Posts from the ‘institutional values’ category

When a major flood caused by a burst pipe forced the closure of the labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units at Boston Medical Center (BMC) temporarily last year, the Brigham and several other hospitals stepped up to ensure patient care remained the priority.

During a Quality Rounds presentation in Bornstein Amphitheater last month, BMC clinicians spoke about the flood and reflected on the disaster response and lessons learned. 

A critical piece to the emergency plan for BMC was the safe and timely transfer of patients out of the affected units to area hospitals, including the Brigham, for care. At the end of Quality Rounds, the Brigham was presented with an award from BMC in recognition of the assistance staff provided during the flood incident. 

Karen Fiumara, PharmD, BCPS, executive director of Patient Safety at Brigham Health, said the Brigham teams that responded to this challenging situation were “nothing short of remarkable.” 

“While continuing to safely care for their existing patients, they welcomed this group of BMC patients and their loved ones to the Brigham with open arms and provided them with exceptional care,” Fiumara said. “This was one of those amazing stories that makes you proud to be part of the Brigham community.” 

Katherine Gregory, PhD, RN, associate chief nursing officer for the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns, echoed Fiumara’s thoughts.

“The Brigham comes together in a crisis like no other, and we care—not only about our patients but also those across the city and region,” she said. “It was our privilege to care for the women and newborns who were affected by the BMC flood last year, and we stand ready to serve if called upon by our obstetric and newborn colleagues again in the future.”

From left: Christopher Fenton and James Crowley manage audio and video broadcasts in the Zinner Breakout Room and Zinner Boardroom.

From left: Christopher Fenton and James Crowley manage audio and video broadcasts in the Zinner Breakout Room and Zinner Boardroom.

High-definition video of face-transplant surgery. Aerial footage of the helipad. Livestreamed events with hundreds of webcast viewers. These are just a few examples of the highly creative work produced by the Brigham’s Audiovisual Services (A/V) team in Office Services, which comprises several talented videographers, photographers, technicians and administrators who support every major service line and department.

“Our work is really fulfilling and fun,” said Peter Linck, manager of Office Services, which is part of Materials Management. “We get to work with so many people, and we also have a lot of creative freedom; when someone dreams up an audiovisual idea, we can help make it happen.”

And they do just that. Often spotted behind a camera or soundboard, the team supports dozens of events and multimedia projects in any given week. One moment, they could be broadcasting a hospital-wide event like Town Meeting or a tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the A/V booth in Bornstein Amphitheater. The next, they could be filming neurosurgery cases in the Operating Rooms.

In addition to providing audio and video services, the team also assists the Brigham community with room reservations and event bookings. To make it easier for staff to determine the right venue for their event, the A/V team has made interactive, 360-degree online “tours” of many common meeting spaces, including the Zinner Conference Center and the Hale Building for Transformative Medicine.

From left: Elton Toska, Steven Kyriakidis, James Crowley, Benjamin Lee, Angel Ayala and Christopher Fenton (not pictured: John Bourque)

From left: Elton Toska, Steven Kyriakidis, James Crowley, Benjamin Lee, Angel Ayala and Christopher Fenton (not pictured: John Bourque)

When all-hands requests arise, Linck enlists the help of their colleagues in the Mailroom, which also sits under the Office Services umbrella, to assist with coverage needs. He noted that everyone on the team works to expand their skillset and is eager to lend a hand—including being willing, at a moment’s notice, to support press conferences and large events, such as the Magnet celebration and Discover Brigham.

Many A/V staffers began their careers in the Brigham’s Mailroom and have diverse professional and freelance backgrounds spanning television, photography and graphic design. Also noteworthy is the team’s retention rate. Many have been part of A/V for over a decade, with the longest-tenured member, John Bourque, coordinator in Office Services, celebrating 39 years at the Brigham.

Angel Ayala, senior technician in Office Services, credits Linck with reinforcing the Brigham’s culture of innovation, collaboration, excellence and treating setbacks as opportunities to grow together—fostering an environment that Ayala says inspires the team to do their best every day.

“We have a really great, understanding manager who supports our growth,” he said, adding that whatever technology and skills are needed for the job—such as video adapters, GoPros, software tools and HTML programming classes—Ayala and his teammates are given what they need to produce high-quality content and provide exceptional service to the Brigham community.

“Behind the Scenes at the Brigham” is a monthly photo series in Brigham Bulletin that provides a glimpse of the people whose everyday contributions help make the Brigham a world-class institution. Is there an individual or team you’d like to see featured? Send your ideas to

bwh values logoLast summer, faculty and staff were invited to share their impressions of the Brigham’s organizational culture through the Brigham Experience: Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Assessment survey, focus groups, interviews and more. The message was clear: Our foundation and our people are strong, and we have opportunity to do even better, together.

The assessment revealed that Brigham Health has numerous strengths and areas of opportunity that will help grow the current culture to become even more transparent, diverse, inclusive and innovative.

Our strengths include our status as a leading academic medical system; our history and reputation; our shared passion for patient care; our progress in restoring financial health; and our ability to come together in a crisis.

Our areas of opportunity include the need for a more unifying vision and inspiring purpose statement that connects with all members of our workforce; the elimination of competition where there should be collaboration; more transparent and forthright communication; more diversity in leadership positions; a culture of respect and inclusion in every part of the organization; and a shift from a top-down structure to an empowered, shared decision-making approach.

Another takeaway from this effort was that the Brigham Health values as previously defined—collaboration, empathy, inclusion, integrity and professionalism—did not fully resonate with all faculty and staff. Building off feedback from across the Brigham, hospital leaders sought to redefine the institution’s values so that they better reflect who we are as a community.

The result is four newly articulated values:

We care. Period. We embrace a culture of shared humanity and dignity, where our diverse community of patients, families and employees all feel welcome, cared for and valued.

We create breakthroughs. It’s in our DNA. Since our founding, we’ve been discovering ways to make tomorrow better—for the health of people, here and around the world.

We’re stronger together. We all play a role. We take pride in teamwork, partnership and community. We value everyone’s contributions. We find inspiration in each other.

We pursue excellence. Because our patients deserve our best. We share a passion for learning and continuous improvement.

These four values also represent the theme of Brigham Bulletin’s 2019 calendar (published on the reverse side of this issue).

