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News: Press Releases
Here you will find the latest information, feature stories, plus comprehensive articles in the latest treatment options and research at UPMC Altoona.

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10/13/14 - Behavioral Health Therapist Retires With 20 Years of Service
10/10/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs, Classes for November
10/10/14 - Physician Earns Certification
10/10/14 - Oncologist Joins UPMC CancerCenter
10/10/14 - Radiologist Joins Medical Staff
10/10/14 - Ophthalmologist Joins Medical Staff
10/10/14 - Family Medicine Physician Joins Medical Staff
10/10/14 - Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon Joins Elite
10/09/14 - Gastroenterologist Joins Medical Staff
10/09/14 - Psychiatrist Joins Medical Staff
10/09/14 - Storeroom Clerk Retires With 40 Years of Service
10/03/14 - UPMC Opens Liver Disease Outpatient Clinic
9/29/14 - 2015 Donate Life Float Shares The Never-Ending Story of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation With Rose Parade® Audience
9/25/14 - UPMC Altoona Supports Donate Life
9/22/14 - Nurse Retires With 36 Years of Service
9/19/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs, Classes for October
9/19/14 - Emergency Department Nurses Receive Certifications
9/18/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in October
9/03/14 - MEDIA ADVISORY/PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
9/02/14 - Area Students Complete Internship at UPMC Altoona
9/02/14 - UPMC Altoona Celebrates 25 Years of Mending Hearts
8/29/14 - Assistant Director/Behavioral Scientist Retires With 38 Years of Service
8/29/14 - Billing Assistant Retires with 39 Years of Service
8/29/14 - Surgeon Elected to Membership in Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons
8/29/14 - Healthy Blair County Coalition Meeting on Monday, September 8, 2014
8/18/14 - UPMC Altoona, Kohl's Inviting Kids to be "Hard Heads" with Helmet Fittings
8/15/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in September
8/14/14 - Mammography Chair Improves Comfort and Care
8/14/14 - UPMC Altoona Surgery Center Passes Two State Licensure Inspections Deficiency-Free
8/14/14 - UPMC Altoona Welcomes Sean Makowiecki as Patient Access Manager
8/14/14 - Diet Clerk/Hostess Retires With 36 Years of Service
8/13/14 - Elite Orthopedics Serving Patients in Huntingdon
8/08/14 - First Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator Used at UPMC Altoona
8/01/14 - Ann E. Thompson, M.D., to Become Next Vice Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
8/01/14 - UPMC Altoona Achieves Silver Level Points Total in Donate Life Hospital Challenge
7/31/14 - Brittany Barker, D.O., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
7/31/14 - Elliott Bilofsky, D.O., FAOCO, Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
7/31/14 - Amit Nanavati, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
7/31/14 - Arthur J. DeMarsico, D.O., Receives Continuous Certification
7/31/14 - Registered Nurse Wins State Award
7/31/14 - Continuous Performance Improvement (CPI) Coordinator Retires
7/28/14 - UPMC Altoona Opens Outpatient Kidney Transplant Clinic at Station Medical Center
7/25/14 - UPMC Clinicians Win Beckwith Institute Grants to Engage Patients, Improve Care
7/24/14 - UPMC-Developed Test Increases Odds of Correct Surgery for Thyroid Cancer Patients
7/22/14 - Telemedicine Effective in Delivering International Cardiac Care, Children's Hospital Study Shows
7/21/14 - Board of Trustees Leadership Changes at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and its Foundation
7/18/14 - Unit Secretary Retires With 36 Years of Service
7/18/14 - Nurse Moderates Session at NHTSA's Child Passenger Safety Technical Conference
7/18/14 - Students Graduate from Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science Program
7/17/14 - Family Medicine Residents and Osteopathic Interns Recognized
7/17/14 - Pitt-led Study Suggests Cystic Fibrosis is Two Diseases, One Doesn't Affect Lungs
7/17/14 - Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., Will Receive Pitt's Dickson Prize at Science 2014-Sustain It!
7/15/14 - UPMC Presbyterian Receives Highest National Honor for Organ Donor Enrollment Efforts
7/15/14 - UPMC Named to U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of 'Best Hospitals' for 15th Time
7/15/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in August
7/10/14 - Critical Care Registered Nurse Certified
7/10/14 - Human Resources Associate Retires With 25 Years of Service
7/10/14 - Case Manager Retires With 45 Years of Service
7/10/14 - HIM Manager Retires With 31 Years of Service
7/10/14 - Nutrition Services Assistant Retires
7/02/14 - UPMC Patient First in U.S. Implanted with Hemolung Before Lifesaving Double Lung Transplant
7/01/14 - Altoona Emerging as a Regional Provider of UPMC's World-Class Care
6/30/14 - University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Appoints Dario Vignali, Ph.D., New Vice-Chair of Immunology
6/30/14 - New Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Center Improves Access in Southern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia
6/30/14 - UPMC Altoona to Celebrate Affiliation Anniversary
6/27/14 - Sex Hormone Levels at Midlife Linked to Bad Cholesterol Carriers that Increase Heart Disease Risk in Women
6/26/14 - Children's Express Care to Open New Location in West Mifflin
6/25/14 - Nii-Daako P. Darko, D.O. Receives Certification
6/25/14 - Lowering Toxicity of New HIV Drugs Predicted to Improve Life Expectancy
6/24/14 - Pitt Researchers Receive $1.8 Million to Build Unique ECG Database, Study Effectiveness of CPR
6/20/14 - Linnane Batzel, M.D., MBA, Receives Certifications
6/20/14 - Blair County Dairy Princess Visits Family
6/20/14 - Patient Access Manager Retires
6/18/14 - Ovation Revenue Cycle Solutions Offers New Coding Service to Help Hospitals with Transition to ICD-10
6/18/14 - Let's Move Blair County Campaign Launches
6/16/14 - Depressive Symptoms Associated With Premature Mortality in Type 1 Diabetes
6/11/14 - Maternity Leads 'Angels' in Fundraiser for March of Dimes
6/11/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in July
6/10/14 - UPMC Altoona unveils murals donated by Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society students
6/10/14 - Experimental Baby Formula Doesn't Prevent Development of Antibodies Associated with Type I Diabetes in Early Childhood
6/10/14 - UPMC Altoona Participates in Altoona Curve School Kids' Days
6/10/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Named One of America's Top 10 Children's Hospitals
6/9/14 - UPMC Altoona Receives 2014 Get With The Guidelines - Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award
6/5/14 - Media Alert: UPMC Altoona, Altoona Area School District Collaborate for Beautification Project
6/5/14 - Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke in Children
6/5/14 - Health Information Management Employee Promoted
6/5/14 - Stroke/Neurology Unit Opens
6/5/14 - UPMC Altoona Employees Honored for 7,720 Years of Combined Service
6/4/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation Receives $2.5 Million Gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation to Establish New Lymphoma Center
6/4/14 - Dad's Alcohol Consumption Could Influence Sons' Drinking, Pitt Mouse Study Finds
6/4/14 - U.S. and International Health Leaders in Pittsburgh for Global Health Conference
6/3/14 - UPMC Bedford Partners with Local Organizations to Offer Health Screenings
6/3/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and Mario Lemieux Foundation to Announce New Center
6/2/14 - Media Alert - Let's Move Blair County Campaign launch date details.
6/2/14 - Pitt Public Health Names First Katherine M. Detre Chair in Population Health Science
6/2/14 - Simple Change to Medicare Part D Would Yield $5 Billion in Savings, Pitt Public Health Finds
5/27/14 - Landmark Clinical Trial Proves Physical Activity Prevents Loss of Mobility in Older Adults
5/23/14 - Staff Psychiatrist Passes Exam
5/23/14 - David Green, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
5/23/14 - More than $3,300 Raised to Benefits Women's Services
5/21/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for June
5/21/14 - Rhythmic Bursts of Electrical Activity from Cells in Ear Teach Brain How To Hear, Says Pitt Team
5/20/14 - Students Swayed by 'Relaxing, Fun' Image of Hookah Smoking Ignore Health Harms
5/20/14 - Maryland Patients Can Now Access UPMC CancerCenter Resources Under New Affiliation with Meritus Health's John R. Marsh Cancer Center in Hagerstown
5/18/14 - Pitt Study Shows for First Time How Huntington's Disease Protein Could Cause Death of Neurons
5/16/14 - Breakthrough in HIV/AIDS Research Gives Hope for Improved Drug Therapy
5/15/14 - Magee Hosts Russian Physicians to Study Women's Health
5/13/14 - UPMC Physicians Implant Pennsylvania's First Wireless Pacemaker
5/13/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Study Shows Rise in Emergency Department Visits for Traumatic Brain Injury
5/12/14 - UPMC Bedford Memorial Offers Free Speech and Language Screening for Children
5/10/14 - Memorial Hospital of Bedford County Foundation Hosts 29th Annual Chili Open Golf Tournament
5/09/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in June
5/09/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for June
5/08/14 - Pitt Receives $10 Million Grant from NIMH for Conte Center Focused on Schizophrenia
5/06/14 - UPMC Bedford Memorial Alive and Well Series to Discuss Thyroid Disease
5/05/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Researcher Receives Prestigious Research Award
5/04/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Expert Shows Prophylactic Antibiotics Prevent Urinary Tract Infection Recurrences in Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux
5/02/14 - By the Numbers: Medical Mobilization for Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
5/01/14 - UPMC Cracks Code for 'Personalizing' Costs to Transform Delivery of Care
4/29/14 - MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH MONTH DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE PREVENTION: WHAT WE KNOW, WHAT WE CAN DO
4/29/14 - Low Cholesterol in Immune Cells Tied to Slow Progression of HIV
4/25/14 - Friends All-Faiths Chapel Dedicated
4/23/14 - Media Alert for Friday, April 25: New Chapel Dedicated at 10 a.m. and Earth Day Festivities, 11 a.m.
4/23/14 - UPMC Altoona Foundation Presents Lifesaving AEDs to Blair Law Enforcement
4/22/14 - Michelle Dodson Joins UPMC Altoona Foundation
4/22/14 - SANE-Trained Nurses Available 24/7 in UPMC Altoona Emergency Department
4/4/14 - Lindon T. Kwock, M.D., joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
4/4/14 - Medical Records Employee Retires With 26 Years of Service
4/4/14 - Kathleen Sweeney, D.O., Named Affiliated Teacher of the Year by PCOM
4/4/14 - Jamie Baser Joins UPMC Altoona Marketing and Communications Department
4/4/14 - UPMC Altoona Employees Participate in Health Care Professionals' Advocacy Day
4/4/14 - 2014 UPMC Altoona Foundation's Annual Golf Classic To Be Held June 23
4/4/14 - Friends Raises $5,250 With First Spring Raffle
4/4/14 - UPMC Altoona to Celebrate Volunteer Week April 6-13



October 13, 2014 - Behavioral Health Therapist Retires With 20 Years of Service


ALTOONA, Oct. 13 — Barbara Hernandez, LCSW, family-based therapist for Behavioral Health Services at UPMC Altoona, retired Oct. 1 with 20 years of service.






ALTOONA, Oct. 10, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs, Classes for November


ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for November as a community service. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 unless otherwise indicated to make an appointment or to register. Programs are open to all adult age groups unless otherwise specified.

Most classes are held at:
  • Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building.
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue
For more information, visit www.altoonaregional.org/classes_healthyliving.htm

Healthy Steps in Motion (HSIM) is a fun, peer-led, weight resistance, and strength training program designed with you and your good health in mind. The classes meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:15 a.m. or 10 a.m. at Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, 231 Howard Ave., Altoona. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

If you are 55 or older, looking to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance, and start toning up, then Healthy Steps in Motion is for you!

Child Safety Seat Checkup Station is offered by appointment from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14, in the hospital parking garage, Blue Level. Look for the Safe Kids van. No fee. Call Safe Kids Blair County at 889-7802. Find out if your child's safety seat is installed properly. Your child's life may depend on it.

Free Osteoporosis Screenings: Heel Scans for Men and Women is by appointment only, between 12:30 and 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, at Station Medical Center, Imaging Services Department. No fee. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 to schedule your appointment.

Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss happens without symptoms. Osteoporosis occurs when, over time, bone loss causes bones to become porous, brittle, and more likely to break. This painless screening takes just a few minutes and assesses bone density in the heel (a good indicator of bone health and fracture risk) by using ultrasound. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening is offered by appointment only from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, at the Vascular Institute, 3rd floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. No fee. Call 889-2005 or 1-877-855-8152 to schedule your appointment.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque clogs leg arteries or vessels and restricts blood flow. Untreated PAD can not only make walking difficult but may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. John Madey, technical director of UPMC Altoona's Noninvasive Laboratory, will check for PAD with an ABI (ankle-brachial index) screen, a painless process in which blood pressure is measured in legs and arms to determine blood flow. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

"Don't Put It on the Table Until You Read the Label: Giant Eagle Store Tours" will be presented by Randy Grabill, UPMC Altoona clinical dietitian, on Wednesday, Nov. 19, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Giant Eagle grocery store, Logan Towne Centre, Altoona.

No fee. Registration required. Tour size limited and open to those who have not taken the tour in the past. Please meet Randy in the produce section (right inside the door). Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 to register.

Join Randy, as he guides you through Giant Eagle grocery store, showing you how to shop smart and eat a nutritious diet. We all know that the foods you choose affect your heart health, diabetes, blood pressure, weight and more. Learn what foods to look for, what foods to avoid, and how to decipher those nutrition labels. Randy will help you become a savvy consumer who chooses healthy and nutritious food for you and your family.

Join Elliott Bilofsky, D.O., the new director of UPMC Altoona Ear, Nose & Throat, Tuesday, Nov. 18, as he discusses minimally invasive thyroid surgery and the effects the thyroid can have on your body, including your metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, and depression. Dr. Bilofsky will address the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease and lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy balance. Ample time will be allotted for questions. Lunch is at 11 a.m. followed by the program 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Altoona Alliance Church. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

Yoga, a four-week series for beginners, will be offered Tuesdays, Nov. 25 through Dec. 16, from 5:30 to 6:40 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $30. Register now as class is limited to 30. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Yoga mat is needed for all classes.

Gail Murphy, registered instructor in Hatha yoga, leads this program, which offers mind/body exercise, breath control, stretching and strengthening to promote mental, physical and spiritual well-being.






October 10, 2014 - Physician Earns Certification


Brittany Barker, D.O., of Family Centered OB/GYN, received her certification from the American Board of Family Medicine.
ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — Brittany Barker, D.O., of Family Centered OB/GYN, 501 Howard Ave., Bldg. A107, received her certification from the American Board of Family Medicine.

Dr. Barker is also board-certified by the Osteopathic Board of Family Medicine. She is a graduate of West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, and completed her residency with Altoona Family Physicians.






October 10, 2014 - Oncologist Joins UPMC CancerCenter


Joshua Siglin, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the UPMC CancerCenter, clinical service of Radiation Oncology
ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — Joshua Siglin, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the UPMC CancerCenter, clinical service of Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Siglin attended medical school at Thomas Jefferson University and completed his residency training at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He completed his internship at Easton Hospital.






October 10, 2014 - Radiologist Joins Medical Staff


Benjamin Salter, M.D., recently joined the medical staff of UPMC Altoona in the Radiology Department.
ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — Benjamin Salter, M.D., recently joined the medical staff of UPMC Altoona in the Radiology Department.

He is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology and the American Board of Family Medicine.

He received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine, Louisiana.

He completed residencies in Diagnostic Radiology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, New Hampshire, and in Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin.

He also was a fellow in Body Imaging & MRI at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.






October 10, 2014 - Ophthalmologist Joins Medical Staff


Rene Jones, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Department of Specialized Surgery
ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — Rene Jones, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Department of Specialized Surgery, clinical service of Ophthalmology. She is affiliated with Doctors Jones & Jones in Roaring Spring.

Dr. Jones is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

She received her medical degree from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and completed her residencies in Medicine and Ophthalmology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.






October 10, 2014 - Family Medicine Physician Joins Medical Staff


Amanda Cattoi, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Family Medicine Department.
ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — Amanda Cattoi, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Family Medicine Department.

She is practicing with Mainline Medical Associates, 1400 9th Ave., Altoona.

Dr. Cattoi is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

She received her medical degree from the College of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University and completed her residency at Altoona Family Physicians Family Medicine Residency Program.






October 10, 2014 - Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon Joins Elite


Adrian Clayton, D.O., has joined UPMC Altoona's Elite Orthopedics.
ALTOONA, Oct. 10 — Adrian Clayton, D.O., has joined UPMC Altoona's Elite Orthopedics.

Dr. Clayton attended medical school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his internship and residency at Memorial Hospital in York, Pa.

He recently completed his fellowship at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.






October 9, 2014 - Gastroenterologist Joins Medical Staff


Mitul Patel, M.D., recently joined the medical staff of UPMC Altoona
ALTOONA, Oct. 9 — Mitul Patel, M.D., recently joined the medical staff of UPMC Altoona in the department of Medicine and the clinical service of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Patel is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

He received his medical degree from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He completed his residency training in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York. Subsequently, he was a fellow in Gastroenterology at Brown Alpert Medical School, Rhode Island.






October 9, 2014 - Psychiatrist Joins Medical Staff


Jaspreet Bains, M.D., has joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Psychiatry Department.
ALTOONA, Oct. 9 — Jaspreet Bains, M.D., has joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Psychiatry Department.

Dr. Bains is affiliated with The Primary Health Network, 620 Howard Ave., Altoona.

He is board-eligible with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has a special interest in Addiction Psychiatry.

He received his medical degree from Government Medical College, Punjabi University, India. He completed his residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita, Kansas, and his fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at the University of Kansas, School of Medicine, Kansas City.






October 9, 2014 - Storeroom Clerk Retires With 40 Years of Service


Daniel
ALTOONA, Oct. 9 — Daniel "Steve" Lattieri, Storeroom clerk for Nutrition Services at UPMC Altoona, retired Oct. 1 with 40 years of service.

Steve was hired in 1974 in Housekeeping. During his career he has also worked in Laundry and Radiology.






October 03, 2014 - UPMC Opens Liver Disease Outpatient Clinic


ALTOONA, Oct. 3 — UPMC has opened its eighth Center for Liver Diseases clinic, this one at UPMC Altoona at Station Medical Center.

The Center for Liver Diseases team evaluates patients with a variety of common to complex liver conditions, including cirrhosis, hepatitis and fatty liver disease.

Nationally recognized experts will be on-hand to assess patients with liver disease for their suitability for transplant. Plans are set to also provide surgical consultations with patients in the near future.

"This is the second specialized service UPMC is bringing to Altoona to increase the convenience and accessibility of care for patients," said Jerry Murray, president of UPMC Altoona. "Patients will receive the necessary tests and evaluations close to home." The new outreach clinic will serve patients from 14 different counties in central Pennsylvania.

With this new clinic, patients benefit from a full spectrum of liver care, beginning with visits to hepatologists in the Center for Liver Diseases at UPMC Altoona for diagnosis and treatment of chronic liver conditions, to highly specialized care from one of the nation's leading liver transplant programs. Patients who are deemed candidates for liver transplant will be evaluated and listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and travel to Pittsburgh for surgery when an organ becomes available.

"We are in Altoona to provide world-class service for the convenience of the patients in the Altoona region," says Vinod Rustgi, M.D., MBA, clinical director of hepatology and medical director of liver transplant at UPMC, who will be providing liver disease services at UPMC Altoona.

The new outpatient clinic is held monthly and will operate 10/23, 11/13 and 12/11 and additional dates in 2015.

For more information on the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases, www.upmc.com/cld






September 29, 2014 - 2015 Donate Life Float Shares The Never-Ending Story of Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation With Rose Parade® Audience


Jerry Murray, UPMC Altoona president, with Dalton Igoe, Altoona, heart recipient and volunteer for CORE, following Mr. Murray's signing of a rose vial that will be placed in the 2015 Rose Parade Donate Life float
ALTOONA, Sept. 29, 2014 — UPMC Altoona supports Donate Life America's lifesaving mission by participating in its 12th Donate Life Rose Parade float, The Never-Ending Story, featuring butterflies emerging from storybooks to symbolize the enduring power of organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation. The Donate Life float and its honored participants are the centerpiece of a national campaign that leads up to the 2015 Rose Parade, themed "Inspiring Stories."

"Every donation of organs, eyes and tissue begins an inspiring story that lives on forever," said Bryan Stewart, chairman of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float Committee. "In their passing, deceased donors open up a world of health, sight and mobility for people in need. The gifts from living donors release family members, friends and even strangers to live more fully. Grateful transplant recipients are freed to contribute to their families, communities and future generations. Through its endless power to save, heal and transform lives, organ, eye and tissue donation is truly The Never-Ending Story.

The 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, coordinated by OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ recovery agency that serves the Los Angeles metropolitan area, features 60 beautiful butterflies emerging from an open book, representing the number of lives transformed by a single deceased donor. The butterflies ascend above 72 volumes adorned with floragraph portraits of deceased donors whose legacies are nurtured by their loved ones. Walking alongside the float will be 12 organ donors whose stories have become intertwined with those of their recipients. Seated among thousands of dedicated roses are 30 riders representing transplant recipients who celebrate the new chapters of their lives made possible only by the generosity of donors.

Since its debut on New Year's Day 2004, the Donate Life Rose Parade float has become the world's most visible campaign to inspire people to become organ, eye and tissue donors. The campaign began as an idea expressed in a letter by lung recipient Gary Foxen of Orange, Calif., who wanted to show gratitude to donors who make lifesaving transplants possible. Now in its 12th year, Donate Life's Rose Parade float participation is celebrated at hundreds of events nationwide where families put the finishing touches on floragraph portraits, and donation and transplant professionals present dedicated roses to donor families, living donors and community partners who play a role in making donation possible.

This year, the float campaign is headed by Annie Kure of OneLegacy, who serves as the float's program manager. "I am honored to support our partners as we bring the important message of donation to millions of people nationwide," said Kure. "Our campaign urges Rose Parade viewers of all ages to start their own never-ending stories by helping the 1 million people in need of life-saving and healing organ, tissue and cornea transplants each year. We encourage everyone to join America's 120 million registered donors so that those who need a transplant can benefit from one."

One person can save up to eight lives through the donation of lifesaving organs - heart, kidney, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine - and help 50 people or more who need corneas to see, skin to heal from burns, and bones and connective tissue for common knee, back and dental surgeries. In addition, approximately 6,000 lives per year are saved by living kidney and liver donors.

Anyone can sign up when renewing a driver's license or state ID, or by visiting www.DonateLifeAmerica.org.

Caption: Jerry Murray, UPMC Altoona president, with Dalton Igoe, Altoona, heart recipient and volunteer for CORE, following Mr. Murray's signing of a rose vial that will be placed in the 2015 Rose Parade Donate Life float.






September 25, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Supports Donate Life


WHAT: The signing of a message of love, hope, and remembrance, honoring donors, recipients and others touched by organ, eye and tissue donation. A rose from UPMC Altoona will be part of Dedication Garden in the 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

WHO: Jerry Murray, UPMC Altoona president, and Dalton, heart recipient, and his mother, Dawn Igoe, of Altoona, and Heather Chestney, donor family and recipient family, of Altoona.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 29

WHERE: 620 Howard Ave., Altoona, PA 16601

WHY: An effort to raise awareness of the need for lifesaving and healing organ, tissue and cornea transplants






September 22, 2014 - Nurse Retires With 36 Years of Service


 Jane Falco, R.N., Medical Outpatient Services, retired Aug. 31 with 36 years of service.
ALTOONA, Sept. 22, 2014 — Jane Falco, R.N., Medical Outpatient Services, retired Aug. 31 with 36 years of service.

She was hired in November 1977 to work in the Intensive Critical Care Unit and Cardiac Care Unit at Mercy Hospital. She transferred to Ambulatory Care at Bon Secours in 2001, which became part of Medical Outpatient Services when the merger occurred in 2004 to create Altoona Regional Health System. In 2009 she transferred to the Altoona Hospital Campus.






September 19, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs, Classes for October


ALTOONA, Sept. 19, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for October as a community service. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 unless otherwise indicated to make an appointment or to register. Programs are open to all adult age groups unless otherwise specified.

Most classes are held at:
  • Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue
For more information, visit www.altoonaregional.org/classes_healthyliving.htm

Healthy Steps in Motion (HSIM) is a fun, peer-led, weight resistance, and strength training program designed with you and your good health in mind. The classes meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:15 a.m. or 10 a.m. at Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, 231 Howard Ave., Altoona. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

If you are 55 or older, looking to improve your strength, flexibility and balance, and start toning up, then Healthy Steps in Motion is for you!

Yoga, a six-week series for beginners, will be offered Tuesdays, Oct. 7 through Nov. 11, from 5:30-6:40 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $30. Register now as class is limited to 30. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Yoga mat is needed for all classes.

Gail Murphy, registered instructor in Hatha yoga, leads this program, which offers mind/body exercise, breath control, stretching and strengthening to promote mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

Child Safety Seat Checkup Station is offered by appointment from 9:30-11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10, in the hospital parking garage, Blue Level. Look for the Safe Kids van. No fee. Call Safe Kids Blair County at 889-7802. Find out if your child's safety seat is installed properly. Your child's life may depend on it.

Free Osteoporosis Screenings: Heel Scans for Men and Women By appointment only between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10, at Station Medical Center, Imaging Services Department. No fee. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 to schedule your appointment.

Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss happens without symptoms. Osteoporosis occurs when, over time, bone loss causes bones to become porous, brittle and more likely to break. This painless screening takes just a few minutes and assesses bone density in the heel (a good indicator of bone health and fracture risk) by using ultrasound. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

Seniors for Safe Driving, a four-hour refresher course for anyone who has taken the eight-hour course, will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $16. Registration required. Call 1-800-559-4880 or log on to sfsd-pa.com.

This classroom course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road, and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening is offered by appointment only from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the Vascular Institute, 3rd floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital.

No fee. Call 889-2005 or 1-877-855-8152 to schedule your appointment.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque clogs leg arteries or vessels and restricts blood flow. Untreated PAD can not only make walking difficult but may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. John Madey, technical director of UPMC Altoona's Noninvasive Laboratory, will check for PAD with an ABI (ankle-brachial index) screen, a painless process in which blood pressure is measured in legs and arms to determine blood flow. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

"The Benefits of Palliative Care for You and Your Family" will be presented by Jacqulin Fabina, D.O., of Altoona Family Physicians, on Friday, Oct. 17. Lunch at 11 a.m. with program 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Altoona Alliance Church. A new and rapidly growing field in medicine, palliative care provides care for patients and families facing serious illness. Dr. Fabina is a palliative care fellow at UPMC Altoona, and will explain the difference between hospice and palliative care, and the benefits that palliative care can offer in a wide array of health concerns. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

"Don't Put It on the Table Until You Read the Label: Giant Eagle Store Tours" will be presented by Randy Grabill, UPMC Altoona clinical dietitian, on Wednesday, Oct. 22, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Giant Eagle grocery store, Logan Towne Centre, Altoona.

No fee. Registration required. Tour size limited and open to those who have not taken the tour in the past. Please meet Randy in the produce section (right inside the door). Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 to register.

Join Randy, as he guides you through Giant Eagle grocery store, showing you how to shop smart and eat a nutritious diet. We all know that the foods you choose affect your heart health, diabetes, blood pressure, weight and more. Learn what foods to look for, what foods to avoid, and how to decipher those nutrition labels. Randy will help you become a savvy consumer who chooses healthy and nutritious food for you and your family.

"Vascular Disease: What You Need to Know" will be presented Thursday, Oct. 30, with a light dinner at 6 p.m. followed by a program at 6:30 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Class size limited to 45.

