Dec 162014
 

flu4583-1Recent news about the emergence of a mutated flu virus should serve as a wakeup call to those who haven’t gotten a flu vaccination this year, according to Dr. Paul Cook, infectious diseases specialist at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. And despite speculation that the current vaccine may not protect against this new virus, he says those who have gotten vaccinated already shouldn’t worry that it was for naught.

The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that over half of the H3N2, or Influenza A, virus samples they’ve tested thus far this season were found to be antigenetically different – or “drifted” – from the virus used in this year’s vaccine. Because this H3 virus seems to be dominating the current flu scene, the CDC is predicting a heavier flu season, with more hospitalizations and deaths than in past years.

“This happens all the time with influenza viruses; it’s nothing new,” says Cook. “The mutated virus was recognized back in the spring, but by then this year’s vaccine had already been developed and was being manufactured. Next year’s vaccine will take the mutated H3N2 into effect.”

But even with the prospect of lower protection rates, Cook says vaccination is still the best protection against the flu, and especially important for those at high risk for serious complications from it, like pregnant women, the elderly and people whose immune systems are compromised due to HIV or cancer.

“The current vaccine still covers H1N1 effectively, as well as influenza B, and those viruses are still out there,” he said. “We think it may even be providing some immunity against the mutated virus. Besides, the vaccine itself is pretty innocuous.”

Cook urges people to visit the doctor early if they begin experiencing symptoms like fever, sore throat, cough or body aches. And he echoes the CDC’s recommendation for primary care providers to be vigilant about prescribing antiviral medications like Tamiflu and Relenza as soon as flu is suspected. These medications can lessen the duration and severity of the illness when started within 48 hours of symptom onset.

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Dec 052014
 

Anne DickersonAs 10,000 baby boomers per day enter the over-65 age bracket, the concern for older drivers’ safety and independence is greater now than ever. Adults 65 and older make up more than 16 percent of all licensed drivers nationwide, and it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will be 70 or older by 2040.

The American Occupational Therapy Association works with several other organizations to raise awareness about the safety of older drivers through their Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, held annually during the first week of December.

In conjunction with this week, the association has created a series of educational podcasts that focus on empowering older drivers and their families. Dr. Anne Dickerson, professor in ECU’s Department of Occupational Therapy, was interviewed for one of the podcasts, which deals with driving fitness evaluations – ranging from self-assessments to comprehensive driving evaluations from an occupational therapy driving rehabilitation specialist.

“Most older adults are safe to drive,” Dickerson said. “But this is all about promoting conversations.” Dickerson added that ECU is exploring ways of providing services that would facilitate older people going back to driving after recovering from heart attacks or strokes, for example.

“Just as we plan for our financial futures, we need to plan for our transportation futures as we age,” says Elin Schold Davis, project coordinator of AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Initiative. “Respecting the physical, cognitive, and sensory changes that come with age may require adjustments in driving patterns, vehicle equipment, or a skills refresher, but do not have to mean giving up the keys and living in isolation without access to transportation.”

The podcasts can be found at http://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Older-Driver-Safety-Awareness-Week.aspx.

Dec 022014
 

Paws for Study Break pic 1

As medical students near the end of the semester, the stress of finishing assignments and taking final exams mounts. Students welcome brief periods of relaxation during busy days of studying… and more studying. Students enjoyed spending time with Canopy the therapy dog during Paws for Study Breaks held on October 27 and November 13. Research indicates that interaction with therapy dogs can temporarily affect the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain; levels of oxytocin and dopamine are increased, while cortisol levels are decreased.

 Canopy is a 7-year-old hound mix. She is from Louisiana, where she was obtained from a rescue. She’s been a registered therapy dog for just over 2 years. She is also registered as a READ dog which means that she often travels into public schools to help students strengthen their reading skills by allowing students to read to her.Paws for Study Break pic 3

 Her handler, Amy, is a doctoral student in psychology, working on her dissertation on the stress reducing benefits of interacting with therapy dogs. As a therapy dog-handler team, Amy and Canopy visit hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, and schools. They even created a therapy dog program at Kennedy-King College in Chicago in 2013.Paws for Study Break pic 2

The study breaks were sponsored by the Office of Student Development and Academic Counseling along with Pet Partners International.

