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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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  • December 24, 2020

    Vaccines are a shot of hope for those who’ve devoted the last 10 months battling the pandemic

    Columbia, MD – MedStar Health has begun putting COVID-19 vaccines in the arms of frontline workers who have been caring for the area’s sickest patients with the virus.

    At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Clint Pettit, MD, a palliative care physician, was the first at the hospital to receive the vaccine. “It’s exciting,” said Dr. Pettit right after getting his shot on December 16. “It’s something I wanted to do so I let people know that it’s ok, and to be protected.”

    “Day in and day out I got to see what this virus does to our patients,” said Rachel Watkins, RN, a nursing director at MedStar Washington Hospital Center who also received the vaccine. “I just feel like this is the next step in combating this virus.”

    Staff who were vaccinated also received an appointment to come back in three weeks for the second shot required with the Pfizer vaccine.

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    Andrea Valdez, RN, is a labor and delivery nurse at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and was the first person there to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. “To be the first person to get the vaccine today was very exciting, an honor. I felt moved. For me, aside from working with newborn babies and mothers, at home my mom has had recent cardiac surgery and I want to be able to protect her as well as I can.”

    The Pfizer vaccines first arrived at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in the District on December 15. Both hospitals began vaccinating frontline works the next day.

    “It’s a hopeful day,” said Ken Samet, president and CEO of MedStar Health who met with MedStar Georgetown associates receiving the first vaccines. “It’s such a positive moment right now for everyone who has been working so hard through this challenging journey. I’m very proud of MedStar Health, of our 30-thousand associates who have allowed us to care for more COVID patients than anyone in the region, while also taking care of our non-COVID patients. It’s a special day.”

    Two days later, front line associates in MedStar Health’s Maryland hospitals began receiving the vaccine.

    “It’s having the opportunity to fix something,” said Blein Yohannes, a patient advocate at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. “Since I’ve seen it happen to many families and within my own family people pass away from COVID, it’s nice to be given the opportunity by MedStar to do that.”

    “This is a huge step for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chandralekha Banerjee, MD, chief of Infectious Diseases at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital after being among the first to receive her shot. “If we can get the vaccine, we can protect everybody, protect ourselves, protect our patients and hopefully stop the spread of the disease.”

    “There’s a lot of excitement,” said Christina Hughes, MS, BSN, director of Healthcare System Preparedness for MedStar Health who has led coordination and logistics of the vaccine arrival and distribution. “I feel personally that I’ve been privileged to be leading this effort. To be involved in this momentous occasion for our hospitals and our communities and our country because we’re doing something that is extraordinary and remarkable. This is a way to move forward, after all the suffering we’ve seen in so many families.”

    MedStar Health’s pharmacy has worked front and center in the coordination of the vaccine since its teams oversee receiving the vials, as well as preparation and storage. "I feel privileged to be part of this momentous effort on behalf of MedStar Health,” said Bonnie Levin PharmD, MBA and AVP of Pharmacy Services for MedStar Health. “I’ve read all the science and I believe it’s both safe and effective and I’m going to be in line to get my shot. And my family is as well. We know that the more doses we can give, the sooner this pandemic will be over.”

    Veronica Reardon, RN, an emergency department nurse at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center was the first person there to receive the vaccine. “It’s a great honor to get to be first. Hopefully, this is the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

  • December 22, 2020

    The CDC-sponsored study is open to the public; Enrollment at MedStarHealth.org/JoinTheFight

    Columbia, MD — MedStar Health is proud to announce our participation in a multi-site study that will track the symptoms and spread of the COVID-19 throughout our community as well as vaccine adoption in the coming months. As one of the largest studies of its type, MedStar Health hopes to recruit as many as 60,000 participants, regardless of their COVID-19 status. 

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    MedStar Health has begun recruiting patients and asking them to share daily updates of any symptoms and activities related to COVID-19 via email. Researchers will use the information to learn how the virus behaves in our region, including who has it, the locations of disease hot spots, whether prevention strategies are working and who has received the vaccine.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded MedStar Health the two-year, $1.7 million contract as part of a large-scale study led by Wake Forest Baptist Health. Other organizations participating include Atrium Health, Tulane University, and the University of Mississippi.

    “This robust surveillance study will help us better understand the current state of the pandemic. We will be able to track the transmission of COVID-19, monitor changes in its spread, and measure the effectiveness of prevention strategies,” said William S. Weintraub, MD, Director of Outcomes Research, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, co-principal investigator on the study. “We are proud to play a leading role in a study that is at the intersection of research, patient care, and operations.”

