On 10K, a sister’s love carries on

The 10th floor of OHSU’s Peter O. Kohler Pavilion is a meaningful place for Maddie Collet. Her sister, Allison, was a patient in the unit after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She passed away when Maddie was 13.

Maddie, a Certified Nursing Assistant, now cares for patients on that same floor. Below, she shares her family’s story and the ways in which Allison continues to inspire and influence her own path.

When my sister was 5 years old, she decided she wanted to be a doctor. She was accepted to the OHSU School of Medicine in 2007, and she would have been an absolutely incredible physician had she had the chance.

Allison found out she had a brain tumor when she was 19. She underwent surgery and a round of radiation, and the tumor turned out to be benign. During her first semester, Allison had a seizure at the gym. A trip to OHSU’s Emergency Department and an MRI scan showed that the tumor had come back, and it was malignant.

After a long and hard fight, my sister passed away in 2009 when I was 13. OHSU actually held a memorial service for her, and there’s a tree planted for her on campus.

I suppose you could say I grew up in hospitals because looking back on my childhood, those memories definitely stand out from the rest. Weirdly, I’m obsessed with the medical world and I can’t imagine myself in any other field – I would absolutely attribute that to Allison. I guess her obsession must have rubbed off on me!

This past summer I was on a backpacking trip when Nurse Manager Carol Holm called me about a position on 10K. We clicked right away and she ended up hiring me over the phone. The next thing I knew, I was flying back to Oregon and moving to Portland to start a new job at OHSU.

When my mom told me my sister had once been a patient on 10K, I seriously contemplated quitting. Allison was once in one of these beds. My parents once paced up and down these halls. This is a sacred space – lives are saved, lost and forever changed here. But throughout all of the ups and downs, there has been one constant: her. It’s been such a cathartic and therapeutic experience for me.

I’m so happy to be part of the 10K family and humbled by the fact that I get to share it with my sister. She’s here every day, helping me answer call lights and take vitals. She’s here watching the sunrise over Mt. Hood on early morning tram rides. Feeling her presence is something I’ve needed for a long, long time.

Our family’s relationship with OHSU is very special, and the opportunity to share Allie’s story is also very special for me. She always was and always will be my greatest role model.



Give Back
If you would like to support OHSU’s work to end cancer or to make a gift in honor of a loved one, please visit www.OnwardOHSU.com.

Give Local: The Knight Cancer Institute’s Community Partnership Program

For many Oregon communities, taking on a challenge as big as cancer can seem daunting. It can be tough to find the resources needed to make effective changes from the ground up. That’s why the Knight Cancer Institute’s Community Partnership Program is taking “give local” to the next level.

The Community Partnership Program works directly with organizations to provide funding and other resources to grow community-academic collaborations addressing a community’s most urgent cancer-related needs. Organizations with projects funded by the program team up with OHSU faculty on a variety of cancer-targeting projects ranging from a needs assessment to growing an existing program.

Farmers Market

Funded projects demonstrating the power of community collaboration include a prescription Community Supported Agriculture program to increase consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, a sun-safety education program for elementary school students, creating evidence-based, culturally appropriate cancer education for various audiences and the creation of a health-equity analysis supporting a regional retail licensing policy for tobacco products. The full list of funded projects can be found here.

Community Partnership Program co-directors Jackilen Shannon, Ph.D., R.D. and Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M. shared more about the evolution of the program and what it has achieved for Oregon communities.

Q: What was the need for this program?

JS: Community organizations frequently have the greatest knowledge about the needs within their communities relating to cancer prevention, screening, access to treatment and survivorship.  However, local organizations may lack the funding or other resources needed to develop ideas, test out new programs, or evaluate interventions that could translate to sustainable services in the community. That’s where the Community Partnership Program steps in.

Q: What makes this program different from other grant programs?  How is this program important to these communities?

KWS: The Community Partnership Program is unique in offering training and technical assistance that are based on best practices in public health, together with funding. The technical assistance provided by OHSU faculty members can mean anything from helping organizations through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to sharing knowledge they’ve acquired from working with previous research. The goal is for communities to grow both sustainable, effective programs and relationships.

