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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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  • May 18, 2017

    A Daily Pill Cures Hepatitis C in Months

    “It’s a hidden disease. A lot of people, me included, don't know they have hepatitis C until they have a blood test,” says Duncan MacInnes, during a recent visit to the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute.

    MacInnes, 69, was infected with hepatitis C while working overseas, when doctors used unclean needles to give injections in the 1970’s. He didn’t know about his condition until the 1990’s. Hepatitis C damaged his liver by causing extreme scarring, called cirrhosis, a late stage of fibrosis that is now reversible with oral medications.

    After five rounds of Interferon, which involves a year of injections three times each week and many side effects, doctors recently used new pills to treat MacInnes’s hepatitis C. Simple oral drugs and the liver’s ability to regenerate and heal itself cured his hepatitis C and helped him avoid a liver transplant.

    “When a patient is cured of hepatitis C, the patient they may be able to avoid or delay liver transplant,” says Rohit Satoskar, MD and medical director of the Liver Screening Program at Liver Transplantation the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. “More than 95 percent of patients with chronic hepatitis C can now be cured with well-tolerated oral medications today.”

    About 3.5 million people live with hepatitis C in the United States, according to The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similar to MacInnes’s experience, many people are living with hepatitis C and don’t know it or know that there is a cure. MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute offers liver screening tests and oral treatments, including a pill that can cure hepatitis C with no side effects in fewer than six months.

    “Traditionally, hepatitis C has been a leading cause for liver transplant and liver cancer. Liver transplants for hepatitis C-related disease are falling, and it’s likely happening because we are able to treat more people and prevent them from getting to that point,” says Dr. Satoskar.

    Testing for Hepatitis C

    A simple blood test shows doctors if a person has hepatitis C. The MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute provides free liver screening tests to help with early diagnosis of hepatitis C and other conditions, which prevents the progression to serious liver diseases, like liver cancer, and the eventual need for transplant. With two small tubes of blood, providers screen for hepatitis C and receive test results within seven days.

    “The test is very simple, and now that there’s a cure, there really is no reason not to get tested,” says Maccines.

    Curing Hepatitis C

    “What we’ve seen with the progress against hepatitis C is truly revolutionary.  Since the 1980’s we’ve gone from not knowing about the virus, to now being able to cure it,” says Dr. Satoskar.

    Physicians use the following oral medications from a range of 8 to 24 weeks to cure hepatitis C today:

    • Harvoni
    • Epclusa
    • Zepatier
    • Viekira
    • Daklinza and Sovaldi

    “New Hepatitis C treatments are simple. Patients are now able to use pills that are side effect-free and for short durations of time to treat this disease. It’s just so fantastically different compared to what it was back during out Interferon days in the 1990’s,” says Andrea Keller, physician assistant with the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute who has followed MacInnes’s care for several years. “Mr. MacInnes is a very sweet man. His resilience and drive to treat this disease has been like no one else I’ve seen. He’s really forthcoming with feedback and always ready to try the next treatment in hope of a cure. Finally, we had success.”

    A Hidden and ‘Most Common’ Disease

    Hepatitis C is a viral infection which causes inflammation of the liver. The disease has short-term and long-term effects, but most people will not experience symptoms until problems arise due to liver damage.

    A recent CDC report shows that cases of hepatitis C nearly tripled from 2010-2015. With an outstanding undiagnosed population, doctors say baby boomers or those a part of the current opioid epidemic should especially get tested for hepatitis C.

    For more information about the liver screening program at MedStar Georgetown, please contact Chloe Shreve, liver program coordinator, at GUH-healthyliver@medstar.net and 703-639-0616.

  • May 16, 2017

    FibroScan Better Assesses Liver Health  

    Washington, D.C., May 16, 2017  - “That’s it? That was quick!”says Marc Calanog, 73, as he lay on the exam table after his first FibroScan test, at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    With his left hand stretched above his head, and his shirt pulled up to his chest, Calanog’s Fibroscan took about five minutes, and was as easy as an ultrasound of his abdomen. 

    In his case, physicians want to know if Calanog’s hepatitis B has caused any damage to his liver. Fibroscan is used to check for scarring on the liver as well as signs of fatty liver disease, which can lead to the need for a liver transplant.

    In the past, doctors required a liver biopsy, an invasive procedure that sometimes requires moderate sedation, to understand the staging of a liver disease and identify the amount of fat on the liver. The side-effects of a liver biopsy include soreness of the area biopsied and possible bleeding and infection.