    All members of our community in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.,  are eligible to participate in the study and can sign-up at MedStarHealth.org/JoinTheFight. Participation is open to anyone, regardless of COVID-19 status. We are starting our recruitment with several waves of emails to MedStar Health patients. MedStar Health will also be sharing information with our clinicians and care teams.

    Participants will receive a daily reminder to answer questions including:

    • Do you have a cough, fever or other symptoms?
    • Have you been in contact with someone with COVID-19?
    • Were you wearing a mask?
    • Have you received a flu or COVID-19 vaccine?

    “This project represents an innovative way to engage with our community to actively self-report symptoms and events related to COVID-19,” said Kristen E. Miller, DrPH, Scientific Director, National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, MedStar Health Research Institute, co-principal investigator on the study. “We invite everyone in our region to sign up for this study and help tackle this public health emergency together.”

    A subset of patients volunteering for the study will also be invited to participate in a serological testing sub-study. Those volunteers will use an at-home antibody test kit to identify whether they have COVID-19 antibodies in their blood. If antibodies are present, the participant would have been infected with the virus. The researchers will use a representative sample of those who have antibodies to determine the prevalence of immunity to the larger population.

    “This research brings together the best of MedStar Health’s researchers, educators, and clinicians to support and care for our community during this critical time,” said Neil J. Weissman, chief scientific officer, MedStar Health and president, MedStar Health Research Institute. “This study is the result of the collaboration across our academic healthcare system, engaging all our patients to help contribute to better understand the spread of COVID-19.”

    The app can be accessed on both smartphone and computer. Oracle has built a COVID-19 Patient Monitoring System for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help understand the risk factors for the population. The Patient Monitoring System is run by healthcare systems, which invite members of the population who aren't clinically diagnosed with COVID-19 to participate.

    This research study is an opportunity for all members of the MedStar Health community to participate in research and help build a strong understanding of the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org/JoinTheFight.

    map of Maryland area showing the number of participants in study

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    About MedStar Health Research Institute
    MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit www.MedStarResearch.org.

    About MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors
    The MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare occupies a unique position in the United States as the largest human factors program embedded within a healthcare system. It brings together human factors scientists, systems safety engineers, health services researchers, clinicians, and other experts to create a safer and more efficient healthcare environment through four core services in research, usability, safety advisement, and education. The Center is part of the MedStar Health Research Institute and is also affiliated with the MedStar Institute for Innovation and MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. MedStar Health, the parent organization, is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, with 10 hospitals and an extensive ambulatory services network, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University.

    About MedStar Health
    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.

  • November 25, 2020

    Columbia, MD – Much of the medical literature regarding the care of Jehovah’s Witnesses is written from the perspective of the clinical care team. In a new perspectives article published in the November 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, a case is presented from the perspective of a patient. The article, “No Bad Blood – Surviving Severe Anemia Without Blood Transfusion,” describes the care experience of a patient who was safely and effectively treated for severe anemia without blood transfusion.

    The opinion piece is presented from the viewpoint of a non-English speaking patient visiting from another country who had been denied treatment in the past due to her refusal of blood transfusion. Severe anemia is traditionally treated with blood transfusion, sometimes with no diagnosis of the underlying cause of the anemia, exposing patients to potential risks. This article demonstrates that if meticulous evaluation is made to determine the etiology of the anemia, the patient’s wishes can be respected and appropriate, effective treatment can be provided without blood transfusion.

    The article states that sometimes treating a patient without blood transfusion can be viewed as “troublesome” or cause an ethical dilemma, as the physician may feel that by complying with the patient’s wishes they are providing suboptimal care. If the physician or care team begins to feel that the patient is troublesome it could lead to an increased risk of marginalization of the patient or poor clinical outcomes. In the past, this has often been the experience of Jehovah’s Witness patients who present to hospitals with severe anemia.

     “When treating a patient who is un-able to receive blood transfusion, we must carefully manage the patient’s needs while balancing our internal and implicit biases regarding blood product administration,” said Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, medical director of Hyperbaric Medicine in the MedStar Health Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine. “In an effort to provide optimal care for Witness patients, many hospitals have recently established multidisciplinary ‘bloodless medicine and surgery programs.’ What we are finding is that many medical professionals involved with these programs are applying lessons learned from treating this patient population to enhance the care of all patients.”

