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On the Frontline of Medical Discovery

Clinical Center News

Published monthly for CC employees by Clinical Center Communications

past issues

June 2002

Making Clinical Center history: Alter elected to National Academy of Sciences

A celebration of nursing

Listserv offers tips for parents

Friends, colleagues remember life of coworker

Recreational Therapy bids farewell to member of family

Employees honored for customer service excellence

Patient escorts serve as critical link

A time to celebrate nurses

Functional genomics symposium hailed as success

News briefs

Making Clinical Center history: Alter elected to National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Harvey Alter, Department of Transfusion Medicine (DTM), has become the first Clinical Center scientist elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Alter is one of 72 new members from 12 countries elected in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The election was held on April 30 at the Academy's 139th annual meeting.

"This is such an honor," said Dr. Alter at an open house held in his honor at the Clinical Center on May 15. "The research I conduct is long term and has unpredictable payoffs. Only at NIH could I have had the support necessary to achieve these outcomes."

NAS, which includes the National Research Council, the National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, was instituted to provide Congress and the White House with independent advice on matters of science, technology and medicine.

Acknowledging Dr. Alter's academy election, Clinical Center Director Dr. John Gallin noted, "This is a vote of appreciation of Dr. Alter's work by his peers. It is refreshing to see NAS recognize a terrific Clinical Center investigator. I am delighted for him."

"This is a man whose work is outstanding and who is an outstanding person," said Dr. Harvey Klein, chief, Department of Transfusion Medicine. "This is a wonderful honor that is also well deserved."

In 2000, Dr. Alter received the prestigious Albert Lasker Medical Research Award. He is chief of the infectious diseases section and associate director of research in DTM. A native of New York City, Dr. Alter earned his medical degree at the University of Rochester. He came to the NIH Clinical Center as a senior investigator in 1969.

As a young research fellow, he co-discovered the Australia antigen, a key to detecting hepatitis B virus. Later, Dr. Alter spearheaded a project at the Clinical Center that created a storehouse of blood samples used to uncover the causes and reduce the risk of transfusion-associated hepatitis. Because of his work, the United States instituted blood and donor screening programs that have served to increase the safety of the blood supply.

Dr. Alter used this repository of clinically linked blood samples to identify another puzzling clinical problem. "Most transfusion-related hepatitis was found to be due to a virus different from the two then-known hepatitis agents, A and B,"

Dr. Alter said. He called this new form of hepatitis non-A, non-B hepatitis and subsequently proved through transmission studies in chimpanzees that it was due to a new agent. This eventually led to the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

The NAS not only honors scientists of distinction, but also addresses important matters in science and assists the nation in addressing problems where scientific insights are of central significance. It was incorporated in 1863 by an act of Congress to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art..." and eventually expanded to include the National Research Council in 1916, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970. Collectively these organizations are called the National Academies.

Recent reports issued by the National Academies include advice on approaches to protecting children from online pornography, an evaluation of the environmental, chemical, and biological hazards of sending humans to Mars, risks of closing chemical agent disposal facilities, and recommendations on coping with natural disasters and managing natural resources.

-by Colleen Henrichsen

A celebration of nursing

Nurses at the Clinical Center were recognized on May 9 in "A Celebration of Nursing" in honor of National Nurses Week. The festivities included the announcement of Outstanding Nurse honorees, the unveiling of the new web site for nursing and the presentation of a special award to the nursing chief.

