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The BMC Brief

December 8, 2011 Volume 1, Issue 15

BMC Celebrates World AIDS Day

More than 100 members of the BMC community gathered in the Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center lobby Dec. 1 to celebrate the 23rd annual World AIDS Day. A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, 3-by-6 foot fabric panels that commemorate the lives of those who have died of AIDS around the world, served as the backdrop for the event that was organized by Jonathan Hall, Director, BMC Public Health Operations.

AIDS Memorial Quilt
AIDS Memorial Quilt

Margaret Sullivan, MD, BMC’s Clinical Director, Infectious Diseases, served as the event’s emcee and welcomed attendees. She spoke about the major advances in HIV/AIDS treatment, including the development of therapies to prevent HIV/AIDS, which are allowing people diagnosed with HIV to live normal, productive lives.

BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh highlighted the role that the hospital has played in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“I would like to thank the caregivers for providing exceptional HIV/AIDS care for more than 30 years,” said Walsh, who mentioned that Boston City Hospital was one of the first places in Massachusetts to offer HIV testing. “Today, we are celebrating that HIV/AIDS is a chronic, treatable disease, and not a death sentence.”

BMC has one of the largest HIV clinics in the state and treats the highest number of women living with the disease in Massachusetts.

Dawn Fukuda, Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS at Massachusetts Department of Public Health, who spoke about the promising results of a new survey of individuals living with HIV in Massachusetts. Of the 1,004 respondents, 99 percent reported that they were in medical care.

“Now, more than ever, we can’t stop working, innovating, collaborating and fighting against this disease,” said Fukuda. “Together, we can see an end to AIDS.”

Three members of the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) spoke about their personal experiences with HIV/AIDS. Delfine Masongo, who came to the U.S. from Kenya in 2008, spoke about how important BMC is to her and her son.

"I am proud that I can walk into an infectious disease clinic and show my face," said Kelley Painten, another CAB member who was diagnosed with HIV when she was 27 years old. Dwight Bobbitt, who has been receiving care at BMC since 1974, thanked his doctors for all that they have done to keep him healthy. Manuel Mena, an HIV peer navigator for BMC’s Center for Infectious Diseases, also spoke about his personal experiences with HIV/AIDS and how they have helped him work with patients.

“We have to fight the stigma, and help the community understand that people with HIV are no different than anyone else in the community,” said Stephen Pelton, MD, Chief, Pediatric Infectious Diseases at BMC.

After the speaking event concluded, attendees were invited to a health fair on Shapiro 9, where local health and nonprofit organizations were available to answer questions and provide health information.

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      Elders Living at Home Program Celebrates 25 Years

      Two years ago, William was a 71-year-old retiree living with his daughter and grandchildren in Roxbury. One night, while they slept, the tenant in a unit above them set his apartment on fire. Within minutes, the whole building was in flames. William and his family escaped, but the building and its contents were destroyed. William’s daughter and children moved in with friends, but there wasn’t enough room for him. With nowhere else to go, William ended up at the Pine Street Inn, a Boston homeless shelter, with 300 other homeless men.

      William is back on his feet thanks to the Elders Living at Home Program

      He had never been homeless before. He had come to the city from Mississippi in 1967 in search of a better life, and for 40 years had worked hard in factories and other manual labor jobs. He always had paid his own way and was proud of that. Now that he was retired and living on a small social security check, he didn’t have much left over at the end of the month to put away for a rainy day.

      “I don’t think I would have survived long at Pine Street,” William says, remembering the first week after becoming homeless. “I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for the Elders Living at Home Program (ELAHP).”

      The program, based at the Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center at BMC, provides emergency housing to more than 2,500 elderly men and women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The program refers clients to BMC for health care and provides them with a temporary haven until a permanent home is found. It partners with the Pine Street Inn and other state agencies to meet its goal of helping clients find, secure and maintain permanent residence where they can live as independently as possible.

      “More than 70 percent of our clients move on to stable, permanent housing and nearly all of them are able to maintain their housing,” says Eileen O’Brien, Director, ELAHP.

      William is one of those clients. Once he arrived at Pine Street Inn, instead of staying in the main part of the shelter, he was instead housed in the ELAHP’s separate, smaller area, with just 20 other elders. His ELAHP case manager helped him get clothing, obtain new copies of important documents, arrange medical appointments, and most importantly, apply for housing. Within a few months, the ELAHP found him his own place. “I love it,” he says of his one-bedroom apartment in a new building in Boston. “They found me a place, got me furniture and helped me move in.”

      A history of giving

      In 1986, when senior citizens living in Boston’s South End were being displaced due to rising housing costs and gentrification, BMC made a commitment to keep this population in their homes and communities through the formation of the ELAHP. It became the first organization in the country to place homeless elders temporarily in public housing, and 25 years later, its mission remains the same while its focus continues to adapt to its clients’ needs.

      “With the economic downturn, a new focus for us has become food security,” says O’Brien, who has been at the helm of the ELAHP since its creation. “Many of our clients can’t afford housing and food. Most are living on only $600 a month.”

