Neurodiagnostic Week – April 16 – 22, 2017

What is Neurodiagnostics?

Neurodiagnostic is the study of the brain and nervous system. A Neurodiagnostic Technologist is a person specially trained to perform studies that give Neurologists important information in the diagnosis of conditions involving the nervous system. These tests may be done on the brain, central nerves, or peripheral nerves. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a recording of brain waves using electrodes placed on the scalp. It records the electrical activity of the brain, and is a key tool in the diagnosis of Epilepsy or other brain disorders. Evoked Potential studies examine how information is traveling from the eyes, ears, or peripheral nerves in the body to their corresponding area in the brain. Nerve Conduction Studies reveal conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathy, by sending electrical signals through the body and recording their power and speed. Long Term Continuous EEG Monitoring in settings such as an ICU give valuable information as to the state of the brain during a medical crisis. Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) studies are which can last several days to capture and classify seizure activity, with the goal of helping patients on their journey to becoming seizure- free.

Registered EEG Technologists must complete many hours of education and training, and pass two board examinations in order to obtain their status as R.EEG T. All St. Mary’s Technologists carry this designation.

Neurodiagnostic Services Offered at St. Mary’s

At St. Mary’s we provide a wide variety of Neurodiagnostic Services. Our patients come from all over the Western Slope and eastern Utah, and range in age from neonatal to geriatric populations.

Continuing Services

Out Patient EEG—Out patient studies often lead to the discovery of a previously unknown seizure disorder or Epilepsy. Studies are typically 30 minutes to one hour long, during which the patient’s brain waves are recorded in the awake, drowsy, and in some cases, sleep states.

In Patient EEG– In patient EEG is ordered by physicians for many reasons. It may be to evaluate basic brain function after trauma or heart attack. It may be to evaluate changes in mental state, or new onset symptoms of possible seizure. It is done with the patient lying in bed, while the Technologist observes their brain waves, which are then sent to a physician for review.

Evoked Potential Studies (EP)– Evoked Potentials are studies which determine how well the nervous system responds to various stimuli. We offer studies which test the visual, auditory, and sensory nerve pathways.

New Developments

Epileptologist- Dr. Marie Collier—Dr. Collier joined St. Mary’s Hospital in September of 2016, she is the only board certified Epileptologist on the Western Slope of Colorado. An epileptologist is a neurologist who has trained typically through a fellowship with a specific interest in epilepsy. Epileptologists have expertise in evaluating and treating epileptic seizures and seizure disorders. Epileptologists work closely with neurodiagnostic technologists both in the inpatient and outpatient setting reviewing EEG studies and coordinating care.

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

Dr. Collier Epileptologist and Medical Director

This unit utilizes a specialized team of professionals including the Epileptologist, Hospitalists, EEG Technologists, Neuro-Monitoring Technicians, RNs, and CNAs to care for persons undergoing Long Term Epilepsy Monitoring. Patients stay from one to five days hooked up to the EEG monitors. They are continuously observed by EEG and video during the length of their stay by NeuroMonitoring Technicians. Whenever a seizure is detected, staff goes immediately to the patient’s side to keep them safe, while the EEG and video record invaluable information about the brain and body during the event. Once several typical events have been recorded the Epileptologist uses the data collected to direct the patients care, medication, nutrition, and other therapies to help move the patient towards seizure freedom.

St. Mary’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit is the only unit of its kind between Denver and Salt Lake.

Services On the Horizon

Expanding ICU Long Term EEG Monitoring

St. Mary’s offers Long Term ICU Monitoring already. We will be expanding the use of EEG in this setting to monitor patients with a wide variety of conditions including intracranial hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, and oxygen deprivation to the brain due to trauma or stroke.

Traveling EEG

Starting this summer EEG Technologists will travel with St. Mary’s Neurologists to perform EEG testing in towns across the region including Cortez, Gunnison, Craig, and Moab. Many of our patients are not allowed to drive due to the risk of seizing at the wheel. Transportation over long distances can present a significant barrier to receiving services. Our outreach to these underserved areas will allow patients access to care that may prove to be life-saving by aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of Epilepsy or other brain disorders.

St. Mary’s advancing 5-Year plan with Council’s blessing.

