How to Care for Patients Impacted by Trauma

Trauma is more pervasive than many realize—more than half of the population has had some experience of trauma. It can come in many forms: physical violence, domestic abuse, street violence and even the witnessing of such violence. Some people try to mitigate the effects and others struggle to do so.

Caregivers and providers must be sensitive to the experiences patients carry with them. They may be wounded, but the wounds are sometimes invisible to the naked eye.

With this in mind, employees from across the Partners system came together this fall to increase awareness of trauma and trauma-informed care to better meet survivors’ needs.

Approaching all patients with trauma-informed awareness encourages caregivers and providers to be sensitive and empathetic to a survivor and his or her needs, whether it’s during a clinical interaction or in the reception area.

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Tags: uniform high quality

A New Home for Global Collaboration at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases

Ann Romney Center lobby display

Last month, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) announced the launch of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases, a global collaboration to accelerate treatments and cures for five of the world’s most complex and devastating neurologic diseases. The center will focus on multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.

Led by BWH neurologists Howard L. Weiner, M.D. and Dennis J. Selkoe, M.D. – two of the world’s most renowned experts in neurologic disease – the center aims to produce breakthrough, life-changing research to benefit patients confronting these devastating neurologic diseases. Dr. Weiner, a global leader in MS clinical care and research, and Dr. Selkoe, an Alzheimer’s expert, brought their own laboratories together in 1985. Their proven track record of firsts in neurologic discoveries inspired the novel, collaborative strategy embraced by the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases.

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Tags: research and discovery

Treating Veterans’ Invisible Wounds

Approximately one in three veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan experience post-traumatic stress or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after returning home. These “invisible wounds” are often complex. A perceived social stigma keeps many veterans from addressing them.

Ryan Pitts, a Medal of Honor recipient who served in Afghanistan, told The Boston Globe about the challenges he faced in seeking treatment after he returned home following a battle that killed nine others:

“At first, I felt that I deserved to suffer and that my pain was penance for my failure to bring everyone home,” he said. “But I began to think about how they would want us to carry on and the lives I would want them to lead if we had traded places. We owe it to ourselves and to our fallen to lead good lives worthy of their sacrifice.”

Last night, Pitts shared his story with an audience gathered at Boston’s Symphony Hall to benefit the Home Base Program, a partnership between Massachusetts General Hospital and the Red Sox Foundation.

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Tags: community partnerships

An Unwavering Commitment to Our Vision

Dr. Gary Gottlieb has announced that he will be stepping down as Partners HealthCare’s President and CEO next summer to pursue a new opportunity as CEO of Partners In Health. Dr. Gottlieb remains deeply committed to pursuing partnerships with South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health that are fundamental to our vision of expanding access to affordable health care.

“We’re on a pathway in which we are really in the midst of a substantial transformation,” Dr. Gottlieb told the Boston Business Journal.

Our plan to affiliate with South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health would enable all of us to work together to deliver higher-quality, coordinated care to patients, closer to their homes at lower costs.

In a recent letter to the editor in The Boston Globe, Dr. Gottlieb responded to the idea that the partnership would increase costs for patients.

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Tags: redesigning care

Championing Employment for All Abilities

Oz Mondejar with Champions of Change honorees

Oz Mondejar grew up with a strong appreciation for the opportunities available in United States, instilled in him by a mother who immigrated here from Cuba. He also grew up with a limb difference. Together, those experiences have helped fuel his desire to create more opportunity for skilled individuals with disabilities. Today, as the Senior Vice President of Mission and Advocacy for Partners Continuing Care, Oz is fulfilling his vision and has become a nationally recognized leader in the field.

In fact, this past week, the White House honored Oz as a “Disability Employment Champion of Change” for his role in helping to create the Working Partners Program, a public-private partnership between Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and Partners HealthCare at Home and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

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Tags: industry interactions

Partnering with Patients for the Future of Medical Research

Dr. Elizabeth Karlson with a Biobank participant

Dr. Elizabeth Karlson with a Biobank participant

At Partners, we’re committed to investing in cutting-edge research while also striving to improve efficiencies. The Partners HealthCare Biobank is one innovative program that does both. A joint project between Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, the Partners Biobank stores patient blood samples alongside medical history, family history and data about lifestyle and environmental factors that are collected from participants.

