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Why a career in medicine

J. Bruce Williams, MD

J. Bruce Williams, MD
Internal Medicine

My great grandfather graduated from the University of Louisville Medical School in 1901. My grandfather would have followed suit, but for the Great Depression. My father finished his MD at the University of Louisville in 1961, and my turn came at the University of Oregon Medical School in 1981.
 
I think I can say a few things about medicine. First, it’s never been easy to be a doctor taking care of real people. My great grandfather set up practice in Appalachia, far from any urban center, and using ether and the most crude of instruments, set about bringing the beginnings of the surgical era to backwoods Kentucky.  He carried a pistol to defend himself from angry family members if things got out of hand.
 
Second, the rate of change induced by scientific discovery, is far from slowing, and in fact, seems to be accelerating. My father’s career in particular, spanning the era of specialization, witnessed the fruits of research from the National Institutes of Health in the first decades after World War 2. Broad scientific developments drove the discovery of hundreds of new medicines and the specialists who could understand and prescribe them. Lifespans have ...

Helping kids heal with music and technology

Nicole Roehrig, MSN, RN

Nicole Roehrig, MSN, RN
Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

A young girl is cowering in the corner - it is the first day her care-taker has left her side. She has backed herself into a corner as far from anyone as possible. She appears to be filled with anxiety. Staff members and nurses try calming her, but nothing seems to work.

With her back turned, the little girl doesn’t notice a young man entering the room. He is holding a tool, one of which the full power and potential is still unknown to most. Even though he has witnessed its abilities before, what happens next still takes even him by surprise.

Not knowing what to say, he says nothing at all. He lifts his instrument and strikes the first chord. The girl stops. He continues to play. The girl turns and slides to the floor. The young man sinks to his knees, the same level as the girl. Strumming his ukulele the young man begins to sing. The little girl begins to scoot herself across the floor, 20 feet to where the young man kneels, closer and closer until her knees touch his.

There are gasps coming from the doorway, as a handful of hospital staff and nurses witness to an amazing transformation. In a flip of a switch, the little girl went from utter anxiety to calm and happy, soothed by the sound of music. As the young man finishes his song, the little girl smiles, reaches out her hand to touch his, then falls back, smiling and laughing.


This is the story of Melodic Caring Project Founder, Levi Ware, on his most recent visit to provide live music to pediatric patients at Swedish First Hill.

“I've been playing music for a long time and I've seen a lot of amazing things happen when music is introduced into certain situations. What happened on the Pediatric Unit at Swedish was one of the most wonderful, beautiful and undeniably powerful music experiences I've had.  ...

Living our legacy

Anthony A. Armada, FACHE

Anthony A. Armada, FACHE
Chief Executive, Swedish

I officially joined Swedish as chief executive in November 2013. One of the many things that drew me to Swedish was its powerful legacy of innovation, care quality, and its focus on serving every member of our communities, regardless of their ability to pay.
 
Today, this legacy lives on through our team of dedicated caregivers, our leadership and our community partners. We challenge ourselves to think beyond the status quo to find the best outcomes for our patients.
 
It is an incredibly exciting time here at Swedish. During a period of unprecedented changes in the health care industry, I am proud to tell you that Swedish is stronger now than ever. Just a few years ago, our institution was stabilizing following significant financial challenges. Today, we are strongly positioned to continue delivering high quality, accessible care to the communities of Western Washington.
 
One of our most effective strategies for improving the health and well-being of those we serve is our affiliation with Providence Health & Services. I continue to hear questions about how the affiliation benefits Swedish and I want to provide you with specific examples of how the affiliation has strengthened our ability to serve more people across our communities, regardless of their ability to pay.

Last year, we:

Think about injury prevention when returning to baseball season

Melissa Ballance AT/L, ATC

Melissa Ballance AT/L, ATC
Athletic Trainer, Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care, Sport and Dance Medicine

Baseball season is finally here! As we watch our Major League Baseball heroes take the field this April, kids of all ages will be returning to the field after winter break and time off from practicing. 

