About Us       Contact Us       Search       Employment       Volunteers       HOME
Altoona Regional Logo
Medical Services Physicians Health Library Healthy Living Club News Gift Giving Classes and Events Gift Shop
-->
journalists
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.



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
3/20/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for April
3/18/14 - Stem Cells from Muscle Can Repair Nerve Damage After Injury, Pitt Researchers Show
3/13/14 - Free Medical Clinic Receives Grant
3/13/14 - Penn State Altoona Women's Basketball Supports Fight Against Breast Cancer
3/13/14 - Renee Volny, D.O., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
3/13/14 - Pushpamal Reddy, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff
3/13/14 - John W. Hoyt, M.D., Named Master Fellow
3/13/14 - Emergency Department Employee Retires With 31 Years Of Service
3/13/14 - Corey Schutt, D.O., Receives Board Certification
3/03/14 - Pitt Study Identifies Biomarkers That Can Provide Advance Warning of Deadly Kidney Condition in Critically Ill Patients
2/28/14 - Statement on the Ratification of a New Contract Between the Hospital and SEIU Healthcare PA
2/26/14 - Second-Most Common Breast Cancer Subtype May Benefit From Personalized Treatment Approach, UPCI Finds
2/25/14 - Women's Night Out Features Nationally-Recognized Motivator
2/24/14 - Come Get your Hula on at 18th Annual UPMC Children's Ball
2/24/14 - Pitt Scientists Receive $3.5 Million for Brain Research from DSF Charitable Foundation
2/21/14 - UPMC Bedford Partners with Local Organizations to Offer Health Screenings
2/21/14 - UPMC Foundation, Mallery Trust Donate Digital Hearing Screening Machines to Blair County Schools
2/20/14 - UPMC Altoona Foundation Donates Digital Hearing Screening Equipment to Blair County School Districts
2/19/14 - Pitt's Neuromuscular Research Lab Begins Work with a Third Branch of U.S. Special Forces: Air Force
2/18/14 - New Webcam System at UPMC Connects Families with Newborns in Intensive Care Units at Children's and Magee
2/17/14 - Stem-Cell Transplant Patients Followed Closely At New UPMC CancerCenter Clinic
2/17/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for March
2/14/14 - Nii-Daako Darko, D.O. Joins UPMC Altoona Trauma/Emergency General Surgery Service
2/13/14 - UPDATE: This is our final strike post
2/13/14 - Laboratory Detective Work Points to Potential Therapy for Rare, Drug-Resistant Cancer
2/12/14 - End-of-strike update @ 8 a.m.
2/12/14 - Developer of Innovative Surgical Technique Leads New Center for Colorectal Issues at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
2/11/14 - Strike update as of 8:45 p.m.
2/11/14 - Strike update as of 6 p.m.
2/11/14 - Strike Update
2/10/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in March
2/10/14 - Center for Black Equity and Pitt Public Health Announce HIV Research Project
2/10/14 - News Conference 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10
2/10/14 - Media Reminders: Hospital Policies and Procedures
2/07/14 - UPMC Mercy Burn Survivor Sunday Celebrates Patients and Caregivers
2/03/14 - Mood-stabilizing Drug Could be New Treatment for Inherited Liver Disease, Says Pitt/Children's Team
1/31/14 - Family Medicine Physicians Open Huntingdon Practice
1/31/14 - Saint Francis University Students Cheer Patients
1/31/14 - Innovative Pitt Competition Aims to Solve Health Problems through Patient Engagement
1/31/14 - UPMC Asks Visitors to Help Protect Patients by Staying Away if They Are Ill
1/30/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for February
1/29/14 - HOSPITAL / UNION AGREE TO MEET
1/28/14 - HOSPITAL STATEMENT ON SEIU STRIKE NOTICE
1/28/14 - Sleep Apnea Support Group Canceled
1/27/14 - UPMC One of First in Country to Treat Cancer Patients with New CyberKnife® System
1/24/14 - Low Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Severe Preeclampsia
1/23/14 - GE-NFL Grant Awarded to Pitt, UPMC Concussion Program to Conduct Innovative Brain Imaging Research
1/20/14 - Uninsured Patients Less Likely to Be Transferred Between Hospitals, Pitt Researchers Find
1/16/14 - Behavioral Health Services Employees Receive Certifications
1/15/14 - Low National Funding for LGBT Health Research Contributes to Inequities, Pitt-led Analysis Finds
1/14/14 - Media Literacy Tops Traditional Education in School Smoking-Prevention Efforts
1/13/14 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics/Classes in February
1/13/14 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for January
1/13/14 - Pitt Establishes Brain Institute to Unlock Mysteries of the Brain, Discover Novel Therapies
1/8/14 - New Device Can Reduce Sleep Apnea Episodes by 70 Percent, Pitt-UPMC Study Shows
1/8/14 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Launches Orthodontics Program
1/7/14 - Pitt, UPMC Receive Awards to Create Clinical Data Research Network, Conduct Comparative Effectiveness Research
1/6/14 - No 'Brakes' — Pitt Study Finds Mechanism for Increased Activity of Oncogene in Head and Neck Cancers
1/6/14 - UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute Performs Pennsylvania's First Minimally Invasive Heart Pump Implant
1/3/14 - First Blair County Baby of New Year Born At UPMC Altoona
1/3/14 - New Child Restraint Recommendations in 2014
1/2/14 - UPMC Altoona Participates in Project Santa
1/2/14 - Friends of UPMC Altoona Installs Officers
1/2/14 - UPMC Altoona Welcomes Nuclear Medicine Interns
1/2/14 - Kay Jewelers Presents Bear Donation to UPMC Altoona
1/2/14 - David Burwell, M.D., Receives Board Certification
1/2/14 - Ebere Anokwuru, M.D., Passes Certification



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.






March 20, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for April


ALTOONA, March 20, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for April 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!

A six-week series of yoga begins Tuesday, April 8, and continues through May 13. Class begins each Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 6:40 p.m. in the Rotunda, 6th floor, Outpatient Center at the hospital. Register now as class is limited to 30. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Yoga mat is needed for all classes. Fee $30.

Gail Murphy, registered yoga teacher, 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 offered by appointment from 9:30-11 a.m. Friday, April 11, 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 12:30-3 p.m. Friday, April 11, 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, is presented from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, 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.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening is offered by appointment only from 8 a.m-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 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.

National Health Care Decisions Day will be marked at UPMC Altoona on Wednesday, April 16.

If you are 18 or older and don't have a living will or durable medical power of attorney, stop by our table in the main lobby of UPMC Altoona from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for information and forms.

UPMC Altoona's Case Management Department is participating in a collaborative effort of national, state, and community organizations to ensure that adults with decision-making capacity have information and an opportunity to communicate their personal health care decisions.

Pennsylvania advance medical directive forms and other information will be available.

Brain Attack: Be Stroke Smart will be presented by Janet Ashurst, BSN, CCRN, Neuroscience clinical coordinator, on Friday, April 25. Lunch at 11 a.m. Program is from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at

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.

On average, one American dies from stroke every 4 minutes. And stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S. UPMC Altoona's Primary Stroke Team wants to get the word out: Recognizing the signs of stroke and getting early treatment are key to minimizing damage and disability.

Developing Positive Leadership Skills with the Rev. David Hammerle of UPMC Altoona's Pastoral Care Department will be presented from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, April 28, at the Station Medical Center Conference Room (enter the K-4 entrance, left of Fresenius Dialysis Center).

Donation of $10 is requested but not required. This donation will go toward the support of Day One of Altoona, a nonprofit, faith-based counseling service. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Rev. Hammerle discusses the important qualities found in good leaders and helps students discover ways to develop these skills. Offers 0.2 CEUs.

Now is the time to register for the 2014 Caregiver's Conference, hosted by the Geriatric Interest Network of the Blair County Region, which will be held from 8:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Friday, May 9, at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.

Enjoy conversations and demonstrations with the experts and fellow caregivers who share many of the issues you face. Topics include legal issues, driving issues, dealing with stress and negative emotions, and more. We hope you will join us for education, door prizes, and a delicious lunch!

There is no fee. Lunch is compliments of HealthSouth. Space is limited and open to unpaid caregivers of older adults on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is required by calling Dana Shade at 889-3123. All reservations must be made by May 5.

Should your loved one require assistance while you attend the conference, please call Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries' Senior Daily Living Center to arrange for day-care services. There is no fee but you must make arrangements in advance. Please call 946-4693, speak to the center manager, and mention the GIN Caregivers' Conference.






March 18, 2014 - Stem Cells from Muscle Can Repair Nerve Damage After Injury, Pitt Researchers Show


PITTSBURGH, March 18, 2014 — Stem cells derived from human muscle tissue were able to repair nerve damage and restore function in an animal model of sciatic nerve injury, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest that cell therapy of certain nerve diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, might one day be feasible.

To date, treatments for damage to peripheral nerves, which are the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, have not been very successful, often leaving patients with impaired muscle control and sensation, pain and decreased function, said senior author Johnny Huard, Ph.D., professor of orthopaedic surgery, and Henry J. Mankin Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery Research, Pitt School of Medicine, and deputy director for cellular therapy, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

"This study indicates that placing adult, human muscle-derived stem cells at the site of peripheral nerve injury can help heal the lesion," Dr. Huard said. "The stem cells were able to make non-neuronal support cells to promote regeneration of the damaged nerve fiber."

The researchers, led by Dr. Huard and Mitra Lavasani, Ph.D., first author and assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, Pitt School of Medicine, cultured human muscle-derived stem/progenitor cells in a growth medium suitable for nerve cells. They found that, with prompting from specific nerve-growth factors, the stem cells could differentiate into neurons and glial support cells, including Schwann cells that form the myelin sheath around the axons of neurons to improve conduction of nerve impulses.

In mouse studies, the researchers injected human muscle-derived stem/progenitor cells into a quarter-inch defect they surgically created in the right sciatic nerve, which controls right leg movement. Six weeks later, the nerve had fully regenerated in stem-cell treated mice, while the untreated group had limited nerve regrowth and functionality. Twelve weeks later, treated mice were able to keep their treated and untreated legs balanced at the same level while being held vertically by their tails. When the treated mice ran through a special maze, analyses of their paw prints showed eventual restoration of gait. Treated and untreated mice experienced muscle atrophy, or loss, after nerve injury, but only the stem cell-treated animals had regained normal muscle mass by 72 weeks post-surgery.

"Even 12 weeks after the injury, the regenerated sciatic nerve looked and behaved like a normal nerve," Dr. Lavasani said. "This approach has great potential for not only acute nerve injury, but also conditions of chronic damage, such as diabetic neuropathy and multiple sclerosis."

Drs. Huard and Lavasani and the team are now trying to understand how the human muscle-derived stem/progenitor cells triggered injury repair, as well as developing delivery systems, such as gels, that could hold the cells in place at larger injury sites.

Co-authors of the paper include Seth D. Thompson, B.S., Jonathan B. Pollett, Ph.D., Arvydas Usas, M.D., Aiping Lu, M.D., Donna B. Stolz, Ph.D., Katherine A. Clark, B.S., Bin Sun, Ph.D., and Bruno Péault, Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh.

The project was funded by National Institutes of Health grants AR049684 and NS081724-01, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Henry J. Mankin Endowed Chair for Orthopaedic Research at the University of Pittsburgh, the William F. and Jean W. Donaldson Chair at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the Hirtzel Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center.

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






March 13, 2014 - Free Medical Clinic Receives Grant


ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — The UPMC Altoona Partnering for Health medical clinic is one of 40 new recipients to receive a grant through the state Department of Health's Community-Based Health Care Subsidy Program. The medical office will use its $165,140 grant to enhance its primary care services to the underinsured and financially challenged in Central Pennsylvania.

The clinic plans to hire a full-time physician assistant and a licensed practical nurse, use the services of a UPMC Altoona registered dietitian for patient nutrition counseling services, and contract with Thompson's Pharmacy of Altoona to provide prescription medication review and patient counseling.

The grants were announced Feb. 19 by Secretary of Health Michael Wolf and Physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone. The department's Community-Based Health Care Subsidy Program was expanded with an additional $4 million under Gov. Corbett and with the help of Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Chester) via Act 10 of 2013 to increase access to primary care services across Pennsylvania.

"This program, which is also a core tenet of Healthy Pennsylvania, really is mission-critical to improving health care access and helping bring immediate preventive primary care services to underserved areas of the state," said Wolf.

For fiscal 2013-14 grants, 73 applications were received by the department and 40 grants were distributed in 27 counties. Eligible facilities included federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, free clinics, hospital clinics and nurse-managed care clinics. The grant period began Jan. 1 and will conclude June 30, 2015.

Gov. Corbett's recently proposed budget doubles the investment in the Community-Based Health Care Subsidy Program, providing $8 million to Pennsylvania's community-based health care clinics and funding four additional health centers and clinics, in addition to 36 existing health centers and clinics.

For additional information about the Community-Based Health Care Subsidy Program, visit the department's website. For additional information about Healthy Pennsylvania, visit its website.






March 13, 2014 - Penn State Altoona Women's Basketball Supports Fight Against Breast Cancer


John Nardozza, assistant coach; Tim Balconi; Casey Shoup, head coach; Lindsey Port, assistant coach; and Janelle Nardozza, volunteer coach.
ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — The Penn State Altoona women's basketball team concluded their annual fundraising drive in support of the fight against breast cancer on Feb. 22. They presented Tim Balconi, the president of UPMC Altoona's Foundation, with a $2,400 check at halftime of their game to assist the hospital's efforts in breast cancer treatment.

Photo: In the photo are (from left) - John Nardozza, assistant coach; Tim Balconi; Casey Shoup, head coach; Lindsey Port, assistant coach; and Janelle Nardozza, volunteer coach.






March 13, 2014 - Renee Volny, D.O., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — Renee Volny, D.O., has joined the medical staff of UPMC Altoona in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

She received her osteopathic medical degree from Kansas City (Mo.) University of Medicine and Biosciences, and did her residency training with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, N.J. She received a fellowship from Morehouse School of Medicine, Ga., in health policy leadership.

Dr. Volny is board-eligible by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology.






March 13, 2014 - Pushpamal Reddy, M.D., Joins UPMC Altoona Medical Staff


ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — Pushpamal Reddy, M.D., has joined the medical staff of UPMC Altoona in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Reddy practices with UPMC CancerCenter.

She received her medical degree from Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, India, and completed her internship at Osmania General Hospital, India. She did her residency training at St. Francis Medical Center in Pennsylvania in radiation therapy; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in nuclear medicine; UPMC Presbyterian in radiation oncology, and Montefiore University Hospital in Pennsylvania.

She is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology in therapeutic radiology and by the American Board of Nuclear Medicine.






March 13, 2014 - John W. Hoyt, M.D., Named Master Fellow


John W. Hoyt, M.D., Named Master Fellow
ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — John W. Hoyt, M.D., received the honor of master fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine (MCCM) in January in San Francisco. Dr. Hoyt is an intensivist at UPMC Altoona.

Nominees for the honor are selected by their peers and must have distinguished themselves by achieving national and international professional prominence due to personal character, leadership, eminence in clinical practice, outstanding contributions to research and education in critical care medicine, and years of exemplary service to the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the field of critical care medicine.

Photo: At the ceremony were (from left): Sandra-lee Blosser, M.D., FCCM, chief of intensivist development, Pittsburgh Critical Care Associates (PCCA); John Hoyt, M.D., MCCM, founder of PCCA and national leader in critical care medicine, and Carol Thompson, Ph.D., CCRN, FCCM, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.






March 13, 2014 - Emergency Department Employee Retires With 31 Years Of Service


ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — Donna Wood, Patient Access representative in the Emergency Department, retired from UPMC Altoona Feb. 28 with 31 years of service.

Donna was hired by Mercy Hospital as a secretary for Anesthesia in 1982. During her career, she worked as a secretary for the Emergency Department, B3, Maternity, Transitional Care, and T-11, and also as a phlebotomist in the lab.

"I have made so many friends over the years between Bon Secours and here that I will always remember," Donna said. "Watching all of the changes over the years is amazing. My plans for retirement include renovations on my home, spending time with my family, traveling, and sleeping late. I want to thank everyone for their help and kindness over the years."






March 13, 2014 - Corey Schutt, D.O., Receives Board Certification


ALTOONA, March 13, 2014 — Corey Schutt, D.O., of Elite Orthopedics, an affiliate of UPMC Altoona, is now board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery.

The purpose of the certification examination is to provide the public with a way to identify physicians who have met a standard to ensure competent performance in orthopedic surgery.

