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The BMC Brief

October 14, 2011 Volume 1, Issue 11

BMC Celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month

BMC kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month Oct. 4 with a breakfast that celebrated its Breast Health Program. A crowd of 100 patients, families, providers and staff gathered for the celebration sponsored by the Cancer Care Center and the Massachusetts Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

Cancer Care Patient Navigators
Cancer Care Center Patient Navigators at the breakfast

“We have a strong history of breast health here and a whole range of support for you and your families as you go through this journey,” Kate Walsh, BMC President and CEO told attendees standing outside the Belkin Breast Health Center in the Moakley lobby. “Our multi-disciplinary team is focused on getting you back to good health.”

“Many of us have friends or family afflicted by this disease,” said Michael Stone, MD, Chief, Surgical Oncology. “It’s important to be aware of the progress that has been made through research. There is now less than one chance out of seven of dying from this disease.”

Stone acknowledged that while much progress has been made there is still “a lot of work to do” and that patients “inspire us to work harder every day.”

Tracy Battaglia, MD, MPH, Women’s Health Group, and Medical Director, Avon Breast Health Initiative, said the core of BMC’s Cancer Care Center is its patient navigators, whose role it is to see patients through the complex world of cancer treatment. Two of the navigators who are funded by the Avon Breast Health Initiative focus on cancer prevention and early detection.

“It makes me proud to be part of an institution that provides excellent services across the entire cancer care spectrum,” she said.

Attendees picked up pink ribbons and educational literature at tables staffed by Cancer Care Center staff and community partners, such as the American Cancer Society, and learned about BMC’s walk-in mammography service, the “Look Good, Feel Better” program and survivorship activities.

Learn more about BMC’s Belkin Breast Health Center.

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NICU Celebrates Donor Breast Milk Program

When Baby F was born in June, she weighed less than 2 pounds and had respiratory failure. Her mother, ill herself, was in the intensive care unit (ICU) and unable to produce breast milk to feed her baby. Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff knew Baby F could best tolerate human milk and so they sprang into action.

Meg Parker, Naomi Bar-Yam, and Karen Kamholz
Left to right: Meg Parker, Naomi Bar-Yam, Executive Director, Mothers’ Milk Bank, and Karen Kamholz

“We had been planning since March for a donor milk program that would start in August,” says Neonatologist Karen Kamholz, MD, MPH, “but Baby F was the perfect candidate and we decided to launch the program immediately.”

Within 36 hours, staff received BMC legal clearance for the program, contacted the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England and were feeding Baby F donor breast milk. Several weeks later when Baby F’s mom was released from the ICU, she walked into the NICU to pick up her child and walked out with a healthy baby girl.

“It was extremely fulfilling to see this patient care story come full circle,” says Laura MacLean, RN, NICU Nurse Manager.

NICU staff shared this story at an Oct. 6 celebration for its new Donor Milk Program. Spearheaded by Kamholz and fellow Neonatologist Meg Parker, MD, MPH, the program works by purchasing donor breast milk from the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England, a non-profit organization that collects donor milk from mothers after a rigorous screening process that includes blood testing. Once the milk is pasteurized by the bank, it is dispensed to babies in need, such as those in BMC’s NICU. The NICU purchases the milk with charitable funds from the Elaine Ullian Fund, the Kids Fund and other private donors, and then feeds it to babies who meet certain criteria, such as those infants who do not have their own mother’s milk available and who weigh less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces. Once an infant can tolerate a full feeding for 48 hours or his mother’s milk fully comes in, the baby is weaned from the donor milk.

Marcy McMahon, Barry Zuckerman, and Kim Perryman
Marcy McMahon, Lactation Consultant; Barry Zuckerman, Chief and Chair, Pediatrics; and Kim Perryman, Vice President, Nursing, take a sip of cow's milk at the celebration

The benefits of donor milk for premature infants are numerous, says Kamholz and Parker.

“Data shows that there is a reduction in bowel infections that require surgery in preemies who receive donor milk and higher feeding tolerances,” says Kamholz.

“The benefits cascade for infants the sooner we get feeding started,” says Parker. “The sooner the babies eat, the sooner we can remove their IV feeding lines and reduce the rate of infection.”

The program has served seven babies since June with more expected as the program grows.

“Thanks to the hard work of NICU staff, this program became a reality,” said Barry Zuckerman, MD, Chief and Chair of Pediatrics, at the celebration. “This is a concrete example of how we help our patients.”

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Increase in SNAP Benefits Associated with Healthier Children

At a time when 10 million American children under the age of 6 are hungry, BMC pediatric researchers, in partnership with Children’s HealthWatch investigators in Boston, Minneapolis, Little Rock, Philadelphia and Baltimore, have found that higher benefit amounts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) protected the health and well-being of very young, low-income children. These findings were released as a policy brief Oct. 12.

