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past issues

 Published monthly for CC employees by Clinical Center Communications

May 1999


Pointing the way

Looking back

Train lifts spirits

Hilda Stofko retires

Breast cancer discussion

What's in a name

Clearer way

News briefs

 

 

Some of the volunteer south entry greeters. Clockwise from far right are Ruth Jones, Aushkon Foroutan, Kim Mitchell, Evelyn Bendersky, Peg Wintz, Aurora Cruz, Lee Kush, and Janet Salkey. Not pictured are Ruth Graves, Feven Kiflu, Mary Meikle, Jean-Luc Pierre-Louis, Maribel Ruiz, Susan Stevens, and Melissa Turgusen.
     

At the volunteer recognition luncheon, Dr. Harvey Klein (far left), chief of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, made a special presentation to the family of the late Mary Maze, a Blood Bank and Red Cross volunteer who passed away late last year. Pictured with Dr. Klein (from left) are Susan Kelly, Maze's niece; Chester Maze, her husband; and Marianne Maze Bullen, her daughter.

   


Pointing the way

Volunteers greet and orient visitors at the south entry

The new south entry may be sunny and bright, but visitors who successfully navigate that newfangled revolving door may still need some help finding their way.

Fortunately, the Clinical Center has a devoted cadre of volunteer greeters who staff the information desk with a smile and the way to go.
"Our volunteers are amazing," said Andrea Rander, coordinator of volunteer services. "The energy, the time, the talent, and the creativity too, are such an asset to the Clinical Center."

Rander recruited more than a dozen greeters to staff the south entry. All are relatively new to the Clinical Center. Despite the customary tour and orientation, the group had some quick on-the-job training once those questions started pouring in. "They really did well with it," said Rander, "and they had help from the transportation staff, who sit right next to them and are used to handling lots of questions."

Four students are among the group, pitching in on weekends and fulfilling their Student Service Learning requirements to boot. Others are retirees, NIH employees, and Red Cross volunteers, who help out in a pinch.
Lee Kush is a retired NIH employee who returned as a south entry greeter. "I know the kind of quality research and hospital care that goes on here, and I thought it might be nice to lend a helping hand," she said. Kush also volunteers at the Smithsonian's information desk, and said that experience made her at ease with greeting the public. "I enjoy it, it's fun, and I try to give something back," she said.

Although Kush is not new to NIH, she was new to the Clinical Center. "It's the easiest building to get lost in," she said. "People who are used to coming in the north entrance get turned around. But with the map we have, it's very easy to straighten them out again," she said.

Ruth Jones is another south entry greeter. "I used to be an NIH patient," she said. "I had always thought about hospital work, and the Clinical Center is familiar to me." That familiarity comes in handy when visitors arrive with incomplete information about their visit. "You have to dig a little, without asking their diagnosis, to find out where they need to go." Sometimes, Jones said, the visitor is actually looking for nearby Suburban Hospital or the Naval hospital.

In addition to greeting the many visitors to the hospital, Clinical Center volunteers serve as language interpreters, run the flower and gift shop, and work in many different departments.

The varied functions CC volunteers fill are an asset in some pretty concrete terms. According to Rander, in 1998, CC volunteers logged about 75,000 hours and saved the Clinical Center almost a half million dollars in personnel costs.

In appreciation for their many contributions, volunteers were honored last month at a celebration at the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. Volunteers enjoyed a luncheon, awards ceremony, and entertainment provided gratis by singer Hannah Fae Jackson.

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Looking back; looking ahead

CC Director John Gallin at the 5-year mark

 

May 1 marks the 5th anniversary of Dr. John I. Gallin's tenure as director of the Clinical Center. As the construction cranes swung and the bulldozers droned outside his office window, Dr. Gallin chatted with CCNews last month about the many changes that have occurred during his years here, and what he sees for the future at this crucial time in the CC's history. Part I of II.
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CCNews: You've been the director of the CC for 5 years now. What was it about the position that made you want to take it on?
Dr. John I. Gallin: It was a reflection on 20 years in the institution and spending my whole life doing clinical investigation, and having served as an administrator in the Allergy and Infectious Diseases institute. I felt well poised to address the challenges that were facing the Clinical Center, which at the time, I thought were substantial because of the decline in the level of activity, the decline in morale, and my belief that things had to be done to reverse it or the Clinical Center was in danger.