Dr. Schutt is certified through December 2023.






March 3, 2014 - Pitt Study Identifies Biomarkers That Can Provide Advance Warning of Deadly Kidney Condition in Critically Ill Patients


PITTSBURGH, March 3, 2014 — A national, multi-center study led by University of Pittsburgh researchers found biomarkers that can tell a physician if a patient is at risk for acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition that often affects those in intensive care and can occur hours to days after serious infections, surgery or taking certain medications.

The results, now available online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, validates previous research from this group identifying the biomarkers, known as tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP-2) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP-7) in urine, that signal the kidneys are stressed and at risk for failing. The biomarkers are indicators of cell damage, a key component in the onset of AKI.

"AKI remains one of the most common complications among critically ill patients, affecting up to 7 percent of all hospitalized patients, yet we lack a precise and reliable method of discerning risk," said senior investigator John Kellum, M.D., a critical care physician at UPMC and director of the Pitt Center for Critical Care Nephrology. "By providing actionable information, this study advances the translation of biomarker technology into routine practice."

Investigators enrolled 420 critically ill patients. The primary analysis assessed the ability of the biomarkers to predict moderate to severe AKI within 12 hours of test measurement. To confirm the findings, a committee of three independent expert nephrologists who were blinded to the results of the test reviewed the cases to diagnose AKI.

AKI is asymptomatic, lacking warning signs such as pain, shortness of breath or other clinical symptoms, particularly in the early stages when intervention is most beneficial. The incidence of AKI is high among critically ill patients, with up to 50 percent developing some degree of AKI during their illness, increasing the risk of death due to kidney failure.

"This new study confirms these findings using an expert panel to adjudicate AKI-the first ever to do so for this disease," said Dr. Kellum.

Co-authors of the study include researchers from 23 medical centers nationwide.

The study was sponsored by Astute Medical Inc. Dr. Kellum has received grant support and consulting fees from Astute Medical.

About the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow's health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1998, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health. For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit www.health.pitt.edu.






February 28, 2014 - Statement on the Ratification of a New Contract Between the Hospital and SEIU Healthcare PA


ALTOONA, Feb. 28, 2014 — We are pleased that our nurses have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with the hospital.

We believe that the contract with SEIU Healthcare PA is fair to our nurses and financially prudent for the hospital and our community. It will help the hospital be financially viable in the current health care environment.

The elements of the contract are consistent with what UPMC has done or is doing at its other hospitals, and allows for a successful integration of our registered nurses into UPMC policies and programs.

With the pay and benefits package in the contract, we expect that, like other UPMC hospitals, UPMC Altoona will be able to successfully recruit and retain top talent while offering a package that is affordable for the future.

As all negotiations do, these talks required give and take by both sides on the way to an agreement.

Staffing language remains essentially the same as the previous contract. Salary increases are no more than what is budgeted across the UPMC system. The nurses accepted pension and health care benefits consistent with the UPMC programs.

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.






February 26, 2014 - Second-Most Common Breast Cancer Subtype May Benefit From Personalized Treatment Approach, UPCI Finds


PITTSBURGH, Feb. 26, 2014 — The second-most common type of breast cancer is a very different disease than the most common and appears to be a good candidate for a personalized approach to treatment, according to a multidisciplinary team led by University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) scientists.

Invasive lobular carcinoma, which is characterized by a unique growth pattern in breast tissue that fails to form a lump, has distinct genetic markers that indicate there may be benefits from drug therapies beyond those typically prescribed for the more common invasive ductal carcinoma. The results will be published in the March 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Patients with invasive lobular carcinoma are typically treated through surgical removal of the cancer, followed by chemotherapy or hormone therapy or both, usually with the estrogen-mimicking drug tamoxifen or estrogen-lowering aromatase inhibitors, the same as patients with invasive ductal carcinoma.

"However, recent analyses have shown that a subset of patients with lobular carcinoma receive less benefit from adjuvant tamoxifen than patients with ductal carcinoma," said senior author Steffi Oesterreich, Ph.D., professor at UPCI, a partner with UPMC CancerCenter, and director of education at the Women's Cancer Research Center. "Our study, the largest of its kind, indicates an issue with the estrogen receptors inside lobular carcinoma cells and points to a potential target for drug therapy in future clinical trials, which we are developing."

The UPCI study, funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense, included collaborations across multiple disciplines, ranging from biostatistics and biomedical informatics to pathology and human genetics, in order to produce results with the potential for rapid translation into clinical therapies.

"In addition to its potential clinical implications, the study highlights the need for more and better models mimicking invasive lobular cancer that can be used for laboratory studies," said lead author Matthew Sikora, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate at UPCI.

"Because lobular carcinomas account for only 10 to 15 percent of breast cancers, while ductal carcinomas make up nearly 80 percent, lobular carcinomas are a less attractive option for laboratory study," said Dr. Sikora. "However, 30,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with lobular carcinoma every year, so there is a great need for further study of this disease."

Additional co-authors of this study include Kristine L. Cooper, M.S., Amir Bahreini, B.S., Soumya Luthra, M.S., Uma Chandran, Ph.D., M.S.I.S., Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., and David J. Dabbs, M.D., all of Pitt; and Guoying Wang, M.S., and Alana L. Welm, Ph.D., both of the University of Utah.

This research was supported by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Noreen Fraser Foundation, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program fellowship and Era of Hope Scholar Award, and Pennsylvania Department of Health.

About UPCI
As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; biomedical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. Investigators at UPCI, a partner with UPMC CancerCenter, are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.






February 25, 2014 - Women's Night Out Features Nationally-Recognized Motivator


Women's Night Out Features Nationally-Recognized Motivator Tami Evans
ALTOONA, Feb. 25, 2014 — Women of Blair County, UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club invites you to attend Women's Night Out Thursday, April 24 at The Casino at Lakemont Park. It's a night spent renewing and rebalancing those inner resources with motivational speaker Tami Evans, named among the Top 5 New Speakers 2012 by the National Speakers Association.

Tami travels the country working with organizations to activate optimism, humor, and other hard-core soft-skills. Her clients include Estee Lauder, People Magazine, and more! A genuine and funny motivator, Tami specializes in rich content with a lot of humor for women at any stage in their lives.

She firmly believes laughter is a vital part of learning and living. Tami will have you laughing as you learn how to leverage the power of positivity.

Enjoy a delicious dinner, uplifting words of wisdom and hilarity and the opportunity to help others through a UPMC Altoona Foundation fund-raiser sponsored by Your Jewelry Box. Tickets are on sale for $40 per woman.

Tickets can be purchased via the website at UPMCAltoona.org/WNO. For more information, call UPMC Altoona Healthy Living at 889-2630.






February 24, 2014 - Come Get your Hula on at 18th Annual UPMC Children's Ball


WHAT: The 18th annual UPMC Children's Ball will transport participants to the islands with this year's luau-themed event that will include Hawaiian performers, balloon artists, face painting and much more. Dinner will be provided for all participants, including kid-friendly food and an ice cream sundae bar.

WHO: Children of all ages, parents, grandparents and friends

WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 29

WHERE: Carnegie Science Center, One Allegheny Ave., North Shore, Pittsburgh

WHY: Proceeds from the UPMC Children's Ball benefit the UPMC Health for Life Summer Camp at Braddock, which provides a camping experience free of charge for children and young adults, ages 6 to 16, from the Braddock community. The camp emphasizes healthy lifestyles. Campers receive instruction in art, reading, writing, math, career exploration, nutrition and life skills.

Tickets for the UPMC Children's Ball are $100 for adults and $40 for children. To order tickets or for sponsorship information, contact Gina O'Malley at 412-802-8256.






February 24, 2014 - Pitt Scientists Receive $3.5 Million for Brain Research from DSF Charitable Foundation


PITTSBURGH, Feb. 24, 2014 — With $1.75 million in support from the DSF Charitable Foundation, University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute (UPBI) researchers will begin to establish a NeuroDiscovery Center, akin to a Bell Labs for neuroscience, and hunt for new drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Huntington's and Parkinson's disease. Thanks to another $1.8 million DSF gift, another team of neuroscientists and clinicians will explore the application of a new imaging technology to traumatic brain injury, particularly in wounded veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

University officials recently announced the inception of the Brain Institute, which will enable investigators to perform high-risk, high-impact neuroscience with the aim of transforming lives. Scientific director Peter Strick, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and chair, Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will use a $750,000 gift from the DSF Charitable Foundation to create the NeuroDiscovery Center's pilot fund that will support especially innovative basic and translational research.

"Often, it is an investigator with the boldest idea who holds the key to the next great discovery," Dr. Strick said. "DSF Charitable Foundation's generosity will make it possible for UPBI researchers to freely explore challenging scientific questions that can lead to important discoveries and lay the foundation for the therapeutic advances of the future."

He noted that Bell Laboratories provided a unique research environment in which a diverse group of scientists were brought together and given the resources to "think outside the box," leading to landmark successes, including the development of radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser, information theory, several new computer languages and seven Nobel Prizes.

"Many of the world's renowned neuroscientists are here at Pitt, and the Brain Institute will foster their ability to collaborate with experts across disciplines, including computer science, mathematics and bioengineering as well as medicine and neurobiology," Dr. Strick said. "This wealth of knowledge and experience presents a rare opportunity to conduct powerful, influential science."

Dr. Strick, who recently was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences, holds the Endowed Chair in Systems Neuroscience, is co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, and is a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

A three-year, $1 million gift from the DSF Charitable Foundation will fund another project in the Brain Institute's NeuroDiscovery Center. Principal investigators Robert Friedlander, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, and J. Timothy Greenamyre, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Department of Neurology, and director of the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, will look for drugs that can affect the function of mitochondria, the so-called powerhouses of cells.

"Research conducted here and elsewhere has shown us that mitochondria are key regulators of programmed cell death, which is a critical factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS," Dr. Friedlander said. "If we can protect mitochondria, we might be able to delay symptom progression and extend life just as we have done in animal models of ALS, Huntington's and Parkinson's disease."

The DSF Charitable Foundation also is providing $1.8 million over three years to support the study of an innovative brain imaging technology called high-definition fiber tracking (HDFT) for veterans of the U.S. military who have sustained traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

The HDFT project, led by Walter Schneider, Ph.D., professor of psychology, neurological surgery and radiology, and a senior scientist at Pitt's Learning Research and Development Center, and David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurological surgery and director of the Brain Trauma Program, aims to reveal damage to the fiber tracts, or cables, of the brain just as X-rays indicate broken bones.

"Conventional imaging techniques are not able to show these injuries, so it's harder to diagnose, treat or monitor them," Dr. Okonkwo said. "HDFT has the potential to identify TBI quickly and accurately, which could in turn influence therapy and recovery."

In addition to HDFT scans, participants in the research project will receive a toolkit that includes material to carry out targeted therapies, mobile technology to support ongoing monitoring and other treatment aids.

The DSF Charitable Foundation also made a gift of $100,000 to the Mark A. Nordenberg Scholarship Fund.

"We wanted to contribute to the fund in recognition of Chancellor Nordenberg's exceptional stewardship of the University," said David Scaife, chairman of the Foundation. "As evidenced by Pitt's remarkable progress as an academic institution over the course of his tenure, Mark's leadership has been nothing less than transformative. Witnessing that has been exhilarating."

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.






February 21, 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, 150 to 200 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.

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:

7 to 10 a.m., Saturday, March 8
Chestnut Ridge Family Medicine-UPMC, 2040 Quaker Valley Road, Fishertown, Pa., 15539

7 to 11 a.m., Saturday, April 12
Community Health Fair at Homewood at Spring House Estates, 150 Victoria Ave., Everett, Pa., 15537

7 to 10 a.m., Saturday, June 7
Shawnee Valley Ambulance Service, 166 Valley Road, Schellsburg, Pa., 15559

7 to 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 13
Chestnut Ridge Family Medicine-UPMC, 2040 Quaker Valley Road, Fishertown, Pa., 15539

7 to 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 8
Alum Bank Fire Hall, 6738 King St. Clair Road, Alum Bank, Pa., 15521

No appointments are necessary. For more information or to ask specific questions about the screenings, contact the laboratory at 814-623-3506.






February 21, 2014 - UPMC Foundation, Mallery Trust Donate Digital Hearing Screening Machines to Blair County Schools


UPMC Foundation, Mallery Trust Donate Digital Hearing Screening Machines to Blair County Schools
ALTOONA, Feb. 21, 2014 — The UPMC Altoona Foundation has donated 16 digital hearing screening machines to seven Blair County school districts to promote hearing health among children and youth.

The portable machines cost $16,000, which was provided by a donation from the Ethel Mallery Trust to the UPMC Altoona Foundation. School districts conduct thousands of hearing screening exams each school year on children to detect hearing loss.

Mrs. Mallery was born hard-of-hearing in 1888 and communicated through lip-reading, according to Bruce Erb, trustee/senior vice president of First National Bank. Mr. Erb knew Mrs. Mallery when she was a customer at the bank while he was a teller in the 1970s.

When Mrs. Mallery died in 1979, the Mallery Trust was formed specifically for the "care of children/or young people who may be deaf or hard-of-hearing."

"When you spoke to Ethel, you knew you had to be directly facing her so she could read your lips," Bruce says. "Otherwise, you couldn't communicate with her. Conversing was very difficult for her. I believe this trust was her way of trying to help others."

School nurses in the school districts use the digital hearing screening machines to examine public and private school children in pre-kindergarten, 3rd, 7th and 11th grades.

"These digital machines will allow the school districts to more readily meet the needs of our community's children. Hearing loss can be subtle and yet interfere with a child's ability to learn," says Jerry Murray, president, UPMC Altoona. "UPMC Altoona expresses its thanks to the trustees of the Mallery Trust for their assistance with this project."

Tim Balconi, president of UPMC Altoona Foundation, said the Mallery Trust has been quietly helping the community for decades. Last year, the trust purchased special computer notebooks and programs to assist speech pathologists and their patients who have diagnoses ranging from autism to speech problems.

Mr. Erb, Mr. Murray, and Mr. Balconi presented the machines to the school district superintendents at their monthly meeting at the Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center, 1500 4th Ave., Altoona. Attending were:

Thomas Otto, DEd, Altoona Area School District,
G. Brian Toth, PhD, Bellwood-Antis School District
Royce Boyd (Ms.), Claysburg-Kimmel School District
Robert Gildea, DEd, Hollidaysburg Area School District
Robert Vadella, PhD, Spring Cove School District
Cathy Harlow, Tyrone Area School District
Linda K. Smith, Williamsburg Community School District

PHOTO: UPMC Altoona Foundation presented digital hearing screening equipment to the superintendents of all seven Blair County school districts on Thursday, Feb. 20. At the presentation were (from left): seated - Cathy Harlow of Tyrone Area, Linda K. Smith of Williamsburg Community, Royce Boyd of Claysburg-Kimmel, and G. Brian Toth, DEd, of Bellwood-Antis; standing - Robert Gildea, DEd, of Hollidaysburg Area, Thomas Otto, DEd, of Altoona Area; Jerry Murray, president, UPMC Altoona; Bruce Erb, senior vice president, First National Bank & Trust Group; Tim Balconi, foundation president, and Robert Vadella, PhD, of Spring Cove.






February 20, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Foundation Donates Digital Hearing Screening Equipment to Blair County School Districts


WHAT: News media photo/video opportunity as UPMC donates 16 machines worth $16,000. School districts conduct thousands of hearing screening exams each school year on children to detect hearing loss.

WHO: Jerry Murray, president, UPMC Altoona
Tim Balconi, president, UPMC Foundation
Trustee Bruce Erb, senior vice president, First National Bank
Thomas Otto, D.Ed., superintendent, Altoona Area School District
G. Brian Toth, D.Ed., superintendent, Bellwood-Antis School District
Royce Boyd (Ms.), superintendent, Claysburg-Kimmel School District
Robert Gildea, D.Ed., superintendent, Hollidaysburg Area School District
Robert Vadella, Ph.D., superintendent , Spring Cove School District
Cathy Harlow, superintendent, Tyrone Area School District
Linda K. Smith, superintendent, Williamsburg Community School District

WHEN: 8 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 20

WHERE: Room C-237 located on the 2nd Floor of the Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center, 1500 Fourth Avenue, Altoona Guests should park in Lot #5 across from the school's main entrance on Fourth Avenue.






