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Canines for Coping Meet Asteroid, our facility dog

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9 Improving lives

Metal of honor..................................................................................4 Healthy bonding for new moms and newborns...........................5 Up all night ......................................................................................6 Protect yourself and those around you..........................................7 Hampton's history of Huntsville ....................................................8 Meet Asteroid....................................................................................9 Beyond brains: A conversation with Dr. Cheng Tao.................10 Mobile Medical Unit is on a roll ................................................ 11 What women should know about breast cancer.........................12 Cooking Matters.............................................................................14 Coaches who care........................................................................... 15 Towering achievement....................................................................16 Meet our newest leaders................................................................ 17 Pain, pain go away ........................................................................18 The beat goes on ............................................................................19 Huntsville Hospital Foundation.................................................. 20

On the cover Pediatric patient Emma Couch gets a sweet nuzzle from Women & Children's facility dog Asteroid. As the state's first hospital-based facility dog, Asteroid helps patients cope with hospital visits.

All rights reserved. No material in this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher. Articles in this magazine are written by Huntsville Hospital professionals who strive to present reliable, up-to-date information, but no publication can replace the care and advice of medical professionals. Contact your physician when considering and choosing health care treatments. For more information on the editorial content of Source, please call Huntsville Hospital Public Relations at (256) 265-8317 or Huntsville Hospital Foundation at (256) 265-8077. Please contact us if you wish to have your name removed from the list to receive fundraising requests or other mailings supporting Huntsville Hospital Foundation in the future.


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19 16th Annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run and Survivors’ Walk 8-10 a.m., corner of Lowe Avenue and Adams Street. Proceeds go toward 3D tomosynthesis mammography machine for Madison Hospital Breast Center. More information, 22 Huntsville Hospital Mobile Medical Unit Health Screening (FREE), 9 a.m., Bob Harrison Wellness and Advocacy Center, 6156 Pulaski Pike


1 Huntsville Hospital Mobile Medical Unit Health Screening (FREE), 9:30 a.m., Hogan Family YMCA, 130 Park Square Lane, Madison

5 Senior Horizons Coffee Talk 9 a.m., Hospice Family Care Inpatient Facility, 10000 Serenity Lane. Topic: Early recognition and treatment of sepsis, followed by Inpatient Facility tour. To reserve your seat, call (256) 265-7950 or email

11 Huntsville Hospital Mobile Medical Unit Health Screening (FREE), 9:30 a.m., Huntsville Public Library, 915 Monroe St.


3 Hospice Family Care Inpatient Facility Tour – 10 a.m., Hospice Family Care Inpatient Facility, 10000 Serenity Lane. To reserve your spot, call (256) 265-7950 or email

17 Senior Horizons Tasty Tuesday Potluck Luncheon – 11:30 a.m., Trinity United Methodist Church, 607 Airport Road. To reserve your seat, call (256) 265-7950 or email Visit for a complete list of health screenings, support groups and other community events.

A message from our CEO


s you may have noticed, the landscape of our campus is changing. We’ve got a lot going on here — major construction with some very tall cranes, road work in the area, and we’re happy to report that our new parking garage at the Women & Children’s Hospital is open. The construction of the new bed tower continues along Gallatin Street. It will be 2021 before it’s complete. New and advanced facilities are critical in our commitment to address the health care needs of our growing community, but they take time to build and are very expensive. In reality, these facilities are like tools that help us accomplish our mission of delivering health care that is safe, caring, and kind to you and your family. The foundation of our organization, though, is our team of 9,000 employees in Madison County. These health care professionals work very hard every day along with more than 850 physicians on our medical staff. As we continue to grow as a community, you can expect us to grow along with it. In recent months we’ve welcomed 70 new physicians to our medical staff. Most of these physicians had the opportunity to go anywhere in the country to practice. They chose Huntsville for many reasons, and one of those reasons was Huntsville Hospital. We’re proud of the effort that we make to be a safe, caring and kind hospital, but we also realize that our work is like a marathon with no end. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, since 1895. That’s why it’s nice occasionally for our team to

be recognized as they were recently by U.S. News & World Report. Being named the #2 Best Hospital in Alabama with seven major clinical services highlighted is significant to us, and hopefully to you. In a couple of months the calendar will amazingly roll to 2020. Next summer Huntsville Hospital will celebrate 125 years of service to our community. Few local organizations, if any, have had the impact that the hospital has had over the past century. Generations of families have trusted Huntsville Hospital with their health care. Thank you for allowing us to care for you. We look forward to extending that legacy of caring to future generations.

David Spillers

CEO, Huntsville Hospital Health System

David Spillers Chief Executive Officer Jeff Samz Chief Operating Officer Health Care Authority of the City of Huntsville Philip W. Bentley, Jr. Chairman Mike Goodman Vice-Chairman Frank Caprio Secretary-Treasurer Amit Arora, MD Kerry Fehrenbach Bhavani Kakani Macon Phillips, MD Beth Richardson David Smith OUR MISSION Provide high quality care and services that will improve the health of those we serve. OUR VISION To be one of the best health systems in America and consistently strive to provide clinical and service excellence. OUR VALUES Integrity, Excellence, Innovation, Accountability, Compassion and Safety

Be Safe. Be Caring. Be Kind.


