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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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  • January 29, 2018


    Hyattsville, MD (January 29, 2018)—Investigators from the MedStar Health Research Institute were awarded grant funding for three research initiatives through the Charles and Mary Latham Fund, established by Ella O. Latham, to support medical research in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

    The three MedStar Health research projects that were awarded funding are:

    • Ian Brooks, PHD for Pilot Testing a Chatbot to help promote self-care in patients with Type-2 Diabetes. This research project is to develop the first prototype of an artificial intelligence to work with African American seniors who are living with chronic diabetes.
    • Hunter Groninger, MD, FACP, FAAHPM for A Pilot Study to Evaluate Virtual Reality for Pain Management in Hospitalized Patients with Advanced Heart Failure Receiving Palliative Care Consultation. This research seeks to include virtual reality as a potential treatment for managing pain through non-pharmological means for palliative care patients
    • Jason Chang, MD for Impact of Neurogenic Stunned Myocardium on Clinical Outcome in Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Pilot Study. The goal of this study is to focus on one aspect of subarachnoid hemorrhage, the neuro-cardiac axis, to further understand the development of secondary brain injury.

    “Each of these research projects is centered on innovative advances in outcomes for our local community of patients in the Washington, D.C., metro area,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “We are extremely appreciative for the support we have received from the Charles and Mary Latham Fund and its corporate trustee, SunTrust, to continue our commitment to better outcomes for our patients.”

    The Charles and Mary Latham Fund was established by Ella O. Latham in memory of her parents. Founded in 1972, the Fund has supported a myriad of worthwhile projects relating to medical research for the cure of diseases in the human body with a preference for clinical applications and medical, nursing, and hospital care for persons suffering from such diseases who are financially unable to provide their own care.

    About MedStar Health Research Institute
    The 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

    About MedStar Health
    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

  • January 29, 2018

    Pallavi P. Kumar, MD Named Director of Immuno-oncology, MedStar Health Cancer Network

    BALTIMORE, Md.—(January 29, 2018)—  Pallavi P. Kumar, MD, has been named director of Immuno-Oncology for the Baltimore region of the MedStar Health Cancer Network, leading a charge to optimize immune based therapies and clinical trials, and advance the standard of care in the treatment of cancer.
    Immunotherapy, actively used in the cancer research, is a treatment that boosts the body’s immune system and helps train it to attack cancer cells. It has changed the landscape of oncology, enabling patients to live longer lives.
    Clinical trials in immuno-oncology first started at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in 2007. “We are an academic-hybrid community hospital with an enormous amount of experience in immunotherapy,” said Dr. Kumar. “We benefit from the collaborative work with the MedStar Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Cancer Institute at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.”
    In her new role, Dr. Kumar, who specializes in many solid tumors, including melanoma, head and neck, sarcoma, gastrointestinal, gynecologic and urologic malignancies at Medstar Franklin Square, will lead immuno-oncology clinical trial efforts for all cancers, collaborate with regional physicians to find new therapies for patients, and profile tumors to optimize treatments. She will continue to oversee research that test new combinations of immunotherapy with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. These strategies can offer hope to patients that their cancers might become chronic diseases, or even be cured.
    “This new position bolsters the work Dr. Kumar has already been doing at MedStar for years,” said Albert Aboulafia, medical director of the Weinberg Cancer Institute at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center and the Baltimore Region. “She has helped build our immuno-oncology program into what it is today and is dedicated to getting the best outcomes for our patients.” 
    “We want the community to be aware that we have invested in clinical trials, molecular profiling and treatments that pioneer novel therapies for cancer patients,” Dr. Kumar said. “The comprehensive team approach throughout the Medstar Health network, provide meaningful outcomes in the lives of our patients.”
    Click here for more information on the MedStar Health Cancer Network.



  • January 29, 2018

    Addiction Awareness

    Rodney Scales, Director of Behavioral Health at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Valerie Stanfield, Coordinator of Intake Assessment, and Chelsea Lewis-Wilkins, Counselor, give their advice on alcohol and drug addiction.

    How Do I Recognize What Might Be Addiction?

    If you suspect a friend is suffering with addiction, these are some of the signs: rapid weight loss, poor hygiene, irritability, depression, radical changes in mood, financial problems, sniffing, enlarged pupils, changes to their social network, and living outside of their past values and belief system.

    What can I do to help?

    • Open up the lines of communication. Ask your friend or loved one if anyone has expressed concern whether they have a problem with alcohol or drugs. This could be a sign others have recognized a problem, too.
    • Encourage them to enter into a program. There are many different levels of care available, says Stanfield, ranging from out-patient classes, to one-on-one or group therapy, to residential in-patient, intensive programs. The level of care someone needs can be determined through an assessment by a professional with experience in addiction.
    • Encourage them to seek out resources, including programs available through their county’s health department. If they have private insurance, their provider can also help direct them to available resources.
    • Encourage them to find meetings to help them in their sobriety journey, and you may find meetings helpful, as well. All areas of the country have meetings and there is even a phone app that can locate the nearest meetings wherever you are, say Stanfield and Lewis-Wilkins.
    • Be a part of their support system, as long as they follow their sobriety path.

