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A Massive Blood Transfusion Saves a Life

Spotting a Stroke and Acting Fast

When Pets Roam, Spirits Soar






Elite Orthopedics Care Keeps Former Olympian Going Strong


from the CEO I joined Saint John’s Health Center just a few short months ago, and in that time I have been privileged to meet and speak with countless numbers of patients, associates, physicians, donors and volunteers. Regardless of who I have spoken with, I have heard the same overarching sentiment: “We love Saint John’s!” When asked why, the reasons have been unanimous: “outstanding medical staff, compassionate nursing care, access to the latest technology and research and a personalized approach

Mike Wall Acting President and CEO

to care.” In this issue of Breakthroughs, you’ll read stories that touch on all of these attributes. For instance, in the story

on page 16, you’ll learn how the top-notch sports medicine experts at the Santa Monica Orthopaedic Group do everything possible to make sure athletes, from weekend warriors to former Olympians, have their shot at success on the playing field. Then, on page 28, discover how the Patient Navigation Program at the world-class Margie Petersen Breast Center supports breast cancer patients with a personalized approach. On page 13, read about one mother’s harrowing ordeal during childbirth and how a rapid response protocol initiated by Saint John’s saved her life. All these stories of clinical triumph and compassionate care make it an honor for me to represent Saint John’s Health Center. In recent news, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System announced that it will enter into exclusive negotiations for Providence Health & Services, Southern California, to assume sponsorship of Saint John’s Health Center. As the hospital moves forward on this journey, Saint John’s will continue to provide the community with breakthrough medicine and inspired healing, and we look forward to a bright future ahead.


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contents departments 2 | Letter from the CEO 4 | Letter to Friends and Supporters 10 | On the Horizon 30 | Happenings 34 | Shout Outs

in good health 5 | By the Numbers: Construction Facts 6 | Clinical Trials Highlights 7 | Healthy Recipe Nutrition Tips 8 | Summer Safety 9 | Healthgrades



12 | Call in the Reinforcements

22 | PAWS 28 | Patient Navigator

A young family embraces life after a near tragedy during childbirth.

16 | Tapping Into Your Inner Olympic Spirit

Santa Monica Orthopaedic Group knows how athletes tick.

24 | Quick Action is the Key to Stroke Treatment

Many people don’t recognize a stroke — at their peril. ON THE COVER Former Olympian Cliff Meidl photographed by Jeff Berting SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


Hospital Staff and Trustees Look Forward to Continued Success 

Dear Friends and Supporters of Saint John’s and John Wayne Cancer Institute:


On May 17, 2013, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System announced they had entered into exclusive negotiations with Providence Health & Services to assume sponsorship (ownership) of Saint John’s and John Wayne Cancer Institute. The medical staff leadership and Foundation Trustees of Saint John’s Health Center, as well as the leadership of JWCI, embrace the initiation of negotiations. Although details of the transfer of sponsorship are yet to be determined, we believe this to be a very positive development for our hospital and community. We are pleased with the many strengths Providence brings to Saint John’s, including its expertise in managing Catholic hospitals in Southern California as well as its extensive physician and clinic networks. The medical and Foundation leadership is eager to sit down with Providence to begin the process of learning about one another and what we anticipate will be a smooth and fruitful transition. We remain committed to strong community


Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Wall Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications Anita Bhatia Smith

and physician engagement in the operation and management of Saint John’s. We anticipate this new relationship with Providence will allow further development of our many outstanding clinical service lines, including orthopedics, oncology, neurosurgery, women’s health and cardiovascular disease. We also look forward to Providence’s support and collaboration in advancing the mission of JWCI. The Institute has been at the forefront of cancer research—making an impact worldwide for more than 30 years—and continues to train future leaders in cancer care through its renowned Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program. Each of us has chosen Saint John’s for very personal reasons—some from the day their first child was delivered here. We realize that it is a different kind of hospital: a tertiary care institution with a compassionate, personal touch. For many on the medical staff, Saint John’s has represented the fusion of high-tech care in a community-based setting, creating a unique environment where the highest quality patient care always comes first. Regardless of why we each call Saint John’s home, we are unified in our commitment to its future viability and continued success. With our new sponsor and state-of-the-art facility, we look forward to a reinvigoration of the Health Center and a renewed opportunity to care for our community and its patients for many years to come. Paul Natterson, MD President, Saint John’s Health Center Medical Staff

Patrick Wayne Chairman of the Board of Directors, John Wayne Cancer Institute

Donna Tuttle Chair, Saint John’s Health Center Foundation


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58 11th Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254 Tel 310-376-7800 Fax 310-376-0200

VP, Branded Media Emily S. Baker Art Director Ajay Peckham Editor Shari Roan Copy Editor Laura Watts Contributors Dawn Hoffman Sandi Draper Photographers Jeff Berting Randi Curby Remy Haynes President & CEO Charles C. Koones Chairman & Founder Todd Klawin

in good health


Mullin Plaza Construction Facts Mullin Plaza, the new entryway to Saint John’s Health Center, will open in the coming weeks. Over the past years, earth has been moved, concrete poured and vegetation planted. Here are some facts and figures on the construction.

Rebar needed:

1,000,000 POUNDS Concrete poured:


Hedges in maze:


LINEAR FEET Trees planted:

89 Size of water feature:

10.5 FEET X 58 FEET Ground excavated:


Number of rose bushes:



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in good health Advancements Saint John’s distinguishes itself as a community hospital with a robust dedication to medical research. Here are a few of our faculty’s current research projects.




More than 30 million people in the United States suffer from back pain. While physical therapy and medication provide a solution in some cases, about 4.5 million people still experience pain due to disc degeneration. Hyun Bae, MD, a spine surgeon at Saint John’s Health Center, specializes in life-changing medical research for diagnosis and treatment of the spine. In a recent high-profile study, he used adult stem cells to treat low back pain. This outpatient, non-surgical treatment uses a simple, intervertebral disc injection of allogeneic mesenchymal precursor cells that takes less than 20 minutes. Preclinical trials showed that a single, low dose of allogeneic adult stem cells resulted in dramatic reversal of the degenerative process and symptoms.

Marilou Terpenning, MD, is directing the only California site for the national trial “Young and Strong,” which is designed to provide specific support for young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The trial is sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and includes 24 academic and 40 community sites across the country. The program is intended to identify gaps in the care of young women (ages 18 to 45) diagnosed with breast cancer and address their special needs. Investigators believe that if confronted early in a young woman’s care, concerns related to fertility, body image, sexual dysfunction and physical activity can be addressed, leading to an improved quality of life and enhanced care for this vulnerable population. In order to be eligible, women must be seen by Santa Monica Hematology-Oncology within three months of their breast cancer diagnosis.

