LifeNotes | Autumn 2020
Lifespan Promotes Federal Efforts for COVID-19 Vaccine Trials
Lifespan has joined the COVID-19 Prevention Network – an initiative of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – and is actively supporting federal efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 by identifying participants for vital clinical trials. To promote the local campaign efforts, Lifespan is kicking off the COVID-19 Prevention Network's Volunteer Screening Registry statewide.
Lifespan is spearheading this public effort through the Immunology Center at The Miriam Hospital, which has a long and successful track record of participating in major clinical trials, including HIV and hepatitis C drugs. More recently, it was among the most active sites globally, testing the use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients.
The CoVPN Volunteer Screening Registry was established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The registry is part of the federal government's initiative, "Operation Warp Speed," to undertake a public-private effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Funding for Lifespan's public campaign comes from a $250,000 grant that The Miriam Hospital obtained from NIAID for COVID-19 emergency response efforts, including CoVPN support. It is being led by infectious diseases physician Karen Tashima, MD, director of clinical trials at the Immunology Center and clinical research site leader for The Miriam Hospital, a research site of the Harvard/Boston/Providence AIDS Clinical Trials Group.
Dr. Tashima helped oversee the enrollment at Lifespan of nearly 200 patients in the remdesivir study, which was conducted under the auspices of a Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization and part of an international research sponsored by drug-maker Gilead Sciences, Inc.
"Clinical trials are essential for identifying therapies that can prevent and treat disease and volunteers play a critical role when it comes to developing vaccines to rapidly respond to dangerous pandemics," Dr. Tashima said. "We appreciate the selfless contribution of volunteers for these trials and encourage anyone who would like to participate to go to our website and volunteer at the registry. Don't forget to enter 'LIFE' when prompted for a code; that will flag you as a candidate for a clinical trial at Lifespan, which we hope will happen soon."
Brown, Lifespan Launch Center for Digital Health
Brown University and Lifespan have announced the launch of the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health. The center’s mission is to utilize the best of technology to seamlessly maximize health and eliminate health disparities for both individual patients and larger populations, extending from local to global.
The Center for Digital Health will serve as an incubator for innovative research and practice, fostering the development of practical digital health tools focused on solving the real needs of patients, health care providers, and populations. The center will train the next generation of digital health scientists and entrepreneurs by offering experiential education.
“Digital health technologies, from wearables to apps, are increasingly used by consumers to serve health care needs,” says Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH, director of the center. “However, the development and widespread use of these technologies is limited by a lack of efficacy data, lack of implementation guidance, and, most of all, lack of systematic collaboration among researchers, clinicians, patients, and other stakeholders.”
To achieve these functions, the center will intersect with leading entrepreneurs, academicians, and clinicians across all Brown schools, the Lifespan health system, and the greater Providence area, as well as with national and international business and research leaders in the field.
The Center for Digital Health builds on the Emergency Digital Health Innovation program, which successfully developed and studied digital applications in the field of emergency medicine. Their study included text message programs to reduce injury among adolescents, machine learning-based mobile applications to identify adults with behavioral health diagnoses, and collaborations on novel social media monitoring programs.
“We are excited to foster the Center for Digital Health’s growth as part of the Brown Institute for Translational Science,” says Jack A. Elias, MD, senior vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University. “The faculty have a track record of successful clinical trials and industry partnerships to build on. This expertise presents a wonderful educational and research opportunity for Brown students.”
“This outstanding partnership will enable us to further develop and apply digital health in the ever-changing practice of medicine,” says Timothy J. Babineau, MD, president and CEO of Lifespan. “Our clinicians and researchers are creative, innovative problem-solvers, and the Center for Digital Health further binds Lifespan and Brown together to support their individual efforts and fuse their energies into potentially life-changing technology for our patients and our providers.”
Learn more about the Center for Digital Health, including video perspectives from our staff and trainees.
The Miriam Hospital Again Achieves Top U.S. News & World Report Rankings
U.S. News ranked The Miriam Hospital a Best Regional Hospital -- Number 1 among all Rhode Island hospitals, as well as the top hospital in the Providence metro area. Additionally, for the second consecutive year its Minimally Invasive Urology Institute was ranked among the top 50 in the nation.
