595 West State Street, Doylestown, PA 18901 (215) 345-2200
V.I.A. Health System

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Did you know 90% of Americans have heard of a living will, and 71% of Americans have thought about their end of life preferences but only 29% actually have a living will? This data is according to studies cited by the National Healthcare Decisions Day organization whose goal is to educate the public and healthcare providers on the importance of advanced care planning.

In recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16th, take the time to read the below frequently asked questions about advance healthcare directives and complete a form to ensure your medical decisions are carried out.

What is an advance healthcare directive?

Advance health care directives are spoken or written plans and information that you make about your choices for medical care. These plans let your healthcare providers, family members or other important people in your life know the choices you have made. In Pennsylvania, there are three kinds of advance healthcare directives: 1) living will, 2) healthcare power of attorney (POA) and 3) do not resuscitate (DNR) order.

National Healthcare Decision Day Speak Up Video

Why I need an advance healthcare directive?

You have the right to accept or refuse care. Planning and writing your advance directive lets you control your healthcare at a time when you may not be able to make your wishes known.

When does my advance healthcare directive take effect?

When you are not able to make your own healthcare decisions, the person (agent) that you named will make those decisions for you. You may add or name a different person at any time.

What is a living will?

A living will is a written, legal record of the care you choose for yourself if you are unable to make decisions and are at the end of your life. It explains what treatments you want, or treatments you don’t want. This includes surgery, medicine, intravenous (IV) fluids, a feeding tube, kidney dialysis, mechanical ventilation (breathing machine) and heart-lung resuscitation (CPR). Most advance directives also contain a section about organ donation where you can express your wishes as to whether or not you want to donate your organs. You can also register online to become an organ donor.

What is a healthcare power of attorney (POA)?

A healthcare power of attorney (POA) is a legal written record naming a person (agent) to act on your behalf. This person is able to make healthcare choices for you if and when you are unable to make those choices for yourself.  A healthcare POA is often, although not always, very different from a financial POA. A financial POA typically addressed things like bank accounts, transference to real estate, etc, and may not specifically mention healthcare decision-making.

What is do not resuscitate (DNR) order?

A do not resuscitate (DNR) order is a request directive to not provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or if you stop breathing

How do I make an advance healthcare directive?

Any time you tell someone your wishes about medical treatment, you are making an advance healthcare directive. To be sure your choices are clearly understood, it is best to have a written record. This record should be signed by you, dated and signed by two witnesses.

Where can I get an advance directive?

Advance Healthcare Directive forms are available on the Doylestown Hospital website or there is a list of online resources available on the National Healthcare Decisions Day website.

Who should have a copy of these forms?

Give a copy to your primary care physician or your healthcare representative. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be in the hospital, bring along a copy. You may also give want to share a copy with your long term care provider, healthcare agent, lawyer and family or friends.

When should I review or update my advance directives?

As your health changes or you have a life-changing events, you may want to reconsider or change your advance health care directive. It is a good idea to review your advance healthcare directive every year.

An advance directive is only used when you cannot make decisions for yourself. When you are unable to say what you want, it serves as a blueprint for health care professionals and your family to make medical decisions in line with your values.

An advance directive not only benefits you, but also your loved ones to reduce pressures of having to make critical medical care decisions for you under stressful or emotional situations. "This is a way of caring for and supporting your family when they may be left to make critical decisions about your medical treatments," said Ira Byock, MD, director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The Best Care Possible Through the End-Of-Life Event

Ira Byock, MD from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, is one of the foremost palliative-care physicians in the country and will be speaking on Monday, May 19, 2014 at Lenape Middle School Auditorium in Doylestown, PA.

Everybody wants the best care possible for their loved ones and themselves through the very end of life. Shared decision-making can clarify what is best for each person at each point in time. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from this expert, and discover ways to ensure you and your loved ones receive "The Best Care Possible" when you need it most. Learn more or register online for The Best Care Possible Through the End-Of-Life event.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Best Boss" Credits Her Team For Honor

 It’s her job to make their jobs easier, says the Heart Institute’s Marcy Mikalaitis, RN, MSN, CCRN. 