Oncologists know that advanced melanoma (skin cancer) tends to spread more often to particular areas, including the liver. Mark Faries, MD, director of the Melanoma Research Program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, has helped develop a treatment called “isolated liver perfusion.” This innovative, interdisciplinary technique involves physically isolating blood vessels leading to and from the liver and then delivering chemotherapy directly to the organ.  By isolating the liver, the patient can receive very high doses of chemotherapy because the rest of the body is spared most of the exposure to the drug. Using this method, Dr. Faries and other researchers in the United States have demonstrated remarkable responses in patients whose tumors were resistant to all other forms of therapy. Saint John’s Health Center is the only site on the West Coast approved to perform this procedure.

If you or someone you know is at least 18 years of age and has severe, long-term back pain, call 310-828-7757 or visit to learn more about this study.


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For more information or to see if you are eligible, call 310-453-5654.

For more information, call 310-582-7456.

in good health

Healthy Eating A refreshing summertime dessert By Sandy Andrews, RD, CDE, CPT, Director Nutrition & Diabetes Education, Saint John’s Health Center

Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Pepper Ingredients: 3 pints fresh strawberries, hulled 1 tablespoon Smart Balance (use a no-trans-fat margarine) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Freshly ground black pepper 3 cups Dreyer’s Light Slow Churned frozen yogurt (or a light ice cream) Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 400º. Melt margarine in microwave on low power. Add vanilla, sugar and balsamic vinegar and whisk until smooth. Toss with berries to coat. 2. Place berries in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper (four to five grinds with a pepper mill). 3. Roast in the oven 12 to 15 minutes.  4. Serve with light frozen yogurt as a sundae topping. 5. A  ¼-cup portion of the strawberry topping may be cooled and refrigerated and used as a topping over oatmeal or Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. This can be counted as one breakfast fruit serving.

In a Nutshell

Nuts are everywhere. They’re in baked goods, salads, cereals, ice cream and sprinkled into many fish and vegetable dishes. Nuts are considered healthy, although they contain a lot of fat. That’s why health experts recommend limiting your consumption to a handful each day. 1-OUNCE SERVING GRAMS OF FAT

Serves 6 (½-cup portion) or 1 (ice cream scoop portion) Nutrients per serving Calories: 180 per ½-cup serving Total Fat: 4 to 5 grams Total Carbohydrates: 25 to 30 grams Fiber: 3 to 4 grams Sugar: 8 grams Sodium: 60 grams Cholesterol: 20 milligrams















169 185 196

Macadamia nuts


Source: United States Department of Agriculture

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in good health

Avoiding Summer Bummers Russ Kino, MD

A conversation with Dr. Russ Kino about summer safety.

The long, warm summer days usually mean more fun for Southern Californians and visitors to the region. School’s out. Vacation’s on. It’s time to bike, swim, skate, surf and golf. But outdoor recreational pursuits can land people in the emergency room as well. Since one of every five Americans visits an emergency department each year, we asked Russ Kino, MD, director of emergency services at Saint John’s Health Center, for some words of wisdom. With 29 years of experience as an emergency room physician—18 at Saint John’s—he’s seen it all.

Have you seen any changes in summertime mishaps over the years? “Rollerblades are a lot less popular than they used to be. I think we’re seeing fewer head injuries related to bicycles. There is no question that wearing a helmet has become much more en vogue, both in the snow and on bikes and skateboards and rollerblades. However, it doesn’t seem that wearing wrist guards makes a lot of difference to preventing forearm fractures.”


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Do you think people are using sunscreen more? “People may still be getting sunburned, but they’re just not coming to the ER. We tend not to see a lot of sunburn.” What can people do to keep the summer months injury-free? “The big, intuitive, common-sense thing is make sure you wear a seatbelt. If you’re doing anything on wheels, wear a helmet.” It’s important to be consistent about these things, isn’t it? “In general, people are eating better and living healthier lives. There is more education about eating better and avoiding sugary drinks. It’s these little things you do every day that affect your long-term health so profoundly.” What should people do to stay safe at the beach? “Probably the number-one thing is minimize sun exposure. I’d say that’s the most harmful thing that’s occurring there. Wear a hat and sunscreen and take

an umbrella. Make sure kids wear a hat and wear sunscreen. Make sure you can swim and stay in areas around the lifeguards.” There may not be much you can do to avoid a marine sting, but you have a good remedy for stings. Tell us about it. “Putting the warmest water you can manage will get rid of the sting in most cases. Buy a cup of coffee and let it cool a bit. Stick your foot in a cup of coffee. That will provide profound relief.” What do you like the most about your job? “It’s very meaningful. It’s very satisfying. Being an ER doctor, you get instant gratification. You see that you make a difference every day.” What do you like to do in the summer? “I like to surf in the summer. But I try to use sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and stay out of the mid-day sun.”


Do you see different kinds of problems in the ER during the summer months? “In the summer months, people are outdoors more. There are more sunburns and swimming accidents. Here in the beach community, there are rollerblading and biking accidents—that kind of thing. We see a lot of jellyfish and stingray stings in the summer. But then there is less flu and pneumonia.”

in good health

Saint John’s Earns Top Healthgrades Ranking Saint John’s Health Center was recently named one of the nation’s 50 best hospitals by Healthgrades, an online resource for information on doctors and hospitals. Saint John’s is the only hospital in California and one of only 19 in the nation to have been named among the nation’s 50 best for seven years in a row. The designation ensures Los Angeles residents that the care they receive at Saint John’s is of the highest quality. The health center was also named a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence—ranking in the top 5% among all hospitals—for the 11th straight year. “By selecting a hospital on the Healthgrades America’s 50 best hospitals list,

Being named one of America’s Top 50 hospitals for the seventh year in a row only further supports what I’ve always seen at Saint John’s: It’s dedicated to taking care of its patients.”

consumers can expect a commitment to exceptional quality and clinical care that is among the best in the nation,” says Evan Marks, Healthgrades’ executive vice president of informatics and strategy. As one of the top 50 hospitals in the nation, Saint John’s ranks in the upper 1% among 4,500 hospitals evaluated over seven years. Among the hospital’s Healthgrades awards: • One of America’s 100 best hospitals for cardiac care and coronary intervention for 2012 and 2013 • One of America’s 100 best hospitals for joint replacement for 2012 and 2013 • Cardiac Care Excellence Award for four straight years • Coronary Intervention Excellence Award for four straight years • Women’s Health Excellence Award for three straight years “Saint John’s remains dedicated to providing the best possible care to its patients in a healing and comforting environment,” said Paul Natterson, MD, president of Saint John’s medical staff. “Being named one of America’s Top 50 hospitals for the seventh year in a row only further supports what I’ve always seen at Saint John’s: It’s dedicated to taking care of its patients.” Performance rankings translate into lives saved, says Archelle Georgiou, MD, a strategic advisor to Healthgrades. If all hospitals performed at the level of the Healthgrades America’s 100 best hospitals during the years 2009 to 2011, he says, more than 165,000 lives potentially could have been saved.