Q: What do you feel are the program’s biggest achievements currently?

JS: We’re very happy that we’ve funded 30 community projects affecting 31 out of 36 Oregon communities in mostly rural areas. To reach that many counties through our grantees is a great achievement we share together. To me, an equally meaningful achievement is that these grants will build off of community-academic collaborations.

Q: At the end of this program, what are the top things you hope to have accomplished?

KWS:  At the end of this program, I hope we will have been successful in helping communities establish cancer prevention, screening,  and survivorship programs locally throughout the state. Ultimately, we hope these programs will dramatically reduce the burden of cancer throughout the state.


Winters-Stone,KerriDr. Kerri Winters-Stone is a researcher and co-leader of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Her research focus centers on the use of physical activity to prevent and manage chronic disease.




Jackilen-ShannonDr. Jackilen Shannon is a nutritional epidemiologist with a strong track record of investigation in the role of diet and nutrition in carcinogenesis. She joined Oregon Health and Science University in 2000.


OHSU celebrates 30th anniversary of first heart transplant in Oregon

OHSU has long been known for bringing cutting-edge care and medical firsts to Oregonians. Even as we chase after the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow we understand the importance of celebrating and learning from our past.

The first heart transplant in Oregon, performed by Dr. Albert Starr in 1985.

The first heart transplant in Oregon, performed by Dr. Albert Starr in 1985.

This December, our Heart Failure and Transplant Program at the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute celebrates the 30th anniversary of the first heart transplant in Oregon, done at OHSU by renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Albert Starr.

Since the program’s first in December 1985, OHSU has performed over 650 heart transplants and continues to this day to be the only heart transplant center in Oregon.

Our team has established a tradition of providing outstanding care to heart transplant patients with many living a remarkable 10-20 years after the procedure.

Don Shirilla

Don was among the first few in Oregon to receive a heart transplant from Dr. Starr.

Don Shirilla is a proud example of this tradition. Don was among the first few in Oregon to receive a heart transplant from Dr. Starr, more than 29 years ago.

“I had finished the Honolulu marathon just six months before I found out I needed a heart transplant. And I was able to run short races again after I recovered. I’m so grateful to Dr. Starr and the team at OHSU for a second chance at life and keeping me healthy to this day,” says Don.

Don’s transplant anniversaries bring him happy memories, as he reflects on how his transplant changed his outlook on life. It helped him build stronger relationships with family and friends.

“It taught us all to appreciate the good things we have.”

Take a look back at OHSU’s announcement of the first successful heart transplant in Oregon:

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Five facts about frostbite

Winter is upon us, and it’s important to keep your family safe in dropping temperatures. Whether you’re hitting the slopes or just working outside around the house, be sure know these five facts about frostbite:

  1. Frostbite is caused by freezing injury usually to the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes, parts of the body frequently exposed to the cold and whose circulation is easily impaired due to the cold. Prevention includes keeping these body parts covered with insulation, not going out in extreme cold, and keeping the whole body warm with adequate insulation, food and hydration and avoiding smoking and alcohol.
  2. The early signs of frostbite are loss of feeling and color in these exposed Hands holding a mugareas. The skin becomes white or grayish-yellow in color and it feels firm or waxy. Do not ignore these early signs, otherwise frostbite can lead to blistering and permanent loss of tissue including amputation of fingers, toes, ears and nose. Be vigilant with your fellow adventurers outside to look for signs of frostbite on each other.
  3. At the first signs of frostbite immediately stop what you are doing and take measures to warm up affected area. This may be as simple as putting on extra clothing or warming up fingers by blowing on them or putting them in your armpits. If this does not help then get into a warm environment, change out of wet clothing and put on new dry clothing.
  4. Further measures include putting frostbitten extremities in warm water (heated to 100-105⁰F, have companion test warmth with their hands). Always try to warm up affected areas before attempting evacuation. Do not use fires, heating pads or stoves to directly warm up skin, this can lead to further injury.
  5. Do not walk on frostbitten feet unless absolutely necessary to evacuate to safety. Once affected areas are re-warmed do not let them get frozen again. This will lead to even more injury. If you are an outdoor adventurer, take a wilderness first aid course to help prevent and treat all kinds of outdoor emergencies.


