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Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 3

October 04, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today was our first “normal” day. The kids went to school and I went to the hospital. Josh and Sonja already knew which classroom they were in, and we didn’t need to wait to be told to wait some more. I am beginning to note a behavior that has repeated itself several times. I am calling it, “Please sit down and wait.” It sounds nice, as if someone is going to take care of us, but sometimes doesn’t. For instance, yesterday I brought the kids to school, but I did not know which classroom they were assigned. So, I asked a teacher where 2nd and 6th grade children were supposed to go. He asked if we had been assigned a classroom yet, I told him I didn’t know. I had also been told last week that the school needed another official document stating Mark and I were working at the University of Gondar and our children could therefore attend the University community school. I had never been told if this paperwork had been completed. So, he showed us to the school director (the Principal). The director was very nice and asked us to please take a seat and wait. And so we did. After about 20 minutes I interrupted and asked if he could just tell me where the 2nd and 6th grade classrooms were. “Please have a seat, and I will be right with you.” Okay. Not wanting to upset the status quo, Josh, Sonja, and I had a seat and waited for 1 ½ hours. We met two other foreigner families, both Indian. They were waiting as well. However, one of them decided to go find the 4th grade class for her daughter by herself. She then came back to the office and said she had put her daughter in a class and would come back later to talk to the director. So, I followed suit. Josh, Sonja and I went out of the office and found some high school students who spoke English well and asked where the 2nd grade and 6th grade classrooms were. We then walked into those classrooms and introduced Josh and Sonja to the teachers and students.

Swedish Neuroscience Institute Performs Focused Ultrasound Procedure to Treat Metastatic Brain Tumor

October 01, 2014

Study is one of three trials at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle examining novel technology’s treatment potential

SEATTLE — Oct. 1, 2014 — Surgeons from the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) in Seattle have used focused ultrasound waves to noninvasively treat a metastatic brain tumor. The procedure was performed by Swedish neurosurgeon Stephen Monteith, M.D. and assisted by Charles Cobbs, M.D. and is part of an early stage clinical trial examining the novel technology.

The trial is one of three ongoing studies being conducted by SNI to evaluate the use of focused ultrasound – a technology traditionally associated with imaging and diagnostic procedures – for the noninvasive treatment of neurological disorders. The brain tumors trial, along with separate clinical trials examining focused ultrasound for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, make SNI one of the nation’s leading research centers for the study of focused ultrasound.

New robotic system for catheter ablation of cardiac arrhythmias - Sterotaxis

October 01, 2014

Swedish recently completed a major upgrade to the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab at Cherry Hill and is now the only hospital in Washington State with the Stereotaxis system.  This system is a remote navigation (robotic) system used for catheter ablation of cardiac arrhythmias. In contrast to conventional ablation catheters which are steered by the physician using pull wires in the catheter and manual advancement and retraction, the Stereotaxis system accomplishes this hands-free using large external magnets and a small drive motor located at the hub of the introducer sheath in the groin. The ablation catheters are extremely flexible and themselves have small magnets allowing the direction of the catheter to be manipulated by changing the externally applied magnetic field. Steering of the catheter can therefore be done remotely. The position of the catheter within the heart is followed real-time using a non-fluoroscopic 3D mapping system which can be used to create both anatomic geometry and cardiac electrical activation maps.

Treating Cardiac Arrhythmias with catheter ablation

September 30, 2014

Cardiac catheter ablation is an invasive procedure done to treat abnormal rapid or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Ablation can be used to treat both supraventricular arrhythmias coming from the upper chambers of the heart (atria) including paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), atrial flutter, and atrial fibrillation, and ventricular arrhythmias coming from the lower chambers (ventricles).

Different types of catheter ablation for cardiac arrhythmias

“Ablation” refers to localized destruction of tissue, so the area that is being ablated needs to be carefully targeted and the ablation closely controlled. The precise areas targeted for ablation depend on the type of arrhythmia, which sometimes is known before the procedure, but often needs to be clarified or confirmed invasively during the procedure. That being said, not all tachycardias are amenable to ablation or even require treatment, but when non-drug treatment of appropriate tachycardias is appropriate, catheter ablation can be an excellent option.

Seattle Brain Cancer Walk Raises $530,000 for Brain Cancer Research

September 26, 2014

Funds will advance the search for new treatment options and improve patient care

SEATTLE — Sept. 26, 2014 — More than 3,000 walkers filled Seattle Center’s Next 50 Plaza on Sept. 20 for the 7th Annual Seattle Brain Cancer Walk. The walk raised more than $530,000, with 100 percent of the funds supporting research at the Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (Ivy Center).

“The Seattle Brain Cancer Walk is an opportunity to celebrate the patients and families who are all affected by this devastating disease,” said Charles Cobbs, M.D., medical director of the Ivy Center. “The funds raised will make a direct impact on our research at the Ivy Center, and will help us push toward breakthroughs to better treat, and hopefully cure this disease.”

Internationally Renowned Hepatologist, Researcher Named Director of Swedish Liver Care Network

September 25, 2014

Kris Kowdley, M.D., also named research director of the Swedish Organ Care Program

SEATTLE — Sept. 25, 2014 —Internationally renowned physician and researcher Kris V. Kowdley, M.D., FACP, FACG, AGAF and AASLD Fellow has joined the Swedish Liver Center’s medical staff as Director of the Swedish Liver Care Network and Research Director of the Organ Care Program. Dr. Kowdley will provide transplant and liver care for patients while continuing his groundbreaking research into Hepatitis C. Dr. Kowdley’s first day at Swedish was Sept. 15.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Kowdley to the Swedish Liver Center medical staff,” said Marquis Hart, M.D., director of the Swedish Organ Transplant Program. “Dr. Kowdley’s ambitious research is giving hope to patients with serious liver disease and we are excited to extend his care to our patients.”