February 19, 2014 - Pitt's Neuromuscular Research Lab Begins Work with a Third Branch of U.S. Special Forces: Air Force


PITTSBURGH, Feb. 19, 2014 — Marking the fifth ongoing research site at a Department of Defense installation, the University of Pittsburgh recently launched a Warrior Human Performance Research Center to conduct performance-optimization and injury-prevention research at Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) at Hurlburt Field, Fla., as part of a three-year, $3 million study.

The new site brings this 8-year-old program to a third branch of the United States military, the Air Force, with ongoing sites at three Naval Special Warfare SEALs bases (Little Creek, Va.; Stennis Space Center, Miss.; and Coronado, Calif.) and one Army Special Operations post (Fort Bragg, N.C.).

"And the funding is in place to begin working soon with the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in Camp Lejeune, N.C.," said Scott Lephart, Ph.D., director of the Neuromuscular Research Lab overseeing this program and distinguished professor, and chair of the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition at the Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS). "This final piece is very important because it completes our support to all four Special Operations Forces Components and enables us to fully support the needs of the U.S. Special Operations Command's priority operation called the 'Preservation of the Force and Families Task Force'."

The Warrior Human Performance Research Centers help to design physical-training programs to improve individual performance and reduce injury, said Timothy Sell, Ph.D., the principal investigator on the AFSOC research with the Department of Defense. They have shown significant relevance and success in: limiting training, combat and recreation injuries; enhancing force readiness by maximizing the effects of training to reduce fatigue and optimize performance; and prolonging the operation life as well as enhancing the quality of life after service. For instance, the inaugural center, at Fort Campbell, Ky., with the 101st Airborne, implemented a specific training program that reduced overuse injuries by 25.4 percent, lower-extremity injuries by 17.5 percent, and acute injuries by 15.9 percent.

"The lab at Hurlburt is functionally identical to our other labs," said Dr. Sell, an associate professor in the SHRS Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition "The research model is the same, too. What's different is the Operator, and our research model has adaptability to be specific to each military group and each group of Operators."

There are four different Operators at AFSOC versus, say, a Navy SEAL, although the Navy SEAL has duties in different areas. The AFSOC Operators are: pararescue, combat controllers, combat weathermen and Tactical Air Control Party. These are battlefield airmen from helicopters and planes, yet they also carry out various ground duties such as counterterrorism deployment and remote airfield/air-traffic control-a function they performed in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there. Pilots are not part of this Human Performance Warrior study, which focuses on the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron.

"But each research project is unique," Sell added, referring to the wide ranges of what they call task- and demand-analysis studies in these various Special Forces. "We go out in the field, observe the different Operators, monitor them and observe the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal demands, and that tells us about each group. At Pitt, you can observe the wrestler, the volleyball player, the basketball player, the runner, and they have different musculoskeletal demands. For instance, the cross-country runner wouldn't have shoulder injuries. The wrestler could get a whole litany of injuries." This research, Sell continued, "hones in on the specific needs" of each military segment of Special Forces and informs officials how to better train and prevent injuries among those groups.

The program all began in 2005 under the concept of bringing Sports Medicine research and expertise to the military, and the Special Operations components have embraced these projects. One assistant professor and two research associates at each base lead research into regular demands on these soldiers. The three Pitt employees assigned to the Hurlburt Field site are: assistant professor Meleesa Wohleber, M.S., a Pittsburgh native and former athletic trainer at a U.S. Coast Guard Training Center; research associate Deirdre McFate, M.S., a Delmont, Pa., native who completed her master's degree in the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in 2011; and research associate Andrew Simonson, M.S., who completed both his bachelor's in 2012 and master's in 2013 at Pitt and previously worked for the UPMC Centers for Rehab Services.

Each project in the Warrior Human Performance program is in a different phase of the research model, primarily because each phase lasts roughly one year. The program hit the ground on a military base barely 6 ½ years ago, with the 101st Army Airborne at Fort Campbell. Its epidemiological studies consistently demonstrate that the majority of musculoskeletal injuries occur during physical training, and that a sizeable percentage of those injuries are preventable through targeted, musculoskeletal-specific training programs.

"We'll be approaching that phase of research with Navy SEALs in the near feature," Sell added.

The Department of Defense designated $7.2 million in total grants to Pitt and SHRS for projects for fiscal year 2013 and similar funding for 2014. In addition to the Air Force project and others still in the works, this summer the U.S. Special Operations Command formally invited Pitt and the Neuromuscular Research Lab to become its applied scientific partner in support of Preservation of the Force and Families Task Force. This partnership is in the final stages of execution.

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS), established in 1969, is dedicated to improving lives through academic research, technology design and rigorous training to educate the next generation of health professionals. Pursuing the goal of increasing individuals' quality of life, SHRS's various disciplines at the undergraduate and/or graduate level include: athletic training and sports medicine; audiology; dietetics and nutrition; emergency medicine; health information management; occupational therapy; physical therapy; physician assistant studies; prosthetics and orthotics; rehabilitation counseling; rehabilitation science and technology; speech language pathology; and wellness and human performance. Several of these programs rank in the Top 10 nationally. SHRS receives substantial federal funding from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. For more information, visit www.shrs.pitt.edu.






February 18, 2014 - New Webcam System at UPMC Connects Families with Newborns in Intensive Care Units at Children's and Magee


PITTSBURGH, Feb. 18, 2014 — New parents and family members can check in on their infants hospitalized in UPMC's neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) any time of day and from anywhere in the world thanks to a new camera system installed in the NICUs at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Children's Hospital and Magee-Womens Hospital are two of only three hospitals in the state to implement this password-protected webcam system called NICVIEW, which, through an internet connection, gives families a virtual connection to their newborns.

The early hours and days after having a newborn that requires intensive care are critical for the parents, the baby and the family. A newborn in the NICU causes separation and anxiety for everyone involved and can occur for many reasons - a mother may not see her newborn for a few days if she remains in the hospital after delivery, a sibling might not meet his new brother or sister, or a grandparent may be long distance. The NICVIEW system allows family and friends, who are given a unique username and password, to log in and visit the baby from anywhere in the world.

"When a baby is hospitalized in the NICU, this can be a very stressful and frightening time for families and it is even more difficult when they can't be at the hospital with their baby," said Beverly Brozanski, M.D., clinical director, Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. "Being able to view their newborn on the camera is very reassuring and helps parents stay connected with the baby as well as the medical team."

Thirty cameras are installed in the NICU of each hospital. The cameras are mounted above the baby's incubator, which provides families access to a live video stream that they can watch from a computer or mobile device at six appointed times throughout the day. The cameras are turned off during change of shift and during routine care hours.

"In a NICU setting, parents are looking for any way to bond with their newborn," said Roberta Bell, Magee-Women's Hospital NICU clinician. "We're also encouraging breast-feeding mothers to log on and watch their baby in real-time while pumping as a way to increase production. We've received very positive feedback from women who have had this option."

The NICVIEW system is designed to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which requires confidential handling of patient information.

Children's received funding for the NICVIEW system from the Snee-Reinhardt Foundation. Magee was initially funded through a grant from the hospital's Volunteer Service Board. The fundraising efforts of the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation through the funds raised at the 2013 Savor Pittsburgh event will support the purchase of an additional 30 cameras this spring.

About Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Regionally, nationally, and globally, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is a leader in the treatment of childhood conditions and diseases, a pioneer in the development of new and improved therapies, and a top educator of the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists. Children's Hospital has fulfilled this mission since its founding in 1890. Children's is named consistently to several elite lists of pediatric hospitals, including ranking 7th among children's hospitals and schools of medicine (FY 2012) in funding for pediatric research provided by the National Institutes of Health, and is one of 10 pediatric hospitals in the United States named to U.S. News & World Report's Honor Roll of America's "Best Children's Hospitals" for 2013-2014.

About Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC is a full-service women's hospital and includes a range of services for women and men: diagnostic imaging including CT and MRI, a Heart Center, bariatric surgery, orthopaedics, digestive disorders, comprehensive breast and gynecologic cancer services, pulmonology, thoracic surgery, minimally invasive abdominal surgery, vascular surgery, and a full-service emergency department.






February 17, 2014 - Stem-Cell Transplant Patients Followed Closely At New UPMC CancerCenter Clinic


ALTOONA, Feb. 17, 2014 — Six months after his transplant for autoimmune hepatitis, stem-cell patient Craig Beary, of Clarion, started experiencing the symptoms of chronic graft vs. host disease (GVHD). After losing about 60 pounds and suffering severe breathing problems, he started photopheresis, a treatment in which some of his white blood cells are exposed to ultraviolet light to help control his symptoms.

"This treatment is a huge reason why I am doing well today," Beary said.

With the number of stem-cell transplants growing nationally, a new clinic at the Hillman Cancer Center is providing long-term follow-up care to patients who develop GVHD, a common condition after transplantation.

Traditionally, patients with blood malignancies and other disorders who undergo a stem-cell transplant are seen in a specific post-transplant clinic up until 100 days after their transplant at the UPMC CancerCenter's Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers. They are then seen in their transplant physician's own clinic for follow-up care. But because after-care for these patients is so specialized, UPMC doctors decided to create a dedicated clinic to provide adjunct long-term care so that complications may be detected early and managed more efficiently.

"Studies have shown that stem-cell patients who are seen at dedicated GVHD clinics may have improved quality of life," said Mounzer Agha, M.D., director of the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers and clinical director of the Stem Cell Transplant Program in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, partner with UPMC CancerCenter. "We are committed to the highest quality care for our patients and believe that being there with them every step of the way after transplant is the best approach to care."

Stem-cell transplants can be done for patients with a range of hematologic disorders and malignancies, including leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myelomas. GVHD occurs when transplanted cells attack the body. Chronic GVHD usually develops several months after transplant and can last a lifetime, with symptoms including fatigue, changes in vision or taste, shortness of breath, skin irritations and weight loss, among many others.

"The key to treating GVHD is early detection. Having a clinic dedicated to these patients will not only help to identify signs of this illness earlier but also will help to manage symptoms better," said Stanley Marks, M.D., chairman of UPMC CancerCenter and chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at UPMC Shadyside.

Annie Im, M.D., a medical oncologist and transplant physician who sees patients at the clinic, said that they provide focused, multidisciplinary and comprehensive care that is required for transplant patients, due to the unique risk factors and potential complications after transplant. Patients can be seen at the clinic every three to six months, depending on their specific needs.

"This clinic is a great example of the kind of specialty care that we provide for our patients," Dr. Im said. "By recognizing the complications of GVHD at their earliest stages, we can help these patients better navigate their well-being after transplant."

About UPMC CancerCenter
UPMC CancerCenter connects patients to the integrated expertise of leading clinicians, academic researchers, specialty programs and treatment centers. By partnering with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, we are accelerating the breakthroughs in our labs into clinical practice around the world. Backed by the collective strengths of UPMC and UPCI, UPMC CancerCenter is revolutionizing cancer research, care and prevention - one patient at a time.






February 17, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for March


ALTOONA, Feb. 17, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for March 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. This is a new location.
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue
In the event of inclement weather, registrants are contacted. A message regarding program cancellation is left on the 889-2630 phone line.

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-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4, 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.

Seniors for Safe Driving, a four-hour refresher course for anyone who has taken the eight-hour course, is presented 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, 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.

Child Safety Seat Checkup Station offered by appointment 9:30-11 a.m. Friday, March 14, 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 12:30-3 p.m. Friday, March 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.

Join Corey Schutt, D.O., of Elite Orthopedics as he discusses the common causes and types of hip fractures in "Dem Bones, Dem Bones: Hip Fractures - Causes, Treatment, and Recovery," Friday, March 21. Lunch is at 11 a.m. with the program at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building. Please note that this is a new location! No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Learn how hip fractures are treated and repaired, the recovery and rehabilitation process, and outcomes. Dr. Schutt also will explain UPMC Altoona's new Geriatric Fracture Program's advanced treatments for hip fractures. Ample time for questions.

Children deal with grief differently from adults. Join the Rev. David Hammerle of UPMC Altoona's Pastoral Care Department for "Helping Children Manage Grief" from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, including refreshment break. It will be at the Station Medical Center Conference Room (enter the K-4 entrance, left of Fresenius Dialysis Center). Donation of $10 is requested but not required. This donation will go toward the support of Day One of Altoona, a nonprofit, faith-based counseling service. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or1-888-313-4665.

To help children deal with grief, we must try to understand their loss from their viewpoint and reinforce their methods of coping. A 20-minute video sharing a view of loss from the child's perspective will be shown. Offers 0.2 CEUs.






February 14, 2014 - Nii-Daako Darko, D.O. Joins UPMC Altoona Trauma/Emergency General Surgery Service


ALTOONA, Feb. 14, 2014 — Nii-Daako P. Darko, D.O., has joined UPMC Altoona's Trauma/Emergency General Surgery Service.

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 is board-eligible by the American Board of Surgery and has completed a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of Miami.






February 13, 2014 - UPDATE: This is our final strike post


ALTOONA, Feb. 13, 2014 — We continue to transition our nurses back to work. Approximately 31 were called back yesterday and 29 today. We plan to call back another 13 tomorrow.

We are calling them back according to our staffing needs. The transition process is being accomplished in an orderly fashion and should be complete by Monday. Nurses are not to come back to work unless called by a supervisor to do so.

We want to thank our hospital staff for the wonderful work they did preparing for and working during this SEIU strike. Hospital census remained up. All services remained operational and handled their usual caseloads, including our Surgery Center, the ER, and Trauma Service.

Patient care was unaffected.

More negotiating sessions are scheduled next week.






February 13, 2014 - Laboratory Detective Work Points to Potential Therapy for Rare, Drug-Resistant Cancer


ALTOONA, Feb. 13, 2014University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) scientists have shown that old drugs might be able to do new tricks.

By screening a library of FDA-approved anticancer drugs that previously wouldn't have been considered as a treatment for a rare type of cancer, UPCI scientists were surprised when they found several potential possibilities to try if the cancer becomes resistant to standard drug treatment.

The discovery, which will be published in the February 15th issue of Cancer Research, demonstrates that high-throughput screening of already FDA-approved drugs can identify new therapies that could be rapidly moved to the clinic.

"This is known as 'drug repurposing,' and it is an increasingly promising way to speed up the development of treatments for cancers that do not respond well to standard therapies," said senior author Anette Duensing, M.D., assistant professor of pathology at UPCI. "Drug repurposing builds upon previous research and development efforts, and detailed information about the drug formulation and safety is usually available, meaning that it can be ready for clinical trials much faster than a brand-new drug."

Dr. Duensing and her team ran the screening on 89 drugs previously approved by the FDA in an attempt to find more treatment options for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), which are uncommon tumors that begin in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5,000 cases of GISTs occur each year in the United States with an estimated five-year survival rate of 45 percent in patients with advanced disease.

GISTs are caused by a single gene mutation and can be successfully treated with the targeted therapy drug imatinib, known by the trade name Gleevec. However, about half of the patients treated with Gleevec become resistant to the drug within the first two years of treatment.

After studying how samples of GIST responded to various concentrations of the 89 drugs in the laboratory, Dr. Duensing and her colleagues identified 37 compounds that showed some anticancer activity in at least one of the concentrations tested. Importantly, they noted that the most promising candidates all belonged to only two major drug classes: inhibitors of gene transcription and so-called topoisomerase II inhibitors. Based on these findings, the research team selected the two most promising compounds for further testing - gene transcription inhibitor mithramycin A, which is in clinical trials to treat Ewing sarcoma, and topoisomerase II inhibitor mitoxantrone, which is used in metastatic breast cancer and leukemia.

Both drugs were highly effective in fighting GIST in laboratory tests. Moreover, the mechanism of action of each drug was linked to the specific underlying biology of these tumors.

"These are very encouraging results," said Dr. Duensing. "The next step will be moving our findings to clinical exploration to see if the results we found in the lab hold up in patients."

Additional co-authors of this study include Sergei Boichuk, M.D., Ph.D., Derek J. Lee, B.S., Keith R. Mehalek, M.S., Kathleen R. Makielski, M.S., Danushka S. Seneviratne, B.S., Rolando Cuevas, M.S., Joshua A. Parry, B.S., Matthew F. Brown, Ph.D., James P. Zewe, B.S., and Shih-Fan Kuan, M.D., Ph.D., all of Pitt; Agnieszka Wozniak, Ph.D., Patrick Schöffski, M.D., M.P.H., and Maria Debiec-Rychter, M.D., Ph.D., all of the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium; Nina Korzeniewski, Ph.D., of the University of Heidelberg in Germany; and Takahiro Taguchi, M.D., of Kochi Medical School in Japan.