It is with great pleasure that I write to you today to let you know that the Grand Junction City Council unanimously approved our 5-year growth and expansion plan this week. Over a year in the making, the Council’s unanimous approval represents a mandate from the city’s highest level of governance to move forward with our plans to modernize the Cardiac Center of Excellence, hybrid operating room expansion, and development of laboratory and pharmacy services.

Council members spoke very highly of us, offering their sincere appreciation for demonstrating community leadership, positive economic impact, and excellent patient care. Personal gratitude was extended by individual members of the Council for the excellent care you gave them on recently visits. It is always the right decision extend your best, and it often influences hundreds more people than those given direct care. Well done! Keep up the good work!

The presentation was made by myself and Dan Prinster, VP of Business Development in a late night session. In return, we offered a public thank you to city leadership and the community who have entrusted their healthcare to St. Mary’s for over 120 years.

We are so fortunate to live in this community and grateful to have the support of our elected leaders as we strive to fulfill our mission and improve and expand needed healthcare services. [Watch the video], and your email. More news will follow as plans move forward!


The Denver Broncos became world champions February 7th, 2016. Peyton Manning was one of the many stars of the game, however the next Peyton began his story on that day. Our Peyton was born in the St. Mary’s Medical Center NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) on August 27th just in time for the rematch of the game.

Breast care at St. Mary’s begins with radiologists like Dr. Gerson

For many women, the annual mammogram is an anxiety-tinged but humdrum routine.

There is the shuffling close and closer to the x-ray machine, followed by the positioning, the squeezing between two plastic plates, and the breath-holding while an image is captured. Then there is the brief magazine-flipping wait while the technologist is out of the room. She returns to deliver the news that more images are needed or, in most cases, the patient is good to go.

What is out of sight in this screening ritual is the all-important activity taking place in a darkened room down the hall during that wait. At St. Mary’s Hospital, Dr. Eric Gerson or one of five other mammography-reading radiologists sit at a bank of computer screens studying the images. Their eyes are honed by years of training and decades of experience. In the varying shades of grey on the images, they pick out the tiny spots, the shadows and the patterns that can be indicative of breast cancer.

What is also not on display for those having the mammograms is the great amount of effort that has gone into ensuring these breast cancer screenings are highly accurate. At the invitation of St. Mary’s, the American College of Radiology and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration figuratively are looking over the shoulders of the radiologists and double checking their work.

St. Mary’s has volunteered for this scrutiny because it allows the hospital to continually compare its breast program to other hospitals and mammography centers. It is the ultimate in quality control: Upwards of 1,000 images are submitted to the certifying organizations each year for examination. The department must be open to drop-in visits by a certification team. Radiologists must complete continuing education on a regular basis. Reams of data must be tracked. And every year the program is audited.

“We do this voluntarily because it is a way to continually improve our quality,” said Joanne Hunter, Radiology Section Manager at St. Mary’s. “We choose to find out how we stand against other mammography centers.”

That ongoing effort has paid off. St. Mary’s is the only hospital on the Western Slope to be awarded the designation of Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. St. Mary’s has cut its recall rate – the number of patients who must have more x-rays after an initial mammography – from 17 percent to nearly 8%.

For patients, that means fewer jitters and less inconvenience.

For a hospital, the excellence designation denotes a mammography program is at the top of its game. At St. Mary’s that goes well beyond measurements of accuracy. The mammography and breast program offer every type of imaging and diagnostic procedure available – from basic mammograms to breast tissue exams with Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The program encompasses all types of biopsies. They can be aided by ultrasounds or mammography.

“We do it all soup-to-nuts. We have a seamless continuum of care,” said Gerson, who has been practicing as a radiologist for 20 years – seven of those at St. Mary’s.

Breast care at St. Mary’s begins with radiologists like Gerson. But if they do find an abnormality a half a dozen other hospital medical specialties come into play. Surgeons do their part on biopsies and cancer removal. Oncologists and radiation oncologists are often involved once a cancer is confirmed.
Breast surgeons and plastic surgeons are brought in to the team if cancer requires extensive surgical removal of a tumor or a breast.

Breast cancer navigators help patients through the maze of screenings and treatments. If cancers are complex, patients might also receive multidisciplinary help from a team of St. Mary’s physicians and other medical specialists who meet monthly in conference to discuss cases.

After a cancer has been treated, patient care does not end. Oncology nurses lead a survivorship program that helps patients return to lives changed by cancer. The program includes survivor support groups.

