Health Disparities

  Xavier University of Louisiana's College of Pharmacy is hosting a Health Disparities Conference next month to find ways of improving health care in all communities.

  The third annual conference, scheduled April 19-21 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, is presented by the College of Pharmacy's Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities. "Building Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities: Effective Chronic Disease Management Models to Improve Health Outcomes" will include workshops and discussions about interdisciplinary models to reduce inequalities. It also will address interventions for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other conditions; communications between patients and care providers; cultural and linguistic issues; and the role pharmacists, nurses, allied health professionals, policy makers, educators, researchers and others play in improving health.

  Keynote speaker Congresswoman Donna Christiansen, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust, will discuss the Obama administration's legislative initiatives to eliminate health disparities.

  For more information, call (404) 559-6191 or visit www.

Career Goals

  Delgado Community College will hold an Allied Health & Nursing Career Showcase from 9 a.m. to noon March 25 in the Michael L. Williamson Complex (615 City Park Ave.). The event is free and open to the public.

  The showcase will offer information about career options, college programs and financial aid for people considering entering health fields including sonography, dietetics, emergency medical technician, funeral services, lab technicians, nuclear medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, ophthalmology, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy, physical therapy, radiology, radiation, respiratory care, and veterinary and surgical technologies.

  For more information, call 671-5041 or email

Fight MS

  It's National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. To celebrate, Chili's restaurants across the state will donate 10 percent of their sales on Wednesday, March 4, to the Louisiana Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society if you bring in a copy of a flyer that can be printed from

  On Thursday, March 5, the MS Society will have an exhibit at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to demonstrate the obstacles faced by MS patients. The Bayou MS Foundation will hold its ninth annual MS Health Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at St. Martin's Episcopal School (5309 Airline Drive, Metairie). It will include a children's workshop, presentations about relationships, yoga, breathing and stretching techniques, stress management, information and resources, live entertainment and a silent auction.

New Dental Center [Web Exclusive]

  Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center is installing a modular dental clinic at the Interim LSU Public Hospital (2021 Perdido St.). The clinic is funded by a $3.8 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  To date, FEMA has provided more than $91 million in public assistant grants to establish the Interim LSU Public Hospital. Plans for a permanent facility are underway in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ironman New Orleans [Web Exclusive]

  About 3,000 athletes from around the world will travel to New Orleans next month to compete in Ochsner's Ironman 70.3 competition, which organizers say is expected to be the largest in the world. The top 50 athletes at the April 5 event will qualify for the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Fla.

  Ochsner's Ironman, which has no more positions available for athletes, will include 70.3 miles of competition, with a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. The top seven male and female professional athletes will win a $25,000 purse.

  For more information, visit

Real-life Training [Web Exclusive]

  Tulane University Medical Center has added a simulation and team training center to help medical students, physicians and other health care providers learn new technqiues for treatment and patient care in a hospital environment.

  The $3 million, 14,000-square-foot Tulane Center for Advanced Medical Simulation and Team Training (131 S. Robertson St., third floor) includes a fully equipped simulated emergency room, operating room, labor and delivery center and intensive care unit. Health care professionals will receive hands-on training and instruction as well as skills assessments.

  The center has been open about a month.

Heart Starter [Web Exclusive]

  Cardiologists at Ochsner Medical Center are offering some cardiac patients a defibrillator they can wear under regular clothing instead of having and Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) implanted in their chest shortly after suffering a heart attack.

  The LIFECOR LifeVest can prevent sudden cardiac death after a heart attack. It weighs 3 pounds and monitors the heart for abnormal rhythms. If needed, it can deliver an electric shock to restart the heart.

  The LifeVest can be rented by the month and is for temporary use only — normally 30 to 90 days — the period of time in which a 2005 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows patients who have had a heart attack are most vulnerable to sudden death from another cardiac event. Some patients will still need the ICD for long-term heart attack prevention, but Dr. Freddy Abi-Samra, a cardiac elecrophysiologist at Ochsner, says the LifeVest is particularly useful for patients who have had a heart attack but should not immediately undergo ICD implantation surgery because of infections, weakened health or because their conditions could be reversible.

  ICD implantation immediately following a heart attack also is not normally covered by insurance, whereas the LifeVest usually is. Only patients who qualify for ICDs in the long-term are eligible for LifeVests.

Cyber Records [Web Exclusive]

  A Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study of more than 40 hospitals and 160,000 patients shows patients are safer and hospitals save money when health records are kept electronically instead of on paper.

  The study, published in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, was authored by Dr. Neil R. Powe of Johns Hopkins' Department of Medicine and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, and Dr. Ruben Armarasingham, a Robert Wood Johnson clinical scholar in Johns Hopkins' Department of Medicine.

  Powe, Armarasingham and their colleagues rated diverse information technologies at 41 hospitals in Texas and compared those results with discharge information for 167,233 patients. The team found patients in hospitals with top-rated computerized systems of notes and records had a 15 percent lower chance of death while hospitalized than in institutions that used paper records.

  Based on those results, Powe extrapolates that if all hospitals in the United States employed good electronic information systems, it could save as many as 100,000 lives each year. Researchers also found that hospitals rated highest for technology had significantly lower patient costs. Those systems included electronic notes, previous treatment records, test results, prescriptions, blood test and procedures orders and information about treatment options and drug interactions.

  Electronic record keeping also allows patient information to be stored easily and transmitted quickly to other health care providers.

Add a comment