Looking ahead, hospital leaders are creating a “culture squad” to address the opportunities identified in the assessment and will then articulate behaviors that represent our aspirational culture.

Visit and stay tuned for more information about our culture work.

Register for the 2019 B.A.A. 5K

Registration for the 2019 Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) 5K race opens Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 10 a.m. All runners and walkers are invited to take part in the excitement of Boston Marathon weekend while supporting trauma research and care at The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center. Click here to register for the race and become part of the Stepping Strong 5K team.

Brigham Health Opens Hingham Clinic

Brigham and Women’s Harbor Medical Associates opened a Brigham Health adult primary care clinic in Hingham on Jan. 2. The office, which is accepting new patients, contains 14 clinical rooms in a 9,000-square-foot space. Located at 6 Shipyard Drive in Suite 2A at the Hingham Shipyard, the clinic offers primary care services and a phlebotomy lab. To make an appointment, call 781-952-1303.

Reminder: Severe Weather Policy

With winter weather approaching, all faculty and staff are encouraged to review the Severe Weather, Emergency Policy or Significant Event policy (HR-406). All Brigham Health faculty and staff are expected to report to work as scheduled in severe weather, and decisions for individual sites, practices, departments, programs and units to remain open or to close are determined by Brigham Health leadership.

Coming Soon: Windows 10 Upgrade

Beginning in January and throughout 2019, Brigham Health will roll out the Windows 10 operating system to every eligible Partners standard desktop and laptop. Windows 10 offers a faster startup speed, improved layout, customizable user experience and improved security features. To learn more about new features and functionality with Windows 10, visit the Partners HealthCare Windows 10 Resource Center. For information specific to the Windows 10 roll out at Brigham Health, visit the Brigham Health IS Portal. Additional details and communications will be shared in the coming weeks. If you have questions or feedback, contact

PCAs preparing to go to nursing schoolMany of you have already heard about the four amazing Brigham patient care assistants (PCAs) who received the inaugural Neskey Educational Opportunity Fund Scholarships, which provide full-tuition support to University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston for PCAs who aspire to have a career in nursing. David and Sharon Neskey established the fund to honor the extraordinary care they received from a PCA here. As it turns out, the day we announced those four recipients was just one piece of what would become my One Shining Moment this year.

Weeks earlier, I had the pleasure of attending an information session about the scholarship. Considering that this was a new program, I set my expectations accordingly, thinking six to eight attendees would have been a good showing for our first year. Little did I know how incredible the response would really be. About 40 PCAs came to the session, brimming with enthusiasm about the next potential step in their careers. I was also amazed that attendees were at all stages of thinking about their future as nurses—some had completed all the academic prerequisites and were ready to start at UMass, while others who had never taken any formal steps for continued education viewed this potential scholarship as the push they needed.

Linda S. Thompson, DrPH, MPH, RN, FAAN, dean of UMass Boston’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, was so inspired by the program that she attended the information session and spoke of how her own professional beginnings looked very similar to those in the room. The most moving part of the event, though, was that when I looked at that group of PCAs, I saw the future nurses of the Brigham, who will one day inspire the next generation that follows them. I can’t wait to see the amazing things they will do in the years to come.

Ron M. Walls, MD
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Brigham Health

La’Lena Etheart BSN, RN, PCCN and staff

From left: Nina Jordan, La’Lena Etheart, Michelle Lafferty and Reba Dookie

I recently went back to school for my master’s degree in Nursing Administration. I had to design a brochure as part of an assignment, and I decided to make a brochure about hand hygiene and preventing the spread of infection. I thought of the idea to have real nursing staff in my visuals, and my amazing coworkers on Shapiro 9/10 were more than willing to help! This picture is the cover photo of my brochure, which was titled “The Power Is in YOUR Hands!”

La’Lena Etheart BSN, RN, PCCN
Nurse in Charge, Shapiro Cardiovascular Center 9/10

Maddy Pearson and nursing staffMy One Shining Moment for 2018 represents the culmination of many shining moments for the Department of Nursing and our entire Brigham community. After a journey led by our clinical nurses that inspired pride about the exceptional care we provide, our patient outcomes and our interprofessional collaboration, we officially received the news that Brigham and Women’s Hospital achieved Magnet designation.

That announcement, which we heard via a phone call broadcast live in Bornstein Amphitheater, moved me to tears. I’ll never forget the joy and pride I saw on the faces of our Magnet champions and leaders as we learned that we had earned this prestigious designation, which represents the gold standard of nursing excellence and honors high-quality care delivered by multidisciplinary professionals.

We were recognized again in October at the Magnet conference in Denver in front of an audience of nearly 11,000 nurses from around the world. I will always cherish sharing that moment with the 130 Brigham staff who attended the conference.

Maddy Pearson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President, Patient Care Services

Hudson and colleages

From left: Lauren Godsoe, Margo Hudson and Maricruz Merino

I have been going annually to New Mexico with the Outreach Program with Indian Health Service since 2009, and each year gets better. I have primarily been involved with the diabetes program at Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, N.M.

A former Brigham internal medicine resident, Maricruz Merino, MD, is now their chief of Medicine, and we have been working together closely over the years developing inpatient and outpatient glucose-management protocols. We are both close friends as well as colleagues, and we have shared the joys of the birth of children and grandchildren with each other in addition to seeing the growth of the diabetes program.

This past March, I had the pleasure of traveling with Brigham Health nurse practitioner Laura Godsoe, NP, for a week of lecturing and consulting on patients. I am so proud of the work we have done and thankful to Outreach Program for continuing to support this opportunity.

Margo Hudson, MD
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension

Jason Frangos and team

From left: Zachary Holcomb, John Mohs, Jason Frangos, Margaret Cavanaugh-Hussey, Toby Crooks and Diana Woody

I made my second trip to Shiprock, N.M., in November 2018 as part of the Brigham and Women’s Outreach Program. Working alongside the dedicated doctors and staff at the Indian Health Service hospital in Shiprock has truly inspired and motivated me in my life and work. Contributing much-needed clinical care to the Navajo community has re-energized me with a sense of meaning and purpose as a physician. Volunteering at Shiprock has been my antidote to burnout and has revitalized my spirit.