This research was supported by American Cancer Society grant no. RSG-08-092-01-CCG, The Life Raft Group, GIST Cancer Research Fund and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

About UPCI
As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; bio-medical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. UPCI, a partner with UPMC CancerCenter, investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.






February 12, 2014 - End-of-strike update @ 8 a.m.


ALTOONA, Feb. 12, 2014 — The strike by SEIU against UPMC Altoona officially ended at 7 a.m. today.

The hospital, Emergency Department, and Trauma Service continued normal operation throughout the night. UPMC Altoona at Station Medical Center and the Surgery Center opened this morning as usual.

UPMC Altoona has begun the transition of its nurses back to work. The transition will be accomplished in an orderly fashion and should be complete by Monday. Nurses should wait to return to work until called by a supervisor.

There were no security incidents during the strike.

The final total of nurses who crossed the picket line during the strike is 182.

Approximately 31 nurses are being called back today. We will evaluate how many will be needed for tomorrow.

More negotiating sessions are scheduled next week.

We will provide further updates only as needed.






February 12, 2014 - Developer of Innovative Surgical Technique Leads New Center for Colorectal Issues at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC


ALTOONA, Feb. 12, 2014Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has recruited an internationally renowned surgeon, Luis De la Torre, M.D., to establish the new Colorectal Center for Children that will serve as a resource for children from around the world with complex colorectal issues.

Children's Colorectal Center for Children will provide multidisciplinary medical and surgical care for children who are born with or acquire issues of the bowel or rectum. Dr. De la Torre, who pioneered a unique, less invasive surgical approach to the treatment of Hirschsprung's disease, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of children with complex colorectal conditions, including anorectal malformations; cloaca; fecal incontinence; idiopathic constipation; bowel management; colostomy care; appendicostomy; colon polyps; anal fistula; anal abscesses; and colorectal problems in children with myelomeningocele.

"Dr. De la Torre is recognized as a leader in his field and his recruitment to Children's enables us to establish a multidisciplinary center that focuses not only on the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, but on the quality of life of these patients," said George K. Gittes, M.D., surgeon-in-chief at Children's and the Benjamin R. Fisher Chair of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Dr. De la Torre is an innovative surgeon, but his focus is on providing comprehensive and ongoing care that allows children with these complex colorectal issues to return to lives that are as normal as possible."

The Colorectal Center for Children will provide comprehensive diagnosis, appropriate treatment and intestinal rehabilitation for children with these complex disorders. The Center will include specialists within gastroenterology, pediatric surgery, and urology with additional training in colorectal diseases, and pediatric nurses specializing in the treatment of wounds, colostomies and bowel management. Pediatric radiologists and pathologists specializing in diseases of the colon also are a part of the center.

"One of the goals of the Colorectal Center is to help recover children's quality of life and integration into society, including the possible challenges of puberty, sexual function and childbearing as they relate to colorectal issues," said Dr. De la Torre, a surgeon in the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. De la Torre, also associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine, comes to Children's from Hospital Ángeles Puebla in Mexico, where he was founding director of the Colorectal Center for Children and chief of Pediatric Surgery.

Dr. De la Torre completed his residency training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery at the Instituto Nacional de Pediatría at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, a hospital internationally known for contributions in the field of pediatric colorectal surgery. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric colorectal surgery at Schneider Children's Hospital Medical Center, where he trained under internationally known Alberto Pena, M.D.

Dr. De La Torre is author of more than 35 peer reviewed articles and numerous book chapters, with many focusing on Hirschsprung's disease, rehabilitation of children with congenital, acquired and complicated colorectal diseases. He also belongs to the editorial committees of four pediatric surgery journals.

For more information about Dr. De la Torre and the Colorectal Center for Children, please visit www.chp.edu/CHP/colorectal+center+for+children.






February 11, 2014 - Strike update as of 8:45 p.m.


ALTOONA, Feb. 11, 2014 — At 8:45 p.m. the hospital continues to operate normally. Patient care uninterrupted and unaffected by the SEIU strike.

Station Medical Center and Surgery Center will reopen in the morning at the usual times.

Emergency Department and Trauma Service continue to operate around-the-clock.

The total of registered nurses who crossed the picket line stands at 172.

Third shift begins at 11 p.m. and we anticipate no problems through the night.

Next update will be tomorrow morning.

PS: Two babies were born in our LDRP today.






February 11, 2014 - Strike Update


ALTOONA, Feb. 11, 2014 — Eleven hours into the 24-hour strike and all areas are operating normally - hospital, Station Medical Center, Surgery Center, Emergency Department, Trauma Service.

Second shift has begun. Another 32 nurses have crossed the picket line, bringing the total of non-striking registered nurses to 172.

No call-offs today in sympathy with SEIU strikers.

We plan to have one more update tonight by 9 o'clock.






February 11, 2014 - Strike Update


ALTOONA, Feb. 11, 2014 — The 24-hour SEIU strike began at 7 a.m. today. Our registered nurses who were joining the strike turned their patients over to our replacement nurses, and patient care continued uninterrupted.

Our nurses were very professional and thorough when turning over their patients to the replacement nurses.

The hospital prepared extensively for this SEIU work stoppage, and it is "business as usual" for all hospital services and physicians.

One hundred and forty nurses came to work for first shift. We will not know about second and third shift until later tonight.

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 2.2-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 www.UPMC.com.




February 10, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics in March


ALTOONA, Feb. 10, 2014 — UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in March 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, March 25, Allegheny Room, 6th floor, Outpatient Center. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, 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, March 5, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, 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, March 26, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 6, 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.

The Ostomy Support Group meets 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 16, in the Rotunda. Call 943-3782.

Parkinson's Support Group meets Monday, March 31, at Hoss's, Altoona. Guest speaker George Palmer, executive director, Center of Independent Living, on how the agency can provide assistance. Call 889-2141.

Support Group for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One Through Suicide meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, 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 that 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 Lab, 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, March 6, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, March 5 and 19, in the Conference Room.

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

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Support Group meets 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, March 10, in the Conference Room. Bob Strawser, executive director of Mission/Customer Service at UPMC Altoona, will answer questions.

Sleep Apnea Support Group for those using CPAP and BiPAP therapy meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, in the Sleep Lab waiting room.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18. Call for room location, 949-1905.

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






February 10, 2014 - Center for Black Equity and Pitt Public Health Announce HIV Research Project


PITTSBURGH, Feb. 10, 2014 — The Center for Black Equity and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health are partnering on a new research project to study reasons for increased risk of HIV infection among African-American men who have sex with men (MSM).

The project, funded by a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will seek to enroll nearly 6,000 African-American MSM who attend Black Gay Pride events in large cities nationwide.

"It has become clear in recent years that the major reason that African-American MSM have such high rates of HIV infection is not that these men have high rates of risk-taking behaviors for infection," said Ron Stall, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at Pitt Public Health. "Rather, the reason for elevated infection has far more to do with lack of access to HIV testing and medical care."

"By learning more about the barriers to HIV testing and access to care among people positive for HIV, we can do a better job of preventing new HIV infections among African-American MSM and keep those infected healthy for many years to come," said Earl Fowlkes, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Black Equity.

Dr. Stall and his team plan to recruit men for their study at Black Gay Pride events in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Black Gay Pride events have grown to become a social movement in the United States attended by an estimated 300,000 people annually.

The men will be asked questions as part of an anonymous survey that will help researchers understand the barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and care.

In addition to data about HIV risk in this population, the study will generate information about other social determinants that are likely to be important to the overall health of African-American MSM, including depression, substance use, violence victimization and other health problems. Finally, the study will measure specific resiliencies — or the ability to avoid negative health outcomes - that may be important resources for health, even among men who must cope with adverse social environments.

"It is exciting to be part of a study that will create the largest sample of HIV-related data from African-American MSM ever taken, and one that will yield important data about the health and well-being of our community. The Center for Black Equity will work with our partners at the University of Pittsburgh to ensure that these data are shared with the community and can be used to improve the health of these men," said Mr. Fowlkes.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Center for Black Equity to put an important study like this into the field," said Dr. Stall. "HIV/AIDS has been a crisis in the African-American MSM community for more than 30 years, and it is past time that we took this epidemic more seriously. We hope that this study, in collaboration with other research and care efforts, will provide a real contribution to bringing this dangerous epidemic to an end."

This project is funded by NIH grant no. R01 NR013865.

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.

About the Center for Black Equity
Center for Black Equity (CBE), formally known as the International Federation of Black Prides, is an American institution with a global reach strongly committed to supporting leaders, institutions, issues and programs that lead to social, economic, and cultural equity for all LGBT people of African descent. CBE has more than 400,000 supporters in the United States and abroad. Since CBE's founding in 1999, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day - health, educational, social, and economic. For more information, visit www.centerforblackequity.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CBEINC or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CTR4BLACKEQUITY and Instagram @CTR4BLACKEQUITY.






February 10, 2014 - News Conference 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10


ALTOONA, Feb. 10, 2014 — An Update to the Community About the SEIU's Planned Strike

WHAT: News media briefing

WHO: Jerry Murray, president, and other hospital leaders

WHEN: 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10

WHERE: Enter UPMC Altoona, 620 Howard Ave., at main lobby and check-in at Greeter Desk.

WHY: To keep the community informed






February 10, 2014 - Media Reminders: Hospital Policies and Procedures


ALTOONA, Feb. 10, 2014 — Members of the media are reminded of the following hospital policies and procedures regarding interactions with employees and patients:
  • All requests for interviews, photographs, videotaping, live newscasts, etc. are to be made through the Marketing & Communications Department by calling 889-2271 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • A member of the media must be escorted by a Marketing & Communications employee or designate for the duration of his/her visit on hospital-owned property or on property rented by the hospital. The hospital may deny media access to any area at its discretion.
  • No interviews, photography or filming is permitted of patients or employees without prior informed written consent of the patient or employee.
  • The interviewee has the right to request cessation of recording or filming at any time during recording or filming.
  • The Hospital may decline to grant permission for interviews, photographs or filming of patients if such actions may interfere with the delivery of care to patients. These circumstances are often temporary and approval may be given when conditions permit.





February 7, 2014 - UPMC Mercy Burn Survivor Sunday Celebrates Patients and Caregivers


WHAT: Burn Survivor Sunday, now in its 20th year, allows burn survivors treated at the Gertrude P. and Donald C.W. Birmingham Trauma and Burn Center at UPMC Mercy to reunite and celebrate their survival with members of their care team, including doctors and nurses.

The celebration will include a visit by pet therapy dogs and a balloon artist; arts and crafts; an appearance by Elmo; and a caricature artist from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, who will draw patients and their families.

Former burn patients may sign up to volunteer with the Phoenix Society's support group, Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) based at UPMC Mercy. The program is designed to provide peer support to help individuals as they adapt to burn injury through sharing similar experiences.

WHO: Approximately 100 burn survivors, their families and the UPMC Mercy burn care team

WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9

WHERE: UPMC Mercy, Sister M. Ferdinand Clark Auditorium, 2nd Floor; 1400 Locust St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219

WHY: Burn Survivor Sunday has been held annually at UPMC Mercy since 1994. An American Burn Association—verified burn center, the UPMC Mercy Burn Center was the first in Pennsylvania and one of the first in the U.S. As a Level I Regional Resource Trauma Center, UPMC Mercy combines burn and trauma care services under one roof, giving it the unique ability to care for the most critically ill and injured patients.

In 2013, there were close to 2,500 outpatient visits and nearly 400 inpatient admissions to the UPMC Mercy Burn Center.

Note to Media: To cover the event, contact Rick Pietzak at 412-523-6922 or PietzakR@upmc.edu






February 3, 2014 - Mood-stabilizing Drug Could be New Treatment for Inherited Liver Disease, Says Pitt/Children's Team


PITTSBURGH, Feb. 3, 2014 Opening up a can of worms is a good way to start hunting for new drugs, recommend researchers from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In a study published today in the Public Library of Science One, they used a primitive worm model to show that a drug typically used to treat agitation in schizophrenia and dementia has potential as a treatment for ?-1 antitrypsin (AT) deficiency, an inherited disease that causes severe liver scarring.

In the classic form of AT deficiency, which affects 1 in 3,000 live births, a gene mutation leads to production of an abnormal protein, dubbed ATZ, that unlike its normal counterpart is prone to clumping, explained David H. Perlmutter, M.D., physician-in-chief and scientific director, Children's Hospital, and Distinguished Professor and Vira I. Heinz Endowed Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine.

"These protein aggregates accumulate in liver cells and eventually lead to scarring of the organ or to tumor formation," Dr. Perlmutter said. "If we could find a drug that slows or stops this process, we might be able to prevent the need for liver transplantation in these patients."

To find that drug, Dr. Perlmutter's team worked with Pitt's Stephen Pak, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, and Gary Silverman, M.D., Ph.D., Twenty-five Club Professor of Pediatrics, Cell Biology and Physiology, who developed a model of AT deficiency in Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans, a harmless microscopic worm or nematode typically found in soil. Previous experiments conducted by Drs. Pak and Silverman, in which more than 2,000 compounds were screened, showed that fluphenazine, a drug approved for human use as a mood stabilizer, could reduce ATZ accumulation in the worm, so the team studied it further.

Worms that produce ATZ die sooner than normal ones, which typically have a life span of fewer than 20 days. Those that were exposed to fluphenazine, however, had lower burdens of ATZ and lived more than a day longer that untreated animals. The lifespan of normal worms was unchanged by fluphenazine exposure. The researchers also labeled with fluorescent markers intracellular structures called autophagosomes, which help clear abnormal proteins out of the cell in a process called autophagy. Fluphenazine exposure was associated with a greater presence of autophagosomes, suggesting that increased autophagy led to reduced ATZ accumulation.

Follow-up experiments showed that fluphenazine reduced ATZ accumulation in several mammalian-cell line models of AT deficiency, D. Silverman said.

"We found when we gave this drug for three weeks to mice with the disease, autophagy is activated, the abnormal protein load is diminished, and liver scarring is reversed. It's truly amazing," he said. "And because fluphenazine is already being safely prescribed for other conditions, it should be easier to bring it to clinical trials for AT deficiency."

The project also reveals the power of the worm model to rapidly screen drug candidates, Dr. Perlmutter noted.

"This is the first extensive investigation of a drug that was discovered through the C. elegans screening method," he said. "It's remarkable that you can take a completely unbiased, high-content screen using a primitive organism and end up identifying a drug that reduces the accumulation of an abnormal protein in mammalian cell lines and a living mouse. It's proof-of-principle of this research pipeline. Furthermore, this drug is very similar pharmacologically to carbamazepine, another mood stabilizer that we found to enhance autophagy and reverse liver fibrosis in the mouse model of ?1-antitrypsin deficiency."

Other co-authors of the paper include Jie Li, M.D., Ph.D., Linda P. O'Reilly, Ph.D., Joshua A. Benson, Yan Wang, Ph.D., Tunda Hidvegi, Ph.D., Pamela Hale, Christine Dippold, and Michael Ewing, all of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The project was funded by U.S. Public Health Service grants DK079806, DK081422, DK076918, and DK096990, and a grant from the Hartwell Foundation.

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.

About Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Regionally, nationally, and globally, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is a leader in the treatment of childhood conditions and diseases, a pioneer in the development of new and improved therapies, and a top educator of the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists. Children's Hospital has fulfilled this mission since its founding in 1890. Children's is named consistently to several elite lists of pediatric hospitals, including ranking 7th among children's hospitals and schools of medicine (FY 2012) in funding for pediatric research provided by the National Institutes of Health, and is one of 10 pediatric hospitals in the United States named to U.S. News & World Report's Honor Roll of America's "Best Children's Hospitals" for 2013-2014.






January 31, 2014 - Family Medicine Physicians Open Huntingdon Practice


 William Olstein Jr., D.O. joined the medical staff in the Family Medicine Department at UPMC Altoona.
Gregory Strunk, D.O. joined the medical staff in the Family Medicine Department at UPMC Altoona.
ALTOONA, Jan. 31, 2014 — William Olstein Jr., D.O., and Gregory Strunk, D.O., have joined the medical staff in the Family Medicine Department at UPMC Altoona.

They are practicing together as UPMC Huntingdon Family Physicians, an affiliate of UPMC Altoona and associated with Altoona Family Physicians Residency Program. Both physicians are board-certified in family medicine by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians.

Dr. Olstein received his medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and his residency training at Altoona Family Physicians (AFP) Family Residency Program. He graduated AFP in 2009.

Dr. Strunk is an alumnus of the same schools and graduated from AFP in 2010.






