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Peter Pushor, 73, says he is overjoyed to be in good health and resume his active lifestyle, including going ice fishing this January (pictured above), thanks to the lifesaving care he received at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

One night in November 2016, Peter Pushor woke up to use the bathroom. But when the 73-year-old retiree living in northern Maine tried to go back to bed upstairs, he found himself struggling to walk.

“I realized I was awfully weak, and I couldn’t take more than four or five steps,” said Pushor, who was widowed and living alone at the time. “I knew something was really, really wrong.”

He dialed 9-1-1 for the first time in his life and was taken to a hospital in Bangor. After several exams, Pushor learned he had advanced esophageal cancer.

That discovery was the first time Pushor would confront cancer, but it would not be his last. He ultimately overcame two bouts of complex, life-threatening cancers, thanks to the expert care he received at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center (DFBCC).

“There are no signs of any problems today,” said Pushor, whose care team continues to monitor him but has otherwise declared him cancer-free. “It’s just a miracle to be where I am today.”

Choosing Hope

Shortly after Pushor began radiation therapy and chemotherapy in Maine for esophageal cancer, it became clear a surgical intervention was necessary. He was referred to Scott J. Swanson, MD, a Brigham thoracic surgeon and director of the Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program.

“I was so thankful and grateful to be with Dr. Scott Swanson,” Pushor said. “At the time, I was aware that he was probably the best surgeon in the country.”

“I was so positive that I was going to beat this,” recalls Pushor, pictured above in 2019 after overcoming his first bout with cancer.

To remove Pushor’s cancer, Swanson and his team performed an esophagectomy — surgical removal of the esophagus — an extensive and complex procedure with a difficult recovery process.

Due to the nature of his surgery, Pushor could not eat solid foods while he healed in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, requiring a surgical feeding tube to meet his nutritional needs during his post-operative recovery. He credits the care and treatment he received at the Brigham with helping him regain his strength.

“This is where I started to realize that if I want to get out of here and get well, I need to do exactly what they’re telling me to do: Get up on my feet,” Pushor said.

Next, he participated in a yearlong clinical trial for an immunotherapy drug beginning May 2018 under the supervision of Swanson and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jeffrey Wisch, MD. Pushor remembered his medical team being cautious about optimism, given the severity of his disease prior to surgery, though his hope never wavered.

“I was so positive that I was going to beat this, and I felt so good,” he said. “Every day, I was feeling stronger and stronger, and every day there’s more and more appreciation for where I am and where I’m headed.”

Swanson added: “I think people underestimate how helpful that is to somebody’s outcome, when they can come in positive, strong and in good shape.”

Five years after the initial 9-1-1 call, Pushor’s care team declared him cancer-free. But little did he know that cancer would soon become part of his life again.

A Surprising Discovery

In June 2021, Pushor noticed one of his lymph nodes in his throat was swollen to the size of a pencil eraser. He was referred to Danielle Margalit, MD, MPH, of the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Rosh Sethi, MD, MPH, of the Division of Otolaryngology, who confirmed Pushor had cancer again. Although the tumor was in a similar location to his first bout with the disease — this time at the base of his tongue — it was a different cancer entirely.

Following a biopsy and laryngoscopy, Sethi determined that the neck mass contained squamous cell carcinoma — the most common type of head and neck cancer. It was caused by human papilloma virus, better known by its acronym HPV. Although more commonly associated with cervical cancer in women, HPV can also lead to oral and oropharyngeal cancer in both sexes.

We pursue excellence logoPushor’s care team partnered with him to determine the best treatment plan, which ultimately consisted of 33 radiation treatments from June through July 2021, a process that essentially meant Pushor lived in Boston during that period.

“He was very knowledgeable in terms of thinking through what for him personally would make the most sense,” Sethi noted. “He really trusted us, which is a difficult thing to do when you have cancer in your life and a prognosis in someone else’s hands.”

His previous experience with cancer in the same area of the body was something Margalit said she had to account for in planning his treatment.

“I had to make sure that when I treated his lymph nodes in his neck that I didn’t overlap from where he’d had radiation before,” she said. “Because if there’s too much radiation where it overlaps, it can cause dangerous side effects.”