Metal of honor


adison Hospital has joined a growing list of hospitals worldwide using stainless steel to help prevent patient infections. The hospital’s two newest operating rooms are wrapped in regular and powder-coated stainless steel walls. And it’s not just because the metal is pretty to look at. Director of Clinical Operations Melissa Taylor said the hospital opted for stainless steel walls because it is a hard, non-porous surface that resists growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. “Stainless steel makes it easier to keep our operating rooms clean,” Taylor said. “That’s a key to preventing hospital-acquired infections.” Huntsville Hospital started the stainless steel wall trend earlier this year with its two new electrophysiology (EP) procedure labs. Taylor said there are other reasons stainless steel walls work well in a medical setting. They can withstand the strong chemicals used to disinfect operating rooms between surgeries, she said. Stainless steel also holds up to the inevitable bumps from equipment being wheeled in and out of the OR all day.


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“Stainless steel makes it easier to keep our operating rooms clean.” — Melissa Taylor

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Greco and his team at work in one of Madison Hospital's new operating rooms. The walls are stainless steel, a non-porous material that resists growth of potentially harmful bacteria.

Healthy bonding for new moms and newborns


olding her newborn baby for the first time is an emotional moment for many new moms. It’s when she finally gets to meet, touch and snuggle with the life who has been growing inside her. Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital encourage this special bonding time to be done bare-chested with mom and baby. Called skinto-skin bonding or kangaroo care, it provides more than emotional and psychological benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites research that indicates skin-to-skin bonding immediately after delivery and intermittent thereafter is associated with longer and more exclusive breastfeeding and higher volumes of expressed milk. According to UNICEF, there is a growing body of evidence that skin-to-skin contact also helps regulate heart rate, respiration and temperature in newborns. For mothers who deliver their baby by Cesarean section, skin-to-skin time immediately after delivery can be a challenge. At Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Madison Hospital, those challenges have been met with determination to provide mothers and their babies the same opportunity for bonding as moms who deliver vaginally.


Skin-to-skin time in the OR was an important part of childbirth for Julia King and her daughter who was born at Madison Hospital.

Hillary Williams is thankful for skin-to-skin time after delivering her son by Cesarean section at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

“We’ve accommodated requests for immediate skin-to-skin in the OR for many years,” says Jade LeCroix, Labor & Delivery director at Women & Children. “Recently, we’ve begun educating moms before delivery on the benefits of skin-to-skin and letting them know that it’s available to them in the OR, too.” Labor and Delivery nurses at Madison Hospital also spend time educating pregnant moms about immediate skin-to-skin. The initiative has been a part of the hospital’s routine of care since 2015. “The goal is to keep mom and baby together to give them time to recover and bond,” says Renee Colquitt, Perinatal Services director at Madison Hospital. “It’s a family-centered approach endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and embraced by our teams.” It’s important for women to know that in some circumstances, the physician may determine that immediate skin-to-skin needs to be delayed to provide appropriate care for the baby or mom. At both hospitals, maternity nurses with special training in breastfeeding support stay by mom’s bedside during skin-to-skin time in the first hour. The nurse helps mom and baby through the first breastfeeding session and monitors the health of both.



Up all night


here’s never a good time for a medical emergency, but it can be especially challenging in the middle of the night. Greg Lochner, Huntsville Hospital’s service line administrator for emergency services, said the ER has seen a spike in the number of sick and injured patients showing up after midnight – a trend that’s expected to continue as the Rocket City grows. In response, the ER has beefed up its overnight staff and increased the number of treatment rooms available 24/7. Lochner said keeping 12 more rooms open around the clock should mean quicker treatment for patients who come to the ER during the wee hours. The extra treatment space is available Monday through Friday for now, but weekend coverage will be added down the road. “The city is growing fast, and we’re committed to trying to keep pace,” Lochner said. “We’ve increased our overnight treatment space by about 30 percent. That will allow us to see those patients faster and reduce wait times in our lobby.” Along with opening more roundthe-clock treatment space, the hospital is bringing in more emergency medicine physicians to care for ER patients. Drs. Sebastian Jacobi, Reed Morgan, Antonia Schmitt-Rheinbay, John W. Thomas and Patrick Tomeny III joined the ER clinical staff during the summer.


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“We’ve increased our overnight treatment space by about 30 percent. That will allow us to see patients faster and reduce wait times in our lobby.”

Protect yourself

& those around you


s our community grows, it is increasingly important to get vaccinated. When everyone in a community who is eligible is vaccinated, it helps prevent the spread of disease. Starting this fall, our Medical Mall Pharmacy team is launching an immunization program to provide vaccines year-round to the community. Flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines will be among those offered. This new program will offer a convenient option for people to protect themselves from many preventable diseases. “Community pharmacists play a key role in screening, advising, and providing people with lifesaving vaccinations,” said Jill Denney, Pharm. D., outpatient pharmacy supervisor. “This is just one more way Huntsville Hospital is improving the health of those in our community.” Walk-ups are welcome and you must be 19 or older to participate. The Medical Mall Pharmacy is open Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Michael D. Ward, senior vice president of government and public affairs at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, gets the shingles vaccine from Outpatient Pharmacy Supervisor Jill Denney.

