WVU Medicine Cabinet News Stories

WVU Healthcare ranks among nation’s Most Wired hospitals

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the first time, WVU Healthcare has been named to the Most Wired list of hospitals and health systems in the United States. With this designation, WVU Healthcare joins a select group of providers using the most advanced information technology available to deliver excellent care. The lists are based on level of achievement in four focus areas: clinical quality and safety, care continuum, infrastructure and business and administrative management. Hospitals and health systems participate in the survey on a voluntary basis. “In addition to other criteria, WVU Healthcare demonstrated ways we are moving our use of technology ahead,” Rich King, WVUH vice president and chief information officer, said. “Medications are now ordered electronically, allowing unprecedented speed and accuracy. We’re protecting information through the use of encryption. If our computer systems experience an outage, data can be restored quickly.” “Most Wired hospitals far outpace other facilities in these areas. It all comes down to doing everything in our power to improve the health and protect the personal information of our patients,” King continued. In recent years, WVU Healthcare has steadily implemented information systems designed to improve patient outcomes through greater accuracy, accessibility and security. The introductions of Merlin, the electronic medical records project, and MyWVUChart, the online portal that allows patients to view their own medical records, have proven to be major advances in patient safety and quality of care. More than 12,000 patients now access MyWVUChart, and the Merlin system links WVU Healthcare’s many clinics. “Merlin has made a tremendous impact on quality and patient safety,” Niti Armistead, M.D., WVU Healthcare associate chief medical officer and chief quality officer, said. “Clinicians system-wide now have patients’ complete and up-to-date medical histories and medication information readily available to them. This enables care providers to make better decisions for patients.” Approximately 1,388 hospitals are represented in the 530 surveys submitted for the 2011 Most Wired Survey. Now in its 13th year, the survey rates the Most Wired, Most Wired – Small and Rural, Most Wireless and Most Improved. As new technology has been integrated into daily clinical use, WVU Healthcare had previously been recognized as one of the country’s Most Improved centers for the past two years. The results of the annual survey were released this week in the July issue of “Hospitals and Health Networks,” the journal of the American Hospital Association. For more information on the Most Wired lists, see www.hhnmostwired.com. For more information on WVU Healthcare, see www.wvuhealthcare.com.   [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms July 20 and 21 in Marlinton

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Pocahontas County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital in Marlinton from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 and Thursday, July 21.   The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through special grant funds. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Pocahontas County Health Department at 304-799-4154. Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women. Many of those screened are uninsured or underinsured and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia.  Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler’s late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos.   [...]

Morgantown girl begins fundraiser to benefit brain cancer research and patient comfort

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With high school graduation recently behind them, many a teenager is pondering what path his or her life will take as they draw ever closer to adulthood.  But one Morgantown High School graduate has begun a journey of a different sort, one that she neither anticipated nor hoped for. It started back in January when 18-year-old Erin (Poppy) Polak learned that her aunt, Erin Dunmire, had been diagnosed with brain cancer. “I remember the moment like it happened just today,” Polak said. “It’s burned and engraved in my mind. Sometimes, it almost haunts me.” The word “cancer” evoked feelings of anger, hurt, fear and confusion, yet Polak found solace in a quote her aunt has long preached to her: “Life is a journey. Not a destination. Enjoy the moments.” “My aunt has tried to get me to understand these words and the meaning behind them for as long as I can remember,” Polak said. “It took a brain tumor and a little bit of God for me to actually understand what I’m supposed to do with this advice.” Polak has started a “Let the Journey Begin” project to raise money to support brain cancer research and patient comfort at the West Virginia University Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. She’s raised more than $1,400 so far by selling bracelets bearing her aunt’s quote to schoolmates, friends and family members and has set a goal of at least $25,000, the amount needed to establish a research endowment. The bracelets are yellow and gray. Yellow is Erin Dunmire’s favorite color and gray is the color associated with brain cancer. The bracelets are $1 apiece and are for sale at the Friends Gift Shop in Ruby Memorial Hospital. Dunmire’s goddaughter, Megan Murdock, is also teaming up on the project. “I want people to know the things I learned from Aunt E,” Murdock said. “She’s been so strong throughout all this.” With the help of their aunt, the girls are working on other ways they can raise money for the Let the Journey Begin Fund, including a letter-writing campaign and selling T-shirts.  What does Dunmire think of their efforts? “These girls understand what’s important in life, and they get it at a young age,” she said. “It hits me to the core. At times it has stopped my breath. It’s one of those magical moments, very powerful.” Dunmire had surgery at WVU Hospitals to remove the tumor from her brain and went back to work as director of customer service at the hospital three weeks later. She is continuing her treatment at WVU and said she feels great. “Dr. (Julian) Bailes got the entire tumor out. His skill and kindness were impressive. Dr. (Alejandro) Torres-Trejo, my neuro-oncologist, was just flat out wonderful. He never flinches at questions we ask.” Dunmire said it is important to her and her nieces that all money raised from the Let the Journey Begin project stay here at home.  “Making money to go to the research of brain cancer is great, and I hope people will donate,” Polak added. “But more importantly, I hope people will pass my aunt’s message along from person to person. I want it to help them and give hope to others as it has done for me. I want them to treasure all the moments they have.” Dunmire said she hopes that others battling brain cancer will remember to take loved ones with them through their journey and will appreciate the simple things in life, like a beautiful sunset, a full moon or a rainbow.  “That’s really what it’s all about,” she said. For information on the Let the Journey Begin Fund, call 304-293-3711.  To make an online donation go to www.wvucancer.org/giving and click on the “make a gift” package. Photo caption: Erin (Poppy) Polak (right) started the Let the Journey Begin Fund in honor of her aunt, Erin Dunmire (center). Megan Murdock (left), Dunmire’s goddaughter, is also part of the project, which supports brain cancer research and patient comfort at WVU. [...]