Jason Frangos, MD
Director, Program for Infectious Diseases of the Skin
Department of Dermatology

Sumaira Ahmed

From left: Sumaira Ahmed and Chuck Pozner

I’m fortunate to work with a person like Chuck Pozner, MD, Emergency Medicine physician and executive director of the STRATUS Center, who has been not only a phenomenal mentor but also someone who constantly inspires me to be better and help others.

Most notably, Chuck did something earlier this year that I thought was heroic and spoke volumes about his character and the kind of physician he is. He was walking to the hospital from Neville House when he noticed activity surrounding a woman giving birth in the valet bay of 75 Francis St.

He immediately saw that the newborn was turning blue from the bitter February cold, so he quickly took off his new STRATUS sweater and scooped the baby up in it to keep her warm. Ultimately, the sweater didn’t make it, but the mother and child were escorted inside to safety and warmth. Chuck’s quick response and selflessness was truly a shining moment!

Sumaira Ahmed
Marketing and Business Development,
Neil and Elise Wallace STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation

By far, my shining moment this year was the day I reconnected with my primary nurse, Vivian Kelley, RN, after 39 years! Vivian helped save my life back in 1979, when I came to the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital for a bone marrow transplant. I had aplastic anemia (a rare and life-threatening blood disease) and spent two and a half months in an isolation room. Vivian was there at every turn—when I got my chemo and during the hundreds of hours that followed as I waited for my new immune system to mature. The photo in which I’m wearing a mask marks the day I went home. The other picture was taken when we reconnected this summer in Boston. Vivian moved to the West Coast a year after my transplant and continued practicing nursing until she retired. I credit Vivian’s intelligence, nursing skills and her calm, positive attitude for getting me through a terrifying time in my life. I’m so grateful we found each other again.

Jessica Keener
Associate Director, Proposal Management, Development Office

Fundraising walkEvery year, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital participate as a team in the Boston Heart Walk and fundraise to support cardiovascular research and education, advocate for health and save lives. This walk is important to me because a few of my family members have experienced coronary artery disease, stroke and valve disease. By supporting the walk, I am doing my part to help fund current research that will make a difference for my family members and friends.

The 2018 Boston Heart Walk was very special to me. Not only was it the fifth time that I’ve organized and led the team, but it was also the year the Brigham and Faulkner team won the “Top Hospital Challenge” from the American Heart Association. I can’t begin to explain how exciting it was to stand on the Hatch Shell stage and be presented a trophy for our efforts. The team that raises the most money and has the most walkers during each year’s Heart Walk is crowned the “Top Hospital.” I also love meeting all the people who join our team each year. To be able to walk alongside patients who’ve undergone surgery and other procedures at the Brigham and elsewhere, lifts my heart with every step I make.

Merilyn Holmes
Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Fareed Al Haddad headshot

Fareed Al Haddad

Recently I listened to our president, Dr. Nabel, speak at Town Meeting. I admired her words about the Brigham Experience and her actions to drive the Brigham to excellence; following that, I sent her an email with a few comments, not expecting anything. But she replied to me—that exact moment when I saw her name in my inbox made me feel so proud, as I realized our leadership believes in the values for the Brigham. We care, and we are stronger together.

I am lucky and proud to be at Brigham and Women’s Hospital!

Fareed Al Haddad
Administrative Assistant II
Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy

Carlson with Shiprock members

Alissa Umana (far left), Sally Carlson (second from left), Loren Day Lewis (second from right) and Kyle Dale Walters (far right)

In November, I had the privilege of traveling with three of my team members to the Northern New Mexico Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., as part of the Brigham and Women’s Outreach Program with Indian Health Service. This is the second year that we have been able to travel with the Outreach Program to provide training in customer service and communications for clinical and administrative staff throughout the hospital. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to deliver our training to such an eager and enthusiastic audience—and to know that, in some small way, we are helping them improve the quality of care delivered to the Navajo population on the reservation.

This year, our trip happened to coincide with Native American Heritage Month, and as part of the celebration, Navajo dancers of all ages performed for staff and patients. Wearing intricately detailed costumes and accompanied by traditional music, the dancers offered moving performances of ceremonial dances to a crowd gathered in the hospital atrium. After the performance, we had the honor of being photographed with one of the dancers, who is also a supervisor at the hospital. It is a wonderful memento from the trip and a reminder of our friends in Shiprock.

Sally Carlson
Senior Manager, Training and Communications, BHIS

Winter Food Drive Concludes Dec. 20
The Center for Community Health and Health Equity is hosting a winter food drive to benefit the Parker Hill/ABCD Emergency Food Pantry in Mission Hill, now–Dec. 20. Beans, rice, cereal, pasta, soups, peanut butter, jelly and canned goods are most needed. Donations can be placed in the food drive bins outside the Garden Cafe on Tower 2. For questions, or to make a cash or check donation, call 617-264-8750 or email

OHS Episodic Care Clinic for Employees
Occupational Health Services (OHS) offers conveniently located care for upper respiratory infections, sore throats, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections and back pain. Staff who have a Brigham primary care provider and receive medical insurance through Partners HealthCare can visit the clinic Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Employees will not be charged a co-pay for their visit; labs, radiology exams and prescription medications are billed to insurance. The clinic is hosted at OHS’ mid-campus clinic on the Lower Pike. To schedule an appointment, call 617-732-8501.

Professional Development Series
The Professional Development Series (PDS) is available to help Brigham staff and teams gain new skills through self-led resources and classroom learning. PDS has a spring and fall semester, with spring courses beginning in February and fall courses starting in September. Class offerings include: Behavioral Interviewing; Communication Skills; Delegation; Presentation Skills; Time Management; Running Effective Meetings; Role of the Manager and more. To learn more, visit

BEI Yoga: Winter Series
The Brigham Education Institute (BEI) will host its winter series of 60-minute vinyasa yoga classes in the BEI Knowledge Center (located in the Thorn building, first floor, room 127D). The class is designed for all levels of experience, from beginners to more advanced yogis. Attendees should wear appropriate workout attire and bring their own yoga mat. Upcoming classes will be held 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and Wednesday, Jan. 16. View a full schedule and register. 