CCOM_02-17-09Dr. Craig Warden is a Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at OHSU. He currently serves as the Medical Director of the Global Mission Readiness in Clackamas, the Oregon State Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 1, Clackamas County Emergency Medical Dispatch and Clackamas County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council.

A big step for our tiniest patients: Oregon, Portland have nation’s lowest premature birth rates

In a new report from the March of Dimes, the national non-profit dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, infant mortality and premature birth, Oregon, Portland and Vancouver have the lowest rates of premature babies.

According to the March of Dimes, “preterm births are defined as births before 37 weeks of pregnancy and are a leading cause of infant mortality.”

In their 2015 Premature Birth Report Card, Oregon’s preterm birth rate of 7.7 percent is the lowest among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. We also received an A for exceeding the group’s 2020 national goal of 8.1 percent.

At OHSU, we’re dedicated to helping babies begin healthy lives. Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of department of obstetrics and gynecology, has a special interest in preventing preterm births. As chairman of the Oregon Perinatal Collaborative, he leads a group of healthcare providers who work to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes.

He believes that this recognition was achieved in large part because people, programs and legislation in Oregon are actively coming together (more so than in other places) to serve the same mission: improving the lives of women and children in Oregon.

And while this is wonderful news for growing families across the state, there is still work to do to improve the national premature birth rate of 9.6 percent and to close the gaps in the March of Dimes’ disparity index, which looked at preterm birth rates across racial and ethnic groups within a geographic area. In those rankings, Oregon came in 13th.

To read more about Oregon’s report card or to review all the rankings, visit the March of Dimes website.


March of Dimes: 2015 Premature Birth Report Cards

March of Dimes: 2015 Premature Birth Report Cards


Dr. Sanjiv Kaul first in Oregon to receive prestigious national cardiology award

Congratulations to Sanjiv Kaul, M.D., Director of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, who received the American Heart Association’s highest clinical honor, the James B. Herrick Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cardiology.Cardio-9456

Dr. Kaul is the only cardiologist in Oregon to receive this distinction.

He was recognized “in grateful recognition of his highly significant discoveries expanding the field of cardiovascular diagnostic imaging and greatly enhancing the care of patients with heart and blood vessel disease,” according to the American Heart Association.

Dr. Kaul is known for developing a better way to detect heart attacks through Myocardial Contrast Echocardiography (MCE).

In MCE, doctors inject tiny bubbles the size of red blood cells into your veins that travel to your heart. The bubbles follow the movements of your heart and give doctors an accurate view of your heart’s blood flow.

Today more than five million people around the world have undergone MCE. It finds heart attacks other methods miss, and saves lives every day.

OHSU is one of only a few hospitals in the country using this technique.

Congratulations Dr. Kaul!

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The evolving human: Will our kids be another species?

We live very differently than our ancestors did several hundred years ago – we have more food, have indoor plumbing and are generally more clean. We also hve more scientific knowledge to combat illnesses. Three hundred years ago, almost no one with a serious nut allergy lived long enough to reproduce.

Today, despite an environment in which food allergies have increased by 50 percent in just over a decade, 17 million Americans who suffer from food allergies survive, thrive and pass their genes onto the next generation.  We are living more comfortably, and we’re living longer.

Life may seem easier, but is it safer? 

As we began using antibiotics, bathing and living a more sanitary lifestyle, the bacteria in our bodies changed, thus making humans much less diverse. Food is more readily available and far more processed and the rate of human obesity has nearly doubled in just the last 35 years.  The rate of autism rose 131 percent from 2001 to 2010.

Modern day advances have not only changed our lifestyle and lifespan but also how our brains operate. We process more information in a day than our ancestors did in a lifetime. What do all these things mean with regard to how humans and the rest of the planet will evolve?