Neurosurgeon celebrates 50 years at WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When Robert Nugent, M.D., followed a colleague from Cincinnati to Morgantown in 1961, he wasn’t quite sure what the future had in store. The Yonkers, N.Y., native was leaving an established department of neurosurgery to assume a leadership role at the newly dedicated “medical center on the hill,” the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center. “In the early ‘60s, Morgantown was a dingy, dirty coal town,” Dr. Nugent said. “I had questions about whether I would stay here.” Fifty years later and at 90 years old, Nugent remains in Morgantown, still seeing patients as a WVU faculty member in the Department of Neurosurgery. “In 1961, I was thinking about the year 2000, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could be around for the year 2000?’ I thought, ‘You’ll be 80 years old, you’ll never make it.’ But I did, and I did it with ease.” Nugent believes he is the only remaining member of the inaugural health sciences crowd still on the faculty. The list of changes he has witnessed and spearheaded is too long to list. Nugent played a pivotal role in the success of the Health Sciences Center and University Hospital, through growing pains and subsequent expansion. “When I first came here, all of us were so dedicated to providing good patient care and service to the community … to prove that this medical center was worth it,” he said. “We did not even have a billing policy set up for almost a year. Finally, Dean (Clark) Sleeth said, ‘Listen guys, we’ve got to get together and get organized and set up a billing program.’” “We were treating all these people without billing them, and a rumor got established that (then-Governor) Okey Patteson had built this new medical center with free care for the people of West Virginia.” Nugent drafted the by-laws for the then-forming WVU Medical Corporation and served as chairman of its board for a decade, in addition to eventually chairing his department, a position he held until he turned 65. At the time, it was mandated that chairs must step down upon reaching “retirement age.” Not ready to hang it up, Dr. Nugent planned to keep teaching and practicing medicine until he turned 75, a milestone he again passed without leaving his career, patients or students. “I have difficulty giving up,” he explained. It seems WVU medical students would have a hard time letting him go, anyway. At one point, Nugent’s elective neurology series lectures were so popular, lotteries were held each semester to secure a spot in his class. Nugent says watching his students become inspired to pursue a career in the neurologic sciences has been most gratifying. “It was interesting how many people came out of that and went into neuroradiology, neurology … several went into neurosurgery because that sparked an interest in them early on. So many people were interested in it, so many people profited from it. It lit a fire for a lot of people.” Nugent still sees patients in clinic twice a week, and he is in his 45th year as a team physician for the WVU Mountaineer football team. When not working, Dr. Nugent can be found in the gym or on a tennis court. In the end, he’s glad he stayed. “Morgantown turned out to be a wonderful place to live, I love it. I have five kids; they all grew up here. Three of them are still here because they don’t want to leave. I’m a converted West Virginian.”   [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms July 14 in Princeton

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Mercer County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Bluestone Health Center in Princeton from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 14.  The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through special grant funds. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Bluestone Health Center at 304-431-5499 and ask for Debbie or Emily.   Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women. Many of those screened are uninsured or underinsured and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia.  Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler's late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos. [...]

Ph.D. student selected for two research fellowships

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Ryan Williams, a Ph.D. student in the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy’s Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences program, was recently awarded two fellowship opportunities to further his education and research. [...]

WVU researchers study weight management as a way to prevent breast cancer recurrence