Gift-Wrapping Fundraiser to Support the NICU

The Brigham Young Professionals group is hosting a gift-wrapping fundraiser outside of the Shop on the Pike throughout December. Bring your unwrapped holiday presents and a volunteer will wrap them for you. Donations will benefit the NICU Friends of BWH, a group that support the families of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Hours of operation will be Tuesday, Dec. 11–Friday, Dec. 14 and Tuesday, Dec. 18–Thursday, Dec. 20, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

Shop on the Pike Holiday Sale, Dec. 13-14

The Shop on the Pike will celebrate its 10th birthday by offering 20 percent off most items, including select Brigham apparel, during a holiday sale on Thursday, Dec. 13, and Friday, Dec. 14. The discount does not apply to flowers/plants, balloons, candy, food, magazines, greeting cards, website orders, phone cards, gift cards or paperback books. Call 617-732-7878 for more details.

‘Flooded: Lessons Learned from a Major Hospital Flood,’ Dec. 13

The Department of Quality and Safety hosts “Flooded: Lessons Learned from a Major Hospital Flood” as part of the Quality Rounds. Ronald Iverson Jr., MD, MPH, of Boston Medical Center will present. Attendees will learn about planning and practice for a large-scale flood, as well as the use of outside resources during a response to such an event. Thursday, Dec. 13, noon-1 p.m., in Bornstein Amphitheater. Learn more.

Holiday Reminder: Personal Package Policy

With the holidays fast approaching, the Receiving & Distribution and Office Services teams remind employees that personal package deliveries cannot be accommodated. The priority of these departments is delivering items directly related to patient care and hospital business. Due to the large volume of these deliveries alone, the added responsibility of processing personal packages delays the turnaround time on products that may directly affect patient care. Please make alternate arrangements for the delivery of personal packages. For questions, contact Jonathan Santiago at

Julie Nimoy with her father, Leonard Nimoy

From left: Julie Nimoy with her father, Leonard Nimoy

When actor, director and artist Leonard Nimoy was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2013, the beloved Star Trek icon dedicated his time to raising awareness about this devastating, progressive lung disease until it took his life two years later. Through a documentary directed and produced by his daughter, Julie, and son-in-law, David Knight, Nimoy’s mission continues to live long and prosper.

In honor of COPD Awareness Month in November, the Brigham Health Lung Center partnered with Julie and David to screen the 2017 film, Remembering Leonard Nimoy: His Life, Legacy and Battle with COPD, on Nov. 29. The screening, held at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, was followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with Brigham clinical and research experts specializing in pulmonary care and thoracic surgery.

Ranking as the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., COPD is a family of chronic lung diseases that permanently damage the airways and, over time, make it increasingly difficult to breathe. In patients for whom the disease is in the most advanced stages, everyday activities like walking across a room can become extremely taxing. COPD is most commonly caused by smoking but also appears in nonsmokers, suggesting environmental and genetic links.

While preventable and treatable, especially in the earlier stages, there is no cure for COPD.

The Need for Early Detection

Told through interviews with Nimoy and his family members, the hour-long documentary features stories from the actor’s childhood in Boston, early career in Hollywood and breakout role as Spock in Star Trek. It also provides a candid look at his experiences living with COPD, his passionate support for smoking cessation and the toll the disease took on his family.

One poignant message the film underscored was that COPD is believed to take root at a young age, but patients often mistake its early signs—when treatment would be most effective—as the normal effects of aging or an inconvenient consequence of smoking. The takeaway resonated with Brigham experts who participated in the panel discussion.

“This is a disease that is difficult to diagnose early, and yet it’s medically important to do so,” said Bruce Levy, MD, chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and co-director of The Lung Center. “It destroys the lung tissue, so the more that occurs as time goes on, the less responsive it is to medical therapies.”

Speakers highlighted the Brigham’s innovative research in the field and the comprehensive, multidisciplinary services offered through The Lung Center for patients with COPD—including medical therapies, such as pulmonary rehabilitation, and procedural interventions, such as lung transplant.

Internationally renowned COPD expert Bartolome Celli, MD, a physician-investigator in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, said it is imperative that COPD screening become part of routine preventive care. The test for it, known as spirometry, should be as common as mammograms and colonoscopies to maximize the likelihood of early detection and long-term survival, he noted.

“It is our duty to go out and preach that this disease is treatable and preventable,” Celli said.

‘This Is Always New’

Nimoy’s granddaughter, Morgan Pearson, who attended the event, recalled how eye-opening it was to see her grandfather’s rapid decline between his diagnosis and his death at age 83.

“Even to those of us who knew him very intimately, he was larger than life and didn’t seem destructible,” she said. “I can’t say that, as a family, we were really prepared for that.”

Hilary Goldberg, MD, clinical director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, said the film reinforced the powerful role empathy plays in caring for COPD patients and their families.

“Initiating something like oxygen therapy or new medication seems fairly routine to us, but it is very, very life-altering to patients,” Goldberg said.

“The film really highlighted that it’s important to remember that this is always new to each patient that you see.”

Among the other Brigham panelists who participated in the discussion were Raphael Bueno, MD, chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery and co-director of The Lung Center; Dawn DeMeo, MD, MPH, a physician in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and a senior respiratory genetics researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine; Craig Hersh, MD, a physician-investigator in the Channing Division; and Scott Swanson, MD, director of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery at the Brigham and associate chief of Surgery at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. Filmmaker Ron Frank also offered remarks.

Learn more about the documentary at

Morteza Mahmoudi

Morteza Mahmoudi displays the latest prototype of a novel skin patch designed to heal chronic wounds.

Morteza Mahmoudi, PhD, vividly remembers the fear and heartache he felt as a child growing up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The armed conflict played out in the streets of his hometown of Tehran, where he says it wasn’t unusual to encounter a friend, neighbor or loved one suffering from traumatic injuries following a missile attack.

But just as clearly, Mahmoudi recalls what the voice inside him often said those days: Help people. Help heal their pain.

Now a biomedical investigator at the Center for Nanomedicine and the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Mahmoudi has spent the last three decades following that calling. It has propelled him to fulfill his life mission to ease suffering, no matter the obstacle.

“The war was a very hard period, but when I think about those days, I realize that kind of experience puts fuel in your motivational tank for the rest of your life,” he said. “From the time I entered university, I made the decision to use my past as a driving force for the future.”

As the winner of the seventh annual BRIght Futures Prize, Mahmoudi is especially hopeful about what tomorrow holds for patients around the world. The competition’s $100,000 award will support his project, “Time to Heal Chronic Wounds.”