Despite the rigor of his treatment, Pushor maintained hope throughout the ups and downs of the process.

“It’s almost like a roller coaster,” he said. “You’d have a few days where you’d be worn down and fatigued, and then you’d kind of come out of it to almost normal feelings, and then it was up and down for several months. But here I am today.”

Cared for ‘as a Patient and a Person’

Pushor was considered cured after recent scans and blood tests showed no cancer in his throat. He is now in the monitoring phase, which entails a visit with his medical team every few months.

In addition to his constant optimism, Pushor credits the support of his family and friends as well as his faith for getting him through his ordeal.

“My wife was there beside me, helping me with every step all the way,” he said. “I attribute my positive attitude to my routine that she kept me on — made sure I was up to date with all my pills, supplements, fluids and food — to keep me strong. She was a big factor.”

Pushor emphasized how grateful he is to DFBCC for the care he received.

“They are truly, deeply concerned about you as a patient and as a person, and they want you to be comfortable and are there for you,” Pushor said, “I just can’t say enough good about them.”

Nowadays, Pushor is back home in northern Maine, where he spends time outdoors and enjoys his retirement.

“It’s so enjoyable to get out, be around people and go snowmobiling, ice fishing and to the festivals that they do here,” he said. “It’s so much to look forward to, and I’m so thankful to be where I am health-wise. I love it.

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Brigham nurse Luciana Henderson (bottom row, far left), who was treated for leukemia at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, is one of several patients featured in a new marketing campaign highlighting the center’s personalized care.

While her peers were enjoying a relaxing Thanksgiving break during their senior year of college, Luciana Henderson, BSN, RN, spent hers wracked with anxiety in a Connecticut emergency department.

“I remember having to check in, and they ask you why you’re there. I had to say, ‘I think I have leukemia,’” recalled Henderson, who had been advised by her doctor to seek emergency care after some concerning blood test results. “I was 20 years old. It was really numbing to say.”

Two days later, she had a bone marrow biopsy to confirm the cancer diagnosis and genetic testing to identify what might be causing the disease. As Henderson and her family awaited the results, their local oncologist recommended that Henderson’s sister get tested to see if she could be a potential donor for a bone marrow transplant, in the event Henderson needed one. As it turned out, her sister was a perfect match.

Once the genetic testing results revealed a mutation linked to leukemia, Henderson’s local oncologist referred her to Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center (DFBCC), where experts reviewed the findings and recommended that she undergo a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible.

Those decisions not only saved Henderson’s life, but also reshaped the course of it. Now a Brigham nurse in Medical Oncology on CWN 7, Henderson chose the nursing profession based on her own experiences as at DFBCC patient. The personalized, expert and compassionate care she received years ago continues to inspire her nursing practice today.

“As a patient, I just felt like my team was so on top of it. They listened to me and my family, and everyone was so nice and caring. It really made such a difference for us,” said Henderson, who has been in remission since undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant with her sister’s donated stem cells.

Now, she is also one of several patients featured in a new DFBCC marketing campaign highlighting the center’s highly specialized, personalized and patient-centered model of care. Launched on Jan. 23, the campaign seeks to bring patients’ faces and voices to the forefront through advertisements on local television, streaming media, radio, digital channels, outdoor structures and social media, as well as content on Dana-FarberBrigham.org.

“As we were developing the campaign, we heard time and time again about the incredible compassion and deep expertise of our clinical teams and the many ways in which they tailored care plans to meet the needs of their patients — not only their clinical needs but their social and emotional needs as well,” said Lori Schroth, vice president for the Office of Strategic Communication. “We’ve worked hard to capture that sentiment and hope it reflects the pride we have for the incredible work of our teams who care for patients and families affected by cancer.”

Not one to seek the spotlight, Henderson acknowledged it has been surreal to hear from friends, family and colleagues when they see her in one of the campaign spots. But she added that she was more than willing to overcome that discomfort if it gives hope to even one person.

“I actually hate attention, and now people are texting me every time they see me on TV,” she laughed. “My whole thing is we need to bring awareness, and when you see a success story, it can be really helpful — including for nurses, as we often see people when they are very sick.”

