Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kathy Robinette's "Because of GBMC" Story

Kathy Robinette's daughter,
Katie, and her husband.
Every one of us has a story we can share. Think of a past event in your life related to GBMC. Whether it’s care you received, an opportunity you have, or a loved one you remember, this event should have very personal meaning to you. What’s happened in your life since your experience at GBMC? Read Kathy Robinette’s story below, and share yours at www.gbmc50.com/mystory.


Kathy Robinette’s Story

I would like to first thank you for the opportunity to tell my family story to such a dedicated, professional and caring intuition as GBMC. GBMC is among the very best hospitals, in my opinion.

In the fall of 2011, my daughter, Katie, lost part of the vision in her right eye during a neurology lecture. She had been married only nine months and was fulfilling her dream of becoming a nurse. She was seen by a neuro-ophthalmologist at a Baltimore hospital, evaluated and sent for a brain MRI. In short, she had nine-hour brain surgery to get a biopsy and was diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma, a rather rare and fatal brain tumor that was malignant and inoperable.

Katie was seen by a group of specialists at the brain tumor center at Duke. Due to the distance between her home and Duke, she had to find a local oncologist that would agree to treat and follow her. We were very fortunate to have GBMC agree to take her as a patient. Dr. Gary Cohen began to follow her for her care and treatment, which began in late fall of 2011. I can’t think of a more professional, brilliant, courteous and kind man than Dr. Cohen. He has taken such good care of my daughter, and has been a huge champion in her care and treatment as she fights to live the most normal life possible. My son-in-law is at every appointment with Katie, and it obvious that Dr. Cohen doesn’t just treat her; he is very concerned about and attentive to the well-being of my son-in-law as well.

I never thought that physicians were much on treating and caring for the entire family unit, but it’s apparent that Dr. Cohen is not the average physician by any means. He is calm, very kind, always available and continually goes beyond the scope of a physician. He has always been prompt and available after his normal business hours, which has been very reassuring to both Katie and her husband.

As for the Emergency Department staff members, they, too, have been more than amazing. Katie has had the best care, treatment and understanding from the physicians, nurses, radiology team and supporting staff members. It seems they remember her as she has unfortunately landed in the ED on several occasions over the past three years.

Katie has been cared for and treated by the oncology floor as an inpatient on several occasions. They are true professionals and have been so kind and caring when she has been on that floor; she has been there many times and for long stays as well.

On a couple of occasions, Katie has had care and treatment by a few other physicians at GBMC. They are as follows: Dr. Michael Sellman, Chief, Division of Neurology; Dr. Niraj Jani, Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Dr. Marc Dubin, Co-director, Minimally Invasive Pituitary and Skull Base Center. Again, these physicians are tremendously kind, caring and experts in their respective fields. Collectively, they have given Katie the best care and concern over any physician we have dealt with on a local level.

During her course of chemotherapy, which went on for two years, Katie was treated in the GBMC infusion center every other Friday for her IV chemotherapy. What an amazing group of kind nurses and support staff there. Calling her by first name and taking away the normal fears that a cancer patient would experience was first class all the way.

I’m not too sure where my family would be without the care and treatment my daughter has received from GBMC. We are happy to report that Katie beat all odds! She is a full-time nurse and working on a medical surgical floor in a Harford County hospital. In just a couple of days, Katie will celebrate being brain tumor-free for two years. Her past MRI scans show no tumor re-growth and she has regained her vision.

Thank you to all of the staff and support teams at GBMC for all of their care and help with what has been the most difficult time of Katie’s life. We continue to seek out treatment at GBMC and return for continued monitoring of Katie’s brain in hopes that she remains a healthy, happy and productive member of society. Lastly, I can’t think of anywhere in the Maryland area that would provide such care and genuine concern to a fragile, complex and frightened young lady diagnosed with a brain tumor. GBMC stands high on my list as the very best hospital.

My Katie is alive, working full-time and is brain tumor-free as of March 8, 2013. I have so much to be thankful for...thank you GBMC!!!

Get Screened in 2015

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which means there is no better time than now to contact your physician and set up your annual colorectal cancer screening.