Nov 252014
 
Beta Nu is one of only two chapters globally to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards.

Beta Nu is one of only two chapters globally to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards.

Like a traditional honor society, Beta Nu chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing requires incoming members to meet certain academic and professional achievement requirements. But the organization, which celebrated its 40th anniversary with a banquet Nov. 13, does much more than recognize scholarly excellence.

The group is one of only two of Sigma Theta Tau’s 500 global chapters to have earned 11 Chapter Key Awards. Sigma Theta Tau bestows the honor on chapters that successfully recruit and retain members, generate publicity and programming, support scholarly activities, provide leadership development and foster international collaboration.

Beta Nu chapter is housed in the ECU College of Nursing and has more than 500 active members — including undergraduate students, graduate students and nurse leaders who work to advance the profession through scholarship, leadership and a variety of service projects.

“Beta Nu has been the most influential nursing organization in my career,” said College of Nursing Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown. “It allowed me to engage with nurse leaders nationally and internationally and refine my own personal leadership skills.”

Brown, a past president, said that providing leadership opportunities for career growth is one of Beta Nu’s greatest contributions. Several of the College of Nursing’s senior faculty members were founding or early members, and ECU’s Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Phyllis Horns was a charter member.

Former President Dr. Lou Everett explained that Beta Nu consistently sends students and faculty to research and leadership academies organized through Sigma Theta Tau and its partners. Over the past 40 years, she said, members have served in numerous official capacities at regional and national levels.

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Krupa speaks as part of a panel of past presidents at Beta Nu’s 40th anniversary banquet Nov. 13.

“It was truly through Beta Nu Chapter that many of our faculty began to see the contributions that the College of Nursing made to a global society and the world at large,” said Everett, the college’s assistant to the dean for the undergraduate program. “We became mentors to other chapters in our state and continued more involvement on an international level by serving on the ballot for various positions.”

Many members routinely attend Sigma Theta Tau’s biennial convention, where they can network with 2,000 other attendees, hear plenary speakers and present their work through oral and poster presentations.

“You meet the people who write the textbooks and research articles,” past Beta Nu president and an ECU clinical assistant professor of nursing, said of the conference. “You’re kind of in awe that you’re in the presence of all these people who are so important in the profession. You bring back that enthusiasm and you share that with a few other people who get excited and want to get involved.”

Beta Nu also stands out for its record of giving back to the profession. It provides grants to support members’ research, and has given $11,000 in student scholarships since 2005. The organization also co-sponsors Collaborative Nursing Research Day, a joint venture between Beta Nu, the ECU College of Nursing, Vidant Medical Center and the Eastern Area Health Education Consortium. The event provides a venue for continuing education and gives nurses an opportunity to showcase their research and creative projects.

The community at large is another beneficiary of Beta Nu’s outreach. Scout Out Nursing Day, held biannually at the College of Nursing, has introduced more than 500 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to the profession since its inception in 2007.

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Current Beta Nu president Roberson, left, with charter member Horns at the anniversary banquet.

Asked what Beta Nu’s future holds, President Dr. Donna Roberson said the group is working to be member focused, with a global perspective. This direction matches that of Beta Nu’s parent organization, which has 135,000 members in 85 countries. Sigma Theta Tau’s president, Hester Klopper of South Africa, has issued a call for chapters to “serve locally, transform regionally, lead globally.”

“I see us having a wider base of influence beyond our community and having an international impact,” said Roberson, an associate professor of nursing.

Existing international projects include providing nursing student scholarships and mentorship to the Faculty of Nursing Science of the Episcopal University of Haiti. Beta Nu also makes donations to a clean water initiative that has provided water filters to more than 70 families in Guatemala since 2008.

At the group’s 40th anniversary banquet, a panel of past presidents shared Beta Nu memories, including Everett, Krupa, Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Pam Reis, and Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Gina Woody. Reis highlighted the many opportunities for mentorship that the organization provides.

“I was thinking about when I was inducted in 1991… I never realized I would become president, but I had such wonderful mentors,” Reis said. “You all have meant the world to me.”

Woody reflected on Beta Nu’s impact and succinctly summed up the group’s sentiments.

“I feel as if Beta Nu has provided numerous opportunities for our students as well as members and the community,” she said. “I think we should be very proud of our chapter.”

