Nancy Stitt, RN BSN
Co-founder; International Transplant Nurses Society
One aspiration Nancy has always had was “to make a difference in the world”. Beginning her nursing career at UPMC upon graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1979, Nancy found her true passions early on: teaching and transplantation. In 1981, Dr. Thomas E. Starzl began the liver transplant program at UPMC with these patients being on the floor where Nancy worked. Moving to the ICU setting, Nancy had exposure to all transplant patients (liver, kidney, heart, heart-lung) and fell in love with all things transplant. The liver transplant program grew exponentially in the late ‘80s, prompting the addition of necessary critical care units to accommodate the volume of these patients at Presbyterian University Hospital. A new nurse educator position was posted – Liver Transplant ICU Nurse Educator; Nancy was hired and “the rest is history” as Nancy describes.
With hospitals all over the country and outside of the USA starting up transplant programs, teams of doctors and nurses traveled to Pittsburgh to learn about transplantation. Nancy played host to visiting nurses, setting up observation, training, and educational opportunities. Thinking there must be a way to be able to share this transplant knowledge and searching for a nursing organization that had transplant nursing education targeted for the bedside nurse, it became evident it didn’t exist. Introduced to a nurse who worked with kidney transplant patients – Kandy Yarris Newell – the process began of creating a specialty nursing organization dedicated to transplant nurses at the bedside but that would also serve the multi-disciplinary needs of all transplant healthcare professionals. Deciding to go international from the start, the International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS ) was founded. ITNS is dedicated to providing education and research opportunities for transplant nurses and transplant healthcare professionals worldwide and to develop and provide transplant patient education materials in several languages. With the inaugural symposium being held in Pittsburgh in March of 1992, Nancy was elected the first President and would serve in that position through 1994 and then President Emeritus through 1995. As ITNS moves into its 25th year, Nancy is once again on the Board of Directors, serving as President-Elect, President and then President Emeritus over the next 2 years.
Her career in transplantation at UPMC provided the opportunity to assist in the designing of a transplant training program for Italian nurses and then to be in Palermo, Italy for seven years (1999-2006) to help build the UPMC-Italy hospital known as ISMETT (Istituto Mediterraneo per i Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione), where she served as the Director of Nursing Education and Research until August 2006. She also had the opportunity in 2010 to train ICU nurses in Gaborone, Botswana (Africa) for a private hospital start-up. She has presented extensively at conferences locally, nationally and internationally and has several publications on transplant topics. Currently an Advanced Clinical Education Specialist at UPMC Presbyterian, Nancy is pursuing a Master of Science in Global and International Education at Drexel University.
Allegheny Health Network
a thoracic surgical oncologist and Co-Director at the Esophageal and Lung Institute at Allegheny Health Network, turned recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force into a large-scale lung cancer screening program to help smokers throughout the western Pennsylvania region detect lung cancer at its earliest stages, when it’s most curable.
The Preventative Services Task Force recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults age 55 to 74 who have a 30 pack-year history of smoking (a pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years), and either currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. The National Lung Cancer Screening Trials showed that low-dose CT scans save lives, reducing lung cancer mortality by 20 percent.
Because the majority of patients with lung cancer aren’t diagnosed until they begin to have symptoms, Schumacher took those recommendations and crafted a free screening program to help patients at risk of lung cancer detect it when it can most successfully be treated.
Screening is now offered at hospitals and outpatient centers throughout Allegheny Health Network. After scheduling an appointment for the CT scan, patients will be contacted by a lung cancer Nurse Navigator who will educate them on the screening process and the implications of test results. The Navigator will guide patients through follow-up care if necessary as well as on critical disease prevention measures such as smoking cessation classes.
Schumacher was adamant that smoking cessation efforts be an essential aspect of the program. All participants are eligible for smoking cessation services, even those who call to inquire about screening but do not qualify.
Allegheny Health Network is developing a database that tracks participants – their demographics, smoking history, test results and follow-up recommendations – to demonstrate the value of this preventative health care program.
Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the leading cause of cancer death. Smoking is the cause of about 85 percent of all lung cancer cases, and the risk increases with age. About 37 percent of U.S. adults are current or former smokers.
