Defining ‘Safe’ Alcohol Consumption

Nancy Reau, MD

Nancy Reau, MD

By Nancy Reau, MD

Statistics often feel unrelated to everyday life, however the recent BMJ report on the increasing incidence of alcohol-related liver disease in our younger population mirrors my real life experiences in clinical practice. In the last few months alone, I have seen an increase in young adults being admitted for alcohol-related liver injury.

Many of these young people struggle with depression or addiction and often use alcohol as a coping mechanism. While most recognize they’re drinking, they don’t realize how dangerous their habit has become until they present with jaundice, malnutrition and multi-organ failure. Unfortunately, what is often accompanied with the progression of liver disease, several of these young patients have died.

As both a parent and a physician, it is a challenge to care for these young patients who should have a long life ahead of them. But instead, I find myself speaking with their families about hospice and end-of-life arrangements. From my point of view, this means there is an urgent need for physicians to speak with their patients, especially those who are younger, about alcohol consumption. Alcohol is ever-present in our society, from advertising to social events, it’s around every turn. Meaning it is our responsibility to discuss what safe alcohol consumption really looks like with our patients and discuss it often.

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Rush Nurse Helps Save Girl’s Life at Lakefront

Joselyne Nicolalde1Being called a “hero” by her colleagues seems a bit strange to Joselyne Nicolalde, BSN, RN, a nurse in Rush University Medical Center’s cardiac intensive care unit.

After all, Nicolalde says she did what any one of them would have done when a teenage girl was pulled from Lake Michigan unresponsive and not breathing after a near-drowning incident. She sprang into action.

She was enjoying an afternoon at Montrose Beach with her 10-year-old son and a friend on Aug. 14 when they heard people yelling for help.

“I looked up and saw a man holding what seemed to be a lifeless girl on the shore,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to do something.”

‘She lacked a pulse’

Nicolalde and a lifeguard were the first to reach the girl. “She lacked a pulse and was unresponsive at the time, so we immediately administered CPR. There was a return of circulation shortly thereafter. It wasn’t long before the paramedics arrived and took over.”

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Life-Saving Poison Control Centers Have Origins at Rush


Pharmacist Louis Gdalman, 1966

By Nathalie Wheaton

When Brenna Farrell’s 18 month-old son Marty swallowed medicated diaper ointment early one morning, her husband Nick heeded the instructions on the ointment’s label and called the Brooklyn couple’s local poison control center — which assured them Marty would be fine.

Here in the Chicago area, if you or someone you know has consumed or been exposed to a toxic substance, or have questions about how to avoid such an exposure, you can get help from the Illinois Poison Control Center, one of 55 poison control centers nationwide.

Chicago is home to the oldest poison control center in the United States, because these centers have their origin in what now is Rush University Medical Center. Those origins recently were included as part of the “Poison Control” episode of Radiolab, a public radio show based in New York that airs locally on WBEZ (91.5 FM). As the archivist of Rush University Medical Center, I assisted Farrell — a Radiolab contributor —  with the episode, as I do for a wide range of patrons from both inside and outside of Rush.

Growing need

The Radiolab episode is a great occasion to look back at the role Rush, and pharmacist Louis Gdalman, played in the development of poison control centers, and to take a look at some of the records in the Rush Archives that drew Radiolab’s attention.

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Teens and Tattoos

Teenager female with tattoo
By Lynn Mohr, PhD

The barista had at least six tattoos ranging in size from a small rose on the inside of his wrist to a half-sleeve depicting a landscape scene.

When I asked about them, he smiled and told me each one had a special meaning. Then he rolled up his sleeve to show a disfigured area of skin from an infection on one tattoo on his shoulder. His only regret was not talking with someone knowledgeable about the process — beforehand.

The T-Mobile commercial airing on television takes a lighthearted jab at regrettable tattoos as two 30-something women sit poolside, their backs emblazoned with matching tattoos. The song, “Always Something There to Remind Me” plays in the background. It’s innocuous and funny.

Yet sometimes complications from body modifications can be severe and permanent. I know. Because in my health care practice, teens often talk about body modifications but don’t ask questions about health safety, prevention or maintenance.

Believe me, beyond the artful ink are many stories of work that went awry.

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Rush Promotes, Protects Breastfeeding

IMG_3158Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had pushed to block a resolution backing breastfeeding at a United Nations health assembly. Experts Paula P. Meier, PhD, RN, Tricia J. Johnson, PhD, and Aloka L. Patel, MD, explain why — and how — Rush promotes breastfeeding.

In recent days, considerable attention has been given to whether the United States optimally promotes and protects breastfeeding, using criteria defined by the World Health Organization.

From a global health perspective, breastfeeding is an early-life intervention that unequivocally enhances health and reduces societal costs, so its promotion and protection should be a national priority for allocation of health care resources. Not unlike immunizations, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and partial breastfeeding thereafter represent early foundational health behaviors that translate into lifetime health care savings for the infant, mother and society as a whole.

These health care savings result from a significantly lower risk of infections, allergy and asthma, childhood cancers, and later-onset noncommunicable chronic diseases such as overweight and obesity, hypertension and type II diabetes in recipient term infants.

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Pride Month, Beyond the Parade

Hale ThompsonBy Hale Thompson, PhD

As Pride Month kicks off in Chicago, many of us look forward to the Pride Parade in Lakeview, the Dyke March in Little Village, and numerous other performances and parties celebrating the achievements of the LGBTQ movement with friends and family.

As is tradition, Rush University Medical Center will have a contingent in the Chicago Pride Parade. And this year, both the LGBTQ Leadership Council of Rush’s Diversity Leadership Council plus faculty, students, and staff in the Medical College have embarked on several LGBTQ and gender-affirming medical education and care initiatives.

‘Say Our Names’

One of these initiatives includes an art exhibit, “Say Our Names,” by artist and film director Lilly Wachowski. “Say Our Names” is on display in the corridor of the Searle Conference Center at Rush through July 8. This is the first time the exhibit has been shown in a large, academic medical center. The goal is to raise awareness across Rush that, despite many important legal, political, and cultural gains over the last 15 years, transgender people continue to struggle for survival and access to basic resources such as health care.

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Speeding Stroke Treatment, Saving Lives

mobile-stroke-unit.jpegBy Rebecca Zobel, RN

I have been part of the Rush Stroke Program for a little more than three years, as the stroke nurse liaison at Rush Oak Park Hospital. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned Rush was going to have a mobile stroke treatment unit and that it was going to be headquartered in Oak Park, where I live and work.

With stroke, TIME = BRAIN, and with the Rush Mobile Stroke Unit, our goal is to decrease time to treatment and save that brain. I am proud to be one of the RNs working on the Rush Mobile Stroke Unit, and I am so excited about the opportunity it provides to our community and the suburbs surrounding Oak Park. The technology and medications we have on board allow us to literally bring the emergency department to the patient, and to initiate​ diagnosis and time-sensitive treatment for stroke at the patient’s location.

The first patient I helped care for reminded me just how important it is to recognize and treat stroke symptoms early, and how lucky we are to have this resource available to help us improve patients’ chances of a good recovery.

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