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A Message from Mac Evarts, M.D.
It seems that it's the time of year when everyone is resolving to adopt a healthier lifestyle, enjoy more time with family and friends, and strive for professional achievements. But even if you've already made your New Year's resolution for 2005, allow me to suggest a way that you can do something extraordinary for your community – in just about an hour.
The American Red Cross is sorely in need of blood donors as the demand for blood transfusions rises. In Rochester, the blood supply has been dipping dangerously low several times each year, creating real concern that we may not have enough blood to treat any sudden influx of trauma patients. As Strong's liver transplant and severe trauma programs have grown, there is less blood available. In fact, in the first quarter of our current fiscal year, the demand for blood products rose by another 5%. The situation will only get worse unless we roll up our sleeves.
I was an active blood donor for many years until I contracted serum hepatitis and became ineligible to give. Nonetheless, I plan to support this campaign as an enthusiastic recruiter of other donors. In fact, I'll be personally cajoling each member of my senior leadership team to give and to ask others to do the same. Throughout this great institution, the goal is to give "Two Thousand Pints of Life" in 2005, thereby creating a more stable blood supply for our community.
Last year, less than 900 units of blood were collected at all of the Strong and Highland blood drives combined. So, two thousand pints of blood is certainly a stretch goal, but it's achievable. That means we need all current donors to consider giving at every drive – and bring along a colleague. We especially need first-time donors or past-donors who haven't given recently.
The Red Cross welcomes our campaign and has offered to provide a modest discount on the blood products that Strong Memorial and Highland Hospital purchase if we meet this goal. That's certainly appreciated; any savings can readily be applied to other patient care needs. But, more importantly, taking on this cause provides one more way that we can ensure that blood products are available every time a Rochester patient needs them.
So mark your calendars for the upcoming blood drive on January 18th and 19th and join us in giving Two Thousand Pints of Life.
From the latest clinical procedures available at Strong Memorial Hospital, to the history of the founding of the University of Rochester Medical Center, patients, visitors, faculty and staff, now have the opportunity to easily learn new and interesting facts about the Medical Center.
In early December, a new multi-media information display was unveiled in one of the Medical Center's busiest areas, the northeast corner of the hospital's main lobby, right between the parking garage and silver elevators.
Made possible by the generosity of Medical Center Board member David Flaum, and his wife Ilene, the new display offers insight into the history and heritage of the Medical Center, information on education and research programs, as well as new advances in treatments and patient care occurring here.
"With much-appreciated underwriting from David and Ilene, this once under-utilized space has become a resource for the thousands of individuals who pass through this lobby each week," said Mac Evarts, M.D., CEO, Medical Center and Strong Health. "This information center is a fitting entry point for a learning institution such as ours."
"The new display exceeded my expectations," Flaum said. "Too few people understand the great work that goes on at the Medical Center. By providing information about the Medical Center's past, present and future in this high traffic area, we'll be able to inform thousands of people each and every day about the many elements that make up the Medical Center."
The display contains seven information panels that can be updated on a quarterly basis as appropriate, as well as a timeline that details major achievements in the past eight decades. In addition, it includes two multi-media elements: a plasma screen that will play the most recent news coverage of Medical Center news and developments aired by local television stations; and a computer kiosk with information about Medical Center teaching, research, and patient care services.
The underwriting of the display marks the second time Flaum has made a significant contribution to the Medical Center. In 1999, he donated money to help construct the Sarah Flaum Atrium, annexed directly to the new research buildings.
In a program started in conjunction with the Advantage Federal Credit Union (AFCU), any employee receiving a University paycheck soon will be able to have his or her funds—or a portion of them—deposited to a check card on each pay day. Those funds will be instantly available at any location accepting VISA cards, any AFCU location or other credit union-affiliated branch, and any ATM.
Medical Center faculty and staff will be able to use the cards in the Friends of Strong Gift Shop and at the Medical Center's House of Six Nations Cafeteria, as well as the AFCU ATM located in the hospital lobby.
There is no cost for any individual who has open accounts with AFCU totaling $500 or more (includes all loans and deposits), or who has a VISA card through AFCU. For those 22 and over, a small monthly fee will be assessed.
"The check cards will provide another mechanism for employees to receive their pay in a way that is safer than paper checks," says Kathy King-Griswold, the University's assistant treasurer. She notes that the unique PIN for each card will keep the individual's funds safe even if the card itself is misplaced or stolen and that cardholders will have no need to stand in line at a bank to cash a check.
As soon as the cards are available in coming weeks, employees can establish their accounts and receive their check cards by speaking with an AFCU representative. The employee will then enter that account information in the Human Resources Management System by logging into his or her personal account and going to the "Direct Deposit" function on the Payroll and Compensation page. For more information, call Kathy King-Griswold at 275-6968.
The University of Rochester Medical Center's Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network (FLDRN), the organ procurement organization that recovers organs for transplant in the Finger Lakes region, central and northern New York, completed 53 organ donors and 159 organ recoveries in 2004, its highest rate since 1995.
Seventeen of those organs were recovered by Finger Lakes' Syracuse office, which was that site's highest rate in more than five years.
"These numbers reflect the sacrifice of donors and donor families, who gave the gift of life to critically ill people who might not have survived without their generosity," says Robyn Kaufman, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network.
Over the past several years, FLDRN has worked to increase the number of organ donations in upstate New York by improving all aspects of its operations. The result has been an impressive increase in its ranking among federal organ programs, with FLDRN rising 20 spots in just two short years.
Its successs is credited in part to FLDRN's involvement in a federal initiative, the Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase organ donations at the nation's largest hospitals.
The program revolves around implementing best practices for organ donation and improving communication between FLDRN and Strong Memorial Hospital staff. For example, FLDRN and Strong leadership developed objective criteria to identify when to refer a potential donor and created a training seminar to educate critical care nurses on end-of-life issues.
Team members leading this effort include Julius Cheng, M.D., Mary Cole, R.N., Heidi Connolly, M.D., Nancy Freeland, R.N., Robyn Kaufman, Lynne Kelsey, R.N., B.S.N., Robert Panzer, M.D. and Jim Quetschenbach, R.N.
"Our staff and our hospital partners are sharing accountability for the process, and we foresee even greater success in the coming year as we continue to reinforce our already solid relationship with Strong Memorial," says Kelsey, FLDRN's collaborative liaison for Strong.
Another 2004 highlight for FLDRN was a public education program produced in cooperation with Rochester/Finger Lakes Eye and Tissue Bank. This effort resulted in more efficient use of resources and a 12.5% increase in signed donor cards.
The Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network covers 19 counties with a population of 2.4 million, and serves 44 hospitals in the Finger Lakes region, central and northern New York, including the University of Rochester Medical Center and SUNY Upstate Medical University transplant centers. It facilitates the donation and transplantation of organs and tissue, and offers bereavement and counseling services for families who have lost a loved one.
For more information, contact the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network at (800) 810-5494, or www.donorrecovery.org.