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Hampton's history of Huntsville


or William Hampton, Huntsville isn’t just a place to live — it’s a passion reflected in his popular Huntsville Revisited Facebook page. His collection of photos, stories and local history started in 1978 as a book project, said Hampton, a Huntsville Hospital food and nutrition supervisor. He launched the Facebook page in 2008 to “share my own personal family pictures and pictures I had of Huntsville, and pictures I had collected of restaurants and hotels — a lot of Huntsville’s 200-year history.” Turns out, there are lots of people like Hampton with an interest in Rocket City history. His Huntsville Revisited page recently topped 30,000 followers. “I want it to be a resource for even school children to come and learn about Huntsville people, places and events,” Hampton said. “I call it the front porch experience.” Hampton, 59, recalls sitting on the porch as a child and listening to stories about early Huntsville from his great-grandparents, grandparents and neighbors. He grew up on Cavalry Street, which has its own unique history: it’s near where the famed Buffalo Soldiers set up camp in 1898 after returning from Cuba and the SpanishAmerican War. “Hearing those stories about 19th Century and the early 20th Century Huntsville just arrested my imagination,” Hampton said. He started collecting old pictures as child. At age 8, he began carrying a camera to take his own. Hampton’s preservation work has been recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution and Oakwood University. He’ll take his love of local history to the next level this fall by opening a Huntsville history museum and store on North Memorial Parkway. In addition to his vast collection of photos, Hampton plans to display artifacts from the city’s past including a construction beam from the old Councill High School and a brick from the home where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed while visiting Huntsville in 1962. Meanwhile, his Huntsville Revisited page continues to attract Facebook users from all over who share their pictures and memories of the city. “We have followers in Tokyo, Toronto — you name it,” Hampton said. “It’s a community of individuals who share a common bond. We all love Huntsville.”

“I call it the front porch experience.”

William Hampton on the front porch of the historic Lowry House.


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Meet Asteroid Alabama's first hospital-based facility dog


n an average day, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children treats 200 pediatric patients. Many of those patients will need support from the hospital’s own facility dog, Asteroid. As the state’s only hospital-based facility dog, Asteroid has an important job helping patients cope with their hospitalization. Asteroid is a two-year old golden retriever mix and a certified service dog specifically trained for a hospital setting. She works at the hospital five days every week and is always accompanied by one of her trained handlers and Certified Child Life Specialists Stefani Williams or Brittany Ellisor. They help Asteroid, “She is a great nicknamed Aster, manage her example of what rounds seeing patients. makes our hospital hospital Aster’s visits are tied to a special place for clinical goals like reducing patients, visitors pain, helping patients get up and employees.” and moving after surgery and being present in trauma and bereavement. For that reason, her visits are longer and more intentional than visits from a pet therapy animal. “One of the hardest parts of my job with Aster is not being able to visit everyone who requests her,” says Williams. “That’s why we’re so appreciative of our pet therapy partners. These teams are able to provide comfort and love to patients wanting a visit from a dog.” Working with Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Williams created the Huntsville Hospital Canines for Coping program to bring Aster to Women & Children. The entire program is funded by the Foundation specifically through a hospital employee giving fund called Lifesaver Club. “We’re so thankful for Aster. She is a great example of what makes our hospital a special place for pediatric patients, visitors and employees,” says Elizabeth Sanders, vice president of women and children’s services at Women & Children. “She makes people smile everywhere she goes, and that really helps when you’re in the hospital.” To help Aster’s fans and friends keep up with her activities, Williams regularly posts photos on a dedicated Instagram profile (@HH_caninesforcoping).

Millie Kephart, 8, loved her recent visit with Aster.

Aster with her trained handlers and Certified Child Life Specialists Stefani Williams, left, and Brittany Ellisor.


Beyond brains:

A conversation with Dr. Cheng Tao Many people think neurosurgeons only operate on brains. In reality, neurosurgeons spend more time fixing back problems including pinched nerves and herniated discs. Source sat down with Spine & Neuro Center at Huntsville Hospital physician Cheng Tao, MD, to discuss misconceptions about neurosurgery and his own extensive training in both brain and spine procedures.

What’s a day in the life of a neurosurgeon like? Of course we do brain surgery, but the perception that we only do brain surgery is way off base. The majority of my practice — more than 90 percent — is helping people with spinal disorders. In a given week, most of the surgeries I perform involve the spine. The most common is probably removing a herniated disc in the neck or lower back that’s pressing on a nerve and causing pain. Spinal fusion is another common procedure. We can also surgically re-align the spine to correct spinal deformities like scoliosis, and we fix traumatic spine injuries caused by car wrecks and other accidents. So our practice definitely extends beyond brains.

The road to becoming a neurosurgeon is longer than just about any other type of physician. Tell us about your own medical training. I went to medical school at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. During the third year, medical students do rotations where you are introduced to all the different medical specialties. That’s when I fell in love with neurosurgery. You’re correct that it takes a long time to become a neurosurgeon. After medical school, I spent a year doing a surgery internship at the Medical College of Georgia, followed by five years of dedicated surgical training on the brain and spine. I moved to Huntsville in 2005 and joined the Spine & Neuro Center. My path to becoming a neurosurgeon was shorter than a physician coming into practice today. The current requirement is seven and sometimes even eight years of specialized training after medical school.

