MGH Neuropsychologist publishes research on brain activity

Dr. Jessica Caldwell, PhD

Dr. Jessica Caldwell, PhD

Marquette General Neuropsychologist, Dr. Jessica Caldwell, PhD, recently authored an article in the August issue of The Journal of NeuroVirology – a journal focused on viruses that impact brain function.

Dr. Caldwell and her colleagues looked at brain activity in people who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). They found that although people with HIV could perform a simple task just as well as non-infected people, their brains used more activity to do so.

“We found that individuals with HIV had to work harder, mentally, to reach the same performance as healthy people,” said Dr. Caldwell. “Healthy people had ‘reserve’ or extra mental power to use as the task got harder, but people infected with HIV had less reserve.”

The study also showed that having other health risks in addition to HIV related to further weaknesses in brain activity. For example, having Hepatitis C infection or more severe HIV over time (such as higher virus levels in the blood) related to inefficient patterns of mental activity.

Dr. Caldwell’s study shows that even with good medication treatments for HIV, people living with HIV may struggle with thinking due to HIV-related changes in the brain.

“Today, there are very good medication treatments for HIV,” said Dr. Caldwell. “These medicines allow people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives. Even with these medicines, many people with HIV have problems memory or attention.”

Dr. Caldwell said she hopes her research will lead to more programs that help people with HIV stay healthy and get help for thinking weaknesses.

MGH honors Carolyn Kovala with Heritage Award

Ed Banos, MGH CEO, presents Carolyn Kovala with a watercolor print by artist Bill Hamilton.

Ed Banos, MGH CEO, presents Carolyn Kovala with a watercolor print by artist Bill Hamilton.

Marquette General Hospital has provided care to the people of the Upper Peninsula for nearly four decades. More than one million patients cared for by thousands of staff members – some of whom can’t help but stand out among their peers. The Heritage Award is presented annually to a deserving MGH retiree who has demonstrated loyalty to the organization, as well as dedication, leadership and commitment in our community.

MGH is proud to name Carolyn Kovala as this year’s Heritage Award recipient.

Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Carolyn began her career at MGH in 1980, working in the Information Systems Department (now called Information Technology) as an IT Operator, in which she monitored all of the computer systems to ensure they were available to the end users. Later in her career, when the department name was changed to Information Technology, she performed duties as a Documentation Specialist, in which she maintained software licensing, changes to IT systems and the birthday calendar, so she would know when everyone’s birthday was in the department.

While at MGH, Carolyn was involved in the Employee Relations Committee, as well as the “Adopt-a-Family” Christmas program. After 28 years of service, Carolyn retired from MGH in 2008.

At present, Carolyn is an MGH Volunteer in the OR Lounge and Skywalk Information Desk. She also volunteers at Bell Hospital as a greeter, and takes a Finnish language class through NICE Community Schools.

Carolyn said she was definitely surprised to learn she was this year’s Heritage Award winner, and that she feels very special.

Carolyn resides in Ishpeming, with her husband, Jim. They have two children, and four grandchildren. Congratulations, Carolyn!

New screening service to detect lung cancer offered at Marquette General Hospital

The main test used to detect lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (CT). In this test, an x-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to make a series of detailed pictures of the lungs.

The main test used to detect lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (CT). In this test, an x-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to make a series of detailed pictures of the lungs.

If you are a current or former smoker, you may worry about getting lung cancer. A recent national study involving more than 50,000 smokers showed that lung CT scans using relatively low doses of radiation can effectively screen for lung cancer and most importantly, lower the risk of dying from lung cancer.

In an effort to increase the number of patients who survive a diagnosis of lung cancer, Marquette General Hospital now offers a low-dose chest CT Lung Cancer Screening Program.

“The new Screening Program helps individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer. The low dose scan can detect lung nodules and potential lung cancer at an early stage when the disease is more treatable and curable,” said Andy Koutouzos, Program Director of MGH Imaging Services.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. However, the most common type—non-small cell lung cancer—can sometimes be cured if it is found early enough.

Treatment involves surgery to remove the part of the lung that has cancer. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of the people who have lung cancer die from the disease, in part because it is often not found until the cancer is at an advanced stage.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. About 85 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The risk of developing lung cancer increases with the amount a person smokes and the length of time a person smokes. The risk of lung cancer also increases as people get older. Most lung cancers occur in people 55 and older.

The most important way to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer is to not smoke or stop smoking, and to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke. People who quit smoking greatly reduce their risk of developing and dying from lung cancer. This risk continues to go down over time.