Henderson also hopes sharing her story will shine light on the importance of the National Marrow Donor Program and encourage more people to consider providing a lifesaving marrow or blood stem cell donation.

Despite her newfound status as a local celebrity, Henderson said she feels the utmost humility and gratitude for the opportunity to deliver the same level of compassionate care she once received.

“I’m truly honored to do this work — having patients share their life with you when in their most vulnerable moments and being able to listen to them, care for them and help their families,” she said.

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Matthew Medina and Anissa Dickerson share a moment after the screening of Call Jane, a film about abortion access in the 1960s that was co-written by Brigham physician Roshan Sethi.

It was no coincidence that Matthew Medina, MSN, CNM, RNC-OB/EFM, attended the opening night of Call Jane last October.

The independent film, which stars Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, chronicles the story of the Jane Collective — an underground network established in Chicago in the late 1960s to help women access abortions at a time when the procedure was outlawed and stigmatized in much of the United States.

A nurse midwife at the Brigham, Medina cares for pregnant patients, making the subject of the film especially close to his heart — particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion in its Dobbs. v. Jackson ruling in June 2022.

Yet there was another factor that inspired him to buy tickets for Call Jane: the film’s special connection to the Brigham. Its screenplay was co-written by Roshan Sethi, MD, a Brigham radiation oncologist who splits his time between patient care and a career in Hollywood as a writer and director.

After the lights came back on in the Hingham theater where Medina and his husband watched the film, they were approached by another moviegoer. “Thanks for being here,” she told them. “We’ve gotten though it once, and we’ll get through this again.”

For Medina, the next steps were clear.

“I knew this film had to be shared with our community and knowing it was created in part by our BWH family made it that much more important,” he said.

He reached out to a colleague, Deborah Bartz, MD, MPH, associate director of Family Planning and director of Education for the Mary Horrigan Connors Center in Women’s Health and Gender Biology, to think about how they could celebrate the film and its message with the Brigham community.

Bartz suggested they align the effort with the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that had established abortion as a constitutional right on Jan. 22, 1973, until the court’s reversal of it last summer.

In collaboration with Sethi, both Bartz and Medina organized a screening of Call Jane at the Brigham on Jan. 23 as a celebration of Roe and an opportunity for the Boston abortion care community to come together in support of patients, families and each other.   

“The Dobbs decision was a blow — a personal blow for those of us who are pregnancy-capable and a professional blow for those of us who work daily to protect access to safe, legal abortion,” Bartz said. “This event was truly meant to be a therapeutic moment to bring us all together to celebrate, voice, vent, rage and reflect in a safe, shared space. The 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a momentous occasion that we could not let slip by unnoticed.”

‘Called to Serve’

Sethi, who co-wrote Call Jane in 2016 with screenwriter Hayley Schore, was touched to see his Brigham colleagues mobilize this effort in support of patients and providers.

“It took many, many years for the movie to get made and the investment and hard work of so many people. It was an incredible gift seeing it hit theaters in October 2022 but an even greater privilege to screen at Brigham and Women’s with my colleagues and the people who are doing the work celebrated by the film,” Sethi said. “I’m really grateful to Dr. Bartz and Matthew Medina for spearheading the event.”

The screening was followed by a multidisciplinary panel discussion with Bartz and several other clinical and research experts in abortion care: Anissa Dickerson, MSN, MPH, CNM, director of Boston Medical Center’s Refugee Women’s Health Clinic; Deb Campbell, BSN, RN, a Labor Delivery and Family Planning nurse; Alisa Goldberg, MD, MPH, director of Family Planning; and Liz Janiak, ScD, MSc, MA, a social and behavioral scientist at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Medina, who also serves as chair of the Massachusetts section of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, a co-sponsor of the event, encouraged health care professionals to use their platforms to tell lawmakers that abortion is an essential component of reproductive health care that can save a person’s life or protect their health.

“Having this event, watching this movie — it is a reminder that we have been called to serve a population that has often had to suffer silently. We will continue to fight for healthy, safe and comprehensive OB-GYN care,” he said.