SHOPPING FOR HEALTHCARE A recent Healthgrades survey of 7,700 Americans found that people know they need to be smarter about choosing doctors and hospitals.



of Americans think that choosing a physician or hospital is at the top of the list of significant life decisions, but: 42% spend 10 or more hours researching a car. 34% spend less than one hour researching a physician.


of Americans know where to access information about a hospital’s performance.



have felt that they made the wrong choice when selecting a doctor or hospital.

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on the horizon Saint John's Health Center is a proud member of the Santa Monica community and encourages your participation at events both at the hospital and around town.

36th annual Will Rogers 5K, 10K run sponsored by Saint John’s Health Center, July 4

JUNE 15 Huck Finn Day Douglas Park 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Santa Monica Jaycees host this annual event for children, featuring live trout fishing, pie eating contest and other games. For more information:

JUNE 23 13th Annual Main Street Summer SOULstice Main Street 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Experience live music, sidewalk sale, children’s activities and entertainment. Street closures also include Kinney and Pier Ave. For more information: 310-899-9555


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JULY 4 Fourth of July Parade Main Street 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Presented by the Ocean Park Association, the parade features All-American floats, bands and dancers. Wear your red, white and blue and join in the fun. Parking at the Civic Center garage and surface lot is $3 and opens at 6:30 a.m. For more information:

JULY Childbirth Preparation Classes and Maternity Tours Two-part childbirth education classes at Saint John’s will be held on July 2 and 9, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; July 3 and 10, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; and July 6 and 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Maternity Tours will be held July 12 and July 18 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; July 16 and 29 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and July 20 and 27 at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. For more information or to make reservations: 310-8298887 or email elsa.ruedas@

JULY 11 Summer Twilight Concert Series Santa Monica Pier 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. This is the opening night of the concert series, which runs every Thursday night throughout the summer. Concerts are free. For more information:


on the horizon

Summer Twilight Concert Series Santa Monica Pier, July 11

JULY 12 Cinema on the Street Third Street Promenade at Wilshire Boulevard 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Outdoor movies tailored to all ages will be held each Friday on July 12 (Back to the Future), 19 (Despicable Me in 3D) and 26 (Three Amigos!). Bring a blanket or beach chair. Attendance is free. For more information:

JULY 4              36th annual Will Rogers 5K, 10K run sponsored by Saint John’s Health Center Pacific Palisades 6:30 a.m. registration 8 a.m. race start time The 5k, 10k and Kids Run start and finish at the Palisades Recreation Center, 851 Alma Real Drive, Pacific Palisades. We look forward to seeing you at the starting line. For more information: 310-829-8424

JULY 27 Santa Monica Chamber Health & Fitness Festival Third Street Promenade 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The 38th annual Health & Fitness Festival promotes healthy living. Vendors will showcase their products and services. For more information: healthandfitness

AUGUST 2013 Buehrle Golf Classic Missouri Bluff Golf Course, Saint Charles, MO The Buehrle Golf Classic, the premier fundraiser of The Buehrle Family Foundation, will be held to benefit JWCI as well as other institutions. Proceeds from the tournament benefit breast and colon cancer research in memory of Sharon Buehrle and Alan Pinkstaff. The twoshotgun event includes more than 300 participants. For more information: or 310-315-6111

AUGUST 11 Jazz on the Lawn Stewart Street Park 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Bring a picnic, blanket and beach chair and enjoy a sampling of jazz. Bands will be announced in July. For more information:

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs



breakthroughs SUMMER 2013

Call in the REINFORCEMENTS When Frances Armantrout began losing blood after giving birth, her doctors implemented a lifesaving protocol. Written by DAWN HOFFMAN Photographed by REMY HAYNES


rances Armantrout was aware of some pregnancy complications with her second child. The baby was breech, as her first child had been, and the placenta was in a low-lying position that caused some bleeding. So a repeat Cesarean section was scheduled for July, 2012, at Saint John’s Health Center. As the date neared, though, more bleeding prompted the surgery to be moved up a bit. The obstetrician, Maria Ottavi, MD, knew the surgery might be more difficult than usual, so she had a couple units of blood on hand—just in case. But no one could have predicted what happened in the operating room on the afternoon of July 26. After a healthy baby girl named Chloe was delivered, things took a frightening turn for the worse. In normal pregnancies, the placenta usually detaches from the uterus fairly easily after a baby is born, but not for Armantrout, 41, of Westwood. The C-section revealed that she had an unexpectedly serious complication in which the placenta grew deep into the uterine wall and into the surrounding tissue—a severe condition called placenta percreta. “I remember Dr. Ottavi saying she couldn’t deliver the placenta,” says Armantrout. “It was stuck. She said she was going to do a hysterectomy.” Armantrout quickly began losing massive amounts of blood, and Dr. Ottavi called for

more medical personnel—and more blood. “I knew this wasn’t normal, because I’d had a C-section before,” Armantrout says. “Then I was just knocked out.” The Saint John’s Health Center surgical team spent the next five hours attempting to stop the massive hemorrhaging and

I knew this wasn’t normal, because I’d had a C-section before,” Armantrout says. “Then I was just knocked out.” completing the hysterectomy. Armantrout received 16 units of packed red blood cells in addition to several units of other blood products. The average human body has about 10 units of blood. Doctors weren’t sure she was going to pull through and neither was her husband. Instead of calling relatives to joyously announce the birth of baby Chloe, Kyle Armantrout had the horrible task of informing them he didn’t know whether Frances would survive childbirth. “I said, ‘She’s potentially bleeding to death, and you need to get here now.’” But to the amazement of her family, Frances Armantrout did pull through. Now she and her doctors are crediting SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


Call in the Reinforcements

her survival to a relatively new program at Saint John’s called the Massive Transfusion Protocol. Looking back now and hearing about all that transpired that day, Armantrout says, “I think that protocol totally saved me.” PROTOCOL DESIGNED TO SAVE LIVES The protocol, implemented early last year, is a series of steps to ensure that cases involving unexpected and rapid massive blood loss are treated in the best possible way. The steps include having all the appropriate medical personnel ready to help and the precise blood products available in the correct ratios to help stop the hemorrhaging. No new surgeries are started so that all hands are on deck to aid the most critical patient. In Armantrout’s case, the protocol was initiated when it was clear the bleeding from the placenta was out of control. “This basically made her case the priority for the whole hospital,” Dr. Ottavi explains. “I think that’s what really saved her life; having this rapid response system in place.” Major trauma centers that see serious accident and injury cases on a daily basis already are equipped to deal with massive bleeding. “Because Saint John’s is a community hospital and not a trauma center, we infrequently encounter patients with such emergent and profuse hemorrhage,” says Jaime Shamonki, MD, a pathologist and one of the developers of the new protocol. Still, it happens. In 2011, Dr. Shamonki and John Robertson, MD, chair of the Saint John’s transfusion committee and director of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, decided they wanted to be ready for it and began laying plans to implement the program. Massive bleeding can result unexpectedly during childbirth, as occurred with Armantrout, and during procedures such as neck and spine surgeries, aortic aneurysm surgeries and angioplasties that accidentally rupture a coronary artery. It also can occur in the emergency room with non-trauma patients, such as those who come in with stomach pain and experience massive gastrointestinal bleeds. And when the bleeding starts, there is no time 14