Meet Juan Enriquez, 2015 Tanabe Address speaker 

Best-selling author Juan Enriquez doesn’t just believe we will evolve into a different species, but that we are evolving now. Evolution used to take thousands of years and could occur because of one minute change. Mr. Enriquez believes the number of large scale changes that have taken place in just the last few hundred years is speeding up the rate of human evolution.

Though changes like these may seem unsettling, we live in a time of tremendous opportunity: New advances in biotechnology help alleviate the cruel forces of natural selection, from saving premature babies to developing gene therapies for various health conditions.

If technology can help us control our genes, what’s next? Future generations could become great caretakers of the planet, as well as a more diverse, resilient and intelligent species – but only if we make the right choices now.

Join futurist Juan Enriquez at the Newmark Theatre on Wednesday, November 4, at 7 p.m. as he conducts a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution – sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.

Get a sneak peek by checking out these top three Juan Enriquez talks:
Are we evolving into a different species?” (via NPR)
The life code that will reshape the future” (TED Talk)
Will our kids be a different species?” (TED Talk)

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.ohsu.edu/tanabe.
Students (with ID): $10
OHSU employees (with ID): $20
General admission: $25*

*Use promo code “OHSU20″ to receive 20 percent off general admission tickets. 


About The Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Address
The Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Address was established in 2014 to offer differing perspectives on important topics. Each year a speaker is selected to bring diverse ideas to the community and encourage a free exchange of ideas.

Go Green with OHSU: Join the EcoChallenge

How does protecting the environment matter for human health? That’s something I think about a lot, along with my fellow Green Team members.

Public health and environmental protection are deeply intertwined, so it makes sense that one of the ways OHSU promotes healing is through sustainable practices.

LEEDThe Green Team is a group of employees who are committed to sustainability and the environment, and work together, many of them on a volunteer basis, to advance green initiatives at the institution.

Our members have implemented programs ranging from recycling plastics in the operating room to purchasing meat raised without added antibiotics, to the big obvious ones you can see like our energy and water efficient LEED buildings and infrastructure for public transit, biking, and walking.

Currently, we are focusing on making our sustainability agenda even more coordinated, strategic, and robust. Our goal is to help OHSU continue to promote healing throughout our region and beyond.

One way we like to show our commitment to sustainability is through the Northwest Earth Institute’s EcoChallenge. We have an OHSU team and we would love it if you joined us! For two weeks, October 15-29th, we challenge you (and ourselves) to change one habit that benefits both you and the planet.

The EcoChallenge website has many suggestions for habits to start. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I’ll wash my clothes using cold water and air dry them.
  • I’ll disable screen savers — they use 28% more energy; I will put the computer to sleep instead.
  • I plan to check for leaks: dripping faucets can waste 20 gallons of water per day.

Remember: start small, from wherever you are, and don’t let perfect get in the way of good. Change is hard – but rewarding – and any progress helps. Thanks for all you do to protect the environment and advance public health! The OHSU Green Team salutes you.


Orly headshot (2)Orly Stampfer is the OHSU Sustainability Coordinator. Along with her fellow Green Team members, she promotes sustainable initiatives at OHSU which advance environmental health for our patients, our staff, and our larger community.

The Tragedy in Roseburg

The awful events at Umpqua Community College have profoundly affected the nation and amplify the fear and foreboding of other tragedies too close to home. The rapidity, intensity and repetitiveness with which the news about these events has been spread is symptomatic of the deep wounds inflicted by this senseless violence.

The families that have lost their children and loved ones, the traumatized friends, townspeople, police, and health care personnel are burdened with the unbearable. Others who have experienced tragic losses struggle with re-awakened pain.  And parents, sometimes overwhelmed with a sense of dread, try to reassure their children as they send them off to school while their heart’s desire is to keep them home and safe.

What can anyone do in such tragic circumstances?

Photo via OregonLive.com

Photo via OregonLive.com

First, we can help the victims.  