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Celebrating patient-focused, quality-based and mission-driven highlights across our Brigham community


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Table of contents:

 

Patient and Family Care

By the Numbers:

  • 43,985 inpatient admissions
  • Cared for 1,583 international patients.
  • Radiology teams supported 330,168 diagnostic procedures and 12,877 interventional procedures.
  • Surgical teams completed 39,056 cases.
  • Conducted 2.8 million outpatient visits (including virtual visits).
  • Care teams delivered 6,802 babies.
  • Patients left 215,499 positive comments in feedback surveys.
  • Interpreter Services provided ~185,000 interpreting sessions, supporting nearly 15,000 requests from the Emergency Department.
  • The Patient and Family Relations team supported 6,648 patients and their loved ones.

Emergency Department Expansion Goes Live

After seven years of planning, approvals and a building process that included continued construction during the pandemic, the Brigham’s expanded Emergency Department opened 30 beds, a new trauma suite, a dedicated area for behavioral health patients and additional emergency imaging capabilities in May.

Brigham OB-GYN Ranks #1 in U.S.

In recognition of the exemplary patient- and family-centered care that our Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology delivers, U.S. News & World Report named the Brigham the nation’s #1 hospital for Obstetrics and Gynecology. This recognition accompanied the news that the Brigham once again earned a spot on U.S. News’ Best Hospitals Honor Roll for 2022–23.

Quality Excellence

  • Earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation.
  • Named a Top Teaching Hospital by The Leapfrog Group.
  • Received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade in fall 2022, marking the 10th time the Brigham earned this national distinction.

Supporting Our Community

By the Numbers:

  • 9,200 bags of food and 11,000 meals were distributed through Community Health Vans.
  • 26 high school seniors graduated this year from our Student Success Jobs Program, which annually pairs around 100 Boston students with year-round, paid internships in over 60 departments across the Brigham.
  • 508 new referrals to the Passageway Program, which supports patients, employees and community members who are experiencing abuse from an intimate partner.

Collaborating to Better Serve Boston Residents

As part of our 2022 Community Health Assets and Needs Assessment, the Brigham participated in a citywide collaborative to jointly identify and address the most pressing health issues facing Boston residents. Guided by input from residents and local organizations in the Brigham’s five priority neighborhoods — Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill and Roxbury — we are partnering with community stakeholders to eliminate health inequities.

Meeting with Community Leaders

Understanding the communities we serve — including what matters most to residents — is essential to improving community health and well-being. To that end, in 2022 we organized five community meetings and tours throughout the Brigham’s priority neighborhoods, connecting with over 60 community-based organizations and partners. A community meeting held in June at the Immigrant Family Services Institute in Mattapan is pictured above.

Research and Innovation

By the Numbers:

  • More than 2,000 active clinical trials in fiscal year 2022 (FY22).
  • Published more than 9,300 research papers in 2022.
  • 5,241 research employees in FY22.
  • 35 investigators named to Clarivate’s 2022 Highly Cited Researchers list, a prestigious “who’s who” of influential researchers
  • The Brigham was ranked #2 among independent hospitals for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding in 2022. The Brigham and Mass General have been ranked in the top three hospitals in terms of NIH support for more than 25 years.
  • The Brigham earned $787 million in research revenue in FY22, which includes funding from basic science grants, clinical trial agreements, donor gifts directed toward research and other sponsored research activity.

Brigham Researchers Work to Solve the Mystery of Long COVID

Brigham investigators are leading efforts to better understand the long-term effects and prolonged symptoms of COVID-19, the condition known as long COVID. In March, the Brigham led the launch of the Boston COVID Recovery Cohort, a consortium of six sites in Greater Boston participating in a nationwide study of people with long COVID. Brigham researchers also developed an ultrasensitive test to detect miniscule amounts of protein from the virus that causes COVID-19 and found evidence these proteins linger in patients with long COVID.

Landmark Clinical Trial Delivers on the Promise of Heart Failure Drugs

Last summer, physician-scientists from the Brigham presented new evidence that drugs originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes may benefit a wide range of patients experiencing heart failure. Brigham investigators helped lead the largest clinical trial to date on a broad range of patients with heart failure, finding that a class of drugs known as SGLT2 inhibitors provided protection from cardiovascular events.