Why should a patient with neck or back problems consider consulting with a neurosurgeon? We spend many years training to treat patients with spinal problems, and that experience makes us a great choice. But surgery isn’t the right solution for every patient, so Spine & Neuro Center also offers more conservative treatment options like physical therapy and injections for pain relief. We try to exhaust all the conservative options first before recommending surgery. 10

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Mobile Medical Unit is on a roll

“A doctor’s office that we can take places.” That’s how Huntsville Hospital Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) Coordinator John Simms describes the green and white RV that has been rolling across North Alabama for the past eight years. Each year, medical personnel on board provide primary care and wellness checks to about 7,000 people by stopping at YMCAs, public libraries, senior centers, community events, the Salvation Army and Downtown Rescue Mission. “We try to get to the people where they are and remove the transportation barrier for people to get to health care,” Simms said. “And it’s absolutely free for the patients we serve. We never charge or bill insurance.” On the third Thursday of each month, the MMU rolls into the Gurley Senior Center in eastern Madison County. Maryann Schnur, the senior center’s manager, said the wellness checks by Huntsville Hospital medical staff are even

more popular than center activities like bingo or dominoes. “Our seniors all go to the doctor, but the Mobile Medical Unit is a good in-between type check,” Schnur said. “It’s a blessing that the Huntsville Hospital bus comes.” Counselors offer advice about diet and exercise, too, to those ages 60 to 94 who frequent the senior center. The 40-foot RV was retrofitted for medical use with two exam rooms that can be made private with curtains, as well as a small onboard pharmacy. The mobile unit serves as the primary source of medical care in some disadvantaged areas. About once a month, the MMU encounters a patient who needs to go straight to the emergency room. “We’re catching some serious stuff out there,” Simms said. Funding for the Mobile Medical Unit is provided by Huntsville Hospital and Huntsville Hospital Foundation.

Huntsville Hospital Mobile Medical Unit Coordinator John Simms (left) and Operator Peter Miller (right) with Gurley Senior Center Manager Maryann Shnur. The rolling doctor's office makes regular stops at the senior center to offer free wellness checks.


What women should know about

r e c n a c breast


e gathered a team of physicians and asked them for one key message they think women newly diagnosed with breast cancer should hear. While each physician represents a different specialty that can be a part of breast cancer treatment, their messages were remarkably similar. Breast cancer treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation oncology, breast surgery or any combination of the three. Many women also choose plastic surgery once treatment is complete. To understand all treatment options available to them, women should talk to physicians in each of these specialties before agreeing to a treatment plan.

Dr. Elizabeth Falkenberg

Thankfully, most women can keep their breasts by having outpatient surgery followed by radiation, whether or not chemotherapy is necessary. Discussion with multiple specialties, such as surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology, after the diagnosis of breast cancer is helpful and reassuring for the patient. Our goal as physicians is to provide education, treatment options and emotional support for patients to minimize their initial fear of cancer. Dr. Elizabeth Falkenberg is board certified by the American College of Radiation Oncology in Radiation Oncology. She is a member of the physician team at Alliance Cancer Care and serves on Huntsville Hospital’s Breast Cancer Alliance Committee.

Dr. Marshall Schreeder

Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be frightening and overwhelming, but with the advancements made in breast cancer treatment the survival rate has increased to more than 90 percent over the last five years. Your oncologist will create a treatment plan based upon advances in genetics and genomics that is unique to you and your type of breast cancer to maximize your survival and maintain your quality of life. Dr. Marshall Schreeder is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Hematology/Medical Oncology. He is a member of the physician team at Clearview Cancer Institute and serves on Huntsville Hospital’s Breast Cancer Alliance Committee.

Dr. Rachel Kruspe

Be aware that no two breast cancer diagnoses are the same and that breast cancer care is highly individualized. Seek out a multidisciplinary team of physicians who are skilled in the treatment of breast cancer and who are committed to personalizing the best care plan for you. Dr. Rachel Kruspe is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Hematology/Medical Oncology and in Internal Medicine. She is President/CEO of The Cancer Center and serves on Huntsville Hospital’s Breast Cancer Alliance Committee.


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Sandy Cross

The most important thing I want women to know is that they are not alone. Regardless of treatment decisions, you will have a team of experts supporting you and making sure you are informed every step of the way. Just breathe. And ask questions! Your providers are here for you and want you to understand what is happening. The nurse navigators at Huntsville Hospital Breast Center are dedicated to helping women get through diagnosis, treatment and beyond. Sandy Cross, RN, is a Breast Health Navigator at Huntsville Hospital Breast Center and has worked with breast cancer patients for 10 years.

Dr. Tony Weaver

Many women believe that their lives will be altered forever. Often times there is a sense that your identity and femininity have been attacked. Your plastic surgeon can help you overcome this feeing by discussing your reconstructive options. I think it’s important for patients to understand that reconstruction is a part of the treatment. Reconstruction treats the emotional and psychological aspects of cancer. It’s also important to know that the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 ensures that nearly all reconstruction, including symmetry procedures of the unaffected breast, are covered by your insurer. Knowing this can give patients peace of mind before treatment even begins. Dr. Tony Weaver is board certified by the American Osteopathic Association in General Surgery and is board eligible in Plastic Surgery. He practices at Huntsville Hospital Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

Dr. Robert Lancaster

Treatment of breast cancer has changed a lot in the last few years. We now have good options for patients to consider, so it’s important for patients to take the time to assess those options before making a decision regarding treatment. Though it may seem like an emergency, it really isn’t, and it is time well spent making the right decision for you. Dr. Robert Lancaster is board certified by the American Board of Surgery in General Surgery. He is in practice with Dr. George Harriman at Huntsville Hospital Clinic for Breast Care. He also serves on Huntsville Hospital’s Breast Cancer Alliance Committee.