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to transfer a patient to a nearby trauma center. “You have minutes to respond,” Dr. Shamonki says, or the patient could bleed out and die. BLOOD PRODUCTS READY FOR USE Dr. Shamonki says that before the Massive Transfusion Protocol was in place there likely would have been more confusion and fewer resources—both in terms of medical professionals and blood products—available in these cases. “Now the whole hospital becomes aware that someone is bleeding,” she says. That frees up surgeons, anesthesiologists and other personnel to help. The protocol also ensures that the ideal mix of blood products to stop the hemorrhaging is given.

Call in the Reinforcements

“You have a system where you can plugs to repair the artery, you won’t deliver blood products efficiently, and stop the bleeding,” says Dr. Robertyou can deliver the right products,” son. He likens this scenario to that Dr. Shamonki says. of people with hemophilia who can Whole blood is made of various bleed to death because they don’t components, including red blood have the proper clotting proteins to cells, platelets and halt bleeding. clotting proteins. So far at Saint Packed red blood John’s, the Massive Now the whole cells, which deliver Transfusion hospital becomes oxygen to the body’s Protocol has tissues, are one of been initiated six aware that someone the most important times, and all of is bleeding.” blood products. the patients have But they alone are survived. Prior not sufficient for people experiencing to the new protocol, there was a massive hemorrhaging, who also 34% mortality rate with these lifeneed platelets and clotting proteins to threatening hemorrhages, according help their blood form “plugs” or clots, to Dr. Robertson, who was called explains Dr. Robertson. to scrub in during Armantrout’s “You can give all the blood in the emergency surgery. world, but if it doesn’t have the little “It really works,” he says. “There’s no question about it.” When Armantrout awoke after her harrowing ordeal, she had no idea how close she came to cheating death. But she quickly realized her complications must have been worse than anyone realized. “I woke up in the ICU with a ventilator in my mouth,” she remembers. “I couldn’t talk or breathe on my own.” More than a week later, though, she was well enough to leave, and she and Chloe were discharged. “We left together,” Armantrout says, and they happily went home to join big brother, Grayson, age 2, and dad, Kyle. For his part, Kyle was thrilled to be taking Frances and Chloe home—and also very grateful to the medical staff at Saint John’s for saving his wife and keeping his family together. “I didn’t Frances Armantrout holds baby get the Shakespearean ending,” he Chloe after recovering from a traumatic delivery. says. “I got the Hollywood ending.”



Survival stories like that of Frances Armantrout and countless others would not be possible without generous people taking the time to give blood. “It’s important for people to donate blood, because it can’t be manufactured otherwise,” says Carol Blumenthal, blood bank supervisor at Saint John’s Health Center. “It’s only good for a certain amount of days; it has to be replenished continuously.” The amount of blood products the hospital uses can vary widely from day to day, but the hospital is always well stocked. There is no need for patients coming in for surgery to donate blood in advance, she notes. The whole process of giving blood at Saint John’s takes less than an hour, with the actual donation time being less than 10 minutes. Donors are given a mini-physical to check their blood pressure, pulse, temperature and hemoglobin levels, which ensures they are healthy enough to give blood. However, the biggest perk of giving blood is the gratification of knowing you may have helped to save up to three lives with a single donation. “It makes you feel really good,” Blumenthal says, “and it doesn’t cost you anything.”

If you would like to donate blood at Saint John’s, call the Blood Donor Center at 310-829-8025 or email to set up an appointment. You also can find out if a mobile blood drive is taking place at a business, school or church in your area, or you can arrange to set one up.

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs



At Santa Monica Orthopaedic Group, every athlete deserves elite care. Written by SHARI ROAN


breakthroughs SUMMER 2013


In March, Los Angeles jumped into the ring of competing cities seeking to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The winning city won’t be known for some time. But if and when that time comes, the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group (SMOG) will be ready to step in and do its part. Few orthopaedic clinics have the sports pedigree of SMOG, which is affiliated with Saint John’s Health Center. The physicians and staff at the state-of-the-art clinic treat scores of elite athletes, including many Olympians.

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


Tapping Into Your Inner Olympic Spirit

From professionals to weekend warriors to athletes with special needs, the philosophy of the staff at SMOG is to keep people on top of their game, says Bert Mandelbaum, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at SMOG. “The level of experience we have. The level of focus on innovative research. Our focus on education, and the spectrum of care. No one else has a program quite like that,” he says, adding: “We know one thing: we know sports.”

the Olympic Games because, he says, it unifies athletes, from professional to amateur, young to old, famous to unheard of—igniting everyone’s dreams. “The Olympics are truly emblematic of the concept that we’re all athletes, and the Olympic spirit is in all of us,” Dr. Mandelbaum says. He has also cared for many elite athletes over the years as team physician with Pepperdine University, LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and as

The Olympics are truly emblematic of the concept that

and the Olympic spirit is in all of us.”

As a youth, Dr. Mandelbaum embraced athletics, playing lacrosse and football. He also played college lacrosse and coached a lacrosse team while earning his medical degree. His world was sports— both inside and outside medical school. “I went to medical school to be a sports doctor,” he says. “My desire to work with athletes was always there.” After moving to Los Angeles as a young physician, he began caring for some of the area’s many professional and collegiate athletes. Eventually, he became the team physician for four U.S. Men’s World Cup Soccer teams, two Women’s World Cup Soccer teams, and he oversaw the soccer tournament at four consecutive Summer Olympic Games. Dr. Mandelbaum has a special fondness for


breakthroughs SUMMER 2013

director of research for Major League Baseball. Treating top-tier athletes has taught him a lot about the rest of his patients, he says. “The difference between the most elite athlete and everyone else is that the individuals at the highest levels of their sport have the ability to run faster or jump higher and be more forceful.” But, Dr. Mandelbaum adds, in spirit those athletes aren’t really all that different from the weekend warriors and Pop Warner players and retirees he sees at SMOG every day. “We’re all meant to be athletes,” he says.

