Safe Firework Fun

June 30, 2016

By Kirsten Bannan, System Communications Intern

Summer is in full swing and as the temperature increases, so does the amount of summer events happening. The 4th of July is right around the corner and everyone knows it is a popular holiday to spend time with family and friends and enjoy some summer traditions such as fireworks.

Sometimes holiday fun is not as harmless as you might think. Even though fireworks seem like a safe and fun way to spend the holiday, “230 people on average go to the emergency room with firework-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday” (US Consumer Product Safety Commission).

A sparkler, popular to most at-home firework displays, can heat up to about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause serious burns especially if in the hands of children. Kids aren’t the only ones who need to be careful; the age group most susceptible to injuries by fireworks is the 20-40 age groups which are usually the age group responsible for lighting fireworks at home. Sometimes the influence of alcohol can contribute to high numbers of injury during at- home firework displays.

Karen Hardingham RN, BSN, CPST Safe Kids Baltimore Coalition Coordinator has some helpful tips for those who still want to include fireworks in their 4th of July experience. She is most adamant about attending professional firework displays rather than at-home shows. She says, “leave it to the professionals, do be aware of labels and laws of the area, and look at alternatives.”

  • Some events in the Baltimore area to attend are as follows:
    o Baltimore’s Fourth of July Celebration presented by Ports America Chesapeake
    Location: Baltimore Inner Harbor, 561 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
    o Fullerton Park
    Location: 4304 Fullerton Avenue, Baltimore 21236
    Rain Date: July 5
    o Loch Raven Academy
    Location: 8101 Lasalle Road, Towson 21286
    Rain Date: July 5
    o Catonsville High School
    Location: 421 Bloomsbury Avenue, Catonsville 21228
    Rain Date: July 9
    o For a full list of public firework displays in Maryland click here.

If you are determined to have an at-home firework show, consider substituting hand-held sparklers with glow sticks, which decreases the chance of hands or clothes getting burned. Here are some other safety tips about fireworks to help get the best out of the holiday the safe way, courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide:

  •  If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.
  •  Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
  •  Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
  •  Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances
  •  Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to  investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
  •  Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire  extinguisher properly.
  • If a person is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow the person to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

Being aware of the local firework laws are especially important. The Baltimore City Fire Department confirms that all fireworks, even sparklers are against the law in Baltimore City unless a permit and approval is given from the office of the Fire Marshall. Depending on the area, it is important to know the firework laws before having a display of your own. Violators of these laws are subject to a misdemeanor fine of up to $250. The holidays are about spending time with friends and family, so before deciding to make your own firework display, consider the consequences and alternatives for a safe and fun 4th of July.

For a PDF with more statistics on Firework Injuries from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission click here.

Sources:

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/fire/safety%20education/fireworks.html
http://www.fireworkssafety.org/
https://www.safekids.org/tip/fireworks-safety-tips
http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Neighborhood-Safety-Network/Posters/Fireworks-Injuries/

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By Maggie Gill, System Communications Intern

The month of June is dedicated to raising awareness for an eye condition that affects approximately 22 million Americans ages 40 and older: cataracts. A cataract is a clouding in the lens, the part of the eye that focuses light on the retina – much like a camera’s lens. We can think of a cataract, then, as a spot on the lens that causes the pictures we take to turn out faded and blurry. It can grow over time, due to the clumping of protein in the eye, and if allowed to progress, can lead to blindness.cataracts

The good news is that cataracts that interfere with daily activities are treatable with a safe and effective surgery; an ophthalmologist removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. As with all surgeries, this one is done on an individual basis, so ask your eye doctor if you think that you might be a candidate.

An individual’s chances for developing a cataract in one or both eyes increase naturally with age. Senile cataracts, the type related to aging, make up the majority of cases, but there are other types, which have additional risk factors. According to Bennie Jeng, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the single non-age-related cause of cataracts is the cumulative exposure to UV rays over a lifetime. He also cites the use of steroids or steroid-based eye drops, traumas to the eye and side of the head and directed radiation. Other factors associated with cataract development include smoking and diabetes.

