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Vital Signs

News Briefs

Spirited Pitch About Aging
"I wanna be sedated!" bellowed the rowdy, elderly men and women gathered in DHMC's Main Rotunda. No, it wasn't a group of patients run amok. It was a performance by the talented, world-renowned Young@Heart Chorus, featuring singers who range in age from 71 to 93 years old.

Kawakahi Amina

The group's DHMC performance was a sneak preview of one that rocked a concert hall at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center the following evening. The chorus, founded in 1982 and based in Northampton, Mass., was in the Upper Valley in conjunction with the 2007 Dartmouth Community Medical School course, titled "The New Thinking About Aging: Fostering Health, Coping with Frailty."

But these feisty singers proved that they were anything but frail as they belted out tunes by groups like Sonic Youth, Radiohead, OutKast, and the Beatles. And they closed each performance by imploring their audiences to—in the words of Bob Dylan—stay "Forever Young."


State-of-the-Art Concept
So your grade-school art teacher said you had no artistic talent? Nonsense, says former ICU nurse Kathy Parsonnet, who's been DHMC's artist in residence since 2005. In search of an art form that was "affordable, not wasteful, and fairly easy for any patient to use," she invented Fraglets Art—hand-painted magnetic forms in assorted shapes and sizes that can be arranged and rearranged on a metal "canvas" to create a . . . masterpiece.

Though people don't get to keep their Fraglets creations, Parsonnet takes a digital picture of each work and leaves a copy with the artist. She brings the materials back to her studio, disinfects the pieces, and then reassembles the kits for the next set of artists—whether they are hospitalized patients, employees, or residents of skilled nursing facilities.

"I'm a very frugal artist," she says. "I like using things over and over." For more information, see www.fragletsart.com.


Sundown: Sun exposure early in life is related to rising skin cancer rates—but try telling that to an adolescent. Actually, DMS's Dr. Ardis Olson has done so, with measurable success, through a program called SunSafe in the Middle School Years.

Tea-Totaler: A DMS study of the correlation between tea consumption and skin cancer incidence found that subjects who drank two or more cups of tea a day had a 65% lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Lemon boosted the effect.

A Big Deal: DHMC recently acquired a large-bore MRI machine. Such scanners accommodate claustrophobic or obese patients more easily than conventional machines, and with much better resolution than open MRI scanners.

Storm Window: Daniel Pluta, a DHMC radiology technician, and his 16-year-old son spent February vacation week with a church group from Hanover volunteering in one of the New Orleans neighborhoods most devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Feeling No Pain: DHMC's Richard Barrett Pain Management Center was one of 14 pain centers nationwide (one of just two in New England) honored in the American Pain Society's firstever Clinical Centers of Excellence in Pain Management Awards.

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