Perhaps no one can attest to the depth of care experienced by athletes at Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group better

Tapping Into Your Inner Olympic Spirit

than Olympian Cliff Meidl. In 1986, Meidl, from Manhattan Beach, was employed as an apprentice plumber when he received a massive electrical shock while working on a job site. He had been using a jackhammer to drill through a concrete slab when the tool made contact with an unmarked electrical cable. The blast blew Meidl out of the hole he was working in. But he slid back into the hole and the still-energized jackhammer came into contact with his knees. With more than 15% of his body burned and

emergency room to consult after Meidl arrived. Meidl was discharged from the hospital after three months and spent two years in supervised rehabilitation programs, racking up a total of 15 surgical procedures to reconstruct his knees and keep the joints free from infection. Dr. Mandelbaum became a chief ally in his recovery. “I remember going through many trials and tribulations,” Meidl recalls. “I had bilateral muscle grafts and was missing a third of my knee joint with major tissue damage in both knees. It often

I would take two steps forward and one step back. Dr. Mandelbaum told me, ‘Listen, you always want to push hard, but you know your body better than anyone.’ ” his knees in shambles, he survived cardiac arrest immediately after the accident. He then underwent surgery to try to salvage his knees with muscle grafts taken from his calves, recalls Dr. Mandelbaum, who was brought into the

seemed like my recovery involved great progress and then some setbacks. I would take two steps forward and one step back. Dr. Mandelbaum told me, ‘Listen, you always want to push hard, but you know your body better than anyone.’ He had the

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


Tapping Into Your Inner Olympic Spirit

Bert Mandelbaum, MD, is one of the leading sports medicine physicians in Los Angeles.

medical expertise to know I could only do so much with my injuries. He was a huge provider from the inspiration standpoint. He was a huge motivator.” It took more than three years for Meidl to walk without crutches. He continued his rehab with weight lifting, riding a stationary bicycle, swimming and paddling in an outrigger canoe. Eventually, he switched to the sport of flat-water sprint kayaking, and by 1996—10 years after his near-fatal accident—he was named to the Olympic team that competed in Atlanta. Meidl also competed in Sydney in 2000 and was chosen by his U.S. teammates to carry the flag into the stadium at Opening Ceremonies. “Marching with a normal gait and broad grin, no one would suspect that it took Cliff thousands 20

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of hours and unimaginable pain to rebuild and re-strengthen his body,” Dr. Mandelbaum wrote in a soon-to-be-published memoir entitled Game On. Seeing him “overtook me with emotion.” With Dr. Mandelbaum sitting nearby while he carried the flag into the stadium, Meidl suddenly felt that his recovery was complete and that he had honored those who had helped him along the way. “Cliff embodies so much of what the Olympic athlete stands for,” Dr. Mandelbaum says. “Here is this injured individual. We thought he is an unfortunate kid. And yet out of him came this blossoming athlete. To go from that to carrying the American flag in Sydney—it’s one of the most unique stories in sports.” Meidl concurs. “The Olympic rings kind of

Tapping Into Your Inner Olympic Spirit


1 In life, you have to have fun. Choose things that are fun, including exercising on a daily basis.

2 Pursue things and discover things you haven’t done before. Find new challenges, new athletic goals or new dimensions of goals. Climb mountains you’ve never thought about climbing or do races you’ve never done.

3 Approach life with hope and optimism.

4 Build your own team. Select your relationships and conserve them wisely.

5 Show compassion to all human beings and believe in volunteerism.

symbolize how everything comes full circle,” he says. “It’s weird how life works that way.”

Dr. Mandelbaum’s group is so good at being able to do—what really benefits the athletes so much—is the care and inspiration they provide to each person who comes in the door. They It’s a Friday afternoon, and Dr. Mandelbaum want those athletes to go out there and be the is back in his office after performing surgery best they can be.” on a patient at Saint John’s Health Center. He That’s a sentiment he and his staff try to apply schedules all of his surgeries at the hospital. to their work every day. The clinic’s experience “We have a close relationship with Saint with elite athletes translates to better care for John’s,” he says. “It’s a great hospital and everyone, Dr. Mandelbaum says. patients get fantastic care.” In fact, Saint John’s “The truth of it is that it does make a difference,” has received many recognitions for its orthopedic he says. “Having that experience and being able to care. The Health Center was recently recognized integrate that is important. Certain clinicians can by Healthgrades, an independent hospitallook at someone and say there is a torn meniscus quality review organization, as one of the top 100 in a knee. I’ll fix it. I think, here is a kid, 16 years hospitals in the nation old, and he has all of for joint replacement these aspirations of and is ranked sixth in being a great athlete. California. The Health How do we help him to Some people come Center also received the next step?” here because of our a five-star rating, the He is still asking highest ranking, for that question about association with athletes. But total knee and total hip Meidl, who today is a others gravitate here because replacement. middle-aged father of a Meanwhile, they know I have that victorious toddler, a motivational at SMOG, a speaker and a weekend spirit, and I will apply that to broad network of kayaker. His rebuilt professionals are knees now have some their care. We’re not going to available to meet arthritis, and he recentgive up. We’ll navigate through his patients’ needs— ly checked in with Dr. sports psychologists, Mandelbaum to discuss the stress and strain of it all.” nutritionists, the matter. biomechanists, “He told me we have podiatrists, to get as many miles out chiropractors, physical therapists, athletic of these wheels as we can,” Meidl says with a laugh. trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and “He is always looking for alternatives, though. He’s physicians of every specialty. such a caring doctor. That’s what separates the But first, the athlete and a member of the clinic good from the great.” staff simply talk. “We want to get to know the The clinic has established a stellar reputation athlete and how to optimize their performance by caring for many great athletes. But the point, and learn how we can prevent problems,” Dr. says Dr. Mandelbaum, is that everyone who Mandelbaum says. “There is an emphasis on walks through the doors—from 12-year-olds with multi-disciplinary care.” fractured wrists to grandmothers in need of knee Susie Pitcher, a certified athletic trainer, helps replacement surgery—should receive a big dose steer patients to the professionals who will meet of Southern California mojo. their needs. “We have such a broad range of “Some people come here because of our doctors. For each body part and each type of association with athletes,” he says. “But others injury, you can be seen for anything here.” gravitate here because they know I have that The emotional support is what athletes need as victorious spirit, and I will apply that to their much as anything, Meidl says. care. We’re not going to give up. We’ll navigate “A lot of clinics provide the care, but what through the stress and strain of it all.” SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


profiles in health

Debbi and Dave Are In the House Debbi Whitman and dog Dave bring much-needed normality to hospital rooms.


