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Among the people and programs coming in for prominent media coverage in the past few months was a DMS study which revealed that, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, "many people whose health insurance covers preventive screening are not taking advantage of it." For example, "using Medicare data . . . the researchers found that only 28% of women ages 65 to 69 received a mammogram during 1995 and 1996, even though experts recommend that women in that age group get screened once every two years." Dr. Jonathan Lord, formerly chief operating offer of the American Hospital Association and now an adjunct professor of community and family medicine at DMS, was quoted as saying that "the country's health-care system needs to develop a way to monitor preventive care. . . . And, Lord says, patients need to take an active role."

The New York Times's Gina Kolata recently explored the ethical issues raised by embryo research: "If you can grow a mouse from a single embryo cell," she wrote, "you should in theory be able to grow a human from a single embryo cell. And if you can grow a human from a single embryo cell, is that cell the moral equivalent of an entire embryo? Where, in other words, does the potential for human life lie? There are no simple answers anymore, ethicists say." One of the ethicists she quoted was Ronald Green, director of Dartmouth's Ethics Institute. "The problem, said Green, is that people are still trying to use biology to draw moral lines in the sand, and biology just does not suffice anymore."

The incidence of bacterial meningitis on college campuses received wide coverage recently. The Wall Street Journal explored the meningitis vaccine's benefits, limitations, and cost implications (since many insurance programs don't cover its $60 cost), noting that "the Centers for Disease Control's influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will consider recommending whether the evidence warrants recommending the vaccine for groups at risk. 'If parents want to provide a bit of extra protection, and it's worth spending $60, it's a reasonable choice,' says John Modlin of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who heads the advisory committee. 'But I'm not sure it makes sense from a public health standpoint.'"

In a recent op-ed essay published in the Washington Post, Patrick Hays, the president and CEO of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, invoked the work of the director of DMS's Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences: "In recent congressional testimony, Jack Wennberg, a Dartmouth College health quality expert, said, 'When medical science is weak, medical necessity is commonly determined by the opinions of local providers. One result is that patients with the same conditions are treated very differently, depending on where they live. What is medical necessity in one community is unnecessary care in another.'"

A feature in U.S. News & World Report on back pain—which afflicts four out of five Americans at some point in their lives—reported on a patient who had found satisfaction at DHMC. "Boston lawyer and avid runner Jonathan Fitch fell to the floor after moving furniture and suffered . . . pain radiating from his back down through his leg. . . . Several doctors told him not to run and two physicians recommended different surgeries. . . . Fitch was hesitant, and so was James Weinstein, director of the Spine Center at Dartmouth- Hitchcock Medical Center. 'I told him not only that he could run but that he should run,' says Weinstein. . . . Two years later, [Fitch] still has not felt the need for surgery. Last March, he ran the Boston Marathon."

"For some children, it's an after-school pressure cooker" was the headline on a New York Times feature about the activity-filled—even stress-filled—lives that many school-aged children lead. One of the experts the Times turned to was Dr. Marcia Herrin, codirector of Dartmouth's eating disorders program, who "said there was a connection between overscheduling and the development of eating disorders. 'I see a lot of teenagers who have no discretionary time,' Dr. Herrin said. The connection between eating disorders and activities appears to be strongest with sports."

The Pokemon craze—the toy world's latest collectible and game fad—was recently analyzed by the Boston Globe. "Dr. Steven Atkins, a child psychologist at Dartmouth Medical School, [expressed concern] about the money involved in the fad, especially for children from poor families who want to fit in. But he's not bothered by the game itself. 'From what I see, it's interactive, they're socializing, strategizing. Anything that has kids talking together is a good thing.'"

Only one-third of patients who tested positive for colon cancer obtained two recommended follow- up tests, according to a recent study conducted under DMS auspices. The Associated Press covered the study results, noting, "Failure to obtain proper follow-up testing could delay discovery of the disease, and 'the later you find it, the more difficult it is to cure,' warned one of the researchers, Dr. Jon Lurie of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.," an assistant professor of medicine at DMS.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently profiled Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord. The nation's first Navajo woman surgeon, she has been at DMS since 1997 as a surgeon and the associate dean of students. "Dr. Alvord, whose father was a Navajo and whose mother is white, has spent her life straddling the two cultures. Now she is helping to teach a new generation of medical students about melding the high-tech world of Western medicine with the holistic, spiritual approach she learned from her tribe's elders." The story noted the importance of role models. "She was fascinated by the human body, but inhibited by a Navajo culture that respects personal boundaries and disapproves of touching. . . . With the support of an American Indian surgeon who served as her mentor, she pursued the career that has led her to one of the nation's premier academic medical centers."

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