While it may not be the most comfortable topic for you to discuss with your physician, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, more lethal than breast or prostate cancer, and the third most diagnosed cancer in both men and women. Unlike other cancers where screening is aimed at early detection, colon cancer screening can actually prevent the cancer from ever occurring. This is done by detecting and removing pre-cancerous growths, and that is why screenings are so important.

Colorectal cancers most commonly begin as small polyps, which are detectable through regular cancer screenings. There are no early warning signs of colorectal cancer, and most people diagnosed with colorectal cancer do not have a family history or other risk factors other than their age. It is important to note that pre-cancerous polyps may be present for several years without symptoms, and almost all colon cancers develop in these polyps. Finding and removing these polyps greatly reduces the risk of colon cancer. If removing the polyps does not prevent the cancer from occurring in the first place, and it is detected early, surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy can provide effective treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that all individuals receive regular colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 50. Common screening exams include:

  • Fecal occult blood tests – noninvasive tests that examine a patient’s stool for hidden blood
  • Colonoscopy – examines the entire colon using a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny fiber-optic video camera and light at the end of it. Also allows polyps and abnormal tissue to be removed and biopsied.
  • Sigmoidoscopy – allows physicians to view the interior walls of the rectum and lower colon using a flexible, lighted tube
  • Virtual colonoscopy – produces images of the colon and rectum using special X-ray equipment and shows polyps and abnormalities
  • Digital rectal exams – a lubricated, gloved finger is inserted into the rectum to examine for abnormalities

Risk factors associated with colorectal cancer include:

  • Age – Individuals over the age of 50 are more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
  • Genetics – African Americans are at the highest risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Heredity – A history of colorectal cancer in your family puts you at higher risk.
  • History of cancers – Those with a personal history of colorectal, ovarian or endometrial cancer or colon polyps are at higher risk.

Men and women over the age of 50, or those with a family history of cancer, are encouraged to receive their colorectal cancer screening annually. For more information, visit www.gbmc.org/gi.

Couch to 5K—Tips for Starting Out

If you have never run before, the idea of a 5K run – which is equivalent to 3.1 miles – might seem daunting. When you break down your training and understand how to begin running in a safe and effective manner, it can be a fun and exciting challenge. Remember, you should always consult with your primary care physician before beginning any exercise program.

Over the next few months, GBMC will provide you with tips and tricks to get you from being a non-runner to a 5K finisher just in time for our Father’s Day 5K, which benefits our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for premature babies. This progression program is meant to be used as a guide for beginner runners but it can be easily adjusted to fit your ability level if you are intermediate or advanced.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing to begin a running regimen:

Proper shoes should be fitted to your feet. Different running shoes provide a variety of features, so it is important to select a pair that fit your activity level. Visit a local running or fitness supply store to have your feet analyzed by an expert.

Always warm up before a run. Beginning any endurance exercise with cold muscles can lead to injuries, so be sure to engage in a basic warm up of jumping jacks, jogging in place or squats. You should also stretch all major muscle groups to help reduce the risk of injury and aid in the recovery process.

Always stretch after your run. Stretching after a workout helps to prevent injury, create long and lean muscles and keep you from being too sore in the days that follow your exercise session.

Hydrate before and after a run to replace liquids lost through sweat and evaporation.

If this is your first time running, start slow and go at your own pace. Small increases in exertion and distance are key to building a strong running foundation.

Month 1 Training - Weeks 1 & 2

  • After warming up, start out at a brisk walk for an interval of three minutes. 
  • Jog for thirty seconds.
  • Slow to a walk for thirty seconds to let your heart rate come down.
  • Resume your brisk walk for another three minutes. 
  • Repeat eight cycles of brisk walking and running, with a slow walk in between, for a total of 32 minutes of exercise. Do this three times a week for your first two weeks.
  • Stretch after your walk-run session to help improve circulation and recovery times.

Month 1 Training - Weeks 3 & 4

  • After warming up, walk briskly for two minutes.
  • Jog for one minute. 
  • Reduce your tempo to a slower walk for one minute. 
  • Repeat this cycle eight times for a total of 32 minutes of exercise. Do this at least three times a week.
  • Stretch after your walk-run session to help improve circulation and recovery times.