hen the alarm goes off on Saturday mornings, Debbi Whitman isn’t always raring to go. But her dog, Dave, is. The pair have been a fixture at Saint John’s Health Center since 2006—part of the 35 doghandler volunteer teams that comprise the Paula Kent Meehan Pawsitive Pet Program. It’s not a small commitment for either of them. Teams participate in multiple-step training before being accepted into the program. Whitman and a previous dog began visiting Southern California hospitals years before certification was required. That dog, a Lab, “seemed to enjoy the car rides more than the actual patient visits,” she says. When it was time for a new dog, Whitman and her husband brought home a nameless golden retrievershepherd mix rescue dog. The 1993 movie Dave was on TV, and when Whitman said “Dave,” the dog turned to look at her. The name stuck. There’s work to be done before their every-otherweekend visits. Animals must be bathed and Written by SANDI DRAPER Photographed by RANDI CURBY


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profiles in health FOR THE PET THERAPY PROGRAM, ONLY THE BEST WILL DO. There’s more to joining Saint John’s Pawsitive Pet Program than showing up with your dog in tow. The first step is a dog meet-and-greet in the hospital’s healing garden with Grenda Pearlman and Erin Pickerel from the Volunteer Services Office. Next, the handler must complete Pet Partners’ Therapy Animal Handler Coursework. Upon completion, the doghandler team may sign up for the Pet Partners Skills and Aptitude Test, which is conducted quarterly at Saint John’s Health Center by a licensed evaluator. The test includes greeting strangers, walking through a crowd and reacting to visual and auditory distractions. That’s the easy part. Part two includes testing for appropriate reactions to such things as an overzealous hug, angry yelling, simultaneous petting by several people and being bumped from behind. If the team passes, there’s paperwork and health screening for the dog, in-house hospital training, and background and health screening for the handler. A coach supervises initial visits before the team goes solo. For more information on becoming a Pawsitive volunteer, call the Saint John’s Volunteer Office at 310-829-8438. groomed within 24 hours of the visit. On visit days, Whitman dons a jacket with pockets to hold small treats for Dave and hand sanitizer for patients to apply before and after petting Dave. For his part, Dave dons a stylish, embroidered, royal blue bandana that identifies him as a Pawsitive Pet Program member. Upon arrival at Saint John’s, Dave gets a short walk to relieve himself. Whitman checks in with security while Dave sniffs wastebaskets for a whiff of food. Then they stop at the volunteer office for their floor assignment. Of the hospital’s four floors, Dave’s favorite is critical care and ICU—the second floor. It’s not that Dave is partial to very ill patients; he just loves the treats kept at the nurses’ station there. “Sometimes I think the hospital staff need to see a dog as much or more than the patients do,” Whitman says. Dave travels with calling cards: his picture and name on the front and pertinent “Dave info” on the back, such as favorite treats. Since the animal visitation program operates during waking hours seven days a week, some patients accumulate rows of

pet calling cards. While targeted to patients, pet visits are also important to visitors. “For visiting children, it makes the hospital a little less scary,” Whitman says. “Dog visits help patients and families remember that there’s a home—a whole world—outside of the hospital.” Grenda Pearlman and Erin Pickerel, who coordinate the program—known as the Paula Kent Meehan Pawsitive Pet Program in honor of Meehan, co-founder of Redken Laboratories and the program’s benefactor—look for teams that can commit to two visits a month. “I like to call the program ‘animal social work,’” Pickerel says. “Many volunteers are very dedicated and do more than two visits I like to call a month.” the program From the nurses’ station, Whitman and animal social work,” Dave get guidance on which rooms to visit. They spend 60 to 90 minutes visiting rooms. Pickerel says. “Many About 70% of patients invite them in. volunteers are very Once, the pair was turned away when a patient announced, “I don’t like dogs.” As they dedicated and do stepped out, the patient said, “Well, I could more than two just look at him.” They stepped back into the visits a month.” room. Soon the patient said, “You could bring him a little closer.” Before long, Dave had ingratiated himself chair-side for a petting. On another visit, Dave’s presence was requested by the family of a failing loved one. The family explained that the man had been a lifelong dog lover. Then they took one of the patient’s hands and gently placed it on Dave’s head. Moments like that keep them coming back. Whitman might be tempted to hit the snooze button on Saturday mornings. But, she says, “The minute I get to Saint John’s, I know it’s the right thing to do.”

Debbi Whitman and her dog, Dave, visit a patient during one of their Saturdays at Saint John’s.

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs



breakthroughs SUMMER 2013


Knowing a few facts about stroke could save a life. Written by SHARI ROAN


Clifford Segil, DO

troke is a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. And in the same way that heart attacks require emergency treatment, so do strokes. That’s because there are ways to prevent damage to the brain if treatment is given shortly after the stroke occurs. May is National Stroke Awareness Month, so we asked Clifford Segil, DO, a board-certified neurologist at Saint John’s Health Center, to explain why we should know what a stroke looks like and what to do when we suspect one.

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


Quick Action: The Key to Stroke Treatment

Do people understand that stroke should be viewed as an emergency? “In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing more than 133,000 people each year, and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. People may not be aware that treatment options—if you get to a hospital within three hours—are different from treatments that you may get after three hours. Unfortunately, people often wait to see if it gets better and do not present to an emergency room in a timely manner.” Why aren’t people getting that important message? “I suspect a lot of people believe there are no treatments for an acute stroke. They don’t know that if you get to a hospital, there are treatment options available in a hospital emergency room. There are medications that we can give to people. People do not get to hospitals quick enough. They call their friends. They don’t call their doctors. They may wait it out. If it happens on a Saturday, they think, ‘Oh, I’ll wait until Monday and call the doctor.’” Why is getting treated so important? “Time is brain. Every minute of the stroke, the brain loses 14 billion synapses, 1.9 billion neurons and 7.5 miles of myelinated fibers—increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.” Do people fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke? “Recognizing symptoms and using the acronym FAST to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities. People do not realize the symptoms of a stroke are ‘focal.’ Strokes are one of the few things that may cause the right side of your body to be different from the left side of your body.” What is tPA, and why is this medication so important to treating stroke? “Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a clot-busting medication. Other medications that we give people to take every single day are clot-stabilizing medications. The clot-busters should be 26

breakthroughs SUMMER 2013

offered to appropriate patients who arrive in a hospital emergency room in less than three hours from their last known well time. They are Food and Drug Administration-approved, and there is a better likelihood—if you get these medications— you will not have disability due to the stroke.” Can tPA be used for every type of stroke? “There are two types of stroke: a burst type and a clogged type. The burst type is a hemorrhagic stroke, and the clogged type is an ischemic stroke. The hemorrhagic strokes are not candidates for the clot-busting medications. People who have ischemic stroke—about 87% of all strokes—are candidates. But most people do not get to the hospital in less than three hours after having a stroke. Also, many people have strokes while sleeping, so we don’t know what the last

Time is brain. Every minute of the stroke, the brain loses 14 billion synapses, 1.9 billion neurons and 7.5 miles of myelinated fibers—increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.” ‘well’ time is, and they are disqualified from receiving tPA. But tPA works. From 1998 to 2008, the annual stroke death rate fell approximately 35% in the United States.” What happens if you get to the hospital after three hours? “After that time, there are other options for treatment. You can also get what I simplify as ‘roto-rootering.’ You can have a mechanical embolectomy, which is when a doctor uses a catheter-based device to go in and break up the clot or suck out the clot. There are FDA-approved clot-clearance devices that we can use at Saint John’s. The line in the sand, or cut-off, is eight hours to have these procedures.” Are there risks to having one of the rotorootering procedures? “There are lots of risks with these devices.