January 31, 2014 - Saint Francis University Students Cheer Patients


Saint Francis University Students Cheer Patients
ALTOONA, Jan. 31, 2014 — Members of Saint Francis University's Gamma Sigma Sigma, Gamma Phi Chapter, visited patients during the holidays and distributed more than 100 Christmas cards, some decorative wreaths, and books to children who were either patients or visitors.

The nationally affiliated service sorority also provided several blankets to Maternity/Nursery Department for newborns.

"We go to UPMC Altoona before Christmas and Easter. It is something we like doing just to show we care, and it provides an opportunity for Gamma Sigma Sigma to give back to the community," said Abby Menett, service vice president for the sorority.

The service group's motto is "Unity in Service."

PHOTO: Saint Francis students visiting hospital patients and staff for Christmas are (from left): first row - Brittany Kirk of Altoona, Abby Menett of Johnstown, Chelsey Graffius of Altoona, Bryanna Evens of Port Allegany, Katelyn McGinnis of Indiana, and Hanna Reimer of Altoona; second row - "Santa" Nicholas Stellabotte and his "elf" Charles Hawkins, Ashley Hazlett of Altoona, Lauren Behringer of Baltimore, and Andrea Navratil of Troy, Michigan.






January 31, 2014 - Innovative Pitt Competition Aims to Solve Health Problems through Patient Engagement


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 31, 2014 — In a creative, community-wide competition to spark fresh ideas that engage people in their own health care, the University of Pittsburgh is offering $300,000 in funding to three winners in its first Pitt Innovation Challenge, or PInCh.

The University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), in collaboration with the university's Office of the Provost and the Innovation Institute, also will provide the winning teams with project managers to implement the best ideas.

Just as a reality TV show gives contestants an opportunity to share their inventions, PInCh will give scientists and other community members a venue to be creative and develop new ideas, said CTSI director Steven Reis, M.D., who also is associate vice chancellor for clinical research, health sciences, and a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. PInCh's inaugural question is: "How do we empower individuals to take control of their own health outcomes?"

"Instead of trying to figure out the molecular mechanisms of hypertension, for example, the team might try to figure out how to reduce the rate of high blood pressure in a specific region," Dr. Reis said. "We want to encourage researchers to approach their work in a different way. Rather than conducting experiments focused on scientific details, they must look at the big picture to try to solve a problem that has public health or clinical importance."

According to PInCh program director John Maier, M.D., Ph.D., director of research and development and assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, Pitt School of Medicine, the first step in the competition requires submitting a two-minute video by March 2 that introduces the team, defines the health problem that is being tackled and briefly outlines the creative solution. Early round winners will be invited to a final round of judging in May at a public event in which teams will make short presentations to a panel of judges.

"This will be a great opportunity to get new or risky ideas in front of judges who have experience in science, business, technology and other fields, so participation itself should be rewarding and fun," Dr. Maier said. "We plan to have a 'People's Choice' award, too, so everyone will have a chance to vote for projects that appeal to them."

Anyone can enter, and teams that bring together collaborators from different perspectives, institutions and disciplines are encouraged, but at least one member of the team must be a Pitt faculty member. If needed, PInCh organizers will help community members connect with a member of the faculty. The solution could be a device, a software application, an intervention strategy or any other approach that could address the health problem the team identifies.

"We hope to de-risk wild ideas to solve clinical or public health problems by providing funding and project management to take them to the next level," Dr. Reis said. "We think some amazing ideas will come out of this process, and we hope the PInCh model can be used in future competitions to stimulate innovative solutions to challenging issues."

For more information and to register a team, go to www.pinch.pitt.edu.

About the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow's health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1998, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health. For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit www.health.pitt.edu.






January 31, 2014 - UPMC Asks Visitors to Help Protect Patients by Staying Away if They Are Ill


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 31, 2014 — To better protect patients during this widespread flu season, UPMC is asking people with flu-like symptoms to refrain from visiting hospitalized friends and family.

UPMC hospitals are posting signs throughout their buildings informing visitors about flu symptoms and encouraging people with signs of the flu to stay away from patients.

"The safety of our patients is our utmost concern," said Tami Minnier, chief quality officer for UPMC. "Influenza is easily passed from person to person and can be deadly, particularly to immune-compromised patients. We ask that visitors help us protect their loved ones."

In its 2013-2014 flu activity report, the Pennsylvania Department of Health notes there is now widespread flu activity in the state, with nearly 12,000 reported flu cases this season. Allegheny County tops the list with 881 flu cases. These numbers consist only of reported cases of influenza and are a fraction of the actual number at any given time.

At UPMC hospitals system-wide, 175 inpatients were confirmed positive for influenza or suspected positive for influenza as of Wednesday evening. This number is up from last year when flu season peaked earlier. Clinical staff use gloves, masks and other protective measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Of all positive influenza tests confirmed by UPMC laboratories in the past week, 100 percent have been a strain of influenza type A called H1N1. This strain also makes up nearly 95 percent of the state's reported flu cases.

This year's flu vaccine covers H1N1, and people can still be vaccinated. Protection begins within a week or two of vaccination. Flu shots are offered at UPMC Urgent Care clinics.

Flu-like symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Runny nose
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, people with the flu are contagious and can spread the influenza virus to others up to a week after symptoms appear. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune symptoms, might be contagious for a longer period.






January 30, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for February


ALTOONA, Jan. 30, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for February 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. This is a new location.
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue
In the event of inclement weather, registrants are contacted. A message regarding program cancellation is left on the 889-2630 phone line.

For more information, visit www.altoonaregional.org/classes_healthyliving.htm

Child Safety Seat Checkup Station offered by appointment 9:30-11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 7, 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 12:30-3 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, 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.

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-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 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.

As a result of today's technology, surgical options, outcomes, and recovery have changed. On Friday, Feb. 21, join Matthew Newlin, MD, of Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates as he discusses and explains the options of robotic-assisted surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and traditional open-incision surgery. He will talk about the pros and cons of each and how they differ. "Surgery Today: Robotic, Laparoscopic, and Traditional" begins with lunch at 11 a.m., followed by the program from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building. Please note that this is a new location! No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Ample time for questions.

Join the Rev. David Hammerle of UPMC Altoona's Pastoral Care Department for "A More Positive Me" from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 24, at the Station Medical Center Conference Room (enter the K-4 entrance, left of Fresenius Dialysis Center). He discusses how we view ourselves and the effect it has on our physical, social, and spiritual well-being. This adults-only program is designed to help people work toward a more positive self-image. Find out the difference between self-image and self-esteem and how understanding these terms can open your world to rewarding relationships and positive experiences that will help us believe in ourselves. A donation of $10 is requested but not required. This donation will go toward the support of Day One of Altoona, a nonprofit, faith-based counseling service. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Offers 0.2 CEUs.






January 29, 2014 - HOSPITAL / UNION AGREE TO MEET


ALTOONA, Jan. 29, 2014 — UPMC Altoona and SEIU Healthcare PA, the union that represents our registered nurses, has agreed to meet. A meeting has been scheduled for Friday, January 31, 2014.

The hospital is encouraged and sees this as a favorable step.

The hospital remains ready and prepared for all contingencies. UPMC Altoona's primary concern will be to continue providing high quality health care services to our patients in a comfortable and safe environment. We will do that regardless of circumstances.

No further comment will be made at this time.






January 28, 2014 - HOSPITAL STATEMENT ON SEIU STRIKE NOTICE


ALTOONA, Jan. 28, 2014 — UPMC Altoona is disappointed to learn that SEIU Healthcare PA, the union that represents our registered nurses, has said it intends to strike for 24 hours beginning on Feb. 11. We believe that our last, best, and final offer, which the union failed to ratify, is fair to our nurses and financially prudent for the hospital.

While an agreement could be reached before that date, we must and will be prepared for all contingencies.

In the event of a strike, UPMC Altoona's primary concern will be to continue providing high quality health care services to our patients in a comfortable and safe environment. We will do that regardless of circumstances.

We have been working diligently for some time to be prepared for a strike by our RNs, and we plan to continue all services without interruption, including inpatient care and all outpatient testing, surgeries, and procedures. The Surgery Center and Station Medical Center will operate as usual, as will the Emergency Department and Trauma Service.

The hospital will be fully staffed with Pennsylvania-licensed registered nurses who embody the high standards our patients expect and deserve. These registered nurses are experienced, highly qualified, and specially trained.

UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider that is currently ranked No. 10 in the nation and No. 1 Pennsylvania by the U.S. News & World Report "America's Best Hospitals" list.

In these negotiations, we are proposing the same programs that other UPMC hospitals have in place for more than 62,000 employees, including more than 11,000 nurses. Our proposal of pay and benefits is very competitive in our markets, and with this proposal we expect that, like other UPMC hospitals, UPMC Altoona will be able to successfully recruit and retain top talent in health care with a package that is also affordable for the future.

UPMC employee benefits include medical, prescription, dental, vision, short-term disability, long-term disability, life insurance, pension, matched savings, paid time-off, tuition, and many other elements.

This package both enhances and reduces current benefits for some of our existing employees. This is an expected part of a successful organization that offers comprehensive compensation packages in the midst of a challenging economic environment.

SEIU members at Mount Nittany recently ratified a three-year contract with the same wage increases- a 2 percent raise in each year of a three-year contract. Nurses at Heritage Valley Beaver recently signed a new contract with its union that provides for no base salary increases.

Our RNs' latest wage proposal was a 7 percent increase each year of a three-year contract.

The SEIU has unnecessarily turned to charges of unfair labor practices in an attempt characterize UPMC as unwilling to bargain, when in fact the hospital has done everything reasonable to find common ground and reach an agreement with the SEIU. We will continue to bargain in good faith with the hope of resolving contract issues.

Contact: Michelle Speck   |   Phone: 814-889-2201 or 814-977-1443






January 28, 2014 - Sleep Apnea Support Group Canceled


ALTOONA, Jan. 28, 2014UPMC Altoona's Sleep Apnea Support Group has canceled its meeting for tonight at the Sleep Lab at Station Medical Center.






January 27, 2014 - UPMC One of First in Country to Treat Cancer Patients with New CyberKnife® System


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 27, 2014UPMC CancerCenter radiation oncologists have begun to treat cancer patients with the newest generation CyberKnife® System, a radiosurgery system with the ability to more precisely shape radiation beams to the form of tumors, maximize dose delivered while also keeping surrounding healthy tissue intact and dramatically decrease the length of treatments.

As leaders in oncology with one of the busiest stereotactic radiosurgery centers in the United States, UPMC CancerCenter performs about 550 cases a year with the CyberKnife System.

The newest-generation CyberKnife System, known as the M6T, is being used at the Mary Hillman Jennings Radiation Oncology Center at UPMC Shadyside and is one of five currently in use in the U.S. The first patient at UPMC was treated using the CyberKnife M6 System in October 2013, and her treatment time was cut in half versus what it would have been with the previous CyberKnife System. About 80 patients have been treated so far using the new system.

Treatment with the new system is typically completed in just one to five days, instead of the 40 or more treatment sessions often required with conventional radiation therapy, and, unlike surgery, requires no anesthesia or recovery time. The system also can track for tumor movement and automatically correct for motion throughout treatment, which is particularly helpful for treating tumors of the lung, liver and prostate and means that patients don't need to be repositioned on the treatment table.

"We are excited to be able to offer patients in western Pennsylvania the most advanced cancer treatment options available," said Dwight E. Heron, M.D., director of Radiation Services, UPMC CancerCenter, and vice chairman of radiation oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. "The new CyberKnife System is another tool we have that can ensure we are delivering the most precise, personalized and best treatment available."

The CyberKnife M6 System, made by Accuray Incorporated, has an IrisT Collimator which allows radiation to be delivered in different sized beams from each treatment position without harming surrounding healthy tissue. This, along with the device's robotic arm, results in more patients with difficult-to-treat tumors being eligible for the treatment. Eventually, the system at UPMC also will implement the first multileaf collimator on the Cyberknife M6 System that will allow for even more precise delivery of radiation by shaping radiation to the form of the tumor.

About UPMC CancerCenter
UPMC CancerCenter connects patients to the integrated expertise of leading clinicians, academic researchers, specialty programs and treatment centers. By partnering with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, we are accelerating the breakthroughs in our labs into clinical practice around the world. Backed by the collective strengths of UPMC and UPCI, UPMC CancerCenter is revolutionizing cancer research, care and prevention — one patient at a time.






January 24, 2014 - Low Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Severe Preeclampsia


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 24, 2014 — Women who are deficient in vitamin D in the first 26 weeks of their pregnancy may be at risk of developing severe preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening disorder diagnosed by an increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine, according to research by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

In one of the largest studies to date, researchers studied blood samples collected from 700 pregnant women who later developed preeclampsia in an effort to examine a woman's vitamin D status during pregnancy and her risk of developing preeclampsia. The full study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is available online in the journal Epidemiology, and will publish in the March print issue.

"For decades, vitamin D was known as a nutrient that was important only for bone health," said lead author Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., associate professor in Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology. "Over the past 10 to 15 years, scientists have learned that vitamin D has diverse functions in the body beyond maintaining the skeleton, including actions that may be important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy."

Dr. Bodnar and her colleagues also studied blood samples from 3,000 mothers who did not develop preeclampsia. The samples were collected between 1959 and 1965 at 12 U.S. sites enrolled in the Collaborative Perinatal Project. The blood was well-preserved, and researchers were able to test for vitamin D levels decades later.

Scientists controlled for factors that could have affected a woman's vitamin D status, including race, pre-pregnancy body mass index, number of previous pregnancies, smoking, diet, physical activity and sunlight exposure, which is the body's primary source of vitamin D.

The researchers found that vitamin D sufficiency was associated with a 40 percent reduction in risk of severe preeclampsia. But there was no relationship between vitamin D and mild preeclampsia. The overall risk of severe preeclampsia in the women sampled was 0.6 percent, regardless of vitamin D status.

"Scientists believe that severe preeclampsia and mild preeclampsia have different root causes," said senior author Mark A. Klebanoff, M.D., M.P.H., Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Severe preeclampsia poses much higher health risks to the mother and child, so linking it with a factor that we can easily treat, like vitamin D deficiency, holds great potential."

"If our results hold true in a modern sample of pregnant women, then further exploring the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of preeclampsia would be warranted," said Dr. Bodnar. "Until then, women shouldn't automatically take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy as a result of these findings."

Additional co-authors include: Hyagriv N. Simhan, M.D., Janet M. Catov, Ph.D., James M. Roberts, M.D., and Jill C. Diesel, M.P.H., all of the University of Pittsburgh; and Robert W. Platt, Ph.D., of McGill University.

This research was supported by NIH grant HD 056999.

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.






January 23, 2014 - GE-NFL Grant Awarded to Pitt, UPMC Concussion Program to Conduct Innovative Brain Imaging Research


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 23, 2014General Electric and the NFL announced today that they have awarded one of their inaugural Head Health Initiative grants to an interdepartmental, University of Pittsburgh and UPMC effort in which researchers will assess whether a powerful imaging technology can identify concussion and subsequent recovery in a newly injured athlete in order to safely return him or her to play.

High definition fiber-tracking (HDFT), developed by a team led by Walter Schneider, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neurological surgery and a senior scientist at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center, will be tested in a one-year study to see if it could become the first imaging technique to accurately and consistently aid in determining a diagnosis of concussion and injury prognosis.

The proposal, among 402 submitted internationally, was one of 15 winners expected to be announced at a news conference in New York City this morning. Micky Collins, Ph.D., executive and clinical director, and Anthony Kontos, Ph.D., assistant research director, both of the UPMC concussion program, were invited to participate in the announcement.

The project will study 50 or more athletes ages 13 to 28 who sustained a head injury within seven days of seeking care at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. In addition to undergoing examination-room assessments, vestibular and ocular evaluations, and neurocognitive testing, patients will have an HDFT scan.

"We're excited to continue our leadership in finding new, safer ways to help people from all walks of life who suffer from the effects of concussions," Dr. Collins said. "Informative imaging studies could be a significant step forward for concussion evaluation and treatment."

There are billions of neural connections in 40 major fiber tracts in the human brain, comprising the information cables of the mind, Dr. Schneider explained. Conventional imaging is not able to show these cables or to pick up the subtle damage that can be caused by a mild traumatic brain injury. HDFT, however, uses advanced computational means to process data from sophisticated MRI machines, revealing these brain pathways and spots where the tracts might be disrupted.