Vascular disease is any condition that affects your circulatory system. This ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins and lymph system, to blood disorders that affect your circulation. Join Arthur DeMarsico, D.O., UPMC Altoona Heart & Vascular Institute, as he discusses current diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.






September 19, 2014 - Emergency Department Nurses Receive Certifications


UPMC Altoona Emergency Department Nurses Receive Certifications


ALTOONA, Sept. 19, 2014 — Registered nurses Jaime Weigand, Kathryn Socie, RN, CEN, both of Altoona, Brandy Bergum, clinical manager, of West Decateur, and Beth Skiles, of Patton, completed their Certification for Emergency Nursing (CEN) in August.

All work in the Emergency Department.






September 18, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in October


ALTOONA, Sept. 18, 2014 - UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in October as a public service to the community. They are listed alphabetically according to where they are held.

Support groups meeting at the hospital, 620 Howard Ave., use the Allegheny and Bedford rooms and the Rotunda on the 6th floor of the Outpatient Center, the Library on the 5th floor of the Outpatient Center, and Dining Room A in the Cafeteria on Tower 4.

Alzheimer's Disease Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in the Library. Endy Reindl, Community Service Representative from Home Instead Senior Care, will speak. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Bariatric Support Group by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates offers education, speakers and support for people who will have or have had bariatric surgery, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the Allegheny Room. Call 889-2557.

Breastfeeding Support Group is offered 10 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at Hoss's in Duncansville. Call 889-3123.

The Depression and Bipolar Self-Help Group meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in the Bedford Room. Call 889-2141.

The Ostomy Support Group meets from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in the Rotunda. Call 943-3782.

Parkinson's Support Group meets at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 27, at Hoss's, Altoona. Call 889-2141.

Support Group for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One Through Suicide meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, in the conference room in the Access Center, Building C, Blair Medical Center, 501 Howard Ave. The group helps people who have experienced or are experiencing specific feelings they can share with others in the aftermath of a suicide death and are seeking emotional support to cope with specific grief issues. Call 889-2141.

The following support groups meet at Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue. For the Conference Room, use the K4 entrance next to Fresenius Dialysis. The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department offers convenient parking and a patient drop-off area on the 17th Street side of the building.

The Breast Cancer Support Group meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct.1 and 15, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2132.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the Conference Room. Call 515-4624.

Wheelchair Clinics will be held at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. Physician referral and appointment required. Call 889-4463.






September 3, 2014 - MEDIA ADVISORY/PHOTO OPPORTUNITY


WHO: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Outpatient Staff with ALS patient Joyce Rourke McNeal of Altoona.

WHAT: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

WHEN: Noon, Thursday, Sept. 4

WHERE: Outside entrance to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Station Medical Center.

WHY: To raise awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. PM & R staff are inspired by their ALS patients and wish to show their support through the challenge.






September 2, 2014 - Area Students Complete Internship at UPMC Altoona


Area Students Nicole Post of Tyrone and Joel Fleegle of Bedford Complete Internship at UPMC Altoona
ALTOONA, Sept. 2, 2014 — Two area students, Nicole Post of Tyrone and Joel Fleegle of Bedford, completed an internship in the Nuclear Medicine Department as part of their studies at Findlay University Nuclear Medicine Institute.

The students took a final exam and graduated Aug. 22 at Findlay. They will now sit for national board exams.

Nicole is the daughter of Karen Post of Tyrone. Joel is the son of Duane and Jackie Fleegle of Bedford.






September 2, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Celebrates 25 Years of Mending Hearts


ALTOONA, Sept. 2, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's open-heart surgery program celebrates 25 years on Sunday, Sept. 7 - the date in 1989 when cardiothoracic surgeon John Anastasi, M.D., successfully performed the first open-heart surgery between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

"There was a lot riding on that first case," Dr. Anastasi says. "It was the most exciting time of my life. The night before, I slept not a second because so much was riding on the success of this surgery."

In their first year, Dr. Anastasi and his partner at the time Burt Fazi, M.D., exceeded expectations and performed 150 open-heart surgeries, the majority being coronary artery bypass and valve replacement surgeries. The next year the number doubled to 300, which was 150 cases over projections.

"The community embraced the program and people were willing to stay locally," Dr. Anastasi says. "We had tremendous support from hospital administration, the nurses, and everyone at the hospital."

In 25 years, the landscape of open-heart surgery has changed, as have some techniques. Dr. Anastasi performs more than half of his open-heart surgeries on a "beating heart" without the use of a heart bypass machine. For single and double valve replacements, Dr. Anastasi uses a minimally invasive approach through a 5 centimeter incision. This procedure is more comfortable for patients afterward as the sternum doesn't need to be cut open.

The types of patients Dr. Anastasi sees has also changed. Initially, most bypass patients were men in their 50s who were otherwise healthy. Today, an open-heart patient may be in his or her late 70s or early 80s with several other conditions, such as lung or kidney disease.

"I'm operating on older, sicker, more medically complicated patients than I was 25 years ago," he says.

Advances in treating heart artery blockages with stents, and more options in medically managing cardiovascular disease, have meant a reduction in patients requiring open-heart bypass. Length of stay for open-heart patients has also been reduced from seven to four days.

"The day I accepted the job, I told my wife, Cathy, that it would be only for two years in Altoona," he says. "I never imagined that Altoona would be the place where I would spend more years of my life than anywhere else. The community embraced the practice so much it was virtually impossible to leave."






August 29, 2014 - Assistant Director/Behavioral Scientist Retires With 38 Years of Service


Ernie Stump, assistant director/behavioral scientist at UPMC Altoona's Altoona Family Physicians Residency program, retired Aug. 1 with 38 years of service.
ALTOONA, Aug. 29, 2014 — Ernie Stump, assistant director/behavioral scientist at UPMC Altoona's Altoona Family Physicians Residency program, retired Aug. 1 with 38 years of service.

Stump was hired in 1976 as a social work supervisor for Maternity, Pediatrics, and Dialysis at Altoona Hospital. He transferred to the Altoona Family Physicians program as a behavioral scientist in 1978 and was promoted to assistant director/behavioral scientist in 1988.

Throughout his career, he served on numerous community boards in various capacities, including Children and Youth Services and Family Services. He continues to serve on the St. Francis University Social Work Board, Area Health Education Centers, and the Institutional Review Board of UPMC Altoona.

Stump plans to continue to work part time in adoption services by conducting home studies and visiting children after placement.

He lives in Hollidaysburg.






August 29, 2014 - Billing Assistant Retires with 39 Years of Service


Sue A. Daniele, billing assistant with UPMC Altoona's Altoona Family Physicians, retired Aug. 1 with 39 years of service.
ALTOONA, Aug. 29, 2014 — Sue A. Daniele, billing assistant with UPMC Altoona's Altoona Family Physicians, retired Aug. 1 with 39 years of service.

Daniele was hired in 1975 as secretary for the Partial Care Unit in Mental Health Services at Altoona Hospital, where she spent two years before transferring to AFP.

She lives in Altoona.






August 29, 2014 - Surgeon Elected to Membership in Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons


 Scot Currie, D.O., FACOS, of Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates in Altoona, was elected to membership in the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES).
ALTOONA, Aug. 29, 2014 — Scot Currie, D.O., FACOS, of Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates in Altoona, was elected to membership in the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES).

SAGES is open to board-certified surgeons who have demonstrated experience and proficiency in gastrointestinal endoscopic surgery, and to surgeons in training.

Founded in 1981, SAGES fosters, promotes, supports, and encourages academic, clinical, and research achievement in gastrointestinal endoscopic surgery. Members are general surgeons, colorectal surgeons, and osteopathic surgeons who perform endoscopy and laparoscopy as part of their practice.






August 29, 2014 - Healthy Blair County Coalition Meeting on Monday, September 8, 2014


Please see the attached invitation to the next Healthy Blair County Coalition Meeting on Monday, September 8, 2014, from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Hollidaysburg. Event flier. (PDF).





August 18, 2014 - UPMC Altoona, Kohl's Inviting Kids to be "Hard Heads" with Helmet Fittings


ALTOONA, August 18, 2014 — UPMC Altoona Trauma Service and Kohl's department store, 213 Sophira Drive, Altoona, are working together to present "Hard Heads," a community-based program through Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

"Hard Heads" educates children of all ages on the importance of wearing helmets correctly, and at all times, while riding anything on wheels.

Trained UPMC Altoona clinicians will hold a free helmet fitting on Wednesday, Aug. 20, in Kohl's parking lot. The fittings will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and include the distribution of free helmets, while supplies last. No appointment or helmet coupon is necessary, although helmet coupons are being distributed in advance to raise community awareness.

"Brain injuries are often life-threatening and life-changing," said Amy Stayer, R.N., UPMC Altoona trauma educator/prevention coordinator. "By educating parents and children in our community about the importance of helmets, we can prevent more injuries and help keep our children safe for years to come."

For questions, call UPMC Altoona's Trauma Injury Prevention Department at 814-889-6098. Event flier. (PDF).





August 15, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in September


ALTOONA, August 15, 2014 — UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in September as a public service to the community. They are listed alphabetically according to where they are held.

Support groups meeting at the hospital, 620 Howard Ave., use the Allegheny and Bedford rooms and the Rotunda on the 6th floor of the Outpatient Center, and Dining Room A in the Cafeteria on Tower 4.

Alzheimer's Disease Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, 6th floor, Outpatient Center. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept.17, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Bariatric Support Group by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates offers education, speakers and support for people who will have or have had bariatric surgery, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, in the Allegheny Room. Call 889-2557.

Breastfeeding Support Group is offered 10 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, at Hoss's in Duncansville. Call 889-3123.

The Depression and Bipolar Self-Help Group meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in the Bedford Room. Call 889-2141.

The Ostomy Support Group meets from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, in the Rotunda. Call 943-3782.

Parkinson's Support Group meets 11 a.m. Monday, Sept.29, at Hoss's, Altoona. Call 889-2141.

Support Group for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One Through Suicide meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, in the conference room in the Access Center, Building C, Blair Medical Center, 501 Howard Ave. The group helps people who have experienced or are experiencing specific feelings they can share with others in the aftermath of a suicide death and are seeking emotional support to cope with specific grief issues. Call 889-2141.

The following support groups meet at Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue. For the Conference Room, use the K4 entrance next to Fresenius Dialysis. The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department offers convenient parking and a patient drop-off area on the 17th Street side of the building.

The Breast Cancer Support Group meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 3 and 17, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2132.

La Leche League meets 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Sept. 8, in the Conference Room. Call 934-0466.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Support Group meets from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8, in the Conference Room. Call 1-800-726-2873.

The Sleep Apnea Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, in the Sleep Center waiting room. Call 889-4466.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, in the Conference Room. Call 515-4624.

Wheelchair Clinics will be held at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. Physician referral and appointment required. Call 889-4463.






August 14, 2014 - Mammography Chair Improves Comfort and Care


Mammography Chair Improves Comfort and Care
ALTOONA, Aug. 14, 2014 — The UPMC Altoona Foundation recently funded a grant request to provide a state-of-the-art mammography chair for the UPMC Altoona outpatient imaging facility at Station Medical Center.

The chair will help patients who are unable to stand or have difficulty holding the necessary position during the mammography process.

"We are always looking for projects that improve the quality of care," said Tim Balconi, foundation president. "This will enhance both patient comfort and care."






August 14, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Surgery Center Passes Two State Licensure Inspections Deficiency-Free


UPMC Altoona Surgery Center Passes Two State Licensure Inspections Deficiency-Free
ALTOONA, Aug. 14, 2014 — The UPMC Altoona Surgery Center recently passed two annual state licensure inspections, both resulting in zero deficiencies.

The annual Life Safety Code inspection focuses on the physical facility, and the Department of Health inspection focuses on rules and regulations for ambulatory care facilities.

Nina Ramsey, R.N., BSN, nurse manager, Surgery Center, said the results of the recent inspection mean the center has had no deficiencies for several years now.

"The safety of our patients is our first priority," she said. "It's a team effort, and we take great satisfaction in the care we deliver."






August 14, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Welcomes Sean Makowiecki as Patient Access Manager


UPMC Altoona Welcomes Sean Makowiecki as Patient Access Manager
ALTOONA, Aug. 14, 2014 — Sean Makowiecki of Cresson has been hired as UPMC Altoona's Patient Access manager.

He supervises 60 employees and is responsible for establishing and maintaining an accurate, efficient, consistent, and patient-centered admission and registration process organizationwide.

He is a 2003 graduate of Bishop Guilfoyle High School and a 2008 graduate of Mount Aloysius College with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration.

He previously worked at Walgreen's Pharmacy as executive assistant manager, then store manager.






August 14, 2014 - Diet Clerk/Hostess Retires With 36 Years of Service


Carmen Jones, diet clerk/hostess at UPMC Altoona Nutrition Services, retired Aug. 1 with 36 years of service
ALTOONA, Aug. 14, 2014 — Carmen Jones, diet clerk/hostess at UPMC Altoona Nutrition Services, retired Aug. 1 with 36 years of service.

Carmen was hired July 17, 1978, as a part-time nurse's aide on the 6th floor of Altoona Hospital. She transferred to Tower 14 until 1985 and then worked as a cart supply aid in the Surgical ICU for over two years. In 1988, Carmen transferred to Sterile Processing, where she worked all three shifts as a part-time employee. Carmen accepted a full-time position in 1999 as a diet clerk in Nutrition Services.






August 13, 2014 - Elite Orthopedics Serving Patients in Huntingdon


David Junkin Jr., M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Elite Orthopedics in Hollidaysburg and Altoona, is seeing patients at Elite's new Huntingdon office at 9492 William Penn Highway.
ALTOONA, Aug. 13, 2014 — David Junkin Jr., M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Elite Orthopedics in Hollidaysburg and Altoona, is seeing patients at Elite's new Huntingdon office at 9492 William Penn Highway.

Dr. Junkin is board-certified - as are all of Elite's physicians - and specializes in general orthopedics and sports medicine.

He gained his unique orthopedic expertise in 2008 during his fellowship at the University of Kentucky, where he was the physician for athletic teams at three universities.

Dr. Junkin's focus is on returning his patients - athletes or non-athletes - to their previous level of athletic performance or their desired level of daily activity.

The Elite Orthopedics team also includes Charles Harvey, D.O.; Jack Rocco, M.D., and Corey Schutt, D.O.

For an appointment, call 889-3600.






August 8, 2014 - First Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator Used at UPMC Altoona


ALTOONA, Aug. 8, 2014 — UPMC Altoona is the first hospital between Pittsburgh and Hershey to implant a subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

The S-ICD system is designed to provide the same protection from SCA as transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs); however the S-ICD System sits entirely just below the skin without the need for thin, insulated wires - known as electrodes or 'leads' - to be placed into the heart itself. This leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched, offering physicians and patients an alternative treatment to transvenous ICDs.

Haitham M. Hreibe, M.D., of Blair Medical Associates-Cardiology, Altoona, first performed the procedure July 31. The new procedure has the potential to replace 40 percent of all ICDs, but patients are carefully evaluated to see if they are good candidates.

"The device is totally under the skin, reducing the immediate complications such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung due to air collecting between the chest wall and lung), vascular complications, cardiac perforation, lead dislodgment," Dr. Hreibe says, "and reducing the long-term complications, such as systemic infections requiring extractions (a high-risk procedure) and vascular occlusions."

Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function. Most episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Recent estimates show that approximately 850,000 people in the United States are at risk of SCA and indicated for an ICD device, but remain unprotected.

The S-ICD system has two main components: (1) the pulse generator, which powers the system, monitors heart activity, and delivers a shock if needed, and (2) the electrode, which enables the device to sense the cardiac rhythm and deliver shocks when necessary. Both components are implanted just under the skin - the generator at the side of the chest, and the electrode beside the breastbone. Implantation with the S-ICD System is straightforward, using anatomical landmarks without the need for fluoroscopy (an x-ray procedure that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion). Fluoroscopy is required for implanting the leads attached to transvenous ICD systems.






August 1, 2014 - Ann E. Thompson, M.D., to Become Next Vice Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


PITTSBURGH, Aug. 1, 2014 — Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Ann E. Thompson, M.D., will become vice dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on Oct. 1.

In this role, Dr. Thompson will serve as a senior deputy to Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, in the management and advancement of the medical school.

"Dr. Thompson's many achievements include building and maintaining successful clinical and academic programs with exceptional records for fellowship training and research productivity," Dr. Levine said. "She has held leadership roles as a medical school administrator and in her clinical field of critical care medicine, and has consistently advocated for the recruitment and promotion of outstanding women at Pitt and in academic medicine as a whole."

Dr. Thompson is professor and vice chair (professional development) of the Department of Critical Care Medicine and medical director for clinical resource management at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. She served as chief of pediatric critical care from 1981 to 2009 and was interim chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine from 2006 to 2008. She is a past president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine - only the second woman to hold that position - and she is a senior editor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

"I look forward to this new challenge and the chance to contribute to the continued growth and success of our premier medical school," Dr. Thompson said. "Living up to the standards set by my predecessor, Dr. Steven Kanter, will be a major challenge, but the faculty, students and staff here are truly exceptional, and I am confident we will continue along the same world-class trajectory he helped so much to establish."

Dr. Thompson received her bachelor of arts in biology from the University of Chicago in 1969 and her medical degree from Boston's Tufts University School of Medicine in 1974. After completing her pediatric residency training at the Tufts New England Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), she trained in anesthesiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and did a fellowship in pediatric critical care and research at CHOP, which is where she held her first faculty position. In 2003, she received a master's degree in health care policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Thompson succeeds Steven L. Kanter, M.D., who will become dean of the medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Oct. 1.

"During his 12-year tenure as vice dean, Dr. Kanter has become an international expert in medical education and curriculum innovation, and has created a culture of collaborative learning and support for our medical students and faculty alike," Dr. Levine said. "While we will miss him greatly, we are delighted that he has earned this wonderful opportunity to implement his well-honed leadership skills, experience and creativity as the dean of a medical school."






August 1, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Achieves Silver Level Points Total in Donate Life Hospital Challenge


ALTOONA, August 1, 2014 — UPMC Altoona achieved a silver level points total in the 2014 Pennsylvania Donate Life Hospital Challenge.

Nationally, more than 117,000 men, women and children are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. In Pennsylvania, more than 8,300 men, women and children are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Eighteen of them die each day because an appropriate match was not found in time. One organ, tissue and eye donor may save up to 18 lives and help more than 50 people.

The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) and Gift of Life Donor Program — the two organ procurement organizations serving Pennsylvania — to support the 2014 Pennsylvania Donate Life Hospital Challenge.

From Feb. 28 until May 14, participants held activities to inspire and increase donor awareness and designations within their hospital families and captured those activities on a scorecard.

UPMC Altoona totaled over 250 points to reach the silver award level.






July 31, 2014 - Brittany Barker, D.O., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


Brittany Barker, D.O., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
ALTOONA, July 31, 2014 — Brittany Barker, D.O., recently joined UPMC Altoona's medical staff in the Department of Family Medicine with obstetrical and newborn privileges. She has joined Altoona Family Physicians' Family Centered OB/GYN practice in Altoona.

Originally from York, Dr. Barker received her degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg. She is a 2014 graduate of the Altoona Family Physicians Residency program.






July 31, 2014 - Elliott Bilofsky, D.O., FAOCO, Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


Elliott Bilofsky, D.O., FAOCO, Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
ALTOONA, July 31, 2014 — Elliott Bilofsky, D.O., FAOCO, has joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Department of Specialized Surgery's clinical service of otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat).

Dr. Bilofsky is board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Facial Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Bilofsky received his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he later did a residency in ear, nose, and throat/head and neck surgery and facial plastic surgery. He did internship training and a family medicine residency at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia. Additionally, he completed a residency in general surgery at Northeastern Hospital of Philadelphia.






July 31, 2014 - Amit Nanavati, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


Amit Nanavati, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
ALTOONA, July 31, 2014 — Amit Nanavati, M.D., recently joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Department of Medicine, clinical service of cardiology. He is affiliated with Cardiology Associates of Altoona.

Dr. Nanavati is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in cardiovascular disease.

He received his medical degree from Texas A&M College of Medicine and did his residency in internal medicine at Boston Medical Center.

He received fellowship training in cardiovascular disease from the University of Washington and Lehigh Valley Network, Allentown, and in interventional cardiology from the University of Florida, Jacksonville.






July 31, 2014 - Arthur J. DeMarsico, D.O., Receives Continuous Certification


Arthur J. DeMarsico, D.O., Receives Continuous Certification
ALTOONA, July 31, 2014 — Arthur J. DeMarsico, D.O., of UPMC Altoona- Altoona Heart & Vascular Institute, received his continuous certification in vascular surgery by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery through September 2024.

The American Osteopathic Association follows the principle that "certification should be a continuous, lifelong process" to ensure that physicians maintain current standards and demonstrate competency in their fields.

Dr. DeMarsico has been in practice since 2001. He received his medical degree, residency training, and fellowship experience from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.






July 31, 2014 - Registered Nurse Wins State Award


Merlann Malloy, RN, UPMC Altoona Trauma Service, received the 2014 Rita Celmer Award from the Pennsylvania Emergency Nurses Association (PAENA).
ALTOONA, July 31, 2014 — Merlann Malloy, RN, UPMC Altoona Trauma Service, received the 2014 Rita Celmer Award from the Pennsylvania Emergency Nurses Association (PAENA). The award is presented annually to the emergency nurse who demonstrates commitment, enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication to emergency nursing and the PAENA.

PAENA established the award in honor of Rita Celmer, RN, one of its founding members who exemplified these characteristics.

She lives in Patton.






July 31, 2014 - Continuous Performance Improvement (CPI) Coordinator Retires


Bonnie Sultage, Continuous Performance Improvement Coordinator in Systems Improvement at UPMC Altoona, retired July 11 with 45 years of service.
ALTOONA, July 18, 2014 — Bonnie Sultage, Continuous Performance Improvement Coordinator in Systems Improvement at UPMC Altoona, retired July 11 with 45 years of service.

She was hired as an LPN on the 5E Nursing Unit of Altoona Hospital in April 1969. She also worked on 3A and the Coronary Care Unit until 1971. She transferred to the Health Information Management Department and worked as an historian, coder and atlas abstractor until 2000. Sultage then moved to her current position in the Medical Staff Office. Her position was later transferred to Systems Improvement.

Sultage served as a core member of the CPI Committee and Cancer committees, CPI Leadership Team, Measurement Team-Patient Satisfaction, and the Quality Leadership Team.

She lives in Tyrone.






July 28, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Opens Outpatient Kidney Transplant Clinic at Station Medical Center


WHAT: New outpatient clinic for patients who are being evaluated for kidney and pancreas transplants and for patients who have had kidney and pancreas transplant surgery.

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 29

WHERE: Conference Room, Station Medical Center. Use the K4 entrance next to Fresenius Dialysis.

WHO: Patient Dale Barnes, 59, of Duncansville
          Patient Gloria Bosch, 72, of Duncansville
          Transplant surgeon Amit Tevar, M.D.
          UPMC Altoona President Jerry Murray
          UPMC Altoona Chief Operating Officer Ron McConnell






July 25, 2014 - UPMC Clinicians Win Beckwith Institute Grants to Engage Patients, Improve Care


PITTSBURGH, July 25, 2014 — To experiment with changes big and small that might better engage patients and improve health care, The Beckwith Institute recently awarded 11 new grants to UPMC clinicians and other staff.

The wide-ranging projects include an effort to develop a shared decision-making tool for family members of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and the creation of an interactive, Web-based "thermometer" to monitor the mood and energy of adolescents with bipolar disorder.

Supported by UPMC Chairman G. Nicholas Beckwith and his wife, Dotty, with matching funds from UPMC, the Beckwith Institute annually provides grants to improve clinical outcomes by empowering both clinicians and patients to explore innovative ways of transforming health care.

"Through the inspiring leadership and generous financial assistance of Nick and Dotty Beckwith, we are able to empower clinicians and other staff to experiment with new methods for transforming care delivery," said Tami Minnier, UPMC chief quality officer. "At the heart of every project chosen for this program is an emphasis on engaging and educating patients and families so that they can play a meaningful role in the health care decisions that affect them."

The grants are administered through two complementary efforts: The Frontline Innovation Program, which focuses on improving the patient bedside experience, and the Clinical Transformation Program, which supports comprehensive redesign of processes to put the involvement of the patient and their loved ones at the core.

The projects awarded 2014-2015 grants include:
  • a novel "mood and energy" tracking application for patients with pediatric bipolar disorder
  • a mobile application that allows patients to track and navigate the complex organ transplant process
  • a Web-based communication and decision support tool to improve the quality of shared decision-making in the ICU and to prepare family members for the role of surrogate decision maker
  • use of personal health monitoring devices for elderly patients with heart disease to promote patient engagement and prevent complications
  • an effort to assess patients for readmission risk and to ensure appropriate outreach after hospital discharge
  • resources to engage pediatric patients in diabetes care
  • standardization of sexual assault care at UPMC facilities
  • an asthma education program for children that includes a nurse hotline and online patient portal
  • a decision-making tool to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease make informed treatment decisions
  • development of a protocol that can be used to safely identify and discharge blunt trauma patients who have sustained no significant injury
  • a multidisciplinary effort to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions for patients with complex health needs
About the Beckwith Institute
With its multimillion-dollar endowment, the Beckwith Institute's primary goal is to fund both immediate and long-term changes that significantly improve health care. The institute's two funding programs are the Frontline Innovation Program, which funds innovations and empowering ideas that directly impact and improve bedside care and clinical practice, and the Clinical Transformation Program, which grants funds through its Shared Decision Making arm and joins translational research with the application of evidence to patient care through its Bench at the Bedside arm. For more information, visit beckwithinstitute.org.





July 24, 2014 - UPMC-Developed Test Increases Odds of Correct Surgery for Thyroid Cancer Patients


PITTSBURGH, July 24, 2014 — The routine use of a molecular testing panel developed at UPMC greatly increases the likelihood of performing the correct initial surgery for patients with thyroid nodules and cancer, report researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter.

The test, available at the UPMC/UPCI Multidisciplinary Thyroid Center and other diagnostic testing agencies, improved the chances of patients getting the correct initial surgery by 30 percent, according to the study published this month in the Annals of Surgery.

"Before this test, about one in five potential thyroid cancer cases couldn't be diagnosed without an operation to remove a portion of the thyroid," said lead author Linwah Yip, M.D., assistant professor of surgery in Pitt's School of Medicine and UPMC surgical oncologist. Previously, "if the portion removed during the first surgery came back positive for cancer, a second surgery was needed to remove the rest of the thyroid. The molecular testing panel now bypasses that initial surgery, allowing us to go right to fully removing the cancer with one initial surgery. This reduces risk and stress to the patient, as well as recovery time and costs."

Cancer in the thyroid, which is located in the "Adam's apple" area of the neck, is now the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in women. Thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers that continues to increase in incidence, although the five-year survival rate is 97 percent.

Previously, the most accurate form of testing for thyroid cancer was a fine-needle aspiration biopsy, where a doctor guides a thin needle to the thyroid and removes a small tissue sample for testing. However, in 20 percent of these biopsies, cancer cannot be ruled out. A lobectomy, which is a surgical operation to remove half of the thyroid, is then needed to diagnose or rule-out thyroid cancer. In the case of a postoperative cancer diagnosis, a second surgery is required to remove the rest of the thyroid.