St. Mary’s also offers genetic counseling, at any stage in that process, for women – and occasionally men — wanting to know their risk of developing breast cancer or wanting to help make decisions about treatment once cancer has been diagnosed.

Treatments for breast cancer are rapidly changing. And even though mammograms may seem like old-hat screening for many women, they are also evolving.

All mammograms at St. Mary’s are currently being done using digital breast tomosynthesis, otherwise known as 3-D mammography. In this type of mammogram, an arm sweeps over a breast in an arc and takes about 40 images in “slices.” This allows radiologists to see inside a breast much more clearly. With the older style mammograms, the radiologists had only four images to examine.

Gerson said the improvements in screening, coupled with St. Mary’s voluntary participation in oversight and comparisons, helps to fulfill a single, ultimate goal — for radiologists and the rest of the mammography team.

“We want to make sure that if you get breast cancer,” Gerson said, “you don’t die from it.”

Dr. Eric Gerson earned his MD at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his residency and a fellowship at the University of California/San Francisco. He was recruited to the radiology department at St. Mary’s in 2009.

Gerson has two children and is an avid golfer and traveler.

Eric Gerson Radiologist

St. Mary’s In the News August 2016

Fulfilling the promise of pregnancy

US New Rankings Best in Colorado

World Breastfeeding Week at St. Mary’s

Not easy to fix healthcare cost conundrum

CareFlight expands services throughout western region

St. Mary’s to help build new hospital

West Springs Hospital planning new $34 million facility

Mental Health to get a big boost

Grand Junction mental hospital gets $2.5 million donation

Rifle lands Careflight helicopter

Up with People Visit local Hospital

St. Mary’s regional Blood Center to test donors for Zika

Ouray couple expecting rare “mono mono” at St Mary’s

Colorado couple expecting rare monochorionic-monoamniotic twins

Dr. Nakano receives St Mary’s award

Above and Beyond The Mission Work of Dr. Logan McDaneld

PLACED INTO ILL-FITTING SUITS, CONSTANTLY running out of the required medication and supplies, and heat that would test even the most tolerant of men. Mission work can prove to be challenging and uncomfortable, until you consider that the conditions are even more dire for the the people living there. And that is exactly why Dr. Logan McDaneld, a specialist in neurology at St. Mary’s Medical Center, pursues opportunities to participate in humanitarian work. “I’ve been fortunate,” he says simply. “I feel very blessed. We have a lot to be thankful for in our country.” He recognizes that he was born with a certain number of advantages, and wants to reach out to those who weren’t.
Dr. Macdaneld and village
In order to pursue this goal, Dr. McDaneld’s mission work while he’s been with St. Mary’s has been comprised of two overseas journeys. The first, in 2013, took him to Samoa for two months, to tackle a familiar subject – neurological disorders. “I helped them with everything,” he says, “but stroke and epilepsy are probably the two biggest things I worked on.” Stroke and epilepsy are huge sources of morbidity and mortality, according to Dr. McDaneld.

Epilepsy is the largest cause of neurological disability in young adults worldwide, but particularly in the developing world. Despite the awareness of these detrimental effects, Samoa has zero neurologists.

His second mission trip was due to the grim state of things in Sierra Leone, where the people were — and still are — experiencing the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since its discovery. Sierra Leone had some of the highest mortality rates in the world, even before Ebola hit. “Among the highest rates of mortality from tuberculosis, from malaria, from maternal mortality. Something like one in 23 pregnant women die, where it’s something like one in 2,400 here in the United States,” Dr. McDaneld says.

Over 28,000 cases of Ebola were reported as the disease reached epidemic proportions, with a mortality rate of up to ninety percent without treatment. The hardest thing, Dr. McDaneld says, was accepting patients knowing they were going to die. He has dealt with this near-inevitability with his patients, as well as dwelling among the threat of contracting the virus himself, by relying on his religious beliefs. “If I’m going to be safe, I’ll be safe. If I’m not, I’m not. Fate will be what it will be. It’s not for me to decide.”

St. Mary’s Medical Center has been supportive of its staff pursuing mission work, establishing a Mission Service program specifically to allow a certain number of employeesDr. Macdaneld to take time to pursue humanitarian efforts. Beyond that, St. Mary’s reaches out to others, where other medical facilities may instead deny them completely. “Some hospitals have banned their physicians from that kind of work, Ebola work specifically,” Dr. McDaneld explains. “They don’t want to take on the liability.”