Stay tuned for the April issue of Living Healthy, Living Well for your next training plans! If you are in need of a primary care physician, visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com to find one who is right for you. To learn more about the GBMC Father’s Day 5K and to register, visit www.gbmc.org/5k.





Breathing Easy: New Measures in Pulmonary Medicine

According to the American Lung Association, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, with about 12.7 million adults over the age of 18 suffering from the disease in 2011. Additionally, an estimated 10.1 million Americans were reported to have chronic bronchitis, which exacerbates COPD. Risk factors for COPD include smoking, heredity, occupational exposure to dust or chemicals and air pollution.

Pulmonary diseases are usually distinguishable when someone has respiratory or breathing issues with symptoms such as a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty sleeping. For example, pulmonary hypertension is a condition in which there is an increased pressure in blood vessels in the lungs which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the lungs, resulting in breathlessness.

Pulmonary Medicine, a newly formed specialty group at GBMC, focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions that include, but are not limited to, pulmonary hypertension, COPD, asthma, bronchitis and evaluation of those with abnormal X-rays and/or lung cancer. Additionally, members of this specialty bring their expertise to various hospital committees to improve patient care and reduce costs for inpatients admitted with respiratory problems.

Three new physicians recently joined the pulmonary team including Gregory Bassmann, MD, specializing in general pulmonary and interventional bronchoscopy, Bruce Sabath, MD, specializing in pulmonary hypertension, and Rex Yung, MD, an expert in lung cancer and bronchoscopy from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Bronchoscopy involves looking inside the lung pathways with a probe to see if there are any tumors, tears, blockage or issues that may be causing breathing problems. The outpatient procedure can also be used to remove tissue samples or to clear the airway.

“Heart and lung conditions often go hand-in-hand with other illnesses, so interfacing with cardiology, neurology, geriatrics, oncology and other community pulmonary physicians is key,” says Marie Chatham, MD, Chief, Division of Pulmonary Medicine and Vice Chair of Internal Medicine, who is also board-certified in Sleep Medicine. “About 75 percent of admitted patients have some sort of disordered sleep, and GBMC hopes to expand its sleep services for inpatients. Appropriately diagnosing and treating sleep directly impacts pulmonary health as well as reduces the risk of future cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.”

Currently, the Pulmonary Medicine at GBMC office is located in Suite 201 of Physicians Pavilion East, but it will be moving to its permanent location on the fourth floor of Physicians Pavilion East in Summer 2015. The move will expand the practice, allowing it to offer more testing areas and an in-house lab. This relocation is meant to create a one-stop shop for patients who are undergoing treatment or having diagnostic testing performed.

For additional information about GBMC’s services relating to Pulmonary Medicine, visit www.gbmc.org/pulmonary or call 443-849-GBMC (4262).


Petite Crust-less Quiche

Ingredients

Olive oil spray
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium tomato, diced
6 oz turkey kielbasa, diced
2 cups baby spinach
5 large whole eggs, beaten
4 large egg whites
1/3 cup fat free milk (or milk of choice)
1/3 cup all purpose flour (for gluten-free, use gluten-free all-purpose flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a nonstick muffin pan with olive oil spray.

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes, until soft. Add bell peppers, garlic, tomato, kielbasa and sauté for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, milk, flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the cheese and cooked kielbasa mixture to the bowl and mix well.

Pour into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until firm.

Nutrition

Servings: 6
Size: 2 quiche

Calories: 217
Fat: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 12 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 18 g
Sugar: 2 g
Sodium: 552 mg
Cholesterol: 170 mg

Recipe courtesy of Skinnytaste.com.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Healthy Family: The Wingerds

Our “journey” with GBMC actually started during our infertility treatment as patients of Drs. Katz and Yazigi at the Shady Grove office in GBMC. My supervisor at the time suggested Drs. Katz and Yazigi as she had been a patient of theirs in years prior.