CCNews: When you came on board, did you have a specific agenda, or a broader idea of the things you wanted to achieve?
JG: Clearly the agenda was broad, but there was some specificity in that broadness. It was quite clear that we needed a new hospital and that that was going to take a certain amount of effort to try to mobilize the resources to make that happen, and to work with Dr. Varmus to make that happen. It was quite clear that attention had to be paid to training tomorrow's clinical investigators-and today's clinical investigators. It was quite clear that the whole administrative apparatus of the Clinical Center needed to be reviewed and possibly updated.

CCNews: How much time does this position leave you for your patient care and research activities?
JG: Not enough. I find that I spend about an hour a day in patient activities and then several hours during the day for my laboratory, but it's spread out, with a half hour here, a half hour there. I probably spend a total of 2 to 3 hours a day on patient and research activities.

CCNews: Many changes have occurred at the CC since you became director. New programs, educational opportunities, changes in the governance structure, the formation of alliances with community hospitals, and some outreach efforts. What do you see as some of the most significant achievements of your administration?
JG: Probably the most lasting is working to get the new hospital, which was not just an effort by the Clinical Center, but was an effort by the entire NIH and everybody else involved in government who contributed, from the Secretary to the Congress to the President. So in terms of things that happened during [the five years], I think the initiation of that project may be the most long-lived.

The other significant things that have happened, I think, are the changes in the governance of the hospital, the creation of the Board of Governors, and having a pretty close relationship with the Office of the Secretary, which I think was a new event for the hospital. Clearly this has brought about an opportunity for outside leaders in medicine and management of hospitals to provide some help in terms of where we're going.

In terms of what's happened to people here, for physicians, the most significant event has been the change in salary structure, Title 38 and Title 42, but particularly Title 38, which was the first event that enabled the salaries for doctors to be competitive with some of our neighbors. It's enabled us to begin retaining and recruiting to the level of talent that we need here.

The changes in the administrative structure, I hope, will have a lasting effect-in trying to flatten the administrative structure a bit, and to empower the department heads as a whole with certain responsibilities related to, for example, managing their personnel to salaries, rather than FTEs. And the creation of a centralized administrative management apparatus, I think, has the potential to be long-lived and have an effect.

Then training ­ the development of a curriculum in clinical research ­ two things there I feel good about: One is the core course, the "Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research," as well as the experiment in long-distance learning, providing a master's program in clinical research, where the degree is conferred by Duke, with the students present here through telecommunications. The other courses that have been established, including the clinical pharmacology course, are pretty substantial.


Some of the departmental reorganization issues we feel good about, including the creation of the Radiologic and Imaging Sciences Program, to provide a clinical presence in imaging in a dominant way on the NIH campus, is a very positive event. And the creation of the Clinical Bioethics Program, through recruitment of Zeke Emanuel to run that, is timely and much needed, and provides the opportunity for the NIH to be a leader in that arena.

Another area that's important is the establishment of a stem cell harvesting facility in the Transfusion Medicine Department to enable clinical translation of the gene therapy opportunities into patients and also to begin work on hematologic stem cells. That just opens up all sorts of opportunities.

So, what we've been trying to do is to modify the infrastructure here to make it ideal. And I guess behind all of this, and driving it, is the writing of a strategic plan for the Clinical Center. There never had been a formal strategic plan. That's been a very helpful tool to set the road maps of where we want to go.

CCNews: What has been the greatest challenge you've faced during your years here?
JG: Communication within the Clinical Center and between the Clinical Center and the institutes. With the 15 institutes sharing in the use of the hospital, and then the almost 2000 people who work for the Clinical Center, 4000 people who work in the building in addition to the 2000, communicating with people, having them understand what the issues are and what the opportunities and alternatives are in terms of decision-making, that's the biggest challenge. And that's linked to trying to boost morale and have people think positively and be enthusiastic. I think with all the construction that's going on around the hospital, both with the new Hatfield Clinical Research Center and for the other buildings in the immediate geography, that's had a real downer effect. But communicating that this is happening, and that all the positive things will happen, that's been the biggest challenge.

