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

Archive for October, 2017

UPMC, Bon Secours Break Ground on New Irish Cancer Center

UPMC, Bon Secours Break Ground on New Irish Cancer CenterUPMC and partner Bon Secours Health System in Ireland have started work in Cork on one of the country’s most advanced radiation therapy centers.

Building on the success at UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre in Waterford, UPMC’s second radiotherapy center in Ireland will combine the expertise of Ireland’s largest independent health care provider, Bon Secours, with UPMC’s world-renowned model of cancer care that brings innovative and personalized treatments close to where patients live.

To be completed in 2019, the new joint venture facility is part of a major expansion at Bon Secours Hospital Cork, which will include an additional 81 private rooms, four additional operating rooms and expanded ICU facilities. The ground-breaking on Oct. 23 was attended by Ireland’s junior health minister, Jim Daly, as well as executives from Bon Secours and UPMC Country Manager David Beirne.

“We are excited to collaborate with Bon Secours to bring the first private radiotherapy center to Cork,” said Beirne. “Our timely and high-quality care will be a welcome addition for patients in this region.”

In 2006, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center opened its first international cancer center, UPMC Whitfield. The facility is based on UPMC’s “hub-and-spoke” model in which a wide range of oncology services are offered in local communities with support from UPMC’s academic and clinical hub in Pittsburgh. Based on its high quality standards and patient safety, UPMC Whitfield was accredited by the Joint Commission International in 2008.

The radiotherapy center in Cork will be managed by UPMC and owned equally by both partners. It expects to treat patients with two advanced Varian TrueBeam Radiotherapy System linear accelerators, providing image-guided radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy. Used for a variety of cancers, these approaches are designed to improve patient outcomes while minimizing side effects.

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ISMETT Reaches Transplant Milestone

ISMETT Reaches Transplant MilestoneA leading transplant center managed by UPMC, ISMETT recently performed its 2,000th transplant in Palermo, Sicily.

Since 1999, ISMETT has performed 1,118 liver transplants (of which 120 were from living donors), 472 kidney transplants (of which 188 were from living donors), 162 heart transplants, 152 lung transplants, 39 combined transplants, five pancreas transplants and 52 VAD implants. The total number includes 211 pediatric patients.

The 2,000th was a liver transplant performed on a 54-year-old Sicilian man, thanks to a donation from Cannizzaro Hospital in Catania.

“ISMETT’s 2,000th transplant is an outstanding result that places Sicily at the highest national levels in terms of quality and volumes,” said Baldo Gucciardi, regional health commissioner. “This is a further confirmation of the value of ISMETT for regional and national healthcare and research.” Since its creation in 1997 as a unique public-private partnership, ISMETT has become one of the most advanced multiorgan transplant centers in Europe, with graft and patient survival rates that rank among the best.

“This is an extremely important milestone for us, achieved thanks to the extensive experience of all professionals working at ISMETT,” said Dr. Angelo Luca, chief executive officer of ISMETT. “The partnership with UPMC, where the ‘father of transplantation’ Thomas Starzl built his career, continues to foster Palermo’s cutting-edge transplant expertise and scientific advances.”

In 2014, the Ministry of Health designated ISMETT as a government-approved research hospital, or Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS). The acknowledgement rewards ISMETT for its excellence in research, training, quality of care and management of health services.

Formally known as the Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione, ISMETT performs not only transplants but other high-specialty procedures, including cardiothoracic and cancer surgeries. It treats more than 30,000 patients a year with severe organ disease and recently was accredited for the third time by Joint Commission International, the organization that certifies the safety and quality of care provided to patients in hospitals around the world.

The recent integration between the boards of directors of ISMETT and the Ri.MED Foundation is expected to accelerate the translation of medical research into better patient care. Established in 2006, the Ri.MED Foundation is an international partnership among the Italian government, the Region of Sicily, the Italian National Research Council, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. With funding from the Italian government, Ri.MED is leading the construction of the Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center in Carini, Sicily, where about 600 researchers are expected to work when the facility opens in 2021.