      Elders Living at Home Program 

      ELAHP staff, which include Program Manager Kip Langello and Allison Neff, RN, in addition to O’Brien, currently manage 60 clients. They visit their homes to check on their health and wellness and to make sure they have enough food to eat. The program is funded completely by philanthropy and government contracts. Each year it must raise $500,000 to operate.

      “It’s a miracle we’ve survived,” says O’Brien. “We are doing our best to keep our heads above water.”

      The program will celebrate its 25th anniversary in the spring when many of its 2,500 clients, and their friends and families will gather to celebrate it success.

      “It has been such a privilege to serve so many remarkable and inspiring elders over the years,” says O’Brien. “Most of the folks we work with have little reason to feel hopeful, yet they continue to work toward better lives for themselves. We get to see incredible transformations each year. Our clients are my heroes.”

      The ELAHP is one of the programs supported by BMC’s 2012 Employee Giving Campaign. Through payroll deductions, staff can give to one or all seven programs and funds. Learn more about the employee giving campaign.

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      BMC Selected as Spinal Cord Injury Model System Site

      The New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center at BMC has been selected as a Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). NIDRR supports innovative research in the delivery, demonstration and assessment of medical rehabilitation to meet the needs of individuals with spinal cord injuries.

      New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center

      BMC’s selection comes with a $2.3 million grant from the NIDRR. The grants are awarded in five-year cycles through an extremely selective process, and the New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center at BMC joins only 14 other SCIMS in the U.S. SCIMS are recognized as national leaders in research and spinal cord injury care, and provide the highest level of specialty services from the point of injury through rehabilitation and outpatient care.

      “With this grant the center will be able to continue as the leading center in New England for patient care, education and research in spinal cord injury,” said Steve Williams, MD, Chief, Rehabilitation Medicine at BMC.

      BMC’s New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center is the oldest civilian spinal cord rehabilitation facility in the country. It was founded in 1955 and is the first SCIMS center in New England to be awarded this prestigious grant continuously since 1973.

      The Center is committed to staying on the cutting edge of spinal cord research and treatment. It is currently working on developing a measurement tool for people with spinal cord injuries that will allow physicians and researchers to see how function changes in patients as they age from childhood to old age.

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      What Do You Do, Jon Fuller?

      Name: Jon Fuller, MD, MDiv, THM
      Title: Staff Physician, Center for Infectious Diseases; Jesuit Priest
      Department: Medicine
      Years at BMC: 24

      Jon Fuller
      Jon Fuller, MD, MDiv, THM

      What brought you to BMC?
      I finished my residency at San Francisco General Hospital in 1986, but still had four years of theology studies left to complete my Jesuit training, so I chose to come to Cambridge to complete it and to see another part of the country. In 1987 I started working in the newly established HIV clinic at Boston City Hospital a few days a week and I loved it. BMC has been a tremendous success story since then, opening one of the first AIDS clinics in the region and remaining the largest HIV treatment facility in New England.

      What do you do here?
      I see patients two mornings a week, coordinate resident and medical student rotators in our clinic, and am involved in our section’s continuing education programs.

      Does being a priest affect your work at BMC?
      In most circumstances I don’t disclose to my patients that I’m a priest because I need to be careful that I do not create barriers to obtaining patient history (including drug and sexual history), or performing a physical exam. It is my job as a physician to not judge or reprimand patients, and it’s my pastoral duty to offer spiritual support and reconciliation.

      How has AIDS/HIV treatment improved over the years?
      AIDS has been transformed from being a death sentence to being a manageable condition, and I think we’re doing a great job treating patients at BMC. However, there are 35 million people living with HIV in the world and less than half of that number has access to treatment. Although our drugs work very well and the cost of providing them in developing countries has decreased dramatically in recent years, the Global Fund to Treat AIDS, TB and Malaria is having trouble getting donor countries to honor their existing commitments, let alone to increase access to treatment. Unfortunately, one of the real harms from the global economic crisis may be a stalling or even reversal on the AIDS treatment front.

      What do you like about working at BMC?
      I am impressed that we are able to provide a comprehensive team of diverse providers (mental health providers, medical managers, nurses, physicians) who are dedicated to helping patients regardless of their resource level. A recent example I remember is a young woman in her 20s with a 2-year-old child who was suffering from end-stage Hepatitis C and was going to be discharged from BMC into hospice care. The housestaff and hospital chaplaincy arranged for her to be married in the Menino chapel by a protestant chaplain; the medical school a capella choir sang for the event, and many of the nurses and other staff members from her medical floor attended. She died the next day at home, but she was able to experience a wonderful moment.

      Do you know a staff member who should be profiled? Send your suggestions to communications@bmc.org.

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      In Their Words

      Patients share their BMC experience

      On behalf of the New England Organ Bank (NEOB), I would like to thank the staff of the 5E-Surgery Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and the Critical Care Team for their support during a recent case that led to the recovery and successful transplantation of the heart, liver and kidneys.