CCNews: To assist you in all these challenges, what is your guiding philosophy toward managing the Clinical Center?
JG: I think the key to management for me has been in trying to delegate responsibility to the right people and empowering them to do things, because then you have multiple people who are able to reach out and communicate; one person can't possibly do it.

The other point I would raise in terms of management is trying to show a presence and walk the halls, so to say, and to interact with all people at all levels of the organization. It's hard to do, but it's important. I find that when you do that, and if you can explain to people why things have to be done and it makes sense-if it makes sense-then people are willing to try and make it work. If you just go to them and say 'this is the way it will be,' that almost never works. It's just a human instinct of saying 'well, I don't understand,' or 'why?' So the more you can successfully communicate what you are doing, the better.

In terms of managing the hospital, one group that has been particularly helpful that we've created in the last few years has been the Clinical Center Advisory Council, which has seven members. Four of the regular participants are Institute directors, who come here and meet with me every other week and just talk about issues and directions. They've been particularly helpful in vetting ideas and then implementing events. For example, they were particularly helpful in creating an apparatus for planning the new hospital. The creation of partners groups, where representatives from each institute who would be present on each floor, formed a small governance team that has helped to plan what's going to be in the new hospital, and hopefully help to govern each of the patient care units in the new hospital.

The other thing is responding to telephone calls and emails. I spend a fair amount of effort responding rapidly to emails. It seems a valuable tool for communicating and managing. I get emails from all levels. People tell me whether people are smoking around the building, or where there's a messy room in a patient care area, or where a hallway has ice cream spilled on it or is slippery. I mean, I hear everything. And it's helpful because I can forward messages as appropriate to people.

In terms of morale building, one of the things we did that I think has probably made a difference is to try to improve the appearance of the building-hiring a painter to walk around and paint constantly-probably has helped in the consciousness of keeping the hospital clean; sending housekeeping department staff out to other hospitals to see how other people do it is probably helpful, and trying to provide some awards and incentives for good work.

Next month, Dr. Gallin talks about what the future holds for the Clinical Center, and for himself.

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Phlebotomist Richard Gourdine adds a finishing touch of an evergreen tree to the choo-choo train set he installed in the blood-drawing area. The realistic train, some cuddly toys, and cartoons help distract and entertain pediatric patients during blood draws.


Choo-choo train lifts spirits

CC phlebotomist eases children's fears with child-friendly environment

In a day when budget cuts are a fact of life in the CC, one employee didn't let that get in the way of making his dream for young CC patients become reality.

His dream, honorably enough, was to build a train track in the child-friendly blood-drawing area in Phlebotomy. One that could help distract the little ones and ease the pain and fears of having their blood drawn.

But the reality was that in order to build the track, Richard Gourdine, phlebotomist, would need to pick up a part-time job to finance the endeavor.

"The initial reason that my co-workers and I designed the area two years ago was to make the kids feel at ease," said Gourdine. "The train was in essence a completion of my dream for the room."

The effort has attracted the attention of patients and staff alike who marvel at the speed and real-life sounds of the set. "The kids are in awe of the train," said Gourdine. "It really helps take the trauma out of having blood drawn because the kids are occupied by the same exciting sounds that they might hear from a real train."

Although Gourdine financed the project through his part-time job, he acknowledges his supervisor and co-workers, such as Leslie Berry and Matthew Corley, for their support. "Also without the CC Safety Office and several others, including the painters, this project could not have gotten off the ground," he said. Which is literally true since the train set stands just a few inches from the ceiling and required construction of a special ledge in the room.

Crucial to designing and setting up the set were David Rogerson, chief of the elevator unit of the NIH Maintenance Engineering Section, and Jim Powell, mechanic in the unit, as well as Wayne French in the Public Works Office. "Without the help of these people the project might have taken longer and been more difficult," said Gourdine.