To be counted among this year's 563 Best Regional Hospitals, a hospital had to outperform in at least three of the procedures, conditions, and specialties. The Miriam Hospital received a national "high performing" designation for eight programs and specialties:
- Colon cancer surgery
- Heart failure
- Hip replacement
- Knee replacement
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Neurology and neurosurgery
We offer specialized urologic care through a variety of treatment options, including minimally invasive laparoscopic and robot-assisted procedures.
In addition, the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute placed among the top three percent in the nation. It is one of only three urology programs in New England to be ranked nationally.
Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center, Rhode Island’s Premier Inpatient Rehab Facility, Is Expanding
For more than 40 years, Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center at Newport Hospital has offered exceptional services to patients who require intensive inpatient rehabilitation care. With the expansion of the center expected to be complete in early 2021, Vanderbilt will now be the exclusive inpatient rehabilitation location for all of Lifespan.
The 28-bed inpatient program at Vanderbilt provides intensive, multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs, including at least three hours of therapy per day, at least five days per week. Additionally, patients at Vanderbilt have access to many specialists, including 24-hour-a-day access to rehabilitation providers, hospital medicine providers, pharmacy, and diagnostic services, such as laboratory and medical imaging.
Specialized clinical teams take lifestyle goals into account to establish objectives to achieve maximum independence and prepare patients for their safe return home. Care teams provide support throughout the entire treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery process. For patients who require ongoing therapy or nursing care after discharge, Vanderbilt also coordinates in-home, outpatient, or skilled nursing to streamline the transition process.
For more information about Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center, please contact Missy Fournier, clinical manager of rehab services, at email@example.com or 401-845-1600.
Lifespan Launches Norman Prince Spine Institute
The new Norman Prince Spine Institute at Lifespan launched in October, replacing the Comprehensive Spine Centers at Rhode Island and Newport hospitals to coordinate and expand neurosurgical spine-related activities across the entire Lifespan system.
The Norman Prince Spine Institute will offer cutting-edge care to patients across the southern New England region and will also serve as a national and international destination center for spine care, education, and research.
The institute is led by world-renowned spine surgeon Ziya L. Gokaslan, MD, chief of neurosurgery at Lifespan and professor and department chair of neurosurgery at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Additionally, Adetokunbo Oyelese, MD, PhD, FAANS, associate professor of neurosurgery and director of spinal surgery, will serve as director; and Keith Scarfo, DO, MS, as interim co-director.
The institute will continue to care for patients at Rhode Island Hospital in the George Building and at Newport Hospital on Turner 1.
To refer a patient, please call 401-444-3777 for Providence appointments or 401-845 -1190 for Newport appointments. Learn more about the Norman Prince Spine Institute.
Lifesaving TAVR Procedure Reaches Milestone
In September, the Valve and Structural Heart Program team at the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute marked its 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. Fourteen patients underwent TAVR in the program's first year. After marking 500 procedures in May 2018, the team has since averaged four to five procedures per week.
These procedures are performed by a multidisciplinary team of interventional cardiologists (Drs. Barry Sharaf and Paul Gordon) and cardiothoracic surgeons (Drs. Frank Sellke, Afshin Ehsan and Neel Sodha). The procedure, which was initially intended for patients considered high-risk for open heart surgery, is now a treatment option for the majority of patients with aortic stenosis. The valve can be delivered through the groin under X-ray guidance and placed inside the old diseased valve, without having to do surgery to remove the old valve. The LCVI team observes that patients tend to feel better faster, are out of the hospital within a day or two, and are back to their normal activities almost immediately.
For more information about the Valve and Structural Heart Program or to refer a patient, please call 401-444-8712.
Anne C. Pappas Center Celebrates 25th Year
Saving Lives, Ensuring Peace of Mind
In the early 1990s, when Barbara Schepps, MD, first envisioned a breast imaging center at Rhode Island Hospital, "mammogram" wasn't a household word.
"At the time, few insurers paid for screening mammograms – mammograms for asymptomatic women. Those and the uninsured or underinsured patients, with or without symptoms, often fell through the gaps," Dr. Schepps recalled.
That was the start of what in 1995 would become the Anne C. Pappas Center for Breast Imaging, which was directed by Dr. Schepps until she retired in 2008.
