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Going green

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SMILEY FACE: Dartmouth-Hitchcock's longest-serving volunteer, Kayo Sands, recently "retired" from the DHMC Auxiliary. Over the course of 28 years, the now-88-year-old Sands has totted up 20,343.5 hours of volunteer service—mostly as a smiling, helpful presence at the information desk.

SNOW JOB: Five students in DMS programs are featured in a video (noted at right) about international grad students at Dartmouth. They mention the strong academics, friendly ambience, lack of traffic, and easy access to the outdoors—as well as the need for snow tires.

MEDICARE MANIFESTO: A Los Angeles Times op-ed by DMS's Dr. H. Gilbert Welch posed three principles to guide Medicare: don't bankrupt our children, don't waste money on low-yield interventions, and allow time for patients and doctors to talk.

2, 4, 6, 8 . . . RAH, TEAM!

Vince Lombardi would surely have been a fan of the High Value Healthcare Collaborative (HVHC). "People who work together will win," asserted the legendary football coach, "whether it be against complex football defenses or the problems of modern society." HVHC is all about working together, against one of society's most intractable problems—health-care delivery. It aims to identify best practices on common and costly conditions, then disseminate them nationally. The group was established last year by six founding members: Dartmouth- Hitchcock, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Denver Health, Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

And the HVHC team just got bigger, with the addition of eight new members: Baylor Health Care and Scott & White in Texas, Sutter Health and the UCLA System in California, Beaumont Health in Michigan, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Washington State, University of Iowa Hospitals, and MaineHealth. The group is currently aiming to beat . . . er, collect data on . . . nine common conditions, including total knee replacement, diabetes, and asthma. For more on the HVHC, see the Spring 2011 Dartmouth Medicine article "New national collaborative will mine health data in search of gold".


ECONOMIC ENGINE: The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) just released a study showing that federal- and state-supported research contributed almost $45 billion to the nation's economy in 2009—and that research at AAMC member institutions supports 1 in 500 U.S. jobs.

DRUG BUST: Associated Press reported that "a national survey of nearly 3,000 adults finds that about 4 in 10 wrongly believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves only 'extremely effective' drugs." The study was done by DMS faculty members Drs. Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin.

TIE CLASP: DMS faculty member (and former surgeon general) Dr. C. Everett Koop, celebrated for wearing red bow ties, was feted on his 95th birthday in October at a party attended by DMS faculty and administrators, plus 14 of his former trainees and fellows who traveled to Hanover for the occasion.

Duo tackles head trauma

Understanding the effects of head trauma in sports is a bit of a brain-twister, but a Dartmouth duo is busy untangling the puzzle. Since 2006, Drs. Thomas McAllister, a psychiatrist at DMS, and Songbai Ji, at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, have been studying data from specialized helmets worn by volunteers on Dartmouth's football and hockey teams.

The helmets contain sensors, developed by a Lebanon, N.H.-based company called Simbex, that record the force and number of head impacts during practices and games. The volunteers also agree to have pre- and post-season MRIs of two types—structural and functional; the latter shows brain activity in different areas as the subject undergoes cognitive testing.

In addition, Ji has constructed computer models of the brain that show all its major structures. These are helping the duo to evaluate the extent to which front or side impacts of differing force deform various parts of the brain. The findings so far suggest that the brain's corpus callosum may be a critical area. And they may one day lead to better helmet designs or even to rule changes aimed at preventing concussions.


HEARTWARMING NEWS: Dr. Naomi Gauthier, a Dover, N.H.-based pediatric cardiologist with the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, was one of five finalists, picked from about 100 nominees, to receive an annual award from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.

IS IT BROKE?: "Health-Care Industry, Heal Thyself" was the title of a recent Wall Street Journal commentary by Eric Johnson, a professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. Safeguarding patient information in today's digital world is as hard as controlling health-care costs, he posited.

IT WAS GRAND: In a recent performance of Handel's Messiah, including the rafter-ringing "Hallelujah Chorus," over a dozen DMS faculty, staff, and students sang with the 100-member Dartmouth Handel Society, the nation's oldest town-gown group devoted to major choral-orchestral works.

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