Deborah Frank, MD

Deborah Frank, MD

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) raised SNAP benefits across the board by a minimum of 13.6 percent. That increase has had a dramatic effect on kids. In the two years since the benefit increase, researchers found children in families receiving SNAP were 15 percent more likely to be classified as “well children” than young children whose families were eligible for but did not receive SNAP. A “well child” is defined as neither overweight nor underweight and whose parents report that s/he is in good health, has never been hospitalized and is developing normally for his/her age.

“These results demonstrate that the improved SNAP benefit levels were a more effective ‘dosage’ for sustaining children’s health compared to pre-increase benefit levels, which were too low to protect against major health impacts in our population of young, low-income children,” explains Deborah Frank, MD, Director, BMC’s Grow Clinic for Children, and Founder and Principal Investigator of Children's HealthWatch.

According to the researchers, the latest scientific evidence shows that the basic foundation for children’s health and academic success is established in their first three years of life. “As we seek to ensure that all children arrive at school healthy and ready to learn, we must make sure that families have the resources to nourish their children and keep them well in their early years,” says Frank.

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What Do You Do, Michael Stone, MD?

Name: Michael Stone, MD
Title: Chief, Section of Surgical Oncology; Vice Chair of Administrative Affairs, Division of Surgery
Department(s): General Surgery, Surgical Oncology and Surgical Endocrinology, Belkin Breast Health Center
Years at BMC: 10

Michael Stone, MD
Michael Stone, MD

What brought you to BMC?
I was asked in 2001 by BMC’s president and chief executive officer and the chairman of Surgery to come to BMC to create a high-quality breast cancer care program. At the time I was at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the opportunity seemed like a good fit. I’ve been here since then.

What was breast cancer care like when you arrived here?
There were five different access points for patients coming into the breast program, and that was delaying patient care. It took 45 days from when a patient received a referral to come here to when she received a breast biopsy.

How has the program evolved?
We took a hard look at the program and the delays our patients were experiencing. Our goal was to reorganize so we could get patients into surgery quickly. So, in 2003, we established a new triage system where medical or surgical breast specialists met with patients first. It worked better than expected. We took 80 percent of the wait time out of the system, down from 45 days to eight, and it’s even shorter now. In the first three years of the program, we only had four patients out of 4,500 experience a delay in being seen.

What has the response been?
Terrific. Three years after revamping the breast program, BMC received the prestigious Monroe E. Trout Premier Care Award in 2006, which is given to organizations serving medically underserved populations. We were chosen out of 380 organizations around the country. We receive high satisfaction rates from our patients and referring physicians, with 96 percent of physicians saying they think our system is excellent or good. We also visit our community health centers regularly to get feedback. Our program has been so successful, we are now modeling our liver cancer program after it.

What makes BMC’s Belkin Breast Health Center unique?
The first is that we are a joint service of surgeons and medical providers. Patients meet with the appropriate care provider, whether it be a surgeon, or physician or nurse practitioner specializing in breast health. The second is that we track a patient through every step of her cancer care, working with Radiology, for example, to ensure a breast biopsy happens quickly and that the results get back to the surgeon within 72 hours. We also meet every Monday as a multi-disciplinary team to discuss the care of each patient. This includes surgeons, oncologists, nurses, pathologists, radiologists and others. The meeting keeps everyone up to date on the care of each patient and runs like clockwork.

Learn more about the Belkin Breast Health Center.

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

Letter writing 

Dr. Devaiah at BMC treated my ears due to an emergency.
I’m so grateful, oh yes indeed, and as appreciative of him as I can be.
His professional, medical, articulate swift actions have truly been to my “ears” satisfaction!

Boston, Mass.

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News of Note

Joe Camillus, MBA, MPH 
Joe Camillus, MBA, MPH

Camillus named Senior Director of Business Development
Joe Camillus, MBA, MPH, joined BMC Oct. 3 as Senior Director of Business Development. In this new position, Camillus will focus on driving business growth by planning and developing activities aimed at identifying clinical and business opportunities with high volume demand and margin growth, increasing new product and service offerings and developing strategies to ensure BMC’s operational and economic success. Camillus previously served as Administrative Director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Deputy Executive Director at Alleghany County Department of Human Services in Pittsburgh.

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Awards and Accolades

Breastfeeding symbol

BMC received a 2011 Breastfeeding-Friendly Employer Award at the annual Breastfeeding in the Baystate conference Oct. 2. BMC received the award for “improving the health of the Commonwealth through excellence in supporting breastfeeding mothers and babies.” The hospital has six lactation rooms around campus for nursing mothers to use.

BMC was named one of two finalists for the ECRI Institute’s 2011 Health Devices Achievement Award for its alarm standardization through a portable, self-contained cardiac telemetry and monitoring training system initiative. The ECRI is a non-profit organization that researches the best approaches to improving patient care.

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