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UPMC Teaches Pittsburgh Public School Students about Nutrition

UPMC Teaches Pittsburgh Public School Students about NutritionFifth grade students at Woolslair Elementary School laughed and cheered while singing water bottle Moe Flow and the soda can band The Belchers competed for America’s Next Top Bottle.

They are two of the animated cartoon characters called Fitwits and Nitwits, which Dr. Ann McGaffey, of UPMC St. Margaret Family Medicine, uses to combat childhood obesity.

Supported by years of research, Fitwits is an educational tool that frames discussion about childhood obesity, body mass index, nutrition, physical activity and portion sizes. Visually engaging food and snack-based characters are animated to illustrate both healthy and unhealthy foods and conditions such as obesity. In collaboration with Kristin Hughes, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, UPMC experts researched methods of conveying nutrition information and tested their effectiveness.

The experts discovered that students have a stronger understanding of healthy nutrition habits after the Fitwits program.

“It’s a fun way to teach a serious topic,” McGaffey said. “Childhood obesity is a tough conversation to have, so we aim to make the topic more comfortable. Fitwits is an easily understood, child-friendly tool.”

Children look forward to seeing McGaffey and family medicine residents and students in their classroom. She kicked off the afternoon by giving each student a candy, and playing music while everyone danced for two minutes. They were surprised to learn how the two minutes of activity only burns the calories consumed in the piece of candy.

UPMC Teaches Pittsburgh Public School Students about NutritionThe entire program engaged students in discussion and group activity with peers. They learned how to portion food with their hands, demonstrating how everyone’s portion sizes are different. Some activities were lighthearted and fun, while others were more serious. During the heart health discussion, students learned how common high blood pressure and heart disease are when more than half the class said they have a family member with one of these conditions.

By the end of the program, every student in the class was eagerly participating and excited to answer a trivia question and play the nutrition memory game.

“Nutrition habits form at a young age,” McGaffey said. “So there is no better time to teach students the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”

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Magee’s Garden: A Place for Health and Wellness

The healing garden at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC is a place away from the clinical environment of the hospital for patients and visitors to relax.

The garden features a therapeutic courtyard with a fish and turtle pond and is filled with a wide variety of produce and herbs. On a typical warm afternoon, patients can be found relaxing and spending time with visitors in the garden. It’s the hospital’s hidden gem where anyone can go to read a book, enjoy a lunch with some friends or simply have some alone time. But the garden serves as more than an outlet for patients. More than 2,000 pounds of produce is harvested each season out of the garden, and it’s all used at the hospital.

Recently, Magee’s nutrition department has begun offering a monthly cooking demo in the waiting room of the Women’s Cancer Center. Many ingredients from the demo come straight from the garden on site, and patients learn how to make healthy, delicious meals at home. The goal of the program is to help patients eat better, and, in turn, hopefully feel better.

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‘Ride ‘n Rally’ at the Zoo Another Fur-tastically Fun Event

The Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club Station 6 once again came through with a generous donation for the UPMC Mercy Burn Center, a contribution of $8,250. The money benefits pediatric patients by providing state-of-the-art equipment to the burn center to assist in the pediatric patient care, and assist them with necessary wound care supplies after discharge from the hospital, which may not be covered by insurance carriers.

A portion of the funds supported this year’s “Ride ‘n Rally” celebration for pediatric burn patients, their families, hospital staff and Fire and Iron members at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Families, patients and club members spent the day exploring the zoo and some had a close encounter with the super-soft chinchilla. The annual zoo picnic celebrates the patient’s survival and the club’s generosity.

“The club members define what charity really is,” said Dr. Jenny Ziembicki, medical director of the burn center. “They raise money for people who need it. They don’t do it for recognition. It’s the true definition of selflessness and caring.”

The Pittsburgh “Station 6” of the Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club began in 2002. The organization is composed of firefighters, their friends and families.

“This year, more than 400 people came out to support our two main events, raising the funds that make the donation possible,” said Ernie Daum, president of Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club Station 6.

The club routinely participates in charity work, bonding over their shared interest of bettering the community by helping those who need it most. The Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club raises money by hosting a Valentine’s Day dance in February, and a motorcycle run in the summer. Over the past five years, they have raised nearly $60,000 for the UPMC Mercy Burn Center.

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