    What is MedStar Southern Maryland’s Approach to Addiction and Mental Health Resources?

    At MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, the Inpatient Behavioral Health Department is designed for patients with a primary psychiatric diagnosis. Our treatment for those patients with a dual or co-occurring diagnosis of alcohol or other substance dependence is to stabilize and refer the patient to an appropriate substance abuse program for treatment. Our Behavioral Health Department is staffed with contracted professionals who have the tools to help these vulnerable patients, say Scales, Stansfield and Lewis-Wilkins.

    “We’re here to ask for an honest depiction of a patient’s use,” said Lewis-Wilkins. “This helps us make an informed decision for the best course of treatment. Before a patient leaves the unit, whether they’re being discharged from the Emergency Department or the Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit, we work with the patient to establish a plan which includes an outpatient appointment for further treatment. This appointment should occur during their first few days at home. In order for treatment to be successful, the patient must follow through with the treatment plan.”

    “Once a patient is identified as having addiction issues, these patients are referred to our Certified Addictions Counselor who conducts additional assessments and coordinates referrals to inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities or outpatient treatment facilities, depending upon the patient’s level of need,” says Scales.

    “In addition to the services currently provided on the Behavioral Health Unit, we also provide on-going substance abuse education to our patients who attend the Partial Hospitalization Program. We are also partnering with our Emergency Department to offer our substance abuse services to include all behavioral health patients who present to the Emergency Department. Our goal is to provide routine assessments, brief intervention and counseling services for those patients at risk, and referral and treatment for those patients who require this level of care.

    All MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center patients needing addictions counseling and/or mental health help will be assessed at the hospital. If you are a community member in need of treatment for addiction, contact your local health department or a treatment center. This is a very serious problem and MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center is committed to helping patients needing alcohol and drug treatment.

    Dr. Kevin Reed

    “Regardless of the reason a person starts taking drugs, tolerance and dependency can develop quickly. A user constantly tries to replicate the first high they had by taking increasing amounts, since the effects of the drug diminishes over time. A drug overdose occurs when the body has been overloaded with prescription medications or illicit substances.

    Opiates, such as heroin or prescription pain pills like Percocet, affect the breathing centers of the brain. A person may develop small contracted pupils, lose unconsciousness, breathing may become erratic and shallow. Ultimately breathing may completely stop, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and possible death.

    Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, produce a brief sense of euphoria and primarily affect the brain and the heart. Seizures or strokes can occur, as well as many heart-related conditions, including irregular heart rhythms, very high blood pressures, and a heart attack. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, leading to slurred speech, difficulty walking, lowering inhibitions leading to increasing risk taking behavior and possible memory loss or blackouts.

    Drinking too much too quickly can affect your heart rate, breathing, body temperature, swallowing ability and potentially lead to coma and death. For chronic drinkers, a complex interaction in brain signaling chemicals can lead to a vicious cycle of increased drinking followed by greater tolerance that eventually leads to dependence and addiction. Alcohol withdrawal can be a life-threatening event that can involve severe tremors, high blood pressure and heart rate, agitation and seizures."

    - Kevin Reed, MD, FAAEM, FACEP Chair of the Emergency Department

    For more information, visit

    Need Help?

    Maryland's Crisis Hotline is available 24/7 to provide support, guidance, and assistance. 

    Call 1-800-422-0009 
    or 800-662-HELP (4357)


    A variety of treatment options are available for individuals with addictions to drugs, alcohol and other substances. Other behavioral health services are also offered through the PG County Health Department. Interested individuals or family members should call the location nearest their home:

  • January 28, 2018

    A new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, and the American Medical Association drafts a framework of recommendations for improvements in the usability and safety of electronic health records (EHRs). The report includes suggested best practices for development and implementation of EHRs. Read more

  • January 28, 2018

    In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare found that specific types of electronic health record (EHR) usability issues are associated with a range of potentially serious patient safety events, leading to patient harm.

    Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study identified EHR reports that explicitly mentioned one of the top-five EHR vendors (by market share) and reportedly resulted in patient harm. The analysis identified a) if a usability issue was involved, and if so, what it was, and b) the clinical process that was involved in the safety event.

    The study’s lead author is Jessica Howe, MA, with coauthors Katharine Adams and A. Zachary Hettinger, MD, MS. Raj Ratwani, PhD, is the senior author for this research.


  • January 28, 2018

    To support the MedStar Health’s further development as a nationally recognized Academic Health System, Neil J. Weissman, MD, has been appointed MedStar’s first Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Weissman will continue to serve as President of the MedStar Health Research Institute, Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, and as a key member of the MedStar Leader of the Future Program.

    As chief scientific officer, he will provide leadership for the development and implementation of specific scientific priorities, with a commitment to further advancing MedStar Health as an academic healthcare system. Read more.