The center’s namesake was the sister of Sandy Stamoulis, MBA, RN, then Rhode Island Hospital’s chief of nursing. Anne died of breast cancer at age 40 in the 1970s, and her family made the first foundational gift that helped launch the center.
Examinations are performed by experienced mammography and ultrasound technologists, and interpreted by our board-certified, breast fellowship-trained, highly experienced radiologists—all of whom put patient care, comfort and safety first.
Advancing the Future of Breast Health Care
The Anne C. Pappas Center for Breast Imaging has earned the Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation from the American College of Radiology. Members of the clinical team are nationally recognized leaders in research and education and remain at the forefront of breast health care, including new imaging and treatment advances.
Caring for Generations of Women
Caring for underserved populations is central to the center's mission. The center takes part in the College of American Pathologists Foundation's nationwide See, Test, and Treat Program for women in vulnerable communities who might not have access to mammograms. These patients receive mammography services through the Rhode Island Department of Health Women's Cancer Screening Program.
For more information about the Pappas Center or to refer a patient please visit the Center's webpage or call 401-444-7770.
Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute Launches New Hearts at Home Program
Heart failure (HF) is a common and substantial problem for patients, families, physicians, clinical staff, and health care organizations because it is associated with high morbidity, mortality, and impaired quality of life.
Hearts at Home is a 60-day program of the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute and Hope Health VNA, designed to care for HF patients at home. Hope Health nurses have heart failure certification from the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses. There are daily and weekly meetings between the Advanced Heart Failure team and Hope Health nurses for close patient monitoring. There are also monthly education sessions for case-based learning to strengthen nurses’ knowledge and skill with heart failure patients, particularly in the home, by:
- Using effective patient education tools before the patient leaves the hospital and throughout the program
- Leveraging the use of health technology to improve self-care and ready access to care
- Addressing issues in the home that pose barriers to care
- Reinforcing behavior modifications through consistent coaching
- Improving physical functioning with physical therapy as appropriate and facilitating transitions to cardiac rehab when appropriate
- Improving emotional well-being with the integration of behavioral health service
The goals are to keep HF patients out of the hospital and improve their quality of life and care by engaging the team and using existing resources more efficiently and effectively.
The Miriam Hospital Attains Sixth Magnet Designation
The Miriam Hospital once again attained Magnet recognition for nursing excellence, joining only three other U.S. hospitals that have earned the honor six consecutive times.
Magnet is considered the gold standard for nursing excellence and is the ultimate benchmark for measuring the quality of care. Only hospitals that meet rigorous standards for high-quality nursing can achieve Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The Miriam is one of four hospitals to continuously maintain Magnet designation since 1998.
Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Program Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Twenty years ago, two doctors set out to save the lives of twins suffering from a rare condition known as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a condition in which blood flow is disproportionately shared between twins that share a placenta (monochorionic twins). It occurs in approximately 10 to 15 percent of identical twin pregnancies. The complications can cause the cardiovascular system in one twin to be overworked, while the other twin doesn't' receive enough blood to thrive.
Pioneers of their time, Francois Luks, MD, PhD, chief of pediatric surgery at Hasbro Children's Hospital, and Stephen Carr, MD a maternal-fetal specialist at Women & Infants Hospital, were among the first to perform lifesaving surgery together—against the odds – while the babies were in utero.
"What happens is there's nothing wrong with either twin," said Dr. Luks. "But because they're connected by blood vessels on the surface of the placenta, in some cases, one ends up giving more blood with the other than it is getting back: one becomes the donor and then one becomes the recipient."
Now, 20 years later, the Fetal Treatment Program and its partnership between Hasbro Children's and Women & Infants continues to help families who need surgery to fix TTTS. As the first site in New England, and currently one of only two hospitals in the region to provide this leading-edge treatment, the program has helped more than 70 families across the county, as far away as North Dakota, Minnesota, Georgia, and Louisiana.
A collaboration of Hasbro Children's Hospital and Women & Infants specializing in the diagnosis of fetal anomalies and the management and treatment of the unborn child.
The in utero surgery performed through the Fetal Treatment Program dramatically improves the survival rate – there is a 90 percent chance that at least one twin will survive - and the risk of long-term disabilities for both twins is greatly reduced.