Outstanding Nurses
Large full color posters displayed the names, units, photos and sentiments of the nurses selected as the Outstanding Nurses of 2002. Their peers nominated the nurses. The honorees are: 2-East Nursing Staff; Kim Klapec, 2-J Surgical Intensive Care Unit; Leslie Wehrlen, 2-West; Amy Kamble, 2-West Bone Marrow Transplant; 3-Outpatient (Dental) Nursing Staff; Celene Chua, 3-Outpatient; Nancy Day, 3-East; Sergio Bauza, 3-West; Bernie Crago, 4-East; 4-Outpatient Nursing Staff; Purita Villoso, 4-West; Jenny Boyd, 5-West; David Spero, 6-West; Denise McLaughlin, 7-East; Noreen Giganti, 8-East; Margie Lloyd, 8-Outpatient; Wilma Zendel, 8-West; Donna Hardwick, 9-East; Gerri Bickerton, 9-Outpatient; 9-West Day Hospital Nursing Staff; Judith Lowitz, 9-West; Reginald Claypool, 10-D Intensive Care Unit; 10-Outpatient Nursing Staff; Mary Leshko, 11-East; Patricia Aldridge, 11-East Day Hospital; Michael Masey, 11-Outpatient; Marilyn Mouer, 11-West; Val Fiorillo, 12-East; Peggy Shovlin, 12-Outpatient; Sophia Grasmeder, 13-East/Outpatient Cancer Center; Alberta Aikin, 13-Outpatient; Elizabeth Fenn, 13-West; Kay Anderson, Central Staffing Office; Diane Vollberg, Diagnostic Labs; Kim House, Surgical Services; Elizabeth Fenn, 13-West; Kay Anderson, Central Staffing Office; Diane Vollberg, Diagnostic Labs; and Kim House, Surgical Services.

Chief Nurse Award
"As our Nation celebrates National Nurses week, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of nurses and nursing. You have provided invaluable support to nursing activities within and external to the United States Public Health Service (PHS)." With those words Assistant Surgeon General Rear Admiral Mary Pat Couig presented Clare Hastings, PhD, chief, Nursing and Patient Care Services with the PHS' Chief Nurse Award. The Award acknowledges efforts above and beyond one's duties for both PHS corps and civilian nurses and is given at the discretion of the PHS Chief Nurse Officer, a role currently held by Admiral Couig.

The Admiral recognized Dr. Hastings for her support of several endeavors that required nursing involvement. One was Dr. Hastings' "exceptional work to ensure that nurses were available to assist with the relief efforts after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the anthrax attacks last October and the deployment of nurses for the immunization mission in the District of Columbia." The other instances focus on Dr. Hastings' "recognition of the importance of leadership development and encouraging nurses to avail themselves of opportunitiesÓ such as chairing the Nursing Professional Advisory Committee, serving in the Office of the Chief Nurse and collaborating with nurses from other PHS agencies and foreign countries."

In receiving the award, Dr. Hastings thanked Admiral Couig for her support. She acknowledged the clinical and professional excellence she has seen in the Clinical Center nursing staff, thanking them for the privilege of serving in a leadership capacity.

Nursing at the NIH Clinical Center: a new web site
A new website was unveiled during "A Celebration of Nursing." Nursing at the NIH Clinical Center is the name of the newly developed and designed Internet web site. Content tells external users about who the nurses are, the roles and practice settings, professional opportunities, nursing research, and professional resources. The site will also serve as a marketing tool for Clinical Center nursing. Visit for a more in-depth introduction to the site and more coverage of "A Celebration of Nursing."

-by Dianne Needham

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Listserv offers tips for parents

Finding the latest daycare information and parenting tips has just become easier for NIH employees.

The Clinical Center Quality of Worklife Initiative (QWI)/Diversity Council, along with the NIH Work and Family Life Center and the Office of Research Services Worksite Enrichment Program, are sponsoring an interactive email list for child care and parenting issues.

"This is an excellent source of information on childcare resources," said Sue Fishbein, QWI Council co-facilitator. "By utilizing the collective knowledge and experience of other NIH parents, users obtain information in response to very situation-specific questions."

All employees can subscribe to the list by sending an email to with the following text in the body: subscribe parenting_your first name, last name. Once subscribed, users can send and receive messages from other subscribers.

"This has kept me abreast of area daycare facilities and I've received recommendations for certain pediatricians in the area," said Sandra Bolles, nurse manager on 4-East. Bolles has a 7-week old grandson. Since subscribing to the listserv, Bolles said that she has found many interesting tips that she can take back to her daughter.

The idea to provide a listserve for employees was born out of several childcare seminars sponsored by the QWI/Diversity Council over the past few years. The NIH child care specialist facilitated the seminars, providing questions-and-answers to employee groups within the Clinical Center.