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Being overweight or obese and inactive are risk factors for breast cancer and for recurrence of the disease. For patients with hard-to-treat triple-negative breast cancer, it’s especially important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer that lacks the three receptors known to cause most breast cancers: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Because of this triple-negative tumors do not respond to receptor-targeted treatments. They do, however, respond to chemotherapy. This type of cancer can be aggressive and is more likely to recur than other types of breast cancer. West Virginia University researchers will begin a study this fall aimed at helping prevent the chance of cancer recurrence in triple-negative breast cancer survivors dealing with weight issues. “Effect of a 12-week multidisciplinary weight loss program (‘Fit for the Fight’) on BMI, functional capacity, quality of life and markers of inflammation in overweight and obese women with triple-negative breast cancer,” is a collaborative study of the WVU Department of Physical Therapy, the Department of Exercise Physiology and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. “I named the program in this study ‘Fit for the Fight’ because it will teach women how they can control their weight through diet and exercise and fight cancer that way,” principal researcher Anne Swisher, P.T., Ph.D., said.  “My hope is that what they learn becomes a lifelong habit.” Swisher modeled her program after the weight management program established by the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA). That program has been employed at the WVU Exercise Physiology Human Performance Lab for several years and has been successful in helping people make exercise part of their lifestyle. The study participants recruited to the Fit for the Fight program will meet with exercise physiologists at the Human Performance Lab. “Our staff will provide individualized instruction on physical activity and will guide participants each step of the way through their exercise program to make them comfortable in the exercise setting,” Diana Gilleland, lab manager, said.   Participants will be asked to exercise three times a week at the lab and twice at home. They’ll also meet with a Cancer Center dietician Mary Anne Yanosik for nutritional counseling and will receive behavioral counseling to help them achieve the goal of losing 10 percent of their body weight. “I believe patients will be receptive to Fit for the Fight because it is a structured program that offers them professional support along with advice on how to live healthier lifestyles,” Sobha Kurian, M.D., a breast cancer physician at the Cancer Center, said. “Two large, population-based studies of breast cancer survivors have shown that moderate physical activities following breast cancer diagnosis decreases the risk of cancer recurrence by about 50 percent.  I advise my patients to do 30 to 40 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking, at least five times a week.” The study participants will also have their blood drawn at the beginning and end of the program. “We will be analyzing their blood both times to look for changes in inflammatory markers as a result of weight loss and increased physical activity,” Cancer Center scientist Linda Vona-Davis, Ph.D., co-investigator, said. “We hope that these interventions will give us some clues about the specific effects of diet and exercise on inflammation in breast cancer survivors.” Swisher plans to do a one-year follow-up study to see how well participants have adhered to Fit for the Fight. “I’d also like to expand the program to hospitals, fitness centers and physical therapy clinics statewide, and, ultimately, teach dieticians and exercise professionals how to run it in their communities.” “There’s a lot of cancer research on survivorship,” Swisher added. “I am very interested in this area and want to make survivorship the best it can be for those diagnosed with this disease.” Swisher’s research is supported by a $25,000 Collaborative Programmatic Development Grant from the WVU Breast Cancer Research Program and a $5,000 grant from the Oncology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms July 12 and 13 in Glenville

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Gilmer County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Gilmer County Health Department in Glenville from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.  The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available. Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through special grant funds. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call the Gilmer County Health Department at 304-462-7351.   Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women.  Many of those screened are uninsured or underinsured and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.  The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia.  Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler’s late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos.   [...]

WVU pharmacy grad selected for prestigious residency program

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When it’s time for the transition between classroom work and real-world work, there is a certain level of excitement and, in some cases, a certain level of fear. Not for Charleston native Mark Crist — he’s excited to take on life’s next adventure. Crist graduated from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy with a Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) in May. Having a career that allows him to help others has always been his goal. But now, being able to do that has taken on a new meaning. During his first year of studies at the WVU School of Pharmacy, Crist was in a diving accident that left him without the use of his legs. Having the strong will that he does, he was determined to work hard during rehabilitation, and it was at this time that he discovered how he could go on to help others through his chosen profession. “There wasn’t ever a time during the rehabilitation process that I thought about throwing in the towel,” he said. “I realized as I was going through rehab that pharmacists are not really being utilized in areas such as infectious diseases, critical care, psychiatry and rehabilitation. I knew then that I wanted to work with spinal cord injury patients.” His aspiration to help others is becoming a reality as he is pursuing a residency at The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC). Crist selected this location to continue his studies to become a clinical pharmacist in a large-scale Spinal Cord Injured/Traumatic Brain Injured (SCI/TBI) hospital for several reasons. But what was most important was the education it would provide to him in this specialty area through the nationally recognized Dodd Hall — the main location of the center’s rehabilitation hospital, which is consistently ranked in the rehabilitation hospitals section on the “U.S. News and World Report” Best Hospitals list. The residency at OSUMC is highly competitive, and only five pharmacy graduates nationwide are accepted each year.  While this residency focuses on many aspects of patient care, Crist plans on completing rotations in as many fields that would be applicable to the spinal cord/traumatic brain injury population as he can. “My main goal is to 'give back' to my patient population,” Crist said. “I think direct patient care is the best way for me to do that, and I feel like I saw firsthand the direct impact that good pharmaceutical care can have on a patient. I would have loved to have had a pharmacist in a chair when I was newly injured for no other reason than to see that life does go on after spinal cord injury.” Photo caption: Mark Crist is presented his Pharm.D. degree by (left) Dr. Christopher C. Colenda, West Virginia University’s chancellor for health sciences, and (right) Dr. Patricia Chase, dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy.   [...]