Nov 182014
 

Eighty-eight East Carolina University faculty and staff were honored Nov. 11 for their published works at the William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library’s annual Health Sciences Author Recognition Awards ceremony.

Faculty and staff submitted 240 entries including 206 peer-reviewed journal articles, 21 book chapters and 13 books published between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

“The awards pay tribute to those who expand the scholarly work of the university and the research reputation of the Division of Health Sciences through their published works,” said Dr. Gregory Hassler, interim director of Laupus Library. “We express gratitude to our authors for their hard work and impressive scholarship.”

The library hosted the awards ceremony and dinner reception for honorees at the Greenville Hilton. The event was co-sponsored by the Friends of Laupus Library, which provide needed support for special programs and activities of the library.

Other sponsors were Matthews Book Company, Dr. John Papalas, Springer, Dr. and Mrs. Donald Hoffman, Dr. and Mrs. Dan Shingleton, Dr. Lorrie Basnight, Dr. Greg Hassler, Dr. Jackie Hutcherson, Dr. and Mrs. James Hallock, Eastern Carolina Foot and Ankle Specialists, Dr. and Mrs. Jon Tingelstad, The little bank, Drs. Bob Thompson and Marie Pokorny, Dr. and Mrs. Richard Eakin, Dr. Mary Raab, Mr. Dwain Teague and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rogers.

Authors recognized in the College of Allied Health Sciences were Jason Brinkley, Leigh W. Cellucci, Martha Chapin, Anne Dickerson, Denise Donica, Elizabeth Forrestal, Susie Harris, Robert Kulesher, Jane Patton, Balaji Rangarathnam, Leonard Trujillo, and Heather Harris Wright.

The Brody School of Medicine authors were Abdel Abdel-Rahman, Emily Askew, Yan-Hua Chen, W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., David Collier, Irma Corral, Kay Craven, Doyle Cummings, Paul Cunningham, Moahad Dar, Ronald Dudek, Chris Duffrin, Clinton Faulk, Jonathon Firnhaber, Annette Greer, Eleanor Harris, Katherine Jones, Gregory D. Kearney, Susan Keen, Brett Keiper, Cheryl Knudson, Warren Knudson, Kathryn Kolasa, Brandon Kyle, Hope Landrine, Suzanne Lea, Myon-Hee Lee, Darla Liles, Qun Lu, Robert Lust, Christopher Mansfield, Laura Matarese, William Meggs, Assad Movahed, Rajasekhar Nekkanti, Ronald Perkin, Stephanie Pitts, Walter Pories, Stephanie Richards, Jacques Robidoux, Rachel Roper,  Maria J. Ruiz-Echevarria, Susan Schmidt, George Sigounas, Robert Tanenberg, Danielle Walsh, David Weismiller and Li Yang.

The School of Dental Medicine authors were Carol Anderson, Grishondra Branch-Mays, Joseph Califano, Gregory Chadwick, C. Ervin Davis, Waldemar de Rijk, James Hupp, Lamont Lowery, Linda May, John Stockstill, and Margaret Wilson.

The Laupus Health Sciences Library authors were Kathy Cable and Carrie Forbes.

Those recognized in the College of Nursing were Sylvia Brown, Robin Webb Corbett, Patricia Crane, Martha Engelke, Laura Gantt, Sonya R. Hardin, Candace Harrington, D. Elizabeth Jesse, Ann King, Nanette Lavoie-Vaughan, Michele Mendes, Janice Neil, Elaine Scott, and Melvin Swanson.

Highlighting the awards ceremony was the presentation of the Laupus Medallion to seven book authors. The Medallion is a smaller version of the Laupus Bronze sculpture which hangs in the atrium of the health sciences building at the entrance to the Laupus Library. Both the Bronze and Medallion were designed by Hanna Jubran and Jodi Hollnagel-Jubran of ECU’s School of Art and Design.  This year’s book authors are Leigh Cellucci (CAHS), W. Randolph Chitwood (BSOM), Ronald Dudek (BSOM), Carrie Forbes (LL), James Hupp (SODM), William Meggs (BSOM) and Laura Matarese (BSOM.

A copy of the bibliography is available on the Library’s website www.ecu.edu/laupuslibrary/HSAR with additional information and photographs from the event.