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Paperless progress: WVU Healthcare awarded for e-records transition, use, management

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Rooms crowded with shelves of bulging orange file folders of patient records on Ruby Memorial Hospital’s first floor are now a distant memory, and the use of electronic medical records is a proven, effective way to streamline patient care while protecting personal health information. Now, WVU Healthcare’s flagship hospital and associated outpatient clinics have been recognized as national leaders at the forefront of successfully putting new records technology to work, earning HIMSS Analytics’ highest benchmark, their Electronic Medical Records Adoption Model (EMRAM) Stage 7 Award.   Just over two percent of health care organizations nationwide have achieved this designation, with separate award categories for hospitals and outpatient clinics. WVU Healthcare is only the fifth organization in the country to receive Stage 7 recognition for both, and is the lone health provider in West Virginia to reach this status. HIMSS Analytics is a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). The company developed EMRAM in 2005 as a methodology for evaluating the progress and impact of electronic medical record systems for hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics™ Database. There are eight stages (0-7) that measure a hospital’s implementation and utilization of information technology applications. The final stage, Stage 7, represents a paperless, advanced patient record environment. “This transition was a $91 million decision,” Bruce McClymonds, WVU Healthcare president and CEO, explained. “The decision to make this significant investment was predicated on the presumption that we could affect significant improvements in patient care, clinical quality and outcomes through the more effective use of clinical information.” WVU Healthcare has had an electronic medical record and computerized physician order entry system for 20 years. Several years ago, the decision was made to explore the implementation of a significant upgrade to what is considered the most advanced, state of the art integrated electronic medical records system in the healthcare industry. Clinicians instantly access accurate, real-time patient records in any WVU Healthcare facility, helping our providers more effectively diagnose patients, reduce preventable medical errors and provide safer care. “A hospital can make the transition from paper charts to electronic records, but not use that system to its fullest potential,” said Kevin Halbritter, M.D., chief medical information officer at WVU Healthcare. “We are better equipped to fill gaps in care that would be more likely if our system wasn’t noting condition-specific tests that should be ordered, such as a yearly mammogram for a woman over 50. Our records system reminds our physicians to schedule routine screenings that might otherwise be forgotten.” “Advanced, smart use of electronic records has had a dramatic impact on our ability to support our mission to improve the health of West Virginians and all we serve,” Dr. Halbritter continued. “Our goal is to deliver the right care in the right place at the right time at all our sites, and technology allows us to make that happen.” The system has already proven itself by having a direct and positive effect on patient care, clinical quality and outcomes, even convenience. In addition, tens of thousands of patients each year view their scheduled appointments, test results and other information through myWVUchart, WVU Healthcare’s patient portal, which debuted in 2010. WVU Healthcare’s flagship hospital, Ruby Memorial, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It opened on July 19, 1988, after a generous donation from Morgantown philanthropist Hazel Ruby McQuain. The anniversary celebration will continue through the fall, marking a quarter century of care for tens of thousands of patients. [...]

WVU School of Medicine’s Global Health Week begins Oct. 21

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Medicine Global Health Program is partnering with the WVU School of Public Health Office for Public Health Practice to sponsor this year’s Global Health Week. The lectures will feature a speaker at noon each day starting Monday, Oct. 21 through Friday, Oct. 25 in the WVU Health Sciences Learning Center, room 1905. “The world is a global community,” Melanie Fisher, M.D., M.Sc., director of the Global Health Program, said. “We are all linked to each other. What happens in one area regarding health affects everyone, so we are all in this together to improve the health of others globally.” The lecture schedule and featured speakers are as follows. [...]

WVU researchers seeking faith-based organizations in McDowell, Mercer and Wyoming counties for fall-prevention study

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Department of Orthopaedics is looking for 10 religious congregations (e.g., church, mosque, synagogue, temple, etc.) in McDowell, Mercer and Wyoming counties to participate in the second phase of a fall-prevention study using a physical activity program. The purpose of the study is to evaluate how the fall-prevention program “Moving for Better Balance” is implemented in religious congregations in rural West Virginia and whether they can sustain the program after the funded study concludes. The physical activity program was specifically created to improve balance and reduce falls in older adults using slow, gentle and self-paced exercises. The program can improve muscle strength, flexibility, sleep, balance and quality of life.   The study will eventually enroll 240 men and women, aged 65 years and older, in the 16-week exercise class. Information will be collected from the participants at the beginning and end of the class and after a 16-week follow-up. Dina L. Jones, P.T., Ph.D., associate professor in the WVU Department of Orthopaedics and WVU Division of Physical Therapy and affiliate faculty in the WVU Injury Control Research Center, will be conducting the study, “Translation of an Evidence-Based Fall-Prevention Program into Rural West Virginia Churches.” The study was recently funded as part of a five-year, $4.1 million grant that was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the WVU Injury Control Research Center. The project will include: modifying the exercise program specifically for use in religious environments in West Virginia, conducting a 16-week exercise class for 240 older adults in 20 congregations over two years, evaluating the program and sharing the results with religious and public health partners. Religious congregations in McDowell, Mercer or Wyoming interested in participating can contact Jennifer Eicher, project coordinator, at 1-855-314-0742 (toll-free) or jeicher@hsc.wvu.edu, or Dr. Dina Jones at 304-293-1078 or dljones@hsc.wvu.edu. [...]

