NEWS BLOG from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Archive for December, 2016

WCA and UPMC Integrate, Renamed UPMC Chautauqua WCA

In December, WCA Hospital officially became part of UPMC and was renamed UPMC Chautauqua WCA.

This is UPMC’s first hospital in the state of New York, and its first U.S. hospital outside of Pennsylvania. UPMC Chautauqua WCA provides high-quality inpatient, outpatient and emergency department services for the residents of Jamestown and surrounding communities.

The partnership between UPMC Chautauqua WCA, UPMC and UPMC Hamot will result in a regionally coordinated approach to delivering comprehensive, specialized health care services locally. As part of the agreement, UPMC will invest at least $25 million over the next 10 years to support WCA’s mission. UPMC has also agreed to relieve WCA’s debt and cover its pension obligations, freeing up significant additional capital for development of WCA.

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Pitt Physicians Study Patients with 2 Commonly Occurring Heart Conditions

Atrial fibrillation (or atrial flutter) and heart failure are two cardiovascular epidemics of industrialized nations that frequently co-exist.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh led by Dr. Norman Wang, assistant professor of medicine in Pitt’s Division of Cardiology, conducted a study where they observed a population of patients who were newly diagnosed with the two conditions at the same time – abnormal heart rhythms with a high heart rate, also known as tachycardia, and heart failure with reduced pumping capacity. The first author, Dr. Yasser Rodriguez, is a senior fellow in Pitt’s Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program.

Treatment of patients with these co-existing cardiovascular diseases was the subject of the landmark Atrial Fibrillation and Congestive Heart Failure (AF-CHF) trial, published in 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Subjects in the present study, where there was a high suspicion of the fast abnormal heart rhythm as the cause reduced heart pumping capacity, known as tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy, were excluded from the AF-CHF trial.

The researchers chose the study population from patients who were referred for treatments to restore normal heart rhythm (rhythm control strategy), and were also diagnosed with heart failure with impaired pumping capacity.  Rhythm control strategies consisted of electrical shocks using pads placed on the chest (cardioversion), medications, and/or catheter-based ablation procedures. Their goal was to determine any characteristics unique to this population that could inform treatment strategies specific to this group of patients. (more…)

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Tips for a Safe Winter

As seasons change, so do the safety hazards. Now that winter has arrived, it’s important to be prepared for challenging weather conditions and sub-zero temperatures, whether at home or on the road.

Every year, more than 2,500 people die and nearly 13,000 are injured in home fires, yet many people aren’t aware of the potential fire hazards that exist in their own homes.

“Accidental burns are a leading cause of household injuries,” said Michelle Fontana, manager of Trauma and Burn Services at UPMC Mercy. The kitchen stove, a burning candle or festive holiday lights are among the common household items that can turn dangerous very quickly.

When it comes to outdoor activities, sledding mishaps account for about 55,000 emergency department visits each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 8,200 of these visits are for head injuries.

The UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Centers and the American Trauma Society, PA Division offer these tips to keep families safe this winter.

Handling hot food

  • Use oven mitts when handling hot items.
  • Always have a plan for where to place a hot item to avoid extended contact with it.
  • Test the temperature of liquids before serving.
  • If a grease fire occurs, turn off the heat source. If it’s contained to a pan or pot, cover it with a lid or cookie sheet. Don’t attempt to move the pan to the sink or outside.
  • Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. If the grease fire isn’t contained to a pot, a chemical fire extinguisher can be used. If unable to safely extinguish the fire, evacuate and call 911.

(more…)

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2016’s Top 3 in Public Health

We asked Dr. Donald S. Burke, dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, what he believes were the most important news developments in his field in 2016.

Here are his top three public health newsmakers:

Zika virus

On March 29, 2016, Allegheny County announced its first confirmed case of the Zika virus, a few months after the world started to take notice of an outbreak of the virus in Brazil that was quickly spreading in South and Central America. Zika typically causes a mild flu-like illness, but when a pregnant woman gets it, there is a strong chance that her baby will have serious neurological deficits. This outbreak highlighted the ongoing public health need for better resources to quickly respond to such outbreaks. While Congress debated for months whether to authorize the $1.9 billion proposed to fight the virus, we launched Cura Zika – an alliance with our partners at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz in Brazil – to accelerate the research needed to develop strategies to prevent and treat infections, and address the ongoing public health needs.

Opioid epidemic

You can talk to almost anybody and they know a friend or a family member who has died of an opioid overdose – we haven’t seen an epidemic like this since the AIDS epidemic. Using national data stored at Pitt Public Health, our biostatisticians have found that overdose deaths have skyrocketed. It’s now the leading cause of years of lives lost in Pennsylvania and most of the U.S., far surpassing motor vehicle accident deaths. While this epidemic shares much in common with infectious disease epidemics, it also has distinct differences – forcing public health officials to forge new partnerships that include law enforcement and addiction treatment facilities in order to start to stem its spread.

The presidential election and future of the Affordable Care Act

A lightning rod of the recent U.S. presidential election, which consumed much of our nation’s news broadcasts, social media feeds, water cooler discussions and commercial breaks through 2016, was the most significant public health policy created in the past several years: the Affordable Care Act (ACA). President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to “repeal and replace” the ACA, and only time will tell how he will do that, though we do know that it is unlikely to be an easy undertaking, considering that more than 11.3 million people are covered by it. Health is a serious issue for voters – Trump swept the 16 states with the highest mortality rates, while people in 15 of the 18 states with the lowest mortality voted for Hillary Clinton, suggesting that Trump voters were expressing dissatisfaction with real problems that included shorter lives and less healthy living conditions.

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Magee’s Festive Babies for the Holidays

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC celebrated babies born during the Christmas holiday by transforming the nursery into the North Pole.

Newborns were tucked into hand-knitted blankets and their tiny heads were topped with handmade Santa and reindeer caps. The blankets and caps were made by the Magee Hat Makers, a group of local women who gather each month in the Magee lobby to knit, socialize and give back to the community.

For more information about Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, click here.

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