Researchers have identified certain gene mutations that are indicative of an increased likelihood of thyroid cancer, and the molecular testing panel developed at UPMC can be run using the sample collected through the initial, minimally invasive biopsy, rather than a lobectomy. When the panel shows these mutations, a total thyroidectomy is advised.

Dr. Yip and her colleagues followed 671 UPMC patients with suspicious thyroid nodes who received biopsies. Approximately half the biopsy samples were run through the panel, and the other half were not. Patients whose tissue samples were not tested with the panel had a 2.5-fold higher statistically significant likelihood of having an initial lobectomy and then requiring a second operation.

"We're currently refining the panel by adding tests for more genetic mutations, thereby making it even more accurate," said co-author Yuri Nikiforov, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pathology at Pitt and director of thyroid molecular diagnostics at the UPMC/UPCI Multidisciplinary Thyroid Center. "Thyroid cancer is usually very curable, and we are getting closer to quickly and efficiently identifying and treating all cases of thyroid cancer."

In 2009, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) revised its guidelines to add that doctors may consider the use of molecular markers when the initial biopsy is inconclusive.

"The ATA is currently revising those guidelines to take into account the latest research, including our findings," said senior author Sally Carty, M.D., Pitt professor of surgery, co-director of the UPMC/UPCI Multidisciplinary Thyroid Center and recent president of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. "The molecular testing panel holds promise for streamlining and eliminating unnecessary surgery not just here but nationwide."

A previous study led by Dr. Yip showed the panel to be cost-saving when used to help in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

Each year, approximately half of the 25,000 patients assessed at UPMC's Multidisciplinary Thyroid Center are found to have thyroid conditions, and more than 900 thyroid operations are performed by the center's surgeons. The center aims to provide patients with one-stop evaluation from thyroid experts in a variety of fields, including surgery and endocrinology.

Additional researchers on this study are Laura I. Wharry, M.D., Michaele J. Armstrong, Ph.D., Ari Silbermann, B.S., Kelly L. McCoy, M.D., and Michael T. Stang, M.D., all of the Pitt Department of Surgery; Nobuyuki P. Ohori, M.D., and Marina N. Nikiforov, M.D., all of the Pitt Department of Pathology; Shane O. LeBeau, M.D., Christopher Coyne, M.D., and Steven P. Hodak, M.D., all of the Pitt Department of Endocrinology; Julie E. Bauman, M.D., of the PItt Department of Hematology/Oncology; Jonas T. Johnson, M.D., of the Pitt Department of Otolaryngology; and Mitch E. Tublin, M.D., of the Pitt Department of Radiology.

This study was funded by a grant from UPMC.





July 22, 2014 - Telemedicine Effective in Delivering International Cardiac Care, Children's Hospital Study Shows


PITTSBURGH, July 22, 2014 — After studying more than 1,000 pediatric consultations offered in Latin America through telemedicine, researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC found that physicians in those countries were highly satisfied with Children's service and believed telemedicine had improved patient outcomes.

The study, led by Ricardo A. Muñoz, M.D., FAAP, FCCM, FACC, chief, Cardiac Intensive Care Division, at Children's, was published online in the July issue of Telemedicine and e-Health.

"Lack of skilled physicians is a widespread problem, particularly those with expertise in patients with complex medical problems, such as congenital heart disease," said Dr. Muñoz, also medical director, Global Business and Telemedicine, at Children's. "The use of telemedicine services within pediatric cardiac intensive care units (CICUs) can be used as an assisting technology, allowing more expertise and knowledge to be shared with remote centers in need."

Although a growing body of evidence suggests that telemedicine is associated with improved patient outcomes, the technology remains a relatively new tool in health care, particularly in pediatric critical care. In surveying the Latin American centers, the Children's researchers hope to design a common approach for future tele-consultations.

"Little is known about the optimal method of telemedicine service delivery in the international setting," said Dr. Muñoz. "Ideally, a consistent approach should be used for centers with similar organizations, skill level and patient populations. One size does not fit all."

The study showcased Children's unusual multicenter experience in telemedicine at three hospitals in Colombia and one in Mexico from July 2011 to June 2013. Children's physicians provided 1,040 consultations for 476 patients, with a real-time intervention taking place in 23 percent of those encounters, including echocardiography, adjustment of pacemaker settings and pharmacologic therapy. In 6 percent of the tele-consultations, a different diagnosis was suggested based on the interpretation of cardiac or imaging studies.

The number and type of patients seen by Children's e-CICU were selected by local physicians at each hospital. Although Children's physicians in Pittsburgh did not have remote access to the children's electronic medical records, relevant patient data was provided in a secure database and telemedicine hardware was used for real-time consultations. A CICU physician from Children's participated in all the encounters, with some being joined by other specialists, including cardiac surgeons and neonatal intensivists.

Based on anonymous surveys of physicians participating at the international centers, 96 percent of respondents reported being satisfied or highly satisfied with the telemedicine service, while 58 percent rated the promptness and time dedicated by the tele-intensivist as very high. Physicians reported that they changed their clinical practice sometimes in relation to the telemedicine encounters, with changes in surgical management noted most frequently.

"We know that telemedicine-assisted pediatric cardiac critical care is technologically and logistically feasible in the international arena," said Dr. Muñoz. "And now we know that the physicians we assist internationally consider this technology to be useful for patient outcomes and education. With continuing improvements in telemedicine technology and our own practices, we will continue to expand access to the world's best health care for children around the world."

Children's Hospital is leading the way in the development of telemedicine services to meet the needs of young patients regionally and around the world. The state-of-the-art video conferencing technologies provide complex pediatric cardiac care through remote and virtual examinations - whenever and wherever expertise is needed. Experts from Children's CICUs currently oversee international programs and provide consultations and care management in Cali, Bucaramanga and Medellin, all in Colombia, as well as in Mexico City, Mexico.

For more information on telemedicine services, please visit www.chp.edu/CHP/international+services+telemedicine.






July 21, 2014 - Board of Trustees Leadership Changes at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and its Foundation


PITTSBURGH, July 21, 2014 — The boards of trustees at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation are announcing new leadership this month.

Mary Jo Dively, chair of the Children's Hospital Board of Trustees, has stepped down from that role after 15 years, and Howard "Hoddy" Hanna is transitioning from the Foundation's board chair to the hospital board chair. These changes became effective this month.

Throughout Mrs. Dively's 15 years of leading Children's board, the hospital has thrived in the areas of clinical services, national and international recognition, and philanthropic support from the community. She will remain an active member of both the hospital and Foundation boards of trustees. She was honored last week at a celebration in the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center on the hospital's campus in Lawrenceville.

"Mary Jo's commitment to Children's Hospital is exemplary," said Chris Gessner, Children's president. "For nearly 20 years, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the hospital. We are very fortunate to have benefited from the services of such a respected and knowledgeable member of the Pittsburgh legal and business community."

Mr. Hanna has served as chair of the Board of Trustees for the Foundation since 2009, and previously served as a board member since the board's inception in July 2000.

"Mr. Hanna's commitment and dedication to Children's over the years has been instrumental in enhancing the mission of the hospital," said Greg Barrett, president of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. "His involvement with Children's extends beyond his service on the board and spans more than two decades. In addition to having raised millions of dollars in support of the Free Care Fund, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services funded the creation of the Howard Hanna Healing Garden at the hospital."

With Mr. Hanna's transition to hospital board chair, the Foundation Board of Trustees elected a new chairman, Jay W. Cleveland Jr., who has been a board member since 2007 and has been a strong advocate of the hospital and the Foundation.

"We are excited to introduce Jay as the new chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees," said Mr. Barrett. "Throughout the past few years, he's been a strong advocate of the hospital and the Foundation. We look forward to his leadership and collaboration."






July 18, 2014 - Unit Secretary Retires With 36 Years of Service


Cindy Emery, secretary in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UPMC Altoona
ALTOONA, July 18, 2014 — Cindy Emery, secretary in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UPMC Altoona, retired June 29 with 36 years of service.

She was hired May 15, 1978, as a ward secretary. Over the years, she followed her unit as it was relocated to 6E, Tower 11, and Tower 14. In 1990, she moved to Medical Intensive Care.

Emery lives in Altoona.






July 18, 2014 - Nurse Moderates Session at NHTSA's Child Passenger Safety Technical Conference


Registered Nurse Sherry Turchetta, Community Education specialist and SafeKids Blair County coordinator at UPMC Altoona
ALTOONA, July 18, 2014 — Registered Nurse Sherry Turchetta, Community Education specialist and SafeKids Blair County coordinator at UPMC Altoona, attended the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 11th Child Passenger Safety Technical Conference at the Penn Stater Conference Center, State College, June 24-26.

The regional conference is for child passenger safety technicians, instructors and others who are interested in the safe transportation of children. CPS technicians, instructors and policy makers discussed the most current and accurate occupant protection resources, programs and delivery systems.

Turchetta served as a moderator for a speaker.






July 18, 2014 - Students Graduate from Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science Program


ALTOONA, July 18, 2014 — Five students graduated from the UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science on June 27.

Maura Belinda of Alexandria Brittany Hoover of Tipton Jesse Kuhn of North Huntingdon Jill Palko of Kittanning Ashley Vandevander of Bellwood.


Graduates are Maura Belinda of Alexandria, Brittany Hoover of Tipton, Jesse Kuhn of North Huntingdon, Jill Palko of Kittanning and Ashley Vandevander of Bellwood.

Belinda received the "Most Outstanding Student" award for the Class of 2014. Kuhn and Vandevander received Academic Achievement Awards.

Belinda is the daughter of Stan and Lori Belinda. She graduated from Saint Francis University with a major in Medical Technology. She joined the Laboratory here July 14.

Hoover is the wife of Tyler Hoover and the daughter of Wayne and Sherry Carper of Tipton. She graduated from Penn State Altoona with a bachelor's degree in Biology in 2011. She joined the Laboratory here July 14.

Kuhn is the son of Debra Kuhn of North Huntingdon. He graduated from Slippery Rock University with a bachelor's degree in Medical Technology. He will work at Excela Health's Westmoreland Hospital.

Palko is the daughter of Alan Davis and Melanie Palko of Kittanning. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Clinical Laboratory Science. She will work at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Vandevander is the daughter of Scott and Janice Collins of Connellsville. She graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in Animal Bioscience in 2009. She joined the Laboratory here July 14.





July 17, 2014 - Family Medicine Residents and Osteopathic Interns Recognized


ALTOONA, July 17, 2014 — The Altoona Family Physicians Residency recently recognized six Family Medicine residents and three osteopathic interns for graduation as the class of 2014.

Brittany Barker, D.O. Amanda Cattoi, M.D. Joseph Hines, M.D. Mathew Luthman, D.O.
Rebecca McConnell, D.O. Noah Schmuckler, M.D Jenna Stokes, D.O. Christine Wanjeri-Hasen


They are:
  • Brittany Barker, D.O., who joins Altoona Family Physicians Family Centered OB/GYN. She is a graduate of West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, W.V.
  • Amanda Cattoi, M.D., who will join Mainline Medical Associates. Dr. Cattoi received her medical degree from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey College of Medicine.
  • Joseph Hines, M.D., who will receive fellowship training in Hospice/Palliative Care at UPMC Altoona. He is a graduate of Penn State Milton S. Hershey College of Medicine.
  • Mathew Luthman, D.O., who will be practicing as a general medical officer in the U.S. Air Force, based at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. He received his degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, W.V.
  • Rebecca McConnell, D.O., who will continue her residency at the University of Michigan in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is originally from Denton, Md.
  • Noah Schmuckler, M.D., will graduate in October. He is undecided on his plans. He received his degree from Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia.
  • Jenna Stokes, D.O., will join Blair Medical Associates in the Hollidaysburg and Bellwood offices. She is a graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Christine Wanjeri-Hasen, DO, will graduate in August. She plans to join a health care facility in eastern Pennsylvania or Maryland. She is a graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • Zachary Zanfes, DO, will attend dive school in Panama City, Fla., to become an undersea medical officer in the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. (No photo)






July 17, 2014 - Pitt-led Study Suggests Cystic Fibrosis is Two Diseases, One Doesn't Affect Lungs


PITTSBURGH, July 17, 2014 — Cystic fibrosis (CF) could be considered two diseases, one that affects multiple organs including the lungs, and one that doesn't affect the lungs at all, according to a multicenter team led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The research, published online today in PLOS Genetics, showed that nine variants in the gene associated with cystic fibrosis can lead to pancreatitis, sinusitis and male infertility, but leave the lungs unharmed.

People with CF inherit from each parent a severely mutated copy of a gene called CFTR, which makes a protein that forms a channel for the movement of chloride molecules in and out of cells that produce sweat, mucus, tears, semen and digestive enzymes, said co-senior investigator David Whitcomb, M.D., Ph.D., chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, Pitt School of Medicine. Without functional CFTR channels, secretions become thick and sticky, causing problems such as the chronic lung congestion associated with CF.

"There are other kinds of mutations of CFTR, but these were deemed to be harmless because they didn't cause lung problems," Dr. Whitcomb said. "We examined whether these variants could be related to disorders of the pancreas and other organs that use CFTR channels."

Co-senior author Min Goo Lee, M.D., Ph.D., of Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, conducted careful tests of CFTR in pancreatic cell models and determined that a molecular switch inside the cell called WINK1 made CFTR channels secrete bicarbonate rather than chloride molecules.

"Pancreas cells use CFTR to secrete bicarbonate to neutralize gastric acids," Dr. Whitcomb said. "When that doesn't happen, the acids cause the inflammation, cyst formation and scarring of severe pancreatitis."

The research team found nine CFTR gene variants associated with pancreatitis after testing nearly 1,000 patients with the disease and a comparable number of healthy volunteers. They also learned that each variant could impair the WINK1 switch to prevent CFTR from becoming a bicarbonate-secreting channel.

Co-senior author Ivet Bahar, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and John K. Vries Chair of Computational Biology, Pitt School of Medicine, built a computer model of the CFTR protein's structure and determined that all the nine variants alter the area that forms the bicarbonate transport channel, thus impairing secretion of the molecule.

"It turns out that CFTR-mediated bicarbonate transport is critical to thin mucus in the sinuses and for proper sperm function," Dr. Whitcomb said. "When we surveyed pancreatitis patients, there was a subset who said they had problems with chronic sinusitis. Of men over 30 who said they had tried to have children and were infertile, nearly all had one of these nine CFTR mutations."

He added that identification of the mechanisms that cause the conditions make it possible to develop treatments, as well as to launch trials to determine if medications that are used by CF patients might have some benefit for those who do not have lung disease, but who carry the other mutations.

The team includes researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the Mayo Clinic, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and many other institutions that are part of the North American Pancreatitis Study Group.

The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DK061451, DK062420, GM086238, DK063922, CA047904 and RR024153; the Ministry for Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea; and Brain Korea 21 Project for Medical Sciences, Seoul.






July 17, 2014 - Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., Will Receive Pitt's Dickson Prize at Science 2014-Sustain It!


PITTSBURGH, July 17, 2014 — A scientist who has explored how the tens of trillions of microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract and their genes influence human physiology, metabolism and nutritional status will receive the University of Pittsburgh's 2014 Dickson Prize in Medicine.

Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., will accept the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's most prestigious honor during Science 2014-Sustain It!, a showcase of the region's latest research in science, engineering, medicine and computation that will be held from Oct. 1 to 3 at Alumni Hall in Oakland. Dr. Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"Dr. Gordon's work describes our species as a rich and meaningful ecosystem of interactions between human and microbial components," said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine. "His fascinating work has broadened our understanding of obesity in the western world and malnutrition in developing countries and has the potential to stimulate new therapies directed at the microbiome."

In the body, microbes, primarily bacteria, but also fungi and archaeons, and the viruses that infect them, outnumber an individual's human cells by a factor of 10. The number of genes in the body's indigenous microbial communities far exceeds the number of genes in the human genome. Most of these microorganisms reside in the gut. Through innovative experimental and computational methods, including studies of twins of different ages, geographic locales and cultural traditions, and the use of germ-free animal models colonized with gut microbial communities (microbiota) harvested from healthy and unhealthy humans, Dr. Gordon and his students have provided new insights about how the gut microbiota contribute to obesity and metabolic abnormalities, as well as to childhood undernutrition.

Their interdisciplinary studies have helped create a new field of research, altering ways to define the health benefits of foods being produced or that could be produced in response to the global challenges of population growth and sustainable agriculture. Also, Dr. Gordon's lab is providing a microbial view of human development, including how functional maturation of the gut microbiota is related to healthy growth of infants and children, and helping to usher in a new era of microbiota-directed therapeutics.

At 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 2, Dr. Gordon will deliver the Dickson Prize in Medicine Lecture. His talk is titled "A Microbial View of Human Development: The Gut Microbiota and Childhood Undernutrition."

Dr. Gordon earned his bachelor's degree in biology at Oberlin College in 1969 and his medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 1973. He completed a residency in medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry and molecular biology at the National Institutes of Health, and a fellowship in gastroenterology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the recipient of the Danone International Prize for Nutrition, the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology from the National Academy of Sciences, the Robert Koch Award, and many other honors. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

In addition to Dr. Gordon, other renowned researchers also will deliver plenary lectures at Science 2014. The Mellon Lecture will be given by Stuart Orkin, M.D., of Harvard Medical School; the Hofmann Lecture will be given by Jeannie T. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., also of Harvard Medical School; and the Provost Lecture will be given by Jonathan Rothberg, Ph.D., founder of Ion Torrent Systems, Inc., and a pioneer in the field of next-generation DNA sequencing.

Nominations for the 2015 Dickson Prize in Medicine are now being accepted.






July 15, 2014 - UPMC Presbyterian Receives Highest National Honor for Organ Donor Enrollment Efforts


PITTSBURGH, July 15, 2014UPMC Presbyterian was recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for reaching the gold level of achievement, the highest possible, for conducting activities that promoted enrollment in state organ donor registries. The hospital's efforts over the past year were part of a national campaign known as the Workplace Partnership for Life Hospital Campaign led by HHS to increase donor enrollments in state registries nationwide.

UPMC conducted awareness and registry campaigns to educate staff, patients, visitors and community members about the critical need for organ, eye and tissue donors. The activities included passing out information in Pittsburgh's Market Square, a parade of transplant recipients throughout the hospital, the annual UPMC Donate Life flag-raising ceremony and outreach efforts on social media. UPMC earned points for each activity implemented between June 2013 and May 2014.

"As transplant pioneers at UPMC, we recognize the importance of the gift of life and have always encouraged our clinicians, staff and members of the community to make the pledge to be an organ donor. We are grateful for the support of the Pittsburgh region in making our efforts a success," said John Innocenti, president of UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside.

In all, 1,228 hospitals and transplant centers participated in the HHS campaign. Their combined efforts have added 327,659 donor enrollments to state registries nationwide since 2011, exceeding the HHS goal of 300,000. In Pennsylvania, more than 4.5 million people, or 46 percent of registered drivers, are registered organ donors.

UPMC works closely with the Center for Organ Recovery & Education, one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations in the United States, to promote organ donor awareness all year long.

For more than 30 years, UPMC has been providing care to adult and pediatric transplant patients through services at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, the UPMC Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Children's Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation. Today, UPMC has performed more than 17,000 transplants, including heart, lung, intestinal, kidney, liver, pancreas and multiple-organ transplants, along with heart assist device implantation.






July 15, 2014 - UPMC Named to U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of 'Best Hospitals' for 15th Time


UPMC Ranks #1 in Pennsylvania, #1 in Pittsburgh for Clinical Excellence


PITTSBURGH, July 15, 2014UPMC has once again received national recognition for its clinical expertise, earning 12th position on the annual U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of America's "Best Hospitals." UPMC is the highest-ranked medical center in both Pennsylvania and in Pittsburgh.

"While we're very proud that UPMC was recognized for the 15th year, it is our patients who are the ultimate winners. Our exceptionally skilled and devoted health care professionals do what they do best every day — provide the finest health care in the state and in the region," said Leslie C. Davis, president, UPMC Hospital and Community Services Division.

"We are honored to receive this national distinction, which recognizes UPMC's unique combination of high-quality medical care, a top health insurance plan, and close affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh, one of the best medical schools in the country," added Steven Shapiro, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical and scientific officer at UPMC. "Furthermore, it emphasizes UPMC's commitment to our patients and showcases how we are leading the way in the development of new technologies and methods of care."

Nationally, UPMC is ranked for excellence in 15 of 16 specialty areas, and is among the top 10 hospitals in six specialties: ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology; gynecology; psychiatry; pulmonology; and rheumatology.

U.S. News analyzed 4,743 medical centers in the nation, but only those that achieved high scores in six or more specialties were included in the distinguished Honor Roll group. Scores were based on a variety of factors including hospital volume, patient safety, outcomes and reputation for delivering high-quality care.

Last month, U.S. News named its 2014 Honor Roll of America's Best Children's Hospitals, recognizing Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as 9th in the country.






July 15, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in August


ALTOONA, July 15, 2014 — UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in August as a public service to the community. They are listed alphabetically according to where they are held.

Support groups meeting at the hospital, 620 Howard Ave., use the Allegheny and Bedford rooms and the Rotunda on the 6th floor of the Outpatient Center, and Dining Room A in the Cafeteria on Tower 4.

Alzheimer's Disease Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Bariatric Support Group by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates offers education, speakers and support for people who will have or have had bariatric surgery, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Allegheny Room. Call 889-2557.

Breastfeeding Support Group is offered 10 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at Hoss's in Duncansville. Call 889-3123.

The Depression and Bipolar Self-Help Group meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6 in Dining Room A; Aug. 13, 20, and 27 meets in Bedford Room. Call 889-2141.

Parkinson's Support Group meets Monday, Aug. 25, at Hoss's, Altoona. Physical Therapist Paul Tryninewski, director of UPMC Altoona's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, will present on exercises from a PT perspective. Call 889-2141.

Support Group for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One Through Suicide meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, in the conference room in the Access Center, Building C, Blair Medical Center, 501 Howard Ave. The group helps people who have experienced or are experiencing specific feelings they can share with others in the aftermath of a suicide death and are seeking emotional support to cope with specific grief issues. Call 889-2141.

The following support groups meet at Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue. For the Conference Room, use the K4 entrance next to Fresenius Dialysis. The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department offers convenient parking and a patient drop-off area on the 17th Street side of the building.

The Breast Cancer Support Group meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Aug. 6 and 20, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2132.

La Leche League meets 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Aug. 11, in the Conference Room. Call 934-0466.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27. Call 515-4624 for location.

Wheelchair Clinics will be held at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. Physician referral and appointment required. Call 889-4463.






July 10, 2014 - Critical Care Registered Nurse Certified


ALTOONA, July 10, 2014 — Jill Rhoa, RN, Medical Intensive Care Unit, recently passed the Critical Care Nursing exam to receive the specialty certification of Critical Care Registered Nurse.






July 10, 2014 - Human Resources Associate Retires With 25 Years of Service


Rona Bohner, Human Resources Associate Retires With 25 Years of Service
ALTOONA, July 10, 2014 — Rona Bohner, Human Resources associate at UPMC Altoona, retired June 13 with 25 years of service.

Bohner was hired in June 1989 by Mercy Hospital as a junior payroll clerk. After two years, she transferred to the position of clerk in the Business Office, where she worked until taking a promotion to buyer in Materials Management in 1997. She moved to Human Resources In 2001.

She lives in Altoona.






July 10, 2014 - Case Manager Retires With 45 Years of Service


ALTOONA, July 10, 2014 — Duncansville resident Pattie Kepler, case manager at UPMC Altoona, retired June 13 with 45 years of service.

Pattie was hired Sept. 1, 1968, as a staff nurse on E5 for Altoona Hospital. She was one of the first dialysis nurses when the unit was created. When she returned from maternity leave in 1978, she took a position as a Critical Care Unit nurse and later was promoted to head nurse of the Medical Progressive Care Unit. She then transferred to Medical Intensive Care in 1988. Ten years later, Pattie became one of the first nurses hired as a case manager for the Case Management Department, where she covered all trauma patients and later all the ICUs.






July 10, 2014 - HIM Manager Retires With 31 Years of Service


HIM Manager Retires With 31 Years of Service
ALTOONA, July 10, 2014 — Michele Dignan, manager, Health Information Management Department at UPMC Altoona, retired June 13 with 31 years of service.

She began her career as a file clerk in the Medical Records Department of Mercy Hospital and was promoted to discharge analyst in 1986. Four years later, she was promoted to coder/abstractor and 12 years later to supervisor at Bon Secours-Holy Family Health System. She assumed the manager's position in 2009.

Dignan obtained her coding specialist certification from the American Health Information Management Association in 1999. A year later, she graduated from St. Francis University, Loretto, with a bachelor's in Business Administration, Management.

She resides in Cresson.






July 10, 2014 - Nutrition Services Assistant Retires


ALTOONA, July 10, 2014 — Kristie Porta, Nutrition Services assistant at UPMC Altoona, retired June 8 with nine years of service.

She was hired June 30, 2005, as a Nutrition Services assistant at Bon Secours-Holy Family Hospital. She kept this same position at Altoona Regional Health System and UPMC Altoona, where she worked as a server in numerous places, including the cafeteria, patient line, and dish room.

Porta resides in Altoona.






July 2, 2014 - UPMC Patient First in U.S. Implanted with Hemolung Before Lifesaving Double Lung Transplant


PITTSBURGH, July 2, 2014 — Suffering from cystic fibrosis and rejecting the transplanted lungs he had gotten just two years ago, Jon Sacker, 33, came to UPMC from his hometown in Moore, Oklahoma, as a last resort. But when his carbon dioxide levels spiked, making him too sick for another transplant, his family feared the worst.

"I thought I had brought my husband here to die," said Mr. Sacker's wife, Sallie.

Instead, UPMC clinicians turned to a Pittsburgh-made device called the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System (RAS) that would filter out harmful carbon dioxide and provide healthy oxygen to his blood, giving Mr. Sacker a chance to gain enough strength to undergo a lifesaving transplant. In February, he became the first person in the U.S. to be implanted with the Hemolung RAS; in March, he underwent a double lung transplant and today is on the road to recovery.

"The entire series of events that led to this transplant and Jon's recovery have been amazing," said Christian Bermudez, M.D., chief of UPMC's Division of Cardiothoracic Transplantation. "Jon had previously been very active and fit, and we knew we had to do whatever it took to help him."

"Jon was in very critical condition when he came to Pittsburgh, and the Hemolung was a lifesaver for him while waiting for his second lung transplant. We are very proud of his good recovery," said Mr. Sacker's pulmonologist, Maria Crespo, M.D., associate medical director of UPMC's Lung Transplant Program.

Many patients waiting for lungs or a heart use mechanical devices as a bridge to transplant. But doctors said Mr. Sacker was too sick for the traditional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. However, UPMC doctors knew about the Hemolung RAS, which removes carbon dioxide and delivers oxygen directly to the blood, allowing a patient's lungs to rest and heal.

Several years before, William Federspiel, Ph.D., director of the Medical Devices Laboratory at the joint UPMC- and University of Pittsburgh-run McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, along with a designer fabricator and a bioengineering doctoral student, developed what was known as the Paracorporeal Respiratory Assist Lung. The device underwent product development and was commercialized by ALung Technologies as the renamed Hemolung RAS. ALung was founded by Dr. Federspiel and UPMC's former chief of lung transplant, Brack G. Hattler, M.D.

"We had seen the Hemolung RAS used in other countries and wanted to do whatever we could to help this patient," said Peter M. DeComo, chairman and chief executive of ALung Technologies.

