In this issue
- Up front: Ten years at the top of the list
- Discoveries: alcohol and the adolescent brain; another look at Schwann cells; exercise and brain function
- Health spotlight: When to send the kids to school vs. keeping them home
- Volunteer spotlight: Dr. Bernard Brown welcomes families to the Rood Family Pavilion
- Q&A: Should I get a flu shot every year?
Up front: Ten years at the top
For the 10th consecutive year, OHSU ranked as the No.1 hospital in Oregon, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals 2019–2020. U.S. News & World Report established their “Best Hospitals” rankings to help patients understand which hospitals deliver outstanding care. According to the magazine, no other hospital in Oregon is nationally ranked in as many specialties as OHSU.
Six adult specialties at OHSU rank among the top 50 in the country. Those areas are:
- Cancer (No. 46)
- Cardiology and heart surgery (No. 40)
- Ear, nose and throat (No. 30)
- Geriatrics (No. 25)
- Neurology and neurosurgery (No. 44)
- Pulmonology and lung surgery (No. 18 – tie)
- Cancer (No. 47)
- Neonatology (No. 19)
- Nephrology (No. 29)
- Neurology and neurosurgery (No. 29)
- Orthopedics (No. 50)
- Pulmonology (No. 41)
From common health concerns to specialized treatments, OHSU is honored to provide care for you and your family. We are thankful for your continued trust in OHSU, and we will keep doing our best to maintain your confidence and respect.
Alcohol and the adolescent brain
Study shows effect of heavy alcohol use on rate of brain growth.
New possibilities for nervous system therapies
Schwann cells are more prolific than previously thought at generating a protective sheath on nerve fibers.
Exercise enhances brain function
Even a short burst of exercise directly boosts the function of a gene involved with learning and memory.
When to keep the kids at home
Is your child coughing up a storm? Complaining of a tummy ache or a sore throat? Use our guide to help you decide when it’s OK to go to school and when it’s time to stay home.
|Symptom||Go to School||Stay Home|
|Fever||Most public schools have a cutoff for temperatures at or above 100.3 degrees. But if your child feels well and can drink fluids, it’s OK to go to school.||If your child has a fever of 100.3 degrees or higher and/or other symptoms, such as coughing or a stomachache, keep him home.|
|Red eyes||Red and watery eyes are common during a cold. If there is no discharge from her eyes, then your child can go to school.||If your child’s eyes have a discharge, especially if they are stuck closed in the morning, it may be a sign of a bacterial eye infection or conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). Call her doctor.|
|Diarrhea||If your child has loose stools but is generally keeping liquids in and can make it through the day, school’s a go.||If your child has watery stools very frequently and can’t keep any fluids in, he should stay home.|
|Vomiting||If it’s been 24 hours and your child isn’t actively vomiting and can keep 4 to 8 oz. of liquid down after 15 to 20 minutes, she’s OK to go to school.||If your child is vomiting and has a fever, abdominal pain or trouble urinating, keep her home and call her doctor.|
|Sore throat||Most kids with colds will have a sore throat, especially for the first two to four days. If there’s no or low fever, it’s likely a cold and off to school he goes.||If your child has a sore throat without a runny nose or a cough but with a fever above 101 degrees, call his doctor.|
|Coughing||As long as her cough isn’t associated with a high fever or difficulty breathing, send her to school.||If your child has a fever above 101 degrees, problems breathing and/or a history of asthma, keep her home and call her doctor.|
|Rash||Children with colds often get small red spots on the chest, back, face, arms and legs. If the spots don’t itch or feel sandpapery, school is fine.||Have your child stay home if the rash is itchy, raised or doesn’t change color (it should blanch with pressure from your fingers).|
|Cold||If your child has no fever, is breathing without difficulty, and can keep fluids down, it’s OK.||If your child has cold symptoms, a fever over 100.3 degrees, and can’t keep liquids down or seems lethargic or cranky, it might be time for a sick day.|
A circle of giving
A father remembers and returns kindness as a volunteer
As a 31-year-old father, Dr. Bernard Brown experienced the fear and anxiety of having a very sick child. In 1955, his 4-year-old daughter, Shelley, was transferred from their home in Salem to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where she would stay for four months until she recovered. The visiting rules then only allowed Brown and his wife, Selma, to visit their little girl three times a week for an hour.
An experience like that never leaves you, so now 64 years later, Brown volunteers as one of the friendly greeters to families arriving at the OHSU Rood Family Pavilion.
“When you have those experiences and you see families coming in, well, thank goodness we can help these children,” he said. “This building is a wonderful situation. The rooms are wonderful, and the child and family can stay in rooms together. There’s a lot of sadness in the families. You have to be there for them and give support. You recall what you went through.”
A recent widower after 72 years of marriage, Brown could see the new pavilion under construction from his apartment at the Mirabella retirement community. The OHSU Rood Pavilion is a patient guesthouse providing affordable housing close to OHSU. The building has 76 guest rooms on the top five floors, half reserved for families of children who are patients and half for adult patients. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington subsidizes and provides programming for the pediatric portion of the guesthouse. When Brown heard the mission, he immediately volunteered.
“Nothing could be finer than volunteering some of your time to an organization like Ronald McDonald House Charities,” he said. “It takes 44 volunteers for every paid staff member at the house. It’s wonderful to give a few hours every week to become a volunteer to help take care of families that need medical treatment.”