For more information, contact the Work and Family Life Center at 301-435-1619 (TTY 301-480-0690).

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Friends, colleagues remember life of coworker

More than 75 people gathered in the 14th floor chapel last month to say goodbye to a colleague and friend. John Holmes, an information technology specialist with the Department of Networks and Applications, User Support Section, died on April 30 following complications during surgery.

"I knew John for 15 years and he always found time to make people feel comfortable and to make them feel loved. That's what we've come here to honor today," said Richard Gordon, chief information officer of the Clinical Center, during the memorial service. "When he saw me in the hallway he would say, 'Mr. Gordon, I need to talk to you.' And I knew that I would be there for a while. I'm going to miss that."

John was remembered for his long conversations, sense of humor, talents in stage acting and singing, and his love of people. For 19 years, John performed in the Bethesda Little Theatre and entertained audiences as a performer in community musical theatre and barbershop quartets.

"I knew John ever since he came to NIH," said coworker Alice Smyth. "He was one of the most loyal members of the theatre group. Whether he was on or off stage, he was always there to help." Smyth added that John would do anything to make the audience laugh, including dressing up like a chicken or a sheep, even wearing a grass hula skirt.

"What impressed me most about John is that he was the same person wherever he went," said Susan Harris, senior program support specialist, Department of Clinical Research Informatics. "He had a sense of humor that wouldn't quit."

John began his association with NIH in 1979 as a contractor with Technicon Data Systems. In April 1987, he became a dedicated employee whose specialty was resolving any MIS-related computer or printer problems on the nursing units. He was also an active member of Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where he sang in the male chorus and the Mariellen Loston Memorial Chorus.

"We are most grateful for the love you have extended to my brother," said Carroll Holmes, one of John's five younger brothers. "He was very kind, he loved life and he did talk a lot, but that's what I will really miss. I'm glad he had friends who loved him."

Recreational Therapy bids farewell to member of family

The Recreational Therapy Department is losing a part of their family. Malca Haberman has spent 17 years as a volunteer, teaching patients how to knit, sew and crochet, and serving as a Hebrew interpreter when needed.

This month, she will end her years of commitment to the 14th floor and move to Davis, Calif. to be close to her son and three grandchildren.

"Our son is the only family that we have, so we want to be close to him," said Haberman. "But this has been a wonderful experience, and I've met some wonderful, courageous people since I've been here."

Haberman is described as a dedicated volunteer who goes beyond her normal duties of teaching crafts to patients, to creating an atmosphere of family and home. Although she is fluent in both English and Hebrew, Haberman wrote a crochet instruction manual in Spanish, to give to Hispanic patients who wanted to learn the craft. "She will leave a big hole in the program," said Dr. Renee Stubbs, recreational therapist. "We always depended on her to teach the patients. Sometimes the patients don't know what they want or how to do it, but she always figures it out."

"She always has a sunny disposition," said Jane Millman, recreational therapist. "And she always brings in cookies and azaleas. I remember one time I told her that I liked pea soup, and the next week she made some pea soup and brought it to me."

Haberman has spent more than 10,000 hours volunteering at the Clinical Center. Her husband Sol has also spent the past 17 years volunteering as a physics tutor at the University of Maryland College Park. Both said they would continue to volunteer somewhere once they were settled in their new home in California. "It will be an exciting time for them, but a sad time for us," said George Patrick, chief, Recreation Therapy Section.

"It's sad because a part of the family is leaving. She has always treated us like family," said Cindy White, recreational therapist. "Once she was in a car accident, and I think half of the recreational therapy staff moved in with her."

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Employees honored for customer service excellence

As part of the ongoing customer service initiative, two employees were honored this month for setting an example of excellence in customer service.

Michael Alexander and Officer Leonard Hamilton were presented with plaques and cash awards by Clinical Center Director Dr. John Gallin as part of an effort to demonstrate a leadership commitment to recognize and honor employees who consistently exemplify superior customer service.

"We work hard as a hospital and as an institution to provide good customer service," said Dr. Gallin. "We want to identify staff that provide unparalleled customer service and to recognize them. Michael and Leonard are great role models for all of us."