Dr. Libby Shadinger

Following diagnosis, almost every patient will struggle with at least one or a number of real and understandable anxieties related to breast cancer including concerns over cosmetic outcomes attributed to surgical interventions and chemotherapy, fears of recurrence, anxiety over the financial impact of time lost from work for diagnosis and treatment, and of course, fear of death. We want patients to realize that they are not alone, and that the Huntsville Hospital Breast Center offers incredible resources for navigating patients through diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. I encourage patients to take advantage of these free services as a means of empowering themselves to become an active participant in their own physical and mental health as they resume life after diagnosis. Dr. Libby Shadinger is board certified by the American Board of Radiology in Diagnostic Radiology. She is a breast radiologist with Radiology of Huntsville and serves as Medical Director of the Huntsville Hospital Breast Center. She also serves on Huntsville Hospital’s Breast Cancer Alliance Committee.


Cooking Matters


ur registered dietitians are bringing free nutrition education to the community through Cooking Matters, a national program sponsored by Share Our Strength. The six-week program focuses on teaching cooking and nutrition education classes to low-income families. One of our registered dietitians, Carmen Moyers, first learned of the program in Michigan where she participated as a Cooking Matters employee assisting in teaching nutrition classes. After moving to Alabama, Carmen sought to start a Cooking Matters program locally. While the classes are open to anyone, Cooking Matters will focus primarily on working with low-income families to highlight the importance of cooking and eating nutritious foods. At each class, participants will gain hands-on experience preparing and cooking a simple, healthy recipe. In addition to tasting what they've created, each participant will receive groceries to recreate the recipe at home for their family. “By educating the community, our goal is to empower every family of every income level to feel they have control over their health and it can start in their kitchen,” said Jamie Collins, one of the Cooking Matters instructors.

Cooking Matters instructors Carmen Moyers and Jamie Collins purchased materials for their mobile kitchen from Costco to prepare for their first class.

Head, shoulders, knees & toes We’ve got kids covered!

Our Pediatric ER is your peace of mind. Led by pediatric emergency medicine physicians, our team knows more about treating your child’s emergency. And if it’s needed, we also have the region’s only pediatric ICU, pediatric surgeons and to help ease the anxiety of an ER visit, certified Child Life specialists.


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Coaches who care


he nurse walks in as you’re packing up to leave the hospital. She goes over your discharge instructions and prescriptions. Simple enough, you think. Then you get home and realize you can only remember some of what you were told. You read the hospital discharge paperwork and still have questions. Akeem J. Davis has seen countless cases like that during his career as a transitional care coach for Huntsville Hospital. Typically, patients who don’t closely follow their discharge instructions end up right back in the hospital. That revolving door is especially prevalent for patients with chronic, hard-tomanage illnesses like diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Davis’ job is to try to break that cycle of preventable hospital readmissions by helping patients follow their discharge instructions once they get home. That’s tougher than it sounds. Many people have challenges that get in the way of complying with doctors’ orders: no health insurance; no money to fill prescriptions; no regular physician; no car to get to the drug store or follow-up

medical visits; no loved ones nearby to keep tabs on their health. Davis and fellow transitional care coaches Treena Waters and Helen Shepherd make about 80 house calls a month across the region. If the patient doesn’t have a family doctor, they’ll find one. If the patient can’t afford a prescription, they’ll ask pharmaceutical companies for free samples. If the patient doesn’t have money to buy healthy foods, they’ll contact Meals on Wheels. Whatever it takes. “Really, we just connect the dots and hold the patient's hand to make sure the care plan is followed so they can get better,” Davis said. “We think of ourselves of extensions of the medical professionals at Huntsville Hospital.” It’s hard to argue with the results. Director of Case Management Brenda Brooks said just four of the 78 patients referred to the transitional care program in July were readmitted to the hospital. “It’s not magic,” Davis said. “We just go in and show the patients that we care about them and want to see them stay healthy.”

Huntsville Hospital's transitional care coach program is led by (left to right) Director of Case Management Brenda Brooks, Transitional Care Coach Coordinator Akeem Davis and coaches Helen Shepherd and Treena Waters.


Towering achievement


he biggest addition to the Huntsville Hospital campus in 40 years is quickly taking shape along Gallatin Street. Construction on the hospital’s massive new Orthopedic & Spine Tower began this spring and is about 20 percent complete. The basement is now done, and the building’s concrete outer walls are being stacked piece by piece with the help of the biggest crane ever used in Huntsville’s medical district. When it opens in early 2021, the tower will become home to the hospital’s award-winning spine and joint surgery programs. Rising seven stories and filling an entire city block, the tower will be dedicated exclusively to caring for patients who need back surgery, joint replacement surgery, tendon and ligament repair, sports medicine surgery, arthroscopy, repair of open and closed fractures, and certain other surgeries involving hands and feet. Huntsville Hospital Health System CEO David Spillers said the tower will better meet the needs of North Alabama’s growing – and aging – population. “Joints tend to start wearing out as people get into their 60s,” Spillers said. “That’s just the reality.


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Knee and hip replacement surgery and physical rehab through our Joint Camp program will be a big part of this new tower.” But the tower will benefit the community in some other, less obvious ways. Spillers said investing in orthopedic and spine care will help the hospital maintain its reputation as a leader in those fields. That, in turn, will attract more talented physician specialists to the area. Shifting spine and orthopedic care to the new facility will also free up thousands of square feet in the hospital’s main building to expand other clinical programs like cardiac services. The ripples will even be felt in the Emergency Department, because the hospital will have more room to accommodate emergency patients who need to be admitted. “That means we’ll be able to move people through the ED faster and alleviate wait times,” Spillers said. “So while the new tower is focused on spines and orthopedics, it will really help improve patient flow throughout the hospital.”