Drs. Bermudez and Crespo worked with Diana Zaldonis, M.P.H., B.S.N., in the Division of Cardiac Surgery, to notify Food and Drug Administration officials of the intent to use the Hemolung RAS, which isn't approved for use in the U.S., and to get emergency approval from the local hospital officials. Meanwhile, Mr. DeComo drove with another ALung official in the middle of the night to Toronto, where the closest Hemolung RAS was available.

"Jon's story is a tremendous example of the depth of the work we do here every day. Most hospitals across the country couldn't handle a situation as complex as Jon's, but we can because of our collective experience and an extensive team that includes transplant surgeons, pulmonologists, nurses and so many more," said James D. Luketich, M.D., chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. "

Mr. Sacker will remain in Pittsburgh for several months during his recovery, with his wife splitting her time between here and their hometown in Oklahoma. He said he's looking forward to getting back home, where he had been a runner and public speaker spreading the word about the importance of organ donation after writing the book "Imperfect Perfection."

"Out of all of the transplant centers we could have come to, we came here to Pittsburgh," he said. "It's a miracle that's just not explainable. You just have to thank God."

News Directors: Video is available of Mr. Sacker on the Hemolung RAS device at youtu.be/Uwe1-LN8P-4.






July 1, 2014 - Altoona Emerging as a Regional Provider of UPMC's World-Class Care


ALTOONA, July 1, 2014 — The process of bringing to this area new medical services and the high quality medical care of UPMC is accelerating.

Today, July 1, is the one-year anniversary of the hospital becoming UPMC Altoona. UPMC is a world-renowned Pittsburgh health system rated No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 10 in the country in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals.

UPMC Altoona President Jerry Murray says there has been significant progress toward making Altoona a regional hub for UPMC's world-class care, and exciting plans are emerging for bringing new and enhanced medical services to this area.

Here is a partial list of plans:
  • Telemedicine for doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to evaluate patients here will be used in our ER and Maternity unit by late summer or early fall. This brings the expertise of one of the top 10 children's hospitals in the nation* to Altoona's ER and labor and delivery unit. (*According to U.S. News & World Report)
  • UPMC Altoona will partner with Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC to make world-class breast care conveniently available to women in our region. Magee-Womens Hospital's experts and UPMC Altoona will work together to coordinate care.
  • The transplant clinic at Station Medical Center that now serves only kidney transplant patients will expand soon for liver transplant patients. Patients will have surgery at UPMC in Pittsburgh, but the clinic will save them many trips to and from Pittsburgh for pre- and post-operative care. Patients needing transplants can be very sick, and this will be a great relief for them.
  • The hospital plans to break ground in the fall for Logan Medical Center, an 85,000-square-foot medical complex on Logan Boulevard between Altoona and Hollidaysburg. The facility will offer hospital and physician services in a state-of-the-art complex.
  • A new radiation oncologist will join Jack Schocker, M.D., at UPMC CancerCenter. Joshua Siglin, M.D., is from the residency program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and will begin seeing patients here Aug. 1. Dr. Siglin has special skills in stereotactic radiosurgery, a process that can deliver high doses of radiation to the target area with minimal exposure to the healthy tissue that surrounds it. Another specialist, Elliott Bilofsky, D.O., is joining our medical staff this month. This is another success that can be credited to the UPMC affiliation. Dr. Bilofsky is an experienced and innovative ear, nose and throat, head and neck, facial plastic and cosmetic surgeon. He will be performing surgeries that have been unavailable here, keeping patients in Altoona who would otherwise need to leave town.
  • Adrian Clayton, D.O., will join Elite Orthopedics, a UPMC practice, Sept. 29. Dr. Clayton has completed a fellowship in adult joint replacement and reconstruction and will offer the latest in minimally invasive hip and knee replacement and reconstruction surgery, as well as expertise in revision surgeries.
How UPMC Altoona Will Provide the World-Class Care of UPMC
Most significantly, integration with UPMC also means incorporating its care, quality, and patient safety enhancements into UPMC Altoona.

Linnane Batzel, M.D., UPMC Altoona's senior VP for Quality and Medical Affairs, said integration with UPMC involves much more than just a name change.

"We have an extraordinary opportunity to learn and grow with a world-class organization and the leading health care system in Pennsylvania," Dr. Batzel said. "At UPMC Altoona, we have always made improvement in quality and patient safety a priority, and now we have the vast resources and experience of UPMC to push that goal further."

Dr. Batzel, who participates in monthly meetings with her UPMC colleagues to discuss challenges and systemwide solutions, said the following clinical integration is occurring:

UPMC Altoona is already adopting the UPMC protocols for care. This must occur gradually as staff education accompanies every change in process or protocol.

Physician credentialing will become integrated in October.

The launch of an outpatient electronic medical record (EMR) will include some decision rules and protocols. Our inpatient EMR will be changed over in April 2015 and will include UPMC care plans and protocols.

UPMC Altoona's systems improvement and quality staffs are working closely with UPMC's Donald D. Wolff Jr. at the Center for Quality, Safety, and Innovation. We are working with their specialists on fall prevention and benchmarking with other UPMC facilities on Core Measures, hand washing, and other patient safety initiatives and outcomes.

We are improving communication and collaboration between our Altoona physicians and Pittsburgh-based physicians through telemedicine, outreach clinics, and participation on committees and teams that select new protocols and technology for the system.

Our pharmacy leadership participates in the central "Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee" and brings research and recommendations back for our use and incorporation into our practice.






June 30, 2014 - University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Appoints Dario Vignali, Ph.D., New Vice-Chair of Immunology


PITTSBURGH, June 30, 2014 — Renowned researcher Dario Vignali, Ph.D., will join the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on July 1 as the vice-chair of the Department of Immunology. He also will co-direct both the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the recently expanded Tumor Microenvironment Center.

According to Mark Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Immunology, "Dr. Vignali is an eminent scientist with a stellar publication record. For the last two decades, he has produced innovative research focusing on identifying and understanding the disease pathways that prevent the immune system from eliminating cancer cells, as well as the causes of autoimmune disorders."

"We now stand at an unprecedented point in time when immunotherapy is starting to have a substantial impact on clinical care," said Dr. Vignali. "We have a growing list of novel targets for further therapeutic development and powerful new tools for genomic and mechanistic analysis."

He plans to continue and expand his research in his new role at Pitt; one of his labs, in the Department of Immunology, will focus on analysis of immune cell function in mouse model systems and disease models of cancer and autoimmune disease, and his second lab, at UPCI, will work on inhibitory immune pathways in human cancers.

Dr. Vignali's research findings have been published in some of immunology's leading journals, and he has been awarded five patents worldwide with several more awaiting approval. He also is a current member of the scientific advisory boards at two biopharmaceutical companies.

Since 1993, Dr. Vignali worked at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as vice-chair of its immunology department since 2008. He taught in the Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center since 1996.

He received his undergraduate education at North East London Polytechnic, now East London University, and completed his doctoral studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the University of London. Dr. Vignali completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one at the Institute for Immunology and Genetics at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, and the second in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University.

Dr. Vignali moved to Pittsburgh with his wife, Kate, who works as a scientist in his laboratory, and two of their four children.






June 30, 2014 - New Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Center Improves Access in Southern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia


ALTOONA, June 30, 2014 — Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is opening a new specialty care center in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania, so that families in southern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia will be able to access the world-class care of Children's physicians who will travel to the center on a regular basis. The center
opens Tuesday, July 1.

Children's Specialty Care Center Mt. Morris is located near Morgantown, West Virginia. Outpatient services offered at the new site, including diagnostic evaluations and follow-up care, are:
  • Allergy
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Pulmonary Medicine
The new center enhances Children's already robust offerings around the region, with specialty care centers in Chippewa, Erie, Hermitage, Johnstown and Wheeling.

"We are delighted to bring our pediatric expertise closer to home for the residents of southern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia with the finest pediatric specialty care possible," said Kathy Guatteri, vice president, Outpatient Services at Children's Hospital. "The same physicians who care for patients at our main campus in Lawrenceville will be traveling regularly to Mt. Morris to provide families in the region the highest quality care we offer."

Location and contact information:

Children's Hospital Specialty Care Center Mt. Morris

120 Locust Avenue Extension
Mt. Morris, Pa., 15349
Phone: 724-324-9004

For more information on Children's Hospital Specialty Care Centers, visit www.chp.edu/CHP/carecenter.






June 30, 2014 - UPMC Altoona to Celebrate Affiliation Anniversary


ALTOONA, June 30, 2014 — UPMC Altoona will celebrate the first anniversary of its affiliation with UPMC tomorrow.

It was July 1, 2013, when Altoona Regional Health System's affiliation with the world-renowned Pittsburgh health system took effect. UPMC is rated No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 10 in the country in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals.

UPMC Altoona President Jerry Murray says much progress is being made in the integration process, especially in important clinical areas.

"Significantly, we are transitioning to UPMC's clinical quality initiatives and programs, toward a goal of making Altoona a hub for UPMC's world-class care," Murray said. "This means people in our area will be able to access more-specialized medicine and advanced treatments closer to where they live.

"Our board's choice of UPMC as an affiliation partner has been validated by what has happened to date and what lies ahead."

Murray plans to meet with the media tomorrow (July 1) to talk about exciting plans for bringing new health services to this region.

Here is a partial list of accomplishments to date:
  • One of the first enhancements was UPMC Altoona joining UPMC's MedCall system, which allows for a smoother, faster transfer of patients to UPMC facilities. The streamlined process immediately enhanced patient care.
  • The integration of our radiation oncology cancer services into UPMC CancerCenter continues, and brings to our region world-class cancer care, backed by best practices, leading-edge treatments, and cancer clinical trials. UPMC CancerCenter's partner - the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute - is the region's only Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute.
  • A transplant clinic has been established at Station Medical Center to serve kidney transplant patients in our region before and after their procedure. Patients will have surgery at UPMC in Pittsburgh, but the clinic will save them many trips to and from Pittsburgh for pre- and post-operative care. Patients needing transplants can be very sick, and this will be a great relief for them.
  • UPMC Altoona has established a new family practice office in Huntingdon, where we will also have several specialists and eventually a new facility. It is part of forming a UPMC health network for central Pennsylvania with UPMC Bedford.
  • UPMC Altoona's many physician practices are moving toward an electronic medical record with a "one patient, one record" system. Wherever patients go in the UPMC system, their medical chart will be available instantly to their UPMC health care providers. Another streamlined process that can enhance patient care.
    • The enhancement also allows patients to sign up for MyUPMC, a FREE, online tool that serves as a direct line of communication with their physician's office.
    • MyUPMC allows patients to: * Get advice securely from their physician * Request appointments * Renew prescriptions * View test results and medical history * Pay bills or ask billing questions * Manage family health records * Track chronic conditions * Have online medical visits with UPMC AnywhereCare.
    • Practices include: * Blair Medical Associates * Mainline Medical Associates * Southern Alleghenies Elite Orthopedics * Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates * Patton Family Medical Center.
About UPMC
A world-renowned health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of accountable, cost-effective, patient-centered care. It provides more than $887 million a year in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region's most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 62,000 employees, 22 hospitals, 400 doctors' offices and outpatient sites, a nearly 2.3-million-member health insurance division, and international and commercial operations. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC ranks No. 10 in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals - and No. 1 in Pennsylvania. For more information, go to UPMC.com.






June 27, 2014 - Sex Hormone Levels at Midlife Linked to Bad Cholesterol Carriers that Increase Heart Disease Risk in Women


ALTOONA, June 27, 2014 — As hormone levels change during the transition to menopause, the quality of a woman's cholesterol carriers degrades, leaving her at greater risk for heart disease, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health discovered.

The first-of-its-kind evaluation, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was done using an advanced method to characterize cholesterol carriers in the blood and is published in the July issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.

The results call for further research to evaluate the menopause-related dynamic changes in sex hormones on the quality of cholesterol carriers over time, as well as increased emphasis on the importance of healthy diet and exercise for women undergoing menopause.

"Higher levels of HDL, or what we know as 'good cholesterol,' may not always be as protective as we had thought before," said lead investigator Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology.

Dr. El Khoudary explains that normal levels of LDL, or "bad cholesterol," do not imply normal cholesterol levels in all individuals. Rather, quality of cholesterol carriers may provide more accurate information about risk related to levels of cholesterol.

"We found that lower levels of estradiol, one of the main hormonal changes that mark menopause, are associated with low-quality cholesterol carriers, which have been found to predict risk for heart disease," she said. "Our results suggest that there may be value in using advanced testing methods to evaluate changes in cholesterol carriers' quality in women early in menopause so that doctors can recommend appropriate diet and lifestyle changes."

Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in small particles called lipoproteins, or cholesterol carriers. Conventional blood tests show the amount of cholesterol carried by these lipoproteins, rather than the characteristics of the lipoproteins themselves. There are two major types of lipoproteins: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries, and low density lipoprotein (LDL), the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. Research studies have shown that the characteristics of LDL and HDL particles, including the number and size of these particles, significantly predict risk of heart disease.

Previous studies evaluating the associations between sex hormones and cardiovascular disease as women went through menopause looked only at cholesterol measured through conventional blood tests. Dr. El Khoudary and her colleagues used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure the size, distribution and concentration of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood.

The Pitt Public Health team found that as estrogen levels fall, women have higher concentrations of low-quality, smaller, denser LDL and HDL particles, which are associated with greater risk of heart disease. The conventional blood tests often don't pick up on such a nuance in particle size.

The study evaluated 120 women from Pittsburgh who were enrolled in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were an average of 50 ½ years old and not on hormone replacement therapy.

SWAN is an ongoing study of the biological, physical, psychological and social changes in more than 3,000 middle aged women who were recruited at seven sites across the U.S. The goal is to help scientists, health care providers and women learn how mid-life experiences affect health and quality of life during aging.

"As a woman transitions to menopause, many biological changes take place that can put her at greater risk of many conditions, including osteoporosis and heart disease," said Dr. El Khoudary. "Our most recent study underscores the importance of having clinicians aware of these risk factors and prepared to work with their patient to help her best mitigate these risks."

Dr. El Khoudary is collaborating with other scientists to identify funding to study a larger sample of women over time to definitively tie changes in hormone levels and the quality of cholesterol carriers with heart disease.

Additional authors on this study are Maria M. Brooks, Ph.D., Rebecca C. Thurston, Ph.D., and Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D., all of Pitt.

This research is supported by NIH grants U01NR004061, U01AG012505, U01AG012535, U01AG012531, U01AG012539, U01AG012546, U01AG012553, U01AG012554, U01AG012495, HL065581 and HL065591.






June 26, 2014 - Children's Express Care to Open New Location in West Mifflin


PITTSBURGH, June 26, 2014 Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will open a new Express Care center in West Mifflin on Tuesday, July 1. Children's Express Care-West Mifflin will be open after hours and on weekends and feature Children's physicians who can provide treatment for minor injuries and illnesses.

Like existing Children's Express Care centers, the West Mifflin center will be open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from Noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. No appointments are necessary and free parking is available on site. Most health insurances will be accepted and copayments generally will be much less than for visits to emergency departments.

Children's operates four other Express Care centers in Bethel Park, Lawrenceville, Monroeville, and Wexford.

"We are pleased to offer after-hours care to families in West Mifflin and surrounding areas, as the need for extended hours has increased," said Raymond Pitetti, M.D., medical director of Children's Express Care. "We look forward to expanding our ranges of pediatric services with talented medical experts from Children's Hospital."

Treatment at the new location will include:
  • animal bites
  • bee stings
  • bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma attacks
  • colds, fever, flu and other viral illnesses
  • cuts, bumps, lacerations, abrasions and splinters
  • ear, throat and sinus infections
  • earaches
  • incisions and abscess drainage
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration assessment
  • pink eye
  • rashes, poison ivy and allergic reactions
  • simple fractures, twists, sprains, strains and dislocations
  • splinting
  • tick bites
  • urinary tract infections
X-ray services and a variety of other tests also will be offered at the locations.

If a child's injury or illness requires emergency care, Express Care patients will be transported to the Emergency Department at Children's Hospital's main campus in Lawrenceville. Express Care patients requiring follow-up care will be referred back to their own pediatricians with an update of the outcome of the visit.

Location and contact information:
Children's Express Care-West Mifflin

1907 Lebanon Church Road, Suite 201
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15122
Phone: 412-653-8520

For more information on Children's Express Care Centers, visit www.chp.edu/express.






June 25, 2014 - Nii-Daako P. Darko, D.O. Receives Certification


Nii-Daako P. Darko, DO, of UPMC Altoona's Trauma/Emergency General Surgery received his certification by the American Board of Surgery through December 2024
ALTOONA, June 20, 2014 — Nii-Daako P. Darko, DO, of UPMC Altoona's Trauma/Emergency General Surgery received his certification by the American Board of Surgery through December 2024.

He received his osteopathic medical degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences - College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed his general surgery residency training at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga.

Dr. Darko has completed a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of Miami.






June 25, 2014 - Lowering Toxicity of New HIV Drugs Predicted to Improve Life Expectancy


PITTSBURGH, June 25, 2014 — While bringing new drugs to market is important for increasing life expectancy in younger people with HIV, lowering the toxicity of those drugs may have an even greater health impact on all HIV patients, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis reveals.

The research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published June 25 in the journal PLOS ONE, used a computer simulation to examine what would happen if guidelines for starting HIV treatment took into account the rate of new drug development and the toxicity of those drugs.

"The side effects of treatment remain one of the primary reasons that HIV drug regimens are discontinued," said senior author Mark Roberts, M.D., M.P.P., professor and chair of Pitt Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management. "By decreasing the toxicity and side effects of HIV drugs, you increase the amount of time that patients can stay on that life-saving treatment regimen. Some side effects, such as increased cardiovascular risk, also cause problems that directly contribute to premature mortality."

The simulation, which built upon a model developed at New York University School of Medicine, found that if the toxicity of new HIV drugs is reduced compared to existing drugs, those new drugs will increase the patient's quality-adjusted life expectancy by as much as 11 percent, or more than 3 years.

"Quality-adjusted life years" and "quality-adjusted life expectancy" are measures that analysts use to determine the value of different medical actions. For example, a potentially life-saving drug that was highly toxic and left a patient debilitated would have a lower value than a life-saving drug that didn't have such side effects.

New HIV drugs are approved for market nearly twice a year and recently revised World Health Organization guidelines on the initiation of HIV treatment recommend that, with this rate of drug development, all HIV patients start treatment before their immune system is significantly compromised.

Pitt Public Health's simulation backed this recommendation, finding that, even at current drug toxicity levels, young people with HIV add nearly two years to their lives by initiating HIV treatment regimens soon after infection.

Antiretroviral therapy for HIV typically consists of the combination of at least three drugs that help control HIV. However, over time, these drugs become less effective.

In younger patients, doctors have tended to wait longer to start antiretroviral therapy because those patients will have to be on the drugs the longest in order to live an average lifespan. As such, they'll need the drugs to be effective longer and have fewer side effects.

"This availability of new drugs means that as the drugs a patient is on become less effective, doctors can adjust the therapy to use a new, more effective drug," said Dr. Roberts. "And if that new drug has a low toxicity and is well-tolerated by the patient, then they are more likely to take it regularly so that it is as effective as possible."

Additional researchers on this study are Amin Khademi, Ph.D., of Clemson University; R. Scott Braithwaite, M.D., M.S., and Kimberly Nucifora, M.S., both of New York University; Denis Saure, Ph.D., of the University of Chile; and Andrew J. Schaefer, Ph.D., of Pitt.

This research was funded by NSF grant CMMI-0546960, NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant 1R01AI099970 and NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant 1R01AA017385.






June 24, 2014 - Pitt Researchers Receive $1.8 Million to Build Unique ECG Database, Study Effectiveness of CPR


PITTSBURGH, June 24, 2014 — University of Pittsburgh researchers have received $1.8 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, to create a unique database of electrocardiogram (ECG) information that could one day be used to better guide real-time decision making during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for cardiac arrest. The database would be the largest repository of its kind and could lead to new ways to evaluate CPR and patient outcomes.

"We will make use of this information to better understand how the quality of CPR might change the ECG patterns, and then link that to the outcomes of the patient all the way to discharge. If we can see what works best, we can further refine CPR interventions and save more lives," said lead investigator James Menegazzi, Ph.D., Endowed Professor of Resuscitation Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Nearly 351,000 Americans experience a sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital, and fewer than 7 percent survive to hospital discharge. Many of those patients suffer from ventricular fibrillation (VF), a condition in which erratic contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart impairs the pumping of blood to the lungs and the body. VF is a common cause of cardiac arrest and typically is treated with defibrillation, or a shock, to correct the rhythm, which can look like irregular waves or spikes on the ECG.

The multi-center study will examine data from 10,000 ECG reports collected by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC), a clinical research network funded by the NHLBI. The research team has created a data management and analytic platform that converts ECG information into a uniform format, which will allow them to identify and measure waveform differences and assess which VF episodes respond better to defibrillation than others.

Dr. Menegazzi and his team will examine ECG and clinical data from the ROC to identify associations between specific VF patterns and clinical presentations, CPR quality and patient survival rates.






June 20, 2014 - Linnane Batzel, M.D., MBA, Receives Certifications


Linnane Batzel, M.D., MBA, Receives Certifications
ALTOONA, June 20, 2014 — Linnane Batzel, M.D., MBA, received her recertification by the American Board of Emergency Medicine through 2023. Dr. Batzel, who serves as senior vice president, Quality/Medical Affairs, and chief medical officer, has been named a certified physician executive by the Certifying Commission in Medical Management (CCMM).

A certified physician executive is a licensed M.D. or D.O. who has one year of management experience, 150 hours of tested management education or a management degree, is board-certified in a specialty, has three years of clinical experience after residency and fellowship, and has successfully passed the 3 1/2 -day CCMM certification program.






June 20, 2014 - Blair County Dairy Princess Visits Family


Blair County Dairy Princess Visits Family
ALTOONA, June 20, 2014 — Katherine Orczeck, 2013 Blair County Dairy Princess, visited the first June baby born at UPMC Altoona. Alex­ander Morrison is the son of Bretton Morrison and Autumn Hatch and the new brother of Bretton Morrison Jr., 6, and Mirriana Morrison, 3. Alex­ander was born at 2:18 a.m. June 1, weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 19 ½ inches long. The dairy princess brought a bag of treats, including a stuffed cow for the baby and parents and a sticker book for each sibling.

The visit celebrates June as Dairy Month.






June 20, 2014 - Patient Access Manager Retires


ALTOONA, June 20, 2014 — Cheryl McKendree, manager, Patient Access, retired June 3 with 26 years of service. Cheryl was hired Oct. 12, 1987, as an Admission/Outpatient Registration clerk.






June 18, 2014 - Ovation Revenue Cycle Solutions Offers New Coding Service to Help Hospitals with Transition to ICD-10


PITTSBURGH, June 18, 2014Ovation Revenue Cycle Solutions, part of leading health care provider UPMC, today announced that it is offering a coding service that blends leading coding resources and technologies to drive efficiency and create superior results. Ovation Coding will help hospitals big and small with the struggle to complete coding rapidly, accurately and on budget.

Developed and tested at UPMC, Ovation Coding will help hospitals and physician practices as they face a growing shortage of skilled coders with the industry's move to ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes by October 2015, a five-fold increase in the codes currently used for documentation and billing. Using experienced ICD-9 and ICD-10 coders, as well as best-of-breed coding and quality assurance technologies, Ovation Coding is designed to supplement a hospital's existing staff. Experts already estimate a 30 percent shortfall in coders, even before the transition to ICD-10 increases the work load and slows productivity.

"The conversion to ICD-10 poses enormous resource, technology and financial challenges to all hospitals and exposes them to financial and regulatory risk," said April Langford, chief executive officer of Ovation Revenue Cycle Solutions. "Ovation Coding has been tested successfully in facilities of all sizes at UPMC, one of the nation's leading integrated health care delivery and financing systems, and across every hospital department. Our results demonstrate that Ovation's unique coupling of coding resources and auditing technologies improves quality, lowers costs and reduces risk."

Ovation Revenue Cycle Solutions, formerly Prodigo Revenue Cycle Services, is adding Ovation Coding to its broad portfolio of revenue cycle technologies, which automate activities and minimize manual intervention throughout the revenue cycle. Ovation Coding's features include:
  • Access to high-quality, scalable coding resources
  • Electronic review of all charts for risk and regulatory compliance, plus audits by Ovation quality assurance teams
  • Secure, HIPAA-compliant information technology infrastructure and disaster recovery
  • Customized implementation and continuous process improvement for clinical documentation
  • Comprehensive reporting
  • Proactive account management
For more information, visit www.OvationRCS.com.






June 18, 2014 - Let's Move Blair County Campaign Launches


Let's Move Blair County Campaign logo
ALTOONA, June 18, 2014 Saturday is the first day of summer and the Healthy Blair County Coalition offers a great way to celebrate, with scores of healthy lifestyle activities in each part of Blair County as part of the Let's Move Blair County program launch.

Let's Move Blair County is an ongoing, countywide effort to promote physical activity and healthy eating among all age groups. The goal of Let's Move Blair County is to help communities make better health choices.

For practical how-to tips to get started, visit one of the following locations Saturday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.:

Altoona - Mansion Park
Bellwood/Tyrone - Northern Blair Rec Center
Hollidaysburg - Tiger Stadium
Spring Cove/Claysburg - Through Inc. (old East Freedom Elementary School)
Williamsburg - 2nd and High streets

For a complete list of activities at each site, visit
www.healthyblaircountycoalition.org
www.letsmove.gov
LetsMoveBlairCounty/facebook

Altoona residents can learn about and participate in ongoing activities at Mansion Park including: Hip Hop Dance and Silver Sneakers by Brick House, Bloom Yoga leading yoga/mindfulness exercises, Zumba, and exercises to do at home, agility training, games and dodge ball by Altoona Area High School coaches and athletes, fitness tips, cooking demos, gardening for sustainability, healthy portions and nutrition tips by UPMC Altoona, a farmers market, and stress reduction. Plus blood pressure screenings and BMI.

Bellwood/Tyrone residents will find information on how to eat healthy, obtain blood pressure and blood screenings for basic cholesterol and blood sugar, how to be tobacco-free from Blair Drug & Alcohol, and drug/alcohol/mental health information from Pyramid Health Care, and information about WIC from Home Nursing Agency. For children, sack races, water balloon toss, a home run derby and basketball shoot out with GUN! Martial Arts learning to move and a scavenger hunt.

Hollidaysburg features running demos and fun runs, food and beverage demos and samples, Zumba and yoga demos, Blair Bicycle Club, American Family Chiropractic, DoTerra Oils, UFC Fighter Charlie Brenneman and Silver Sneakers. Plus, giveaways and door prizes.

Spring Cove/Claysburg residents will enjoy a demonstration of Golden Zumba by Blair Senior Services, gymnastics by the Garver Memorial YMCA team, martial arts demo, blood pressure screenings, a dietitian sharing healthy nutrition tips provided by Nason Hospital and consultations and advice from Pro-Care. Ongoing games and activities include bean bag toss, horseshoes, croquet, hop scotch, four square, relay races, corn hole toss, tug of war, sack races, jump rope competition and more.

Williamsburg area residents can partake in running groups, historic walking tours, children's activities by Williamsburg Summer Recreation, Zumba, Zumba toning, Shaun-T class and more.






June 16, 2014 - Depressive Symptoms Associated With Premature Mortality in Type 1 Diabetes


PITTSBURGH, June 16, 2014 — People with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of premature death as their number of depressive symptoms increases, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis reveals.

The findings were presented in a press conference at the American Diabetes Association's 74th Scientific Sessions in San Francisco and used data collected through the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, a long-term study of health complications in people with type 1 diabetes.