 

Education

By the Numbers:

  • 600 medical students
  • 1,500 residents and fellows (1,000 residents and 500 fellows)
  • 200+ training programs
  • 60+ college and university partnerships

Elevating the Next Generation of URiM Physicians

The Brigham was proud to welcome another diverse incoming class of residents in 2022. Across all medical and surgical residency programs, nearly one in four (24%) of this year’s incoming interns are underrepresented in medicine (URiM) trainees. One of the many ways we recruit diverse talent for our training programs is through participation in events like the 2022 Annual Medical Education Conference (pictured above), where Brigham residents spoke with medical students about our programs.

Nurse Residency Program Achieves Accreditation

Our Nora McDonough Nurse Residency Program — which provides a yearlong, comprehensive orientation to help nurses develop their skills and grow in their practice with a supportive cohort — achieved accreditation as a Practice Transition Program from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for demonstrating excellence in transitioning nurses to new practice settings. With this milestone, the Brigham is one of 220 nurse residency programs worldwide with this accreditation.

Supporting Our Mission

The generosity of our donor community fuels many aspects of our work. Here are a few highlights from our Development Office:

  • Raised $188 million in FY22 to support clinical care, research, education, capital improvements, the Brigham Fund and more.
  • Hosted 35 donor engagement and recognition events, including 17 Distinguished Chair celebrations.
  • Held 38 donor fundraising events, including 25 community fundraising events and the inaugural Brigham Caregivers Classic, benefiting the Caregivers Fund, which provides resources to celebrate, support and unite our health care workers.

To learn more, visit bwhgiving.org.

President’s Message

I am extraordinarily proud of all that we accomplished in 2022 to deliver expert and compassionate care, drive research and innovation, train tomorrow’s health care professionals and care for our communities.

Of course, last year was not without its challenges. Like nearly every health care organization, we carried out our mission in the face of capacity constraints, staffing shortages and significant uncertainty in the world around us. Even as we continue to endure these challenges, I am filled with optimism because I know we are weathering the storm together — as one Mass General Brigham community. And we are accomplishing that by doing what we always do: keeping our patients and their families at the center, so they receive a consistently exceptional experience.

With so much change in health care, we cannot stand still. Mass General Brigham must become the integrated academic health care system of the future, and here at the Brigham we have made critical contributions to achieving this vision. By helping launch enterprise
services in Emergency Medicine, Radiology, Anesthesiology, Pathology and Cardiovascular Medicine/Surgery, we are ensuring more patients and their families have greater access to world-class, equitable care. This past year we also celebrated another enterprise milestone: the launch of the Mass General Brigham Gene and Therapy Institute, our first systemwide research center.

We are so fortunate to have the most dedicated, creative and compassionate teams shaping the future of health care. Even with such an incredible legacy behind us, I am confident that our best is yet to come.

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA
President, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Executive Vice President, Mass General Brigham

From left: Charlene Hollins and Nadia Raymond present at the Jan. 10 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Town Hall.

Work to dismantle racism and advance health equity often occurs without addressing an important gap — an institutional culture in health care that has caused employees to feel pressured to accept discriminatory, disrespectful or abusive behavior from patients and visitors.

That must change because maintaining a safe, inclusive and caring environment for all means valuing the employee and patient experiences as equally important, Brigham leaders emphasized during the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Town Hall on Jan. 10.

“We want to ensure every member of our team — our workforce — and every patient and family member who walks through the doors of the Brigham and Mass General Brigham is treated equitably, with compassion and respect,” said Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, president of the Brigham and executive vice president at Mass General Brigham.

Stronger Together Brigham Values LogoLast October, Mass General Brigham announced a systemwide Patient/Family/Visitor/Research Participant Code of Conduct policy, which defines appropriate conduct for patients, families, visitors and research participants and provides a model for workforce members to respond to disrespectful, discriminatory, hostile or harassing behaviors.

The policy, developed as a systemwide effort through Mass General Brigham’s United Against Racism strategy, represents “a new paradigm” in health care that affirms the intersection of employee and patient experiences, explained Normella Walker, MA, CDP, executive director of Employee Experience in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Mediation, Coaching, Ombuds and Support Services.

