About Anne Haddad

Anne Haddad is the Publications Editor at University of Maryland Medical Center

Public Health Leaders Urge Vaccination Against Measles

Physician-in-Chief, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital

It is impossible today to turn on the TV or read the news without hearing about the current debate surrounding childhood vaccinations and the measles outbreaks in the United States.

As chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, I took the opportunity to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated by participating in a joint statement with other pediatric and public health leaders from around Baltimore. Please consider the public health benefits of vaccinating your children, and talk to your pediatrician to get the answers you need to feel comfortable with this lifesaving decision.

Mac-and-Cheese Makeover

By Anne Haddad

Publications Editor

The cafeteria at the Medical Center has always made a mac-and-cheese to rival any home-baked version. The trouble was, it was high in fat and sodium. A group of interns in Clinical Nutrition Services accepted the challenge to revamp it without disappointing the hundreds of people who look forward to this comfort food.

The interns conducted a taste test with staff and visitors – who liked the lighter version a lot. The secret ingredients are pumpkin puree and vegetable base, which add flavor without being obvious. I can enjoy it now without feeling like I’m on the fast-track to cardiac care.Mac.2.AC9A0275 I usually have it with a side of steamed cauliflower or broccoli, which makes for a 300-calorie lunch.

I tried duplicating it at home, after the hospital’s executive chef, Stephen Mack, whose recipe makes enough for 150 portions, divided it by 10 for me. (See recipe below.) The whole family loved it, and even my super-taster daughter did not detect the pumpkin. The leftovers reheated well  in the microwave or in the oven.

The new version’s 13 grams total fat (7 grams of which is saturated fat), 65 mg cholesterol, and 388 mg sodium per portion fall well under the USDA maximum daily recommendations of 67 grams total fat, 16 grams saturated fat, 300 mg cholesterol, and 2300 mg sodium, based on a 2,000 calories-per-day diet.

University of Maryland Medical Center Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 15 4-ounce portions, 250 calories each

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni
  • 3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TBS vegetable base (such as Better Than Bouillon or Trader Joe’s concentrated vegetable broth)
  • 2 TBS pureed canned pumpkin
  • 3.2 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 3.2 cups whole milk
  • 20 ounces (by weight, not volume) of shredded blend of cheddar and Monterey jack
  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Boil and drain the macaroni and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

After macaroni has cooled, stir in the vegetable base and pumpkin, then the  eggs.

Add half the cheese, reserving the other half for topping, and then the milk and cream. Stir the whole mixture gently but  thoroughly.

Coat a 9” by 13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and spread the macaroni mixture evenly in the pan. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs.

(If you like, cover and allow to refrigerate overnight.)

Bake uncovered for about 35 minutes, or 45 minutes if refrigerated overnight. Serve immediately.





Winter Storm Warning: Hibernation Ahead!

By Mary Beth Sodus, RD/LD,ACE-CPT/RYT
Personalized Bariatric Nutrition Coaching
Center for Weight Management and Wellness

With a few days notice that a snowstorm is on its way, you’ve probably had time to make a run to your local grocer to stock up on essentials and favorite foods. Like a bear who eats as much as possible to store up calories for a long hibernation.

Bears need those extra calories for an extended period of no eating or drinking, but most of us will not. We’re more likely to eat because we’re inside and bored.  Here are some tips to avoid setting a trap for yourself:

Healthy Hibernation Habits

  • Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself this question:  What am I really hungry for?
  • Think: Are you eating from emotional triggers or true physical appetite?
  • Pay attention to boredom eating versus physical hunger. Physical hunger builds gradually, occurs several hours after a meal and eating results in a feeling of satisfaction.
  • Boredom eating can be triggered by the sight or smell of food, watching cooking shows or just because something tastes good.

To avoid that winter weight:

  • Focus on healthy and wholesome stews, soups or chili with a lot of vegetables.
  • Pause between each bite to focus and enjoy the sensation of eating.
  • Cultivate a strong support system that includes family and friends that you can call on.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated. The human body is approximately 75 percent water and needs every drop to function, especially if you are outdoors.

As you hibernate from winter’s cold, snow and wind, know that you can stay healthy for the warmth of spring in Maryland.

Mary Beth Sodus is a registered dietitian and nutritionist and a personal trainer and expert in all things healthy.  She provides personalized bariatric nutrition coaching in the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness. 