Both Alexander and Officer Hamilton were selected based on feedback from co-workers who consistently and without solicitation, identified them as outstanding examples during various customer service training sessions. "We have trained more than 2,000 employees and supervisors. During many of the sessions they were identified as providers of outstanding customer service," said Deborah Gardner, chief of Planning and Organizational Development. "We know that employees represent the caring side of the Clinical Center mission. Recognizing these daily efforts is critical." As a hospitality services coordinator, Alexander stations himself near the South Lobby entrance and greets patients, visitors and employees. He also escorts guests, offers directions and goes out of his way to make everyone feel welcomed.

"Often people just want someone to be nice to them," said Alexander, who credits his team of co-workers for his success. ÒI have a really great job. It's a lot of work, but the best part is seeing someone who is having a bad day, and being able to turn that into a good day."

Alexander said his joy comes from being able to respond to the needs of the patients ? from escorting a lost and slightly disoriented patient to a building on Old Georgetown Road, to assisting patients in getting to a shuttle or taxi on time.

"They are unsung heroes," said Michael Daniel, chief of Hospitality Services. "In terms of what they do and their daily responsibilities, they go above and beyond the call of duty."

Officer Hamilton is usually the first smiling face a person sees when entering the South Lobby. He is a contract security guard with Knight Protective Services and is responsible for ensuring the security of the building by checking identification badges, signing in visitors and inspecting packages.

"Being recognized with this award is an honor," said Officer Hamilton. "People walk through these doors sick and feeling down, and we just want to show them that we care. We can do law enforcement and still be compassionate."

Hamilton said his motivation comes from the NIH police department which encouraged him to work alongside with them as an officer. "When we work together as a team and donÕt see one person as being better than the other, then together we can achieve our goals."

The customer service initiative began last June and includes a 4.5 hour training seminar for Clinical Center employees and a 6.5 hour training seminar for supervisors. The training program will conclude this summer, with a total of 2,200 employees completing the courses.

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Patient escorts serve as critical link

They are always seen, but hardly recognized. Yet, they are one of the most essential groups of people in the Clinical Center.

"People need to know who we are and what we do, we work very hard and take pride in our jobs," said Diane Jenifer, project manager for the Patient Escort Service. "Many escorts feel we are sometimes overlooked, but we are an important part of the Clinical Center team."

Patient escorts make tracks on each floor of the Clinical Center, delivering, picking-up and transporting everything that deals with patient care. "Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, we are transporting patients, delivering specimens, charts, films, medications, finding wheelchairs, delivering blood products, carrying and storing luggage, delivering envelopes, and on occasion picking up menus for outpatient lunches," said Jenifer. "In the evening we also deliver flowers to the patients after the Red Cross volunteers go home, and return everything back to its original place so we can start fresh again in the morning."

Wearing white shirts, dark blue pants and their most comfortable shoes, patient escorts understand their worth and importance in and around the hospital. "We are among the first groups of people that the patient is going to meet in the Clinical Center," said Darlene Gibson, day-shift supervisor. "We transport them from admissions and take them to their daily appointments. If we do not meet the patient personally, then we are transporting their specimens, charts or films."

With only 18 employees split between three shifts, the escort service responds to about 525 calls daily, including at least one code blue, medical emergency. Additionally, 13 times during the day, they make research rounds and clinic rounds, in which one person goes onto each of the units and to each clinic to collect specimens and route them to their proper destinations.

"I don't know how the Clinical Center would survive without the patient escorts," said Joseph Alexander, who has been an escort for six months.

Aretta Mitchell, an escort for 13 months, agrees and adds that escorts must set the tone and stay upbeat. "The Clinical Center is family oriented and I see each patient as my child, my mother or my grandmother and I want them to be treated well," she said. "They are the backbone of the Clinical Center," said Elizabeth Fenn R.N., B.S.N., 13-West Clinic. "They handle specimens, they transport the patients and take them where they need to go. They are just remarkable."

Simon Eng, supervisor, inpatient pharmacy division, relies so heavily on the Patient Escort Service, that he has an escort assigned specifically to his division. The escort is specially trained to understand the components of the drugs being prepared, how they must be handled, the time they must be delivered, and who receives them.

