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On December 1, 2016, Air Force Sgt. Chris Goodwin and his newborn celebrated their birthdays together in what was MUSC Health’s first cesarean experience via FaceTime. His wife, Jessica, asked her obstetrician if they could bring a smartphone into the OR since her husband is serving in the Middle East. David Soper, M.D., agreed, knowing how much of a family man Chris is.

Jessica, who was relieved to have her husband ‘virtually’ present, said he’s the type of guy who likes to take care of others. He even changed hard-to-reach light bulbs before he left so she wouldn’t have to.Mom with baby and FaceTime on cell phone

“Chris is the kindest person I know, and he would do just about anything for anyone. He is everyone’s ‘go-to’ person, if that makes sense. If you need something done, he's the person to ask. He will always find a way to help people, but he always puts his family first.”

There are some moments that are not to be missed, and this was definitely one of them. Jessica says parenthood has changed both of them.

“The little moments are now the big moments. The best way to explain it is that I've now learned how to live with my heart outside of my chest.” 

Chris says he’s so thankful for the staff making it happen. “It’s indescribable. I don’t know what I would do without being over there in some kind of way,” he says, admitting that he shed tears during several moments of the birth.

“Of course, I cried. I’m trying to hold it back now just talking about it. If you don’t cry at the birth of your son, then something’s wrong with you.”

Find the full story in the MUSC News Center.

A new way of rebuilding the breasts of women who have mastectomies is getting good reviews from patients. Shari Frontz, a patient who is also a nurse anesthetist at another hospital, had pre-pectoral reconstruction at MUSC Health. "I think the results look amazing. I’m very happy with the results," she says.

Dr. Ulm and patientInstead of putting the implant under the muscle, the surgeon places it over the muscle. Doctors say it's less painful and gets more natural-looking results than sub-pectoral reconstruction. It can be done immediately after a mastectomy, or, if the woman would prefer to wait, she can have the implants added later.

Pre-pectoral breast reconstruction has only been available in the U.S. for a few years, and it's still only done at select hospitals. MUSC Health is one of the first sites in the state to offer it. Plastic surgeons Kevin Delaney and Jason Ulm specialize in the procedure.

"Basically, it’s an option for almost anyone who is getting a mastectomy," Delaney says. "Most commonly that’s breast cancer, but it's also for women who are getting prophylactic mastectomies, if they have the BRCA gene, for example." BRCA genes raise the risk of breast cancer, and a mastectomy can reduce that risk.Dr. Ulm and Dr. Delaney

Pre-pectoral breast reconstruction is also an option for women who have had sub-pectoral breast reconstruction and are having problems with their implants. Ulm says the procedure can make a dramatic difference. "If everything goes as planned, the feel and shape and the way the breast looks are much improved. Much better."

He says pre-pectoral breast reconstruction is not safe for women who have had radiation because their blood flow is different and they have an increased risk of complications.

Some special advisers are helping select the furniture that will go in patient rooms in the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion: the parents of former patients.

They’re an important part of making sure the hospital, set to open in 2019, is as family-friendly as possible. They recently came to a furniture fair on the MUSC campus to test some of the options. Employees who will work in the new hospital also tried out the chairs and sofas.MUSC Health staff testing new chairs

The chairwoman of the MUSC Children’s Health Patient and Family Advisory Council, Kelly Loyd, called it a great example of the collaboration that’s occurred throughout the design process.

“Gathering patients, family and staff to evaluate and make recommendations on the family furniture that will be used in the patient rooms was critical in ensuring that the selections made will meet the needs of everyone who will use them,” Loyd said. (Learn about how patients became involved with this project in our NewsCenter story.)

She knows firsthand what it’s like to have a child in the hospital for an extended period. Her twin daughters spent weeks in MUSC Children’s Hospital after they were born prematurely. She said including parents in the furniture selection process was a great example of patient- and family-centered care.

Carolyn BaRoss, the design principal working on the interior aspects of the new hospital, appreciates the input. “Many caregivers provided important insights for how patients use the furnishings, which will be very helpful to narrow the options for further testing in the units,” BaRoss said.

“Some of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses were especially helpful in providing feedback on best choices for gliders and recliners for kangaroo care.”

Kangaroo care is a way of holding babies so they get skin-to-skin contact.

“We have tremendous experience in designing for health care, but the input based on individual experiences of the families and patients who gave us their valuable time and insights will make the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion even more responsive to their needs,” BaRoss said.

Brenda Smith, the interior designer for focusing on furniture for the new hospital, said the chairs and sofas need to be comfortable, inviting and safe.

“The furniture in the patient rooms has an immediate impact on the patient’s family, affecting their comfort, convenience and potentially the quality of their sleep,” Smith said. “Facilitating a review of the furniture pieces used in these patient care spaces helps to identify the key attributes that enhance the patient and family experience.