The policy does not circumvent our institutional commitment or our legal obligation to provide high-quality care to patients, but rather provide an avenue to ensure our workforce is supported.

“There’s this idea that you just have to ‘put up with disrespect for the sake of the patient, but what we’ve been doing is tacitly condoning bad behavior,” Walker said. “If we’re going to create a culture that feels good for everybody, that culture also has to include a positive experience for our employees.”

Kevin Slattery, director of Police, Security and Commuter Services, shared how staff can use the S.A.F.E. Response framework to address inappropriate or abusive behavior. S.A.F.E. is an acronym, with each letter representing a step in the process: Spot a threat, assess the risk, formulate a response and evaluate the outcome.

The Brigham’s S.A.F.E. Response framework provides a consistent approach for responding to challenging interactions with patients or families in inpatient and ambulatory settings. When a S.A.F.E. Response is initiated, a multidisciplinary team comes together within 15 minutes, including representatives from the care team, Police and Security, Quality and Safety, Patient and Family Relations and others as needed.

“The employee should not feel like they are left alone to address this by themselves. We want to make sure they have all the support they need,” Slattery said.

The S.A.F.E. Response framework is not intended for a rapidly escalating situation where there is an imminent threat of violence, Slattery emphasized. In those situations, staff should call Police and Security at 617-732-6565.

‘Equity Is the Only Acceptable Goal’

Additionally, several clinical leaders shared updates during the forum on how the Brigham is advancing health equity in patient care. Speakers highlighted examples of how the Brigham is committed to ensuring every one of our patients and their families have the best experience — one defined by high-quality care and compassion.

Regan Marsh, MD, MPH, medical director of Quality, Safety and Equity, discussed how domain teams of health equity leaders work in collaboration with unit-based teams to systematically advance racial justice and equitable care delivery.

Charlene Hollins, DNP(c), MSN, APRN, FNP-C, nurse administrator at the Brigham and a nurse practitioner for Mass General Brigham Urgent Care, highlighted several initiatives the Emergency Department has undertaken to deliver equitable care, including the department’s Anti-Racism and Trauma-Informed De-escalation Training Program.

Nadia Raymond, PhD, MSN/MHA, RN, regional nursing director for Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, reflected on the joy and fulfillment that comes from working together to reshape health care systems so that they are equitable for all.

“Although we are keenly aware that much work is ahead of us, as a community we choose to see that as opportunities,” Raymond said. “Ultimately, this is creating a greater depth, meaning and humanity to our work in health care. Collectively, we are stating what my dear friend, the late Dr. Paul Farmer, once said: Equity is the only acceptable goal.”


Staff Resources

The Patient Code of Conduct seeks to maintain a safe, inclusive and caring environment for all. The following resources are available for staff who experience or witness inappropriate, discriminatory or abusive behaviors by patients, families or visitors.

Yuet Ming Lau Chan

Brigham and Women’s Hospital mourns the loss of Yuet Ming Lau Chan, an inventory coordinator in Materials Management, who died on Dec. 10. She was 55. 

 

Ms. Lau Chan joined the Brigham in 2008 and quickly established herself as an invaluable member of the Materials Management team. Colleagues remembered the immense care and attention she afforded her work — demonstrating an unwavering commitment to patients and colleagues.  

 

“She cared deeply, put everything she had into her work and took care of her floors like a protective mother,” said her manager, Damon Wallace.  

 

Wallace recalled how Ms. Lau Chan inspired others in the department to follow the standard of excellence she exemplified, a lesson he learned firsthand upon meeting her in 2009. 

 

“I soon came to know Ming as a force to be reckoned with, and she was very much a stickler for details and getting things right. I listened to Ming and learned her process, which was good training because she handled things the right way,” he said. “You knew you couldn’t let certain standards slide because Ming wouldn’t do that, so not wanting to let Ming down became synonymous with not letting the patients and staff down. I always appreciated that, as it helped me know the job better and Ming better as a person. She had a big heart.” 