    Dr. Johnson-Arbor is an expert in the fields of Emergency Medicine, Medical Toxicology and Hyperbaric Medicine, she is an Associate Faculty member at the MedStar Health Institute of Quality and Safety and contributing author to the website of the MedStar Health International Training Center for Bloodless Medicine, medstarbloodless.org. Co-author Richard Verstraete, RN is coordinator of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program and also contributes to articles featured on medstarbloodless.org website.

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    About the MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety
    The mission of the Medstar Health Institute for Quality and Safety is to partner with patients, their families, and those that take care of them to improve patient care outcomes and reduce the global burden of preventable harm. Established by Medstar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, the Institute provides a global infrastructure in which leaders, front-line care givers, patients and family members jointly develop, educate, assess, and advocate for patient safety and clinical quality initiatives. For more information, visit medstariqs.org.  

    About the MedStar International Training Center for Bloodless Medicine
    The mission of the MedStar International Training Center for Bloodless Medicine (MedStar Bloodless) is to improve quality of care and patient safety for Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide by providing free training in the tools and techniques of bloodless medicine and surgery. For more information, visit medstarbloodless.org.

  • November 23, 2020
    In late October, MedStar Health surpassed a transformational care milestone of delivering more than 500,000 telehealth sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic, made possible by both a decade of foundational telehealth work and rapid crisis response and scaling starting in March 2020
  • November 20, 2020

    Growing numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths are troubling; facemasks can slow the trend

    Columbia, MD – MedStar Health has joined 100 of the nation’s top health care systems, representing thousands of hospitals in communities across the U.S., who have come together with an urgent plea for all Americans – mask up, because wearing a facemask is our best chance at slowing the surging COVID-19 pandemic now.

    More than 11.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus – including an additional one million in just the past week – leading to some 250,000 deaths.

    The current trends are daunting and frightening. If the nation stays on its current course, hospital leaders are increasingly concerned that more healthcare facilities will be overwhelmed as shortages of healthy caregivers make it difficult to handle a rapidly increasing number of patients. Unfortunately, this is already happening in parts of our country.

    “Wearing masks consistently and properly is the most essential way that we can stop the spread of this pandemic,” said Terry Fairbanks, MD, FACEP, vice president, Quality & Safety for MedStar Health. “We know now with scientific certainty that wearing a mask not only protects the people around you, but also protects you.”

    The next several months will be critical. Though there has been positive news about vaccine development, no one knows when those vaccines will be ready for widespread use. In the meantime, everyone must remain vigilant, take precautions and follow public health orders.

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    The country has reached a tipping point. The power to do what is right is now in the hands of everyone everywhere.

    A public service message is running in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. Additionally, hospitals and health systems across the country will continue to unite to share these messages regionally.

    The message reads:

    “As the top nationally-ranked hospitals, we know it’s tough that we all need to do our part and keep wearing masks. But, here’s what we also know: The science has not changed. Masks slow the spread of COVID-19. So, please join us as we all embrace this simple ask: Wear. Care. Share with #MaskUp. Together, wearing is caring. And together, we are saving lives.”

    In an effort to reach a broader audience, the public service effort will also include messages on digital platforms, social media, online information, links to vital health resources and more. Combining resources demonstrates that these health organizations are working together, will accomplish this today and will get through this together.

    MedStar_Health_Associate_Wearing_a_Mask_at_Front_DeskThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to recent studies that have shown facemasks successfully limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wearing facemasks protect in key ways: by protecting the wearer against inhalation of harmful pathogens and particulates and by preventing exposure of those around the wearer.

    In addition to masking, the CDC suggests that everyone minimize the number of non-household contacts, maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, and limit the amount of time around others, especially while indoors and in poorly ventilated areas. For further information about masking guidelines – how to choose a mask, how to properly wear a mask – visit the CDC website.

    The following hospitals and health systems are helping to spread this message across the country.