In honor of Cataract Awareness Month, here are some steps that you can take to protect your eyes:

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses. Because long-term exposure to UVA and especially UVB radiation is known to damage the lens, Dr. Jeng advises the use of protective eyewear to minimize risk. Although radiation from the sun is present year-round, it’s particularly important to cover up in the summer months, when the days are longer and you are likely spending more time outdoors. Keep in mind, though, that not all sunglasses are made equal. When you’re purchasing a pair, be sure to check the label – they should block 99 percent of UVB rays and 95 percent of UVA rays.
  • Avoid tobacco. Research shows that pack-a-day smokers are at twice the risk for developing cataracts. If you smoke, it’s not too late to reduce your chances and improve your overall health by quitting.
  • Practice good nutrition. Studies on the impact of nutrition on cataract development remain inconclusive. Some suggest that xanthophylis compounds – pigments contained in leafy, dark green vegetables – help to promote eye health. In any case, these foods, as well as foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and E, are often good for you and taste good, too.

The National Eye Institute recommends that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years, whether or not you have cataract symptoms. If you don’t already have an eye doctor, you can click here to meet our physicians. Board-certified ophthalmologists, optometrists and vision scientists from University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc. (FPI) provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of general and subspecialty eye disorders through a multidisciplinary approach. They offer innovative, advanced-treatment options for adults and children suffering from a wide range of eye disorders, and general eye care for those requiring corrective lenses. You can choose from four convenient locations, including the new state-of-the-art center at Waterloo Crossing in Columbia, Maryland.

To schedule an appointment or learn more about our ophthalmological services, please call 667-214-1111.

Although Cataract Awareness Month serves as a reminder to visit your eye doctor, it’s important not to lose sight of your good habits, and to look after your eyes all year long.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/cataracts

https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts

 

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The relationship between a cancer patient and their care provider is a special one.  Between radiation therapy appointments, hours of chemotherapy, and even sometimes surgery and recovery, there’s not much that can strengthen this bond, besides running a half marathon.

Dana and Tiffani

But Tiffani Tyer, a nurse practitioner in Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC), and Dana Deighton’s journey started long before this year’s Maryland Half Marathon & 5K.

About 3 years ago Dana was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer.  At 43 years old with 3 young children, it was, in Dana’s words, “unfathomable.” She traveled up and down the East Coast looking for a treatment plan that would give her the most hope. Many acted like she was naïve and unrealistic for even seeking out treatments beyond palliative chemotherapy.

After much deliberation, Dana settled on a plan of 8 cycles of chemotherapy at one local hospital. During this treatment, a friend introduced Dana to Mohan Suntha, MD, a radiation oncologist at UMGCCC.

Within an hour of getting Dana’s information, Dr. Suntha gave her a call. While he agreed the appropriate preliminary step was chemotherapy, he did not close the door on her like many others.  Dr. Suntha and Dana continued to check in with each other throughout her chemotherapy treatments to see how things were going.

In December 2013, after Dana finished chemotherapy, she learned she would not be considered for radiation or surgery by the hospital where she was initially treated. She was told that the data did not support it. She was devastated. Dana returned to UMGCCC, where Dr. Suntha and Tiffani were always willing to reassess her situation and provide guidance when obstacles seemed insurmountable.  Knowing that every case is different, he agreed to reevaluate her.

tiffani dana and dr sunthaAfter careful consideration and determining that her distant disease had indeed resolved, he offered her local treatment with chemotherapy and radiation targeting the primary site in her esophagus.  While the local treatment helped, the primary site still showed evidence of persistent disease at the end of her treatment.  To try to avoid major thoracic surgery, an endoscopic mucosal resection was attempted, but was unfortunately unsuccessful. Dana was again devastated. She felt like it was just another blow to her journey to health and she was running out of options.

Dr. Suntha and Tiffani encouraged Dana to stay hopeful. They agreed along with many other providers that indeed she was in a difficult position. After many tumor board discussions and repeat imaging studies to confirm her extent of local disease thoracic surgeon Whitney Burrows, MD, was consulted. He discussed surgical salvage to address her only site of cancer.  Albeit risky, with no guarantee of a survival benefit, it was her only remaining local treatment option.  Recognized as a long shot with a real possibility of acute complications related to such a long and complicated surgery, she willingly consented to undergo the esophagectomy. From Dana’s view the benefit far outweighed the risk. She believed in her team and her surgeon, whose expertise is well established in post chemoradiation patients. It proved to be a good choice and offered a huge reward.  Dana recovered well and was cancer free and feeling great–until July 2015.