WVU Health Sciences welcomes Brazilian Ph.D. student through Science Without Borders

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Lucas Moura, who is working on his Ph.D., is the first Brazilian student to come to the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center through the Science Without Borders program. Science Without Borders is an international exchange program initiated by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to send 100,000 Brazilian students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields to foreign institutions for up to one year of fully funded study. The program dovetails with President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas, which aims to increase higher education exchanges between the United States and Latin America. The United States welcomed its first Science Without Borders students in January 2012. WVU has hosted a number of students in other fields, but Moura is the first in the Health Sciences. Moura will spend nine months at WVU conducting the final portion of his research to complete his Ph.D. through the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Chris Martin, M.D., director of global engagement for WVU Health Sciences, visited UNICAMP’s dental school in August 2012 and was impressed by the school’s commitment to research. UNICAMP recommended Moura to be the first Health Sciences student sent to WVU. Moura applied for and was granted the Science Without Borders scholarship and arrived at WVU in early September. Moura is researching the effectiveness of a delivery system he invented for control and release of drugs to treat periodontal disease. He developed nanospheres loaded with antibiotic and planted them in the patients’ gums. After successful clinical studies in Brazil, Moura is working with Christopher Cuff, Ph.D., professor in the WVU School of Medicine Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, to perform molecular DNA analysis. The analysis will examine the amount and types of bacteria in his patients’ mouths at the subcellular level to see if his delivery system caused a greater improvement than traditional treatment. Dr. Cuff has extensively researched the human microbiome, or the microorganisms that live in the human body. His recent research examines the link between the oral microbiome and dementia. Moura was matched to Cuff due to their similar research goals. “They’re sending their A-team,” said Cuff of Moura. “He’s got a master’s degree in engineering; he’s got a dental degree; and now he’s getting his Ph.D. So he’s a real bright guy.” Dr. Martin expects Moura’s time at WVU to be the beginning of a mutually beneficial inter-institutional relationship with UNICAMP. Global health programs are becoming a hallmark of institutes of modern medicine. WVU has a thriving relationship with Oman Medical College, and Martin hopes to build a similar relationship with UNICAMP. “We hope that Lucas will be the first of many students and that, in fact, this will lead to many other activities, like faculty exchanges, research collaborations and our students and faculty going there,” Martin said. Moura is awaiting the shipment of his samples from Brazil. “They are biological sample materials. Sending biological materials outside of Brazil is complicated, and receiving biological materials here is more complicated,” Moura explained with good humor. He’s making good use of his time while he waits: Moura set up and will be the first to use WVU’s new Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, the latest technology of its kind. The machine replicates the DNA of bacteria to increase sample size to a quantifiable level, while infusing fluorochromes that “light up” selected bacteria. Moura earned his mechanical engineering and dentistry degrees from UNICAMP. He has already put two and a half years into his Ph.D. His work at WVU is the final component before he defends his thesis in Brazil. He is considering pursuing post-doctoral research in using delivery systems to treat different types of periodontal disease. [...]

Award-winning wellness program helps Ruby and HSC workers lead healthier lives

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As rewarding as they can be, people in health-related careers frequently face long shifts and tiring tasks, often leading to high stress and less energy to maintain the healthy habits they encourage others to adopt. Since 1995, The Wellness Program of the WVU Health Sciences Campus has helped the employees of the WVU Health Sciences Center and WVU Healthcare become healthier, fitter and happier through an array of lifestyle enrichment resources. [...]

WVU School of Pharmacy celebrates American Pharmacists Month

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – October is American Pharmacists Month, and the [...]

WVU pathologists assistant students present at Preston High School

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Alejandra Meza and six other students in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Pathologists’ Assistant (PA) Program talked to Preston High School juniors and seniors Wednesday, Oct. 2, about professional opportunities in the lab sciences. Meza is an American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Career Ambassador. Amanda Cottrill, Carla Cox, Colleen Dailey, Madison Peebles, Kristyne Schoonover and Jonathan Wunderlich volunteered to join Meza. ASCP Career Ambassadors are lab science professionals selected to share their personal experiences to raise awareness of the laboratory professions among high school students. Meza was appointed in August for the program’s one-year tenure. Meza gave a 30-minute presentation about the range of lab sciences professions, the education they require, salary expectations and schools in West Virginia that offer those degrees. Then the high school students broke into groups and rotated among seven stations, where PA students presented different facets of the lab sciences, several using real human organs. Peebles’ station was particularly popular. “I had an actual cadaver brain,” she said. “The students seemed really excited about it. They were posing with it next to their heads and taking pictures.” Meza demonstrated urinalysis, labeling fake urine samples with celebrity names and allowing students to perform testing. Other stations showcased the spleen, lungs, gastrointestinal organs and testicles, as well as a microscoping area with histotechnology blocks showing the process of taking a tissue sample down to a slide. The presenters were encouraged by the students’ responses. “Everyone was actually touching stuff,” Wunderlich said. “I expected more kids to be kind of grossed out.” One Preston High student is already researching pathologist programs. Meza directed him to shadowing opportunities at WVU. Cherie Germain, P.A., director of WVU’s PA Program, said, “I’m just so proud of them. They took the initiative to go out and do that and to promote the profession at such an early stage in their career.” All of the presenters are first-year students. This was Meza’s first presentation as a Career Ambassador. She wants to focus on less-reached audiences, including youth correctional facilities. Germain said that being selected as a Career Ambassadors is a prestigious honor, and Meza’s appointment while a student is particularly unique. “That doesn’t usually happen,” she said. “Usually they wait until after the person is graduated and in their job.” Meza was selected because of her medical lab science experience and her histology experience in the Army prior to coming to WVU. She also received the ASCP Regional Member Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Germain nominated Meza for this honor because of Meza’s diligent promotion of the lab sciences, even prior to becoming a Career Ambassador. Meza completed her B.S. in biology at the University of California, Davis in 2008 after leaving school briefly to join the Army’s laboratory technician training program in San Antonio. After graduating and obtaining her license in medical lab science, she worked at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, returned to the States in 2011 and worked in San Diego as a clinical lab scientist, then entered WVU’s PA program in the spring of 2013. [...]

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