Donated Blood Saves a Young Mother’s Life

Mother of 6 Sponsors a Blood Drive to Give Back for the Blood She Received

By Emmie Taylor, MS

Communications Intern

As dozens of UMMC staff and visitors take time from their day on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 28 and 29, for the next scheduled blood drive, they can look to the drive earlier this month that was sponsored by a very grateful patient.

Like many expectant mothers, Brandy Firth, of Hagerstown was nervous when she arrived to deliver her sixth child at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Although Brandy had five older children, she knew that this delivery was going to be much different than the others – the risk of complication was high, and there were already units of blood on standby for when she would need them.

Earlier in her pregnancy, Brandy had been diagnosed with placenta previa and then also placenta increta, in which the placenta attached deeply and firmly into the lower part of the uterus and into the uterine muscle wall. This was a scary diagnosis for Brandy and her husband, John, as the risk for massive blood loss during delivery was very high. Brandy’s physician referred her to UMMC, where she and her baby went under the care of  Kristin Atkins, MD. and Mehmet Turan, MD. Dr. Atkins, who specializes in high risk pregnancies, worked with Dr. Turan, a fellow in Obstetrics and Gynecology, to ensure that both mother and baby were given the best possible treatment.

On Oct. 3, 2013, Brandy delivered a healthy baby boy, William, via cesarean section at 36 weeks. William had no complications and was able to spend his first days of life at his mother’s side, a relief for his parents. The rest of Brandy’s surgery went as expected – it was a complicated procedure and Brandy lost a lot of blood. She ultimately required 13 units from the UMMC blood bank, which must obtain blood products from nationally regulated blood suppliers – primarily the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross, in turn, relies on blood donors all over the country to keep hospitals stocked with much-needed human blood.

Earlier this month on Jan. 10, Brandy, fully recovered, returned with her family to UMMC to sponsor an American Red Cross blood drive, remembering with gratitude donors who helped to save her life. She organized the drive in coordination with the Hope for Accreta Foundation, (placenta increta is a more severe form of placenta accreta) and made sure that drives were held both in her hometown of Hagerstown, as well as at UMMC.

When asked why she wanted to come back to Baltimore to sponsor a blood drive, Brandy said, “Because my heart is here.”

Her husband, John, (below, with a Red Cross phlebotomist) agreed and decided to donate while at UMMC.

John.Crop.2014-01-10 17.09.48

Today, Brandy is extremely thankful for the doctors, nurses and other staff who cared for her and baby William, and especially for the American Red Cross and people of all walks of life who donate their own blood. Donation is the only source for blood to be transfused into human patients. US law does not allow transfusion of blood from paid donors. Organizations or companies that pay people to donate blood can use that blood only for research, not for patient care.

Brandy hopes to raise awareness of the need for donation to the American Red Cross. She has daily reminders in each of her six children, but she says, “You go through every day life never imagining that you’d need blood. And then one day you do, and you realize how important it is.”

Make an appointment for UMMC’s next blood drive on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Gudelsky lobby of the Medical Center, just inside the entrance at the corner of Lombard and Greene streets.  

National Arts Program Features UMMC Art Exhibit

By Rachel Hercenberg, MS
Supervisor of Oncology Operations and C2X Healing Arts Team Lead

Thanks to the success of our first employee art exhibit in October, the National Arts Program (NAP) selected University of Maryland Medical Center as its “sNAPshot” of the month.

The NAP website is showcasing photos of much of the UMMC artwork.

For 31 years, the National Arts Program  has partnered with organizations to develop venues for employees and their family members to showcase artistic talent in annual art exhibits. Soon after UMMC formed a Healing Arts Team in 2013, the team applied to this national collaboration to include the Medical Center.

The two-week exhibit, held in our beautiful and light-filled Weinberg Atrium, featured 156 pieces of artwork created by UMMC staff and their immediate family members, ranging in age from 8 to 81.

The artists represented dozens of departments at the Medical Center.  Artists emerged from Facilities, Case Management, Human Resources, Social Work, Community Outreach, and many inpatient units. They included nurses, MRI techs, administrative assistants, histologists, discharge facilitators and faculty physicians.

The judges were professional artists from Baltimore’s local art community — Robert McClintock, Will Williams and Cinder Hypki. They chose 21 award recipients and distributed $2,400 in cash prizes sponsored by the National Arts Program.

