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The Miriam Memo Summer 2017

Minimally Invasive Urology Institute

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The Miriam Memo, a publication of The Miriam Hospital Foundation, is published for our friends and supporters. At times we share news and information with our donors electronically. If you’d like to receive timely updates by email and help us reduce paper and postage costs, please email

We invite you to learn more by contacting the Development Office at 401-793-2004

COVER: Illustration highlighting urinary organs treated by the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute.


t’s been a busy time at The Miriam and we have our donor community to thank for many of the amazing things that are happening here! As you’ll read in this issue of The Miriam Memo, our cardiac rehabilitation program is expanding to East Greenwich, thanks to a generous grant from The Champlin Foundation. This issue also takes you inside our Minimally Invasive Urology Institute. You won’t want to miss this article about the groundbreaking procedures being performed here and the powerhouse team of practitioners overseeing our patients’ care. From a couple’s gift to our cancer survivorship program, to Brown students honoring the memory of a classmate, and The Magic of Venice gala and auction, our friends and supporters have been out in full force supporting our efforts. We couldn’t be more grateful.

­Arthur J. Sampson President, The Miriam Hospital

I’m also pleased to share that Holly Palermo, longtime member of The Miriam Hospital’s development team, has been promoted to Chief Development Officer. You can reach Holly at 401-793-2014 or if there is anything she can help you with. Your friendship to The Miriam makes a world of difference for our patients. You can find our 2016 Honor Roll at, with my sincerest thanks.

Leave a Lasting Legacy “Stan’s relationship with The Miriam goes back to 1970, but, although newer to Rhode Island, I am no less committed to the preservation and future of The Miriam. It’s a jewel in Rhode Island’s crown of hospitals, and a great comfort to me, as it was to Stan, to know The Miriam is there when we need the best in hospital care. I am committed to honoring Stan’s and my pledge to make The Miriam a beneficiary of my estate.” – Mrs. Gale Aronson, The Miriam Hospital Living Heritage Society member

Dr. Stanley (deceased) & Mrs. Gale Aronson


e are grateful and appreciate all of our generous supporters. Because you care, we are able to accomplish our goal of helping our community receive world-class care right here in Rhode Island. Your commitment to a planned gift today will help ensure that our lifesaving work continues well into the future. Please consider joining the Living Heritage Society by including The Miriam Hospital in your will today. For additional information, please contact John F. Garcia, Planned Giving Officer, The Miriam Hospital, by phone at 401-606-4615 or by email at


Unparalleled Urologic Care in Rhode Island


he statistics speak for themselves: kidney stones affect 1 in 11 people in the United States; nearly all men will eventually develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in their later years, also known as enlarged prostate; and Rhode Island has the highest occurrence of bladder cancer in the country with more than 350 new diagnoses each year. Since pioneering the state’s first robotic prostatectomy for prostate cancer in 2006, The Miriam has performed thousands of minimally invasive laparoscopic, robot-assisted, and endourologic procedures to treat urological conditions ranging from genitourinary cancers and kidney stones, to BPH and adrenal masses.


In 2014, the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute (MIUI) was created as a center of excellence. Codirected by urologists Dragan J. Golijanin, MD, Gyan Pareek, MD, and Joseph F. Renzulli II, MD (pictured above, left to right), the MIUI is recognized as a regional leader in urology. “In urology, 9 out of 10 procedures can be done using minimally invasive techniques,” explains Dr. Golijanin. “Minimally invasive and robotic surgery is much easier on patients. There is less pain; recovery is more pleasant and there is much less blood loss. There is also a lower risk of infection, shorter hospitalization, and smaller incisions.”

One of the most advanced procedures MIUI surgeons perform is used in the treatment of bladder cancer, which often requires the removal of the entire bladder, nearby lymph nodes, part of the urethra, and nearby organs such as the prostate in men and the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes in women. The procedure is called a robot-assisted laparoscopic radical cystectomy. After the bladder is removed, the surgeon creates a urine diversion one of three ways. The most advanced technique is when a reservoir known as a neobladder is constructed out of part of the patient’s intestine. This “new” bladder allows the patient to urinate as before, without using an external urine bag or pouch. “What also sets the MIUI apart is our commitment to our patients by having all the key services needed to help them post-surgery, like pelvic floor rehab for both men and women,” explains Chris Tucci, RN, Program Manager of the MIUI. “Couple this with our collaboration with the Men’s Health Center at The Miriam, and patients have easy access to any post-surgical assistance they may need. It’s truly comprehensive care.”

