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The BMC Brief

April 10, 2013 Volume 2, Issue 7

BMC Rolls Out Wellness Campaign: Be Exceptional. Be Well.

Stress is ever-present in Americans' daily lives, and is especially prevalent among health care workers. The 2012 employee engagement survey confirmed that this is true at BMC, with staff indicating that stress is a major concern. To help you refresh and rejuvenate, BMC is launching a spring wellness campaign, under the theme “Be Exceptional. Be Well.”

Start your journey on a path to wellness by taking advantage of the activities below. Stay tuned for more opportunities to reduce your stress in the coming months.

  • Snag a free pedometer, available in the Benefits department on a first-come, first served basis, to track your fitness progress and challenge yourself or your coworkers to walk 10,000 steps a day. You’ll find many different ways to increase your steps on a daily basis. You also can learn how to incorporate meditation into your daily walk. If you’re a Harvard Pilgrim member, don’t forget to track your progress in your passport or online by using the My Health Assistant “Exercise” module. Log in to your HPHConnect account to get started.
  • Sign up for a Stress Reduction and Mindfulness workshop here. The workshop is facilitated by licensed psychologists from the BMC and BUMC Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Choose to attend a larger workshop to review general tips about stress reduction and mindfulness, or a smaller workshop for a more interactive experience.
  • Visit the revamped wellness website to see all the resources BMC offers to promote wellness. Whether you want more information about child care options or flexible spending accounts, you’ll find resources to help reduce your stress Check out the list of free wellness apps available for iPhone and Android products that can help you reach your wellness goals. Be sure to check back at the events calendar on the wellness page for more to come.

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Soothing the Soul: Harpist Brings Smiles to Patients, Staff

Follow the sounds of the music and you'll find harpist Linda LaSalle strumming angelic tunes to patients in Yawkey and the Menino and Newton Pavilions, bringing peace and tranquility to everyone who encounters her.

LaSalle, a music therapist, devotes 10 hours a week of her time to BMC patients. Unlike other hospital music programs, where a musician performs only in public areas, LaSalle enters patients' rooms to sit by their bedsides and serenade them.

Linda LaSalle, Harpist
Linda LaSalle

“Truly, to see Linda in action is to believe how powerful this program is,” says Sheryl Katzanek, Director, Patient Advocacy, who oversees the program. "People think, 'oh, that’s nice,’ but when they witness Linda playing and the reaction that she receives, it’s amazing.”

The benefits of the harp are wide ranging, from calming nervous patients before exams to comforting those experiencing sorrow. When a baby suffering from croup in the Pediatric Emergency Department could not stop coughing, LaSalle entered and began playing for her. The baby, fascinated by the instrument, stopped coughing long enough for the attending physician to complete the exam. One teenage boy had LaSalle listen to his favorite video game jingle, and she was able to play a version back to him on the harp, which he recorded on his phone. Another patient opened up to her about the loss of his musician daughter after hearing her play. LaSalle also engages curious listeners by inviting them to approach and try playing the harp. Countless anecdotes like these prove that LaSalle’s work makes a difference.

“By tailoring her performance to each individual, Linda creates a safe place where a patient can forget about his pain and immerse himself in something beautiful,” says Katzanek. “This personal connection creates a really special patient experience.”

Patients are not the only ones who enjoy listening to harp music; BMC staffers say that LaSalle brings joy to their shifts, and some have even tried to arrange their schedules so they can work while she is playing.

“It has been tremendously rewarding for me to see how live music changes the environment for patients and staff,” says LaSalle. “I continue to see small miracles every day.”

One of LaSalle’s favorite experiences was with a previously non-verbal patient who hadn’t spoken since his surgery. In her first visit with him, he spoke to her after hearing her play, singing along and strumming the harp with intense concentration.

“When I said goodbye, he looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Thank you, Linda,'" recounts LaSalle. “Seeing him as a whole person and not just a patient made such a difference. For me, helping a patient connect with a healthier part of himself was just one of many great experiences.”

“Creating a healing environment is complex,” says Rebecca Blair, Director of Patient Experience. “To be successful we need to engage both staff and patients in a manner that is calming and inspiring. The overwhelming positive feedback we have had about the music that Linda plays shows that it is really working to support our goals.”

If you know of a patient who would benefit from Linda LaSalle's music, please contact Sheryl Katzanek at 414-1778.

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Ellen Ginman Hits Heartbreak Hill for BMC

Each year BMC puts together a team of runners dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the many programs at the hospital. This year, 35 runners will compete in the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15 as a member of Team BMC. Of those runners, 13 are BMC employees.

Ellen Ginman, BMC Strategic Planning
Ellen Ginman

Ellen Ginman, Strategic Planning, is one of them. Ginman has run five marathons previously, including three in Boston, but this is her first time running for a cause. By sending emails and postcards to family and friends, and hosting an event at a local bar, she has surpassed her $5,000 goal.

“My whole department has helped me spread the word about Team BMC and have generously donated," says Ginman. "They have been a great support system, as well as the Development Department, which has given the whole team ideas on how we can reach our fundraising goals."

Tough winter weather often banished Ginman to long hours of indoor training on a treadmill since joining the team in February. However, as the weather has improved, she has fit in morning and evening runs outdoors during the work week and longer runs on the weekends.