Chong S. Park, MD
Jefferson Hospital - Allegheny Health Network
Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Chief Medical Officer at Jefferson Hospital, part of Allegheny Health Network, has been a valued member of Jefferson’s physician leadership team for many years, both as a clinician and in medical staff leadership roles. He has served as Chair of the Department of Surgery and Medical Director of the Allegheny Health Network Cardiovascular Institute at Jefferson Hospital.
Under Dr. Park’s leadership, Jefferson Hospital has achieved national acclaim for its excellent outcomes and quality initiatives, including its exceptional care for cardiovascular and thoracic patients. The Cardiac Surgical Program has achieved the highest three-star ratings from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for its excellence in caring for its complex cardiac surgical patients. Of the participating hospitals that submit data for analysis, only approximately 10 to 15 percent of heart programs in the nation achieve this prestigious distinction.
The Heart Program has received national recognition during his tenure from outside agencies, including The American Heart Association and Health Grades. Jefferson Hospital was the first healthcare facility in Pennsylvania to earn the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center accreditation and also recently celebrated its 5,000th open-heart procedure since the Cardiovascular Institute opened more than a decade ago.
Dr. Park serves as a member of several hospital committees at Jefferson, providing his expertise and experience to the carotid stent committee, credentials committee, environment and infection control committee, and the health information technology committee physician advisory group.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry at Washington & Jefferson College and his medical degree at Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed residencies in cardiothoracic surgery at Allegheny General Hospital and in general surgery at Brown University.
Dr. Park is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery, National Board of Medical Examiners and American Board of Thoracic Surgery. His professional affiliations include the American College of Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American Medical Association, Pennsylvania Medical Society and Allegheny County Medical Association.
He recently was honored by his alma mater, Washington & Jefferson College, with the 2015 Maurice Cleveland Waltersdorf Award for Innovative Leadership.
Allegheny Health Network
As the medical director of the trauma program at Allegheny Health Network’s Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, Christoph Kaufman, MD was tasked with building the program from the ground up.
Dr. Kaufmann was instrumental in ensuring that Forbes aligned all the resources and expertise needed to achieve Level II Trauma Center accreditation from the state and to fill an unmet need for residents of Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs.
Individuals injured in rural areas of our nation are twice as likely to die when compared to people injured in urban areas, largely related to trauma center proximity. While Monroeville is not considered rural, its isolation on the eastern side of Pittsburgh poses a problem for trauma patients in need of urgent, specialized care. Transportation during rush hour, or inclement weather, when helicopter transport may become impossible, can push patients past the “Golden Hour”—the time frame in which survival from severe trauma is most likely.
Forbes’ Level II Trauma Center opened in October 2013, providing multidisciplinary treatment and specialized resources for trauma patients, including having a trauma surgeon on site 24/7, an operating room immediately available at all times for trauma cases, dedicated neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgeons on call, and the availability of the full spectrum of medical and surgical subspecialists.
Just six months later, the Trauma Center demonstrated its value to the community when 22 people were injured by a knife-wielding student who went on a rampage stabbing fellow-students and a security guard at nearby Franklin Regional High School.
Dr. Kaufmann’s team provided life-saving care for a number of the most critically-injured students and became an example of skilled handling of a mass casualty incident as the national media descended upon Forbes and closely followed the progress of each patient.
Under Dr. Kaufmann’s direction, surgeons at Forbes Hospital Trauma Center are continuing to work on improving patient care and outcomes. The team is the first in the nation to explore an innovative use of Google Glass technology to assist in the care of critically injured patients.
Google Glass, a wearable device with an optical head-mounted display, provides information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands. Forbes' trauma surgeons are currently testing the technology in the patient resuscitation setting, using it to gain immediate access to critical information, checklists and reminders specific to injury categories. Once a patient program is initiated, a timer begins that provides important prompts and reminders to the trauma team every few minutes.
This novel application of the technology augments the surgeon’s skills and training, serving as a time-saving resource, particularly during trauma resuscitation when every minute saved can mean a better outcome for the patient.