St. Mary’s, he explains, actually stands behind their mission statement, “Mission statements sometimes are just nice-sounding sayings on pieces of paper. St. Mary’s allowing me to go was an example of that existing in reality, instead of just being a pretty slogan.” The St. Mary’s Mission Statement includes committing themselves to “serving all persons, with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.” And it’s clear from Dr. McDaneld’s work that he is acting as an extension of that goal.

Dr. McDaneld has plans to continue his mission work in the long term. “My goal is to do it every year,” he confirms. A faculty member at the University of Utah is working to establish a residency program to work in Kenya. Dr. McDaneld and his fellow neurology specialist at St. Mary’s, Dr. Seth Kareus, are working out a system to alternate their presence in the residency, allowing one to go while the other remains at St. Mary’s.

In the end, Dr. McDaneld explains that mission work isn’t actually work at all. “It feels not like a job, or a career, but a calling.” A very simple statement for a very noble act. <

“ It feels not like a job, or a career, but a calling.”
— Dr. McDaneld

Dr. McDaneld visited an 18-year-old girl in Sierra Leone who was suffering from tuberculosis and weighed about 60 pounds at the time of the photo. He blacked out her image, as she was his patient.

Fulfilling a Dream

ON OCTOBER 4, 2015, SUSAN Renz, a grandmother of four and a family health nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital, fulfilled a life-long dream. She became a Christian missionary even though it was only for one week.

“I’ve had a strong faith all of my life,” said Susan. “I believe God wants us to help others in whatever way He leads us. I’ve always had a heart for missionary work but one thing or another got in my way.”
For ten years, Susan was the caregiver for her disabled husband. When he passed away two years ago she realized she now had the freedom to do missionary work as well as remain a family health nurse at St. Mary’s where, for the past five years, she’s helped train residents going into family practice.
“Last year my church was talking about this trip to Mexico to help a family by building them a home. Through my church, we worked with WYAM — Youth with a Mission. It’s an international Christian organization that goes around the world helping people in different ways. There are several WYAMs on the western coast of Mexico. In Tijuana and Ensenada they focus on bringing Christ into people’s lives by building them homes. In Ensenada alone, I believe they have built over 100 homes for people in the past 20 years.”

Ensenada was the destination for Susan’s first missionary job.

Susan, with twenty-three members of her group, left Grand Junction on Sunday October fourth and drove to Ensenada, arriving on Tuesday the sixth. They had two days to build the house, but first they met the family they were building the house for — a young couple with a nine-year-old daughter.

“For years, this couple had been saving money for the lot. Both have factory jobs. Until we arrived, they had been living in a shanty they’d built themselves out of whatever scraps they could find. They lived in it with their daughter, some chickens, and a pet squirrel,” said Susan. “This would be the first real home they’d ever had.”

The foundation for the 20×30 house had already been laid and all the building materials and paint was there waiting for them. “They divided us into our work groups and asked each of us what we wanted to do. I was the only one who volunteered to do the framing.” Susan had learned some carpentry skills from her late husband. Typically, the women do all the painting so it was quite a surprise to her fellow workers when she took on what was usually a man’s job, framing.

“When we finished two days later, we handed the couple the key to the door of their new house. They’d never had a key before or a door with a lock. It was a thrill for all of us to see their happiness.”

The couple had noThe conteras family furniture so a hat was passed and the group raised enough money to buy them some second-hand furniture. “Their first visitor that day was a woman who had been watching our activity. She wanted to know how she could get a home, too. We explained there was an application process she had to go through— a two-year process. WYAM wants to be sure the families they help are set up for success. They go through a lot of counseling and have to buy their lot. They must have jobs that will ensure they can continue to pay for their lot. The families we help don’t have to be Christians but they are given the gospel and told about Jesus with the hope this will bring them to Christ. It’s not like you must become a Christian first before we help you. It’s not like that at all.”

Susan was born in Pennsylvania and raised in New York. She was the youngest and only girl of five children. Their father was a minister in the Christian and Missionary Alliance who worked three jobs in order to support their family. “Ministers don’t make a lot of money so dad drove a school bus and also taught Greek at a Bible institute. Our mom was a stay-at-home mom but was chronically ill. My brothers and I had to take care of all the household things and we pretty much raised ourselves. It made me what I am today, though, and taught me selfreliance and independence. Dad wasn’t very good at fixing things around the house, so I learned to do a lot of that myself, too. I’ve also been a caregiver in one form or another all my life.” Although becoming a full time missionary didn’t pan out for her, Susan did become a nurse in 1997 specializing in family health.