So what exactly is it that inspires a worker to do something like this? "This was just something that I had to do for the kids," said Gourdine. "This is my way of giving back." With such a dedicated staff person as this, who knows what will come down the track next.

-by LaTonya Kittles

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Radiology's Hilda Stofko retires

The Diagnostic Radiology Department bade farewell to longtime secretary Hilda B. Stofko, who retired in March.
Her career spanned more than 50 years, most of it spent in Federal service. "When I graduated from high school in Baden, Md., at the age of 17, I went directly to work for the U.S. government," she said. "Except for a leave of absence to raise my son and then my daughter as babies, I have been employed full time. I really enjoy working."

From 1984 until Sept. 1991, Stofko was secretary to Dr. John L. Decker during his term as director of the Clinical Center. She technically retired for the first time in Sept. 1991, but continued to work at the Clinical Center as a member of the radiology department contract staff under Dr. John L. Doppman.
"Hilda Stofko was a wonderful administrative assistant without whom I could have never managed the Radiology Department," said Dr. Doppman.

When that contract expired, Stofko resumed her status as a Federal employee and continued on with the Radiology Department.

When Dr. R. Nick Bryan arrived from Johns Hopkins as the associate director for radiologic and imaging sciences in early 1998, Stofko stayed on to help orient him to the ways of the Clinical Center.

"Hilda was invaluable to me for two main reasons," Dr. Bryan said. "First, she was superb in 'people handling.' And second, she knew everyone, which is invaluable knowledge to a newcomer like me. She knew everyone and she could keep them all happy."

In addition to her service to the Clinical Center, Stofko worked for NIAID, OD, OASH, and NIDR.

Although she admits that retirement might be "an adjustment" after so many years of full-time work, Stofko has plenty of plans to help ease the transition.

"My husband James and I plan to spend some time at our two children's homes and become fully acquainted with our five grandchildren," she said. "We also intend to do some traveling around the country to visit numerous relatives in various cities who we have not seen for many years. We hope to take some extended vacations that we have put off for years, including some overseas trips. I expect to have a very busy schedule over the next several years, catching up with all the things we have wanted to see and do."

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CC RoundTable to discuss breast cancer

On May 21 at noon in Lipsett Amphitheater, Clinical Center RoundTable presents "Current Issues in the Management of Breast Cancer."

Panel leader Joanne Zujewski, M.D., NCI, will be accompanied by Patricia Steeg, Ph.D., and Sandra Swain, M.D., both also with NCI.

Clinical Center RoundTable is a monthly program broadcast live from the Clinical Center.

Each one-hour program features a panel of physician-scientists from NIH and the surrounding community in an in-depth discussion of the latest clinical research on each topic.

Dr. John I. Gallin, Clinical Center director, moderates the discussions, and viewers are encouraged to call in with questions and comments. Programs are scheduled for the third Friday of each month and begin at noon. (No programs are scheduled for July and August.) All are welcome to attend.

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CC Factoid: What's in a name?

A joint Congressional resolution signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 attached "Warren Grant Magnuson" to the Clinical Center's full name. Congress directed the name change as a tribute to the congressman from Washington heralded as the "Commander in Chief" in the war against cancer and heart disease.
As a freshman House member, Magnuson sponsored the legislation that created the NCI. He spent the next 44 years - 7 in the House, 37 in the Senate - as a champion of similar causes.

With Carter's signature, the resolution became Public Law 96-518. In announcing the honor, President Carter said of Magnuson: "He has had an unwavering commitment to the idea that progress in health care depends on research."

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A clearer way to go

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign." That old song could be the theme for the NIH campus during all this construction. But soon, look for a new series of signs to replace the hodgepodge of temporary directional signs that have sprung up all over. The new signs provide a standard design and cranberry color to help visitors locate appropriate parking areas and the relocated main (south) entrance. Arrows will be moveable to accommodate construction-related route changes. The signs are planned for all major intersections, and will remain in place until the new Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center is completed.