And we need to recognize that the victims of such events are not only local.  The genius of our capacity for imagination and empathy carries with it a dark side, our ability to suffer emotionally when confronted with the suffering of others. This guide, from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, can be a help to physicians dealing with patients and parents helping their children.  Those who have been more severely affected should not hesitate to ask for help.

Second, we can seek to understand. 

It helps us, in dealing with tragedy, to understand why and how it occurred. The focus we see in the media on the law enforcement investigation of the event, the search for background information on the shooter, the multiple radio and television interviews of psychiatrists and psychologists represent this deep need to understand and explain.

In part, our desire for explanation helps with a sense of control. We know from studies of the victims of disasters, abductions and assaults that people will often blame themselves rather than accept the alternative that they were actually helpless to control what happened to them. The acknowledgement of helplessness and blamelessness is essential in resolving the guilt that survivors of an attack or disaster often feel.

It is also helpful to understand that our sense of vulnerability is not an accurate reflection of objective risks.  Typically we substantially overestimate the risks of events like shootings and plane crashes while underestimating the risk events that are much commoner such as automobile accidents.  This realization can help to reestablish a sense of safety and trust in the environment.

Third, we can seek to prevent such tragedies. 

There is much to be done in this regard, some of it politically controversial, and much of it a question of societal priorities. But that is a discussion for another day. For now, we must grieve the dead, comfort the living and tend to our own emotional health.

Find additional guidance for parents on our Healthy Families blog to help children understand and process tragedy.


KeepersGeorge96Dr. George A. Keepers is a Carruthers Professor and Chair of OHSU’s Department of Psychiatry.

A healing duo: Meet Hunter and Belinda

Belinda and HunterWhen Belinda and Sean McCully went to adopt a dog, they knew Hunter was the one.

“We instinctively knew he was going to be a good dog,” Belinda said.

Hunter, a 6-year-old Labrador/hound mix, has proven to be much more than a gentle, loyal pet. He and Belinda, a Research Assistant Professor with the Division of Trauma in the Surgery Department at OHSU, team up to provide animal-assisted therapy to Cardiovascular ICU patients, families, faculty and staff.Hunter

“He’s very intuitive,” Belinda said. “This is true for a lot of animals – they go straight for a person who needs some love. He’s definitely the kind of dog who loves to please and he knows that he can help.”

Before they began volunteering, Hunter and Belinda completed a 6-week animal therapy course through Pet Partners. The course included general obedience training and various scenarios designed to demonstrate Hunter’s ability to avoid distractions and keep calm in busy environments. As Hunter’s handler, Belinda also learned how to assess situations and instruct Hunter to respond appropriately.

Belinda and Hunter volunteer every other Friday, checking in with care teams to see if there are patients who might benefit from a visit. It’s difficult to make it down a hallway without being stopped by curious visitors and staff, Belinda said. The three things she hears most often from friendly passersby are “He’s so soft,” “I love his badge!” and “Can I take him home with me?”

One of the most important kinds of support Hunter and Belinda provide for patients is a sense of normalcy for patients missing their home routines.

“The patients who really love to see him are the ones who have pets at home they can’t be with,” Belinda said.

Faculty and staff (including Sean, who is a surgical resident) also cherish their time with Hunter, often stooping down next to him for a few moments of peace with the surprisingly soft dog.

“These visits are just as beneficial for staff as they are for patients,” Belinda said. “Families, too, are able to have a few moments of relief and detach from the situation a bit.”

Seeing relief on people’s faces – even if it’s just for five minutes – makes the volunteer work well worth it.

Why 96,000 Square Miles?

OHSU Health Fair at Pioneer Square.

President Robertson is fond of saying that OHSU has a 96,000 square mile campus, serving Oregonians “from Enterprise to Coos Bay, from Portland to Klamath Falls.”

This blog aims to highlight that breadth. 96,000 Square Miles (96K for short) will focus on the people of OHSU, the Oregonians we serve and the ripple effect of our work in Oregon and beyond.

Read more

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