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  • Christine Wray stands in her office at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
    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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  • Christine Wray stands in her office at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
    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.

  • January 05, 2022

    Be There Award presented by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match®

    WASHINGTON – The MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Blood and Marrow Collection Program was recently presented the Be There Award by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® - the leading global partner working to save lives through cellular therapy. The Be There Award recognizes extraordinary advocacy for patients, donors, and providers, including supporting and sharing in their experience. The award was given at NMDP’s annual The ONE Forum.

    “Cancer does not wait for COVID,” said Wolfgang Rennert, PhD, MD, director of Collections, Blood and Marrow Donation Program, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “We are grateful for the support to expand our program at this critical time, and even more grateful to the donors who give of themselves to help save another’s life. Our team is dedicated to making their experience the very best it can be, and we are honored to be recognized for this commitment.”

    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital responded quickly to threats posed to blood and marrow transplant recipients during the COVID pandemic. When some marrow collection centers ceased operations, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital increased capacity by 40% to support the continued need for life-saving blood and marrow donations and worked closely with Be The Match to ensure plans were in place to have donors tested for COVID and results delivered in time to make quick decisions in the event of a positive result, mitigating the risk to a patient’s treatment plan. The team also acquired approval for same-day COVID testing to accommodate the special needs of donors who travelled to the area from all over the country; and relied on the cooperation and commitment of many departments in the hospital to remain flexible with the goal of getting donations to recipients in need.

    “The COVID pandemic presented challenges unlike any other faced by Be The Match or our partners, specifically our marrow collection centers,” said Amy Ronneberg, NMDP’s chief executive officer. “MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has consistently made Be The Match marrow collections a priority, and during the challenging pandemic were able to increase their collections for our patients when other partners had to suspend operations. We’re grateful for MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s innovation as they look to constantly improve processes and enhance donor recovery and product quality. Their consistent excellence helps provide a high-quality, lifesaving product for transplant patients.”

    The Blood and Marrow Collection Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital leads the Be The Match network of collection centers in both volume and clinical expertise. The program is headed by Dr. Rennert, who has published his findings to benefit marrow harvest clinicians and has trained others in best collection practices to provide the best experience for donors and patients. Catherine Broome, MD, is the Medical and Facility Director for the organization’s Aphaeresis collections, and Gary Bernard DiNardo, MSHSA, BSN, RN is the program administrator who leads the exemplary care and personal attention Be The Match donors receive as they navigate the donation process.

    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Blood and Marrow Collection Program has cared for more than 4,000 bone marrow donors, and more than 2,500 stem cell donors since its inception in 1993. In the past year alone, they cared for more than 380 donors of stem cells and marrow. The team works with several departments throughout the hospital, such as the Cardiovascular Pulmonary Procedure Lab, Apheresis, Anesthesia, post-anesthesia care unit, and Cellular Engineering Lab. That cooperation relies on the collective commitment and goal of providing donors with a positive experience and providing recipients a chance at life.

    NMDP works to advance the science of cellular therapy and give hope to patients battling any of 70 blood cancers or blood diseases, which can be treated or cured by hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and other cellular therapies. The ONE Forum - where the Be There Award was presented -- brings together the global cell therapy community, bringing visibility to the latest innovations in cellular therapies and providing a forum for health care professionals to discuss practical strategies and best practices in delivering treatments for patients with blood cancers and diseases. Experts and peers in the industry connect and learn how to break down barriers to care.

    To learn more about how the Blood and Marrow Collection Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital won The Be There Award, visit https://youtu.be/v3hhY3YHz1I.

  • December 20, 2021

    The initiative is part of the NIH-funded AIM-AHEAD Consortium dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in the field of data science

    Washington, D.C. – MedStar Health and Georgetown University Medical Center announce their collaboration in the Data Science Training Core, part of a new two-year, multimillion-dollar award funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The initiative is one of the four core functions of the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Program.

    While the widespread adoption of electronic health records has offered exponential opportunities to apply data science to biomedical research, many challenges remain in accessing the full potential of this data, including access to AI/ML technology, proper training, and most urgently, a lack of diversity in investigators in the field and the data itself. NIH created the AIM-AHEAD program to enhance participation of underrepresented minorities in AI/ML research.

    “Artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical tools for research. Ensuring that investigators from all backgrounds and communities have access to learning these skills is essential for supporting an equitable workforce who can contribute to addressing the field’s most pressing questions, ” says Nawar Shara, Ph.D., Director for the Center of Biostatistics, Informatics, and Data Science (CBIDS) at MedStar Health Research Institute, and co-principal investigator for the Data Science Training core.