The program also enables numerous other in utero surgeries, including cord occlusion for twin-reversed arterial perfusion sequence in acardiac twin pregnancies and ex utero intrapartum treatment for congenital fetal airway obstruction. As early as 2008, the program performed endoscopic fetal tracheal occlusion for severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia. The Fetal Treatment Program of New England was the first program — and one of only three — in the country with FDA approval to perform this highly specialized surgical procedure.
Rhode Island, The Miriam, and Newport Hospitals Receive Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award
Three Lifespan hospitals – Rhode Island, The Miriam, and Newport hospitals – have received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The hospitals earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients, including the use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines.
Rhode Island Hospital was additionally recognized with the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Advanced Therapy designation. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA.
Additionally, Newport Hospital was recognized with the Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll award. To qualify, hospitals must meet quality measures with more than 90% compliance for 12 consecutive months for the “Overall Diabetes Cardiovascular Initiative Composite Score.”
New Service Locations
Lifespan Cancer Institute adds radiation therapy to East Greenwich location
The Lifespan Cancer Institute (LCI) has added radiation therapy to their East Greenwich location. Located at 1454 South County Trail, the satellite office provides the same technology and experienced staff that patients have come to know and expect at LCI’s Rhode Island Hospital location.
The addition of radiation therapy to the facility ensures that patients can receive both their medical and radiation oncology treatments in one location, eliminating the need for multiple visits to different offices.
The facility is located at 1454 S. County Trail, East Greenwich, RI 02818 and is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information or to refer a patient, please call 844-222-2881.
Lifespan Physician Group, Primary Care, Welcomes New Practice and Providers
Gilbert M. Teixeira, DO, leads East Providence team
Lifespan Physician Group, Primary Care, continues to grow with the recent addition of Massasoit Internal Medicine, located at 400 Massasoit Avenue, Suite 300, East Providence.
In addition to Dr. Teixeira, the practice's care team comprises Jenna Iannuccilli, MD; Michael Antoine, PA-C; and Laura Tavares, MSN, NP-C.
Dr. Teixeira earned his medical degree at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency at Roger Williams Medical Center/Boston University Medical School. He also holds a master's degree in mental health counseling from Rhode Island College. He is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.
Dr. Iannuccilli earned her medical degree at Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, West Indies. She completed her residency at Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence.
Michael Antoine earned a master's degree in physician assistant studies at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Before becoming a physician assistant, he was a residential care counselor at Bradley Hospital. He is proficient in Haitian Creole and French.
Laura Tavares holds a master's degree in nursing from Regis College School of Nursing and Health Professions in Weston, Massachusetts. She is fluent in Portuguese.
Dr. Teixeira and his team welcome new patients to the practice: 401-434-2704.
Karen Furie, MD, MPH, Awarded the C. Miller Fisher, MD Neuroscience Visionary Award
Each year, the C. Miller Fisher, MD Neuroscience Visionary Award is awarded to an individual in the field of neuroscience who has significantly influenced the mission of the American Stroke Association. Karen Furie, MD, MPH is the 2020 recipient of the award.
Dr. Furie is the chief of neurology at Rhode Island, The Miriam, and Bradley hospitals. She serves as chair of the neurology department at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. During her tenure, Dr. Furie has grown a vibrant faculty and training program dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, including stroke, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, movement disorders, and epilepsy.
Additionally, she helps direct the clinical research programs for the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute. Dr. Furie also serves as the chief of neurology at each of the Alpert Medical School's affiliate hospitals, including Butler Hospital and the Providence VA Medical Center.
Dr. Furie's leading efforts in the field of stroke research, and her longstanding stroke prevention research, as well as her leadership in academic stroke and neurology training programs contributed to this prestigious honor.
The award was presented to Dr. Furie at The NorthEast Cerebrovascular Consortium 15th Annual Summit.