    “One of the most important things for physicians to determine is if the patient is on the road to extreme scarring in the liver called cirrhosis and potentially liver cancer,” said Rohit Satoskar, MD and director of the Liver Screening Program at the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. “Fibroscan is a way that we can estimate how much scarring is in the liver without doing the traditional, invasive liver biopsy.”

    FibroScan uses Vibration-Controlled Transient Elastography to accurately measure tissue stiffness, an indication of liver damage. This non-invasive technique helps doctors identify liver damage from a variety of conditions, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B, fatty liver disease and fibrosis.

    Calanog visits MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute for continual monitoring of his hepatitis B and other conditions. Although there is no cure available for Calanog’s hepatitis B, his Fibroscan results help his doctors choose the best direction for his care.

    “I’m convinced that, with this FibroScan information, my doctor will be more informed about my liver and know how to better guide my treatment,” says Calanog.

    Early diagnosis of liver conditions prevents the progression of serious liver diseases and the eventual need for a liver transplant.

    “The problem with most liver diseases is that they are silent until you get very advanced disease,” said Dr. Satoskar, “so it’s very important to get screened.”

    For more information about the liver screening program at MedStar Georgetown, please contact Chloe Shreve, liver program coordinator, at GUH-healthyliver@medstar.net and 703-698-9254.

  • May 12, 2017
    Community Partnerships Promote Fun Activities and Health Living
  • May 12, 2017

    The new High-Risk Assessment and Cancer Prevention Clinic is dedicated to identifying and caring for individuals who have an increased risk of cancer due to family history, medical and genetic factors, and/or lifestyle influences. A diversified team will assess a patients' need to be screened for cancer-related genes, develop treatment plans that consider current and future risk, and encourage regular diagnostic testing. The team is made up of medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, gynecologists, surgeons, nurses, and a dedicated cancer genetic counselor.

    Meet Jackie Dressel as she shares her story about her treatment at the High-Risk Cancer Prevention Clinic. Due to Dressel's family history of breast cancer, including her mother who died in her mid-3o's, she was screened for cancer-related genes linked to increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Although her results were negative, Dressel opted for a preventive double mastectomy. "I didn't want to live in fear anymore," said Dressel. "For me, it was a relief." Click here to read the full story.

  • May 11, 2017
    This article features MedStar Healthy, the past transformation of the 2015-16 Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health fellows' type 2 diabetes solution previously called WellRooted. 
  • May 04, 2017

    If Past Attempts at Relief Haven’t Worked, Don’t be Afraid to Try New Treatment Regimen 

    For spring allergy sufferers, this time of year means the return of runny noses, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, dry coughing, headaches and itchy, red eyes.

    According to the Allergy Foundation of America, researchers believe 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, affecting as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. The residents of Southern Maryland may be particularly at risk for spring allergies, as this area of the country contains a large population of allergy-causing birch, cedar and pine trees.

    Actions taken now, at the start of spring allergy season, may help alleviate symptoms, says MedStar physician Laura Riggins, MD, who has seen vast improvements in allergy treatments during her career. Before allergy season starts, Dr. Riggins recommends seeing your primary care physician to talk about your symptoms and come up with a plan for dealing with your allergies.

    Many over-the- counter anti-histamines and eye drops can help, though she cautions it is best to first try taking anti-histamines at night to see how much they affect you, in case the anti-histamine causes drowsiness. The newest anti-histamines and nasal sprays have been improved over older generations of drugs. Many new medications do not cause drowsiness and new nasal aerosols do not cause dripping or an unpleasant taste.

    If your symptoms persist, your physician can also write stronger prescriptions or advise you on further testing to pinpoint specific allergies. A physician should also be consulted when using decongestants if you have an existing heart problem or high blood pressure.

    Other tips for dealing with spring allergies include venturing outside during the afternoon hours after peak allergens spike in the mornings. Dr. Riggins also recommends changing clothes and washing one’s hair before going to bed to keep particles off of your sheets and pillowcases. If you own animals that go outside, a daily rinse of your pet can help.

    “If you know you have allergies, you don’t just have to live with them and suffer,” says Dr. Laura Riggins. “You can be helped. There have been advancements in treatments and there exists a wide variety of medications that can help you, either by themselves or in a combination that works for you.”

    If you need a MedStar primary care physician, Dr. Riggins is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 301-292-1590.

    For more information, please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Allergies

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