The goal of screening for lung cancer is to identify the cancer at an early stage so that it can be successfully treated. Most screening programs focus on detecting non-small cell lung cancer because it is the most common type of lung cancer and can sometimes be cured if it is found and treated early.

Should I Be Screened?

If you can answer YES to the following questions, you should talk to your doctor about whether Lung Cancer Screening is right for you.  Your doctor can help you schedule this procedure.

  • Are you between the ages of 55 to 74?
  • Have you smoked one or more packs per day for 15 or more years?
  • Do you currently smoke or have you quit within the last 15 years?

After your screening, a report will be sent to your ordering doctor as well as the Marquette General Patient Navigator. Your doctor will notify you and let you know if additional follow-up is needed. The Navigator can assist you with any additional studies or follow-up that might be needed.

MGH is offering this screening at the affordable rate of $200 – about the cost of smoking a pack a day for a month. Currently, this type of screening is not covered by health insurers – so no insurance will be filed. Payment will be due at the time of service.

For more information on the MGH Lung Cancer Screening Program, please speak with your doctor, or call MGH Imaging Services at (906) 225-3430.

If you do not have a primary care doctor, you can establish care with a doctor at one of MGH’s primary care clinics:

Carolyn Hietamaki named Marquette General Trillium Nurse of the Year

Pictured from left are: Robin Waters, RN, MGH Hospital Supervisor; Carolyn Hietamaki; and Dagmar Raica, RN, DNP, MGH Chief Nursing Officer.

Pictured from left are: Robin Waters, RN, MGH Hospital Supervisor; Carolyn Hietamaki; and Dagmar Raica, RN, DNP, MGH Chief Nursing Officer.

Congratulations to Carolyn Hietamaki for being voted Marquette General’s Trillium Nurse of the Year. Carolyn is a clinical expert in wound care. Staff nurses and physicians seek Carolyn’s opinion in caring for their patients for wound and ostomy care.  She has spoken at conferences about Vacuum-Assisted Closure wound care and has done education stations at Universal Skills Day regarding decubiti staging and care. Patients and families trust her and feel comfortable asking her questions. She is often a preceptor for nursing students and employees. She has consistently been a hard worker and always been positive in her work environment. Congrats Carolyn!

The Trillium award recognizes nurses who exemplify excellence in their profession. Areas in which they are reviewed include clinical expertise, teamwork, role model, innovator, mentor and patient advocate.

MGH first in nation to scan patient with MRI-safe defibrillator

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Gary Green of Marquette was the first patient in the U.S. with an implanted MRI-safe defibrillator to undergo an MRI scan. He was also the first patient in the nation to be implanted with the device. Both are part of a clinic trial being conducted at MGH, as well as 275 other sites across the world.

Marquette General Hospital became the first hospital in the nation to scan a patient with a defibrillator that is compatible with full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MGH was also the first in the nation to implant the MRI-safe defibrillator in the patient earlier this year. Both are part of a clinical trial by Medtronic, recognized world leader in medical technology.

More than two million Americans depend on pacemakers or defibrillators to help regulate their heart conditions. While these implanted devices can save lives, they can also eliminate the possibility of utilizing MRI scans – which is another life-saving tool that detects tumors, bleeding, injuries, blood vessel diseases or infections. This is because the powerful magnet of the MRI can interrupt, move or overheat the defibrillator.

Minneapolis-based Medtronic seeks to change this with the Evera MRI™ SureScan® implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) System. Evera MRI is the first ICD system to be evaluated in the U.S. that allows for MRI scans positioned on any region of the body. The Evera MRI was recently approved for use in Europe.

With an estimated 63 percent of ICD patients needing an MRI within 10 years of receiving a device, the Medtronic trial is of great interest to patients and physicians, alike.

“The study tests the Medtronic Evera MRI ICD when patients who have this system have an MRI scan,” said Rudy Evonich, MD, principal investigator at Marquette General for the Evera MRI study.

Gary Green of Marquette was the first patient in the U.S. to receive the Evera MRI™ SureScan®, and to have an MRI scan with it in. At 55 years old, Green was having difficulties managing his heart condition despite weight loss, medication and close monitoring by his cardiologist. Green’s family history of heart disease and the fact he had suffered a heart attack in 2010 prompted his cardiologist to recommend an ICD implant. Green also has back and hip issues, which requires periodic MRI scans.

Evera MRI is the first ICD system to be evaluated in the U.S. that allows for MRI scans positioned on any region of the body.

Evera MRI is the first ICD system to be evaluated in the U.S. that allows for MRI scans positioned on any region of the body.

During Gary’s first scan, his EKG was continuously monitored by a nurse who has been specially trained in both MRI safety and cardiac device management. Following the MRI, his defibrillator was retested to ensure that no damage to the device occurred during the MRI procedure, and the original device settings are restored.