Alan H. Daniels, MD, Named New Chief of Spine Surgery at Lifespan Orthopedics Institute
Alan H. Daniels, MD, is the new chief of spine surgery at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals. He is a board-certified spine surgeon and specializes in complex spinal disorders and adult spinal deformity. He is the director of spine surgery research and an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Dr. Daniels focuses on patients with scoliosis, kyphosis, flatback syndrome, spinal tumors and other disorders of the spine. He is a fellowship trained surgeon and earned his medical degree from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. He completed an orthopedic surgery residency at the Alpert Medical School. His research focuses on the optimization of outcomes of spinal deformity surgery, correction of complex spinal deformity, and prevention of surgical complications.
Dr. Daniels has edited and published broadly, both nationally and internationally. He is a member of the Lumbar Spine Research Society, North American Spine Society, and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and is a candidate member of the Scoliosis Research Society.
Dr. Battista Named New Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Fetal Ultrasound
Leah Battista, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal fetal medicine. In November, she began serving as the Maternal Fetal Medicine Program director at the Women's Medicine Collaborative.
A graduate of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Dr. Battista completed her obstetrics and gynecology residency at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center Women's and Children's Hospital. She completed her fellowship in maternal fetal medicine at the University of California, Irvine.
Throughout her career, Dr. Battista has developed and honed skills in prenatal diagnosis, preterm labor prevention, multiple pregnancies, and diabetes in pregnancy. She and her MFM team, as well as the team of obstetric medicine specialists, perinatal behavioral medicine specialists, genetic counselors, and certified diabetes educator, will continue to provide women and their babies care at a level few practices can offer.
New Director of Memory Disorders Appointed
Chuang-Kuo Wu, MD, PhD, is the new director of the Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital. He is a neurology professor in the teaching scholar track at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and is board-certified in neurology, vascular neurology, and the subspecialties of behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry.
Dr. Wu comes to Lifespan from the University of California-Irvine, where he was a professor at the school of medicine and practiced at UCI Health. Previously, he was an associate professor in the pharmacology and neuroscience department of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, a medical school in Lubbock, Texas. At TTUHSC, Dr. Wu held the Corinne Payne Wright Regents Endowed Chair in Alzheimer's Disease.
Dr. Wu earned his medical degree from China Medical University, Taiwan, and his doctor of philosophy degree in behavioral neuroscience at Boston University School of Medicine.
He served residencies in medicine and neurology at Cathay General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. He later completed an internship at Brockton Hospital, followed by a residency at Boston Medical Center, both affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Wu completed a fellowship in dementia/behavioral neurology at the San Diego VA Medical Center/the University of California, San Diego. His research interests center on medications and other therapies to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia.
He is a fellow of the American Neurological Association and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the Society for Neuroscience, the Taiwan Neurological Society, and is the recipient of several awards.
Sheenagh Bodkin, MD, Named Obesity Medicine Director for the Center for Bariatric Surgery
She is a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and leads the Healthy Way Program at the Lifespan Lifestyle Medicine Center. A clinical assistant professor of medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Dr. Bodkin received a medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland. She completed her residency at Boston Medical Center.
She is responsible for integrating obesity medicine services at the Center, overseeing the use of medications, offering lifestyle support through intuitive eating, data collection, and outcomes monitoring.
Dr. Bodkin is board-certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine and is a certified intuitive eating counselor. Her research interest is a non-weight centered, intuitive eating approach to patients who have had bariatric surgery.
Jonathan Pine, MBA, Named Vice President of Diagnostic Imaging
Jonathan Pine, MBA, joined Lifespan August 31 as vice president of diagnostic imaging.
Pine came to Lifespan from Glens Falls Hospital in Glens Falls, New York, where he was vice president of clinical services and led multiple service lines. At Glens Falls Hospital, Pine brought a new outpatient MRI online, increased outpatient CT volume by 10 percent in 2019, and achieved the Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation by the American College of Radiology, among other accomplishments.
Pine's 28 years in the health care industry include posts at Jefferson Radiology in East Hartford, Connecticut, where he was chief operating officer and vice president of business development; and at Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was vice president, medical specialties and diagnostic services.
Pine earned a BS in business administration (operations management) at Drexel University in Philadelphia, followed by a master of business administration in strategic management at Pace University in New York City. He is a member of the Medical Group Management Association, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the Radiology Business Management Association.
Joaquin Q. Camara, MD
Joaquin Q. Camara-Quintana, MD, is a neurosurgeon who recently joined the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute.