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News briefs


Work and family

The Work & Family Life Center will sponsor the following events in May:

Retirement: Life After NIH
Thursday, May 13
noon to 1 p.m.
Bldg. 1, Wilson Hall
What are you going to do with your 40 hours after retirement? Brian Easley, Work & Family Life Center career counselor, will identify issues, concerns, and ways to explore post-retirement career and activity options.

Divorce Recovery and Elder Care Brown Bag Discussion Groups
Both meet from noon to 1 p.m.
Bldg. 31, Room B2B57
Wednesday, May 12
Wednesday, May 26

Family Violence:
It's Not Just at Home Anymore
Tuesday, May 18
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Bldg. 31, Room 6C10

To pre-register, call 5-1619. For reasonable accommodations, call at least one week before the event.

 

Fee lowered

The registration fee for the May 11 and 12 conference entitled "Socioeconomic Status and Health in Industrial Nations: Social, Psychological, and Biological Pathways" has been reduced for NIH staff from $170 to $100. The fee includes lunches, reception, scientific sessions, and the resulting book from New York Academy of Sciences. This conference will be held in Natcher Auditorium and is co-sponsored by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH.
To receive the reduced rate, staff should be sure to PRE-REGISTER. Refer to the following website for registration information: http://www.nyas.org/brochses.htm.

 

Mammograms

Mobile mammography screening at NIH starts this month. All NIH employees, their families, and others associated with NIH (such as IRTAs, visiting scientists, contractors, volunteers) are eligible. Dates and van locations are:
Bldg. 31 (Lot 31D): May 6, 20
Bldg. 45 (front of building): May 1, July 15
Rockledge (visitor parking behind building): June 2
EPN (parking lot behind building): May 14
Bldg. 10 (Lot 10H): May 7, 19
The van will be at each site from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call the George Washington University Breast Cancer Center at 202-994-9999. Refer to the following web site for any updates in schedule or location:
http://rex.nci.nih.gov/MAMMOG_WEB/MAMMOG_DOC.html
Screenings are conducted by female technologists, and a board-certified radiologist specializing in mammography will interpret the films. The results will be reported to you and your doctor. Each screening takes about 20 minutes and costs $138.00.
GW will bill the following insurance companies directly:
Aetna PPO, Blue Cross/Blue Shield National Capitol Area (check with your plan manager), Cigna Indemnity, Aetna Indemnity, Mail Handlers, Prudential, John Hancock, NYL Care Passport PPO, Medicare, DC Medicare, GWUHP (with referral). Subscribers to other insurance programs can pay by check or credit card at the screening and submit a request for reimbursement to the health insurance plan. (HMO members, check with your plan manager to ensure that your mammogram will be covered).

 

Register now

Register now for two June courses offered by the Education and Training Section of the CC's Office of Human Resources Management.
May 12 is the last day to register for the June 2 course, "Managing Conduct and Performance." This course, designed for supervisors and managers, is scheduled to correspond with the mid-year performance review cycle. It will assist supervisors and managers in addressing performance and conduct issues in a positive, timely, and effective manner.
May 26 is the last day to register for the June 16­17 seminar, "Mid-Career Retirement Planning," designed for CC employees with 10 to 15 years of service. It will highlight the foundations of retirement benefits available within Federal service and options for maximizing them. Topics include CSRS and FERS; Social Security; and Thrift Savings Plan, among others.
Both classes will be held at 6100 Executive Blvd., Room 3E01. Call
6-1618 to register by the deadlines.

 

Suggestions, please

The CC Quality of Worklife Council is designing a website and would like to hear from you about the topics you would like to see addressed. Drop your ideas for the website, or any other suggestions, in the Council's suggestion box, outside the B1-level cafeteria.

 

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Editor: Sue Kendall
Clinical Center News, 6100 Executive Blvd., Suite 3C01, MSC 7511, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-7511. Tel: 301-496-2563. Fax: 301-402-2984. Published monthly for CC employees by the Office of Clinical Center Communications, Colleen Henrichsen, chief. News, article ideas, calendar events, letters, and photographs are welcome. Deadline for submissions is the second Monday of each month.
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