“In addition, review by staff helps to identify key considerations for safety, infection control and durability. All of these factors help our design team arrive at the best solution for MUSC and the children they care for.”

Construction on the hospital began in August. Features include:

  •  Larger rooms for all patients
  •  Light-filled play areas
  •  Private rooms in the neonatal intensive care unit
  •  A dedicated “stork elevator” for women in labor
  •  Family amenities such as kitchens, showers and laundry rooms

If you’ve been outside over the past few days, you have no doubt noticed the smoke in the air. You may also have wondered how safe it is to be breathing in this smoke. As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, the Air Quality Index in Charleston is 167 or “Unhealthy” according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Dr. Lynn Schnapp, a specialist in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at MUSC Health, offered these insights into our air quality and how to handle the current poor conditions.

“When the air is unhealthy, in general, the recommendation is you don’t want to be outside, even if you don’t have underlying lung or cardiovascular complications. You want to minimize your outdoor exposure and your exertion during outdoor activities.”

When the air quality is poor, there is cause for concern and people should take steps to minimize exposure. To parents of children who normally play outside, Dr. Schnapp says, “Kids should not be outside playing for prolonged periods of time. Recess should be inside. I’d say consider recess indoor activities.”

Air quality conditions are particularly concerning for those with lung disease or people with asthma. Irritants in the air can exacerbate problems they may already experience.

In general, today is not the day for prolonged outdoor exposure. You should be minimizing activities such as exercise outdoors or indoors. "And," Dr. Schnapp adds, “I don’t recommend that people go out with filter masks at this point, but the main strategy is to minimize exposure.  And, do not freak out if you need to cross the street.”

A steady diet of negative news can negatively impact stress levels. To see how it might affect you, check out this piece on election stress disorder and tips from Alyssa A Rheingold, Ph.D., a psychologist with the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, on how to best cope.

Ten Stress-Busting Tips for Election Day and After

Managing stress may be different for each person, what works for one person may not always work for another. That being said, there are a number of strategies that have been found effective for coping with stress and anxiety. Here are 10 tips to manage stress:

  1. Watch intake of food, caffeine, alcohol and drugs. What you put in your body can have an impact on stress response. Eating healthy and limiting caffeine can decrease fatigue and irritability. Limiting alcohol and drugs not only helps with short-term stress response, but also decreases the potential for longer-term health consequences.
     
  2. Catch some ZZZs. Making sure you get enough sleep is crucial to stress management. Lack of sleep can impact concentration and increase irritability.  Having a set bedtime each night, practicing good sleep hygiene (no TV in bed!) can help your body unwind and settle down each evening. Sometimes stress can cause insomnia. If insomnia becomes a chronic problem, there are brief cognitive behavioral strategies that can help. Seek a professional for guidance. 
     
  3. Practice relaxation exercises. Learning to focus on one’s breath and practice deep breathing can slow the physiological reactions of stress down. Other relaxation exercises that may be useful include progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.
     
  4. Become present focused.  When we are stressed we often tend to focus on things that have occurred in the past or worrying about the future. When this happens, we are missing out on the here and now. And today is what truly matters. Learning to engage in the present and focus our awareness to the “now” can help let go of stress or even view it differently.
     
  5. Pay attention to thoughts. We all have a running inner dialogue called “self-talk.” We often accept this self-talk as truth because they are our thoughts. Why question it? When we become stressed or anxious, these thoughts can often be negative and usually not completely realistic. By paying attention to our thoughts, gently challenging them, and creating more healthy - thinking approaches can decrease stress.
     
  6. Get active. Exercise has been found to be an excellent stress management strategy as it releases chemicals in the brain that can relax us. Getting out of the house and go for a walk around the block both provides your body with activity but also clears the mind with a shift in focus to different surroundings.
     
  7. Lean on support. Talking to a friend, going for coffee, or just being with someone who you find supportive can improve functioning. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone that cares for you can be helpful and combats a sense of loneliness and isolation with a sense of connection.
     
  8. Have fun! Doing something that provides joy can help ground and refocus someone with stress. Sometimes when people get stressed they tend to withdraw from activities. To manage this, scheduling fun activities and formally penciling them in a schedule book can encourage follow-through. These activities can be small simple things like having a cup of tea on the porch or going to lunch with a friend. Go bowling, see a movie, get out in nature or go fishing. Whatever provides a sense of relaxation or a good laugh can be an excellent stress management strategy.  
     
  9. Do something of value. When stressed, we often operate on autopilot, going through the motions of each day. Taking stock of what provides meaning and value can help refocus what is truly important in life. Once you clarify your values, commit to action. Do something each day that is of purpose and value.
     
  10. Get involved. When we become stressed from external events such as the election or other world events, we sometimes have a sense of powerlessness. Getting involved in social action and volunteerism can increase a sense of power and control that even small actions in the world can make a difference. Find a cause and get involved.

 

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