It was then that a routine interval scan revealed a new lymph node mass in her Axilla (near the armpit) was biopsied and confirmed to be recurrent esophageal cancer.  Dana had resigned herself to more draining rounds of chemotherapy after another surgery could not remove all of the cancer.  But again, Dr. Suntha, Tiffani, and medical oncologist, Dan Zandberg, MD, always made sure all options were presented and considered.

tiffani zandberg and sunthaDana’s case was represented to  their colleagues at a tumor board meeting on the Friday before she was supposed to start chemotherapy.  Drs. Suntha and  Zandberg called her that evening to  recommend  immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of a  patient’s immune system to fight cancer.  After a sleepless night, Dana agreed.   She now receives treatments of Nivolumab every 2 weeks for at least a year.

Dr. Suntha has always recognized that there’s something unusual about Dana’s case, and has often asked, “Is there something different about her biology? We don’t know.”

Dr. Suntha, he also believes that Dana’s strong will and clear ability to advocate for herself has facilitated part of the success of her care.

dana and tiffaniThroughout these three years, Dana describes herself as lucky enough to continue her usual regimen of walking, running, and exercising consistently.  She donated money to the Maryland Half Marathon & 5K to fund cancer research in the past, but feeling much healthier and up to a new challenge, she promised to run it in 2016. She has always ran 10 milers in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, but knew those 3 extra miles of hills in the Half Marathon would be challenging.
Despite her reservations, in a partnership with Tiffani, the Radiation Oncology Greene Street Dream Team was born. On May 14th, Tiffani and Dana ran the entire race together (even though, according to Dana, Tiffani could’ve run circles around her).  To date, they’ve raised more than $10,000. They’ve taken every step together in cancer treatment and every step in the half marathon & 5K – a true bond that will continue.

Fundraising for the Maryland Half Marathon and 5K that supports this Radiation Oncology Dream Team and their patients continues until June 30th.

You can donate to Tiffani & Dana’s team here.

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UM Children’s Hospital Patient Gives Back in a Big Way

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Michelle Kaminaris, a kindergarten teacher at Hampstead Hill Academy in East Baltimore, has seen kids miss school for all kinds of reasons. Like most of us, she never expected her own child to miss school due to a serious illness. But when her daughter Eva (an eighth grader at Hampstead Hill Academy) started showing flu-like […]

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Pediatric Residents at Univeristy of Maryland Reach Out and Read

May 10, 2016

A string of rainy days in Baltimore made Friday the perfect day to stay inside and read a good book. And thanks to the efforts of some hard-working Pediatric Residents at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, more than 200 students in Baltimore City had a new story to read! Throughout the morning, the […]

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Fighting Violence with Art; Art Against Violence 2016 Gallery Show

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Many thanks to all of the student artists who made the Art Against Violence 2016 Gallery Show a success! The show featured nearly 50 works of art from local City School students across a range of mediums, including print, colored pencil, watercolor and a sculpture of found objects. The following winners were announced: Trinity K. […]

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Celebrating Unsung Superheroes: Social Workers

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By: Allie Ondrejcak, Communications Intern “Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the health and happiness of another person or an animal is at stake. The punishments of the society are small compared to the damage we inflict on our soul when we look the other way and do nothing.” – Martin Luther […]

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Celebrating the 46th Anniversary of the First Maryland State Police Medevac Mission: March 19, 1970

March 18, 2016

By Sergeant Chad Gainey; Maryland State Police Aviation Unit, Flight Paramedic As we mark Saturday’s 46th anniversary of the first medevac mission completed by the Maryland State Police, we reflect on a few of the accomplishments the MSP Aviation Command has achieved. The Maryland State Police Aviation Division medical mission profile began in November 1960 […]

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Art Against Violence 2016 Gallery Show Now Accepting Submissions

Thumbnail image for Art Against Violence 2016 Gallery Show Now Accepting Submissions March 16, 2016

Calling all Baltimore City School students! The University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center’s Violence Prevention Program is now accepting submissions for the Art Against Violence 2016 Gallery Show. Students may submit visual art of any medium through April 1st. The theme is Art Against Violence, but any artwork inspired by this theme […]

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Ear, Nose & Throat Team Returns from Medical Mission after Cyclone Winston Rocks Fiji

February 26, 2016

A 12-person team of nurses, surgeons, residents and anesthesiologists from the University of Maryland Medical Center have returned from their medical mission in Fiji.   Team members performed 15 surgeries and saw 150 patients before Tropical Cyclone Winston rocked the islands.   Watch the video above to hear about the mission from the team themselves. To donate & […]

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