At just 12 years old, Marcy Mikalaitis knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Her father, John, was sick with cancer and Marcy liked helping to ease his suffering.

"I liked taking care of people," says Marcy.

She still does.

Since 1977, Marcy has worked in a variety of critical care settings, mostly open heart, holding positions as nurse manager and clinical nurse specialist.

In April 2001, Marcy joined Doylestown Hospital as a staff nurse and worked the night shift in the CVICU (Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit) for more than 10 years. She became clinical manager of the CVICU/IVU in January 2013.

In that relatively short time, Marcy has earned the respect of her colleagues, whose nominations and testimonials helped earn her the "Best Boss" in the recent Best Places to Work 2014 contest sponsored by The Intelligencer, The Bucks County Courier Times and the Burlington County Times. Hundreds of nominations came in from throughout the area for the reader poll and Marcy came out on top.

"I will start my 38th year of nursing in May and this is the biggest honor I’ve had in that entire time. It’s a wonderful thing."

In practical terms, it’s Marcy’s job to oversee the fiscal and clinical operations of the 7-bed CVICU and 14-bed IVU (Interventional Unit) at the Heart Institute.

Ask her what her job is and she’ll describe it as "to make it easier for the staff to give good nursing care. To encourage them, to support them.”

Marcy is a big proponent of education. "I try to push that with the staff. There is something new every day in healthcare. We need to be informed to keep up in this environment. Patients are asking us the questions. We need to know what’s going on."

For her, a good boss is someone who is very visible, a good listener and an advocate for staff.

Numerous nominations sang Marcy’s praises, many of them indicating she is the best boss the person has ever worked for. Here are just a few samples.
"Her knowledge, character, compassion, and fairness make her an excellent leader in providing the best care to our patients." 

"Marcy is a very compassionate, caring person who knows what it's like to work on the floor as a nurse. Even though "She is the boss" she still is hands-on and offers to help when needed. She understands what we, as nurses do on the floor and is always supportive."

"I am nominating Marcy for her high ethics, attention to detail for patients and overall fairness to her staff and other Associates throughout the hospital. These values are what gives her great respect from her staff and peers."

"She is fair, supportive, helpful, assertive, dependable, articulate, trustworthy, honest, and works incredibly hard. When you're around her, you always want to be and do better."
For Marcy, the respect her staff has for her is completely mutual. "They make it worthwhile every day to come to work. I get to watch the excellent care they give and see the results. They just really are great people."

Marcy grew up on Long Island and graduated from the Beth Israel School of Nursing in Manhattan before earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Molloy College on Long Island. Marcy earned her Master’s degree from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia.

Marcy and husband, Scott, a security officer at Doylestown Hospital, live in Hilltown. The couple loves to travel and volunteer at their church.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celebrating Our Outstanding Volunteers

At Doylestown Hospital, every volunteer is special. Here’s a closer look at just a few of these dedicated individuals. 

It’s Volunteer Week, a time to thank each and every one of our nearly 1,000 adult and teen volunteers, and an opportunity to look at three volunteers who contributed to the total of 124,302 hours our volunteers gave last year.

The Vansants: A couple and a commitment

Midge Vansant started her hospital volunteering mission as a teenage candy striper at Paterson General Hospital in New Jersey. When she and Lloyd moved to Doylestown in 1966 she volunteered at Doylestown Hospital, then located on Belmont Avenue, by pushing the magazine/book/candy cart from room to room.

Midge eventually came to the current hospital and spent 20 years volunteering with Doylestown Hospice services. She visited patients and sent literally thousands of bereavement notes to families whose loved one had passed.