"Through the 25 years that we've been running this study, we've found that there's a lot more to diabetes than high blood sugar," said senior author Trevor Orchard, M.D., professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. "This link between premature mortality and depression adds to our previous findings, which show that depressive symptomatology predicts cardiovascular disease and demonstrates that doctors need to consider more than adjusting insulin doses when treating type 1 diabetes."

Lead author Cassie Fickley, M.P.H., C.P.H., analyzed data on 458 study participants with type 1 diabetes who were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory, a 32-point scale that measures depressive symptoms ranging from loss of appetite to suicidal tendencies. People who score 16 or more points are considered likely to be clinically depressed.

"For every one-point increase on the scale, participants showed a 4 percent increase in risk for mortality, even after controlling for other relevant factors, such as age, gender, smoking, cholesterol levels and high blood pressure," said Ms. Fickley, a doctoral student in Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology. "That's a significant increase and is something we'll need to explore more to determine if treating depression would translate into lower mortality in people with type 1 diabetes."

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and happens when the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar into energy. The disease can lead to nerve, kidney, eye and heart complications but can be controlled with insulin therapy and other treatments.

The Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study is an investigation to document long-term complications of type 1 diabetes among patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh between 1950 and 1980. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study recently was renewed for another five years.

"It is thanks to the volunteers who participate in this study that we are able to make discoveries like this that will contribute to better therapies and life expectancy for children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes today and in the future," said Dr. Orchard.

Additional authors on this study are Tina Costacou, Ph.D., of Pitt; and Cathy E. Lloyd, Ph.D., of the Open University in the United Kingdom.






June 11, 2014 - Maternity Leads 'Angels' in Fundraiser for March of Dimes


Maternity Leads 'Angels' in Fundraiser for March of Dimes
ALTOONA, June 11, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's "Angels in the Outfield" team, led by Maternity, participated in the March for Babies on May 17. The team raised $3,150 for the March of Dimes.

Participating were (from left): first row - Kira Steele, Amanda Steele, Jackie Beck, Cadence Caruthers, Nicole Ellick, Maura Eberhart, Mason Eberhart, Emily Hamer and Deanna Steele; second row - Addison Peacock, Kayla Peacock, Becki Beck, Laura Skebeck, Christa Eberhart, Abbey Shomo and Kim Hamer; third row - Pam Pellas, Deb Oshell, Jared Pufka, Sonia Wible and Mike Hamer.






June 11, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in July


ALTOONA, June 11, 2014 — UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in July as a public service to the community. They are listed alphabetically according to where they are held.

Support groups meeting at the hospital, 620 Howard Ave., use the Allegheny and Bedford rooms and the Rotunda on the 6th floor of the Outpatient Center, and Dining Room A in the Cafeteria on Tower 4.

Alzheimer's Disease Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, Allegheny Room, 6th floor, Outpatient Center. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Bariatric Support Group by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates offers education, speakers and support for people who will have or have had bariatric surgery, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, in the Allegheny Room. Call 889-2557.

Breastfeeding Support Group is offered 10 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, July 3, at Hoss's in Duncansville. Call 889-3123.

The Depression and Bipolar Self-Help Group meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in Dining Room A. Call 889-2141.

Parkinson's Support Group meets Monday, July 28, at Hoss's, Altoona. Call 889-2141.

Support Group for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One Through Suicide meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 16, in the conference room in the Access Center, Building C, Blair Medical Center, 501 Howard Ave. The group helps people who have experienced or are experiencing specific feelings they can share with others in the aftermath of a suicide death and are seeking emotional support to cope with specific grief issues. Call 889-2141.

The following support groups meet at Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue. For the Conference Room, use the K4 entrance next to Fresenius Dialysis. For the Sleep Center, use the main entrance. The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department offers convenient parking and a patient drop-off area on the 17th Street side of the building.

The Breast Cancer Support Group meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 3, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

Freedom from Smoking/Tobacco class meets 1:30 to 3:30 or 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday from July 15 through Aug. 26 in the Conference Room. Call 889-2630.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, July 2 and 16, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2132.

La Leche League meets 10 a.m. to noon Monday, July 14, in the Conference Room. Call 934-0466.

Sleep Apnea Support Group, for those using CPAP and BiPAP therapy, meets at 6 p.m. July 22 in the Sleep Center waiting room.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15. Call 515-4624 for location.

Wheelchair Clinics will be held at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 8, in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. Physician referral and appointment required. Call 889-4463.






June 10, 2014 - UPMC Altoona unveils murals donated by Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society students


UPMC Altoona unveils murals donated by
Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society students
ALTOONA, June 10, 2014 — UPMC Altoona, Altoona Area School District representatives, teachers and Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society students Monday unveiled a series of railroad-themed murals designed to enhance the hospital's area at Station Medical Center.

The art's purpose is to provide pure visual enjoyment to uplift spirits, stimulate conversation, and recall the rich history of Altoona and Blair County for patients, their family members and passers-by, according to the National Art Honor Society students.

The three-canvas mural is based on photographs taken by Dave Seidel, a local photographer.

Friends of UPMC Altoona served as the artists' benefactor, donating the funds necessary to buy raw materials.

"It is our pleasure to play a part in the development of the arts in the Altoona area," said Peggy Cawthern, president of Friends of UPMC Altoona. "We are once again pleased that we were able to contribute the materials to the art students of AAHS and again we see their talents unfold. Our community is truly blessed to have such talented young men and women who, with the guidance of their teachers, have produced an impressive piece of artwork for all of our community to enjoy.

"Here we see our youth invest themselves into their community through artistic vision."

Friends of UPMC Altoona raises funds to benefit patients and employees. This is the second consecutive year for the collaboration between Friends and art students. A year ago, the students donated nine canvases depicting different Altoona neighborhoods, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Baker Mansion, Blair County Courthouse, The Mishler Theatre, and the Altoona Railroader's Museum, which now hang in public areas of the hospital.

Again this year, Altoona Area High School art instructors and National Art Honor Society advisors Sharon Wall, Ron Bowser and Laura Kozdra supervised the students.

National Art Honor Society student and hospital volunteer Brandi Wilt drew the images onto the canvases over several months, investing about 20 hours in the sketches. Then, other honor society students completed the works. Brandi volunteers in the hospital gift shop.

"These paintings are truly a group project," Sharon Wall said. "National Art Honor Society members have worked on them over the school year, after school, when they had extra time in class and in conjunction with the community service program at the high school.

"For the students working on the designs, it was like putting a puzzle together. It took concentration, accuracy and painstaking work with the details. Most of the time, the students had to focus on one small area of shapes at a time. I applaud the commitment of these students to create such accurate, yet creative, scenes from Altoona's railroad heritage."

Students who worked on the project are: Casandra Banks, Chandra Banks, Jaley Blackie, Vanessa Blanchard, Ayla Conrad, Destiny Eames, Kathryn Elder, Orianna Green, Amber Gordon, Brooklyn Haugh, Alyssa Hughes, Molly Malone, Stephanie Mock, Madeline Quinn, Delaney Sheetz, Kristen Stoltenberg, Olivia Walter, Avery Wilkes, and Brandi Wilt.

Here are some comments by the students as part of written reflections.

Casandra Banks: "I am hoping people visiting (the outpatient center) will be able to enjoy these artworks. I think older people will enjoy them most because they are of trains."

Chandra Banks: "I hope this mural will look nice in the (outpatient center) and will let people have something to look at while waiting or visiting. I think people of all ages will like this artwork, but especially the younger people because of the bold bright colors that we used."

Destiny Eames: "I hope this mural will be a relief for the patients at (the outpatient center), who may be worried over medical issues or appointments. I think any age group will enjoy this work. The contrasting colors will catch the eyes of children, and the images of the trains are Altoona's foundation."

Amber Gordon: "I hope this project will continue to make Blair County a more beautiful place. Filling the community with art makes it a happier and brighter place to live. I believe the elderly will like this artwork the most because they are the ones who appreciate Altoona's railroad history the most, because they were alive to see the city at its peak."

Kirsten Stoltenberg: "I hope this mural will bring both happiness and entertainment to those viewing it, entertainment because it's brightly colored and something interesting to look at; happiness because those who enjoy trains will like it and they will bring back memories. Maybe it will even help people to realize their surroundings."

Brandi Wilt: "This has been a good way for me as well as the other art students to give back to the community. The paintings will provide patients with a nice visual while waiting for their appointments and the railroad theme truly represents the history of Altoona."

PHOTO: Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society students and hospital officials unveiled new art located in an outpatient waiting area of UPMC Altoona's area of Station Medical Center. Participants were (from left): Brooklyn Haugh, Madeline Quinn, students; Ron Bowser, art instructor; Orianna Green, Brandi Wilt, Kathryn Elder, Amber Gordon, students; Peggy Cawthern, president, Friends of UPMC Altoona; Laura Kozdra, art instructor; Mike Corso, executive director of Imaging, Cardiology & Radiation Oncology, and Sharon Wall, art instructor.






June 10, 2014 - Experimental Baby Formula Doesn't Prevent Development of Antibodies Associated with Type I Diabetes in Early Childhood


First Large Trial of Type I Diabetes Prevention Approach Still Underway
PITTSBURGH, June 10, 2014 — Early findings from the first large international trial to try to prevent type I diabetes show that infants at risk for the disease who were fed a special baby formula that lacks complex cow milk proteins still made antibodies against the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas by the time the youngest children studied were six years old. Previous studies suggested the experimental formula might prevent the development of the auto-antibodies, which represent inflammatory changes in the organ.

But that doesn't mean the children will definitely develop type I diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), as they get older, caution researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, which is the coordinating center for the American arm of the study. The findings were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In type I diabetes, the body's immune system attacks its own pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. That autoimmune process is thought to start very early in life, explained U.S. principal investigator Dorothy Becker, MBBCh, professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Some smaller studies and animal experiments have shown that exposure during infancy to complex foreign proteins, such as the cow milk proteins in conventional baby formula, is associated with the presence of these autoimmune antibodies in children who have a parent or sibling with the condition and other indications of genetic risk.

"This has been a controversial issue, in part because different natural history studies have come to different conclusions," Dr. Becker said. "We hope that when our intervention trial concludes in February 2017, which is when all the participating children will be at least 10 years old, we should have enough evidence to say whether or not this experimental formula can prevent them from getting Type I diabetes."

From 2002 to 2007 at 78 study sites in 15 countries, the "Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk," or TRIGR, research group randomly assigned 1,078 high-risk infants to be weaned to a "hydrolyzed" formula made almost completely with smaller, less complex casein proteins and 1,081 to get conventional formula, which is made with 80 percent cow milk proteins and 20 percent of the hydrolyzed casein protein. The two formulas were similar in taste and smell so that neither the parents nor researchers could tell the difference between them. Each baby's parents made their own decisions about breastfeeding and age of weaning to formula.

Blood samples from the umbilical cord and at three, six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months of age, and yearly after that to age 10, were tested for antibody levels. After an average of seven years of follow-up -- the youngest participants are now six -- the researchers found no differences in antibody levels between the two groups.

"This tells us that the kind of formula the baby drinks doesn't affect the inflammatory changes going on in the pancreas," Dr. Becker said. "But it doesn't tell us yet whether they will develop diabetes. In one animal study, mice that were fed the experimental formula had the inflammatory markers, but diabetes was almost totally prevented using the same experimental formula. That could be the case with these children, too."

The TRIGR study group includes the Data Management Unit and researchers from six centers in the U.S., centers in Scandinavia led by the University of Helsinki, and centers throughout Canada, Australia and Europe.

The project was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, both part of the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers HD040364, HD042444 and 338 HD051997); the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; and the Commission of the European Communities.






June 10, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Participates in Altoona Curve School Kids' Days


UPMC Altoona Participates in Altoona Curve School Kids' Days
ALTOONA, June 10, 2014 — Four UPMC Altoona departments participated in the Altoona Curve School Kids' Days on May 21 and 22. An estimated 8,000 students, most of elementary age, attended the event.

Nutrition Services' display was entitled "Sugar Shockers" and compared the amount of sugars in various drinks and healthier alternatives.

Respiratory Care Department's visual exhibit showed the harmful effects of tobacco and smoking on the lungs and other organs.

Trauma Service provided information about bike helmet safety, including graphics demonstrating correct and incorrect helmet use.

Partnering for Dental Services gave students toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. Their display also focused on promoting awareness about the amounts of sugar in various drinks and foods - from a dental care perspective.

Photo: UPMC Altoona's Nutrition Services, Respiratory Care Department, Trauma Service and Partnering for Dental Services participated in School Kids' Days at People's Natural Gas Field on May 21 and 22.






June 10, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Named One of America's Top 10 Children's Hospitals


PITTSBURGH, June 10, 2014 Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has been named one of America's Best Children's Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.

Children's Hospital ranks ninth on the magazine's 2014-15 Honor Roll of America's Best Children's Hospitals, which was released today. Children's also ranks in each of the 10 pediatrics specialties ranked by U.S. News. This is the fifth consecutive year Children's has been named to U.S. News' Honor Roll.

The Best Children's Hospitals rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric hospitals in each of 10 specialties: cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; diabetes and endocrinology; gastroenterology and GI surgery; neonatology; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopaedics; pulmonology; and urology.

Children's ranked in the top 25 of all 10 specialties, including fifth in diabetes and endocrinology; sixth in gastroenterology and GI surgery; sixth in pulmonology; eighth in neonatology; and ninth in neurology and neurosurgery.

"Our inclusion on the honor roll and our rankings in each of the 10 specialties speaks to the breadth and depth of our clinical programs," said Christopher Gessner, Children's president. "It speaks to the expertise and commitment of our physicians, nurses and other staff who make Children's Hospital a global leader in pediatric health care."

The 2014-15 Best Children's Hospitals rankings will be released online today and also will be published in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2015 guidebook, available in August.

In addition to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the other hospitals named to U.S. News' Honor Roll of Best Children's Hospitals for 2014-15 are:
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
  • Texas Children's Hospital, Houston
  • Children's Hospital Los Angeles
  • Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora
  • Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
  • Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
  • Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Baltimore






June 9, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Receives 2014 Get With The Guidelines - Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award


UPMC Altoona Receives 2014 Get With The Guidelines - Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award
ALTOONA, June 9, 2014 — Steve Dentel of the American Heart/Stroke Association presented the 2014 Get With The Guidelines - Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award to UPMC Altoona staff members (from left): seated - Janet Ashurst, Neuroscience coordinator; Sandra Lazor, PA-C, Blair Medical Associates Neurology; Deborah Fornwalt-Beiswenger, administrative assistant, Neuroscience, and Christine Dively, RN; standing - Mike Corso, executive director, Imaging, Cardiology, Radiation Oncology; Greg Madison, BS, RRT, manager, Respiratory-Cardiology, Respiratory Care Inpatient; Wen Ying Wu Chen, neurologist, Blair Medical Associates Neurology; Matthew Bouchard, MD, chairman, Emergency Services, and Dentel. The hospital also received the association's Target: Stroke Honor Roll for meeting stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-buster tPA.






June 5, 2014 - Media Alert: UPMC Altoona, Altoona Area School District Collaborate for Beautification Project


WHERE: UPMC Altoona at Station Medical Center. Meet at Greeter Desk.

WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 9

WHAT: To reveal Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society's community service project: a mural for the corridor and patient waiting area that will enhance the patient experience at UPMC Altoona's outpatient area of Station Medical Center.

WHO: Mike Corso, executive director of Imaging, Cardiology & Radiation Oncology; Peggy Cawthern, president, Friends of UPMC Altoona; Altoona Area High School art instructors Sharon Wall, Ron Bowser, Laura Kozdra, and National Art Honor Society students.




June 5, 2014 - As Communities Mourns Tragic Loss Due to Heatstroke, Families Seek Safety Information


ALTOONA, June 5, 2014 — Safe Kids Blair County reminds caregivers of children not to leave children alone in a car to prevent heatstroke that can be fatal. Eight children have died so far this year in the United States because they were left alone in a hot car.

To learn more heatstroke safety tips, visit: www.safekids.org/heatstroke

"These tragedies are absolutely heartbreaking, and a reminder for all of us to be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone in a car," said Sherry Turchetta, coordinator of Safe Kids Blair County and community educator at UPMC Altoona. "Many people are shocked to learn how hot the inside of a car can actually get. And cracking the window doesn't help. That's why Safe Kids is asking everyone to help protect kids from this preventable tragedy by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Bystanders can also help by calling 911 if they see a child alone in a car."

It doesn't have to be the middle of the summer for a child to get overheated. Even with seemingly mild temperatures outside, the temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, making them more susceptible to heatstroke.

To help prevent these tragedies, Safe Kids, with the support of the General Motors Foundation, created Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car (NLYCAC) as part of its Buckle Up program, a national initiative established 17 years ago to keep children and families safe in and around cars.

Together, we can reduce the number of heatstroke deaths and near misses by remembering to ACT.
  • A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you're not in it so kids don't get in on their own.
  • C: Create reminders by putting something on the backseat of your car next to your child, such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you're not following your normal routine.
  • T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
To gain perspective on such a tragic incident, we ask that concerned citizens read "Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?" by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Staff Writer.

Additional prevention information can be found at www.safekids.org/heatstroke, and statistics on child heatstroke deaths can be found at www.ggweather.com/heat.

For more safety information, please visit www.safekids.org.






June 5, 2014 - Health Information Management Employee Promoted


Aurora Ressler of Altoona was recently promoted to manager of the Health Information Management (HIM) Department at UPMC Altoona
ALTOONA, June 5, 2014 — Aurora Ressler of Altoona was recently promoted to manager of the Health Information Management (HIM) Department at UPMC Altoona.

As manager, she plans, organizes, directs and controls workflow throughout the department, managing the clerical, medical record assistants, atlas and Tumor Registry staff. She also ensures that medical records are prepared and scanned into the electronic medical record in a timely manner and that chart completion of the medical record is accomplished within the mandatory guidelines.

She interacts with physicians and other departments to meet their needs in relation to HIM practices.

Ressler started her career in home nursing agencies, gaining coding experience. She held the position as medical record coordinator, then director of several nursing homes. In the acute-care setting, she worked as an outpatient and inpatient medical coder before joining the HIM management team as the HIM database coordinator/trainer and accepting the HIM manager position.

She received her education through York College of Pennsylvania and American Health Information Management Association, achieving a registered health information technician credential.






June 5, 2014 - Stroke/Neurology Unit Opens


Stroke/Neurology Unit Opens


ALTOONA, June 5, 2014 — UPMC Altoona recently opened a Stroke/Neurology Unit with eight private beds and a goal of eventually having 12.

Research has shown that a dedicated stroke unit improves clinical outcomes for patients by having a core group of staff providing consistent stroke care daily, said Jacquie Strawser, director of Critical Care.

Types of patients appropriate for the unit include but are not limited to those with cerebral vascular accident, transient ischemic attack, seizures, and other neurological disorders.

Photo (from left): First row -Jamie Hartman, unit secretary; Beth Eyer, float RN; Michele O'Fiesh, EVS assistant, Tammy Gardner, nursing assistant; second row - Sierra Chamberlain, nursing assistant; Kim Brown, RN; Mike Crum float RN; Joanne Haverstock, unit secretary, Erin Breneman, RN; Heather Seace, nursing assistant, and nurse manager Kevin Pruznak, BSN, RN-BC.






June 5, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Employees Honored for 7,720 Years of Combined Service


UPMC Altoona Employees Honored for 7,720 Years of Combined Service


ALTOONA, June 5, 2014 — UPMC Altoona recently honored 408 employees for their service, which totaled 7,720 years.

Six employees were recognized for 45 years of service each for a total of 270 years of service. Here are how the other categories totaled:
  • 33 employees had 40 years each
  • 54 were recognized for 35 years each
  • 24 employees with 30 years each
  • 42 employees with 25 years each
  • 22 employees with 20 years each
  • 42 employees with 15 years each
  • 95 employees with 10 years each
  • 90 employees with five years each
Two recognition lunches and a breakfast for the honorees were held during Hospital Week (May 11-17), with the theme, "Compassion, Innovation, Dedication: The Commitment Continues." In recognizing the employees and the theme, Jerry Murray, president of UPMC Altoona, said, "People count on all of us on a daily basis because they know that UPMC Altoona is a place where people like you care about them. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, and patients know they can count on your professionalism.

"UPMC Altoona is an impressive health care system filled with amazing technology, but more important, it's a place that takes our patients from illness to wellness. Miracles of all dimensions happen here every day - some we may be acutely aware of and others not."

Employees recognized for 45 years of service were: Dennis Albright, Patient Registration; Drew Appleman, Nuclear Medicine; Patricia Keppler, Case Management; Debra Sadler, Wound Care and Ostomy; Ruth Westley, Case Management and Bonnie Sultage, Systems Improvement. (Photos above for all but Ms. Sadler.)






June 4, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation Receives $2.5 Million Gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation to Establish New Lymphoma Center


PITTSBURGH, June 4, 2014Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation announced today that it has received a $2.5 million gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation to establish a new center for rare and hard-to-treat lymphomas that is expected to benefit children and young adults from around the world.

UPMC will provide matching funds to support the creation of the Mario Lemieux Lymphoma Center for Children and Young Adults at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The center will focus on clinical care as well as laboratory and clinical research surrounding difficult-to-treat childhood lymphomas. It will be led by Linda McAllister-Lucas, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children's Hospital. She is an internationally recognized expert in lymphoma whose laboratory research has provided new insights into the molecular basis of these types of diseases.

Representatives from the Mario Lemieux Foundation, including Mario Lemieux, joined leaders from Children's Hospital and its Foundation for today's announcement. The Mario Lemieux Foundation will donate $2.5 million over seven years, with $2.5 million in matching support from UPMC.

"We are grateful to Mario and Nathalie Lemieux and to the Mario Lemieux Foundation for sharing our vision of a center that capitalizes on our unique expertise to offer hope to a group of patients with a devastating diagnosis," said Greg Barrett, president, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.

Lymphoma is the third most common type of childhood cancer, and in the United States, more than 1,500 children are diagnosed per year with some form of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. While standardized treatment protocols are used for the majority of pediatric lymphoma cases, currently there is no effective treatment for up to 20 percent of patients.

"I was fortunate to have a type of lymphoma that has proven treatments with good outcomes," Mario Lemieux said. "I want to create a place of hope for kids and young adults and their families who are diagnosed with lymphomas that have no known cures."

In addition to the research of Dr. McAllister-Lucas, who has studied rare lymphomas with her husband, Peter Lucas, M.D., Ph.D., since 1999, Ed Prochownik, M.D., Ph.D., and J. Anthony Graves, M.D., Ph.D., both physician scientists within pediatric oncology at Children's, direct research laboratories investigating the mechanisms that underlie the development of lymphoma. The Lemieux gift will now allow Children's to also recruit an expert clinical researcher who can coordinate clinical trials of cutting-edge treatments for lymphomas, improving research that can have a global impact on care. In addition, the gift will foster the growth of the hospital's Survivorship Program to support our patients who survive childhood cancer, the majority of whom have had leukemia and lymphoma.

"Children's and Pittsburgh already had a strong infrastructure in place to provide treatment for lymphomas and other childhood cancers, including a renowned bone marrow transplant program, a cancer program dedicated to adolescents and young adults, and a close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute," said Dr. McAllister-Lucas, who joined Children's and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2012 from the University of Michigan. "The support of the Mario Lemieux Foundation gives us the ability to enhance our basic and clinical research in a way that could lead to improved and potentially new treatments for patients from around the world who currently have very limited options."

The Mario Lemieux Foundation has been an important supporter of Children's for many years. The Foundation endowed a fund for pediatric cancer research, has helped to build beautiful spaces within the hospital that help all our patients, including an Austin's Playroom that is open to all inpatients and offers extended hours, and the Lemieux Sibling Center for young brothers and sisters of patients who have to accompany the family to the hospital, as well as partnered with local Microsoft employees to outfit over 100 inpatient rooms with Xboxes to help distract kids during long hospital stays.






June 4, 2014 - Dad's Alcohol Consumption Could Influence Sons' Drinking, Pitt Mouse Study Finds


PITTSBURGH, June 4, 2014 — Even before conception, a son's vulnerability for alcohol use disorders could be shaped by a father who chronically drinks to excess, according to a new animal study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online Wednesday in PLOS ONE, show male mice that were chronically exposed to alcohol before breeding had male offspring that were less likely to consume alcohol and were more sensitive to its effects, providing new insight into inheritance and development of drinking behaviors.

Previous human studies indicate that alcoholism can run in families, particularly father to son, but to date only a few gene variants have been associated with Alcohol Use Disorder and they account for only a small fraction of the risk of inheriting the problem, said senior investigator Gregg E. Homanics, Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology and pharmacology & chemical biology, Pitt School of Medicine.

"We examined whether a father's exposure to alcohol could alter expression of the genes he passed down to his children," Dr. Homanics said. "Rather than mutation of the genetic sequence, environmental factors might lead to changes that modify the activity of a gene, which is called epigenetics. Our mouse study shows that it is possible for alcohol to modify the dad's otherwise normal genes and influence consumption in his sons, but surprisingly not his daughters."

In the study, he and lead author Andrey Finegersh, M.D./Ph.D. student in the Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology graduate program, chronically exposed male mice over five weeks to intermittent ethanol vapor, leading to blood alcohol levels slightly higher than the legal limit for human drivers. Then, they mated them to females who had not been exposed to alcohol.

Compared to those of ethanol-free sires, adult male offspring of ethanol-exposed mice consumed less alcohol when it was made available and were less likely to choose to drink it over water. Also, they were more susceptible to alcohol effects on motor control and reduction of anxiety.

"We suspected that the offspring of alcohol exposed sires would have an enhanced taste for alcohol, which seems to be the pattern for humans," Mr. Finegersh said. "Whether the unexpected reduction in alcohol drinking that was observed is due to differences between species or the specific drinking model that was tested is unclear."

The researchers plan to examine other drinking models such as binge drinking, identify how alcohol modifies the genes, and explore why female offspring appear unaffected.

The project was funded by grants AA10422 and AA021632 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.






June 4, 2014 - U.S. and International Health Leaders in Pittsburgh for Global Health Conference


WHAT: The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC will host the first U.S. visit of the biennial All Together Better Health conference to highlight the latest research on team-based health care delivery and the changing health care workforce. Keynote speeches and more than 500 research projects from 27 countries will be presented on the topic of interprofessional practice and education, an evolving concept in health care that uses a coordinated team approach to efficiently provide the best and most cost-effective care to each patient. A video illustrating team-based health care in practice at UPMC's Falk Trauma Clinic is available at http://youtu.be/niqKLFd2pTs.

WHO: WHEN: Friday, June 6, through Sunday, June 8; Keynote address by Sir David Nicholson from 8:30 to 10 a.m., Friday

WHERE: The primary conference activities will be held on and around the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland; the keynote address will be in the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum Auditorium, 4141 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh 15213

Note to Media: To cover this event, contact Allison Hydzik at 412-647-9975.






June 3, 2014 - UPMC Bedford Partners with Local Organizations to Offer Health Screenings


WHAT: Health screenings that consist of a series of 28 tests, including cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Results are available the next day and can be sent to primary care physicians. Annually, more than 500 people take advantage of these discounted screenings offered by UPMC Bedford Memorial.

For accurate results, patients must fast for 12 hours and not drink alcohol for 24 hours prior to screening.

Cost is $25 for blood screening and $3 for urinalysis. For an additional $3, test results can be sent directly to the patient. Payment to be made by cash or check only.

