New Additions

Families interested in adding a baby to their family can apply for a domestic adoption through Catholic Charities until Jan. 31.

Prospective parents should call 885-1141 to obtain a questionnaire and application through Catholic Charities Adoption Services. Parents-to-be should be between the ages of 27 and 43, married for at least three years and have no more than two children currently in their household.

"Families who enter the program will attend educational classes and receive support and legal assistance to guide them through the adoption process," says program director Danna Cousins. The organization also offers international adoption services for local families.

Better Understanding

The St. Tammany Parish Hospital (STPH) Pinnacle Society will hold a two-hour seminar at 2 p.m. Jan. 10 to help seniors and their families understand the government's new prescription drug benefit contained in Medicare Part D.

Louisiana Department of Insurance Senior Health Insurance Information Program trainer Vicki Dufrene will discuss the program during a seminar at the hospital Conference Center (1202 St. Tyler St., Covington; She also will give tips about how individual seniors can find the best plan for their own needs. Free handouts will be available.

"The confusion over the plan has become a central focus in the senior community, and we want to help ... local seniors determine the best plan for their prescription coverage," says STPH Pinnacle Society coordinator Karen Nicholson. "Depending upon existing coverage, some seniors may lessen their access to drug benefits by signing up for Medicare Part D.

The seminar is free, but seating is limited. For reservations, call (985) 898-4043.

Looking for Answers

The incidence of a number of cancers is up to 50 percent higher in African Americans than in Caucasians, and the overall death rate from cancer is a third higher in blacks, according to data from the National Cancer Institute. To address the disparities in statistics, the National Cancer Institute recently awarded Tulane University and Xavier University of Louisiana $1.4 million to develop biomedical research and education programs to address the situation.

The four-year grant provides $540,000 to Tulane Cancer Center and $880,000 to Xavier.

Researchers plan to develop collaborative cancer-research initiatives and grant submissions; recruit more African-American students into cancer research, education and policy development; and develop a course on cultural competence and diversity to help train faculty, researchers and students.

"Tulane and Xavier are now in a position to focus their complementary strengths to attack disparity by enhancing our understanding of tumor biology and by recruiting more students, physicians, teachers and scientists to productive careers in cancer research and education," says Roy S. Weiner, director of Tulane Cancer Center. He and Kathleen Kennedy, associate dean of the Xavier University College of Pharmacy, will serve as principal investigators of the project.

Saving Lives

Touro Infirmary has joined the 100,000 Lives Campaign, the first national initiative that seeks to save a specific number of lives using proven clinical practices and methods and the largest health-care quality-improvement effort every undertaken in the United States. The campaign is sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and so far includes 2,800 acute care hospitals all over America.

The campaign, which started a year ago, has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Nurses Association, the National Patient Safety Foundation, Veterans Health Administration and others. It is supported through philanthropy.

Touro and the other health-care facilities who participate in the campaign have made a formal commitment to quality-improvement changes that include broadening the ability of hospital staff members to call specialty teams to examine a patient at the first sign of decline; consistently delivering key measures known to help prevent patient deaths from heart attack (including using aspirin and beta-blockers early); and preventing adverse drug reactions by implementing a system that comparing all the drugs a patient may be taking for various conditions at several different stages of their stay in the hospital. Other aspects of the initiative include preventing infections contracted during and after health-care procedures and hospital stays, and preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia by implementing several steps to reduce both the rate of death from the disease and the length of a patient's hospital stay.

For more information about the 100,000 Lives Campaign, visit

Reaffirmation for LSU

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools last month awarded LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation, despite a temporary move to Baton Rouge for many of its departments following Hurricane Katrina.

Accreditation is required for all federally sponsored education programs. The Commission is the regional accrediting body in 11 U.S. Southern states and in Latin America for higher education institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees. Accreditation by the Commission signifies that an institution has a purpose appropriate to higher education, has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that purpose, and that its educational objectives are appropriate for the degrees it offers.

A spokeswoman for LSUHSC says classes resumed in Baton Rouge on Sept. 26, and students received degrees in nursing, allied health, graduate studies, public health and medicine during commencement ceremonies last month. The Schools of Graduate Studies and Public Health and graduate-level School of Nursing programs will return to New Orleans in January, as will basic science research programs. The School of Allied Health Professions will return during the first quarter of the year, as repairs to its facilities allow. The School of Medicine will return in May, and Dentistry will follow in September.

LSUHSC faculty has been working at Touro, Children's Hospital, Kenner Regional Hospital, Ochsner Clinic Foundation and other institutions. Since Katrina, faculty and residents have cared for patients in the Combat Support Hospital in the Convention Center, on the Navy hospital ship Comfort and at outpatient clinics.


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