Midge was one of the first Heart-to-Heart volunteers for the Heart Institute (called the Heart Center when it opened in 2000) and Lloyd, who had open-heart surgery in 1989 and again in 2007, followed in her footsteps to become a Heart-to-Heart volunteer in 2002. The Vansants and their fellow volunteers share their personal experiences with heart patients and their families. They answer non-medical questions and address a variety of concerns for patients going through an overwhelming and stressful experience.

"I like that I can help people who are about to have open-heart surgery," says Lloyd, 85. "I try to ease their doubts and worries. I am a living example of what heart surgery can do."

Adds Midge: "I enjoy meeting new people all the time, making new friends with coworkers and Associates alike. I enjoy talking to patients and feel proud when they tell me how wonderful their experience has been. Doylestown Hospital is so forward thinking and strives to bring the community into making the hospital something to be proud of."

In addition to his time with the Heart Institute, Lloyd also volunteers for Patient Transport and substitutes at the Same Day Services desk. Midge, a cancer survivor, substitutes in the Cancer Institute, and works in Same Day Services.

Together the Vansants have dedicated more than 15,000 hours to the hospital, its patients and their families. And that doesn't even take into account the countless hours Midge has devoted to serving on hospital boards and committees.

Without volunteers like the Vansants, Doylestown Hospital wouldn't be what it is today.

Volunteering at Doylestown Hospital is uniquely rewarding, explains Midge: "To me, the volunteer program at Doylestown Hospital is unique and special because volunteers are in almost every area and program at the hospital. We are treated with great respect and made to feel as if we are really contributing to the workings of the hospital."

Lloyd and Midge will represent Doylestown Hospital at the Volunteer of the Year Recognition Event April 10 at Warrington Country Club. Sponsored by the Central Bucks Family YMCA, the event recognizes the area's non-profit exemplary volunteers.

By the way, volunteering must be good for marriage, as there are several married couples who volunteer regularly at the hospital.

The Snack Bar as microcosm of a larger world

People of all ages and backgrounds come to the Snack Bar at Doylestown Hospital for all sorts of different reasons. Joe Postiglione has taken care of many of them.

The 18-year-old Central Bucks West senior started volunteering at the Snack Bar in ninth grade.

"I wanted to get different experiences in different things," says Joe.

In the last few years he has given an amazing 856 hours of service to the hospital.

What he has learned, says Joe, is how to deal with people, how to communicate better. "You get some people who are dealing with all kinds of health issues, some who are not having a good day, some who are lost. You learn skills you can take with you after you’re done volunteering."

Joe is also part of the ski club and Heifer Club (taking after Heifer International) at CB West. He also has a part-time job.

Doreen McVaugh, assistant director of Volunteer Services, recognizes these teens have busy schedules but remain committed to the hospital. "They bring joy and energy to the departments they serve. They do a wonderful job, and they show a great deal of maturity. Each of our teens is self-directed and highly motivated. And they get to experience careers they might not otherwise have been exposed to."

Joe's mother, Christine, is a nurse in the Emergency Department. He is one of seven children, three of whom have volunteered at the hospital.

Joe was recently awarded the Volunteer Memorial Leadership Award scholarship. He and 14 other graduating teen volunteers were awarded scholarships this year. Since 1982, a total of $346,250 has been awarded to our talented teen volunteers.

We wish all our teen volunteers the best and thank them and all our volunteers for their dedication and service.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

President’s Perspective

Every day at Doylestown Hospital, we witness amazing possibilities becoming realities for our patients.

One such patient, Gloria Lechowicz, an 86-year-old woman, received a new heart valve without having open-heart surgery. This new procedure – Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) – was only recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration, and Doylestown Hospital is among the first in the region to offer it. Gloria was among the first patients at Doylestown Hospital to benefit from this transformational procedure. Her story reminds us why we have relentlessly pursued excellence for over 90 years: We are in the health care business, and every patient’s story becomes our own.