The Healing Arts Team hopes to provide more opportunities for UMMC employees, patients, families, and visitors to integrate art into their daily lives.

The award winners in the October show were:

Best In Show

  • Shannice Wollock, Relative of Ian Wollock (MS IT Systems Support, Information Service and Technology): “Alone”

Adult Professional

  • 1st Place: Deborah Kommalan, Relative of Marnie Kommalan (SCN I, Peri-operative Services): “President Street Parking”
  • 2nd Place: Lynn Hamrick, Histologist, Anatomic Pathology: “Waiting for Jack”
  • 3rd Place: John Cotterell, RN, Neurology: “Easter”
  • Honorable Mention: Sami Gurmu, Special Projects Coordinator, Patient Experience C2X: “Healing Energy”

Adult Intermediate

  • 1st Place: Darron Claiborne, Senior Quality and Compliance Coordinator, Safety and Quality/Cancer Center: “The Avenue”
  • 2nd Place: Tina Patterson, Activation/FFE Manager, Project Development: “P4-STC-R”
  • 3rd Place: Rupal Mehta, Assistant Professor, Pathology: “Traffic”
  • Honorable Mention: Alexandra Clemsen, Cardiac Sonographer, Cardiology: “Laugh”

Adult Amateur

  • 1st Place: Tammy Blyveis, Medical Technologist, Hematology: “Coy Koi”
  • 2nd Place: Napoleon Reyes, Relative of Hydelyn Grace Cerbo-Reyes (Discharge Facilitator, 11 East): “Tulip”
  • 3rd Place: Jonathan Gottlieb, MD, Chief Medical Officer: “Death Valley”
  • Honorable Mention: Laurie Bennett, Systems Analyst III, IS&T: “Blue Still”

Teen (12-18 Years Old)

  • 1st Place: Jamie Bernstein, Age 16, Relative of Wendy Bernstein, Associate Professor, Anesthesiology: “A Visit to the National Gallery”
  • 2nd Place: Julie Kearney, Age 15, Relative of Sarah Woodring (RN, Medical IMC): “Merry Marigolds”
  • 3rd Place: Kylie Bryant, Age 15, Relative of Jennifer Bryant (MRI Tech, Radiology): “Still Life”
  • Honorable Mention: Elin Fan, Age 13, Relative of Xiping Ma (RN, CCU): “Origami Miniatures”

Child (12 and Under)

  • 1st Place: Diana Isabella Olivo, Age 8, Relative of Icelsa Garcia (Facilities Planner, Facilities Planning & Development): “Fruits Table”
  • 2nd Place: Joshua Cignatta, Age 12, Relative of Dennis Cignatta (CN II, Cardiac Surgery Stepdown): “Flower”
  • 3rd Place: Rivka Manangan, Age 11, Relative of Rona Managan (Medical Technologist, Laboratory): “Sunflower”
  • Honorable Mention: Mya Allen, Age 8, Relative of Nichole Allen (Outpatient Coder Team Leader, Health Information): “Mama’s Loveseat”



Zora Neale Hurston’s Lesson

By Anne Haddad

UMMC Publications Editor

Yesterday was the 123rd anniversary of the birth of Zora Neale Hurston, a prolific African-American writer, folklorist and anthropologist. Thank you, Google, for reminding us by making her the Google Doodle, which in turn reminded me of an essay by Hurston that’s as powerful as it is brief — “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience.” The Literature & Medicine reading group at UMMC discussed it this spring.

We asked ourselves was why this was the most humiliating, when there must have been many humiliations during that era. One reason: People are never more vulnerable than when they trust a health care provider with their lives. Reading about such an extreme breach of trust was agonizing for the caregivers in the group, all of whom were passionate advocates for their patients.

Literature & Medicine is a program sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, and coordinated at UMMC by the Rev. Susan Carole Roy, DMin, BCC, director of pastoral care services. The guest facilitator this year was Howard Berkowitz, an English teacher at The Park School.


Compassion and Healing

The Greenebaum Compassion Award goes this winter to Lisa Mayo, a discharge coordinator, and Michelle “Shelle” Besche, BSN, OCN, CCRP, a research nurse coordinator. Read about why they were chosen from among the staff of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center — where everyone is known for compassionate care.

Greenebaum Cancer Center Patients and Staff Celebrate Together

Each year, the staff of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center coordinates “A Cancer Center Christmas,” a buffet dinner and party for patients and families who must celebrate Christmas in the hospital.