    “In addition to diversifying those contributing to this critical area of work, we are obligated to do all we can to reduce bias on the front end as we’re developing artificial intelligence as that is critical to how AI is applied in medicine and beyond,” explains Peter McGarvey, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology at Georgetown University Medical Center and Medical Center and Director of its Innovation Center Biomedical Informatics.

    Drs. Shara and McGarvey will develop data science training for early career and minority investigators with a particular interest in advancing health equity. While the initial effort will be to identify training needs to support workforce development, it will be followed by the development of practicums in competencies such as cloud computing, distributed computing, biostatistics, modeling, epidemiology, biomedical informatics, and other community-engaged research methods. Alex Libin, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Simulation Education Research for MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, will serve as communication and outreach lead for the initiative, bringing his expertise in autonomous learning and digital technology, and psychosocial functioning to the team of investigators.

    The initial phase of the two-year project is currently underway and will lead to the launch of a suite of training resources and curriculum. The Data Science Training Core team will also provide one-on-one, small and larger group sessions. Training candidates will range from high school, college, and graduate students to Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellows.

    An important feature of the program is that it represents a collaborative effort across MedStar Health Research Institute, Georgetown University and Howard University -- members of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) -- in collaboration with the University of Maryland.

    Dr. Joseph Verbalis, professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown Director of GHUCCTS, notes that “bringing together a diverse group of accomplished investigators and educators for this unique collaborative training effort across our GHUCCTS institutions reflects the value of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program to stimulate innovative research and educational programs to improve the health of our communities.”

    “Advances in machine learning are powering a faster and critically, a more representative body of medical research,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “It’s vitally important that we work to make the field of data science more inclusive to foster the next generation of investigators who will reshape the future of healthcare.”

     

    In addition to a focus on developing data science curriculum, the AIM-AHEAD program will include efforts to identify additional research priorities and build out software infrastructure to facilitate AI/ML and health disparities research. Other collaborating institutions in the consortium include National Alliance Against Disparities in Patient Health, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, OCHIN, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Houston, UCLA, The University of North Texas, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 
  • December 20, 2021
    CLINTON, Md.  MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has once again received the highest and most prestigious level of recognition as a 2021-2022 ‘Exemplar’ member organization of Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE). NICHE hospitals are world-class healthcare systems grounded in best practices and driven by innovation in which all older adults, age 65 and over, receive age-friendly, exemplary nursing care. This is true for older adults receiving care at MedStar Southern Maryland.
    Nurse with patient

    NICHE helps long-term and post-acute care organizations exceed quality standards set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. NICHE offers education and resources to help member organizations succeed with the Patient Driven Payment Model, Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement, the Five-Star Quality Rating System, Phase 3 Implementation of Federal Regulations and more.

    “The sustainment of our NICHE top-tier designation allows us to continually focus on caring for our elderly patients, a significant portion of our patient population,” said Cody Legler, DNP, APRN, NP-BC, RN-BC, NEA-BC, CNL, vice president and chief nursing officer at MedStar Southern Maryland.

    NICHE member organizations gain access to resources and tools that help nursing teams effectively meet the needs of older adult patients. Membership includes access to NICHE course offerings; training and consultation through the NICHE Leadership Training Program; member-only webinars and continuing education courses featuring the latest research, best practices and innovations for improving clinical outcomes; and the ability to collaborate and learn from peers in NICHE hospitals and other healthcare organizations around the world.

    In addition, NICHE offers gerontological review courses for both nursing and certified nursing associates. Once the nurse finishes the gerontological resource nurse course, they can be well prepared to sit for the gerontological nursing certification. Certification in the nursing course is associated with being a content expert in the field.

    “Maintaining the highest level of recognition exemplifies our commitment and passion to caring for older adults in our community and beyond, and to maintain a positive practice environment by exceeding nursing-sensitive outcomes,” said Jennifer Bierbaum, DNP, APRN-CNS, AGCNS-BC, GERO-BC, who is the NICHE program site sponsor and director of Nursing Practice and Innovation at MedStar Southern Maryland. “I am honored and proud to work with MedStar Southern Maryland and the continued focus on the care of the older adult.”

    To learn more about NICHE, visit https://nicheprogram.org/.

  • November 24, 2021

    COLUMBIA, Md – A high school teacher from Northern Virginia has become the 5000th COVID-19 patient to receive life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy with MedStar Health. Kacey Meakes, 35, came down with a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting and headache during the second week of November. A trip to MedStar Health Urgent Care confirmed a COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, on Friday November 19, she went to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s specially designed monoclonal antibody infusion center to receive the 25-minute infusion.

    “I thought the treatment was only for people who got really sick,” said Meakes. “But by day six and seven, I was getting worse not better, and I thought maybe I should get the monoclonal antibodies because they’re the main treatment available.”