It is important that our kids return safely to help prevent overuse injuries from occurring during the season. Common overuse injuries in baseball are injuries to the elbow (ulnar collateral ligament, UCL) and shoulder in the throwing arm. A proper warm up, maintaining an age appropriate pitch count and good throwing mechanics are essential to preventing overuse injuries. 
 
Here are some specifics to keep in mind:

National Stress Awareness Month-Managing stress with multiple sclerosis

Michelle T. Toshima

April is National Stress Awareness Month so it seems appropriate to look at the impact of stress on people living with MS and to become more aware of what one can do to better manage one’s reaction to the inevitable stressors in life.
 
There is a growing body of research that suggests there is an association between stress and an increased risk of MS exacerbations and the development of new lesions in patients with MS.  A group of Dutch researchers followed 73 patients with RRMS and found that those patients who reported a major stressful event were 2.2 times more likely to have an MS exacerbation in the following four weeks.  In 2006, a group of U.S. researchers followed 36 people with MS and found that after experiencing a major life stress, those MS patients were 1.6 times more likely to develop a new lesion in the next eight weeks.2  The same group of researchers reported that the MS patients with good coping strategies could reduce this risk.
 
The exact mechanism by which stress increases the risk of MS exacerbations and the development of new brain lesions is not entirely clear, but what is known is that stress affects the body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response, and in patients with MS and other autoimmune disorders, inflammation occurs when  ...

Style '14 Fashion Show Benefit

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES
Health Education Specialist

Northwest Hope & Healing, a non-profit organization supporting women battling breast cancer, is hosting the 12th Annual Fashion Show at the Showbox in SODO on Thursday, May 1, 2014.
 
More than 30 breast cancer survivors will be modeling spring looks from several Seattle boutiques. Proceeds from this event benefit the Northwest Hope & Healing’s Patience Assistance Fund at the Swedish Cancer Institute, which helps provide everyday basics such as groceries, childcare and emergency rent for women battling breast cancer.
 
Northwest Hope & Healing has been supporting Swedish Cancer Institute patients since early 2000 and is deeply rooted in our community. We are proud to support this event and hope to see many of you there!

Physical fitness associated with improved cognition in multiple sclerosis

Bobbie (Barbara) J. Severson, ARNP

Bobbie (Barbara) J. Severson, ARNP
ARNP, Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

The benefits of exercise and being physically fit is what many people strive for.  However, a recent study added a new dimension to what exercise can do to enhance health.  In other words, exercise did more than keep a body fit.  It also made study participants think better.  You may ask, why is this new information important?  

 
Cognitive impairment is one of multiple scleroris (MS) ’s most disabling features and it can affect between 22% to 60% of people living with the disease.  Cognitive deficits may include problems with: slower information processing speed; memory impairment; difficulty with new learning and executive functioning.  Historically, medical and rehabilitation approaches to the problem have been inconsistent in improving cognition.
 
The new frontier of exercise for improved cognition provides hope. This study’s objective was to determine if there was an association between improvements in objective measures of physical fitness and performance on cognitive tests.
 
Participants were people with MS who participated in a telephone based health promotion intervention, chose to work on exercise, and who completed pre and post intervention assessments. Participants were then measured for strength, aerobic fitness, and cognition at baseline and 12 weeks later.
 
After controlling for variables such as age, gender, MS disease activity, MS type, etc. there was evidence suggesting that cognitive functioning changed over time based on level of fitness. Participants in the physically improved group showed improved performance on measures of executive functioning after 12 weeks of exercise.  The results of this study add support to the hypothesis that change in fitness is associated with improved executive functioning in people with MS. The desired outcomes are that improved cognition correlates with better quality of life, activities of daily living, vocational endeavors, and rehabilitation measures.
 
Where do we go from here? Since less is known about exercise training and cognition in MS (compared to studies demonstrating aerobic and strength training significantly improving cognitive functioning in older adults and people with mild cognitive impairment), we need more studies to examine this relationship in the MS population. 
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