Sponsored by the Brigham Research Institute, the BRIght Futures competition invites the Brigham community and the public to vote for one of three finalists whose innovative research is poised to transform medicine. This year’s competition garnered its largest-ever number of votes: 16,530. Mahmoudi was announced as this year’s winner during an awards ceremony at Discover Brigham on Nov. 7.

For the past 10 years, Mahmoudi has been working to develop a skin patch to heal chronic wounds that the body is unable to repair on its own, such as bedsores and diabetic wounds. There is no effective treatment for these types of wounds, which can easily become infected and sometimes lead to amputation or even death.

Mahmoudi’s patch is made from multifunctional nanofibers – fibers that are 1,000th the diameter of a single human hair – that mimic most of the skin’s characteristics. They are engineered to deliver a cocktail of healing biomolecules and immunotherapeutic nanoparticles to a wound site. These unique properties can help cells reach the site of a wound and create new blood vessels. Meanwhile, the nanoparticles detect and help fight infections while also lessening inflammation. The BRIght Futures Prize funding will help advance the project from the lab bench to clinical trials so that it can be rigorously tested in humans.

A Long Road

Once he got the idea for the patch, Mahmoudi soon realized how ambitious an endeavor creating it would be. It demanded expertise in four highly complex, distinct scientific fields: materials science and engineering, biomedical engineering, nanomedicine and cell biology. Undeterred, Mahmoudi earned a degree in each one (a bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate and post-doctorate, respectively).

“The time in which I was working on bachelor’s and master’s was extremely hard, as in addition to my university courses and research, I had to work over 70 hours per week as a high school teacher to support my family at the time,” Mahmoudi recalled. “The motivational fuel and my old friend – my internal monologue – gave me the stamina to make it through those days and continue my scientific activities while also taking care of my immediate family.”

He kicked off his research career at universities in Ireland, Switzerland and the U.S., advancing his understanding of science and medicine as he chipped away at the project’s protocols and prototypes.

“I was like a scientific nomad,” he said. “Ten years ago, the crosstalk between different experts was not great – not like today – so that’s why I had to train in different medical and engineering fields.”

Each part of the patch – its precise structure and physical, chemical and mechanical properties – took years to perfect.

“I would say that this was one of the hardest projects I’ve ever done because it took a lot of time, and I could have easily given up many times, but I kept going,” he said. “My long-term collaborators and I made a huge number of prototypes. We haven’t yet published anything on this topic, as I believe that the scientific community and patients would benefit from the A-to-Z story, rather than progressive reports. We needed to make sure our final prototype was error-free, and we are now at that stage.”

Being part of the Brigham’s highly collaborative clinical and research community has been a tremendous gift in advancing this work, Mahmoudi said.

Today, he is excited to see the project move one step closer to changing outcomes for patients with chronic wounds, thanks to the BRIght Futures Prize.

“If I can reduce the pain of one patient, even for one minute, I have done my share. But if these patches can help many lives, that would be my ultimate dream,” Mahmoudi said. “This prize opens the way to that.”

Brigham Health’s Strategy in Action: Scalable Innovation
Learn more about our strategic priorities at


From left: Mil Pierce reviews information about a clinical trial with Shivam Dua at the Comprehensive Breast Health Center.

As far as she can tell, Mil Pierce, 55, of Belmont has done everything right in terms of leading a healthy lifestyle. She never smoked. She goes to the gym twice a week and walks her dog nearly every day. She doesn’t drink alcohol in excess. And she’s eliminated red meat from her diet.

Pierce has made these choices with the knowledge that she has a strong family history of breast cancer. The disease has affected her mother, maternal grandmother and a maternal great aunt, among many other relatives.

Yet after Pierce underwent genetic testing to see if she had an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes – an alteration that greatly increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer – the lab results showed she didn’t have the harmful mutation.

That’s why Pierce was stunned to learn two years ago, following a biopsy, that there were precancerous cells in her breast tissue. If left untreated, the abnormal cells could develop into breast cancer.

“When I got that diagnosis, it hit me like a brick. I thought, wow, there’s something else going on,” she said. “Genetically speaking, there’s no explanation for it.”

Today, Pierce is hopeful not only for her own continued health but also that of her two teenage daughters, thanks to the care, resources and guidance she’s receiving through the Breast Cancer Personalized Risk Assessment, Education and Prevention (B-PREP) Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC).

Launched about two years ago and led by Tari King, MD, chief of Breast Surgery at DF/BWCC, the B-PREP Program develops a comprehensive, customized risk profile for every patient and a personalized plan aimed at reducing the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Upon entering the program, patients complete a survey that asks not only about their medical history but also a wide range of lifestyle factors that experts believe can contribute to breast cancer risk, including diet, physical activity, sleep, weight changes, whether they work a night shift and more.

“Assessing individual risk for breast cancer is complicated,” King said. “Breast cancer is not just one disease; it is a family of diseases, and the risk factors that can lead to the development of different types of breast cancer also vary.”

King emphasized that the program is open to all patients, including – and perhaps especially – those who don’t know their breast cancer risk.

“Many women think that if breast cancer is not in their family that they don’t have to worry about it, and that is not true. In fact, most women who come in with their first diagnosis of breast cancer don’t have a family history,” King said. “Our doors are open to anyone who wants to learn about their risk.”

Novel Trials

Another big misconception the B-PREP Program is working to dispel is that people at increased risk are at the mercy of their biology, King said. Based on what B-PREP’s multidisciplinary team learns from an assessment, each patient receives personalized recommendations and is connected to relevant resources, such as a referral to the Brigham’s Program for Weight Management or information about clinical trials currently enrolling patients.

One such novel trial is looking at how exercise affects breast cancer risk in women who have dense breast tissue and do not currently engage in regular exercise. Led by Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a medical oncologist specializing in breast cancer at DF/BWCC, the study pairs participants with a personal trainer for 12 weeks. Researchers will collect a breast tissue sample from participants before and after they complete the exercise program.

“We know that women who exercise more have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, but we don’t know why. We also know that denser breast tissue – that is, tissue containing more glandular elements to it and less fatty tissue – is linked to a higher risk, and, again, we don’t know why,” Ligibel said. “In a previous study we conducted looking at women who already had breast cancer, we saw that exercise actually changed the immune system within the cancer. Now, we’re looking at whether those same types of changes from exercise can be seen before a tumor has even emerged.”