Another exciting advanced technology is our innovative 3T MRI with ambient experience. We opened this new high-tech and very patient-friendly MRI scanner at the beginning of the year. In addition to providing our physicians with images that allow them to precisely pinpoint and diagnose a patient’s problem, this device performs scans in a fraction of the time of previous generations of MRI machines. It also has a wider and shorter bore opening to give patients a little more breathing room. One of its most unique features is the "Ambient Experience" that uses lighting, music and images, enabling patients to control their environment and make selections that help them feel less stressed and more comfortable.

Our physicians utilize high-tech and advanced skills in minimally-invasive procedures for faster recovery. Recently, our cardiac specialists were the first in Pennsylvania to begin implanting a device not much larger than a sewing needle to wirelessly monitor a patient’s heart rhythm in real-time. Our new Breast Center builds on the legacy of quality established by our Women’s Diagnostic Center to offer rapid assessment and a team approach to detect – and cure – breast cancer.

We’re doing all these things for you, but wouldn’t it also be helpful if you – the patient – could access your medical records online anytime, anywhere? Well, as of April 1, patients can do that from any computer through our patient portal. You can access lab results, medication lists, discharge instructions, schedule some appointments and more. Visit myHealthDoylestown to register and get access to your health records.

We want you to share in our excitement about these many new accomplishments and advances within our health system.

Jim Brexler

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's Volunteer Week! Time to honor those who help make us what we are

Service with a smile

Volunteers at Doylestown Hospital are everywhere. They greet patients and visitors at the front door. They transport patients going home. And they’re involved in many of the steps that take place in between. In fact, these volunteers impact the lives of patients and their families from birth through the end of life.

Doylestown Hospital is fortunate to have 890 adult and teen volunteers. These committed community members assist in close to 90 different services at the hospital.

Last year, they contributed 124,302 hours of service doing everything from knitting blankets for hospice patients to providing directions and assistance at the hospital’s information desks. The newest service has volunteers taking the "art cart" around to patients, who select which painting they'd like to hang in their room during their stay.

"People have a misconception that volunteers have a lot of time on their hands, but that has changed," says Doylestown Hospital Volunteer Services Director Karen Langley. "Older volunteers are often busy with other volunteer jobs, personal interests and family. Many younger volunteers come seeking experience in a healthcare environment."

But all the volunteers share one thing in common: they want their jobs to be important. “The volunteers here are given really meaningful work to do," says Langley. "They’re people who are already busy who choose to do something they find worthwhile, or they move on."

From the beginning to the very end

One of the most popular volunteer positions is in the VIA Maternity Center. Volunteers may give newborns their first bath. While they tend to other needs of the staff, the babies are the big draw. These volunteers, like all those with patient contact, are carefully screened and trained. They are held to the same standards of conduct and confidentiality as their paid colleagues.

There are those, too, who volunteer specifically to comfort patients at the end of life. The No One Dies Alone volunteers sit with terminally ill patients, reading to them or playing soothing music. They keep journals about their time with dying patients. The volunteers describe being profoundly moved and grateful for the experience.

But really, they’re priceless

Volunteers do the majority of patient transports in the hospital. Last year, that number totaled 31,402.

As much as the volunteers say they benefit from their work, they also benefit the hospital, and not just in terms of providing a friendly face. The monetary value of their contributions last year is estimated at $2.7 million. That's significant for a non-profit, independent hospital like Doylestown.

Each spring, the hospital takes time to acknowledge volunteers with a special banquet and themed Volunteer Week activities. Hospital staff actively participate, recognizing their volunteer colleagues with special lunches, treats and decorations.

This year’s theme takes a cue from Hollywood with "And the Oscar goes to . . . Doylestown Hospital Volunteers!"

"Bucks County is a very generous area where people want to be invested in their community," says Langley. "We are eternally grateful our volunteers chose us."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Organ Donation Myths and Misconceptions

Are you an organ donor? Have you thought about it and then never registered because of the things you may have heard about becoming an organ donor, like—they will take your organs before you have been declared deceased or hospital staff will not work as hard to save your life. Inaccuracies about organ donation have plagued and deterred people from registering. Don’t let these myths and misconceptions deter you from becoming an organ donor and potentially saving up to eight lives with your donation.