Additional screenings available for the September event only:

TSH to check thyroid function — $5.00
AIC to test for diabetic compliance — $5.00
PSA for prostate cancer — $10.00
Osteoporosis — FREE

WHY: As part of its ongoing commitment to area residents, UPMC Bedford is joining local civic organizations to make routine health screenings available and affordable.

WHEN and WHERE: Registration is not required. For more information or to ask specific questions about the screenings, contact the laboratory at 814-623-3506.

*NOTE: This is a new date/location for the September screenings.






June 3, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and Mario Lemieux Foundation to Announce New Center


WHAT: Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and the Mario Lemieux Foundation will announce a new partnership to establish a center expected to benefit children and young adults from around the world.

WHO:
  • Mario Lemieux, Founder, Mario Lemieux Foundation
  • Tom Grealish, President, Mario Lemieux Foundation
  • Linda McAllister-Lucas, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital
  • Greg Barrett, President, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation
WHEN: Noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, June 4

WHERE: Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC; One Children's Hospital Drive; 4401 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville

WHY: The Mario Lemieux Foundation has been an important supporter of Children's for many years. The Foundation endowed a fund for pediatric cancer research, has helped to build beautiful spaces within the hospital that help all our patients, including an Austin's Playroom that is open to all inpatients and offers extended hours, and the Lemieux Sibling Center for young brothers and sisters of patients who have to accompany the family to the hospital, as well as partnered with local Microsoft employees to outfit over 100 inpatient rooms with Xboxes to help distract kids during long hospital stays.

Note to Media: Media interested in covering the event should park in the hospital's main driveway and meet in the lobby to be escorted to the event. Mario Lemieux is not available for one-on-one interviews.




June 2, 2014 - Media Alert - Let's Move Blair County Campaign launch date details.


Let's Move Blair County Campaign logo
WHAT: Let's Move Blair County Campaign launch date details.

WHO: Coleen Heim, Healthy Blair County Coalition (HBCC); Tom Kopriva, chairman, Healthy Lifestyle Work Group, a subcommittee of HBCC.

WHEN: Thursday, June 5, at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Hollidaysburg Area YMCA

WHY: Let's Move Blair County is a countywide program to promote physical activity and healthy eating among all age groups and kicks off June 21 at five sites in Blair County.






June 2, 2014 - Pitt Public Health Names First Katherine M. Detre Chair in Population Health Science


PITTSBURGH, June 2, 2014Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., has been selected as the first Katherine M. Detre Endowed Chair of Population Health Science at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The purpose of this chair is to recruit clinical specialists who are familiar with the methodology of large scale clinical trials to study new therapeutics or novel diagnostic technologies and whether they provide greater value than existing ones.

"An appointment to a named chair is among the highest honors a university can bestow upon a member of its faculty," said Donald S. Burke, M.D., Pitt Public Health dean and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health. "This appointment recognizes and rewards the quality and impact of Dr. Newman's work to date, which has earned deep and widespread respect. It also is an expression of our confidence that in the years ahead, she will continue her important contributions to the field of epidemiology, to the University and to the broader society."

This chair was named after the late Katherine M. Detre, M.D., Dr.P.H., one of the nation's foremost epidemiologists, particularly noted for her leadership of large-scale clinical studies investigating cardiovascular disease. Dr. Detre was a distinguished professor of epidemiology and founded Pitt Public Health's Epidemiology Data Center.

"I am so honored to serve the department in Katherine Detre's name," said Dr. Newman, who is chair of Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology and director of the school's Center for Aging and Population Health. "She was a mentor and a role model for me and for many young faculty in our department. Dr. Detre was an insightful and creative scientist, and she thoroughly enjoyed her work."

Internationally known as an expert in aging and public health, Dr. Newman has been a professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health since 2005. Through research and clinical practice, she has shown people how to remain productive, active and healthy as they age.

Dr. Newman is principal investigator of numerous epidemiologic studies and clinical trials exploring differing aspects of aging, including the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study, the Long Life Family Study, the Cardiovascular Health Study All Stars, the Lifestyle Interventions for Independence in the Elderly study, and the Aspirin to Reduce Events in the Elderly study.






June 2, 2014 - Simple Change to Medicare Part D Would Yield $5 Billion in Savings, Pitt Public Health Finds


PITTSBURGH, June 2, 2014 — The federal government could save over $5 billion in the first year by changing the way the government assigns Part D plans for Medicare beneficiaries eligible for low-income subsidies, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The results of the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will be published in the June issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Medicare Part D provides assistance to beneficiaries below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2013, an estimated 10 million beneficiaries received subsidies, and 75 percent of the total Part D federal spending of $60 billion is for low-income enrollees.

Since 2006, the government has randomly assigned low-income enrollees to stand-alone Part D plans, based upon the region in which they live.

"Random assignment is suboptimal because beneficiaries often are assigned to plans either not covering or charging higher costs for their medications," said Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of health economics, Department of Health Policy and Management, Pitt Public Health, and the study's lead author. "We found that most people are not in the least expensive plans that satisfy their medication needs."

Dr. Zhang and her colleagues say an "intelligent reassignment" that matches beneficiaries to their medication needs would yield substantial savings.

Using real data from 2008 and 2009 for a 5 percent random sample of all Medicare beneficiaries who qualified for the low-income subsidy program, Dr. Zhang and her team simulated potential medication costs to the beneficiaries and the government under each alternative plan available in the region. They then compared the simulated costs with the actual costs of each plan. They found that if low-income enrollees were assigned to the least expensive plan instead of a random plan, the government and beneficiaries could save more than $5 billion in the first year.

In addition to the savings under the proposed change, beneficiaries would have fewer restrictions when filling their prescriptions. Some common restrictions used by Part D plans include quantity limits, prior authorization and step therapy.

The Pitt researchers noted that assigning beneficiaries to plans could be implemented relatively easily each year, with the largest savings in the first year but additional savings annually thereafter.

Additional authors on this study include Seo Hyon Baik, Ph.D., Pitt Public Health Pharmaceutical Economics Research Group, and Chao Zhou, Ph.D., formerly of Pitt Public Health.

The study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality R01HS018657 and the National Institute of Mental Health RC1MH088510 and R21MH100721.






May 27, 2014 - Landmark Clinical Trial Proves Physical Activity Prevents Loss of Mobility in Older Adults


PITTSBURGH, May 27, 2014 — A 20-minute brisk walk around the neighborhood each day could significantly help older adults maintain their ability to walk, according to the results of the longest-running randomized clinical trial evaluating physical activity in the elderly.

The University of Pittsburgh was one of eight field centers that recruited and monitored trial participants. The much-anticipated findings will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando and concurrently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Doctors have long suspected that maintaining or starting physical activity is important in promoting good health as we age," said Anne Newman, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator on the study and chair of Pitt Graduate School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology. "But until this study, we didn't have the proof necessary to say that daily exercise, sustained over several years, truly can prevent loss of mobility. Doctors can now feel confident that moderate physical activity improves the independence and mobility of older adults."

Dr. Newman and her fellow investigators, coordinated by Marco Pahor, M.D., director of the University of Florida's Institute on Aging, obtained those results through the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders, or LIFE study. This study recruited and followed 1,635 sedentary men and women - 216 from Pittsburgh - aged 70 to 89.

Dr. Newman, a geriatrician, supervised the Pittsburgh arm of the LIFE study. For the national study, she chaired the ancillary studies review committee and wrote the outcome procedures for cardiovascular events and the procedures for participant medical clearance at enrollment and for return after illness.

The study showed that prescribed daily physical activity would prevent older adults' loss of mobility, defined in the study as the inability to walk 400 meters, or about a quarter of a mile. That is approximately equal to a trip from a parked car to a grocery store or a walk through a neighborhood.

Moderate physical activity helped aging adults maintain their ability to walk at a rate 18 percent higher than older adults who did not exercise. It also resulted in a 28 percent reduction in people permanently losing the ability to walk easily.

"This large impact on reducing persistent disability is important," said Dr. Newman. "Beyond simply maintaining mobility, this shows that we can repair a deficit through physical activity."

When recruited to the study, participants could walk a quarter mile within 15 minutes, but were at risk for losing that ability. Low physical performance can be a predictor of early death and higher hospitalization rates. Patients with low physical performance are not often recruited to large studies, making it difficult to give research-backed medical recommendations.

"These are people who are patients we see every day. This is why this study is so important: It includes a population that is typically understudied," said Dr. Pahor.

The participants were randomly sorted into two groups. For two years, the first group walked 150 minutes per week and did strength, flexibility and balance training. Twice each week, they visited field centers, which kept them on track with their exercise. The second group attended health education classes and performed stretching exercises. This phase of the study occurred between February 2010 and December 2013.

Research technicians assessed study participants every six months, checking their ability to walk, their body weight, blood pressure and pulse rate, among other measurements. The staff was not told which participants were assigned to physical activity or to the education classes.

At Pitt, nearly two dozen researchers, students, technicians, nurses and exercise physiologists ensured the trial and data collection ran smoothly. All eight field centers regularly communicated with one another to share tips for encouraging participants to stay in the study.

The researchers noted that there is still a vast amount of data available from the study that needs to be analyzed, including looking at the effects of physical activity on the participants' cognitive function. The research team also plans to determine how physical activity affected the participants' physiological, social and biologic factors.

In addition to Pitt and the University of Florida, LIFE study field centers include Northwestern University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Stanford University, Tufts University, Wake Forest University and Yale University.

In Pittsburgh, primary faculty on the LIFE study are Stephanie Studenski, M.D., Ph.D., Bret Goodpaster, Ph.D., Nancy Glynn, Ph.D., and Oscar Lopez, M.D., all of, or formerly of, the University of Pittsburgh.

This research is funded by NIH and National Institute on Aging Cooperative Agreement U01AG22376, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant no. 3U01AG022376-05A2S.






May 23, 2014 - Staff Psychiatrist Passes Exam


Amy Metzger, M.D.
ALTOONA, May 23, 2014 — Amy Metzger, M.D., staff psychiatrist on the Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit, recently passed the Maintenance of Certification examination given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology Inc.

Dr. Metzger has been a diplomate in the specialty of psychiatry since June 2004.






May 23, 2014 - David Green, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


David Green, M.D.
ALTOONA, May 23, 2014 — David Green, M.D., has been granted privileges on the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Medicine/Critical Care Medicine Department.

Dr. Green practices with Pittsburgh Critical Care Associates. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine with additional training and board-certification in Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine.

He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond; completed his Internal Medicine internship training at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and his residency training in Internal Medicine at Washington Hospital Center, D.C. Following his residency training, he received fellowship training in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth.






May 23, 2014 - More than $3,300 Raised to Benefits Women's Services


More than $3,300 Raised to Benefits Women's Services
ALTOONA, May 23, 2014 — UPMC Altoona 's Healthy Living Club recently sponsored "Women's Night Out," an evening of fun and fundraising with Friends of UPMC Altoona and the UPMC Altoona Foundation.

About 500 women attended the event and helped support women's services through a jewelry fund-raiser that raised $3,315.

PHOTO: The winners of jewelry from Your Jewelry Box at the Healthy Living Club's Women's Night Out on April 24 are (from left): seated - Donna Baker, Roaring Spring; Sonya Browell, Hopewell; Leslie Turner and Pat Brown, both of Altoona; standing - Ola Panaro, Duncansville; Marjorie Beyer, Carla Gregory-Beckton, Susan Chew, and Susan Penny, all of Altoona; Yvonne Gentry, Hollidaysburg, and Genevieve Robine, Bellefonte.






May 21, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for June


ALTOONA, May 21, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for June as a community service. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 unless otherwise indicated to make an appointment or to register. Programs are open to all adult age groups unless otherwise specified.

Most classes are held at:
  • Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building.
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue
For more information, visit altoonaregional.org/classes_healthyliving.htm

Healthy Steps in Motion (HSIM) is a fun, peer-led, weight resistance, and strength training program designed with you and your good health in mind. The classes meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:15 a.m. or 10 a.m. at Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, 231 Howard Ave., Altoona. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

If you are 55 or older, looking to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance, and start toning up, then Healthy Steps in Motion is for you!

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening is offered by appointment only from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 3, at the Vascular Institute, 3rd floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. No fee. Call 889-2005 or 1-877-855-8152 to schedule your appointment.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque clogs leg arteries or vessels and restricts blood flow. Untreated PAD can not only make walking difficult but may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. John Madey, technical director of UPMC Altoona's Noninvasive Laboratory, will check for PAD with an ABI (ankle-brachial index) screen, a painless process in which blood pressure is measured in legs and arms to determine blood flow. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

"The Importance of Your Gynecological Checkup" will be presented Monday, June 9. Light dinner at 6 p.m. followed by program at 6:30, in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women should have an annual gynecological exam whether they need a Pap test or not. Learn why this exam is so important to a woman's good health. Join Reneé Darko, DO, of Altoona Family Physicians as she talks about this very important checkup and how it could save your life.

Child Safety Seat Checkup Station offered by appointment from 9:30-11 a.m. Friday, June 13, in the hospital parking garage, Blue Level. Look for the Safe Kids van. No fee. By appointment only. Call Safe Kids Blair County at 889-7802. Find out if your child's safety seat is installed properly. Your child's life may depend on it.

Free Osteoporosis Screenings: Heel Scans for Men and Women
By appointment only - Friday, June 13, at Station Medical Center, Imaging Services Department. No fee. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 to schedule your appointment.
Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss happens without symptoms. Osteoporosis occurs when, over time, bone loss causes bones to become porous, brittle, and more likely to break. This painless screening takes just a few minutes and assesses bone density in the heel (a good indicator of bone health and fracture risk) by using ultrasound. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

Parenting Class will be presented Saturday, June 14, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Station Medical Center Conference Room (enter the K-4 entrance, left of Fresenius Dialysis Center). Students are on their own for a one-hour lunch break. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

Donation of $20 is requested but not required. This donation will go toward the support of Day One of Altoona, a nonprofit, faith-based counseling service.

Presented by the Rev. David Hammerle of UPMC Altoona's Pastoral Care Department, this program focuses on successful parenting. Program will discuss anger management, conflict resolution, when and how to confront someone, slowing anger in others, and helping children manage anger. Positive discipline patterns, learning to listen to children, and creating a pattern for family meetings will also be included. Offers 0.8 CEUs.

Seniors for Safe Driving, a four-hour refresher course for anyone who has taken the eight-hour course, is presented from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14, Allegheny and Bedford rooms in the, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $16. Registration required. Call 1-800-559-4880 or log on to www.sfsd-pa.com.

This classroom course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road, and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount.

Learn about the body's vascular system through "Vascular Center: Behind the Scenes," Friday, June 20. Lunch at 11 a.m., program 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd. (former Value City building next to Planet Fitness). No fee. Registration required. Call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

What roles do the Vascular Center and Noninvasive Laboratory play in determining your diagnosis and treatment for such conditions as peripheral vascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis (blood clot), aortic aneurisms, and renal artery disease? Join John Madey, technical director of UPMC Altoona's Noninvasive Lab, as he discusses the vascular system and explains the variety of specialized ultrasound techniques.

A Safe Sitter Class will be presented Tuesday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $25, includes materials, snacks, and lunch. Registration required. Call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665. Class size is limited.

Certified Safe Sitter instructors will prepare adolescents ages 11 to 13 to baby-sit infants and young children in a safe, responsible, and competent manner. Participants will learn basic child care and first-aid skills, keeping a house secure, how to prevent accidents and recognize common signs of illness, and how to rescue a choking child or infant.





May 21, 2014 - Rhythmic Bursts of Electrical Activity from Cells in Ear Teach Brain How To Hear, Says Pitt Team


PITTSBURGH, May 21, 2014 - A precise rhythm of electrical impulses transmitted from cells in the inner ear coaches the brain how to hear, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. They report the first evidence of this developmental process today in the online version of Neuron.

The ear generates spontaneous electrical activity to trigger a response in the brain before hearing actually begins, said senior investigator Karl Kandler, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology and neurobiology, Pitt School of Medicine. These patterned bursts start at inner hair cells in the cochlea, which is part of the inner ear, and travel along the auditory nerve to the brain.

"It's long been speculated that these impulses are intended to 'wire' the brain auditory centers," he said. "Until now, however, no one has been able to provide experimental evidence to support this concept."

To map neural connectivity, Dr. Kandler's team prepared sections of a mouse brain containing the auditory pathways in a chemical that is inert until UV light hits it. Then, they pulsed laser light at a neuron, making the chemical active, which excites the nerve cells to generate an electrical impulse. They then tracked the spread of the impulse to adjacent cells, allowing them to map the network a neuron at a time.

All mice are born unable to hear, a sense that develops around two weeks after birth. But even before hearing starts, the ear produces rhythmic bursts of electrical activity which causes a broad reaction in the brain's auditory processing centers. As the beat goes on, the brain organizes itself, pruning unneeded connections and strengthening others. To investigate whether the beat is indeed important for this reorganization, the team used genetically engineered mice that lack a key receptor on the inner hair cells which causes them to change their beat.

"In normal mice, the wiring diagram of the brain gets sharper and more efficient over time and they begin to hear," Dr. Kandler said. "But this doesn't happen when the inner ear beats in a different rhythm, which means the brain isn't getting the instructions it needs to wire itself correctly. We have evidence that these mice can detect sound, but they have problems perceiving the pitch of sounds."

In humans, such subtle hearing deficits are associated with Central Auditory-Processing Disorders (CAPD), difficulty processing the meaning of sound. About 2 to 3 percent of children are affected with CAPD and these children often have speech and language disorders or delays, and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. In contrast to causes of hearing impairments due to ear deficits, the causes underlying CAPD have remained obscure.

"Our findings suggest that an abnormal rhythm of electrical impulses early in life may be an important contributing factor in the development of CAPD. More research is needed to find out whether this also holds true for humans, but our results point to a new direction that is worth following up," Dr. Kandler said.

The study team included Amanda Clause, Ph.D., Gunsoo Kim, Ph.D., and Catherine Weisz, Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Mandy Sonntag, Ph.D., and Rudolf Rubsamen, Ph.D., both of the University of Leipzig; and Douglas E. Vetter, Ph.D., of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The project was funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders grants 04199 and DC011499 and National Institutes of Health grant NS007433; the National Science Foundation; the Pennsylvania Lions Hearing Research Foundation; and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.





May 20, 2014 - Students Swayed by 'Relaxing, Fun' Image of Hookah Smoking Ignore Health Harms


PITTSBURGH, May 20, 2014 - Educational campaigns meant to dissuade college students from initiating hookah tobacco smoking may be more successful if they combat positive perceptions of hookah use as attractive and romantic, rather than focusing solely on the harmful components of hookah tobacco smoke, a new University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study found.

The research, supported by the National Cancer Institute, examined the sequence of events around which university students first smoke tobacco from a hookah, also known as a water pipe, in an effort to determine the driving factors behind the decision. It will be published in the June issue of the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research and is online now. Because hookah tobacco smoking exposes the user to substantial amounts of toxicants such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, carcinogens and tar, initiation of this behavior is of concern.

"It was surprising to learn that college students, even when they were aware of the health dangers associated with hookah tobacco smoking at baseline, still went on to use a hookah for the first time," said lead author Jaime Sidani, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior research specialist in the Program for Research on Media and Health (PROMH) at Pitt. "However, students who had less positive attitudes toward hookah smoking were significantly less likely to initiate. This suggests that countering positive attitudes may be at least as effective as emphasizing harm in preventing initiation of hookah tobacco smoking."

Dr. Sidani and her colleagues analyzed a sample of 569 first- and second-year University of Florida college students who were surveyed twice over a seven-month period about their attitudes, knowledge and behaviors regarding hookah smoking. During that time, 13 percent of the students initiated hookah tobacco use.

The students were more likely to initiate hookah use if they had positive attitudes toward hookah smoking - which is frequently promoted as relaxing, pleasurable, fun and sexual — and if they thought it was a socially acceptable practice among their peers.

"Hookah tobacco smoking does not seem to be hampered by many of the negative social stigmas of cigarette smoking," said Dr. Sidani. "If educational programs can help students to cut through the positive portrayals and marketing of hookah smoking, it may be possible to make hookah smoking less attractive and socially acceptable, resulting in less initiation."

Senior author Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D., director of PROMH, added that regulation of hookah tobacco smoking and marketing in the United States is confusing and less rigorous than laws meant to prevent cigarette smoking, which may contribute to misperceptions around hookah smoking.

"Clear policy measures addressing the sale and marketing of hookah products and regulation of hookah bars and cafes may be another way to counteract the positive attitudes young adults hold toward hookah smoking," Dr. Primack said.

Additional authors of this research are Ariel Shensa, M.A., of Pitt; and Tracey E. Barnett, Ph.D., and Robert L. Cook, M.D., M.P.H., both of the University of Florida.

This research was supported by National Cancer Institute grant no. R01-CA140150 and the Steven Manners Memorial Fund at Pitt's University Center for Social & Urban Research.





May 20, 2014 - Maryland Patients Can Now Access UPMC CancerCenter Resources Under New Affiliation with Meritus Health's John R. Marsh Cancer Center in Hagerstown


PITTSBURGH, May 20, 2014 - Cancer patients in Hagerstown, Md., now have access to UPMC CancerCenter's world-class clinical care and the latest research under a new affiliation agreement with Meritus Health's John R. Marsh Cancer Center.

The agreement, effective May 1, allows patients to access the vast resources of the UPMC CancerCenter, including its treatment protocols, clinical trials, provider-to-provider consultations, genetic counseling support services and collaboration in research and survivorship programs.

"We are excited to be able to work with Meritus Health's John R. Marsh Cancer Center and to offer patients in Maryland access to our vast cancer network. We are proud to be able to offer patients the best in care right in their own communities and this affiliation affirms our commitment to do just that," said Stanley Marks, M.D., chairman of UPMC CancerCenter, partner with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Clinical and professional staff at Meritus Health's John R. Marsh Cancer Center also can participate in training and education programs offered through UPMC CancerCenter, the only National Cancer Institute — designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania.

"Meritus Health is proud of our John R. Marsh Cancer Center's affiliation with the UPMC CancerCenter network. Access to UPMC's international experts and resources affords us the opportunity to offer our patients enhanced cancer care services close to home," said Joseph P. Ross, Meritus Health's president and CEO. "Service improvements, access to research studies, genetic counseling, support programs and educational resources are valuable assets for our patients, providers and staff."





May 18, 2014 - Pitt Study Shows for First Time How Huntington's Disease Protein Could Cause Death of Neurons


PITTSBURGH, May 18, 2014 - Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified for the first time a key molecular mechanism by which the abnormal protein found in Huntington's disease can cause brain cell death. The results of these studies, published today in Nature Neuroscience, could one day lead to ways to prevent the progressive neurological deterioration that characterizes the condition.

Huntington's disease patients inherit from a parent a gene that contains too many repeats of a certain DNA sequence, which results in the production of an abnormal form of a protein called huntingtin (HTT), explained senior investigator Robert Friedlander, M.D., UPMC Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology and chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine. But until now, studies have not suggested how HTT could cause disease.

"This study connects the dots for the first time and shows how huntingtin can cause problems for the mitochondria that lead to the death of neurons," Dr. Friedlander said. "If we can disrupt the pathway, we may be able to identify new treatments for this devastating disease."

Examination of brain tissue samples from both mice and human patients affected by Huntington's disease showed that mutant HTT collects in the mitochondria, which are the energy suppliers of the cell. Using several biochemical approaches in follow-up mouse studies, the research team identified the mitochondrial proteins that bind to mutant HTT, noting its particular affinity for TIM23, a protein complex that transports other proteins from the rest of the cell into the mitochondria.

Further investigation revealed that mutant HTT inhibited TIM23's ability to transport proteins across the mitochondrial membrane, slowing metabolic activity and ultimately triggering cell-suicide pathways. The team also found that mutant HTT-induced mitochondrial dysfunction occurred more often near the synapses, or junctions, of neurons, likely impairing the neuron's ability to communicate or signal its neighbors.

To verify the findings, the researchers showed that producing more TIM23 could overcome the protein transport deficiency and prevent cell death.

"We learned also that these events occur very early in the disease process, not as the result of some other mutant HTT-induced changes," Dr. Friedlander said. "This means that if we can find ways to intervene at this point, we may be able to prevent neurological damage."

The team's next steps include identifying exact binding sites and agents that can influence the interactions of HTT and TIM23.

Co-authors of the paper include other scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Washington University School of Medicine.

The project was funded by National Institutes of Health grants NS039324, NS077748 and AG033724; the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation; the DSF Charitable Foundation; and the Huntington's Disease Society of America.






May 16, 2014 - Breakthrough in HIV/AIDS Research Gives Hope for Improved Drug Therapy


PITTSBURGH, May 16, 2014 - The first direct proof of a long-suspected cause of multiple HIV-related health complications was recently obtained by a team led by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research (CVR). The finding supports complementary therapies to antiretroviral drugs to significantly slow HIV progression.

The study, which will be published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation and is available online, found that a drug commonly given to patients receiving kidney dialysis significantly diminishes the levels of bacteria that escape from the gut and reduces health complications in non-human primates infected with the simian form of HIV. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"We now have direct evidence of a major culprit in poor outcomes for some HIV-infected people, which is an important breakthrough in the fight against AIDS," said Ivona Pandrea, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology at Pitt's CVR. "Researchers and doctors can now better test potential therapies to slow or stop a key cause of death and heart disease in people with HIV."

Chronic activation of the immune system and inflammation are major determinants of progression of HIV infection to AIDS, and also play an important role in inducing excessive blood clotting and heart disease in HIV patients. Doctors believed this was due to microbial translocation, which occurs when bacteria in the gut gets out into the body through intestinal lining damaged by HIV. However, no direct proof of this mechanism existed.

Dr. Pandrea and her colleagues showed blocking the bacteria from leaving the intestine reduces the chronic immune activation and inflammation. They did this by giving the drug Sevelamer, also known by the brand names Renvela and Renagel, to monkeys newly infected with simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, the primate-form of HIV.

Sevelamer is an oral drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat elevated levels of phosphate in the blood of patients with chronic kidney disease.

The gut bacteria bind to Sevelamer, making it much more difficult for the bacteria to escape into the body and cause serious problems, such as heart disease, while further weakening the immune system and allowing HIV to progress to full-blown AIDS.

In SIV-infected monkeys treated with Sevelamer, levels of a protein that indicates microbial translocation remained low. However, in the untreated monkeys the levels increased nearly four-fold a week after SIV infection.

The treated monkeys with the lower rates of microbial translocation also had lower levels of a biomarker associated with excessive blood clotting, showing that heart attacks and stroke in HIV patients are more likely associated with chronic immune system activation and inflammation, rather than HIV drugs.

"These findings clearly demonstrate that stopping bacteria from leaving the gut reduces the rates of many HIV comorbidities," said Dr. Pandrea.

Because most interventions in people infected with HIV begin after the person has reached chronic stages of infection when the gut is already severely damaged, Dr. Pandrea notes, "These treatments may not be as effective later in the infection. Clinical trials in HIV-infected patients were not yet successful in reducing microbial translocation in chronically infected patients. Our study points to the importance of early and sustained drug treatment in people infected with HIV."

Other approaches, such as coupling Sevelamer with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, probiotics or supplementation of existing HIV/AIDS drugs could further reduce the likelihood of microbial translocation. Clinical trials are underway to assess these strategies.