The 95-year-old World War II veteran has recruited a few of his neighbors from Mirabella to volunteer at Rood by pinning a notice in the communal mailroom.
“You can cook, go to the bakery, clean rooms, clean things for the children,” he listed. “They gave me a job at the front office to greet people. You have to go to some meetings to become a volunteer here, and then they match your interests. You’re only allowed to work three hours a week, so I work every Friday morning.”
Brown retired from his optometry practice in Salem after 57 years, though his son, Dr. Jordan Brown, continues to operate the practice. When Shelley was in the hospital for so long, Brown fretted how he would ever pay the bills, as he was barely out of school and just starting his practice. When Shelley was released from the hospital, he learned that there were no charges to him because the bill would be paid from donations of past patients. He resolved then to pay it forward, which his family did by sponsoring a treatment room at Doernbecher and a guest room at the Rood Pavilion. Both rooms have a plaque in honor of Shelley Nadene Brown. Shelley is currently the executive director of the Milagro Foundation (founded by Carlos Santana), and has guided the foundation in giving over $7 million to agencies serving children in 18 countries.
And Brown continues to give, finding volunteering is a gift that goes both ways.
“It’s very gratifying to see the children and families getting all this care,” he said.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at OHSU, please visit www.ohsu.edu/volunteer.
Q&A: Your Questions, Expert Answers
A. As a neurosurgeon, I’m a big supporter of trying everything but surgery first. If these treatments are unsuccessful, our surgical options for neck and back pain have greatly improved over the last decade, offering safer techniques and faster recoveries. For neck pain, we now offer disc replacements to many patients, which is similar to the idea of getting a new knee or hip. This means we can preserve a patient’s natural motion. We can also do very complex back surgeries now with tiny incisions, which reduces risk and helps speed healing. Modern back surgery can also get good results in correcting previous back surgeries that failed. With the new techniques and technologies (OHSU has the only robotic microscope in the state, for example), we can be very precise, less invasive and get better outcomes for people with chronic neck or back pain.
A. With only 20 minutes for a typical school lunch period, children have a serious dilemma: eat or talk? During free time with friends, children may choose socializing before eating. This can lead to speed-eating or even skipping lunches. This is a poor habit because school-age children require energy to focus — boosted by a balanced midday meal. When children frequently skip meals, they may overeat later at home. They may also lose their bodies’ cues for hunger, which can lead to slower metabolisms. Parents can set a good example by teaching that a healthy meal should be 50 percent fruits and veggies, 25 percent each whole grains and lean protein. Let children help pack their own lunches using that model. When children help pick foods they like, they’ll often eat more at lunchtime. Also, make sure that food packaging is easy to open.
Lifestyle habits are key to living a normal life with heart failure, a condition where the heart isn’t pumping as well as it should be. An important new habit to develop is daily tracking of symptoms, including weight changes, swelling in legs, dizziness or shortness of breath. A low-salt diet will help your mom feel better, so learning to read labels for sodium content and not adding extra are also good habits. Medication can control heart failure, but only if taken correctly. Bad habits include forgetting or skipping doses and letting pills run out. Some helpful tips are to use a pill organizer, keep a list of all medicines/doses, keep pills in a visible place and to talk to her provider before stopping a medicine if there are any issues. Because heart failure can be controlled rather than cured, having a good relationship with a provider is very important.
The Centers for Disease Control lists these common symptoms of heart failure:
- Shortness of breath during daily activities.
- Having trouble breathing when lying down.
- Weight gain with swelling in the feet, legs, ankles or stomach.
- Generally feeling tired or weak.
A. Yes, there are positive ways you can take control of your health, even with a cancer diagnosis. With better treatments, many people are surviving cancer and living longer. To reduce or prevent some of the impacts of cancer treatment, you can prepare for survivorship through “prehabilitation,” or prehab. This may include assessing your range of motion, balance, memory, fitness level and heart function. OHSU Rehabilitation Services has cancer specialists to help before, during and after treatment. Positive activities include maintaining or starting an individualized exercise program and learning more about nutrition as ways to reduce cancer’s physical and emotional side effects. Exercise not only has general health benefits but is proven to improve how your body prepares and recovers from surgery and copes with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. At OHSU, we have group fitness classes for cancer patients, survivors and even caregivers to help encourage activity.
A. Influenza, or flu, is a very contagious virus and can carry serious complication risks, especially in children younger than 5, adults over 65, pregnant women and people with breathing diseases. Because the type of flu virus changes with each outbreak, scientists have to adjust the vaccine each year. Research shows that influenza vaccinations work and are overwhelmingly safe. Flu season typically runs October to April. Get your annual flu vaccination early because it takes two weeks after the shot for your body to build up a defense. The vaccine will help prevent most flu, and if you do catch it, will lessen your symptoms and length of illness. This vaccine will not prevent common colds or other viruses. People who are allergic to eggs should not have a flu shot. If you are uncertain about whether you should get a vaccination, check with your provider.
Flu takes a serious toll
Though the totals aren’t finalized for the 2018–2019 season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the 2017–2018 influenza season in the U.S. was associated with more than 48.8 million illnesses, 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths.
Pro prevention tips
Reduce germ exposure by:
- Frequent handwashing, especially before eating and after a restroom visit.
- Coughing or sneezing into your elbow rather than your hand.
- Staying at home if you’re sick!