“It has been tough, but I’ve met a lot of people from different departments and we see other teams out running the course on Saturdays,” says Ginman. “Being part of this team has strengthened my connection to BMC and it’s nice to know that the money I raise will help our doctors continue to provide exceptional care to our patients."

A veteran of the course, Ginman has some advice for potential 2014 Team BMC members: “It sounds like an intimidating distance, but anyone can do it who is willing to put in the time training. It’s a great stress reliever and you may find you like it more than you think!”

Other Team BMC members include:

  • Julia Byers, Clinical Intern, Child Witness to Violence Program
  • Maura Dickinson, DO, Emergency Medicine Resident (Team Captain, not running this year)
  • Jonathan Hanson, Administrative Assistant, Cardiovascular Center
  • Paul Hendessi, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Kathleen Hirsch, NP, Surgery
  • Whitney Holmer, MD Emergency Medicine Resident
  • Joann Kwah, MD, Gastroenterology Fellow
  • Jared Magnani, MD, Cardiology
  • Marisa Nadas, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Robert Oates, MD, FACS, Urology
  • Lindsay Troilo, PT, DPT, Outpatient Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Click here to help them reach their $300,000 goal. Go Team BMC!

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What’s for Dinner? Blueberry Burgers

Summer is fast approaching, but a balanced diet should be a year-round staple on your quest to be healthy! You can start by trying this delicious recipe from BMC Demonstration Kitchen Chef Tracey Burg and BMC Pediatric Chef and Dietician Deidra Dexter-Hine, RD.

This unusual combination of fruit and beef is not what it seems. The summery addition of blueberries adds moisture to the patty, making it juicier and more flavorful without the added fat.

Blueberry Burger

Blueberry Burgers


  • 3/4 cup Blueberries, (fresh or frozen)
  • 8 oz Ground beef, 90 percent lean
  • 1/4 tablespoon Mustard
  • Chives, basil (fresh or dried) to taste


  1. Place frozen blueberries into food processor or blender and pulse until coarsely ground. If using fresh blueberries, gently mash with hands or fork.
  2. In a small bowl, combine beef, berries, mustard and seasonings. Mix well and form in to three burgers. Patties will be soft and sticky.
  3. Place blueberry patties in plastic wrap and let chill for about 30 minutes.
  4. Cook on a grill or sauté pan until burger has reached its desired consistency.
  5. Serve on bun (whole wheat) with desired condiments.

Nutritional Information per burger:

  • Calories: 144
  • Total Fat: 6.86 g
  • Sodium: 66 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.76 gm
  • Cholesterol: 28.3 mg
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 16 g

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What do you do, John Willins?

Name: John Willins, PhD
Title: Chief Medical Physicist
Department: Radiation Oncology
Years at BMC: 12

John Willins, PhD
John Willins, PhD

What brought you to BMC?
I was working as an experimental physicist doing basic research and wanted to apply my training in ways that would more directly benefit people. A friend recommended the field of medical physics in radiation oncology, a very small field at the time, so I explored it and felt that transitioning into health care was a good career path for me. I’ve been in the field for 20 years and am very happy with my decision.

What do you do here?
Our department treats cancer patients with high doses of radiation. I work closely with physicians and other staff to ensure patients receive treatment that is safe and effective. My work is mostly behind the scenes and patients generally don’t meet me in person.

What is the role of a physicist in Radiation Oncology?
As a physicist, I do several things to help make sure that every patient’s treatment is in accordance with the radiation prescription written by their doctor. Each patient receives a customized treatment consisting of carefully planned beams of x-rays or electrons, and I help create many of these plans. In addition, I check plans developed by others to make sure everything has been done correctly. I take measurements to verify that our treatment machines are working as they should and am in charge of the software we use to produce treatment plans for the patients.

What do you like about working at BMC?
Knowing that people’s lives have been touched for the better because of the care they received here. It’s nice when we get cards from patients telling us what a great job we have done caring for them and that they’re doing well after treatment. We have a lot of state-of-the-art technology, like the CyberKnife Robotic Surgery System, and we are able to put those resources to use to make a difference in the lives of others.

What do you do to maintain a healthy work/life balance?
I stay very busy with my children. My wife and I have twin 9-year-olds, a boy and a girl, and I get a great deal of pleasure from spending time with them. One of their favorite places to visit is here at BMC because they like the people and have fun seeing the CyberKnife and other machines. I’m always hearing, “Dad, when can we take another field trip to your work?”

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

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News of Note

Caroline M. Apovian, MD, FACP, FACN, Director, Nutrition and Weight Management Center, has published a book titled, The Overnight Diet: The Proven Plan for Fast, Permanent Weight Loss. Apovian specializes in obesity medicine and has helped her patients lose more than one million pounds in her career. Her weight-loss approach combines two proven rapid weight-loss methods to create a hybrid diet that will safely produce results.

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Awards and Accolades

Minh Tam-Truong, MD

Minh Tam-Truong, MD, Clinical Director of Radiation Oncology, BMC and Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, BUSM, has been featured in the American Journal of Neuroradiology for her research on head and neck cancer treatment. A common problem in treating head and neck tumors with radiotherapy is that tumors not getting enough oxygen have been shown to resist radiation treatment. Truong’s study investigated the development of a baseline to measure perfusion, a treatment technique that directly injects tumors with chemotherapy. Truong’s research could help establish a protocol that could be applied to prospective clinical trials and adapt radiation techniques to target resistant tumors.

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