"This imaging technology allows us to see fiber loss and tract breaks, which has not been possible before," Dr. Schneider noted. "HDFT could provide an objective way of identifying and quantifying damage, as well as a way to monitor healing. Concussion patients may find it a relief to be able to point to a specific cause for symptoms that otherwise might seem inexplicable."

"We also are interested to see if the HDFT imaging findings align with functional impairment and symptoms in patients," Dr. Kontos added. "For example, the HDFT findings might show that there is damage to a memory tract in the brain that corresponds to functional impairment in memory performance. Conceptually, as the athlete recovers we expect to see the evidence of this in both functional and HDFT findings. Ultimately, this combination of clinical and imaging information will allow clinicians to better assess and treat the individual effects of this injury."

The NFL partnered with GE to announce in March 2013 the launch of a four-year, $40 million Head Health Initiative with the aim of improving the diagnosis and treatment of concussion, spurring innovation among health care and academic experts, and benefitting the safety of athletes, military members and society in general.

"This challenge was a call to action to advance head health research and innovation," said Alan Gilbert, director, global government and NGO strategy, GE Healthymagination. "The breakthrough ideas submitted will help us better understand brain injuries and the brain overall. We are excited to work with the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC as it advances its work in high-definition fiber tracking that could help improve identification and diagnosis of concussion."

Drs. Kontos, Collins and Schneider are the principal investigators in the Pitt/UPMC project, which will involve dozens of others from the Schneider lab and the UPMC Concussion Program. They received a $300,000 grant with an option to apply for additional funding after the opening six months of the study.

"Because HDFT can detail broken tracts in the brain much the same way an X-ray can detail broken bones, this imaging technique could provide biomarkers for specific impairments and eventually help to develop more targeted and effective therapies and treatments," Dr. Kontos said. "X-rays, MRIs, functional MRIs . . . nothing has been shown yet to be clinically useful and consistent. This could be groundbreaking for the 1.7 million or more Americans who sustain concussions every year - far more than simply top-tier athletes."

Dr. Collins is a developer, co-owner and shareholder of ImPACT Applications, Inc. ImPACT, a computerized neurocognitive test battery designed to assess mild traumatic brain injury, will be used in the study.

About UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program
The Concussion Program, the first of its kind when it opened its doors in 2000 at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, attracts concussion patients from across the sports spectrum: NHL, NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, NCAA, amateurs, high-school athletes and younger, the casual athlete and the non-athlete. Some 15,000 patient visits a year, the most in the United States, are recorded at its four locations. The Concussion Program and its specialists have produced more than 130 published research projects, including 15 in 2012 alone, as the program continues to push the envelope for better evaluation, treatment and education of concussions.






January 20, 2014 - Uninsured Patients Less Likely to Be Transferred Between Hospitals, Pitt Researchers Find


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 20, 2014 — Uninsured patients with a variety of common medical diagnoses are significantly less likely to be transferred between hospitals for treatment, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in collaboration with researchers at the University of Iowa and University of Toronto. They also found that women, insured or not, are less likely to be transferred between hospitals. The findings, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that non-medical factors, including patients' sex and insurance coverage may influence care decisions and lead to potential health disparities.

"Federal law requires hospitals and physicians to care for and stabilize any patient with an emergency medical condition, regardless of the patient's ability to pay," explained Janel Hanmer, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Pitt's School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "While there's been persistent concern about patients being transferred between hospital emergency rooms for non-medical reasons, our study is one of the first to look at inter-hospital transfers among patients who have already been admitted to the hospital."

The researchers used data from the 2010 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the largest all-payer inpatient care database in the United States, to examine the relationship between a patient's insurance coverage and the hospital transfers for five common medical diagnoses: biliary tract disease, chest pain, pneumonia, sepsis and skin infection.

The data covered 315,748 hospitalized patients, ages 18 to 64, who were discharged from 1,051 hospitals across the country.

The researchers were surprised to find that uninsured hospitalized patients were 20 percent to 40 percent less likely to be transferred to another hospital for four of the five diagnoses when compared with privately insured patients, even after adjusting for demographic factors and severity of illness. Additionally, women were significantly less likely to be transferred than men for all five diagnoses, with transfer rates of women occurring from 35 percent to 40 percent less often than for men. The transfer rate for all patients between hospitals ranged from 2 percent to 5 percent, depending on the diagnosis.

"We hypothesized that uninsured patients would be more likely to be transferred as hospitals tried to punt these unprofitable cases to other hospitals in the area. Our study showed this did not happen," said Dr. Hanmer. "Instead, we found that uninsured patients (and women) were substantially less likely to be transferred, suggesting that perhaps both the uninsured and women are not being transferred when they should be."

The data used in the study lacked detail necessary to determine if the differences seen were due to clinical differences, patient preference, physician referral patterns, or receiving hospital screening practices.

Still, said Dr. Hanmer, the study is cause for concern and future investigation into the outcomes of transferred patients. "If we presume that transfer between hospitals results in greater access to advanced treatments, then it's evident that the uninsured and women face a serious health care disparity," she noted. "Alternatively, privately insured patients and men may be at risk of greater exposure to more costly procedures and excessive treatments."

Collaborators on the study include Xin Lu, M.S., and Gary E. Rosenthal, M.D., University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine; and Peter Cram, M.D., M.B.A., Mt. Sinai Hospital/UHN and the University of Toronto.

The research was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs (grant AR062133), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (grant R01 HL085347) and the National Institutes of Health (grant R01 AG033035).






January 16, 2014 - Behavioral Health Services Employees Receive Certifications


Chrisy Benzel - Behavioral Health Services Employee Receive Certifications
Christine Zernick - Behavioral Health Services Employee Receive Certifications
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — UPMC Altoona Behavioral Health Services employees Chrisy Benzel and Christine Zernick have received three certifications to advance their skills so they may better instruct others in helping people in need of mental health/substance abuse services.

Benzel and Zernick completed the following courses: Mental Health First Aid (General), Public Safety Mental Health First Aid, and Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA).

"It is true that the courses have 'fine-tuned' our skills to help others," Zernick said. "But our purpose as instructors is to help participants become better in helping people who are in need." Mental Health First Aid is an adult public education program designed to improve participants' knowledge and modify their attitudes and perceptions about mental health/substance abuse and related issues, including how to respond to people who are experiencing an acute mental health crisis (suicidal thoughts and/or behavior, stress reaction, panic attacks, etc.) or are in the early stages of one or more chronic behavioral health problems (depression, anxiety, etc.), which may occur with substance abuse. The program also provides information about common resources and treatment services in the area.

For more information, contact Zernick at 381-9897.






January 15, 2014 - Low National Funding for LGBT Health Research Contributes to Inequities, Pitt-led Analysis Finds


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 15, 2014 — Only one-half of 1 percent of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) between 1989 and 2011 concerned the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, contributing to the perpetuation of health inequities, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health-led analysis.

The findings, which grew from the Fenway Institute's Summer Institute in LGBT Population Health in Boston and continued at Pitt Public Health's Center for LGBT Health Research, are in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health, published today. The researchers make several recommendations for how to stimulate LGBT-related research.

"The NIH is the world's largest source of health research funding and has placed a low priority on LGBT health research," said Robert W.S. Coulter, M.P.H., a doctoral student in Pitt Public Health's Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. "In general, LGBT people experience stigma associated with their sexual and gender minority status, disproportionate behavioral risks and psychosocial health problems, and higher chronic disease risk factors than their non-LGBT counterparts. Increased NIH funding for research on these topics, particularly focusing on evidence-based interventions to reduce health inequities, could help alleviate these negative health outcomes."

About 3.5 percent of the U.S. adult population is estimated to be gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to recent research based on national- and state-level population surveys.

Mr. Coulter and his colleagues found 628 NIH-funded studies concerning LGBT health between 1989 and 2011, accounting for 0.5 percent of all NIH-funded studies. The majority of those studies focused on HIV/AIDS and other sexual health matters. When those studies were excluded, there were only 113 LGBT-related studies remaining, or 0.1 percent of NIH-funded studies during this time period.

After analyzing those studies, Mr. Coulter's research team found further gaps within the 628 LGBT-related studies, with 86.1 percent concerning the health of sexual minority men, only 13.5 percent focused on sexual minority women and 6.8 percent focused on transgender populations, with some of the projects studying more than one subgroup.

The authors also found that there were 202 projects on the development, implementation or evaluation of interventions. When intervention studies concerning HIV and other sexual health matters were removed, the number of projects dropped to 21.

"Studies have shown that specific subgroups of LGBT populations experience health problems like tobacco use, violence and obesity at higher rates than their non-LGBT counterparts. Thus, the lack of intervention studies aimed at reducing these health disparities contributes to the perpetuation of health inequities among LGBT populations," said Mr. Coulter.

He added that, "The political climate has had a chilling effect within the NIH that constrains LGBT health research and appears to be responsible, at least in part, for the marginalization of LGBT research at the NIH."

Mr. Coulter and his colleagues noted that a 2003 request by some Republican members of Congress for the NIH to justify the benefits of nearly 200 projects, most of which investigated LGBT or other marginalized populations, was followed by more than half of the researchers leading those studies removing words from their study proposals that might be deemed controversial, such as "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "AIDS." A smaller proportion of researchers completely dropped their LGBT-related studies, with some even changing careers. The research by Mr. Coulter and colleagues showed a substantial drop in LGBT-related projects at NIH during these years as well.

Mr. Coulter and his colleagues believe that NIH is on the path toward lessening the dearth of LGBT-related research. In 2012, NIH supported a workshop about sexual orientation and gender identity in electronic health records and encouraged professional development activities related to LGBT health.

To more efficiently stimulate research projects on LGBT health, the researchers recommend the NIH engage in the following practices to comprehensively address the problem:
  • Establish policies that designate LGBT people as priority populations for research that goes beyond HIV/AIDS and sexual health issues.
  • Increase evidence-based intervention research to improve LGBT and reduce health inequities.
  • Explore new strategies to increase the amount of LGBT health research, including support for diversity among researchers.
  • Support efforts to expand the pool of trained researchers prepared to propose LGBT research projects through training grants, fellowships, career awards and the establishment of LGBT Centers of Excellence.
Additional authors of this research include Karey S. Kenst, M.P.H., of Massachusetts General Hospital; Deborah J. Bowen, Ph.D., of Boston University; and Scout, Ph.D., of CenterLink.

This research was supported by the Summer Institute in LGBT Population Health; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development award no. R25HD064426; the Training Program to Address HIV-Related Health Disparities in MSM; National Institute of Mental Health award no. T32MH094174; the Network for LGBT Health Equity; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cooperative agreement no. U58DP001516; and the CDC Prevention Research Center cooperative agreement no. U48DP001922.

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.






January 14, 2014 - Media Literacy Tops Traditional Education in School Smoking-Prevention Efforts


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 14, 2014 — A school-based smoking prevention program centered on media literacy performed better than traditional anti-smoking educational programming, according to a new University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study. While traditional anti-smoking education focuses on health effects of smoking and resisting peer and other social influences, media literacy empowers participants to analyze and evaluate portrayals of tobacco use in media.

In the study, published today in the Journal of School Health, the researchers randomly assigned 796 9th-grade students in three Pittsburgh high schools to receive either an anti-smoking media literacy program or a rigorous traditional anti-smoking program.

Among high-risk students who originally said they planned to smoke in the future, more students in the media literacy program changed their minds at the conclusion of the program compared with those in the traditional program. Students who received media literacy programming also perceived smoking as less popular, which has been closely linked with behavioral smoking outcomes in the past.

The students in the media literacy group also gave higher evaluation scores for their enjoyment of and attention to the program, and they were more likely to indicate that they would look at smoking and advertising differently in the future, compared with the traditional group.

In many other areas, such as attitudes toward smoking, the two programs performed similarly, but no outcomes were superior for the traditional program.

"Because traditional programs have not been as successful as we would like in preventing smoking among youth, it is very important that we innovate in this area," said lead author Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, and director of the Program for Research on Media and Health at Pitt. "The results of this study suggest that media literacy has potential, which we should continue to investigate."

Dr. Primack and his colleagues suggest that one reason media literacy may be effective is that youth aged 8 to 18 continue to be exposed to more than 10 hours of media content each day, including multiple positive images of smoking, which previous research has clearly linked to initiation of smoking. Additionally, media literacy inherently may be more effective for sensation-seeking, rebellious individuals who are more at risk for using tobacco.

"We were particularly interested in the group of 236 students who reported at the start of the program that they intended to smoke in the future. Among these individuals, 24 percent of those assigned to the media literacy group reverted to not intending to smoke after the intervention, compared with only 16 percent of those assigned to the traditional program," said Dr. Primack. "Although our study was relatively small, if changes of this magnitude are borne out in other studies, this would translate into clinically meaningful differences. Another challenge for the future will be to examine longer-term smoking outcomes."

Additional authors of this research are Erika L. Douglas, M.S., and Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., both of Pitt; Stephanie R. Land, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute; and Michael J. Fine, M.D., M.Sc., of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health grant K07-114315, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Maurice Falk Foundation.






January 13, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Offers Support Groups/Clinics/Classes in February


ALTOONA, Jan. 13, 2014 — UPMC Altoona offers the following support group meetings and patient clinics in February 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 adjacent to the Cafeteria on Tower 4.

Alzheimer's Disease Support Group, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25, Allegheny Room, sixth floor Outpatient Center. Call 889-2141.

Bariatric Information Sessions by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Bariatric Support Group by Allegheny Regional Surgical Associates, education, speakers and support for people who will have or have had bariatric surgery, 6 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the Rotunda. Call 889-7500.

Breastfeeding Class is offered to expectant parents from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the Allegheny Room. Call 889-2557.

Breastfeeding Support Group, 10 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, Bedford Room. Call 889-2557.

The Caregivers Corner Support Group meets at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, 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, Feb. 24, with speaker George Palmer, executive director of Center for Independent Living, 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, Feb. 19, 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 that 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 Lab, 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, Feb. 6, in the Conference Room. Call Becky at 935-3738.

The Grief Support Group meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb. 5 and 19, in the Conference Room.

La Leche League meets 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, Feb. 10. Call for room location, 934-0466.

The Stroke Support Group meets from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, in the Conference Room. Call 889-2356.

Veterans Brain Injury Peer Support Group meets 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18. Call for room location, 949-1905.

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






January 13, 2014 - UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club Sets Programs/Classes for January


ALTOONA, Jan. 13, 2014 — UPMC Altoona's Healthy Living Club has scheduled the following educational programs and screenings for February 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:
  • The hospital, 620 Howard Ave.
  • Station Medical Center, 17th Street and 9th Avenue, Conference Room (enter the K-4 entrance, left of Fresenius Dialysis Center)
  • Altoona Alliance Church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd., next to Planet Fitness in the former Value City building. This is a new location.
In the event of inclement weather, registrants are contacted. A message regarding program cancellation is left on the 889-2630 phone line.

For more information, visit www.altoonaregional.org/classes_healthyliving.htm.

At "Healthy Choices for a Healthier You in 2014," join Pam Sepp, clinical dietitian, as she explains the specific health benefits of good nutrition for older adults and how to "build a healthy plate," based on the ChooseMyPlate initiative. Offered Friday, Jan. 17, this program will also include specific tips on the how-to of including more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy in one's diet and the health benefits of each. Ample time for questions. Lunch is at 11 a.m. Program is 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Altoona Alliance Church, No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

Join the Rev. David Hammerle of UPMC Altoona's Pastoral Care Department for help understanding depression and how it affects our daily lives. "Beating the Winter Blues: Overcoming Secondary Depression," is offered Monday, Jan. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Station Medical Center Conference Room (enter via K-4 entrance). Find out about secondary depression and how it affects the way you live. Discover what makes depression a seasonal problem and how to overcome it. Donation of $10 is requested but not required. This donation will go toward the support of Day One of Altoona, a nonprofit, faith-based counseling service. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665. Offers 0.2 CEUs.

Randy Grabill, UPMC Altoona clinical dietitian, shows how to become a savvy consumer who chooses healthy and nutritious food during "Don't Put It on the Table Until You Read the Label." Please meet in the produce section right inside the door on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m. at Giant Eagle Grocery Store, Logan Towne Centre, Altoona. No fee. Registration required. Program ends at 3:30. Randy guides participants through Giant Eagle, showing how to shop smart and eat a nutritious diet. Learn what foods to look for, what foods to avoid and how to decipher those nutrition labels. Tour size limited and open to those who have not taken the tour in the past. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

This time, keep that New Year's resolution! "Freedom From Smoking: Become Tobacco Free" is a seven-week series offered Tuesdays, Jan. 28 through March 11. You have a choice of daytime classes from 1:30-2:30 p.m., or evening classes from 5:30-6:30 p.m. All classes held at Station Medical Center Conference Room. No fee. Registration required. Call 889-2630 or 1-888-313-4665.

