyer, director; Sandy Ondrejcak, marketing and public relations specialist; Rachel Lytle, digital marketing coordinator; Ruby Hawks, marketing and public relations specialist; Jennifer Green, writer; Jeni Irwin, marketing project coordinator; and Deborah Gross, writer.

  • July 06, 2017

    WASHINGTON  —Acute and chronic infections in a person’s upper gastrointestinal tract appear to be linked to Parkinson’s disease, say scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center and their collaborators at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

    Their study, published in the Journal of Innate Immunity, finds that alpha-Synuclein (αS), the protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease and other forms of neurodegenerative diseases, is released when an infection occurs in the upper GI tract (the esophagus, stomach and duodenum) inducing an immune response as part of the body’s innate immune system. The researchers say that these findings suggest that frequent or chronic upper GI infections could overwhelm the body’s capacity to clear αS, leading to disease.

    This largely federally-funded study helps clarify the function of αS, which is poorly understood, says the study’s senior investigator, Michael Zasloff, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine and scientific director of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute.

    This research builds upon prior studies that showed in autopsied material from individuals at very early as well as later stages of Parkinson’s, that the buildup of αS actually begins in the enteric nervous system (nerves in the GI tract). Animal studies have further shown that microbes in the GI tract can induce formation of toxic aggregates in the enteric nervous system, which can then travel up to the brain.

    Zasloff and his colleagues studied biopsy samples, collected at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, from 42 children with upper GI distress. They also looked at another population of 14 MedStar Georgetown University Hospital patients who received an intestinal transplant. This second group had documented cases of infection by Norovirus, a common cause of upper GI infection.

    The biopsies showed that expression of αS in enteric nerves of the upper GI tract in these children positively correlated with the degree of acute and chronic inflammation in the intestinal wall. Some highly monitored transplant patients expressed αS as Norovirus was infecting them.

    Researchers also showed that human αS could potently attract human immune cells such as macrophages and neutrophils and could “turn on” dendritic cells to alert the immune system of the specific pathogen encountered.

    As Zasloff explains, “When expressed in normal amounts following an infection of the upper GI tract, αS is a good molecule. It is protective. The nervous system within the wall of the GI tract detects the presence of a pathogen and responds by releasing αS. αS then attracts white blood cells to the site where it has been released. In addition, αS produced in one nerve can spread to others with which it communicates thereby protecting a large field. By this means, the nervous system can protect both itself as well as the GI tract as a whole in the setting of an infection.”

    He adds, “It is well known from animal studies that αS produced in the enteric nervous system can use the nerves connecting the GI tract to the brainstem as an escalator, trafficking αS from the gut to the brain and spreading to centers within the central nervous system.

    “But too much αS — such as from multiple or chronic infections — becomes toxic because the system that disposes of αS is overwhelmed, nerves are damaged by the toxic aggregates that form and chronic inflammation ensues. Damage occurs both within the nervous system of the GI tract and the brain.”

    Zasloff says the new findings “make sense” of observations made in Parkinson’s disease patients, such as the presence of chronic constipation from damage to the enteric nervous system that develops decades before brain symptoms become apparent and that chronic upper GI distress is relatively common in people who develop Parkinson’s.

    Zasloff adds that the publication of this study coincides with the start of a clinical trial targeting the accumulation of αS in the enteric nervous system. The phase 1/2a study is examining the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of an oral drug, ENT-01, a synthetic version of squalamine, a natural steroid made by the dogfish shark, to relieve constipation associated with Parkinson's disease. Research recently published by Zasloff and collaborators demonstrated that squalamine both reduced the formation of toxic αS clumps and their toxicity, in animal experiments. The clinical trial, being conducted in the US, is sponsored by Enterin, Inc.

    The study’s lead author was Ethan Stolzenberg MD, PhD, from the University of Oklahoma and its co-senior author was Denise Barbut, MD, FRCP, Enterin, Inc.

    Other scientists contributing to the study include De Yang MD, PhD, Joost J. Oppenheim, MD, and Ad Bax, PhD from the National Institutes of Health, E.Y. Lee, and Gerard C. L. Wong, PhD, from the University of California, Los Angeles. Collaborators from Georgetown are Deborah Berry, PhD, Alexander Kroemer, MD, Supti Sen, Stuart Kaufman, MD, Thomas M. Fishbein, MD, and Brent Harris, MD, PhD.

    Zasloff is founder, chairman and CEO of Enterin and Barbut is co-founder of Enterin, president and chief medical officer of the company.

    The study was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (ZIADK029047), the University of Oklahoma, and UCLA training grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (T32GM008185, T32GM008042).