“Soon after I learned about this missionary trip to Mexico last year, I started saving my paid time off so I could afford to go. Then I learned that St. Mary’s pays for your time off when you do missionary work. So I applied and my trip to Mexico was approved. The hospital gave me 40 hours of paid time to go on this trip. I think the original nuns who built this hospital would be pleased to see that the hospital is pursuing their original mission which was to do good and spread the gospel.”

Susan plans to give more of her time to missionary endeavors. Presently she wants to help Habitat for Humanity right here in Grand Junction.

Lung Cancer Drug Gains Early FDA Approval

AS MartyI SORTED THROUGH PAGES OF REPORTS ON THE SUCCESSFUL use of the drug Opdivo for treating lung cancer and how St. Mary’s Medical Center with its Saccomanno Research Institute in remote western Colorado had played a role in that process, one note in particular kept coming back to me.

Whereas most of the cancer research — and funding — takes place in academic hospitals, it is the community-based hospitals like St. Mary’s that actually see 75 percent of cancer patients.
“Because we see the majority of the cancer patients in our hospitals,” says Saccomanno director of research Dr. Marty Jacobson, “there is a huge opportunity to expand from the academic research institutes to include more community-based hospitals like St. Mary’s Medical Center in research and development.”

For example, the Saccomanno Research Institute’s and St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center’s participation in the clinical trials of New Jersey-based Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo for the treatment of lung cancer helped gain expedited FDA approval for the drug.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world, accounting for nearly 25 percent of deaths in the U.S. But with an estimated 224,390 new diagnoses and 158,080 deaths in 2015 alone, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the nation.

Early FDA Approval for Opdivo
NSCLC or non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, affecting 88 percent of lung cancer patients. NSCLC occurs when cancer forms in the cells of the lung.
The drug Opdivo showed such promising early results in treating patients with NSCLC lung cancer that everyone involved or knew about it was eager for FDA approval. The sooner the approval, the sooner they could prolong more lives.

According to the FDA, the drug works by inhibiting the cellular pathway (known as PD-1 protein on cells) that blocks the body’s immune system from attacking cancerous cells.

“The FDA worked proactively with [Bristol-Myers Squibb] to facilitate the early submission and review of this important clinical trial when results first became available in late December 2014,” wrote Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This approval will provide patients and health care providers knowledge of the survival advantage associated with Opdivo and will help guide patient care and future lung cancer trials.”

The FDA’s expanded approval of Opdivo for treating lung cancer was reviewed under the agency’s priority review program. According to FDA reports, the program “provides for an expedited review of drugs that treat serious conditions and, if approved, would provide significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition.”
Lung cancer certainly qualifies.

Opdivo’s efficacy to treat lung cancer was established in a randomized trial of 272 participants. The trial was designed to measure the overall survival of participants after starting treatment. Saccomanno Research Institute and St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center were an important part of that trial. Further study measured the percentage of participants who experienced partial shrinkage or complete disappearance of the tumor.

Opdivo is one of the latest drugs in an immunotherapy approach to cancer treatment. “The new immune checkpoint inhibitors modulate the immune system against the cancer cells,” Jacobson explains. “We want to unmask the tumor cells so the patient’s immune system can attack them.”

Saccomanno Institute’s Groundbreaking Research
From its inception, the Saccomanno Research Institute’s groundbreaking research has led and continues to lead to a greater understanding of cancer along with major advances in early detection and diagnosis as well as their importance in the treatment of cancer.

“The term cancer actually represents nearly 200 different diseases caused by the unrestrained and destructive growth of cells,” Jacobson says. “The best hope for identifying and treating cancer — and ultimately preventing cancer deaths — lies in understanding the basic causes of cancers.”

The Saccomanno Research Institute’s mission is to “expand medical and scientific knowledge in areas that improve health and well-being, with an emphasis on western Colorado residents.” The Institute also serves as a vital resource to the St. Mary’s medical community “to stimulate and expand clinical research” programs.