    MedStar Health began providing monoclonal antibody therapy in November 2020 and providers saw the same positive results as those seen nationally.

    “We’ve learned that we have a treatment – monoclonal antibodies that - if they’re given early in the infection can prevent death and hospitalization from covid infection,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, infectious diseases specialist with MedStar Health.

    Meakes, who describes her covid experience as “not particularly fun,” is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has a history of asthma, which puts her at high risk of having a severe case of the virus and makes her a good candidate for monoclonal antibodies.

    “If you’re at risk for severe covid - if you’re over the age of 65, you’re pregnant, or you have other medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, bad heart disease, COPD – those things put you at risk for severe covid – you’d be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies,” said Wortmann.

    Dr. Wortmann says the treatment must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to be most effective. Treatment is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized and require oxygen due to COVID-19.

    In addition to sickle cell, COPD, heart disease and being over 65, positive COVID-19 patients 12 years and older with the following conditions may benefit from the monoclonal antibody infusion:

    • Pregnancy
    • Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 (or for pediatrics BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • Poorly controlled hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease or Congenital Heart Disease
    • Other respiratory diseases
    • Neurodevelopmental disorders
    • Medical-related technological dependence (i.e. tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
    • Other medical condition or factor (i.e. race or ethnicity) that may place the patient at a higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19

    The therapy is available at MedStar Health emergency departments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as four MedStar Health monoclonal antibody infusion centers:

    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    “I was happy to come in and get the monoclonal antibodies and hopefully get better faster,” said Meakes. “It wasn’t a big deal. I have to go back to work and get back to my life, so I’m really hopeful this is going to help me on my way. I’m really grateful.”

    Learn more about this therapy treatment 

  • November 16, 2021

    Columbia, Md. – MedStar Health is taking COVID-19 vaccines on the road to make sure the newest group of eligible children who live in underserved communities of Washington, D.C., have easy access to the life-saving shots. Children age 5-11 are now getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at pediatric offices across the system, including MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics in Tenleytown and onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at its regular stops in wards 6 and 7.

    “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to our younger populations is critical to our overall vaccination strategy,” said Christina Hughes, vice president, Healthcare System Preparedness & Chief Preparedness Officer and a leader in the coordination and logistics of vaccine arrival and distribution for MedStar Health. “As we work to address health disparities in our community around COVID-19, the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic helps us improve their access and get the vaccines to groups who have been disproportionately affected by this virus.”

    “We are pleased to be able to vaccinate our pediatric patients five days a week at both our Tenleytown office and on the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in wards 6 and 7 in the District,” said Michael Donnelly, MD, chair of Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    Onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which has served as a medical home to underserved children across the District especially in wards 5,6,7, and 8 for some 30 years, teams are vaccinating this newest group on Tuesdays starting November 16 and circling back to locations to ensure kids get their second dose.

    “We’re just very relieved,” said Dwight Miller whose two sons were vaccinated onboard the mobile clinic. “I was stressed about getting calls from school about positive cases at school wondering if my child would be next, so it’s a huge sigh of relief.”

    “Getting the vaccine is very easy and only takes five minutes,” said Harriet Huntley whose son also got the COVID-19 shot onboard the medical clinic. “My son wanted to play football and they told him he couldn’t play football until he got the shot.”

    “We’re really excited to have this opportunity to provide vaccines for all our patients in the mobile clinic which is the medical home that families in these wards know and trust,” said Janine Rethy, MD, MPH, division chief of Community Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    The Kids Mobile Medical Clinic serves communities that have expressed concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Rethy says their long-standing presence in the community has made a big difference.

    “When we started to give vaccines to the older kids over the summer, I thought it was going to be a hard sell for some of our families, but it really wasn’t,” said Dr. Rethy. “It was a matter of them knowing us and trusting us and just having one or two questions answered and then they were good to go.”

    “This is a really special opportunity for MedStar Health to take the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine directly to the children and their families in the District’s most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Senior Director of Community Health for MedStar Health, Diana Quinn. “We know this is the next important step towards getting our families and our communities back to normal.”

    “We feel like this vaccine is safe and effective and the risks of taking the vaccine are lower than the risks of getting the disease itself and spreading it to others in the community,” said Dr. Rethy. “For 5-11-year olds, the vaccine decreases the risk of getting the virus by 91 percent which is really excellent. In fact the side effects such as sore arm, fatigue and low-grade fever are even lower than those experienced by the older teens, which is very promising.”

    “Think about your loved ones. Think about your community,” said Miller who will be taking his sons to their grandmother’s house for the holidays. “Most importantly think about protecting the health of your family, especially your kids.”

    To make an appointment with the mobile clinic call 202-295-0547. To learn more and to find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, visit vaccines.gov.