In our nearly six months of care at Shady Grove, we had a total of two retrievals and three transfers performed at the GBMC Women’s Surgical Center before we found out we were expecting. We had great experiences each time.

Close friends of ours had a baby at GBMC in 2009. When we visited them in Labor & Delivery afterwards, we were very impressed with the nurses, room, services and their obstetrician, Dr. Dominique Allen. When we found out we were expecting, we immediately decided to use the same obstetrician as our friends because we were set on having our baby at GBMC.

When I was 30 weeks pregnant, my water broke. I was not in active labor, so I was admitted to the high-risk OB unit for the duration of my pregnancy. I was an inpatient in this unit from December 11, 2012, until I delivered on December 20.  The nurse, Jeanie, and nursing assistant, Yvette, were absolutely amazing to me and my family.

Though I was happy to be in such great care, I was extremely depressed because I thought I would be spending the holidays on hospital bed rest. Jeanie and Yvette went out of their way to make things easier on me. They kept me company if they had down time, made sure both my husband and I were comfortable and did everything in their power to accommodate us while providing the most outstanding care I could have ever asked for.

When I went into active labor on December 20, Jeanie and Yvette both happened to be on duty. I was at the hospital alone at the time, so Yvette stayed with me as long as she could in Labor & Delivery and Jeanie even came over to check on me. They both made sure I was able to contact my husband and, because of their help contacting him, he was able to make it to the hospital before my emergency C-section.

Prior to the day our son was born, we did not know much about the NICU. Some doctors had come in to speak to us, but everything was a blur at that point so we honestly didn’t know what to expect. Our son was admitted to the NICU on December 20, 2012, and stayed there until being discharged on January 9, 2013. We spent our Christmas and New Years in the NICU, but all of the nurses and doctors treated us like family and truly made us feel like we were at home.

I specifically remember two nurses that did a tremendous job assisting us with caring for our preemie, Lauren and Kim. Lauren was so great when I went up to visit, no matter what time of day or night it was. After I was discharged home, I would call constantly and she never hesitated to take my call, provide updates and answer questions. Lauren was so patient, really helped ease our fears and shared in the celebration of small milestones. We were so thankful for her.

Kim was also a Godsend. She always helped with any questions we had and was instrumental in teaching us about the monitors, various procedures and tests and the NICU terms thrown at us day in and day out. There were many days where Kim felt like a part of our family because she would spend almost her entire shift with us. Drs. Helou, Pane and Birenbaum were wonderful as well.

The next stage of our GBMC journey included weight loss surgery. It was something we began discussing during our infertility journey. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at 18, and that is what caused our fertility issues. We were both significantly overweight and had been our entire lives. While researching PCOS and IVF, I came across information about bariatric surgery and mentioned it to my husband. After going through so much to get pregnant and then again with the pre-term labor and NICU stay, we both decided that we needed to do whatever we had to so we could be healthy and enjoy the time with our precious child. We both grew up in families that have significant weight-related health issues, and those issues caused close family members to die at early ages. We did not want our son to experience that because of us.

Having the surgery at GBMC was really a no-brainer. We had such amazing care in every department previously, so we had no question that the doctors in the Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP) program would be just as great.

Since I had just had a baby, we decided my husband would go to the info session first and I would wait a few months. Unfortunately, while my husband was in the COMP program, he discovered one of our worst fears – he was diagnosed with severely uncontrolled diabetes. His blood test results actually came in not long after Dr. Dovec started with GBMC, and our first interaction with her was her calling my husband on a Sunday morning to discuss his blood tests because she was so worried about him. We were stunned, not only at the results, but that a doctor cared enough to call on a Sunday morning.

That call was reassurance to us that we had chosen the best doctors/practice for this step of our lives. Because of his diabetes, my husband’s surgery was essentially put on hold. We agreed that I would start the program at that point since we didn’t know how long it would take to get his diabetes under control.

I was ultimately able to have my surgery first and had it done the end of January 2014. Of course, as soon as I scheduled my surgery, his blood tests came back good enough to proceed with surgery and his was scheduled also. Although it was offered to have our surgeries on the same day, we decided against it solely because of having our one-year-old to care for. My husband ended up having his surgery about six weeks after me in the beginning of March 2014.