The partnership between the Institute and St. Mary’s Medical Center provides an important opportunity for cancerrelated biomedical research in real-world community practice settings.
“Opdivo is a perfect example of this,” Jacobson explains. “The drug was already approved and used for treating melanoma, but this approval expands the drug to lung cancer.”

By collaborating with both communitybased primary and specialty medical practices,“we interact with physicians in clinical trial opportunities that have the potential to directly impact regional health needs in a more immediate manner,” he says, “thereby encouraging local providers to stay on the cutting edge of medical science.”

Clinical trials offered at local community-based hospitals like St. Mary’s also provide patients the opportunity to receive exciting new treatment options that would not otherwise be available to them without traveling to major academic medical centers.

“Through our collaborations with the UCLA TRIO-US clinical trials network and the University of Colorado Cancer Center we are able to bring clinical trial opportunities like the Opdivo trial closer to home for patients on the Western Slope of Colorado,” Jacobson concludes.

There’s something comforting in knowing that our local medical centers are part of a greater network of researchers, physicians, and patients working together, moving ever closer to a cure — and that with that network of collaboration, we benefit right here at home.


UNLESS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED WHAT IT’S LIKE TO be limited by your native tongue, you don’t often consider the complications that can arise if you have a medical demand and no way to communicate with the staff who is there to assist you. Fortunately, the staff at St. Mary’s Hospital has considered this concern, and has always strived to remain current in strategies to assure the best translation services for their patients.

Without an internal translation program, St. Mary’s has historically employed a method which involved contracting independent translators who would be alerted and travel to the hospital on a case-by-case basis. While an in-person translator is theoretically the best practice, there are several downsides to this method. The financial strain is hard to justify, especially when there are lulls when the translator is not being utilized, or a translator Video interpreter thingbeing hired for a language that isn’t often required. Another large issue is the requirement of a two-hour window to allow the translator to commute to the hospital campus. “Right now and historically, working with a contractor has not been the best-case scenario,” says Cindy Ortiz, Oncology Quality Manager at St. Mary’s hospital, who handles the Stratus program. Some translators were described as in the area, but not always Grand Junction itself. In an emergency situation, this is less than ideal.

The next-best option arose with twenty-four-seven access to translators by phone, allowing the medical staff at St. Mary’s near-instantaneous access to translators in over 200 languages. While this resolved the timing issue in relation to in-person translators, having them remote offered a new set of challenges. Without an in-person interaction, variances in facial expression and cultural presentation can be lost. When dealing with sensitive matters like emergency room visits and diagnoses, these can become particularly important.

After some time, with different methods explored and put into use, the Denver St. Mary’s location pushed to standardize their translation system across all nine hospitals in Colorado. Enter Stratus, a remote translation service. The Stratus system is a combination of both the immediacy of telephone translation, while utilizing modern streaming video technology to provide a face-to-face experience. It works similarly to the Apple application Facetime, allowing both speakers to view one another in real time. With Stratus, St. Mary’s hospital has twenty-four-seven access to both American Sign Language and Spanish translators, and part-time access to translators of 16 other languages.

Every consideration has been taken to assure the comfort of the patient and the accuracy of the translation through the Stratus application. St. Mary’s hospital has Stratus loaded onto iPads, which is the platform that the software was originally developed on. The iPads are then mounted onto a wheeled frame, with an adjustable arm that can be set to comfortably reach eye-to-eye with patients in bed, sitting, or standing. “They’re mobile. We can take them out in the field. They can have the interpreter in the room at a moment’s notice,” Cindy says of the experience with the four devices they currently have. Options allow for privacy, if the patient is receiving an exam, and has external speakers if the patient is on the move or somewhere particularly noisy.
If the patient doesn’t fall within the purview of the 17 spoken languages or American Sign Language as provided with the video translation, Stratus has retained the ability to use the translation services of the additional 200 languages accessible via telephone, without the cumbersome use of a handset.

St. Mary’s did a soft roll out of the program in January, and in addition to the four devices available, 24 additional devices will be added very soon. The bottom line is what is best for those that St. Mary’s cares for.

“This assures that our staff is able to communicate effectively and safely with our patients,” Cindy states. Beyond that, they have taken special care with the devices to make them more welcoming and comfortable for their patients: “Other care sites, and here in oncology, we’re encouraged to personalize and dress up the iPads,” she laughs. “We put a t-shirt on him and now he’s part of the team!”