Additional researchers on this study are Jan Kristoff, B.A., M.S., George Haret-Richter, Ph.D., Dongzhu Ma, Ph.D., Cuiling Xu, Ph.D., Jennifer L. Stock, B.S., Tianyu He, B.S., Adam D. Mobley, B.S., Samantha Ross, B.A., M.S., Anita Trichel, D.V.M., Ph.D., Cristian Apetrei, M.D. Ph.D., all of Pitt; Alan Landay, Ph.D., Rush University; Ruy M. Ribeiro, Ph.D., Los Alamos National Laboratory; Elaine Cornell, technician, and Russell Tracy, Ph.D., both of the University of Vermont; and Cara Wilson, M.D., of the University of Colorado.

This work was supported by NIH grants R01 HL117715, R01 RR025781, 5P01 AI076174 and P30 AI082151.





May 15, 2014 - Magee Hosts Russian Physicians to Study Women's Health


PITTSBURGH, May 15, 2014 - A delegation of five Russian obstetric gynecologists will visit Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) for a comprehensive program exploring advanced care practices and scientific research for a wide range of women's health issues.

The delegation will spend May 23 to 31 in Pittsburgh learning best practices in gynecological care, obstetrics, neonatology, mid-wifery, maternal/fetal care and prenatal care. They also will learn about significant research advances in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, fertility, reproductive biology and uterine prolapse. Members of the delegation will shadow physicians and nurses in Magee's neonatal intensive care unit, birth center and breast imaging center, and spend time in MWRI's laboratories observing current research projects and technology.

"The visit from this delegation is an exciting opportunity to share medical and research advances happening in Pittsburgh that could have an impact nationally and internationally," said Leslie Davis, president, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. "It also is a wonderful chance for our researchers and physicians to learn from their Russian counterparts."

The delegation is hosted by Magee Womancare International (MWI), a nonprofit organization that serves as the international humanitarian outreach arm of Magee.

"While our organization now brings health education programs and technical assistance to the international communities of Pittsburgh, we were first established to improve health care conditions for women and infants in the former Soviet Union," said Nicole Travis, the administrative director of MWI. "The arrival of this delegation brings our work full circle, and we are greatly looking forward to sharing our resources here in Pittsburgh."

This visit is managed by the Open World Leadership Center, a support agency of the United States Congress. The Open World program enhances understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and the countries of Eurasia by developing a network of leaders in the region who have gained significant, firsthand exposure to American democracy and the free-market system.

For more information, please contact Nicole Travis at 412-641-8996 or travisn@mwri.magee.edu or Maura Sheldon, Open World Public Affairs Officer, at 202-707-6197.





May 13, 2014 - UPMC Physicians Implant Pennsylvania's First Wireless Pacemaker


PITTSBURGH, May 13, 2014 - UPMC electrophysiologists are the first in the state to implant a catheter-delivered, leadless pacemaker to treat life-threatening bradycardia, a slow heartbeat that reduces blood flow to the brain and body.

The Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is a wireless device that detects a slow heartbeat and sends impulses to the heart to maintain a normal rhythm. The procedure was performed at UPMC Shadyside in mid-April on an 86-year-old man as part of the Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing trial. UPMC is one of only six U.S. centers selected for participation in the international trial for patients who need a pacemaker. The device was the ninth implantation of the novel leadless pacemaker in the U.S.

Traditional pacemakers use a pulse generator unit that is implanted under the skin, usually in the upper chest, with one or more wires, known as leads, which are threaded through the veins to the right-side heart chambers. The miniaturized, leadless pacemaker is implanted directly into the right ventricle of the heart, gaining access via the femoral vein in the groin.

"One advantage compared to traditional pacemakers is that no incision is required. That can help reduce infection complications. This pacemaker eliminates the need for a lead, which is more prone to failure over time than any other part of the pacemaker system," said Andrew Voigt, M.D., assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, lead surgeon for the procedure and electrophysiologist at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. "This minimally invasive approach simplifies the implantation procedure, does not require sutures or cause the appearance of a scar, and may improve patient satisfaction."

In the U.S., the Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System will not be commercially available until the successful completion of this clinical trial and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The trial is seeking to establish the safety and efficacy of this novel, miniaturized pacemaker system.





May 13, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Study Shows Rise in Emergency Department Visits for Traumatic Brain Injury


PITTSBURGH, May 13, 2014 - There was a nearly 30 percent increase in the rate of visits to United States' emergency departments (ED) for traumatic brain injury (TBI) from 2006 to 2010, according to a study led by a Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC physician. The rise might be attributable to a number of factors, including increased awareness and diagnoses.

Results of the study, led by Jennifer R. Marin, M.D., M.Sc., an emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital, are published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The team used data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) database to determine national trends in ED visits for TBI from 2006 through 2010. NEDS is a nationally representative database and includes 25 to 50 million visits from more than 950 hospitals each year. Additionally, the authors used U.S. census data in order to determine incidence rates and the burden of traumatic brain injury on the U.S. population.

"The reason for this increase may be because more people are sustaining head injuries, patients are more aware of TBI and more likely to seek emergency care, health care professionals are more vigilant about making these diagnoses, or a combination of these," said Dr. Marin, also assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The findings underscore the need for more evaluation into why and how to reverse these trends so that we can minimize the incidence of traumatic brain injury and the consequences associated with these injuries."

The team found that in 2010 there were an estimated 2.5 million ED visits for TBI, representing a 29 percent increase in the rate of visits for TBI during the study period. By comparison, total ED visits increased by 3.6 percent. The majority of the increase in the incidence of TBI occurred in visits coded as concussion or unspecified head injury. Children younger than 3 years and adults older than 60 years had the largest increase in TBI rates. The majority of visits were for minor injuries and most patients were discharged from the ED.

"Traumatic brain injury is an important cause of morbidity and mortality each year," Dr. Marin said. "There has been widespread attention to traumatic brain injury, specifically in terms of prevention, in the last decade by policy makers and health professionals. Large-scale studies that assess national statistics and trends are one of the few ways we have to understand the scope of the problem."

The authors suggest that the increase in TBI among the very young and very old may indicate these age groups do not benefit as much from public health interventions, such as concussion and helmet laws and safer sports' practices.

For more information on Dr. Marin and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, visit www.chp.edu.





May 12, 2014 - UPMC Bedford Memorial Offers Free Speech and Language Screening for Children


WHAT:In recognition of national Better Hearing and Speech Month, UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital will provide free speech and language screenings for children ages 2 to 18.

Certified speech-language pathologists will evaluate children for concerns, including:
  • Speech sound disorders (difficulty pronouncing sounds)
  • Language disorders (difficulty understanding what they hear or expressing themselves with words)
  • Stuttering (fluency disorders - interruption of the flow of speech that may include hesitations, repetitions or prolongations of sounds or words)
  • Voice disorders (quality of voice that may include hoarseness, nasality or volume that is too loud or too soft)
Registration is recommended. For more information, contact Rebecca Burns, M.S., CCC-SLP at 814-623-3545.

WHY: According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, speech disorders affect 8 to 9 percent of young children. Early diagnosis of a speech and/or language disorder is critical to a child's academic and social development and success. The earlier these disorders are treated, the easier, more effective, less expensive and shorter the course of treatment likely will be.

WHO:Children of Bedford County residents, ages 2 to 18

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, May 24

WHERE:
UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital, Speech Therapy office, 2nd floor





May 10, 2014 - Memorial Hospital of Bedford County Foundation Hosts 29th Annual Chili Open Golf Tournament


WHAT: Memorial Hospital of Bedford County Foundation's 29th Annual Chili Open Golf Tournament

Registration includes a picnic-style lunch, snacks, dinner, beverages and player gifts. There also will be prizes for:
  • First, second and third place golfers for women and men
  • Hole in One
  • Closest to the Pin
  • Longest Drive
  • Additional raffles
WHY: Proceeds from the event stay in the community and will benefit the MHBC Foundation, which has a long tradition of helping UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital maintain the highest quality care to its patients. Over the past 29 years, the annual Chili Open Golf Tournament has raised close to $200,000 to fund a scholarship program for Bedford County residents pursuing degrees in a health care field.

WHO:
  • Open to the public; registration required to participate in the tournament*
  • UPMC Bedford Memorial President Roger Winn and other executive staff
  • John Blackburn, III, chairman, UPMC Bedford Memorial Board, and other board members
WHEN: Friday, June 6
  • 10 a.m., registration
  • 11 a.m., scramble begins
WHERE:
Down River Golf Course, 134 Rivers Bend Dr., Everett, Pa., 15537

Registration deadline is Friday, May 16.

*For more information, golf prices or to register your team, call Sandy Boyd at 814-623-3773.





May 9, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for June


ALTOONA, May 9, 2014 — UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in June as a public service to the community. They are listed alphabetically according to where they are held.

Support groups meeting at the hospital, 620 Howard Ave., use the Allegheny and Bedford rooms and the Rotunda on the 6th floor of the Outpatient Center, and Dining Room A in the Cafeteria on Tower 4.

Alzheimer's Disease Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, Allegheny Room, 6th floor, Outpatient Center. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Bariatric Support Group by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates offers education, speakers and support for people who will have or have had bariatric surgery, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, in the Allegheny Room. Call 889-2557.

Breastfeeding Support Group is offered 10 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 5, at Hoss's in Duncansville. Call 889-3123.

The Depression and Bipolar Self-Help Group meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in Dining Room A. Call 889-2141.

Parkinson's Support Group meets Monday, June 30, at Hoss's, Altoona. Call 889-2141.

Support Group for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One Through Suicide meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, in the conference room in the Access Center, Building C, Blair Medical Center, 501 Howard Ave. The group helps people who have experienced or are experiencing specific feelings they can share with others in the aftermath of a suicide death and are seeking emotional support to cope with specific grief issues. Call 889-2141.

The following support groups meet at Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue. For the Conference Room, use the K4 entrance next to Fresenius Dialysis. For the Sleep Center, use the main entrance. The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department offers convenient parking and a patient drop-off area on the 17th Street side of the building.

The Breast Cancer Support Group meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 5, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, June 4 and 18, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2132.

La Leche League meets 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, June 9, in the Conference Room. Call 934-0466.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Support Group meets 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, June 9, in the Conference Room. Call 1-800-726-2873, Ext. 2882.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, in the Conference Room. Call 515-4624.

Wheelchair Clinics will be held at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. Physician referral and appointment required. Call 889-4463.





May 9, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for June


ALTOONA, May 9, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for June as a community service. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 unless otherwise indicated to make an appointment or to register. Programs are open to all adult age groups unless otherwise specified.

Most classes are held at:
  • Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building.
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue
For more information, visit www.altoonaregional.org/classes_healthyliving.htm

Healthy Steps in Motion (HSIM) is a fun, peer-led, weight resistance, and strength training program designed with you and your good health in mind. The classes meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:15 a.m. or 10 a.m. at Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, 231 Howard Ave., Altoona. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. If you are 55 or older, looking to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance, and start toning up, then Healthy Steps in Motion is for you!

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening is offered by appointment only from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, at the Vascular Institute, 3rd floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. No fee. Call 889-2005 or 1-877-855-8152 to schedule your appointment.

Peripheral artery disease occurs when plaque clogs leg arteries or vessels and restricts blood flow. Untreated PAD can not only make walking difficult but may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. John Madey, technical director of UPMC Altoona's Noninvasive Laboratory, will check for PAD with an ABI (ankle-brachial index) screen, a painless process in which blood pressure is measured in legs and arms to determine blood flow. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

"The Importance of Your Gynecological Checkup" will be presented Monday, June 9. Light dinner at 6 p.m. followed by program at 6:30, in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women should have an annual gynecological exam whether they need a Pap test or not. Learn why this exam is so important to a woman's good health. Join Reneé Darko, DO, of Altoona Family Physicians as she talks about this very important checkup and how it could save your life.

Child Safety Seat Checkup Station offered by appointment from 9:30-11 a.m. Friday, June 13, in the hospital parking garage, Blue Level. Look for the Safe Kids van. No fee. By appointment only. Call Safe Kids Blair County at 889-7802. Find out if your child's safety seat is installed properly. Your child's life may depend on it.

Free Osteoporosis Screenings: Heel Scans for Men and Women By appointment only Friday, June 13, at Station Medical Center, Imaging Services Department. No fee. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665 to schedule your appointment.

Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss happens without symptoms. Osteoporosis occurs when, over time, bone loss causes bones to become porous, brittle, and more likely to break. This painless screening takes just a few minutes and assesses bone density in the heel (a good indicator of bone health and fracture risk) by using ultrasound. Please be prepared to remove shoes and socks.

Parenting Class will be presented Saturday, June 14, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Station Medical Center Conference Room (enter the K-4 entrance, left of Fresenius Dialysis Center). Students are on their own for a one-hour lunch break. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

Donation of $20 is requested but not required. This donation will go toward the support of Day One of Altoona, a nonprofit, faith-based counseling service.

Presented by the Rev. David Hammerle of UPMC Altoona's Pastoral Care Department, this program focuses on successful parenting. Program will discuss anger management, conflict resolution, when and how to confront someone, slowing anger in others, and helping children manage anger. Positive discipline patterns, learning to listen to children, and creating a pattern for family meetings will also be included. Offers 0.8 CEUs.

Seniors for Safe Driving, a four-hour refresher course for anyone who has taken the eight-hour course, is presented from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14, in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $16. Registration required. Call 1-800-559-4880 or log on to www.sfsd-pa.com.

This classroom course covers age-related physical changes, perceptual skills, rules of the road, and more. All automobile insurance companies in Pennsylvania provide a premium discount to graduates age 55 and older. Most require both spouses insured under the same policy to take the class to receive a discount.

Learn about the body's vascular system through "Vascular Center: Behind the Scenes," Friday, June 20. Lunch at 11 a.m., program 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd. (former Value City building next to Planet Fitness). No fee. Registration required. Call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665.

What roles do the Vascular Center and Noninvasive Laboratory play in determining your diagnosis and treatment for such conditions as peripheral vascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis (blood clot), aortic aneurisms, and renal artery disease? Join John Madey, technical director of UPMC Altoona's Noninvasive Lab, as he discusses the vascular system and explains the variety of specialized ultrasound techniques.

A Safe Sitter Class will be presented Tuesday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Fee $25, includes materials, snacks, and lunch. Registration required. Call 889.2630 or 1.888.313.4665. Class size is limited.

Certified Safe Sitter instructors will prepare adolescents ages 11 to 13 to baby-sit infants and young children in a safe, responsible, and competent manner. Participants will learn basic child care and first-aid skills, keeping a house secure, how to prevent accidents and recognize common signs of illness, and how to rescue a choking child or infant.





May 8, 2014 - Pitt Receives $10 Million Grant from NIMH for Conte Center Focused on Schizophrenia


PITTSBURGH, May 8, 2014 — The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a $10 million, five-year grant to establish the Silvio O. Conte Center for Translational Mental Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry. The Center focuses on cortical cells, brain circuits, neuronal connectivity and cognition in schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a major public health problem and devastating illness, affecting 0.5 to 1 percent of the world's population. Symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and mood disturbances. Current treatments for schizophrenia have limited effectiveness, and all medications currently used to treat schizophrenia and related disorders were discovered by serendipity rather than goal-oriented, rigorous science.

"There is an urgent need for a new approach to treatment development to address these problems," said David A. Lewis, M.D., UPMC Professor in Translational Neuroscience, chair of Pitt's Department of Psychiatry, and director of the Conte Center. "This innovative Center will initiate drug development methodically by first identifying molecular targets that could influence the course of the illness, a strategy that has been successful in other areas of medicine."

The Center's research activities will test the hypothesis that molecular disturbances in certain triangular-shaped "pyramidal" cells, which are found in the outer layers of the brain's cerebrum known as the neocortex, alter cortical circuitry within and between brain regions, impair functional connectivity and neural signaling, and disturb the processes of working memory and attention in individuals with schizophrenia.

Five research projects and clinical and diagnostic cores will take convergent approaches to examine these molecular changes with the aim of making laboratory findings readily relevant to clinical treatment of schizophrenia. The Center's work is directed at identifying pathophysiology-based molecular targets for new treatments and at developing biomarkers that can be used to monitor their impact.

Center investigators include scientists from Pitt's School of Medicine and the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, as well as Carnegie Mellon University, who represent a broad array of expertise spanning molecular systems and cognitive, computational and clinical neuroscience.

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
As one of the nation's leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1998. In rankings recently released by the National Science Foundation, Pitt ranked fifth among all American universities in total federal science and engineering research and development support.

Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region's economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.





May 6, 2014 - UPMC Bedford Memorial Alive and Well Series to Discuss Thyroid Disease


WHAT: — An otolaryngologist will discuss minimally invasive thyroid surgery and the effects the thyroid can have on your body, including your metabolism, weight gain, fatigue and depression.

WHY: — Participants will learn the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease and lifestyle changes to help maintain a healthy balance.

WHO: — Elliott J. Bilofsky, D.O., F.A.O.C.O., UPMC Bedford Memorial

WHEN: — 6:30 p.m., Monday, May 12

WHAT: — An otolaryngologist will discuss minimally invasive thyroid surgery and the effects the thyroid can have on your body, including your metabolism, weight gain, fatigue and depression.

WHERE: Homewood at Spring House Estates, 150 Victoria Ave., Everett, Pa., 15537

This event is open to the public, though reservations are required. To make a reservation or for more information, call 814-623-3773.





May 5, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Researcher Receives Prestigious Research Award


PITTSBURGH, May 5, 2014 — The Academic Pediatric Association (APA) has awarded Alejandro Hoberman, M.D., chief, Division of General Academic Pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, its 2014 APA Research Award. The award will be presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The award acknowledges his contributions toward advancing pediatric knowledge through excellence in research, originality, creativity and methodological soundness. Dr. Hoberman is known for his research on acute otitis media (AOM) and urinary tract infections (UTI).

The quality and influence of Dr. Hoberman's research is evident from the journals in which they are published, including the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), JAMA Pediatrics, and Pediatrics. He has served on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) special emphasis panels, NIH strategic planning workgroups, American Academy of Pediatrics guideline committees, and as a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Award Child Health Oversight Committee.

Dr. Hoberman graduated from medical school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he completed a general pediatrics residency at the Children's Hospital of Buenos Aires. He then came to the United States for fellowship training in ambulatory pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh under Jack L. Paradise, M.D., and Kenneth Rogers, M.D. Immediately following the fellowship, he joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and currently leads the Division of General Academic Pediatrics. In 2000, Dr. Hoberman was named the first Jack L. Paradise, M.D., Professor of Pediatric Research at Children's.

"Everything goes back to what I learned from Dr. Paradise, who received the APA Research Award 20 years ago," Dr. Hoberman said. "I remember watching him take great care with research participants to conduct a careful examination, and sitting with families to discuss clinical findings and how we were trying to learn how to provide better, evidenced-based care for their children and future generations of children. That personal touch and connection with families, which Dr. Paradise taught by example, enables trust and the understanding that the research team will always have the participant's best interest in mind and provide the most comprehensive and careful medical care."

"It was apparent soon after Dr. Hoberman's arrival at Children's that he had great promise," said Jack L. Paradise, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "He has more than met expectations, conducting important research while at the same time building one of the country's strongest divisions of academic general pediatrics and serving as a role model for pediatric trainees at all levels. He richly deserves this prestigious award."

In addition to receiving the award in Vancouver, Dr. Hoberman presented the results of his multi-center study showing how prophylactic antibiotics prevent urinary tract infection recurrences in children with vesicoureteral reflux.

For more information on Dr. Hoberman and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, visit www.chp.edu





May 4, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Expert Shows Prophylactic Antibiotics Prevent Urinary Tract Infection Recurrences in Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux


VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA, May 4, 2014 — A study led by researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC demonstrated that children diagnosed with an abnormal flow of urine from the bladder to the upper urinary tract, called vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), can avoid recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) by taking daily low-dose antibiotics, although the treatment didn't reduce their risk for UTI-induced kidney scarring. The results of the multi-center study will be presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The study also is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Our study provides a clear message that recurrences of UTI in children with vesicoureteral reflux can be prevented, some of these children appear pretty sick when they have a UTI with fever," said Alejandro Hoberman, M.D., chief, Division of General Academic Pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "VUR is present in one-third of children presenting with UTI accompanied by a fever and has been associated with a heightened risk of kidney scarring. One way to decrease infection risk is to give children antibiotics when they are well, called antimicrobial prophylaxis."

Earlier randomized, controlled trials that compared anti-reflux surgery with antimicrobial prophylaxis showed no differences in rates of recurrent UTIs and renal scarring; however, the actual efficacy of either treatment could not be determined because the studies lacked a placebo or observation comparison groups. Recently conducted randomized trials have reported conflicting results about the effectiveness of antimicrobial prophylaxis in reducing recurrences.

"This study showed unequivocal evidence that antimicrobial prophylaxis reduced at least in half the likelihood of children having recurrent UTIs," said Dr. Hoberman, also professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Some subgroups of children derived the most benefit, particularly those with bladder and bowel dysfunction at baseline, and those in whom the UTI occurred with fever."

The goal of the two-year study was to determine if giving children low-dose trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole would prevent recurrent UTIs, decrease kidney scarring and contribute to the emergence of bacterial resistance.

The study, named the Randomized Intervention for Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux (RIVUR) Trial, enrolled 607 children ages 2 to 71 months who were diagnosed with VUR following a first or second episode of UTI. Participants were recruited from 19 clinical trial centers in the United States and underwent kidney scans to determine if scarring was present. They were then randomized to receive trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or a placebo. Kidney scans were repeated at one and two years after study entry.

Results showed that 39 of 302 children (13 percent) receiving antimicrobial prophylaxis developed UTIs compared to 72 of 305 (24 percent) receiving placebo. Antimicrobial prophylaxis reduced the risk of infections by 50 percent compared with placebo.

"Rates of renal scarring at the outcome visit were low and not reduced by prophylaxis, perhaps because most children were enrolled after their first infection and because parents, instructed to be vigilant, sought early medical attention," said Dr. Hoberman. "Not unexpectedly, recurrences that did occur in children who received prophylaxis were more likely to have been caused by a resistant pathogen."

This research was supported by grants U01 DK074059, U01 DK074053, U01 DK074082, U01 DK074064, U01 DK074062, U01 DK074063 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. This trial also was supported by the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1RR024153 and UL1TR000005) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR000003) both from the National Center for Research Resources, now at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health.

For more information on Dr. Hoberman and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, visit www.chp.edu.





May 2, 2014 - By the Numbers: Medical Mobilization for Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon


PITTSBURGH, May 2, 2014 — A statistical breakdown of the medical efforts from UPMC Sports Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Department of Emergency Medicine, the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of EMS, EMS agencies from Allegheny County and across the region, the American Red Cross and more:
  • 7,500 adhesive bandages
  • 4,000 tongue depressors
  • 3,000 ice bags
  • 500+ medical volunteers and health care professionals (300+ from UPMC/Pitt)
  • 500 towels
  • 500 leads (clips) for medical monitors
  • 400+ feet of intravenous tubing (nearly 1/10 of a mile)
  • 350 elastic bandages
  • 100 sheets
  • 150 nausea bags
  • 120 American Red Cross-donated cots (for the Finish Line and Aid Stations)
  • 125 jars of petroleum jelly (and 1 sign, warning runners that not every tongue depressor contains edible goo: "Don't eat the Vaseline")
  • 200+ Tourniquets
  • 75 flags, five for each Aid Station and the Finish Line representing weather-condition warnings:
    • white for risk of hypothermia
    • green for low risk
    • yellow for moderate risk
    • red for high risk
    • black for emergency/leave the course
  • 50+ certified athletic trainers at the Finish Line and along the course
  • 27+ ambulances from a variety of agencies
  • 16 Aid Stations along the course, including one Start Line and two Point State Park medical tents
  • 9 motorized carts carrying Emergency Medical Technicians, paramedics and equipment
  • 7 American Red Cross liaisons in local hospitals tracking injured runners, reuniting families
  • 6 or 7 City of Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services units
  • 6 ice-water immersion tubs
  • 5 Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Index thermometers, to measure race conditions
  • 4 Medic posts at the Finish Line chutes
  • 1 Medical Evacuation Rehab Vehicle (MERV)
  • 1 Finish Line field hospital
  • 1 to 3 percent of the runners (200 to 400) are typically treated at the race - half on the course, half at the Finish Line
  • Weather is the No. 1 determining factor in race injuries
UPMC Offers Last-Minute Tips to Pittsburgh Marathon Runners
For anyone preparing to run the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, or the FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay on May 4, specialists from marathon medical sponsor UPMC Sports Medicine offer these last-minute tips:

Properly Hydrate

Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of nutrition at UPMC Sports Medicine, recommends that you increase your fluid intake, with both water and sports drinks, in the days leading up to the race.
  • Drink freely the day before the race and consume 16 ounces of water before bed.
  • When you wake up, drink 16 more ounces of water. Drink eight to 10 ounces of a sports drink about 10 minutes prior to racing.
  • During the race, don't drink only water. Carbohydrates will help keep your brain and body energized throughout the race. Once per hour, you should consume at least 30 grams of carbs, which could be 16 ounces of sports drink, or four cubes of sugar and eight ounces of sports drink, or eight cubes of sugar plus some water, or a sports gel in addition to water.
  • For every hour of running, drink 14 to 40 ounces of fluid, depending on how much you sweat.
  • Each individual's fluid requirements can vary tremendously, so be sure not to over-hydrate, especially if you do not sweat much.
Boost Your Carb Intake

Adding up the carbs may help to optimize performance and prevent fatigue during the race, according to Ms. Bonci. The idea is to carbo-load, not carbo-explode. Follow this advice during the final days leading up to the marathon.
  • Three days before the race, try eating smaller, more frequent meals (about every three hours) and begin increasing your carb intake. A good rule of thumb is to eat five grams of carbs per each pound of your body weight.
  • The night before, eat a high-carb meal with small portions of protein and vegetables, keeping fat to a minimum. Treat yourself to some frozen yogurt, sorbet or cereal for a late-night dessert/snack!
  • Don't skip breakfast on race day. Your meal should contain mostly carbohydrates (about 200 to 400 grams), keeping your consumption low on protein, and especially your fat and fiber. Bananas, bagels, oatmeal or energy bars are good picks — all consumed at least three hours prior to the race.
Train With What Will Be Provided

If you plan to drink or eat anything provided throughout the course on race day, Ms. Bonci recommends training with them now to avoid any discomfort or stomach upset. The following items will be available to runners at the 2014 Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon:
  • To help maintain hydration, water and lemon-lime flavored Gatorade Endurance Formula will be provided at every fluid station.
  • For extra energy, PowerBars (in chocolate, vanilla crisp and peanut butter) and GU brand sports gels (in vanilla bean, espresso, mandarin orange, blue pomegranate, cherry lime, strawberry banana and jet blackberry flavors) will be available. Gatorade Prime Chews also are an option.
  • For those who lose high amounts of salt when sweating, snacks such as potato chips or pretzels will be offered.
  • Do some math! Weigh yourself in ounces before and after a long run (1 pound = 16 ounces). Add the number of ounces of fluid consumed during the run. Divide that figure by the number of hours that run lasted. This equation gives you the hourly sweat rate, so you know how much to maintain drinking per hour.
Don't Try Anything New

This is not the time to experiment with new shoes, clothing, food, drink or anything else that you haven't tried on several training runs, according to Kathleen Nachazel, the Pittsburgh Marathon's medical operations director and certified athletic trainer at UPMC Sports Medicine.
  • Stick to the same clothing that you have been wearing during your training. Anything new may cause discomfort and prohibit you from running optimally.
  • Don't wear new shoes, but your existing shoes should have no more than 500 miles of wear.
  • Tie your shoes with a double knot, the better to avoid tripping.
  • To avoid discomfort or upset stomach, don't eat or drink anything different close to or on race day.
Be Mindful Of The Weather

Spring weather is often unpredictable, so be prepared for various weather scenarios on race day. Ron Roth, M.D., the Pittsburgh Marathon's medical director and an emergency medicine physician at UPMC, recommends the following:
  • Be careful not to overdress. At the starting line, you should actually feel a little chilled because your body will warm up a few miles into the race.
  • If it is very cold in the morning, wear top layer clothes that you won't mind discarding along the course as the day warms up.
  • If the weather is warm, wear clothing that is light-colored, loose fitting and lightweight.
  • If it's raining, wear a trash bag or disposable poncho at the start line and throw it away when the race begins.
  • Be flexible with your performance goals. Running your personal best time when the weather is 50 degrees and overcast may not be achievable if it is 80 degrees and sunny.
Know What To Do On Race Day

Tanya Hagen, M.D., a sports medicine physician at UPMC Sports Medicine, recommends following these tips before the race to help prevent discomfort and optimize performance during your run.
  • Before you get dressed in the morning, apply sweat-resistant sunscreen to prevent sunburn and Vaseline or BodyGlide to prevent chafing in key locations like armpits, nipples and inner thighs.
  • After getting dressed, weigh yourself (this will help to measure your post-race fluid balance).
  • Confirm that all contact information on your bib is complete.
  • Keep your warm-up brief to loosen your muscles yet conserve your body's energy.
  • Address problems early in the race. Don't ignore issues like a poorly tied shoe, an area of skin that is beginning to chafe, or a pebble that has made its way into your shoe. Letting the problem persist could result in much bigger trouble, like an injury.
  • Relax. It is normal to feel nervous the morning of the race. Have faith in all of your hard work and preparation. Feel confident that you can achieve your goals. Enjoy the marathon experience!
Runners can visit UPMC Sports Medicine's marathon-running website for tips on marathon training, preparation and recovery. For additional training tips and other information about UPMC Sports Medicine's involvement in the Pittsburgh Marathon, as well as real-time updates from the medical tent on race day, follow UPMC Sports Medicine on Twitter.