Quick Action: The Key to Stroke Treatment

STROKE FAST FACTS • There are an estimated 7 million stroke survivors in the United States. • Almost 800,000 strokes occur each year in this country. • Stroke takes a life almost every four seconds. • Slightly more women than men have strokes. Women are twice as likely to die from stroke as from breast cancer. • African-Americans have almost twice the risk of stroke compared to Caucasians. About 40% of people who have a ministroke—a transient ischemic attack—go on to experience a stroke. FAST is the acronym to remember. It stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time. F - Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? A - Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? S - Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange? T - Time: If you observe any of these signs (independently or together), call 9-1-1 immediately. Source: Dr. Clifford Segil and National Stroke Association

Blood clots are the cause of ischemic strokes, which can be treated with clot-busting medications.

But if you get these procedures, many people do better. George P. Teitelbaum, MD, is an interventional neuroradiologist at Saint John’s who is well-versed to do these kinds of mechanical embolizations and aspirations. He is very experienced with these devices. However, these devices are under-utilized, because not enough patients get to the hospital on time.” Can people who are taking one of the newer blood-thinning medications have tPA if they suffer a stroke? “Coumadin is the traditional medication to treat strokes, and it’s easy to antidote—to reverse its effects. This is important if people have hemorrhagic strokes with blood in their brains. Using Coumadin may not disqualify you from tPA for an ischemic stroke if a blood test result is not elevated. If this blood test is elevated, tPA is contraindicated. The newer generations of medications to treat atrial fibrillation—such as direct thrombin inhibitors like dabigatran (Pradaxa) or direct factor Xa inhibitors like rivaroxaban (Xarelto)—do not have any antidotes. It is safest at this time to say if people have used one of these medications in the last 48 hours, they are not a tPA candidate. The use of tPA with these newer medications is not routine.” Have the newer class of blood-thinners made a big difference in preventing strokes? “In theory, they should decrease both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. In practice, I’ve seen fewer hemorrhagic strokes. As for ischemic strokes, I’m still waiting to see if these newer

medications are any better than Coumadin. We have excellent cardiologists at Saint John’s who are utilizing these medications. People who are taking them are happy to stop taking Coumadin, as these newer medications do not require frequent lab draws and medication adjustments.” What else are doctors doing these days to prevent strokes? “Prevention is getting more emphasis. There are many things we can do in the doctor’s office: control blood pressure, treat atrial fibrillation, help patients stop smoking, drinking and treat diabetes.” Is it true that stroke rates are rising in younger adults? “Strokes are increasing in young adults. Some of the reasons include increasing rates of diabetes, obesity, recreational tobacco, drug and alcohol use. Also, our ability to diagnose strokes with neuro-imaging has improved. Threequarters of strokes remain in people over age 65.” Any final words of advice for us, Dr. Segil? “If there is any question that you may be having a stroke, be safe and get seen by a doctor. In our community, it’s easy to get neuro-imaging, or pictures of your brain, to confirm if you have had a stroke or not. There is no reason not to see a doctor if you are concerned you have had a stroke. Once you’ve had a stroke, going to see a neurologist to prevent having a second stroke is smart. The neurologist will treat you more aggressively to prevent a second stroke.” SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


profiles in health

Every Cancer Patient Needs a Guide, and She’s Their GPS Amanda Rodriguez is Saint John’s new breast cancer patient navigator.


breast cancer diagnosis can make you feel like you were dropped in a jungle without a compass. Registered nurse Amanda Rodriguez is like GPS navigation for patients of the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center. “Patients already have plenty to worry about,” Rodriguez says. “What I hope to provide is one person they can go to with their questions.” On March 11, she officially stepped into the position of breast cancer patient navigator, although she has been filling the role for several months. The Breast Cancer Navigator Program was established as a direct result of the funds generated by the inaugural Power of Pink Fundraiser at Sony Studies in November. The annual event recognizes the strength of women who battle the disease. Written by SANDI DRAPER Photographed by RANDI CURBY


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profiles in health RESOURCES FOR PATIENTS AND FAMILIES Those who oversee the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center are aware that it’s not just the patient who deals with a disease such as breast cancer. So the center also offers: • In-house cancer resources for patients, family and friends, including the Margie Petersen Patient Education Room, Banchik Family Library and Feldman Audio Visual Center • Information on a variety of cancers, support groups, aids and recovery • A television equipped to provide instructions on cancer treatment as well as a computer to access additional resources on the Internet • Information on nutrition programs and the nutritionists at Saint John’s • Promotional materials regarding support groups, yoga for cancer patients and a “Look Good, Feel Better” program that offers suggestions for makeup, headwear and wigs

“The program was been launched because we know that being diagnosed with breast cancer is stressful,” says Maureen Chung, MD, director of the Breast Center. “Studies have shown that patients who have navigation while undergoing therapy are more likely to complete their treatment and do so in a shorter time frame. This translates into better patient outcomes. It is important that health care providers who treat breast cancer patients understand the importance of treating the whole patient and not just the cancer.” Rodriguez, who has been with Saint John’s since 2007, steps in after a patient has been diagnosed and seen the doctor. “After meeting with the doctors my goal is to spend some quality time with patients to determine their specific needs. I try to find out how I can best support them.” Patient navigators were pioneered in the 1990s to eliminate barriers to timely cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care. In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Patient Navigator Outreach and Chronic Disease Prevention Act. Breast cancer has touched the lives of Rodriguez’ friends and family. “I have an aunt who has gone through breast cancer,” she says. “She had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation. She actually made a spreadsheet to keep track of medication,

procedures and appointments.” To help Breast Center patients keep track of their “new normal” lives, patients are given a Breast Patient Navigation Tool, which Rodriguez jokingly refers to as a “magic packet.” It’s an expandable, plastic envelope file with dividers for pathology/test results, research, insurance, bills and patient education. It includes a calendar, business cards for treating practitioners, medical history and appointment tracker, symptom tracker, sample questions for physicians, clinical trial Patients already and support group information, and have plenty to a glossary of terms—just the types of information Rodriguez’ aunt had to worry about,” Rodriguez track for herself on that spreadsheet. says. “What I hope to Rodriguez also shares information on reputable medical websites; provide is one person she doesn’t want patients Googling they can go to with random, scary information. And she their questions.” has been known to share her email address for after-hours concerns. For Rodriguez, 37, the mother of a 1-year-old, the position is a natural transition from her work in oncology. She is pursuing an oncology certification and a navigator certification. She also plans to pursue a Master of Science in nursing. So how is her aunt? Rodriguez says, “She’s 74 now, still here, still kickin’, working with support groups. She’s my inspiration.”