“Medtronic representatives are on hand during each patient’s MRI to monitor the ICD throughout the scanning process. Results are then compared to devices in a control group,” said Dr. Evonich.

Currently, about 275 subjects are taking part in this study. There are up to 45 sites in various countries, including the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Middle East and Africa, Greater China, India, and Latin America. MGH, the only Michigan hospital participating in the study and one of only 24 in the U.S., hopes to enroll two to three qualified patients into the study per month.

MGH has teamed with Medtronic on clinic trials for the last nine years as part of an ongoing mission to provide patients around the world with the best possible heart care. Dr. Evonich, cardiovascular research director Beth King and cardiovascular research team members Jodi Nease, RN, Jane Anderson, LPN, Adele Price, LPN, Lori Piggott and Michelle Duquaine have worked closely with Medtronic representatives in preparation to conduct the study here at MGH.

If you or a loved one is a candidate for an ICD, ask your doctor for more information about the Evera MRI™ SureScan® implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) System trial.

MGH launches new program to help people with cancer manage stress

C2HlogoMarquette General Hospital is offering From Cancer to Health™, a program to help people diagnosed with cancer, including those undergoing treatment, to manage the stress of diagnosis and treatment. Unlike a support group, this is a professionally delivered intervention, offered to cancer patients in the Upper Peninsula free of charge as a service to the community.

Led by MGH Clinical Health Psychologist Hannah Steinitz, Ph.D., From Cancer to Health™ empowers people with cancer through 24 group sessions designed to teach effective strategies and techniques to better cope throughout the cancer journey. The companion From Cancer to Health™ book will also be provided to participants at no cost through the generous support of the Superior Health Foundation, who will also provide light refreshments at group meetings.

“More than 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year,” said Barbara L. Andersen, professor of psychology at The Ohio State University and lead developer of From Cancer to Health™. “People diagnosed with cancer feel a great deal of stress, and over time the stress can disrupt the healing process and a patient’s wellbeing.”

Research shows that patients participating in a trial of From Cancer to Health™ demonstrated less stress. In addition, participants experienced greater social support, kept healthier diets, and had fewer physical side effects from treatment.

From Cancer to Health™ was designed by an expert panel of health psychologists at The Ohio State University through grants from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. The year-long group meets weekly for four months, then monthly for the remainder of the year. At each meeting, group members will learn:

  • Strategies to help manage stress
  • Ways to lessen the impact of physical symptoms of cancer
  • Skills to cope with common problems faced by people with cancer
Steinitz, Hannah cropped

Hannah Steinitz, Ph.D.

From Cancer to Health™ is grounded in more than a decade of research showing the positive effect that reducing stress has on the health of people with cancer,” said Dr. Steinitz. “We are proud to offer this much-needed, cutting-edge program to help people with cancer in the Upper Peninsula.”

The first run of the program will be offered in Marquette, with plans to expand to additional communities in the region in subsequent years. Patient referrals to the program are currently being accepted. Persons with cancer who are interested in participating can self-refer by contacting Dr. Steinitz’ office at (906) 225-7116. To learn more about From Cancer to Health™, interested persons can click here.

Marquette General Hospital seeks volunteers

105766163Marquette General Hospital depends on volunteers to provide assistance for the patient, their families and hospital staff. Whether you’re a retiree wanting to give back to the community, a student exploring careers, or just have a simple desire to help others, there are opportunities available at MGH.

MGH is in need of the following volunteers:

Information Desk Volunteers

  • Greet customers entering the hospital and ask if they need assistance/information.
  • Escort and/or direct customers to appropriate department.
  • Answer calls from departments in courteous manner.
  • Relay messages accurately and promptly to appropriate people.
  • Inform out-of-town customers of overnight accommodations (hospitality rooms, Beacon House, area motels).
  • Typically volunteers for an 8-12p or 12-4p shift during the week.

Personal Emergency Response System Installers

  • Install Link to Life personal emergency response systems in customer’s homes.
  • Replace pendent batteries.
  • Troubleshoot with customer if system not working properly.
  • Must have vehicle and valid driver’s license.
  • Installer’s are reimbursed for mileage.
  • Typically, volunteer could be called Monday through Friday with 1-2 calls per week.
  • Service area includes Marquette, Delta, and Alger Counties.

An online volunteer application can be found by clicking here. A printable version can be downloaded by clicking here. Volunteers must pass a TB test, drug screen, and background check, among other requirements.

For more information, please call MGH Volunteer Services at (906) 225-3280.