      Letter writing 

      I have heard from my staff of the profound complexities of this patient and family. I wanted to acknowledge the compassion, support and patience the team provided. Throughout the process the physician and nursing teams were very helpful in our clinical assessment of the patient. The bedside nursing team provided excellent care of the patient while in the midst of very challenging circumstances. The social work and chaplaincy staff were critical in guiding and supporting the family. The staff’s commitment to the donation process helped preserve the option of donation and allowed for a seamless introduction of NEOB staff to the family. Specific recognition should be made of Nurse Judy McGonagle as she was pivotal in facilitating our discussions with the next of kin. The combined efforts of both 5E-SICU and NEOB staff contributed to the outcome of saving the lives of four people.

      Once again, we extend a heartfelt thanks to all Boston Medical Center staff involved, for their dedication and collaboration with the New England Organ Bank. The collaboration and support is critical to ensuring a successful donation process at Boston Medical Center and the recovery of life-saving organs.

      We truly appreciate everyone’s commitment and hard work.

      Richard Luskin
      President and CEO

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      News of Note

      Jake Robson, Robert Vinci, Duncan Henry 
      Drs. Robson, Vinci and Henry

      Italian dining raises money for BMC
      Robert Vinci, MD, Vice Chairman, BMC Pediatrics, and Pediatric Chief Residents Duncan Henry, MD, and Jake Robson, MD, traded their white coats for aprons Nov. 28 when they bussed tables at popular South End Italian restaurant Giacomos to benefit BMC. The tips the trio earned benefit Kate’s Cart, a roving arts and crafts center within the Child Life Department that will be used to help patients creatively cope during their time in the pediatric emergency department. Kate’s Cart was created by Kate Prentiss, the niece of Kimball Prentiss, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine. The event raised $5,800.

      Pande named Director of Invasive Cardiology
      Ashvin Pande, MD, has been appointed Director of Invasive Cardiology in the Cardiovascular Medicine Section. Pande received his undergraduate training at Harvard College and his MD from Duke. He completed fellowships in cardiovascular medicine, interventional cardiology and peripheral vascular and structural interventions, all at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 1996 he received a Sarnoff Cardiovascular Foundation Research Fellowship award and in 2004 he was a recipient of a Reynolds Research Fellowship in the Donald W. Reynolds Cardiovascular Center on Atherosclerosis, Harvard Medical School. In 2009 he joined the faculty at Boston University Medical Campus. Currently, he serves as the BMC site principal investigator for CHOICE, a CMS registry for patients undergoing carotid artery stent procedures.

      Hochberg named Associate Director, Invasive Cardiology
      Claudia Hochberg, MD, has been appointed Associate Director, Invasive Cardiology. Dr. Hochberg received her BA from Middlebury College and her MD from Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her medical residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and fellowships in cardiology and interventional cardiology at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. She came to BMC in 2009. Hochberg will play an important role in leading the invasive lab’s quality initiatives, and in overseeing patient flow through the invasive units.

      Nedeljkovic named Director, Interventional Cardiology Fellowship program
      Zoran Nedeljkovic, MD, has been named Director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship program. Dr. Nedeljkovic received his BS from Penn State University and his MD from Jefferson Medical College. He completed medical residency and fellowships in cardiology and interventional cardiology at BMC before joining the faculty in 2004. He has been co-director of the interventional cardiology fellowship since 2007, and chairs the multi-disciplinary STEM Working Group at BMC.

      Cancer Care Center 

      BMC hosts Men’s Health Awareness Event
      Local residents joined Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson at BMC’s Men’s Health Awareness Event Dec. 3. The event gave residents the opportunity to learn about prostate and heart health, diabetes and good nutrition from BMC physicians Mark Katz, Urology, Noyan Gokce, Cardiology and the Rev. Al Whitaker from the American Diabetes Association. Attendees also enjoyed a Zumba class. The event was sponsored by BMC’s Cancer Care Center and staffed by Cancer Support Services and Interpreter Services.

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      Awards and Accolades

      Sixty-seven BMC physicians are listed as “tops” in their fields in Boston Magazine’s annual Top Docs issue. View the list.

      Robert Oates, MD, FACS, Vice Chairman, Urology, has been elected President of the New England Fertility Society. The NEFS is dedicated to promoting awareness, standards of information and assistance to providers and ultimately patients in the field of infertility. Oates is the first urologist to hold this position.

      Lorien Manns
      Lorien Manns receives the Spiritual Care Award

      Guest Services Concierge Lorien Manns was honored recently with the 2011 Spiritual Care Award from the Pastoral Care Department. The award recognizes a BMC employee who understands and appreciates that spiritual care is part of the holistic approach to healing, and therefore is attentive to the spiritual needs of patients and staff.

      “Lorien is grounded in a deep faith. She has the wonderful ability to be present, to listen and to share in another’s pain as well as joy. That isn’t easy work, and yet she does it with such ease and peace,” said Rev. Jennie Gould, PhD, hospital chaplain, in presenting the award to Manns. “It doesn’t matter who you are, when you talk to Lorien you know that you are being listened to – and that means so much to our patients and families here, and to this world, which desperately needs people like Lorien.”

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