Amanda Rodriguez, RN, breast cancer patient navigator, understands the challenges patients face.

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs



WE LOVE SAINT JOHN’S CAMPAIGN KICK-OFF More than 300 Saint John’s associates, volunteers and physicians gathered in the Tarble Atrium of the Howard Keck Diagnostic Center on April 10 to pose for a group photograph that kicked off the health center’s 2013 ad campaign entitled “We Love Saint John’s.” The campaign is visible throughout the Los Angeles area in print in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Santa Monica Mirror, Beverly Hills Courier and other publications, and on digital billboards in Santa Monica Place. Radio spots are airing on various stations such as KBIG, KOST and KFI.


breakthroughs SUMMER 2013


Tell Us Why You

Saint John's Share your inspiring story with us on Facebook or Twitter, or visit us on the web at



SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs



NEW GRADUATE REGISTERED NURSE PROGRAM Saint John’s Health Center is known for the outstanding care its nurses provide, a reputation that is maintained in part by the amount of training provided to new nurse recruits through our New Grad Registered Nurse Program. Chosen from more than 500 applicants, this year’s graduates will complete a six-week intensive training program that teaches them about Saint John’s quality assurance program, work safety policies, benefits and other general information. New grads are each assigned to a preceptor — a more experienced nurse who acts as a mentor to guide and support them. Students attend weekly classes and learn about the services and people who can assist them in patient care. The students, left to right: First row: Valeria Figuereo, Nicole Correia, Bradley Runyon Second Row: Leah Kushman, Amber Rusinyak, Ameachi Ajakwe Third Row: Osarmeka Emenike and John Morrison

POWER OF PINK The inaugural Power of Pink fundraising event was held November 12 at Sony Studios to recognize and celebrate the strength of women who battle and beat breast cancer. Grammy award-winning artist P!nk gave a rousing performance for more than 500 attendees. Funds from the event helped establish the Nurse Navigator Program at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center.

top: P!NK with Associate Director of the Margie Petersen Breast Center, Maggie DiNome, MD and Director of the Margie Petersen Breast Center, Maureen Chung, MD, PhD. middle: Power of Pink guests Heather Locklear and Valerie Bertinelli bottom: P!NK performs for supporters of the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center


breakthroughs SUMMER 2013


Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Juniors Troop 13615 pictured here with Saint John’s Emergency Room nurse Chris Collins, RN.

GIRLS SCOUTS VISIT The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Juniors Troop 13615 toured the emergency department at Saint John’s Health Center earlier this year, learning how emergency care is provided and earning their merit badges in first aid. Perhaps we even inspired some future healers.

Members of Troop 13615 receive merit badges in first aid.

Emergency Room nurse Chris Collins, RN, shows a member of Troop 13615 how to use a stethoscope.

SUMMER 2013 breakthroughs


shout outs

The staff at Saint John’s Health Center pay close attention to feedback from our patients and visitors. We are proud to share some of the wonderful comments we’ve received in the past few months.

“Your hospital is physically

“The nursing care at

beautiful ... All equipment is

Saint John’s is far and

immaculate. I am very impressed with the total compli-

away the best we’ve

ance with hand-washing and

ever experienced.

gloving. Your kitchen staff

Every nurse and those

deserves commendation as well.

who work with them

Tina went out of her way to

were superb. All were

ensure that my food was served

professional, attentive

warm and exuded a genuine concern in her patient.” “I was a patient in the Critical Care and Post Critical Care Units ... I wanted to inform you of the excel-

and empathetic. Their excellent skills were matched by their warm and generous

lent care I received from your nurs-

personalities. We

ing staff, particularly Sabra, Susan

cannot say enough

and Alma in the CCU, followed by Dee Lowe, Rosalie and Kristina in

good things about

the PCCU. Each of them went above

the nursing care on

and beyond to make sure I was com-

the fourth floor. I’m

fortable, well cared for and continually updated on my condition and treatment during my stay.”

sure it led to an even speedier recovery.”

“It was so thoughtful of you to send a follow-up note regarding my sister’s well-being. I’m writing to thank you and your staff for the gracious care and attention given to her last month. She is feeling much better, and we have you and your staff to thank for that.”


breakthroughs SUMMER 2013

Saint John’s Health Center was excellent in every way. My stay was comfortable. The nurses were beyond excellent. The food was delicious. It was like a Four Seasons of hospitals, with excellent nursing and doctor care. I would refer the hospital, and already have, to friends and family. I also would refer them to the Caritas Suites, which were stellar. Did I get my point across? It was just a wonderful experience.”

“I wanted to extend my deepest thanks to all the kind people in the ER and hospital who were so kind to me. My three visits, two in the ER, in November and December of 2012 ... had so many wonderful nurses and others who cared for me ... You sent me two Christmas cards. Thank you!”

“We would like to thank you for taking such excellent care of our mother during her stay at Saint John’s hospital a few weeks ago ... Your staff of dedicated RNs and CNAs was exemplary, and we would like to thank them for making all of us feel so much at ease during such a difficult time. It makes a HUGE difference when there is staff who truly care and are working so hard to do so much for the people we love.”


The ONLY hospital in California to ® ™ receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Award Seven Years in a Row





Saint John’s Health Center 2121 Santa Monica Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90404 USA

310.829.5511 1.800.STJOHNS


Mullin Plaza, the new entryway to Saint John’s Health Center, will open in the coming weeks. p.



Stem-Cell Therapy For Back Pain Call 310-828-7757 or visit to learn more about this study.

Since its founding in 1942 by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Saint John’s Health Center has been providing the patients and families of Santa Monica, West Los Angeles and ocean communities with breakthrough medicine and inspired healing. Saint John’s provides a spectrum of treatment and diagnostic services with distinguished areas of excellence in cancer, spine, orthopedics, neurosurgery, women’s health, cardiac and specialized programs such as the internationally acclaimed John Wayne Cancer Institute. Saint John’s is dedicated to bringing to the community the most innovative advances in medicine and technology.

Breakthroughs - Living Well on the Westside  

Breakthroughs is a health magazine for Santa Monica and Westside communities. Published by Saint John's Health Center.