Saima T. Chaudhry, MD
Saima Chaudry, MD, is a board-certified neurologist who recently joined the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Rhode Island.
Samuel H. Eaton, MD
Samuel H. Eaton, MD, is a board-certified urologist specializing in robotic and laparoscopic surgery at Newport Hospital and the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute at The Miriam Hospital.
Tasnim F. Imran, MD
Cardiologist, Tasnim Fatima Imran, MD, has joined the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute. Her clinical expertise includes cardiovascular imaging with a focus on echocardiography and cardiovascular magnetic resonance.
Insu Kong, MD
Board-certified gynecologist, Insu Kong, MD, has joined the Women’s Medicine Collaborative. He specializes in pelvic floor disorders and minimally invasive gynecologic surgery.
Laura E. Korthauer, PhD
Laura E. Korthauer, PhD, clinical neuropsychologist, has joined Lifespan’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services.
Eren O. Kuris, MD
Spine surgeon Eren O. Kuris, MD, recently joined the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute.
Caitlin S. Lawrence, MD
Caitlin Lawrence, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist who recently joined Lifespan Physician Group on the inpatient psychiatry units at Rhode Island Hospital.
Erin Little, MD
Erin K. Little, MD, is recently joined Lifespan Rheumatology as a staff physician.
Christina M. Mele, PsyD
Clinical psychologist, Christina Mele, PsyD, recently joined the Adult Partial Hospital Program at Rhode Island Hospital.
Chelsea J. Miller, MD
Radiation oncologist, Chelsea Miller, MD, recently joined the Lifespan Cancer Institute.
Tianyi Niu, MD
Tianyi (Tim) Niu, MD, is a neurosurgeon who recently joined the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute. Dr. Niu specializes in complex spine surgery.
Yash Patel, MD
Yash Patel, MD, has joined the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute. Dr. Patel is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiology, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, and cardiac MRI.
Daniel M. Philbin, Jr., MD, FACC, FHRS
Director of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
Daniel M. Philbin, Jr, MD, recently joined the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute as director of clinical cardiac electrophysiology.
Melvin M. Philip, MD
Melvin Philip, MD, has joined Lifespan Physician Group Primary Care, Newport. He is board-certified in internal medicine and specializes in palliative and hospice care.
Jason B. Richards, MD
Jason Richards, MD, is a neurologist who recently joined the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Rhode Island Hospital.
Lorangelly Rivera, MD
Program Director, Lifespan Latinx Mental Health
Lorangelly Rivera, MD, recently joined Lifespan Physician Group Outpatient Psychiatry in East Providence. Dr. Rivera is a psychiatrist who is fluent in both English and Spanish.
Laert Rusha, MD
Laert Rusha, MD, is a fellowship-trained pain management specialist who recently joined the Norman Prince Spine Institute.
Mohamed A. Sherif, MD, PhD
Psychiatrist, Mohamed A. Sherif, MD, PhD, recently joined Lifespan Physician Group on the inpatient psychiatry units at Rhode Island Hospital.
Grace Stephan, MD
Family Medicine Physician
Grace Stephan, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician who has recently joined Lifespan Physician Group, Jamestown Family Practice.
Aruna Tokas, MD
Arnua Tokas, MD, recently joined Lifespan Rheumatology as a staff physician.
Radmehr Torabi, MD
Radmehr Torabi, MD, is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon who recently joined the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute.
Kenneth Wells, MD
Family Medicine Physician
Kenneth Wells, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician who has recently joined Lifespan Physician Group, Jamestown Family Practice.
Rhode Island Hospital Authors Publish Study on Health Disparities and Influenza
Public Health Reports has published a study co-authored by Rhode Island Hospital Medical Director of Epidemiology and Infection Control and Brown University Professor of Medicine Leonard A. Mermel, DO, ScM, along with Kori Otero, MPH.
The study, "Health Disparities Among People Infected with Influenza," assessed people with documented influenza during four respiratory virus seasons (fall 2013 through spring 2018) in Rhode Island. The goal was to determine if health disparities were associated with the risk of getting influenza and if such disparities impacted the likelihood of severe disease manifested by a need for hospitalization. To address this issue, the authors assessed median household income and education level of influenza-infected patients.