“The most innovative aspect of this project is the ability to study biomarkers, genetic variants and environmental factors to predict longitudinal outcomes in a large, diverse population in a way that will lead to understanding how to use this data for personalized medicine,” says Dr. Elizabeth Karlson, co-investigator of the project at BWH.

While many academic medical centers collect DNA samples, plasma, or serum, few include surveys of family history, lifestyle and behavioral factors alongside those samples.

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Tags: research and discovery, technology

Boosting Confidence Through Adaptive Sports

Adaptive sports class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Instructor and MGH Institute of Health Professions alumna Ali Stoll teaches an adaptive sports class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Experiencing a disabling injury or illness can strike a significant blow to a person’s self-confidence, among many other challenges. Participating in adaptive sports often provides a much-needed confidence boost, and a range of activities help make this a reality, including wheelchair tennis, hand cycling, adaptive rowing or windsurfing.

The benefits are well documented. A study by Disability Sports USA found that people with disabilities who participate in adaptive sports are twice as likely to be employed as those who do not participate, and also experience a better quality of life and better health.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network has operated an adaptive sports program since 2001, but offering instruction at physical therapy graduate programs is rare.

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Tags: industry interactions

Staying Out of the Hospital

Phil Tropeano and his doctor at North Shore Medical Center

On a recent Sunday in August, Philip Tropeano gathered with nearly 50 family members and friends to celebrate his 92nd birthday. There was also an extra reason to blow out the candles – the birth of Tropeano’s great-great-grandson, Nicholas.

The party came a few weeks after Tropeano met with his longtime physician, Dr. Richard Alexander. The regularly scheduled office visit had also yielded good news. Tropeano, who suffers from diabetes, congestive heart failure and kidney failure, showed no changes in his condition.

Dr. Alexander, who had treated Tropeano since 1980, says a big part of his success is the use of a telemedicine monitor. For three years, Tropeano starts each day by weighing himself and measuring his blood pressure and blood oxygen saturation level, using a console supplied by Partners HealthCare. The readings are automatically transmitted to a nurse care manager at North Shore Medical Center, who can instantly spot deviations that could be warning signs.

Dr. Alexander reviewed the readouts on his computer, noting that Mr. Tropeano typically weighs 155 pounds. If that goes up by two or three pounds in a day or two, it could spell trouble.

“If you gain three pounds in two days, it’s water retention,” said Dr. Alexander, a member of North Shore Physicians Group in Salem. “You can’t gain that much weight with calories. Two pounds one day and then two more – next thing you know, the patient is really short of breath and winds up in the emergency room and in the hospital.”

“But a simple phone call telling the patient to double his dose of diuretic [a drug that helps the body eliminate water] and you can avoid all that trouble.”

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Tags: redesigning care, technology

Growth in Health Care Costs Continues to Slow for Some Patients

At Partners HealthCare, we believe that when it comes to health care, “high quality” and “affordablility” can go hand-in-hand. Last week, we saw that point proven through our participation in the U.S. government’s Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) initiative.

For the second year in a row, Partners lowered health care cost growth for more than 60,000 Medicare patients. Through enhanced care coordination, the rate of cost growth fell by 0.46 percent, resulting in approximately $3.3 million in taxpayer savings, according to new federal data. Combined with our first year in the program, the total savings to date – shared between the federal government and Partners – tally $17.7 million.

More importantly, our Medicare patients are receiving better care. Partners ranked at or above the 90th percentile on 23 of 33 quality measures.

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Tags: affordability, uniform high quality

Why We Strive to Be Good Corporate Citizens

At Partners HealthCare, serving the community extends beyond providing access to high-quality, affordable health care at our hospitals. Promoting broader educational and economic opportunities plays an important role in supporting healthy lifestyles.

We’re very proud of the ongoing work we do with a variety of local nonprofit organizations to promote access to health care, prevention and workforce development. Our collaborations allow us to make measureable and sustainable improvements in the health of underserved populations.

We recognize that increasing value and continuously improving quality are essential to delivering the best care possible to all of our patients.

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Tags: community partnerships

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