Together with urologic surgeons, oncologists, nephrologists, registered nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, and clinical social workers, the MIUI delivers care that is unparalleled in our region. The Miriam is also the only hospital in Rhode Island to use blue-light cystoscopy, a leading-edge technology that improves detection of cancer cells in the bladder by illuminating cancerous areas not visible with white light. “The accolades for the MIUI and its interdisciplinary team of practitioners are monumental,” says Arthur J. Sampson, President of The Miriam Hospital. “And as surgeon-scientists, they often present their research at conferences both nationally and internationally. Patients are now coming to The Miriam for their urologic care from across New England and new breakthroughs are on the horizon every day.”

Our services not only help patients deal with the physical changes they have experienced, we help with the emotional as well. For men and women, issues of incontinence and impotence may be difficult to talk about, let alone manage. But should they occur, we have trained professionals at the ready to help them navigate through the difficult times. Sixty-five-year-old Larry had a neobladder created for him robotically four years ago as part of his postchemotherapy treatment plan for an aggressive form of bladder cancer. “It’s quite remarkable what was done for me,” he says. “Not only am I cancer free, I have no outward signs of what I’ve been through. I have my team at the MIUI and the Lifespan Cancer Institute to thank for that. They not only saved my life, they gave me back my life.”

Dr. Gyan Pareek performing blue-light cystoscopy


Champlin Foundation Enables Expansion Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised prevention program of exercise training, behavior modification, counseling, and education for people who have had cardiac surgery, heart failure or transplant, a cardiac event such as a heart attack or an intervention such as angioplasty and stent placement. “The outcomes are lifesaving and lifechanging,” says Wen-Chih “Hank” Wu, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Cardiac Fitness at The Miriam Hospital, which offers the program. Ellen lost 20 pounds during the 12-week program. She adopted a heart-healthy diet and is less anxious about suffering a second attack. “Cardiac rehabilitation has dramatically improved my life,” she says.


Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of The Champlin Foundation, more cardiac patients like Ellen will be able to participate in The Miriam Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program. A grant of $876,730 from the Foundation will allow The Miriam to expand the program by opening a satellite cardiac rehabilitation facility in East Greenwich.

“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” says Ellen, 77, of Riverside. “I thought I was in good health— no medications, walking four times a week. But my eating habits weren’t the best.”

“This project just jumped out at us,” says Keith H. Lang, Executive Director of The Champlin Foundation. “The themes of prevention, improved access, and reduced costs—these are crucial public health issues. The Champlin Foundation is proud to partner with The Miriam Hospital, a national leader in preventive medicine, to reduce risks and improve the lives of Rhode Islanders with heart disease.”

Tom and Ellen Donovan

ate one night last September, Ellen Donovan woke up violently sick to her stomach. Indigestion, she told herself. But the nausea didn’t go away. Gallstones, the retired nurse decided. Ellen and husband Tom headed to the emergency room at The Miriam Hospital, where Ellen quickly learned the real diagnosis: heart attack.

Ellen suffered a heart attack called an NSTEMI, a partial blockage of an artery that causes less damage to the heart muscle. It was a “warning sign,” said her cardiologist, who referred Ellen to The Miriam’s cardiac rehabilitation program to help prevent another, possibly worse, heart attack from occurring.


With increasing referrals, enrollment at the Center for Cardiac Fitness in Providence has reached capacity. The new facility at Lifespan’s Ambulatory Care Center in East Greenwich will provide more slots for

cardiac patients while also locating the program in a demographically underserved area between Providence and South County. “So many people who are eligible for cardiac rehab live in this area, and they’re not getting the services they’re entitled to,” says Loren Stabile, Program Manager for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation at The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital. “We need to expand so that more people with heart disease can take the next step to recovery.” Dr. Wu estimates that the satellite location, expected to open in October, will experience more than 8,700 visits a year, drawing patients from Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry, and North Kingstown. “The Champlin Foundation’s generosity to The Miriam is nothing short of spectacular—we can’t say thank you enough,” says President Arthur J. Sampson. “Through the years, the Foundation’s generosity has touched virtually every corner of The Miriam Hospital. Now, with a new center in East Greenwich, this extraordinary philanthropy will allow us to reach more patients where they live, making it easier to access our comprehensive cardiovascular services.”