Meet our newest leaders

Elizabeth Sanders, Arin Zapf and Sarah Savage-Jones


untsville Hospital’s senior leadership team has some new faces. Since the start of summer we have tapped Elizabeth Sanders as vice president of Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, Arin Zapf as Huntsville Hospital chief nursing officer, and Sarah Savage-Jones as president of Huntsville Hospital Foundation. All three bring a wealth of experience to their new roles. Sanders previously served as Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children’s director of outpatient services and worked for Alteon Health as regional vice president of metrics and quality. In her new position, she is responsible for day-to-day operations at our busy Women & Children campus. A graduate of Auburn University, Sanders earned both her Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Health Administration degrees from UAB. She replaces Kyle Buchanan, who was promoted to president of Helen Keller Hospital. Zapf began her nursing career 23 years ago as a registered nurse in Huntsville Hospital’s Cardiac Progressive Care Unit. She worked her way up through the ranks to charge nurse, nurse educator,

unit director and, most recently, director of nursing practice. As chief nursing officer, she oversees more than 2,000 full- and part-time nurses at Huntsville Hospital, Madison Hospital and Women & Children. Zapf is a graduate of Crowder College in Missouri and earned both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees from the University of North Alabama. Savage-Jones is new to the Huntsville Hospital family, but she’s well-known in the community as the longtime CEO of Leadership Greater Huntsville. She stepped down from that role in 2017 to care for her aging father and started a company to help other families deal with elder care issues. We are fortunate to have Savage-Jones take the reins of Huntsville Hospital Foundation, which turns the financial gifts of hospital supporters into programs and services that benefit the entire community. An Auburn University graduate, Savage-Jones is just the fifth president in the 41-year history of the Foundation. Candy Burnett led the Foundation for 19 years before retiring in June.


Pain, pain go away


elia Wilson had never heard of trigeminal neuralgia before she was diagnosed in 2004. Within months, the pain caused by the rare, chronic nerve condition was controlling her life. Trigeminal neuralgia affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. Any type of facial stimulation — brushing teeth, putting on makeup, shaving, swallowing food — can trigger an attack. Even a warm breeze on Wilson’s face would cause an episode. “The pain is unbearable,” she said. “I compare it to having an abscessed tooth. You just can’t live with it.” Wilson’s trigeminal neuralgia grew progressively worse over time. For a while, the Huntsville resident was able to keep the attacks at bay with regular doses of Tegretol — a prescription anticonvulsant used to treat nerve pain. But if she skipped a dose or was late taking her pill by even a few minutes, searing pain would shoot through the right side of her jaw. The breakthrough came when Wilson and her husband relocated from Mississippi to Huntsville to be closer to family. A neurologist told her about a treatment for trigeminal neuralgia offered at the Alliance Cancer Care office on the campus of Huntsville Hospital. Called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), the noninvasive treatment is a form of radiation therapy. A high dose of radiation is precisely delivered to the

"It’s improved my life 100 percent."

patient’s trigeminal nerve root, which can break the chronic pain cycle. It’s quick, painless and effective. SRS requires a single outpatient treatment lasting an hour or less. “It’s incredibly gratifying to offer trigeminal neuralgia patients a non-invasive treatment that can provide major quality of life improvements for many years,” said Dr. Jack Gleason, radiation oncologist and medical director of Alliance’s radiosurgery program. “The ability the achieve sub-millimeter accuracy is what makes this and other SRS treatments feasible.” Drs. Holly Zywicke and Stephen Sandwell, neurosurgeons at Spine & Neuro Center at Huntsville Hospital, work with Dr. Gleason to determine which portion of the trigeminal nerve to target with radiation therapy in order to maximize benefits while limiting the effect on surrounding brain structures. Alliance Cancer Care is the only Novalis Certified Radiosurgery Center in Alabama – an independent stamp of approval that the program meets or exceeds standards for quality and patient safety. Wilson’s radiosurgery treatment worked exactly as planned. She felt better almost immediately and has been pain-free, and off her medication entirely, for more than a year. “Radiosurgery has been the biggest blessing for me,” Wilson said. “It’s improved my life 100 percent.”

Neurosurgeon Dr. Holly Zywicke and radiation oncologist Dr. Jack Gleason in the stereotactic radiosurgery area of Alliance Cancer Care.


FALL 2019

The beat goes on


untsville Hospital Heart Center continues to add more cardiac specialists to care for our growing community. Over the past few months, the Heart Center has welcomed two new cardiothoracic surgeons and four cardiologists to its award-winning physician team. Huntsville Hospital has been recognized by Healthgrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery for five consecutive years.

Dr. Paul J. Speicher

Dr. Abdul W. Hritani

Cardiothoracic surgeon Paul J. Speicher, MD, specializes in thoracic oncology, thoracic surgery, VATS and open thoracic procedures, robotic procedures, bronchoscopy, lung volume reduction surgery and esophageal disorders. Dr. Speicher is board certified in general surgery.

Cardiologist Abdul W. Hritani, MD, specializes in clinical general cardiology, cardiac imaging, treatment of pulmonary hypertension, cardiac catheterization, prevention and treatment of congestive heart failure, and prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease. Dr. Hritani is board certified in internal medicine, nuclear cardiology and echocardiography.