Pierce learned about her eligibility for the study from her B-PREP providers and became one of the first patients to enroll. She appreciates how comprehensive the B-PREP Program is, including the opportunities to participate in clinical trials that explore wellness-based approaches to prevention.

“This breast density and exercise study was music to my ears,” she said. “I’m really excited about being on the cutting edge of research, especially since there’s a mystery here.”

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Elizabeth Klerman

There’s more at stake than puffy eyes and fatigue for teens skimping on shuteye, according to a recent study by Brigham investigators.

Adolescents require eight to 10 hours of sleep at night for optimal health, according to experts, including the National Sleep Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); yet more than 70 percent of high school students sleep less than that. 

While previous studies have shown that insufficient sleep in youth can result in learning difficulties, impaired judgment and risk of adverse health behaviors, new research from the Brigham’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders found a negative association between sleep duration and personal safety risk-taking among high school students nationwide.

Compared to students in the eight-year study who reported sleeping eight hours at night, those who slept less than six hours were twice as likely to self-report using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs, and driving after drinking alcohol. They were also nearly twice as likely to report carrying a weapon or being in a fight. 

Researchers found the strongest associations were related to mood and self-harm. Those who slept less than six hours were more than three times as likely to consider or attempt suicide, and they were four times as likely to report an attempted suicide that resulted in treatment. Only 30 percent of the students in the study reported averaging more than eight hours of sleep on school nights.

“We found the odds of unsafe behavior by high school students increased significantly with fewer hours of sleep,” said lead author Matthew Weaver, PhD, an associate epidemiologist in the division. “Personal risk-taking behaviors are common precursors to accidents and suicides, which are the leading causes of death among teens. These findings may have important implications for the health and safety of high school students nationally.”

Matt Weaver

The CDC administers biannual Youth Risk Behavior Surveys at public and private schools across the country. Brigham researchers used data from more than 67,000 high school students collected between 2007 and 2015, examining personal safety risk-taking behaviors individually and as composite categories. All analyses were weighted to account for the complex survey design and controlled for age, sex, race and year of survey in mathematical models to test the association between sleep duration and each outcome of interest. The results were published in a JAMA Pediatrics research letter in October.

“Insufficient sleep in youth raises multiple public health concerns, including mental health, substance abuse and motor vehicle accidents,” said senior author Elizabeth Klerman, MD, PhD, director of the Analytic Modeling Unit in Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “More research is needed to determine the specific relationships between sleep and personal safety risk-taking behaviors. We should support efforts to promote healthy sleep habits and decrease barriers to sufficient sleep in this vulnerable population.”

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Ever since the first physician assistant (PA) was hired at the Brigham in the early 1980s, PAs have played an important role on care teams here. Today, the Brigham is the fifth-largest employer of PAs in the country, with more than 400 PAs throughout 37 departments. On Oct. 11, PAs from across Brigham Health and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) were recognized for their many contributions during the annual Physician Assistant Services Week event and awards ceremony.

To kick off the event, Sunil “Sunny” Eappen, MD, MBA, chief medical officer and senior vice president for Medical Affairs of Brigham Health, highlighted the vital role of PAs in care delivery. Physician assistants conduct patient exams, diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, assist in surgery and more.

Eappen noted PAs’ recent achievements, including advocating for rebranding our “Find a Doctor” directory as “Find a Provider” to include PAs and nurse practitioners. In addition, he applauded PA Services’ new peer-to-peer program, which connects new physician assistants with experienced PAs from other departments.

“These efforts have begun to pay dividends and have been very well-received,” said Eappen, adding that PA Services has earned two Partners in Excellence Awards, a Brigham Education Institute Inaugural Education Grant and the Employer of Excellence Award from the Academy of Physician Assistants’ Center for HealthCare Leadership and Management.

Jessica Logsdon, MHS, MHA, PA-C, senior director of PA Services, thanked physician assistants for their tremendous contributions to not only the Brigham but also their profession. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to work alongside you to care for our patients,” she said. “I would also like to thank our colleagues across the organization, both administrative and clinical, for the continued support you have provided as we continue to find our place within the health care system.”

Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD, reaffirmed the crucial role of PAs in multidisciplinary, team-based care: “Tonight, we celebrate our extraordinary PAs, who deliver personalized, passionate care with warmth, dignity and respect. Thanks to all of you, the Brigham continues to be a beacon of hope for people everywhere.”

Recognizing Excellence

During the event, several BWHers were honored for their commitment to excellence in patient care.

Kaitilin Mahoney, PA-C, and Ian Dunn, MD, of the Department of Neurosurgery, received the PA/MD Team Award for their exceptional interprofessional education and practice. In a letter of support, neurosurgeon Linda Bi, MD, PhD, wrote, “Their passion for clinical care constantly reignites their peers to refocus on the beauty of medicine that captured us.”

William Hung, PA-C, of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, received the Preceptor Award for exemplifying the attributes of a master educator and for being an outstanding model for PA students. In a nomination letter praising Hung’s extensive clinical knowledge and professionalism, Thoracic Surgery colleagues Jon Wee, MD, Namrata Patil, MD, MPH, and Evan Hall, PA-C, highlighted his passion for teaching and mentorship.

Adriana Penicaud, PA-C, of DF/BWCC, received the Distinguished PA Award, which recognizes a PA for excellence in patient care; dedication to the institutional mission, vision and core values; continued professional development; demonstrated leadership; and/or service in the community or profession.

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From left: Wanda Ramos and Lauren Mazzone review readiness tips for the upcoming Joint Commission survey.

For a moment during the Joint Commission Staff Readiness Fair last week, Lauren Mazzone, MBA, paused and looked around Cabot Atrium, admiring her peers as they educated each other about the work they do each day to improve patient care and safety at the Brigham.

“It was great to see staff from various roles and areas across the hospital stopping by the readiness fair,” said Mazzone, program manager in Clinical Compliance. “In many instances, folks shared something new they had learned from visiting the different departments’ tables, which is fantastic. The feedback we received about the fair during and after the event reiterated to us that we’re all in it together.”