Our entire lives are different now that we have had weight loss surgery. We are not embarrassed to take family photos, we are looking forward to taking our son to his first amusement park next summer (we have never been as a couple because we both were worried about not fitting in most of the rides) and overall, we just have more energy and the ability to play with our son and chase him around. I have also become a runner which is something I always wanted to do, but I was never able to run more than a half mile before stopping (3-4 miles is a normal distance for me to run now). My husband has always been active in sports but has faced constant embarrassment because he was always the “big guy.” He is now able to play in games and no one singles him out. We are both able to shop in “normal” stores now instead of plus size/big & tall stores.  

My health has been severely impacted. I am off all of my blood pressure medicine, I no longer have high cholesterol, I am no longer pre-diabetic and, within a month of my surgery, I began menstruating on my own -- something that has never occurred in my life. We are not prepared to have another child yet, so we actually had to go as far as having an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted because my gynecologist believes I am no longer infertile.

My husband’s health has also been impacted. He is no longer on insulin, his diabetes is under control and on its way to remission, he no longer has high cholesterol and he has less joint pain from playing sports.

Our lives in general have been impacted because we just feel better overall. We have better attitudes about ourselves and aren’t depressed. Being happier with ourselves has made us happier in our marriage.

The most influential thing about our care at GBMC is how personable, knowledgeable and overall amazing everyone has been. It wasn’t just one doctor or one nurse that touched us enough to remember, it has been several. Since we were so impressed with the various dealings we have had with GBMC, we also decided to switch our primary care physician and our son’s pediatrician to a GBMC physician. All of the specialists that we choose (obstetrician, endocrinologist and ear, nose and throat) are at GBMC, and our son had minor surgery there (for tubes in his ears) in January 2015.

We couldn’t be happier with all that GBMC has given us.

To read more "Because of GBMC" stories, visit www.gbmc50.com/ourstories. To submit your own story, visit www.gbmc50.com/mystory.

Call Us First

With so many different options available when it comes to healthcare settings, knowing where to go when you need care can be confusing. This is especially true after normal business hours, on weekends or when you are experiencing symptoms that aren’t normal for your body.

Although not every ache or pain is an emergency, many people rely on the emergency room or an urgent care facility for care despite the fact that emergency room wait times are often long and visits can become expensive due to higher co-payments. It is time to break the habit of turning to the emergency room or urgent care for minor ailments. Instead, call your primary care physician first to see what the office recommends based on your symptoms. Calling your primary care physician before heading for the ER provides you with a number of benefits:

  • You receive care from a practice that knows you. Your primary care office has access to your medical records, meaning its staff knows which medications you take, what conditions you have and what care you have previously received. Staff can take a look at your medical history to help you make an informed decision about your current symptoms.
  • You get medical advice from a professional who knows your history. While you may not always talk to your specific primary care provider when you call his or her office, you will always talk to a physician, advanced practitioner or nurse. 
  • You avoid having repeat medical tests performed. Hospitals and urgent care centers can only treat you for the symptoms you have at the moment using the information they have. If you don’t have your medical records with you, they may have to rerun tests you’ve already had.
  • You avoid unnecessary extra expenses. While not every appointment is completely covered by your health insurance, visiting your primary care physician instead of going to the nearest emergency room could save you a lot of money. Emergency care is often billed at two to three times the rate of a primary care office.

GBMC understands that people are not always able to visit a doctor’s office during the normal business day, and that sometimes symptoms occur after hours or on weekends. In order to help prevent unnecessary emergency room visits, GBMC primary care offices have extended their daily hours and expanded into weekend hours, as well. Family Care Associates and the GBMC at Hunt Valley practice are even open on Sundays.

There are some conditions that require emergency treatment, however, and for those times, please do not waste precious seconds calling your primary care physician for assistance. Conditions that fall into the category of calling 911 or going to the emergency room include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe chest pain
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Not acting like oneself
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Serious injury

Know before you go. To find a GBMC physician, visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com.