Facts About Heart Disease and Cardiac Rehabilitation • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. • Every year, roughly 935,000 Americans will have a coronary event, and more than 30 percent will have a second and potentially fatal one. • Cardiac rehabilitation reduces the risk of a future cardiac event by stabilizing, slowing, or even reversing the progression of cardiovascular disease. • Cardiac rehabilitation reduces mortality by over 50 percent compared with those patients who do not participate. • Participation in cardiac rehabilitation can reduce the likelihood of hospital readmissions (for all causes) by 25 percent. (Source: American Heart Association)

Cardiac rehabilitation requires a significant time commitment—two hours of activities three times a week for 12 weeks. But the results are measurable, including improvements in endurance, weight loss, bad cholesterol, and physical and emotional quality of life. Today, Ellen attends the center’s cardiac maintenance program, while her husband recently began pulmonary rehabilitation, also offered at the center. “If I want to live and live well, I have to make a change in my lifestyle,” says Ellen. “I have two daughters and six grandchildren. I want to be here for my family.”

Patient at Providence cardiac rehabilitation


Magic of Venice Raises $785,700




he WaterFire Arts Center was transformed to capture the festive ambience of one of the world’s most romantic cities when The Miriam Hospital hosted its annual gala and auction, Magic of Venice, at Providence’s newest event venue on Saturday, May 13. Representing The Miriam’s largest and most crucial annual fundraiser, more than 500 hospital friends and supporters attended the sold-out event to raise $785,700. The funds raised will benefit The Miriam Fund for a New Generation to support the hospital’s greatest and most pressing needs, along with helping to advance The Miriam’s renowned oncology services. Of the total raised, the live and super silent auctions, and fund-a-need generated $386,600 to expand research and treatment for bladder and other genitourinary cancers at The Leonard and Adele R. Decof Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Miriam Hospital, part of the Lifespan Cancer Institute. Rhode Island has the highest per capita incidence of bladder cancer in the United States.

Arthur J. Sampson; Joe and Betty Brito; Grace Dugan and her husband, Greg Pizzuti

Co-chaired by Grace Dugan and her husband, Greg Pizzuti, Magic of Venice began with an Italian-inspired cocktails and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by welcome remarks from hospital leadership and Gloria Winston, a 90-year-old volunteer who personifies the spirit of The Miriam and has been volunteering at the hospital for more than six decades. Guests were then introduced to two Miriam patients who shared stories of their journey with bladder cancer in an emotional video that showcased the innovative treatments that saved their lives.

Margaret M. Van Bree, MHA, DrPH; Jen and Joe Andruzzi

Presenting Sponsors


Leadership Donor

Before a dinner of delectable Italian cuisine prepared by Russell Morin Catering & Events, professional auctioneer Paul Zekos of The Zekos Group presented the night’s live auction. As he prepared for the fund-a-need, longtime Miriam donors Betty and Joe Brito surprised everyone when they announced a challenge to match all donations at the $500, $2,500, and $5,000 levels, up to a total of $100,000. Further inspired by the couple’s generosity, guests met the challenge, raising their bid numbers high and often.

Arthur J. Sampson; Gloria Winston; Lynda Sampson

“Words alone are not enough to thank our co-chairs, event committee, donors, and sponsors for always being by our side and for making this event a huge success that will directly benefit our patients and their families,” said Arthur J. Sampson, President of The Miriam Hospital. “The unprecedented and completely unexpected philanthropic gesture of Betty and Joe Brito in support of this year’s funda-need truly put the magic in our Magic of Venice theme.” After the fund-a-need, guests danced the night away to the sounds of GQ and The Lady.