Between now and January 2019, The Joint Commission (TJC) surveyors are expected to arrive at BWH to conduct a hospital-wide accreditation survey. TJC, which accredits the Brigham every three years, is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards. The survey is conducted through the tracer methodology, a means of evaluation in which surveyors select a patient and use that individual’s record as a roadmap to assess an organization’s compliance with certain standards and its systems of care and services. The visit to the Brigham will include observation, medical record review and interviews with staff. In addition, an engineer from TJC will examine the environment of care and fire safety standards.

In preparation for the visit, BWH’s Clinical Compliance team held a staff readiness fair in Cabot Atrium on Sept. 13, enabling champions from various departments to educate staff about their work and offer TJC preparedness tips. Among the many departments with information tables at the event were Ambulatory Services, Biomedical Engineering, the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families, Environmental Affairs, Engineering, Food Services, Health Information Services, Patient Safety, Privacy, and Police, Security and Commuter Services.

Kelly Doorley, MS, RN, director of Clinical Compliance, said she was thrilled with the strong turnout at the fair. She added that the Brigham’s upcoming TJC survey is an opportunity to demonstrate the institution’s commitment to delivering safe, high-quality care every day.

Doorley emphasized that all staff play a role in keeping patients safe. To prepare for the TJC visit, she suggested that BWHers remain focused on the basics, including always wearing your ID badge; knowing where emergency equipment is located; understanding your role during any emergency code or drill; and practicing hand hygiene before and after every patient interaction.

‘Readiness Is Our Responsibility’

Beth Baldwin, MSN, MHA, RN, program director in Nursing Informatics, said she decided to attend the fair to better understand how she can prepare for the survey. In addition to overarching tips, she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about proper responses to specific situations, such as how to access a locked bathroom in the event of a patient emergency.

“This, and the other tips and tricks the teams reviewed at the readiness fair, help me feel more prepared to talk with surveyors when they are on site. It’s our responsibility to patients, their families and each other to be compliant every day.”

Jon Boyer, ScD, CIH, director of Environmental Affairs, said his team is committed to working with BWH staff to develop creative solutions to the Brigham’s complex safety, health and environmental compliance requirements.

Now through Sept. 28, Environmental Affairs is hosting a “Safety Selfie Challenge” in which staff are encouraged to take a selfie in three safe situations and submit them for a chance to win a prize. Any photos with patients must have proper consent, and staff must be mindful of private information that could inadvertently appear in the background.

“When we work together, safety can be fun,” Boyer said. “It’s everyone’s job to help keep our clinical, research, support and administrative spaces safe and compliant for patients, their families, visitors and staff at all times.”

Stephanie Peña, a service coordinator in the Center for Patients and Families, enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions and educate herself about the work of many other departments.

“It was a great chance to meet with people you speak with regularly by phone,” Peña said. “The readiness fair helped facilitate communication, which in turn will benefit all of us as we work to continuously improve patient safety and care at the Brigham.”

For more information about TJC readiness, visit

Ursel Hughes (center) poses with family members beside her portrait, featured in photo exhibit about the opioid crisis.

When Ursel Hughes took her first uncertain steps toward recovery nine years ago, she never imagined her story could one day inspire others. But as she recently reflected on her experiences overcoming substance use disorder, Hughes said she feels humbled and privileged to be where she is today.

One of several speakers featured at an event kicking off the Brigham’s celebration of National Recovery Month in September, Hughes underscored how important it was to be shown compassion and dignity in her greatest hour of need.

“What I give today is hope. I didn’t have any of that when I went into recovery,” she said. “I was grateful to find people who treated me like a human being.”

Held Sept. 5 on the Tower 2 mezzanine, the event brought together BWHers and Harvard Medical School (HMS) students to celebrate those in recovery and raise awareness about the services available across Brigham Health for those in need.

The event also marked the debut of “RESILIENT: Narratives of Hope from Boston’s Opioid Crisis,” a photojournalism exhibit by HMS students that features portraits of and quotes from health care professionals – including several BWHers – as well as advocates, educators, law enforcement officers, people in recovery and policymakers. The 35-foot installation will be on display in the second-floor corridor near the Amory (M) elevators until the end of October, at which point it will be moved to HMS.

Directed and curated by second-year HMS students Mimi Yen Li and Joyce Zhou, with guidance from fourth-year student Galina Gheihman, the exhibit aspires to empower, educate and engage viewers about advocacy, community and compassionate care in the context of the opioid epidemic.

“Stories of the opioid crisis are all around us,” Yen Li said. “Often these stories are bleak, but every now and then we catch a glimpse into what could be on the other side of addiction. RESILIENT is an effort to capture these narratives of hope.”

Hughes, whose photo is featured in the exhibit, is now a recovery coach with the Police-Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a Gloucester-based nonprofit partnering with police departments nationwide to provide non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. She urged attendees to extend the same respect and compassion she was once shown to other people with substance use disorder.

“There are many paths to recovery, but if we don’t treat a person like a human being, they’re never going to find one,” she said. “I challenge you to support others, whether they are sick and suffering coming off the street or whether they are uneducated around the disease model of thinking about addiction.”

A Supportive Environment for Recovery

Attendees were also invited to join a statewide campaign, State Without StigMA, and pledge their commitment to reducing the stigma around addiction by being compassionate and thoughtful in how they think, talk about and treat people with substance use disorder.

Scott Weiner, MD, MPH, an emergency physician and director of the Brigham Comprehensive Opioid Response and Education (B-CORE) Program, said clinicians can play a significant role in reinforcing the fact that addiction is a chronic medical condition, not a choice or moral failing, by avoiding stigmatizing language in conversation with patients, families and colleagues. Stigma often prevents patients from seeking treatment and receiving high-quality care, he noted.

“The words we use matter,” Weiner said, citing examples such as identifying a patient as a person with substance use disorder, not an addict, or describing toxicology test results as positive or negative, rather than clean or dirty.

Additionally, the event highlighted some of the recent strides the Brigham has made in its response to the opioid crisis, including the launch of the Brigham Health Bridge to Recovery – also known as the Bridge Clinic – earlier this year. The clinic provides timely access to pharmacotherapy, counseling, case management and peer support until access to a long-term recovery program can be secured.

One of the biggest goals of the Bridge Clinic was to promote a “no-wrong-door” approach to care, said Joji Suzuki, MD, director of BWH’s Division of Addiction Psychiatry. That’s because, until recently, health care organizations around the country often turned away patients with substance use disorder, simply saying they did not treat the condition there, he explained.