Among the findings, there were significantly more confirmed influenza cases per 100,000 persons in populations with low versus high median household income. Greater numbers were also documented in populations with low versus high educational attainment. Furthermore, the risk of severe influenza infection was significantly greater in the populations with the lowest educational attainment. However, an unexpected finding was that the risk of severe influenza was also associated with a higher median household income, possibly an effect of older average age among that group.
Dr. Mermel notes that, "We confirmed our hypothesis that we would find health disparities related to the risk of influenza. This may be due to lower access to primary care, less time available to receive influenza vaccination, and crowded living conditions."
"These findings may help to better focus public health interventions in Rhode Island and elsewhere," said Otero.
In fact, the Lifespan Community Health Institute (LCHI) serves as a "community immunizer" to overcome possible issues of access to the flu vaccine, targeting adults who are medically fragile, uninsured, without a medical home, isolated, or without transportation. In the 2019-2020 flu season, its clinics provided immunizations to 844 adults.
Clinics are currently underway for fall 2020 and community- and faith-based organizations are invited to partner with the LCHI to host a flu clinic. For more information, please call 401-444-8063 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sleeping for Two: Understanding Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Pregnancy
More than 6 million women become pregnant in the United States every year, and many have sleep complaints. Sleep problems, such as snoring or restless sleep, may be due to conditions that are important to identify in pregnancy. During pregnancy, women are at an increased risk of developing or worsening pre-existing disordered breathing.
Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a spectrum of conditions that range in increasing severity from loud snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA results from repeated partial to complete upper airway obstruction during sleep and is associated with poor sleep, recurrent hypoxemia, and arousals. SDB is under-appreciated in reproductive-aged women, and validated screening tools in this population are lacking.
Obesity is a significant risk factor for SDB in pregnancy. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women with obesity may have OSA in early pregnancy, with a higher likelihood during late pregnancy. Furthermore, in women with complicated pregnancies, SDB may occur in up to two-thirds of these pregnancies. Anatomic and hormonal changes of pregnancy may increase a woman’s predisposition to develop or exacerbate pre-existing OSA, including gastroesophageal reflux, decrease in functional residual capacity as well as an increase in airway edema.
Ghada Bourjeily, MD, attending physician in pulmonary services and obstetric medicine and director of research and training at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative research, suggests that women with OSA in pregnancy are at increased risk for several negative maternal and fetal outcomes, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, severe maternal morbidity, preterm birth, as well as fetal (and possibly neonatal) growth abnormalities. Additionally, Dr. Bourjeily’s research lab also suggests that Women with SDB undergo cesarean delivery at higher rates.
In the general population, OSA is well-established as a co-morbidity with potential long-term cardiovascular (CV) and metabolic health consequences. Treatment of OSA helps reduce CV risk factors and improves the quality of life and daytime sleepiness.
Sleeping for Two is a research program funded by the National Institutes of Health to identify pregnant women at risk for OSA, better understand associations between SDB and cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes, and best strategies to treat pregnant women with OSA. The study aims to develop predictive models that can be applied at the point of care to identify women at risk for OSA in pregnancy.
Screening criteria include women in early pregnancy who have a BMI >30 kg/m2. Participants in the study are compensated for their time and participation.
Women enrolled in this research study will have examinations of biological markers, body composition, anthropometric, and physiological measures, as well as an in-home sleep study. Clinicians are notified if clinical or laboratory abnormalities are identified during the investigation.
In a second study, pregnant women who meet criteria for sleep apnea and non-pregnant reproductive- age women with a recent diagnosis of sleep apnea are invited to participate in a qualitative study aimed at better understanding barriers and facilitators to CPAP adherence that are common to young women, and others that are unique to pregnancy.
The study takes place at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, located 146 West River St., Providence, RI 02904, and accepts participants from Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts and northern Connecticut.
To learn more about this study, contact principal investigator Dr. Ghada Bourjeily at Ghada_bourjeily@brown.edu. To refer a patient for a research study please call 401-793-7398 or email WMCResearch@lifespan.org.