John Loerke; Marie Langlois; Julie and Brett Gerstenblatt

Platinum Sponsors




Couple Supports Cancer Survivorship


oston-based real estate investor Arthur Solomon came to Providence looking for a parcel of land to develop. He reached out to Sally Lapides, renowned for her knowledge of the local real estate market. While the parcel didn’t pan out, something far better did. “I made a better deal,” Art says fondly. Now married 12 years, Sally and Art are clearly soul mates. Both are titans of real estate. She is President and CEO of Residential Properties LTD, and he is Chairman and CEO of the DSF Group. They are passionate about family, gathering around the table (Sally loves to cook), politics, the arts, sports (Art owns a minor league baseball team), and giving back to the community. The couple also shares a long-held commitment to The Miriam Hospital and both have served on its Board of Governors. Last year, when they toured the Lifespan Cancer Institute at The Miriam with their friend, Fred J. Schiffman, MD, Medical Director of the Lifespan Cancer Institute, the couple was inspired to make a major commitment to yet another of their shared interests— cancer survivorship. Both have sisters who have been through treatment. With a generous gift, they established the Arthur Solomon and Sally Lapides Cancer Survivorship Program Fund. The fund will support a nurse practitioner at The Miriam to coordinate all aspects of the survivorship program, including access to whatever services they may need within and outside of The Miriam Hospital. “The medical advances are amazing and patients are living much longer,” says Art. “But survivors need continued services and care to ensure quality of life after treatment ends.”


Sally Lapides and Arthur Solomon

“Providing this kind of support is a privilege,” adds Sally. “Instead of birthday or other gifts, we have asked our family to make donations to the survivorship program.” With five children and eight grandkids between them, Sally and Art have passed down the same tradition of giving that was entrusted to them by their parents and grandparents. “We have a strong cancer survivorship program now. But thanks to Sally and Art’s generosity, it will be even stronger,” says Dr. Schiffman. “Their gift to The Miriam Hospital is an inspiring example of their love for our community. It’s a wonderful gift, one that will make an important difference for patients in our care, now and well into the future.”

Research Pioneer in Obesity Studies Gestational Diabetes


n the 1970s, when Rena Wing completed her PhD in social psychology and decided to focus her behavioral research on obesity, people were mystified. “Why are you doing this?” she recalls them asking. “It’s just a cosmetic problem.” The world has undergone a sea change since Dr. Wing—Director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital— became a pioneer in the fight against obesity. Today, obesity is recognized as a complex health condition of epidemic proportions and a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and more.

Gestational diabetes mellitus affects about 18 percent of pregnancies. According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

A five-year, $2.8 million grant from the NIH to The Miriam Hospital and California Polytechnic State University will explore whether weight loss can prevent the recurrence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) among pregnant women. GDM, which affects about 18 percent of pregnancies, increases both maternal and fetal health risks, from preeclampsia to birth trauma. Women who experience GDM are very likely to have it again in their next pregnancy. Dr. Wing is the principal investigator for The Miriam’s clinical trial, which is now enrolling women who are overweight or obese and had GDM during their previous pregnancies. “The goal is to make the next pregnancy safer for women and their babies,” says Dr. Wing, who is professor of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “A recurrence of gestational diabetes triples a woman’s risk of complications and future health problems. If you lose weight, it will improve your health and your child’s health—it’s very important.”

But thanks to the trail-blazing behavioral research of Dr. Wing and her colleagues, thousands of people with obesity are living healthier lives. An intensive weight-loss intervention designed by Dr. Wing to treat obesity and prevent type 2 diabetes is being used at clinical centers and YMCAs across the country. Now the renowned investigator, who has devoted her career to finding the most effective strategies for long-term weight loss and prevention of weight gain, is targeting gestational diabetes.


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Bench Press for Cancer Raises $23,336

Logan Winders lifts with a torn ACL

Sue Korber, RN; Nicholas Dominick, Jr.; Brett Estes; and Fred J. Schiffman, MD


lexing their muscles in support of The Miriam Hospital, members of the Brown University football team—joined by fellow students, members of the community and hospital staff—took turns “raising the bar to raise the hope” during their annual Bench Press for Cancer event this past October.

On Wednesday, March 1, event organizers made a special trip to The Miriam, presenting hospital leadership with a donation of $23,336 to benefit The Miriam’s Cancer Survivorship Program and help young adults battling cancer. Bench Press for Cancer made its first appearance at Brown in 2004, when members of the football team created the event to help former teammate and team captain Lawrence Rubida, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma while at Brown. Sadly, Lawrence passed away in 2005, but his Brown football family has continued the event annually to honor his memory and help others. Participants bench press a weight of either 75 or 165 pounds for as many repetitions as they can to raise money for young adults battling cancer. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $130,000.

The Miriam Memo Summer 2017  
The Miriam Memo Summer 2017