Join Jessica Wyant, prevention educator, who will help you learn to become tobacco-free. This American Lung Association program, offered in conjunction with the Blair County Drug & Alcohol Program Inc., will help you understand tobacco addiction, create a quitting plan, change behavior and thinking about using tobacco, manage stress and weight and prevent relapse. Free nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges are available.

Seating limited. For more information, go to www.determinetoquit.com or call the Pennsylvania Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Make the decision to quit today!






January 13, 2014 - Pitt Establishes Brain Institute to Unlock Mysteries of the Brain, Discover Novel Therapies


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 13, 2014 — The University of Pittsburgh is creating a new Institute that aims to unlock the mysteries of normal and abnormal brain function, and then use this new information to develop novel treatments and cures for brain disorders. The new Institute will function like a Bell Labs for brain research and provide a special environment to promote innovation and discovery. The goal is to enable investigators to perform high-risk, high-impact neuroscience that will transform lives.

"Pittsburgh has earned well-deserved respect as one of the world's leading centers for groundbreaking research in neuroscience," said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "We have the intellectual firepower to take a lead role in the nationwide effort to revolutionize the understanding of the brain. The creation of our Brain Institute reflects the high priority that we have assigned to this important work and will position Pitt for even higher levels of impact and achievement in the years ahead. It also will strengthen our ongoing local, national and international research efforts, such as the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, which is a joint program with Carnegie Mellon University."

According 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, the Brain Institute will initiate five centers that focus on neurotechnology, neurogenetics, brain mapping, learning, and discovery in neuroscience. The Brain Institute's mission also includes coordinating strategic planning for further research initiatives and developing and overseeing essential research resources. "The Brain Institute will bring to bear the substantial resources across the University to take on some of the major health and scientific concerns of our time," Dr. Levine said. "We have the will and the skills to unravel how the brain works, making this a very exciting time to conduct research in neuroscience."

Pitt has long been at the forefront of neuro-related research. The University is where: Salk developed a vaccine against polio which prevents the virus from damaging the nervous system and causing paralysis; Pittsburgh Compound B was developed for early detection of Alzheimer's disease; a brain-computer interface first made it possible for a woman with quadriplegia to feed herself by moving a robotic arm with just her thoughts; and new diagnostic tools and imaging methods are being developed to detect concussions and traumatic brain injuries. "The Brain Institute will add to this already remarkable list of achievements," said Dr. Levine.

Last April, President Obama announced the inception of the BRAIN Initiative, describing it as a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and address brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. Pitt's renowned researchers can rise to the challenge, noted Patricia E. Beeson, Ph.D., Pitt provost and senior vice chancellor.

"Our extensive and accomplished community of neuroscientists and physicians is part of a Pitt culture that encourages cooperation and collaboration with colleagues from a variety of disciplines, including bioengineering, communication disorders, computer science, mathematics, neurology, neuroscience, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, psychiatry, psychology and rehabilitation," she said. "This breadth of talent and experience makes us ideally suited to take our understanding of brain function to the next level."

The Brain Institute's founding scientific director is Peter L. Strick, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and chair, Department of Neurobiology. He is a leading expert on the neural basis of movement and cognition. Dr. Strick pioneered the use of viruses to reveal circuits of interconnected neurons. This technique is widely seen as one of the most powerful approaches yet developed to "map the brain." His studies provide insights into what goes wrong in a wide range of brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, autism, depression and schizophrenia. Most recently, he has begun to explore the brain connections that form the basis for the mind-body connection. Dr. Strick was recently elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. He holds the Endowed Chair in Systems Neuroscience, is co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, and is a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

"The critical task of discovering how the brain develops, how it functions normally, and how to alleviate and cure abnormal function requires a broad, multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach," Dr. Strick said. "In other words, it 'takes a University.' I am enormously proud that the University of Pittsburgh has taken on this challenge."

Initially, five centers will be established at the Brain Institute. They are:
  • A NeuroTech Center to restore movement to the paralyzed and vision to the blind, and to develop new technology-based treatment approaches for motor and cognitive disorders. To do so, the Center will create new tools for long-term recording from and stimulation of populations of neurons in the human brain.
  • A NeuroGenetics Center to develop non-human primate models of neurodevelopmental, neuropsychiatric, and neurodegenerative disorders to accelerate the development of new cures and treatments for neural disorders.
  • A NeuroMapping Center to unravel the complex circuitry and patterns of activity that are the neural bases of movement, cognition, emotion, learning, language and creativity -- in other words, all that makes us human. This Center will be deeply involved in exploring the mind-body connection that is the basis of the emerging field of Health Neuroscience.
  • A NeuroLearning Center to study the biological bases of learning and memory, including the brain changes that accompany learning in educational domains, in human development, and in overcoming cognitive impairment.
  • A NeuroDiscovery Center, the equivalent of a Bell Labs for neuroscience, to support particularly innovative, multidisciplinary, and high-risk/high-reward neuroscience research.
Currently, there are few effective treatments for most brain disorders, and cures are far from imminent for many chronic and debilitating neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. "As the Baby Boomer population ages, we are facing a health crisis caused by the growing burden of neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease," Dr. Strick said. "The basic science and the translational research fostered by the Brain Institute are the critical first steps that must be taken to meet this challenge."

University of Pittsburgh Neuroscience Research Highlights
The University of Pittsburgh has a long history of research accomplishments and excellence in neuroscience. Pitt's "open academic architecture," which promotes an institutional spirit of cooperation and collaboration, enables research interactions to span departments, schools, centers and even extend into neighboring universities. Here are four examples of major advances that have come from research at Pitt:
  • Salk vaccine against polio. Virologist Jonas Salk and his skilled research team at the University of Pittsburgh developed the first vaccine against polio using inactivated virus. Introduced in 1955, the Salk vaccine was hailed as a miracle in preventing polio, which attacks the brain and spinal cord and can cause disabling paralysis, and even death. Known in the 'forties and 'fifties as the "summer scourge," polio terrified American families as annual epidemics grew increasingly widespread and deadly. Salk led an elaborate field trial to test the vaccine. The trial required 20,000 doctors and public health officers and a quarter of a million volunteers. The vaccine, administered to millions of children over the following decades, contributed to the near eradication of polio in the western hemisphere by 1991.
  • Pittsburgh Compound B for early detection of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh developed a radioactive compound in 2008 that enables early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Pittsburgh Compound B (or PiB) was invented and developed by a team of Pitt researchers led by Chester Mathis, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of radiology and pharmaceutical sciences, and William Klunk, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of psychiatry and neurology. PiB makes early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease possible and should help clinicians monitor the disease's progression. PiB works by binding to telltale beta-amyloid plaque deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. These plaques are thought to kill brain cells and their presence differentiates Alzheimer's disease from other dementias. PiB can be injected into the bloodstream of patients, and specialists can then use imaging with positron emission tomography (PET) to locate the plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. Before Pittsburgh Compound B, it was only possible to confirm Alzheimer's disease after a patient's death at autopsy. PiB has been licensed to GE Healthcare, which recently received approval to market a PiB analog in the U.S. Approval for its use in Europe and Asia currently is under regulatory review.
  • Thought-controlled robotic arm for the paralyzed. Jan Scheuermann is a 53-year-old woman whose ability to move below the neck was stolen by a neurodegenerative condition. In 2012, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at Pitt enabled Jan to feed herself a chocolate bar using a robotic arm that was controlled by signals from her brain. This breakthrough was based on years of basic science research in the laboratory of Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D., Professor of Neurobiology. The team that translated this basic science into a reality also included Michael Boninger, M.D., chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery, and Jennifer Collinger, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical medicine & rehabilitation, as well as a host of bioengineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, neurologists, neurophysiologists, neurosurgeons, rehabilitation specialists, roboticists and statisticians at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University. The brain-computer interface used signals that were recorded from two microelectrode arrays - two tiny grids, each with 96 micro-contacts, that were implanted into the surface of Jan's cerebral cortex. These signals were electronically processed to generate movements of the robotic arm. In this way, Jan's thoughts were translated into actions. Jan was able to move the prosthetic arm just two days after the arrays were implanted.
  • High-definition fiber tracking of brain pathways. In 2009, Walter Schneider, Ph.D., Pitt professor of psychology and neurosurgery and Senior Scientist at Pitt's Learning Research and Development Center, organized an international competition for scientists to improve an existing imaging method that displays brain pathways. Two groups, one in St. Louis and another in the Netherlands, won the competition. Dr. Schneider, in collaboration with Pitt neurosurgeons, then further refined the technique that they term High Definition Fiber Tracking (HDFT). HDFT has proven to be especially valuable for visualizing vital fiber tracts to allow them to be preserved during neurosurgical operations and for assessing the integrity of brain pathways following traumatic brain injury.
About the University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh is a state-related research university, founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787. Pitt is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which comprises 62 preeminent doctorate-granting research institutions in North America. With 16 schools and colleges and 34,000 students on five campuses, the University offers nearly 400 distinct degree programs and confers approximately 8,000 degrees annually. Pitt ranks fifth among all U.S. universities in terms of the competitive grants awarded to members of its faculty by the National Institutes of Health, and consistently ranks among the country's leading U.S. public research universities, according to The Top American Research Universities report issued by the Center for Measuring University Performance. For more information about the University of Pittsburgh, please visit www.pitt.edu.

The University of Pittsburgh 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.






January 8, 2014 - New Device Can Reduce Sleep Apnea Episodes by 70 Percent, Pitt-UPMC Study Shows


Ron McConnell, COO of UPMC Altoona, presents roses and gift cards to mom Amanda Morgan, Emberlyn Rose Terry and Stephen Terry, all of Altoona, with Maternity/Nursery registered nurse Rebecca Beck.
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 8, 2014 — Implantation of a sleep apnea device called Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) therapy can lead to significant improvements for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. After one year, patients using the device had an approximately 70 percent reduction in sleep apnea severity, as well as significant reductions in daytime sleepiness.

The multicenter, prospective Stimulation Therapy for Apnea Reduction (STAR) trial was conducted at 22 medical centers in the United States and Europe, and is the first to evaluate the use of upper airway stimulation for sleep apnea.

OSA, which affects more than 8 million men and 4 million women in the U.S. and is twice as common in men, is characterized by repeated episodes of upper airway collapse during sleep, due to narrowing or blockage. Patients with OSA stop breathing, known as apnea, frequently during sleep, often for a minute or longer, and over half of those with OSA are overweight. Repeated episodes of apnea can lead to daytime fatigue, and increase a person's risk for heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and even death. Treatments for OSA include weight loss, upper airway surgeries, oral appliances, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is considered the primary treatment for OSA.

Photo: Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy
Reporters interested in using this image should contact NEJM via mediasupport@nejm.org

"While CPAP is a successful treatment when used on a regular basis, as many as half of the patients who have been prescribed CPAP are unable to use it regularly, largely due to discomfort with the mask and/or the lack of desire to be tethered to a machine," said Patrick Strollo, M.D., professor of medicine and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, medical director of the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center, and lead author of the study. "The results of this trial show a huge potential for a new and effective treatment that can help millions of patients."

"Inspire UAS therapy differs from other traditional sleep apnea devices and surgical procedures in that it targets the muscle tone of the throat rather than just the anatomy," noted Ryan Soose, M.D., director of the UPMC Division of Sleep Surgery and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology. "Two thirds of patients using the Inspire UAS therapy device had successful control of their OSA although even more reported improvement in snoring, daytime sleepiness and quality of life measures. Eighty-six percent of patients were still using the device every night at the one year mark, which compares very favorably to CPAP."

From 724 candidates initially screened, the STAR trial implanted and prospectively evaluated 126 moderate-to-severe OSA patients who had difficulty using or adhering to CPAP therapy:
  • 83 percent of the participants were men, the mean age was 54.5 years, and the mean body-mass index was 28.4.
  • All patients underwent surgery to implant the device. The device stimulates the nerve of the tongue during sleep, thereby enlarging and stabilizing the airway and improving control of breathing.
  • Surgical implantation of the upper-airway stimulation system was performed by otolaryngologists at 22 academic and private centers, including Ryan Soose, M.D., of UPMC Ear, Nose and Throat specialists.
  • The device was implanted in three areas: a stimulation electrode was placed on the hypoglossal nerve, which provides innervation to the muscles of the tongue; a sensing lead was placed between rib muscles to detect breathing effort; and a neurostimulator was implanted in the upper right chest, just below the clavicle bone.
  • Patients used a "controller" to turn on the device at night, so it is only used when the patient sleeps. The Inspire UAS therapy device is designed to sense breathing patterns and deliver mild stimulation to a patient's airway muscles to keep the airway open during sleep.
  • Using various sleep-disorder measuring systems, patients were found to experience 68 to 70 percent fewer sleep-apnea episodes per hour.

"My short-term memory has improved significantly, and the surgery has made a huge difference in my quality of life," said Kathy Gaberson, one of the study participants who used the Inspire therapy. "My apnea episodes went from 23 times an hour to just two."

This study was funded by Inspire Medical Systems.

Dr. Soose is a consultant with Inspire Medical Systems.

Co-investigators include researchers from University Hospital, Mannheim; Intersom K.ln, Cologne; Sint Lucas Hospital, Amsterdam; North Memorial Sleep Health Center, Maple Grove; Paparella Ear, Head, and Neck Institute; St. Cloud Ear, Nose, and Throat; the University of South Florida College of Medicine; the St. Petersburg Sleep Disorders Center; the University of Cincinnati; the Medical College of South Carolina, Charleston; the Medical College of Wisconsin; Antwerp University Hospital; the University of Antwerp; the Borgess Medical Center; the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and, Case Western Reserve University.

About the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow's health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1998, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health. For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit www.health.pitt.edu.






January 8, 2014 - Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Launches Orthodontics Program


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 8, 2014 Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has launched an orthodontics program, which will be led by Lindsay Schuster, D.M.D., M.S. This new program will offer comprehensive orthodontic treatment for the prevention and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite and jaws.

"The expansion of the orthodontics practice will provide the best in comprehensive orthodontic care for the entire family," said Dr. Schuster, lead provider for Children's Orthodontics. "Our goal is to ensure families receive proper treatment for their orthodontic issues and to enjoy a pleasing smile for a lifetime."

Dr. Schuster received her Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Connecticut, Orthodontic Certificate and Master of Science degree from the University of Minnesota, and certificate in Cleft and Craniofacial Orthodontics from New York University. She also is the director of the Cleft-Craniofacial Center's Orthodontics Program at Children's Hospital and an assistant clinical professor of surgery at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Treatment at Children's Orthodontics will include:
  • Phase I orthodontic treatment to manage dental crowding, crossbites and jaw growth discrepancies
  • Comprehensive orthodontic treatment for children, adolescents and adults
  • Invisalign®
  • Zoom!® Teeth Whitening
  • Ear modeling, including EarWell™ molding, for infants with congenital ear shape irregularities
  • Commemorative hand and foot casting services for infants, children and adults
Children's Orthodontics services will be offered at the main campus in Lawrenceville. Scheduling is available for this service by calling 412-692-7772 or visiting www.childrenspeds.com/services-and-programs/orthodontics for more information.






January 7, 2014 - Pitt, UPMC Receive Awards to Create Clinical Data Research Network, Conduct Comparative Effectiveness Research


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 7, 2014 — Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and UPMC and their collaborators at other academic centers have received three new awards from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to establish a new clinical data network to facilitate evaluation of the outcomes of health interventions; compare two approaches to encourage communication between patients with mental illness and the health professionals who provide their care; and develop guidelines to help researchers select optimal methods to analyze data from studies in which they observed, but did not try to influence, outcomes.

The projects were among 82 selected for a total of $191 million in funding in December by PCORI, an independent nonprofit organization that was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 2010 to help patients and health care providers make informed decisions based on the best available research. The new Pitt awards build upon seven current PCORI-funded projects and subcontracts totaling over $11 million.

"PCORI's leadership in this area is unparalleled, and we are pleased to have several projects considered worthy of forwarding its mission," said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine. "The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have built an infrastructure that encourages comparative effectiveness research, in which existing health interventions are compared to identify the ones that do people the most good and the least harm. PCORI's support reflects the success of these efforts."