“We would never allow that for any other fatal or severe illness, yet that’s been done for substance use disorders for a very long time,” Suzuki said. “I am so proud to be at the Brigham and Harvard because when a patient calls, we can confidently say, ‘You’ve come to the right place.’”

A few of the many BWHers who helped care for multiple complex patients during an unusually busy shift, from left: David Beadles, Andrea Oulton, Mandy Belfort, Nichole Young and Tammy Hyre

In her 22 years as a Brigham NICU nurse, Debby Schlehuber, RN, has seen her share of busy shifts. But few compare to the night she and her colleagues recently experienced when they helped deliver and care for extremely premature twins and triplets – in addition to arranging emergency transfers for two other patients – all in the span of just three hours overnight.

Despite the challenges of managing so many complex cases in rapid succession, BWHers involved said the remarkable outcome is all thanks to a large multidisciplinary team from the NICU and Labor & Delivery whose expert care, collaboration and communication ensured everything fell into place.

Staff across the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns (CWN) said they were grateful to be part of such a collaborative interprofessional team, which included administrative staff, anesthesiologists, Environmental Services staff, midwives, nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, trainees, unit coordinators and many more. In addition to staff from the overnight and day shifts, the team was supported by several BWHers who offered to assist before or after their shift.

“After that night, I was never prouder to be a Brigham nurse. Everybody came together, and we all knew we needed to work as a team,” said Schlehuber, who was the NICU nurse-in-charge that evening. “I didn’t for one second think, ‘How are we going to do this?’ We always find a way – because it’s all about our patients.”

Nichole Young, BSN, RNC-OB, the Labor & Delivery nurse-in-charge that night, added that while she too had never experienced such an exceptionally busy shift in her 15-plus years as a Brigham nurse, she was not surprised by the professionalism, dedication and skill demonstrated by all.

Like her colleague, Young emphasized that the extraordinary teamwork across many disciplines was pivotal to their success.

“It was a picture-perfect example of what we do when we’re at our best,” Young said. “It made me feel really proud and honored to work among such amazing colleagues.”

Mandy Brown Belfort, MD, MPH, of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine and the attending neonatologist that night, remembered getting the call from Labor & Delivery that triplets were on the way moments after getting the critically ill newborn twins settled in the NICU.

“The whole team kicked into action,” Brown Belfort said. “Nobody got flustered. We are a very team-oriented specialty – this is what we do.”

Keith Hirst, MS, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, AE-C, neonatal respiratory manager, agreed that the series of events highlighted remarkable collaboration among multiple disciplines, noting he was especially proud of the contributions made by respiratory therapists.

“It was an incredible night, and each of the respiratory therapists helped make it success,” Hirst said. “It was a team effort to make it as successful and as smooth as possible while continuing to deliver outstanding patient care.”


Members of the “Do Right, Stay Well” Committee

If a colorful, inspirational message catches your eye while walking around the Longwood Medical Area, you may have the Department of Dermatology’s “Do Right, Stay Well” Committee to thank.

Members of the BWH volunteer group – which organizes events and activities for Dermatology staff to support wellness both in the local community and among their colleagues – recently participated in the worldwide “Kindness Rocks Project.” The initiative encourages people to spread kindness and compassion by painting positive messages on small rocks and placing them around public areas to spread positivity and joy.

It is just one of many projects the “Do Right, Stay Well” Committee has undertaken over the years that embodies what the group strives to do each day – bring people together to help others – said committee co-chair Margaret Cavanaugh-Hussey, MD, MPH, director of Public Health and Community Outreach Programs in BWH Dermatology.

“Our committee is composed of people who are passionate about and devoted to improving the community,” said Cavanaugh-Hussey. “It’s incredible to witness the goodwill of so many and how profoundly that spirit spreads out into the world.”

Founded in 2012, the “Do Right, Stay Well” Committee has a multipronged mission. Its members strive to demonstrate a commitment to service through volunteerism, philanthropy and community outreach while also supporting the department’s work to promote skin health in the local community. The group also aspires to inspire goodwill and wellness among Dermatology staff.

“Being a part of the committee has been one of the best things I’ve been able to do during my time at the Brigham,” said Marie Thistle, project manager in Dermatology and a founding member of the committee. “I’ve gained so much, both personally and professionally, from participating in the committee, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to give back to others.”

Since the group’s inception, it has organized dozens of events at the Brigham and beyond. Its members, totaling nearly 20 BWHers, include Dermatology administrators, clinical staff, physicians and researchers.

One of the largest ongoing projects the committee manages year-round is scheduling and hosting free skin screenings in the local community in collaboration with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). Brigham dermatologists, along with BWH and DFCI staff, will visit locations and events around Greater Boston – including beaches and health fairs – to educate people about skin cancer awareness and sun safety. Over the past three years, the teams have performed more than 2,800 skin cancer screenings at various events across the Boston area.

In addition to its dermatology-driven work, members of the committee volunteer at the American Cancer Society AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston, which provides free lodging for cancer patients and their caregivers traveling from afar for outpatient care. BWH Dermatology staff come together to cook a meal for families staying at the lodge.

The committee hosts several other annual events, including a winter clothing drive and volunteer days at area nonprofits, such as Cradles to Crayons and Boston Health Care for the Homeless.

Supporting Staff Wellness

Throughout the year, the committee also brings the team together with staff lunches with an interactive component, such as creating the kindness rocks. Other luncheons have featured a healthy-choice potluck and even a lighthearted Star Wars-themed lunch on May 4, also known as Star Wars Day (which commemorates a pun on the series’ iconic catchphrase of “May the Force be with you” as “May the Fourth be with you”).

The committee’s co-chairs emphasized that the team has continued to thrive thanks to the strong support it receives from department leaders and their commitment to staff wellness. Heather Wilder, an administrator in Dermatology and committee co-chair, said that support has been incredibly meaningful.

“It’s wonderful to see how much our colleagues value the committee and everything it does to benefit the community and each other,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for community service and philanthropy, and doing this work for the Brigham has been very rewarding.”

Anne O’Malley, an administrative supervisor in Dermatology and member of the committee, said she enjoys how the group’s work brings together staff from across the department.

“I love coming to work every day knowing that my colleagues and I are here with two common goals: to help others and to support each other,” she said. “We are all in this together – that means everything to me.”