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

Archive for March, 2017

UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre Setting the Example for Standards of Cancer Care

UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre Setting the Example for Standards of Cancer CareThe UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre, an advanced radiation therapy center serving patients in southeast Ireland, is leveraging its successful track record of delivering high-quality cancer care to assist partner clinicians in Rome.

Having successfully completed three of its own Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation surveys, the gold standard in terms of global health care, the cancer center welcomed colleagues from UPMC San Pietro FBF on March 20 to share knowledge and information related to quality and safety standards.

“While we are incredibly proud that we have been JCI-accredited since 2008, we are even more proud of how that translates into exceptional patient care and are very excited to be able to share this experience with our colleagues from Rome,” said Catriona McDonald, director of operations at UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre.

The JCI accreditation process focuses on determining whether the right systems and processes are in place to support high-quality and safe patient care, and whether there is the culture and capacity to continuously improve care.

“Ensuring our patients receive the best possible care is our No. 1 priority, and demonstrating compliance with JCI standards serves as validation of this commitment,” said Elena Cino, director of operations at UPMC San Pietro FBF, which is pursuing JCI accreditation. “We are fortunate to be part of UPMC’s global network where we can take advantage of the experience and expertise of our colleagues in Italy and worldwide and at a place like UPMC Whitfield.”

UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre offers the most advanced radiation therapy to residents of the southeast region of Ireland. As part of UPMC CancerCenter, the facility leverages UPMC’s innovation and expertise from around the globe to deliver solutions and care to patients close to their homes.

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North Carolina Students Learn About Perfusion at Procirca

North Carolina Students Learn About Perfusion at ProcircaTwenty students from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T) who are  enrolled in University of Pittsburgh engineering professor Dr. Harvey Borovetz’s distance learning class, “Artificial Organs,” recently made a seven-hour trek from their university to visit the Procirca Perfusion Simulation and Education Center at UPMC Shadyside.

Their journey from Greensboro to Pittsburgh was funded by a diversity grant provided through the Swanson School of Engineering as part of Pitt’s Year of Diversity initiatives.

Perfusion is the process of managing cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), a technique that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the transfer of oxygen to the body and removal of carbon dioxide. The device that supports CPB is often referred to as the heart–lung machine or “the pump.” Once CPB is initiated, the patient’s heart and lungs are stopped, providing the surgeon with a motionless, bloodless surgical field for safe and effective repair of cardiac disease.

During the two-day visit, students were exposed to clinical biomedical technologies and met with Pitt faculty, staff and students in Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering, and Procirca’s artificial heart program and perfusion staff.

Brandon D’Aloiso, a first-year student in UPMC’s cardiovascular perfusion program and a 2016 baccalaureate from Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering, explained the perfusion circuit to the group, how it works and how it’s connected to the native heart.

“I appreciated the opportunity to interact with professionals in the field, as well as Pitt faculty and students who are in a similar program to ours,” said Erika Johnson, a second-year master’s student in the biomedical engineering program at NC A&T. “It was intriguing to see the resources used by those in our profession and hear about the various academic and professional opportunities available.”

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Match Day Delivers Exciting News to Pitt’s Future Doctors

Match Day 2017

Over 150 University of Pittsburgh medical students recently gathered in the lobby of the Petersen Event Center anxiously awaiting envelopes with letters inside stating where they would spend their next three to seven years as medical residents.

This event is known as Match Day, and it occurs annually around the country. After many interviews and careful consideration, students and medical schools simultaneously rank each other and submit their top picks for a computer algorithm to match students to their future residency assignments. The results are placed in an envelope for students to open in unison on Match Day.

Joy Trybula, president of the Pitt School of Medicine Class of 2017, took the stage to offer words of encouragement to her nervous and excited peers. Mixed emotions filled the room as the future doctors held hands and linked arms with their support systems (parents, significant others and children) while they waited to learn of their destinations.

After receiving her degree in pharmacy from Purdue University, Trybula decided to attend medical school after realizing she wanted more patient interaction. During her pharmacy rotations, she had the opportunity to work with patients, sparking her interest in learning their full stories and thoroughly understanding their diagnoses.

Trybula and her husband are expecting a baby in a few months. Her top choice for residency was Feinberg School of Medicine – Northwestern University, so she could move back home and start her family.

At exactly noon, students rushed to pick up their envelopes and the room filled with celebratory hugs, excited screams and tears. Pictures were snapped and flowers were distributed as the students congratulated each other on their placements.

Trybula also learned her fate – she was matched with Northwestern University.

“My husband and I are so excited that we will be able to live in the same city,” she said. “He is starting a cardiology program in Chicago, so we will both be able to move there and start our family.”

Overall, Pitt medical students had great success this year as every student received a residency placement. Nationally, there were 42,000 total participants in this highly competitive program. The Class of 2017 will represent Pitt in 30 different states next year as they complete the final steps in their education.

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Study: Benefits of Clot Removal in Acute Stroke Patients Sustained

Study: Benefits of Clot Removal in Acute Stroke Patients Sustained

Dr. Tudor Jovin

A study co-led by neurologists at the UPMC Stroke Institute and Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, a teaching hospital of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, has shown for the first time that the benefits experienced by patients after a clot removal procedure to treat stroke are sustained at 12 months after treatment.

The study, a pre-specified secondary endpoint of a clinical trial called REVASCAT, whose main results were previously published, was conducted by UPMC Stroke Institute physicians Dr. Tudor Jovin, professor of neurology and neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the institute, and Dr. Brian Jankowitz, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, in collaboration with researchers at four large tertiary referral centers in Catalonia, Spain. The results were published this week in the journal Lancet Neurology.

The REVASCAT trial, along with other similar large trials, tested whether the procedure to remove clots in large brain blood vessels that cause a stroke, also known as thrombectomy, was better than the existing treatments that used clot-busting drugs. The video below describes the procedure in which surgeons insert a device (called a stent) through an artery in the groin and remove the clot from the affected blood vessel in the brain.

The REVASCAT trial showed that thrombectomy resulted in significant improvements in outcomes such as reduced disability at three months after treatment. However, it was not known whether the effectiveness of the treatments would be sustained over a longer period.

“Previous thrombectomy trials demonstrated that guidelines for stroke treatment needed to be reestablished to include endovascular therapy an important therapeutic option,” said Dr. Jovin, the study’s  co-lead author. “Now, our findings from the extended study significantly reinforce this approach and show unequivocally that the benefit to patients is sustained over a longer period of time.” (more…)

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Infographic: Pregnancy Nutrition

Women, particularly minorities, do not meet nutrition guidelines shortly before pregnancy.

Black, Hispanic and less-educated women consume a less nutritious diet than their well-educated, white counterparts in the weeks leading up to their first pregnancy, according to the only large-scale analysis of preconception adherence to national dietary guidelines.

For more on the analysis, click here.

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