The projects approved for awards are:
  • The creation of a clinical data research network (CDRN) to facilitate the integration of health information to allow evaluation of the effectiveness, benefits and potential harm of treatment options for specific health problems so that patients can make informed decisions about their care. This collaboration of Pitt and UPMC, partnered with Johns Hopkins University/Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins Health Care, Penn State College of Medicine/Hershey Medical Center, and Temple University School of Medicine/Temple Health will access data from more than 2.5 million patients in seven states and the District of Columbia, and will use UPMC's clinical data architecture and the University of Pittsburgh's Comparative Effectiveness Research Core (CERC) and associated data center. It is one of 29 health-system based or patient-led networks that will integrate information into PCORnet, establishing "a data infrastructure that will allow for large-scale research to be conducted with diverse populations, thereby improving generalizability and efficiency," said Wishwa Kapoor, M.D., Distinguished Service Professor, Falk Professor of Medicine, and chief, Division of General Internal Medicine. The principal investigator is Rachel Hess, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Pitt School of Medicine.

  • An evaluation of two approaches to improve communication and shared decision-making among Medicaid-enrolled adults with serious mental illness and their physicians and others providing their care. In one group, trained peers will help patients use a web-based application to report recovery goals and current function before seeing their doctor, psychologist or nurse about their medications. The other group will complete a standardized web-based questionnaire about symptoms and side effects prior to appointments to review medications. "This study reflects the true spirit of PCORI by directly involving patients, providers and other key stakeholders in all aspects of the research," said Donna Keyser, Ph.D., M.B.A., senior director of the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care. "Our goal is to understand how technology can be used to support shared decision making in ways that work best for patients." The principal investigator is Kim MacDonald-Wilson, Sc.D., of the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care, and adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.

  • An analysis of existing comparative effectiveness research data and methods to devise specific strategies investigators can use to select the best ways to analyze data and answer research questions when conducting observational studies in which no interventions are performed to influence outcomes. The principal investigator is Douglas Landsittel, Ph.D., professor of medicine, Pitt School of Medicine.
Integrated resources allow an exclusive focus on the best outcomes for the patient, noted CERC Director Sally C. Morton, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Biostatistics, Pitt Graduate School of Public Health, and the statistical expert to the PCORI Methodology Committee.

"The success of the researchers across Pitt and UPMC, as well as the collaborations they have fostered, helps patients, families and other stakeholders make the best health care decisions they can and improves the health of our communities," she said. "Pitt and UPMC's long-term commitment to this national endeavor, particularly the investment in the CERC, has produced a flourishing environment that will have a far-reaching impact."

All of the awards are approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal contract.

About the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow's health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. Since 1998, Pitt and its affiliated university faculty have ranked among the top 10 educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health. For additional information about the Schools of the Health Sciences, please visit www.health.pitt.edu.

About PCORI
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. More information is available at www.pcori.org.

www.upmc.com/media






January 6, 2014 - No 'Brakes' - Pitt Study Finds Mechanism for Increased Activity of Oncogene in Head and Neck Cancers


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 6, 2014 — The increased activation of a key oncogene in head and neck cancers could be the result of mutation and dysfunction of regulatory proteins that are supposed to keep the gene, which has the potential to cause cancer, in check, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published in the early online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest a new target for drugs to treat head and neck tumors, as well as other cancers.

Many research teams have found activation and increased signaling of a protein known as Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) in different kinds of cancers, and it is associated with poor prognosis, said senior author Jennifer Grandis, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology, Pitt School of Medicine, and director of the Head and Neck Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter. In adult tissues, STAT3 triggers the production of other proteins that promote the growth and survival of cancer cells. "Until now, the question of why STAT3 could be hyperactivated has gone unanswered," Dr. Grandis said. "Our findings reveal a possible mechanism for this abnormal activity, which could help us develop new cancer drugs."

Noting that gene aberrations in STAT3 itself rarely occurred in head and neck cancers, she and her colleagues looked for mutations in other proteins associated with increased activity of STAT3. To be activated, STAT3 must be phosphorylated, meaning a phosphate group is added to it. Many cancer drugs work by inhibiting enzymes called kinases that encourage this process. The team focused instead on the other side of the biochemical seesaw in which enzymes called phosphatases deactivate proteins by removing phosphates.

To their surprise, they found head and neck tumors with elevated STAT3 were associated with mutations in the PTPR family of phosphatases. When they reproduced the mutations in computational and lab models, they saw that they led to dysfunction of the enzymes.

"Because the phosphatases don't work properly, phosphate groups don't get removed from STAT3 appropriately, and it stays activated," Dr. Grandis explained. "These mutations essentially get rid of the brakes that might otherwise slow or even stop cancer development."

It might be possible one day to screen tumors for mutations in the PTPR group and then treat them with drugs that inhibit STAT3's activity, she added.

Co-investigators include other researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Central European Institute of Technology at Masaryk University, Czech Republic; University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Case Western Reserve University; and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.

The project was funded by National Institutes of Health grants CA097190, CA77308, CA137260, CA127590 and DE024007; the American Cancer Society; the Patricia L. Knebel Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation; the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and the John S. Lazo Cancer Pharmacology Fellowship.

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.

www.upmc.com/media.






January 6, 2014 - UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute Performs Pennsylvania's First Minimally Invasive Heart Pump Implant


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 6, 2014 UPMC surgeons are the first in Pennsylvania to use a minimally invasive surgical approach to implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a portable pump that supports the failing heart in patients with end-stage heart failure. The surgery was performed at UPMC Presbyterian in early December on a 59-year-old man from Dunbar, Pa.

The patient, who is now recovering at home, had suffered from non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart and inhibits its ability to pump blood.

The procedure involved the Heartware HVAD pump, which was placed using a minimally invasive approach. Traditionally, VAD implants require a full sternotomy, where the chest is opened and the breast bone completely divided to provide access to the heart.

"The less-invasive approach offers a number of potential benefits for patients, including a lower risk of bleeding, smaller incisions and a quicker recovery, leading to shorter hospitalization," said Jay K. Bhama, M.D., lead surgeon for the procedure and associate director of the UPMC Artificial Heart Program.

VAD implantation can give renewed life to patients with advanced heart failure who are not helped by conventional medical therapy or who are waiting for a heart transplant. "Advances in VAD design have yielded smaller pumps, improving both survival and quality of life in patients with heart failure," said Robert Kormos, M.D., director of the Artificial Heart Program.






January 6, 2014 - UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute Performs Pennsylvania's First Minimally Invasive Heart Pump Implant


PITTSBURGH, Jan. 6, 2014 UPMC surgeons are the first in Pennsylvania to use a minimally invasive surgical approach to implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a portable pump that supports the failing heart in patients with end-stage heart failure. The surgery was performed at UPMC Presbyterian in early December on a 59-year-old man from Dunbar, Pa.

The patient, who is now recovering at home, had suffered from non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart and inhibits its ability to pump blood.

The procedure involved the Heartware HVAD pump, which was placed using a minimally invasive approach. Traditionally, VAD implants require a full sternotomy, where the chest is opened and the breast bone completely divided to provide access to the heart.

"The less-invasive approach offers a number of potential benefits for patients, including a lower risk of bleeding, smaller incisions and a quicker recovery, leading to shorter hospitalization," said Jay K. Bhama, M.D., lead surgeon for the procedure and associate director of the UPMC Artificial Heart Program.

VAD implantation can give renewed life to patients with advanced heart failure who are not helped by conventional medical therapy or who are waiting for a heart transplant. "Advances in VAD design have yielded smaller pumps, improving both survival and quality of life in patients with heart failure," said Robert Kormos, M.D., director of the Artificial Heart Program.






January 3, 2014 - First Blair County Baby of New Year Born At UPMC Altoona


Ron McConnell, COO of UPMC Altoona, presents roses and gift cards to mom Amanda Morgan, Emberlyn Rose Terry and Stephen Terry, all of Altoona, with Maternity/Nursery registered nurse Rebecca Beck.
ALTOONA, Jan. 3, 2014 — The first Blair County baby of 2014 was born at 12:25 p.m. Jan. 1 in UPMC Altoona's Maternity unit.

Emberlyn Rose Terry was born to Amanda Morgan and Stephen Terry of Altoona. She weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 19 and 3/4 inches long.

The family will receive the following gifts from the hospital:

Mother: Dozen red roses
$50 gift certificate from Target
Father: $50 gift certificate from Target
Baby: $100 gift certificate from Babies R Us (Toys R Us)
Free newborn picture taken at hospital (donated by Friends auxiliary)

In addition, the last baby of 2013 born at Altoona Regional received the following gifts from the hospital:

Mother: Dozen red roses
$50 gift certificate from Target
Father: $50 gift certificate from Target
Baby: $50 gift certificate from Babies R Us (Toys R Us)

Free newborn picture taken at hospital (donated by Friends auxiliary)

Photo: Ron McConnell, COO of UPMC Altoona, presents roses and gift cards to mom Amanda Morgan, Emberlyn Rose Terry and Stephen Terry, all of Altoona, with Maternity/Nursery registered nurse Rebecca Beck.






January 3, 2014 - New Child Restraint Recommendations in 2014


ALTOONA, Jan. 3, 2014 — Parents and child caregivers need to be aware of an important change in child restraint recommendations: The lower anchors should no longer be used when the child and car seat combined weigh over 65 pounds.

This is an amendment to the law that took effect in 2001 that recommends that all children up to 65 pounds remain in car seats/boosters, but that did not take into account the weight of car seats. Car manufacturers cannot guarantee the strength of the anchors when adding the weight of the seat, thus the need to modify the law.

Car restraint manufacturers will have new information on labels and in instruction booklets by or before February. So, Sherry Turchetta, community education specialist with UPMC Altoona and coordinator of SafeKids Blair County, urges parents to read the instruction manual that comes with their child's safety seat for proper installation and to visit a scheduled Child Safety Seat Checkup Station sponsored by UPMC Altoona and SafeKids Blair County.

The next Child Safety Seat Checkup Station is set for Friday, Jan. 10. Additional checks are set for Feb. 7 and March 14 and are by appointment. Call 889-7802 to make an appointment.

For more information about the new recommendation, visit these web sites:
www.saferidenews.com
www.babble.com/kid/car-seat-law-changes-in-2014

About Safe Kids Blair County
UPMC Altoona has been the lead agency for Safe Kids Blair County since 1992 and offers financial accountability, office space, support and a coordinator position.

Safe Kids is a national effort to educate parents on the increased risk of unintentional injuries to children. For more information, go to: www.altoonaregional.org/about.htm






January 2, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Participates in Project Santa


UPMC Altoona Participates in Project Santa
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — Thanks to the generous hearts of UPMC Altoona employees, medical staff, and volunteers, nine Altoona families with a total of 33 children had a brighter Christmas season.

The hospital's box truck was filled to capacity as Santa's helpers collected the gifts and many gift cards and delivered them to Catholic Charities, whose staff delivered them to the families. Santa's helpers included Bob Strawser of Mission/Customer Service; Dana Shade of Community Education, Project Santa coordinator; John Dobson, EVS, and Patt Keith, Marketing and Communications.

"The families are truly grateful for this help," said Dennis George, who works with the families and assisted with deliveries. "When we delivered to one family, the mom had tears in her eyes as we brought in the gifts. The family was really struggling and this made a huge difference to them."

Like many departments, Patient Financial Services has participated each year. This year the staff adopted a teenager.

"We felt the need to help the less fortunate have a brighter Christmas," said Sarah Detwiler of Patient Accounts. "Our gifts may be going to the 16-year-old girl to brighten her Christmas Day. However, in a sense, we are also giving something to the parents — the gift of seeing the happiness on their daughter's face when she opens her gifts."

The employees extend special thanks to "elves" Jennifer Dennis, Rhonda Eckenrode, and Sharon Schmitt (wife of employee Tim Schmitt), who shop for the group.

The department selects one day to get together over lunch and wraps the gifts in a party-like atmosphere.

"Participating in Project Santa reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas" Detwiler said. "God gave us Jesus on that first Christmas to show us how much he loves us. So we recreate that today by buying gifts and sharing our love with others."

Photo: Sarah Detwiler (left) and Jennifer Dennis, Patient Financial Services Department employees, with gifts for a teenager the department "adopted" through Project Santa.






January 2, 2014 - Friends of UPMC Altoona Installs Officers


Friends of UPMC Altoona Installs Officers
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — Friends, UPMC Altoona's auxiliary, installed its 2014 officers and celebrated the spirit of the holidays at its December meeting. New officers for the 2014-16 term are (from left) - front: Alice Kotzatoski (vice president), Peggy Cawthern (president), Peggy Coleman (corresponding secretary); back: Ruth Slippey (secretary), Carol Hooper, and Polly Mickel (asst. treasurer/membership treasurer).






January 2, 2014 - UPMC Altoona Welcomes Nuclear Medicine Interns


UPMC Altoona Welcomes Nuclear Medicine Interns
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — Two area students, Nicole Post of Tyrone and Joel Fleegle of Bedford, comprise the 11th class of interns from Findlay University Nuclear Medicine Institute to study at UPMC Altoona.

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

This class has the distinction of receiving education from co-instructors Drew Appleman, UPMC Altoona Nuclear Medicine department supervisor, and Keith Grigg, UPMC Altoona chief technologist. When Appleman retires in early May, Grigg will finish teaching through August.

The students will complete a nine-month internship in the Nuclear Medicine Department, applying the knowledge from the classroom to the hospital-patient setting.

Upon completing the internship, taking a final exam, and graduating at Findlay in August, the students will sit for their national board exams in September. So far, all Findlay interns who have studied here have passed their national board exams, Appleman said.

Photo: Keith Grigg (far left), Nuclear Medicine technician, and Drew Appleman (far right) with Post and Fleegle.






January 2, 2014 - Kay Jewelers Presents Bear Donation to UPMC Altoona


Kay Jewelers Presents Bear Donation to UPMC Altoona
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — At the Logan Valley Mall, Kay Jewelers manager Dan Estlow (left) and Tim Balconi, UPMC Altoona Foundation president, hold two of the more than 100 bears Kay customers donated to UPMC Altoona pediatric patients. Kay's Altoona store customers donated to help children at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, then gave the plush toys they received as a thank-you to cheer young patients here.






January 2, 2014 - David Burwell, M.D., Receives Board Certification


David Burwell, M.D., chief medical information officer of UPMC Altoona.
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — David Burwell, M.D., chief medical information officer, has been certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) as a specialist in the new sub­specialty of Clinical Informatics. He is among the first physicians in the country and the first UPMC Altoona physician to be certified.

Board certification is the gold standard for any type of physician certification. The ABPM certification reflects the growing importance and demand for physicians with professional expertise in informatics, which combines expertise in medicine and information technology. This encompasses not only the responsibilities of chief medical information officers, but other positions where physicians draw on their expertise in both medicine and informatics.

As chief medical information officer at UPMC Altoona, Dr. Burwell explains, he serves as "a liaison between the medical staff, the Information Technology (IT) department, and administration during planning, selection, implementation, and optimization of clinical information technology."

"As a practicing family physician," Dr. Burwell said, "I have the experience of direct patient care that aids in understanding the technology needs and workflow of our outstanding medical staff."

Dr. Burwell, who is also board-certified in Family Medicine, practices with Burwell Family Medicine, Duncansville.






January 2, 2014 - Ebere Anokwuru, M.D., Passes Certification


Ebere Anokwuru, M.D., a psychiatrist in UPMC Altoona's Behavioral Health Services Department
ALTOONA, Jan. 2, 2014 — Ebere Anokwuru, M.D., a psychiatrist in UPMC Altoona's Behavioral Health Services Department, passed the psychiatry certification examination administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) in September.

The purpose of ABPN's initial certification examination is to test the qualifications of candidates in psychiatry. Psychiatry specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, psychotic, mood, anxiety, substance-related, sexual and gender identity, and adjustment disorders. Biologic, psychological, and social components of illnesses are explored and understood in treatment of the whole person.

Psychiatrists can order diagnostic laboratory tests, prescribe medications, provide psychotherapy, evaluate and treat psychological and interpersonal problems, and give continuing care for psychiatric problems.

Psychiatrists are also prepared to intervene with individuals and families who are experiencing a crisis or dealing with great stress. Psychiatrists may also act as consultants to primary care physicians, or to non-physicians such as psychologists, social workers, and nurses.






© Altoona Regional. All Rights Reserved.   620 Howard Avenue, Altoona, PA 16601-4899   PH: 814-889-2011
info@altoonaregional.org  |  Disclaimer  |  Contact Us  |  HOME