Dr. Frans van Wagenberg

Cardiothoracic surgeon Frans van Wagenberg, MD, specializes in aortic and mitral valve surgery, atrial fibrillation surgery, bronchoscopy, cardiothoracic intensive care, coronary artery bypass grafting, surgical treatment of aortic aneurysms, thoracic oncology, thoracic surgery, videoassisted thoracoscopic surgery, robotic thoracic surgery, and transcatheter valve techniques.

Dr. Kaushik K. Jain

Cardiologist Kaushik K. Jain, DO, specializes in cardiac imaging, clinical general cardiology, prevention and treatment of congestive heart failure, prevention and treatment of coronary disease, cardiomyopathy and advanced heart failure. Dr. Jain is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, nuclear cardiology, adult echocardiography and advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology.

Dr. Jacqueline L. Green

Dr. Mohammad Thawabi

Interventional cardiologist Jacqueline L. Green, MD, specializes in cardiac catheterization, clinical general cardiology, complex coronary intervention, interventional cardiology procedures, prevention and treatment of coronary disease, and prevention and treatment of congestive heart failure. Dr. Green is board certified in internal medicine, general cardiology and interventional cardiology.

Interventional cardiologist Mohammad Thawabi, MD, specializes in cardiac catheterization, cardiac imaging, complex coronary intervention, interventional cardiology procedures, prevention and treatment of coronary disease, prevention and treatment of peripheral vascular disease, and advanced hemodynamic care. Dr. Thawabi is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, vascular interpretation and interventional cardiology.


14th Annual Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa The Foundation’s annual Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa events raise essential funds for the Regional Neonatal ICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, serving more than 1,100 sick and premature infants annually. Almost 400 guests attended the 14th Annual Miracle Bash on August 2 at Huntsville Botanical Garden. The next morning, 226 children swam laps at Hampton Cove Pool for Swim for Melissa. Proceeds benefited the Foundation’s Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund, and will help expand the NICU, adding 10 new patient bed areas to meet the growing need from across our region.

Thank you to the 2019 Miracle Bash Hostess Committee! Front row (L-R): Brooke Harriman, Jill Glenn, Katherine Hanback, Tiphani Gay, Kara Saini, Elizabeth Conner, Chairman Molli Kirby, Anna Ford, Co-chairman Kate Nuwayhid, Amy George, Andrea Landers, Hillary Harris, Beth Wilson, Kristi Caradonna, Jenni Ball, Jaime Letson, Meghann Clayton, Hollie Harriman. Back row (L-R): Leigh Wright, Mindy LaBranche, Andrea Hatfield, Elizabeth Cobb, Katie Cochran, Paula Newman, Jennifer Smith, Meggy Sabatini, Beth Simms, Jaci Knuble, Sarah Pfieffer, Ashley Sharp, Leslie Rice, Allison Proud, Kristina Keogh, Meredith Miller and Lindsey McLain.

Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children Neonatal ICU nurses with Unit Director Cheryl Case (third from left) and Women & Children's Service Line Administrator Cathy Hubler (center).

Joe and Traci Lang, Katie and Dewayne Ricketts, and Ashley and Derek Gray have a bash raising money for the NICU.

A special thank you to our 2019 major sponsors!

Dr. Amit Arora, Foundation Trustee and Huntsville Hospital Health Care Authority Board member; Dr. Aruna Arora; Elaine and Mitch Coley


FALL 2019

Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children Vice President Elizabeth Sanders, Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund Co-founder Amy George, and Miracle Bash Hostess Hillary Harris

Tennessee Valley Neonatology i3 Cares Shine Time Super Wash & Express Polish

Thank you to the wonderful 2019 Swim for Melissa Committee! Front row (L-R): Amy George, Event Coordinator Cheryl Geiger, Ashley Gray, Jes Baldridge, Tina Putman, Audra Lockwood, Leigh Wren. Back row (L-R): Jamie Evans, Jessica Nuckols, Shelly Feeny, Brooke McGee, Missy Logan, Veronica Cram, Traci Lang, Katie Ricketts, Alison Hoskins and Amber Keith.

Melissa’s Fund Founders Chris and Amy George, with their daughters Lily Baker and Ann Catherine.

Abbie Appletoft shows off her Top Fundraiser certificate. Her team, Swingin’ and Dingin’, swam in honor of Abbie and in memory of her sister Christian.

Melissa’s Miracles gets ready to swim in honor of Ann Catherine George and in memory of Melissa George.

Teammates from the Owesome Orcas make a splash for NICU babies at the 14th Annual Swim for Melissa.

High five for the NICU! Kids got to place their handprints beside the tiny handprint of an actual NICU baby to learn more about the infants they helped through Swim for Melissa.