 A deep bond develops among the cancer center “family,” as patients and the relatives and friends who support them make frequent trips for care during this crucial period in their lives. On the day after this year’s Christmas celebration, Peggy Torr, BSN, RN, OCN, a nurse who helped coordinate this year’s celebration, sent staff an email that perfectly illustrates the warm and loving atmosphere created by these nurses, patient care technicians, unit secretaries, physicians and other staff. 

Torr noted that much credit should go to her colleague, Anita Meddin, RN, who over the years helped organize the annual celebration and make it better each time. 



A Hero’s Story: CT Tech Delivers Neighbor’s Baby

By Sharon Boston, Media Relations Manager

Brad Jones noticed something unusual when he arrived home in Abingdon on the morning of Nov. 7 after an overnight shift as a computerized tomography (CT) tech at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center: His next-door neighbor, Matt Kulaga, was also pulling into his own driveway — not a typical thing at that hour when Matt would normally be at work.

Brad credits his training and experience at UMMC for helping him stay calm during the emergency that quickly unfolded.

“Is today the day?” Brad asked Matt, knowing that Matt’s wife, Emily, was expecting a baby at any time.

“I don’t know,” replied Matt. “Emily called me at work and said something is going on, so I am going to check on her.”

Brad said he’d wait by the car in case Matt and Emily needed anything. Soon Matt came back saying Emily could not get up. They both went back upstairs to find Emily on the bed ready to give birth.

“Emily, don’t push,” Brad told her.

“I can’t stop,” replied Emily.

Brad told Matt to call 911 and moved to the front of the bed to help Emily. The operators stayed on the line with Brad.

“Everyone was so calm, and the dispatchers talked me through the delivery. It was amazing,” says Brad, who has worked at UMMC for one year.

About seven minutes later, the Kulagas’ healthy daughter Aubree Mae was born. Paramedics arrived soon after.

Paramedics arrived soon after the baby was born

Paramedics arrived soon after the baby was born

Now, a month later, everyone is doing great. About a week after the birth, the Kulaga family and Brad met the dispatchers — one of whom was still in training — who helped them deliver the baby. They even got their picture in the local newspaper, and Fox 45 did a TV story on them.

At UMMC, Brad sees of hundreds patients in his job in radiology, but says he rarely has such a hands-on experience. He has an 18-year-old daughter of his own, but says she was born by C-section so he had never seen anyone give birth before.

So what does this hero neighbor think about his role in delivering his friends’ baby?

“The whole thing was just an awesome experience,” he said.

Here's Aubree Mae resting after her grand entrance

Aubree Mae resting after her grand entrance

Therapeutic Music Program Helps Cancer Patients

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager

Music and sound, such as a happy song on the radio or the frightening score of a scary movie, have the ability to change our moods. Many people have a physical and emotional connection to sound, and scientific research has shown that music can be beneficial in healing.

Now, through a grant from the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, the University of Maryland Medical Center is offering live therapeutic music to patients receiving treatment at the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Therapeutic musician Terri Fevang plays keyboard pieces tailored to each patient’s mood or emotions, so each visit is different. Some patients may be anxious while awaiting test results, while others may be tired after receiving chemotherapy or radiation.

“The music is peaceful and calming, and takes my mind off my pain and worries,” says Jessica Montgomery, a 29-year-old leukemia patient. “When Terri comes in, we turn the TV off and just listen to her play. My dad is usually there too, and he often falls asleep because it’s so relaxing.”

The live therapeutic music program is part of the Medical Center’s Integrative Care team, which offers treatments such as acupressure, guided imagery and yoga breathing to patients throughout the hospital, including the Shock Trauma Center.  The goal is to help patients relax, optimizing health and healing.

Terri playingThe Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation grant also allows researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine to study the potential benefits of live therapeutic music for these cancer patients. The grant will fund a pilot study to see if the therapy can affect patients’ anxiety, mood and quality of life as well as some physical indicators such as pulse oximetry, which measures the pulse and oxygen in the blood.

“We have received a great deal of positive feedback from patients about the music program. Now we want to see if the data supports this encouraging anecdotal evidence,” explains Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

If the pilot program with 30 patients is successful, researchers hope to launch a larger study on the benefits of therapeutic music.

 Click here to see a WBAL-TV story about the live therapeutic music story.