As medical sponsor of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, UPMC Sports Medicine provides free training seminars for marathon participants, as well as medical support along the race course and at the start and finish lines. With UPMC's Department of Emergency Medicine, UPMC Sports Medicine will assemble a team of medical volunteers from UPMC, other local hospitals, the City of Pittsburgh's Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and other local EMS departments to provide medical care to the thousands of runners on race day. UPMC is the official medical provider for the event, as it has been since the first Pittsburgh Marathon in 1985.





May 1, 2014 - UPMC Cracks Code for 'Personalizing' Costs to Transform Delivery of Care


PITTSBURGH, May 1, 2014 — Providing the best care at the lowest cost has become one of the mantras of health care reform. While measuring quality in health care is understandably complex, surprisingly, the true cost of caring for individual patients has been nearly impossible to pin down, too.

With the help of new "big data" tools, UPMC's financial and clinical experts have begun to crack the cost code for more than 260,000 hospital patients and 4 million outpatient visits annually. The implications for patients, clinicians and UPMC are sweeping - from better understanding of where and why variations in patient care are occurring to figuring out where best to invest limited capital. Until now, these decisions were based on industrywide cost estimates that often bore little resemblance to reality.

"Health care is moving from volume-based to value-based models of care. To adapt to these sweeping changes, it's imperative that we understand and measure not only the quality and outcomes of the care that we are delivering, but the true costs of that care across the patient's entire experience at UPMC," says UPMC Chief Financial Officer Robert DeMichiei.

Many kinds of so-called "activity-based" costing techniques have been used for decades in manufacturing and other industries, he notes, but have been difficult to apply in the more complex world of health care, where treatments and the care setting must be tailored to the needs of each patient. "Bringing together activity-based cost and quality measurement is a game changer in health care," said Mr. DeMichiei. "It will allow us to consistently maximize outcomes for our patients while using precious health care resources most effectively."

UPMC's new activity-based costing system, piloted last year at UPMC Mercy and UPMC Presbyterian, retrieves and aggregates relevant clinical, operational and financial information from multiple information systems at UPMC. Sophisticated computer modeling tools, along with internally developed algorithms, allow UPMC's financial analysts to match supplies, blood products, equipment use and more than 50 clinical activities - such as time in the operating room, intensive care unit or rehabilitation facility - to specific patients. In the past, because of the limited ability to systematically share, store and analyze data, general formulas were applied to account for costs, sometimes leading to imprecise conclusions about specific treatments, service lines or facilities.

Ultimately, this cost management system - to be rolled out systemwide over the next year and one of the first in the country - will be married to UPMC's recently implemented data analytics platform, allowing financial analysts and clinicians to quickly see patterns and ask questions that were not easily recognized before. For instance, if either a robotic or laparoscopic surgical procedure produces equivalent patient outcomes, which one is lower cost? Is a certain type of surgery performed more effectively in a hospital or an outpatient setting? If one physician appears to have higher costs than his peers for the same type of surgery, is he getting better results and why?

"We will always do what's right for our patients - but now we have a better way of figuring out what is right in terms of producing the highest-quality, most cost-effective care," says Steven Shapiro, M.D., chief medical and scientific officer. "The health of our patients - and, indeed, the economic health of our country - are at stake."

Physicians have played a key role in building the new system, both in assessing the clinical variables used and the analyses that have resulted. Hospital costs can be viewed in multiple ways: by patient, by physician, by facility, by diagnosis and episode of care. "UPMC's physicians are on the cutting-edge of research and medicine. Now we are playing a leading role in shaping the way that big data, including cost data, will drive evidence-based medicine," said Dr. Shapiro.

UPMC's earliest efforts to create a more transparent and accurate method of cost management started in 2002 in Italy, where UPMC operates ISMETT, one of the country's leading transplant centers. Even without the latest computer tools, financial analysts and clinicians there created some of the methods that have been exported to Pittsburgh's cost management system. "Working under a different payment model in Italy, where fee-for-service is not the norm, our partners were able to get a headstart on the cost management methods that will transform U.S. health care," said Mr. DeMichiei. "As an industry, we must deliver high-quality care in a smarter way."

Watch Chief Financial Officer Rob DeMichiei and Oscar Marroquin, M.D., executive director, UPMC Clinical Analytics and New Models of Care, explain more about UPMC's new cost management system.





April 29, 2014 - MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH MONTH DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE PREVENTION: WHAT WE KNOW, WHAT WE CAN DO


(Note: Area resident is willing to be interviewed on his family's experience with the depression/suicide of a family member.)

The Blair County May Is Mental Health Month Committee presents "Depression and Suicide Prevention: What We Know and What We Can Do," a free program, Wednesday, May 14, at the Altoona Heritage Discovery Center, 1421 12th Ave., Altoona. Professional continuing education credits are available.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and for an hour attendees can visit representatives from different agencies to learn what help and services are available locally for those coping with depression and suicidal thoughts. Program begins at 6:30 p.m.

Nationally, May is designated as Mental Health Month to decrease the stigma society attaches to mental illnesses. For 18 years, a group of local mental health service organizations have presented programs designed to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of mental health-related subjects.

This year, May Is Mental Health Month's featured speakers include Joseph Antonowicz, M.D., medical director, UPMC Altoona Behavioral Health Services, and Holly Wilcox, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Antonowicz will open the presentation by sharing what we know about depression, and Wilcox, also a researcher for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), will discuss what we know about suicide and how we can help prevent it. The program will conclude with testimonies from those who have experience with depression and a suicide loss.

For information on professional continuing education credits, call 889.2706.

Sponsors
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Blair County Department of Social Services
Blair Family Solutions
Community Care Behavioral Health
Home Nursing Agency
Lytle EAP Partners
Meadows Psychiatric Center
National Alliance on Mental Illness of Blair County (NAMI)
Penn State Altoona Health & Wellness Center
Primary Health Network
UPMC Altoona





April 29, 2014 - Low Cholesterol in Immune Cells Tied to Slow Progression of HIV


PITTSBURGH, April 29, 2014 — People infected with HIV whose immune cells have low cholesterol levels experience much slower disease progression, even without medication, according to University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health research that could lead to new strategies to control infection.

The Pitt Public Health researchers found that low cholesterol in certain cells, which is likely an inherited trait, affects the ability of the body to transmit the virus to other cells. The discovery, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is featured in today's issue of mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

When HIV enters the body, it is typically picked up by immune system cells called dendritic cells, which recognize foreign agents and transport the virus to lymph nodes where it is passed to other immune system cells, including T cells. HIV then uses T cells as its main site of replication. It is through this mechanism that levels of HIV increase and overwhelm the immune system, leading to AIDS. Once a person develops AIDS, the body can no longer fight infections and cancers. Prior to effective drug therapy, the person died within one to two years after the AIDS diagnosis.

"We've known for two decades that some people don't have the dramatic loss in their T cells and progression to AIDS that you'd expect without drug therapy," said lead author Giovanna Rappocciolo, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Pitt Public Health. "Instead the disease is much slower to progress, and we believe low cholesterol in dendritic cells may be a reason."

The discovery was made possible by using 30 years of data and biologic specimens collected through the Pitt Men's Study, a confidential research study of the natural history of HIV/AIDS, part of the national NIH-funded Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS).

"We couldn't have made this discovery without the MACS. Results like ours are the real pay-off of the past three decades of meticulous data and specimen collection," said senior author Charles Rinaldo, Ph.D., chairman of Pitt Public Health's Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, and professor of pathology. "It is thanks to our dedicated volunteer participants that we are making such important advances in understanding HIV, and applying it to preventing and treating AIDS."

Medications called combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) disrupt the viral replication process and can delay the onset of AIDS by decades.

However, even without taking ART, a small percentage of people infected with HIV do not have the persistent loss of T cells and increase in levels of HIV after initial infection. They can sometimes go many years, even more than a decade, without the virus seriously compromising the immune system or leading to AIDS.

Through the Pitt Men's Study/MACS, eight such "nonprogressors" were assessed twice a year for an average of 11 years and compared to eight typically progressing HIV-positive counterparts.

Dr. Rappocciolo and her colleagues found that in nonprogressors, the dendritic cells were not transferring the virus to T cells at detectible levels. When taking a closer look at these dendritic cells, the researchers discovered that the cells had low levels of cholesterol, even though the nonprogressors had regular levels of cholesterol in their blood. A similar finding was shown for B lymphocytes, which also pass HIV to T cells, leading to high rates of HIV replication.

Cholesterol is an essential component of the outer membranes of cells. It is required for HIV to replicate efficiently in different types of cells. None of the study participants were taking statins, which are cholesterol-lowering medications that some people take to prevent vascular problems when cholesterol in their blood is too high.

When HIV was directly mixed with the nonprogressors' T cells in the laboratory, those T cells became infected with the virus at the same rate as the T cells of the regularly progressing, HIV-positive participants. Indeed, T cells from the nonprogressors had normal levels of cholesterol.

"This means that the disruption is unlikely to be due to a problem with the T cells, further supporting our conclusion that the slow progression is linked to low cholesterol in the dendritic cells and B cells," said Dr. Rappocciolo.

"What is most intriguing is that dendritic cells in the nonprogressors had this protective trait years before they became infected with HIV," Dr. Rinaldo said. "This strongly suggests that the inability of their dendritic cells and B cells to pass HIV to their T cells is a protective trait genetically inherited by a small percentage of people. Understanding how this works could be an important clue in developing new approaches to prevent progression of HIV infection."

Additional researchers on this study are Mariel Jais, B.S., Paolo Piazza, Ph.D., Todd A. Reinhart, Sc.D., Stella J. Berendam, B.S., Laura Garcia-Exposito, Ph.D., and Phalguni Gupta, Ph.D., all of Pitt Public Health.

This research was supported by NIH grants U01-AI35041 and R37-AI41870.

About the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. Pitt Public Health is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about Pitt Public Health, visit the school's Web site at www.publichealth.pitt.edu.





April 25, 2014 - Friends All-Faiths Chapel Dedicated


Chaplain Tony Conrad speaks during the dedication 
  prayer service today at the new Friends All-Faiths Chapel.


Peggy Cawthern, president of UPMC Friends, hospital's auxiliary, presented 
  a check for $100,000 to Chaplain Tony Conrad (left), director of Pastoral Care, and Jerry Murray, UPMC Altoona president.
ALTOONA, April 25, 2014 — Visitors, employees, the Pastoral Care Department and Friends of UPMC Altoona officially dedicated the new Friends All-Faiths Chapel today.

While the chapel unofficially opened for religious services Jan. 19, the "official" dedication prayer service provided an opportunity for Pastoral Care Department to express its gratitude to all who helped make the new sacred space a reality.

"Our intent from the design phase through the year-long construction process was to create a sacred space. A space thought of as a place of comfort, prayer, and peace for all people who are of all faiths," said Tony Conrad, Pastoral Care Department director.

"It is a blending of the spirit, traditions, and sacred articles from both the former Holy Family Chapel located at the Bon Secours-Holy Family (Mercy) Hospital and the former All Faiths Chapel at the Altoona Hospital, predecessors of UPMC Altoona," he said. "The chapel incorporates, with great care, sacred articles and themes from major faith traditions representative of the Allegheny Mountains."

The chapel's name - Friends All-Faiths Chapel - recognizes the hospital's auxiliary, which contributed a major monetary gift, which made the chapel a reality. Additionally, UPMC Altoona Laboratory Services made a significant donation in honor of co-worker and friend Patty Rebar.

Photo 1: Chaplain Tony Conrad speaks during the dedication prayer service today at the new Friends All-Faiths Chapel.

Photo 2: Peggy Cawthern, president of UPMC Friends, hospital's auxiliary, presented a check for $100,000 to Chaplain Tony Conrad (left), director of Pastoral Care, and Jerry Murray, UPMC Altoona president.

"Friends of UPMC Altoona is humbled to have the new All Faiths Chapel on OP4 named in its honor," Peggy Cawthern, auxiliary president, said. "Our group, which has its roots in both the auxiliaries of Altoona Hospital and also Mercy/Bon Secours, so members are pleased to contribute $100,000 to the new chapel.

"We believe that the charitable spirit of our organization and the desire to give back to all the people who have supported our organization through the years fuels our desire to see the dream of a new chapel come to fruition. The industriousness of our staff and volunteers in their efforts to raise money through fundraisers and our gift shops is unmatched. Without their dedication, we would not have the solvency to distribute gifts of this nature."

Chapel Appointments
Chapel appointments blend historically significant items from both the former Bon Secours-Holy Family and Altoona Hospital chapels to represent the united, new-faith community. The chapel retains the hardwood ceiling, the sole reminder of its former occupant, a café.

The matching altar, ambo, tabernacle, and 14-stained-glass win­dows depicting the Stations of the Cross (Roman Catholic), chairs, presider's chair, and candle holders came from the former Bon Secours-Holy Family (Mercy) Hospital chapel.

The stained-glass window depicting the burning bush and the Ten Commandments represents the Abrahamic faiths (Jewish, Islamic, and Christian), and came the former Altoona Hospital All-Faiths Chapel.

The statue of the Holy Family formerly graced the emergency room waiting area at Bon Secours-Holy Family.

The three icons of Jesus the healer, cre­ated by local artist and iconographer Mary Susick, represent the Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic traditions and were donated in memory of Julia Susick from the Susick and Lubert families. They are placed above the NIV Bible in the meditation area, repre­senting the Protestant tradition. The Bible is a gift from the Pastoral Care Department.

The icon cross of San Damiano, hang­ing behind the altar, is a gift in memory of Travis Chuff from the Travis Chuff Fund.






April 23, 2014 - Media Alert for Friday, April 25: New Chapel Dedicated at 10 a.m. and Earth Day Festivities, 11 a.m.


ALTOONA, April 23, 2014 — The UPMC Altoona Pastoral Care Department invites the media to the official dedication ceremony of its new Friends All-Faiths Chapel at 10 a.m. Friday, April 25. Reporters, photographers and videographers should report to the Greeter Desk at the main entrance by 9:50 a.m.

Available to interview after the dedication service:
    Jerry Murray, president, UPMC Altoona
    Tony Conrad, director, Pastoral Care
    Peggy Cawthern, president of Friends of UPMC Altoona, the hospital auxiliary, and a donor to the project
    Donors Mark Chuff, representative of the Travis Chuff Fund, and Angie Lubert, representative of the Susick and Lubert families.
Earth Day Festivities, 11 a.m., in the Atrium
UPMC Altoona celebrates Earth Day! Join the hospital's Go Green Committee in its third annual event recognizing the hospital's strides in recycling. The committee has invited various environmentally friendly organizations to participate and help spread the word that it's up to us to preserve the World's natural resources for future generations.

Available to interview: Gary Zuckerman, vice president of Supply Chain & Facilities Management.





April 23, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Foundation Presents Lifesaving AEDs to Blair Law Enforcement


Lindon T. Kwock, M.D., joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
ALTOONA, April 23, 2014 — Sudden cardiac death is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The possibility of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent every minute after collapse.

Photo: The UPMC Foundation presented Blair County law enforcement agencies with 35 automatic external defibrillators at a meeting of the Blair County Chiefs of Police Association April 23. Attending were (left to right): front row - Police Chiefs Rowdy C. Kagarise, Jeff Ketner, James E. Ott, Ronald A. Givler, Milton R. Fields and Roger White; second row - Tim Balconi, president, UPMC Altoona Foundation; Rob Halbritter, president, UPMC Altoona Foundation board; Neil Port, member, UPMC Altoona Foundation board; Sgt. Mike Zabinsky, UPMC Altoona Police Department; Chief Paul Blanchard; Matthew Bouchard, M.D., chairman, UPMC Altoona Emergency Medicine; Shaun Sheehan, D.O., assistant medical director of Emergency Medicine and director of Emergency Medical Services at UPMC Altoona, and Rich Consiglio, Blair County district attorney.

"To have the best chance of survival, you need to get early CPR and early defibrillation," says Shaun Sheehan, D.O., assistant medical director of Emergency Medicine and director of Emergency Medical Services at UPMC Altoona.

There may be times when law enforcement is closer to a victim of cardiac arrest than an ambulance, Dr. Sheehan says. Until now, most police agencies did not have an AED.

To reduce the time that passes from sudden cardiac death to defibrillation, the UPMC Altoona Foundation is donating 35 AEDs to area police agencies, according to foundation President Tim Balconi. The 35 AEDs represent a donation of about $50,000. The foundation has also arranged free AED training and support.

An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. They are simple to use for the layperson, and their use is taught in many first aid, first responder and basic life support CPR classes.

After receiving free training in the use of an AED from UPMC Altoona Police, officers throughout Blair County can help victims of sudden cardiac death.

"Our hope is that we can improve the community members' chances of survival from sudden cardiac death by getting a defibrillator to them faster," Dr. Sheehan says.

The recipient list includes:
  • UPMC Altoona Police
  • Williamsburg
  • Greenfield Township
  • Duncansville
  • Sheriff
  • Roaring Spring
  • Tyrone
  • Martinsburg
  • Freedom Township
  • Blair Township
  • Logan Township
  • Hollidaysburg
  • City of Altoona
  • Bellwood
  • North Woodbury Township





April 22, 2014 - Michelle Dodson Joins UPMC Altoona Foundation


ALTOONA, April 22, 2014 — Michelle Dodson has accepted the position of development associate and events coordinator for the UPMC Altoona Foundation.

Michelle has been employed by the hospital system for 25 years, most recently working in Nursing Administration. She began her career as a receptionist with Altoona Family Inc. at Mercy Hospital. Michelle worked in Marketing and Communications at Mercy/Bon Secours-Holy Family for over 10 years before the hospital merger.






April 22, 2014 - SANE-Trained Nurses Available 24/7 in UPMC Altoona Emergency Department


ALTOONA, April 22, 2014 — In August 2013, 18 UPMC Altoona nurses completed a multi-step training program, initiated in 2012, to become Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). Thanks to this training, the number of sexual assault cases identified and reported by UPMC Altoona has been on the rise.

UPMC Altoona strives to always have a SANE-trained nurse available in the ED and has met this goal every month since October. In fact, UPMC Altoona now has more SANE-trained nurses than any other hospital in the UPMC system.

This accomplishment involved the efforts of many community partners, including Family Services Inc., the Altoona Police Department, the Greensburg Crime Lab, and the Blair County District Attorney's Office. Together with UPMC Altoona, these organizations make up the Central Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

Jackie Bevan, victim services director at Family Services Inc., said the role of a SART is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to victims of sexual assault.

"Since the inception of the program and as a result of the training provided to the nurses in the Emergency Department, victims have received a much higher level of care from UPMC Altoona," she said. "As we enhance our collective response to crimes of sexual violence in every step of the process, including collecting all evidence and asking the right questions, our hope is that Blair County will see an increased rate of prosecution and conviction."

April is National Sexual Assault Month.






April 4, 2014 - Lindon T. Kwock, M.D., joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


Lindon T. Kwock, M.D., joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — Lindon T. Kwock, M.D., has joined the UPMC Altoona medical staff in the Department of Radiology.

Dr. Kwock is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology. He received his medical degree from Tulane University, New Orleans; did his internship training at University of California, San Francisco, and his residency training at University of Illinois, Chicago.

Dr. Kwock completed an MRI fellowship with emphasis on musculoskeletal radiology at Proscan International in Cincinnati.






April 4, 2014 - Medical Records Employee Retires With 26 Years of Service


Deborah Steinbugl, assistant in the Medical Records Department
ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — Deborah Steinbugl, assistant in the Medical Records Department, retired from UPMC Altoona March 14 with 26 years of service.

Steinbugl began her career in the Medical Records Transcription Department in 1988.

"I will miss all my friends and feel very grateful to have had this position," she said. "I plan on spending more time with my seven grandchildren."

Deborah also intends to spend time volunteering in her retirement. She is an active member of St. Mary's Catholic Church.






April 4, 2014 - Kathleen Sweeney, D.O., Named Affiliated Teacher of the Year by PCOM


Kathleen Sweeney, D.O., Named Affiliated Teacher of the Year by PCOM
ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — Kathleen Sweeney, D.O., a UPMC Altoona physician, will be honored with the 2014 Affiliated Teacher of the Year award by the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).

PCOM clinical faculty, teaching in all specialties from across the nation, are eligible for the award, with a single recipient chosen based on feedback from PCOM students, associate deans and the assistant dean of Clinical Education.

Dr. Sweeney is associate director of Altoona Family Physicians (AFP) and the AFP director of osteopathic medical education. She has been teaching PCOM students for 24 years. AFP is part of UPMC Altoona.

"I am extremely honored to receive this award," Dr. Sweeney said. "I would like to recognize AFP, Women's Health & Wellness, Pregnancy Care Center and Williamsburg Family Practice staff, faculty and residents, and our hospital medical staff, nursing and ancillary personnel, who set a positive learning environment for all of our students."

The award will be given at an alumni reception hosted by PCOM's Office of Alumni Relations and Development during the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association's 106th Annual Clinical Assembly in King of Prussia on May 1.






April 4, 2014 - Jamie Baser Joins UPMC Altoona Marketing and Communications Department


Jamie Baser Joins UPMC Altoona Marketing and Communications Department
ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — Jamie A. Baser was recently hired as a marketing and communications specialist at UPMC Altoona. She is responsible for writing, editing and designing internal publications and serves as the contact person for website and intranet maintenance and enhancement.

Jamie holds a bachelor's degree in Public Relations from Penn State and resides in Hollidaysburg.

She previously worked as Hollidaysburg Main Street Manager for the Hollidaysburg Community Partnership and the Borough of Hollidaysburg.






April 4, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Employees Participate in Health Care Professionals' Advocacy Day


UPMC Altoona employees visit Harrisburg for UPMC Health Care Professionals' Advocacy Day.
ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — Six UPMC Altoona employees had the opportunity to participate in legislative meetings in Harrisburg on March 11. The Altoona group traveled along with two busloads of UPMC employees from other locations.

The UPMC participants were split into small groups and each had the opportunity to meet with two to three legislators and/or staff. Each group was accompanied by a lobbyist who helped facilitate discussion.

Michele Iuzzolino, clinical manager in the Emergency Department, was among those who attended.

"Each of us were ready with a one- to two-sentence introduction that explained what we do and how government intervention in the health care market would make it harder for us to treat patients," Michele said. "It was a great experience."

Photo: UPMC Altoona employees visit Harrisburg for UPMC Health Care Professionals' Advocacy Day.






April 4, 2014 - 2014 UPMC Altoona Foundation's Annual Golf Classic To Be Held June 23


ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — UPMC Altoona Foundation's Annual Golf Classic will be June 23 at Scotch Valley Country Club.

An individual golfer fee is $150 and includes greens fees, cart and luncheon. Play is open to all golfers.

Throughout the day, prizes will be awarded for closest to the pin, longest drive, longest putt and more. Additionally, there will be a golf ball drop with a $300 prize for the ball that lands closest to the pin. Golf ball drop tickets will be on sale for $10, and you do not have to be present to win.

Last year, $56,000 was raised to benefit the foundation, which exists to financially support the programs and services within the health system.

Tickets are available for purchase on the UPMC Altoona website, or contact the foundation at 814-889-6406.






April 4, 2014 - Friends Raises $5,250 With First Spring Raffle


ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — The UPMC Altoona Atrium was bustling with activity on March 14 at the first annual Spring Fling Basket Raffle, sponsored by Friends, the hospital's auxiliary.

Hospital employees and visitors made their way around the tables of baskets trying to decide which they wanted to try their luck with, and luck was a common basket theme with St. Patrick's Day just a few days away.

Gregg Weise, Friends' ways and means co-chair, said he was very pleased with the results. Twenty baskets were donated by various hospital departments and groups.

Sally Young, Friends member and retired employee, said many of the prizes were worth several hundred dollars, some as much as $400.

Determined by number of entries, the most popular basket was a wicker patio furniture set and other patio accessories donated by Volunteer Services, Marketing and Communications, Foundation for Life and Community Education.

As Dana Kopera from the OR dropped tickets into one of the bags, her co-workers joked that this was already her second time that day participating in the raffle.

"I'm just supporting a very good cause," Dana said.

Friends will hold another basket raffle in September.






April 4, 2014 - UPMC Altoona to Celebrate Volunteer Week April 6-13


Cheryl Fleck (front) and Danielle Minori (back), UPMC Altoona volunteers, weigh and bag candy for the gift shop.
ALTOONA, April 4, 2014 — There are more than 600 active volunteers working throughout UPMC Altoona, and these hardworking people, ranging in age from 14 to 95, gave a total of 86,107 hours of their time in 2013.

UPMC Altoona will celebrate them the week of April 6-13, National Volunteer Week.

They're recognizable by their blue jackets and "volunteer" badges. They greet anyone entering the hospital or Station Medical Center (SMC). They provide assistance, directions and escorts to visitors. They answer phones, assemble charts, discharge patients, stuff envelopes and help with filing and paperwork. They clean wheelchairs, knit baby hats, deliver meals, transfer patients and deliver charts and lab specimens.

Friends, the auxiliary volunteer group, raises money to support the unbudgeted needs of hospital departments through fundraisers and the operating and staffing of the UPMC Altoona and SMC gift shops.

Volunteers are appreciated year-round, but one week each year is set aside as a reminder to truly recognize and celebrate their hard work. Throughout the week, Volunteer Services will provide refreshments for volunteers, and each one will receive a small thank-you gift. Award pins will be given to volunteers reaching milestones in hours served; the highest milestone for this year is 25,000 hours by Maggie Klesius.

Photo: Cheryl Fleck (front) and Danielle Minori (back), UPMC Altoona volunteers, weigh and bag candy for the gift shop.






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