Donor Spotlight:

Dr. Jasper Castillo and Dr. Ken Teachey 3,100 miles, $58,000, one cause

Huntsville Hospital Pediatric Otolaryngologists Dr. Jasper V. Castillo, III and Dr. Ken Teachey, who both practice with North Alabama ENT Associates, started riding bikes together during their residency in 1989. Thirty years later, the duo decided to conquer the toughest endurance race in the world: Race Across America. This 3,100-mile trek begins in Oceanside, Calif., and ends in Annapolis, Md., boasting 170,000 feet of climbing along the way. While the race itself was an amazing feat, the most impactful part of the journey was that they raised $58,000 to help pediatric diabetes patients, right here in Rocket City. Q: Why did you choose to participate in Race Across America? KT: For me, Race Across America (RAAM) was 30 years in the making. My friend and fellow teammate, Rick, talked about RAAM while in medical school but residency training, family, children and work prevented any further discussion until this year. When he called, there was no hesitation with decision-making. JC: I participated in many cycling events through the years like triathlons, various century rides, week-long vacations in the western U.S., and riding the Tour de France course in the mornings before the event. I participated in many of those events with Dr. Teachey. One of his friends called and said they needed two more people on their team. I had heard of and read a lot about RAAM and how tremendously difficult it was. Of course, I said I was in right away. Q: What was the training process and race course like for you and your team? KT: Once we committed to RAAM, there was no looking back and no excuses. I trained for nine months with only eight or nine days off during that time. I personally rode 2,500 miles indoors on a bike trainer usually at 5 a.m. and again

after work, sometimes up to four hours a day. It sounds kind of crazy now. We did the race as a six-rider team (“Team EndoPark”), which required one rider on road at all times. That is 24 hours a day, straight through the night. There was a nine-day time limit, and initially our goal was 8.5 days. However, once we started, our training took over and we finished at 1:30 a.m. just seven days and 10 hours after starting. We far exceeded our goal. I was humbled at the finish when family and friends met us in Annapolis. JC: Training was a year-long amplification of my normal exercise week. I was already playing hockey at 5 a.m. three days a week, and riding bikes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and weekends. Weekend rides were two to four hours, but I needed to increase to five to six hours and added a Thursday morning three- to four-hour ride by waking up at 3 a.m. and riding before work. When the event was closer, I had to quit morning hockey and just ride daily. Q: Why did you choose to raise money for the Pediatric Endocrinology Fund? KT: Most teams do raise money for charities, which makes the event great. We chose Pediatric Endocrinology at Huntsville Hospital and partnered

with the Foundation. My middle son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at three years of age. Twenty-two years later, Huntsville Hospital continues to have needs in this division of Women & Children’s. Currently, children with Type 1 Diabetes have to travel to UAB or Vanderbilt for specialty care. We were able to raise $58,000 to put toward this cause. Hopefully the funds can aid in recruitment of a Pediatric Endocrinologist and assist in training Certified Pediatric Diabetes Educators, which the families of these children desperately need. Q: What do you hope these funds accomplish for our hospital and community? JC: As a Pediatric ENT physician, the recovery from tonsillectomy, in particular for a child with diabetes, is very difficult. Their diet is markedly different during the one-to-two-week post-op period, and therefore their insulin requirement is markedly different on almost every day during recovery. Adding a Pediatric Endocrinologist and support team with Nurse Practitioners and educators could be invaluable. Such a team would be able to help in many more instances as well, and would prevent patients and their families from having to drive to Birmingham or Nashville for such care.

You can support the Pediatric Endocrinology Fund and children in our community! Please visit to give.


FALL 2019

Community support Brian Hinson and his son Andrew represent Platinum Sponsor Bridgeworth, LLC at the 11th Annual Swing ”Fore” Children with Cancer Golf Tournament on June 17. The tournament raised more than $33,000 in net proceeds to benefit the Foundation’s Dr. Frank Crim Compassion Fund, which supports families of children with cancer who are treated in our Pediatric Oncology unit.

The Huntsville Hospital Lifesaver Club Steering Committee with Asteroid, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children’s new facility dog. The Lifesaver Club employee giving program fully funds the Foundation’s Canines for Coping program to bring joy and comfort to patients and staff. Follow Asteroid’s adventures on Instagram at @HH_ CaninesforCoping! Arts in Medicine Coordinator Melissa Lawson had a creative idea: instead of throwing those plastic medicine tops away, what if we put them to good use? Now a year later, this beautiful mermaid medicine top mural is hanging behind the nursing station on the Pediatrics floor. Thanks to Melissa and artistin-residence Kate Russell for bringing their vision to life. The Foundation proudly funds the Arts in Medicine program thanks to generous donors.

Raytheon Employee Resource Group’s Safety and Wellness Day raised $3,773 through a 3K walk/run, safety and wellness classes, blood drive, silent auction, and a raffle to benefit Pediatric Oncology and pediatric cancer patients from across North Alabama. Pictured L to R: Tom Hayes, Raytheon Veterans Network; Dr. Jennifer Cox, St. Jude Clinic Huntsville; Beatrix Setyono, Raytheon Asian Pacific Association; Ashlee Gray, Raytheon Women’s Network; Jordan Wallace, Huntsville Hospital Foundation.

The Bundles of Hope Fund provides dinner and gift cards to Neonatal ICU families with babies in the unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. The fund's Bundles of Hope Benefit Dinner raised $11,500 and featured guest speakers Courtney and Eric Waldrop from TLC’s Sweet Home Sextuplets who delivered at Women & Children. Pictured L to R: Kelly Armstrong, Leslie Jennings, Courtney Waldrop, Amanda Jones, Patricia Gey, Gelia Redmill and Heather Lovell.

The new state-of-the-art Kids Care 2 pediatric transport ambulance and the rewrapped Kids Care 1 are both on the road, transporting infants and children from across North Alabama to Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. The new ambulance and the innovative equipment on board were fully funded by Huntsville Hospital Foundation through the 2018 Huntsville Classic, Miracle Bash and Swim for Melissa events.


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