  • July 03, 2017
    MedStar Health Home Care launched an innovative program called "Touch" that offers increased attention to high-risk patients, helping to prevent the need for emergency medical intervention.
  • June 30, 2017

    By: Sung W. Lee, MD, Department of Cardiology

    Atrial Fibrillation is the technical term for irregular heartbeat caused by malfunctioning electrical impulses in the heart. It is the most common heart rhythm problem, affecting more than three million Americans, and is on the rise in the United States and in this area.

    Controlling high blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight and treating sleep apnea are all ways to help prevent Atrial Fibrillation. If a patient does develop this chronic condition, Dr. Lee identifies the following three treatment pillars for Atrial Fibrillation:

    Stroke Prevention

    Using anticoagulants, or blood-thinning drugs, can prevent strokes. In more serious cases, implanting a device called a Watchman Closure prevents blood clots from entering the bloodstream and causing a stroke.

    Heart Rate Control

    Medications and/or implanted pacemakers can regulate heartbeats and keep hearts functioning effectively. Many pacemaker implantations occur here at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, as a part of the MedStar system and the MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute’s shared commitment to bring top-of-the-line care to the residents of southern Maryland.

    Rhythm Control

    Medications and/or minimally-invasive catheter ablations, which are procedures to burn or freeze the tissue that causes Atrial Fibrillation, have good success rates with a low occurrence of complications. MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is one of the highest volume arrhythmia treatment centers in the country, offering the most sophisticated diagnostic tools and advanced treatment options. Our experts include board-certified, nationally recognized arrhythmia specialists who offer a team-based approach, collaborating with over 140 other cardiac specialists throughout our system to ensure that we provide a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan that’s right for you.

  • June 27, 2017

    It All About Teamwork: Orthopedic Surgeon Daniel Hampton, MD, and 15 year-old patient Isis Belcher, work together with her supportive dad and an encouraging physical therapist

    MedStar Orthopaedic Institute Surgeon, Daniel Hampton, MD, knows a thing or two about teamwork. He watches it in action every time the elite soccer team hits the field. He also practices it with his fellow physicians, collaborating on cases and sharing ideas. But it’s the teamwork he experiences with his patients that really brings him the most reward, when he is able to repair a sports injury through surgery, with the patient diligently following their prescribed post-surgery treatment plan to great success.

    He has found the perfect motivated team member in patient Isis Belcher. Isis tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during her final tumbling pass of the day at a gymnastics practice last fall. The energetic 15 year-old said she felt a twinge in her knee after landing, and could no longer stand up. She visited MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for an MRI, where she learned she had torn ligaments in her right knee, and where she was referred to Dr. Hampton for surgery. 

    A student who excels in science and technology classes at Oxon Hill High School, as well as in sports and singing, Isis took it upon herself to do some homework and research her new doctor. “Dr. Hampton had an excellent resume,” said Isis. “And now, I feel like this is going to be a speedy recovery.”

    The ACL that Isis tore is one of the main ligaments, or connective tissues, that hold together joints in the human knee. Tearing the ACL is not uncommon, especially during sports, and females are at a higher risk, says Dr. Hampton. Repairing a torn ACL involves using regenerative ligament tissue from another part of the body or from a donor, and refastening the tissue. It is typically an outpatient procedure followed by using a series of knee braces as it heals, and following through with a rehab plan to strengthen the joint.

    “Most surgeries have a rehab component, and we develop a protocol for what each individual’s rehab will look like as they heal,” said Dr. Hampton. “Isis is a great patient. She’s motivated and working hard. The patient is a huge part of the treatment. When they put in the work, there is a much better outcome.”

    Isis currently goes to rehab twice per week, working with Physical Therapist Jeff Fairman at the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network location at Brandywine. At each session, she spends over an hour performing a circuit of exercises, like walking backwards on a treadmill, enduring balancing exercises and lifting weights, while she listens to music and jokes with Fairman. “She is coming along ahead of schedule,” says Fairman.

    “I try to challenge her more and make fun changes to her exercise routine to keep it interesting. ACL rehab is a long process and we want to meet the criteria for her to return to sports.” Isis is now only a couple of months away from a return to gymnastics, and she and her dad are grateful for Dr. Hampton and the whole MedStar team.

    “As a parent, I appreciate Dr. Hampton’s courtesy calls to ask how she’s doing,” said Wiziri Belcher, Isis’s dad. “I tell him so far, so good. We’ve seen such good results and the credit goes to Isis as well. She’s working through this and of course, at the end of this process, I want her to be happy and healthy.”

    Isis will meet with Dr. Hampton again before she is cleared to return to gymnastics, but thus far, all members of the team—Isis, her dad, her physical therapist and Dr. Hampton—are confident of a bright, active future for this ambitious, young student. For more information about the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute, visit or call 301-782-2220.

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