"These escorts are a very important link," said Eng. "No matter how efficient we are in the pharmacy department, if the medication can't reach the customer, then it's no good."

Each escort spends about 95 percent of the day on their feet, taking more than 75,000 steps a day. "You learn to save your steps," said Alexander. "It takes a good two months for your legs and feet to get used to all the walking, but it's the pain that helps you learn the quickest routes."

Currently, patient escorts respond to calls for their assistance without the aid of pagers, phones or any other communication devices that help dispatch individuals. When an escort receives a list of requests, they mark on a small index-sized card where they need to go, what they are going to pick up and where they need to take it. They also mark the times they reach and leave each destination. After the escort has completed the runs listed on their card, they find a phone and call the main office to check to see what other requests can be completed while they are out.

The Patient Escort Service is currently computerizing the office to make dispatching and record keeping more accurate. Prior to installation of the new system, all assignments were hand-written and at the end of the day, one person was required to sort, tally and file all of the daysÕ assignments. According to Jenifer, final steps have been instituted for the department to receive 2-way pagers, which will alleviate the need for escorts to find phones and make calls in order to get assignments.

The life of an escort is vigorous work, but attitude is what each escort believes is most important. "It's challenging, but rewarding," said Mitchell. "You work hard and give 100 percent and at the end of the day you know you did the best you could."

-by Tanya Brown

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A time to celebrate nurses

"A Celebration of Nursing" was held on May 9 in the Visitors Information Center. Nurses from thoughout the Clinical Center were in attendance for the National Nurses' Week gathering.


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Functional genomics symposium hailed as success

More than 400 leaders in critical care medicine from 10 countries attended the two-day Functional Genomics of Critical Care Illness and Injury Symposium, held at Masur Auditorium last month.

The symposium, sponsored by the Clinical Center, NIGMS, NIAMS, NHGRI, NHLBI, and NIAlD, included 30 presentations given by leaders in the field. These included epidemiology of critical illness and injury; biocomplexity; investigational therapies; genome-wide expression profile studies in trauma and infection; functional aspects of genetic variability in the intensive care unit; genomic studies of host-pathogen interactions, applications for defense against bioterrorism; and the future of computational genomics.

"It was a very unique and productive conference," said Dr. Robert L. Danner, senior investigator and head of the Infectious Diseases Section, Critical Care Medicine department. "Attendees uniformly hailed the conference as a timely and seminal event. And, notably, several multi-institutional groups initiating large-scale studies in critically ill patient populations attended the meeting to collect information and establish collaborations."

Each year more than two million Americans are admitted to intensive care units because of life-threatening illness, Danner explained.

"A major problem has always been establishing the correct diagnosis. A second problem, especially in patients with infections or traumatic injury, is modulating the body's inflammatory response so that the patient's infection or injury is controlled and their vital organ function is not harmed," he said.

Supporting the symposium was the Foundation for NIH and four international medical societies. Conference co-chairs were Robert Danner; M.D., Anthony F. Suffredini, M.D., Critical Care Medicine, Clinical Center; and J. Perren Cobb, M.D., Department of Surgery, Washington University.

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Primary care updates
Join the Clinical Center Nursing Department for its fourth primary care update seminar on July 17, 3-4 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater. Cindy Compeggie, M.S.N., CRNP and Kathie Bronsen, M.S., CRNP will present the topic, "Update in Asthma Management."

JCAHO mock survey
The Clinical Center will participate in a JCAHO mock survey July 9-11 in preparation for the actual Joint Commission survey scheduled for 2003. The mock survey will provide staff with a real-time assessment of the quality of the Clinical Center's clinical care and patient safety activities. A three-person team will conduct the survey. For more information contact Laura Lee at 301-496-8025.


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Editor: Tanya C. Brown
Contributing writers: Colleen Henrichsen, Dianne Needham, John Iler

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.

For more information about the Clinical Center,
e-mail, or call Clinical Center Communications, 301-496-2563.

Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7511

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This page last reviewed on 09/9/09

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