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Vital Signs

News Briefs

A Joint Resolution

Some people collect baseball cards. Some collect coins or stamps. Orthopaedic surgeon Michael Mayor, M.D., collects "explanted" artificial joints. Mayor, who holds DMS's William and Bessie Allyn Professorship, has been at Dartmouth since 1971. In that 33-year span, he's performed 1,500 hip replacements and 2,000 knee replacements.

But his most significant legacy involves joints taken out of patients. With John Collier, D.E., a member of the faculty at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, Mayor has amassed the world's largest collection of "retrieved" implants—artificial joints that outlived their useful life or failed for some reason and so were replaced or removed. The collection in their implant analysis laboratory now includes over 8,000 hips, knees, and other devices sent to Dartmouth by surgeons the world over. They carefully analyze these devices for clues as to what made them succeed or fail. The resulting insights have led to many improvements in the way such devices are made—from which thousands, maybe even millions, of patients have benefited.


Courageous Move

When former Dartmouth President David McLaughlin died on August 25, while on a fishing trip in Alaska, he was remembered in many ways: as a Dartmouth football star who turned down a chance to play in the pros, as a business leader who chaired the Board of Trustees for his alma mater during the transition to coeducation, as Dartmouth's president from 1981 to 1987, and later as chair of several major nonprofits, including the American Red Cross.

His term as president has special meaning for the medical community at Dartmouth. In a eulogy at McLaughlin's memorial service, current Dartmouth President James Wright explained why: "In perhaps the most long-lasting accomplishment, he helped to move the Medical Center from Hanover to Lebanon. . . . I said to David many times . . . that the decision to relocate and reconstitute the Medical Center, audacious and even controversial though it was, was both right and courageous." Anyone who recalls the tortuous hallways of the old DHMC (pictured above being imploded in 1995) would second that motion. A.S.


New Paper Makes the Grade

Security and elegance were the goals of DMS Registrar Joan Monahan when she set out to redesign the paper on which graduates' transcripts are printed. The result "makes a nice statement about where it's coming from and provides every level of security you would want to have," she says. New attention is being given nationally to ensuring that the transcripts of physicians can't be tampered with. And while she was at it, Monahan figured it would be nice to come up with something more attractive than the generic parchment the office had used for almost a decade.

With its dark green border, pale green background, and DMS seal in the middle, the new paper (top left) is both prettier and more difficult to duplicate or deface. Not only does it contain several translucent watermarks, but a hidden pattern saying "COPY: DARTMOUTH MEDICAL SCHOOL" appears if the paper is photocopied (bottom left). In addition, to confound even the most clever impostors, the paper is made of chemically reactive fibers that will change color if dabbed with household bleach. But the final step in protecting the authenticity of DMS transcripts is low-tech but tried-and-true—Monahan keeps the paper under lock and key.


Nurse is a Modest Hero

I never realized how helpless you are on the outside," says DHMC nurse Laurie Fox, recalling the night she watched an SUV slam into a motorcyclist on a busy road in Enfield, N.H. But she acted instinctively, clearing blood from the badly injured cyclist's airway with a CPR kit she happened to have in her car. As a nurse with 11 years of experience, she'd had patients "code" on her before, but always inside a hospital, where there was a safety net of expert staff and emergency equipment. At 6:30 p.m. on that dark road in late October 2003, it was up to her to keep the motorcyclist alive until the ambulance arrived.

The man, Dmitri Lurie, a local Harley-Davidson mechanic, survived, and his parents credit Fox with saving his life. Fox's colleagues (any one of whom, she maintains, would have done the same) were so impressed that they nominated her to become a Nurse Hero, an honor that's given to only 10 nurses nationwide each year by the American Red Cross and the journal Nursing Spectrum. Fox flew to Washington, D.C., to receive her award on December 3, 2004.


Insight into Alzheimer's

When "Norman" suffered sudden personality changes and memory lapses as a result of Alzheimer's disease, his wife, "Beatrice," first encouraged him to share details of where he thought he was, then helped him to refocus on the present.

Norman and Beatrice aren't real—but their struggles were made very real for an audience at DHMC a few months ago. Dartmouth-Hitchcock joined forces with the Alzheimer's Association of Vermont and New Hampshire to present a staged reading of Barbara Hammond's Norman and Beatrice, a play about a couple living with Alzheimer's. During the discussion that followed, one audience member commended Beatrice's tactic when Norman became confused. Dr. Robert Santulli, an assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the new Upper Valley Alzheimer's Disease Resource Center at DHMC, agreed that "gently reorienting" someone is often more effective than constantly correcting them. The latter only makes them feel frustrated or less competent.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 70% of people with Alzheimer's live at home, with family and friends as the primary caregivers. The new DHMC resource center will provide more support programs for such caregivers.


Body of Work is Dazzling

Next to professional athletics, professional dance is probably one of the most physically demanding careers. But that doesn't mean it's solely the domain of the able-bodied. Axis, a California-based dance troupe that includes dancers with and without disabilities, brought that message to Dartmouth a few months ago. For six days, Axis dazzled local audiences with its artistic works integrating dancers in wheelchairs, dancers on crutches, and dancers on their own two feet. In addition to doing six performances, the troupe met with medical students and gave a presentation at DHMC.

"Their message was inspiring—that they didn't give up when faced with their medical condition," says Elisabeth Gordon, coordinator of the arts program at DHMC. "A consistent theme seemed to be that health-care providers are often not aware of the resources available to their patients," such as the insights offered by groups like Axis. After its stay at Dartmouth, the award-winning troupe spent five more weeks on the road, wowing audiences throughout New England.


Presence Of Mind: For his birthday, 14-year-old Jessey Rogers asked friends and family to make gifts to the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth. The $217 donated will go toward art supplies for pediatric patients.

Courtly Manner: Cardiologist Daniel O'Rourke, M.D., is one of many Dms faculty who coach kids' sports teams on their own time. He's in his fourth year coaching the Hanover High girls' varsity basketballers.

State Of The Art: An oncology nurse, seven local high schoolers, renowned muralist Sol Levinson, and Dhmc's Arts Department collaborated to brighten a corridor in the Radiation Oncology Unit with nine 4' x 8' murals.

Global Positioning: In the five years since Dms began an exchange program with Kosova's only medical school, well over 100 visitors have traveled from the war-torn Balkans to Dartmouth, or vice versa.

First-Rate: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center was ranked #1 on Business New Hampshire Magazine's list of "Best Companies to Work For." Criteria included a culture that values employees and stable leadership.

Pedal Pushers: Dhmc recently granted the Town of Hanover a right of way to build a bike and pedestrian path that will link downtown Hanover and Dhmc. The project is supported in large part by a federal grant.

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