    AdventHealth
    Adventist Health
    Allegheny Health Network
    Atrium Health
    Avera Health
    Banner Health
    Baptist Health Northeast Florida
    Baylor Scott & White Health
    Baystate Health
    BJC HealthCare
    Bon Secours Mercy Health
    Boston Children's Hospital
    Cedars-Sinai
    Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
    Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
    Children's Hospital of Orange County
    Children's National Hospital
    ChristianaCare
    Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
    City of Hope
    Cleveland Clinic
    CommonSpirit Health
    Community Health Systems
    Cooper University Health Care
    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health
    Duke Health
    Emory Healthcare
    Geisinger
    Hackensack Meridian Health
    HCA Healthcare
    Inspira Health
    Intermountain Healthcare
    Jefferson Health
    Johns Hopkins Medicine
    Kaiser Permanente
    Keck Medicine of USC
    LifePoint Health
    Mass General Brigham
    Mayo Clinic
    MedStar Health
    Memorial Hermann
    Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
    MemorialCare (Southern California)
    Mercy
    Michigan Medicine
    Mount Sinai Health System
    National Jewish Health
    Nationwide Children's Hospital
    Nebraska Medicine
    Nemours Children's Health System
    NewYork-Presbyterian
    Northwell Health
    Northwestern Medicine
    Norton Healthcare
    Ochsner Health
    OhioHealth
    Oregon Health & Science University
    OSF HealthCare
    OU Health
    PeaceHealth
    Penn Medicine
    Penn State Health
    Providence
    Renown Health
    Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Rush University System for Health
    RWJ Barnabas Health
    Saint Luke's Health System (Kansas City, MO)
    SCL Health
    Scripps Health
    Sharp HealthCare
    Southwestern Health Resources
    SSM Health
    St. Elizabeth Healthcare
    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
    St. Luke's Hospital (St. Louis)
    Stanford Health Care
    Sutter Health
    Temple Health
    Texas Health Resources
    The Christ Hospital Health Network
    The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
    The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    ThedaCare
    TriHealth (Cincinnati)
    Trinity Health
    UC Davis Health
    UCHealth
    UC Health CINCINNATI
    UC San Diego Health
    UChicago Medicine
    UCI Health
    UCLA Health
    UCSF Health
    UNC Health
    University of California Health
    University Hospitals (Cleveland)
    University of Iowa Health Care
    Virtua Health
  • November 18, 2020

    Columbia, MD – The MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety is joining a nationwide training program to help keep COVID-19 from spreading in area nursing homes and to prepare and equip staff so that they can better protect residents and themselves. This is an essential nationwide initiative in the fight against COVID-19.

    The program is part of the National Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network supported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Project ECHO. MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety is participating in the Network as an official Training Center for nursing homes.

    This program has six goals:

    • Keep the virus from entering nursing homes.
    • Find out early if residents and staff have been infected.
    • Prevent the spread of the virus to staff, residents, and visitors.
    • Provide safe and appropriate care to residents with mild and asymptomatic cases.
    • Ensure staff have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to implement best-practice safety measures to protect residents and themselves.
    • Reduce social isolation for residents, families, and staff.

    To do this, the Network embraces an "all teach, all learn" philosophy in which participants both receive education in best practices from renowned experts and learn from their peers. The MedStar Institute will lead 16 virtual learning sessions with nursing home teams in simultaneous cohorts. Each Network session is designed to be interactive—to hear from nursing home staff about the challenges they are facing and provide practical solutions. During each session, nursing home staff will discuss real cases of front-line problems with both experts and their peers. In this way, staff have a chance to share best practices and learn from their peers while benefiting from the guidance of nursing home and quality improvement experts. Each session will include a brief lecture or lesson paired with case presentations and discussion, followed by a Q&A forum.

    "We are thrilled to announce that we have over 100 nursing homes committed to MedStar Health's training center program. We look forward to creating a learning community to share COVID-19 education, best practices and practical solutions with our participating sites that will ultimately improve care quality and safety for residents, staff and visitors," said Bryan O. Buckley, DrPH, MPH, research fellow, Medstar Health Institute for Quality and Safety and director of the training center effort. 

    MedStar Health launched its first training cohort on November 10th, 2020.  As a designated training center MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety will also provide rapid response mentorship for any nursing home that experiences a sudden increase in COVID-19.

    All Medicare- and Medicaid-eligible nursing homes in the area are invited to join this free, voluntary program. The Network will provide a stipend to each facility for successful completion of the program and a certificate of completion for participating individuals. Any questions regarding the network can be sent to MIQS-NHCAN@medstar.net.

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    About the MedStar Health Institute for Quality and Safety

    The mission of the Medstar Health Institute for Quality and Safety is to partner with patients, their families, and those that take care of them to improve patient care outcomes and reduce the global burden of preventable harm. Established by Medstar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, the Institute provides a global infrastructure in which leaders, front-line care givers, patients and family members jointly develop, educate, assess, and advocate for patient safety and clinical quality initiatives. For more information, visit www.medstariqs.org.  

    ECHO National Nursing Home COVID-19 ACTION Network

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

    The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) uses improvement science to advance and sustain better outcomes in health and healthcare across the world.

    Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a movement to demonopolize knowledge and amplify the capacity to provide best practice care for underserved people all over the world.