ROSE HILL Home Away From Home

BETTY WILL SPENT THREE MONTHS IN GRAND JUNCTION LAST year helping to care for a family member who was being treated for cancer at St. Mary’s Hospital. It was a painful and stressful time. Thanks to the Rose Hill Hospitality House, it was also a period Betty remembers for its “tender mercy.”

She and her family stayed at St. Mary’s Rose Hill, a home away from home that is available for family members of patients, or for out-patients who are from ouRose Hilltside the area and need to be close to the hospital. For 18 years, Rose Hill has been much more for these guests than just a place to sleep between treatments or bedside vigils. It has been a haven when they most need support.
For Betty, who lives in Minnesota, that support included relaxing in the flower and vegetable gardens with her family. It meant returning from long days at the hospital to the inviting smell of a communal dinner and to other patients and families gathered to share conversation or prayer, and sometimes tears. She most fondly remembers sitting out on the Rose Hill patio in the early mornings gathering her strength for the day ahead: A staff member would come out and drape her in warm towels.

“They are so loving, so compassionate, so beyond wonderful,” she said.

Rose Hill, the only hospital-based hospitality house of its kind on the Western Slope, began like many amenities at St. Mary’s: a need was identified, the hospital administration responded, and staff and volunteers went above and beyond to make it special.

The demand for a hospitality house came to the attention of hospital leaders in the early 1990s when a former hospital associate alerted administrators that she knew of people from out of town sleeping in their cars in the hospital parking lot. It was the only way they could afford to stay close to loved ones who were hospitalized. St. Mary’s purchased a nearby property that was tucked behind a small commercial center. It was close enough for an easy walk to the main hospital building and to out-patient facilities. It was private and convenient for those needing to be near the hospital for days, weeks, and even months.

The hospital teamed up with community philanthropists to help fund Rose Hill. In 1996, a bike event was started to raise money for the house. Since that time the annual Rose Hill Rally has raised about half a million dollars for its namesake. Local civic organizations and businesses have pitched in to provide everything from cash and labor to furniture and playground equipment. Girl Scouts have collected toothbrushes for Rose Hill. School classes have donated stuffed animals.
On an ongoing basis, volunteers plant and tend gardens, sew table runners and quilts, and decorate Christmas trees. They put out fresh-cut flowers for cheer. They bring peaches for guests in the summer months. Rose Hill 2

“Our volunteers add a whole other level of service to Rose Hill. They are able to fill in on the human side. They can spend time with the guests to give them support and to make their stay more comfortable,” said Jeanie Morris, St. Mary’s manager of volunteer services and the hospitality house.

Originally the Rose Hill guest house had 11 bedrooms. Now it has 20 and can sleep as many as 50 people. There is often a waiting list.

The majority of guests are family members who are there to support patients. Those patients have often been in bad accidents, suffered sudden health crisis, or are undergoing cancer treatments. Most of the patients are in the Intensive Care Unit or the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Out-patients staying at the house are most often at St. Mary’s for chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. Some visitors stay for a night or two. Others are there for the better part of a year.

Mike Arehart of Moab stayed at Rose Hill off and on for six months while his wife was gravely ill. He had never heard of a hospital having such an amenity. But a nurse who observed him trying to sleep in a chair at his wife’s bedside told him about Rose Hill. She called the house to make sure there was an opening, and the next thing he knew, Arehart found himself getting much needed rest in a comfortable Rose Hill bed.

“It was a terrible, terrible time. The one bright point in all of it was Rose Hill. Rose Hill was a literal life saver for me,” Arehart said. “It got to be where I called it home.”
Nicole Farrell of Marble stayed at Rose Hill for 70 days while her premature baby was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Nicole’s mother and husband were there with her. They said their every need was met. Hospital security officers even came to drive Nicole to the hospital when she couldn’t walk that far following her C-section surgery.

Farrell was back at Rose Hill recently for three weeks while she waited for the high-risk birth of her second son. She said it was just as wonderfully supportive as she remembered.
“They are so amazing. We go back to visit because they are like family,” she said.

Betty said she also still communicates with Rose Hill staff and with other guests. She also considers them family due to the bond they formed over tragedy and illness, and also kindness and caring.

“Everyone there is at a really needy time in their life,” she said. “And at Rose Hill they recognize that. Everyone gets all the support needed.”