Prior to Swedish, Dr. Kowdley served as the director of the Liver Center of Excellence and the director of research at the Digestive Disease Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

Medical Mission in Ethiopia - Week 2

September 22, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

We have been in Gondar 5 days now. Honestly, the first day here, I cried. I wondered what we were doing thinking we could live in a developing country for a school year. We are fortunate to be experiencing this as a family, as the necessary hugs to persevere are readily available. It has been interesting to me that the family seems to decompensate in a serial fashion. The other three support the decompensated one until they can function again, and then life is okay for a time, until someone else crumbles. So far all four of us have gone through some difficult emotional times. Food and sleep definitely help. Everyone has slept through the night for two nights now, and the emotional break downs are more sporadic.

I have had a difficult time getting used to so many people asking for money, touching me, shaking my hand and yelling “hello!!!” from across the street. Josh seems to have handled this the best, returning the “hellos” and handshakes. But today even he said that it is exhausting. “I’m just another human being, can’t they see that?” He also reflected that in the U.S., “it’s just not right to surround people, and if you do get surrounded, it’s dangerous.” We recognize that it is not dangerous here. But we are a spectacle, especially the kids. I think people are used to seeing white adult tourists, NGO workers, and some hospital or university faculty, but white children with red and blond hair? Last night our quiet courtyard (and attached reception hall) was rented out for a wedding. Josh and Sonja had been playing soccer (futball) in the courtyard when the wedding party just showed up. Soon, about 15-20 young men who had come to the wedding were playing futball with Josh. Sonja wisely escaped and found the musician playing the local ukulele instrument, but Josh hung in there. The game became quite lively and physical with lots of fancy footwork and exuberant vocalizations. Many of the young men took selfies with Josh, and by the end he had shaken many hands. Perhaps it is a cross cultural phenomenon that young men would rather play a futball game than attend a wedding reception.

Medical Mission to Ethiopia - Week 1

September 19, 2014

September 13-14, 2014

Today we fly to Ethiopia. It has been several months in the planning, almost a year really. Although my initial announcement of my family’s plans was met with some hesitation, the recent outpouring of support has truly been overwhelming. My Swedish family is extraordinary. Patients, staff and colleagues have wished us well. Our Swedish OB/GYN Issaquah (SOGI) group has been through some challenges these last three years, many related to astronomical growth. But today, as I head to the other side of the world, I can look back and see that some of those challenges have made SOGI an incredibly strong and awesome practice. This is probably the best “well wishes” gift I could have received, to leave a practice that is doing well. This practice we have worked so hard to build is positively solid. And I feel that I am bringing some of that strength with me. At our annual clinic picnic I said that I could not do this trip without them, and that I feel I am bringing a piece of everyone with me. I believe that.

This morning we will land in Addis Ababa. We head to a small clinic about one hour from the center of the city. Blue Nile Children’s Organization (BNCO) serves a very poor area of Addis. We will stay there for a few days. BNCO is starting “Delivery Services” this year, which is Ethiopian for midwifery care. The sign actually says “Deliviery Services,” but it’s doubtful many people will notice a little detail like an extra “I.” Hmmmm. I know a little something about starting “delivery services.” In fact, the nurses and docs at First Hill L&D all have fleeces that say “We Deliver.” It’s the other side of the world, but we are all still people, working together to make something happen.

Swedish Caregivers Recognized as 'Top Doctors and Nurse Practitioners'

September 15, 2014

Dozens of Swedish caregivers were recently recognized by Seattle Metropolitan magazine’s annual Top Doctors and Nurse Practitioners feature.

The 2014 rankings include nearly 50 Swedish caregivers and draws from peer endorsements of more than 1,400 doctors, nurses and physician assistants in the Seattle metropolitan area. Nearly 13,000 nominations were narrowed down by an anonymous advisory panel. The panel’s criteria included such items as years of experience, competency, patient rapport and satisfaction and compliance with care recommendations.

Below you will find a list of Swedish providers recognized with this year’s top honor. A complete list of providers can also be found online.

Construction Begins on Biggest Project at Swedish Edmonds in 40 Years

September 12, 2014

300 Guests Celebrate Hospital’s Half-Century History and Building for the Future

EDMONDS, WA — Sept. 12, 2014 — The mood was festive as about 300 community members celebrated the hospital’s 50th anniversary and groundbreaking milestones at Swedish Edmonds on Wednesday. Shovels plunged into dirt that will be covered one year from now by a two-story, 77,000-square-foot facility to include a new emergency department (ED), urgent care center, observation unit, outpatient diagnostic imaging center, new lobby, front entry, 37,000-square-foot shelled second floor and more.

“This is a historic moment for the community we serve at Swedish Edmonds,” said David Jaffe, chief executive at the hospital. “With this new facility, we can meet the growing healthcare needs for decades to come and offer an unmatched patient experience.”

The hospital opened in 1964 as a result of voters approving the establishment of Snohomish County Public Hospital District #2 in 1962. Back then, the entire facility and property cost $2 million. The new expansion will cost over $60 million.

When the building is constructed, a time capsule will be placed in a cornerstone of the building and a small plaque will identify the location. Along with hospital-related objects destined for the time capsule, a Hostess Twinkie will also go inside to test the urban myth about shelf life for the cream-filled sponge cake snack.

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