Myth 1: If I’m in medical need, doctors will not try to save my life since they know I’m a registered organ donor.

Fact: Medical staff will do everything possible to save a person’s life. The medical staff operates separately from transplant teams. Only after all efforts to save a person’s live has been exhausted is Gift of Life Donor Program notified.

Myth 2: I have to wait until I need to renew or get my driver’s license or photo ID to register to become an organ donor.

Fact: You can sign up to become an organ and tissue donor at any time. You can now register online rather than at the DMV—and it only takes 30 seconds.

Myth 3: I heard that celebrities and famous people on the waiting list get preferential treatment.

Fact: When deciding who will receive an available organ, wealth, social status and race are not a determining factor. Recipients are selected based on blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location.

Myth 4: My religion beliefs do not approve of organ donation.

Fact: Most organized religions support organ donation, considering it a generous act that is the individual's choice. Learn more about religion and organ donation.

Myth 5: I’m too old or not healthy enough to donate my organs.

Fact: Organs may be donate from newborns on up. Anyone can become an organ donor regardless of age or health. In fact, the oldest organ donor in the U.S. was 92. At the time of death it is determined whether your organs are medically suitable to donate.

Myth 6: My family will be charged for donating my organs.

Fact: It won't cost your family anything if your organs and tissue are transplanted. It is also free to sign up to be an organ donor or to have it included on your driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. Sign up today to be an organ and tissue donor.

Visit Our Donate Life Pinterest Board

Why You Should Consider Becoming an Organ Donor

By uncovering the myths of becoming an organ donor, you can see that it makes a big difference to become an organ and tissue donor and not just to one person, potentially saving 8 lives and improve the lives of up to 50 others!

Register now to become an organ donor.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How Gloria’s New Heart Valve Changed Her Life

Not willing to slow down, she had a revolutionary new procedure that revived her energy and gave her new reasons to smile. 

Having a major heart procedure on Halloween might scare most people; but not Gloria Lechowicz.

On October 31, the 86-year-old was one of the first patients to have Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) at Doylestown Hospital.

"I had all the confidence in the doctors. They told me I was a good candidate for this procedure. They explained everything to me," said Gloria.

She had the innovative minimally-invasive procedure on a Thursday morning and spent only three days in the hospital - she went home on Sunday.

The aortic stenosis that affected Gloria’s heart valve had caused it to narrow and open improperly. She felt the usual symptoms of this condition: fatigue, shortness of breath and minor chest pain.

Other cardiologists told Gloria she needed a new aortic valve, but that open-heart surgery was too risky for her due to her age and other medical conditions. TAVR is the only option to replace a damaged aortic valve for patients who cannot have open-heart surgery.

A team of physicians from the Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital carefully reviews each case to determine who meets the eligibility requirements for TAVR. Also, a valve clinic coordinator works with each patient and their family to guide them through every step of care.

So, how did Gloria feel just a couple months after TAVR?

"I feel like I'm 10 or 15 years younger. I can do the things I want to do now. It's made my life a lot easier. The doctors are the best. They got me back to normal. Actually, better than normal."

Aortic Stenosis Symptoms

People with aortic stenosis may have no symptoms until late in the course of the disease. Symptoms may include:

  • Breathlessness with activity
  • Chest pain
    • Squeezing, pressure and tightness
    • Pain increases with exercise, is relieved with rest
    • Pain is felt under the chest bone but may move to other areas, often to the left side of the chest.
  • Fainting, weakness or dizziness with activity
  • Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)

Advanced Care for Heart Valve Disease

To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Heart Institute cardiac specialist, call (215) 345-BEAT (2328).

About the Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital

The Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital is your resource for advanced cardiac care right in your community. We offer the latest minimally invasive treatment options for arrhythmia, valve disease, heart failure and coronary artery disease. Visit the Heart Institute of Doylestown Hospital for more helpful tips and information on treatment options or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.