New Alzheimer’s Study Now Enrolling Participants
In July, it was announced that Rhode Island Hospital would be the only site in New England enrolling patients for a new clinical trial, known as ADvance II. The trial is now recruiting patients to study a novel approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease – the use of a type of treatment known as deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS is a therapy already used successfully to improve movement and control tremors in Parkinson's disease patients as well as to treat epilepsy and to mitigate intractable obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other proven benefits. In this trial, researchers will study whether DBS can improve function in Alzheimer’s patients.
"There's a natural reluctance to have brain surgery,” said Dr. Wael Asaad, a neurosurgeon and one of the co-principal investigators at Rhode Island Hospital for the Alzheimer's disease study. “But an interdisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists evaluates patients who are potential candidates for this trial and selects only those most appropriate given the potential benefits and risks.”
"This therapy has been around for a long time. It is relatively low risk compared to other brain surgeries,” said Dr. Umer Akbar, a neurologist and the other co-principal investigator.
Those who enroll in this study will have surgery to implant a device that delivers electrical pulses to the specific parts of the brain responsible for Alzheimer's to improve memory function. In an earlier study of this new type of DBS, also undertaken at Rhode Island Hospital, stimulating the part of the brain responsible for memory showed some benefit for patients 65 years and older with mild memory loss.
"From my point of view, deep brain stimulation is a tried and true technology. It's one of our core technologies in neurosurgery,” said Dr. Asaad. "In reality, the risks are quite low. The biggest risk is it simply just doesn't work. But there's enough hope that it might work that we all believe in its promise."
To qualify for this research, patients must be at least 65 years old and have a diagnosis of mild Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, contact the Rhode Island Hospital Neurosurgery Research Team at 401-444-4362, or email email@example.com.
Recruitment for AHEAD 3-45 Clinical Trial Now Underway
Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center are currently recruiting volunteer participants for the AHEAD 3-45 study, an innovative Phase III clinical trial of an anti-amyloid antibody, BAN2401, for individuals with normal memory function at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of the study is to investigate whether BAN2401, which works by selectively targeting abnormal build-up of amyloid-beta in the brain, can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The AHEAD 3-45 study is two trials for healthy individuals between the ages of 55 and 80 years, without current memory or thinking issues. The AHEAD-3 trial is for those with intermediate levels of amyloid beta, and the AHEAD-45 trial is for individuals with higher levels of amyloid, as measured by a Positron Emission Technology (PET) brain scan.
In this placebo-controlled study, either BAN 2401 or a placebo will be given intravenously one to two times a month, depending on the level of brain amyloid measured by PET scan at the beginning of the study. Everyone participating must have a study partner who can come to some of the visits throughout the study, which lasts about four years.
“The AHEAD study will provide valuable information on a drug that shows real promise to be a key component of treatment to combat Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Jonathan Drake, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center and principal investigator for the AHEAD 3-45 study. “Many previous clinical trials of investigational agents that targeted reduction of brain amyloid have not succeeded; however, Biogen’s recent decision to pursue FDA approval for aducanumab, another anti-amyloid antibody, has rekindled enthusiasm in this class of investigational drugs.”
Interested volunteers should contact Dr. Drake or recruitment specialist Terry Fogerty at the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center, 1-844-5MEMORY or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Miriam Hospital Selected for National Study
The Miriam Hospital was chosen by the Alzheimer’s Association to collaborate with Butler Hospital as one of five prominent health care networks across the United States to participate in a large-scale study testing whether healthy lifestyle interventions can protect cognitive abilities in older adults who are at increased risk for future cognitive decline. The U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) is sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. Approximately 2,000 total volunteers will be enrolled nationally and followed for two years.
It is the first such study to be conducted in a large, diverse group of people across the United States. The U.S. POINTER New England study site will enroll 400 volunteers from across Rhode Island and surrounding areas. The study site is based at Butler Hospital’s Memory and Aging Program and conducted through a collaboration with The Miriam Hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter and the Alzheimer’s Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter.
Volunteers age 60 through 79 who do not have any problems with memory or thinking and do not exercise regularly will be randomly placed into one of two lifestyle interventions. One group will have a self-guided lifestyle program and the other will have a more structured lifestyle program. Each program encourages increased physical exercise, a healthier diet, cognitive and social stimulation, and regular monitoring of heart and vascular health.