 

As an inventory coordinator, Ms. Lau Chan oversaw supply needs for multiple inpatient floors and the Emergency Department for most of her career. In 2020, she shifted her responsibilities to support Materials Management’s STAT Room, an on-campus storeroom for backup supplies. As the hospital experienced a series of supply shortages during the pandemic, the importance of Ms. Lau Chan’s contributions grew tremendously, said Kenneth Shelton, area manager for Central Supply and Linen Services. 

 

“Basically, she created a job we didn’t know we needed,” Shelton said.

 

In addition to her strong work ethic, Ms. Lau Chan was a beloved friend and colleague whose kindness touched the hearts of many. 

 

“Ming is and always will be a great person — willing to help anyone, at any time,” said Roy Boone, materials handler. “She was the best of our department. No one will ever measure up to her.” 

 

Ms. Lau Chan is survived by her husband, Sair; her daughter and son-in-law, Eva and Deivid Mauricio; her sons, Stanley Chan and Kevin Chan; her daughter-in-law, Madelyn Ma; three grandchildren; five sisters and many other loved ones.

 

 

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Doing whatever it takes to deliver patient-centered care. A lifesaving decision by two friends. A final act of exemplary compassion and kindness. These actions and qualities inspired a multidisciplinary committee to select two individuals and two teams — all of whom were previously nominated for the Brigham Way — for one-time spot bonuses in recognition of their extraordinary efforts.

The Brigham Way is an employee-appreciation campaign established to recognize staff who foster a culture of excellence, respect and professionalism by going above and beyond their duties to create an exceptional Brigham Experience for patients, families and colleagues.

All Brigham Way nominees are celebrated at quarterly luncheons with Brigham President Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA. Each calendar year, a Brigham Way Bonus Selection Committee recommends one individual and one team of five or fewer whose outstanding contributions are deserving of a one-time spot bonus. In recognition of an especially impressive collection of nominees this year, two individuals and two teams were selected to receive bonuses.

“Day in and day out, our fantastic staff make the Brigham a special place for patients, families and colleagues alike. We, the entire leadership team, are delighted to recognize these individuals and teams for their outstanding commitment to our mission. They exemplify what it truly means to live our values.”

Kristen Sullivan, a practice manager in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, said it was an honor to have her contributions recognized through the Brigham Way campaign and be named a recipient of the spot bonus.

“I have the privilege of working alongside exemplary physicians, allied health professionals, nurses and administrative leaders. It is their commitment to serving our youngest, most fragile patients and their families that truly inspires me,” she said. “I witness excellence in these folks every day, and it inspires me to go above and beyond for our patients. One of my favorite quotes is from Desmond Tutu, who says, ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’”

Learn more about the 2022 winners in the words of their nominators:

Cardiac Sonographers, Echo Team

From left: Robert S.D. Higgins and Faranak Farrohi, chief cardiac sonographer, with honorees Amanda Murphy, Sylwia Marciniak, Brenda Docktor and Justin Cheng (not pictured: Samantha Hayes)

“This team of hardworking, compassionate and kind sonographers has been front and center since the pandemic. They stay late to finish the job, come in early and work voluntarily on weekends to support our Dana-Farber outpatient requests. Despite facing staffing challenges for two years, the team has gone above and beyond with a smile to support BWH and our patients.”

Yaguang Pei and Anand Somasundaram, Medical Dosimetrists, Department of Radiation Oncology 

From left: Anand Somasundaram, Tony Orlina, Yaguang Pei and Robert S.D. Higgins

“Yaguang and Anand saved the life of their friend and colleague, Tony Orlina, when they decided to check on him at home after he didn’t show up for work one day. As it turned out, Tony experienced a ruptured aneurysm and collapsed at his apartment, where he lives alone. They brought him to the Brigham Emergency Department, where he was rushed into emergency neurosurgery and received lifesaving care. Their friendship and story are so touching and truly exemplify what it means to care for one another!”

Helen Smith, Senior Access Facilitator, Patient Access

“Helen, who has worked here for over 40 years, worked diligently to make sure a man who spent over five weeks in the morgue had a place to be laid to rest. She went the extra mile to find the man’s next of kin and contacted a local funeral home to make arrangements. She truly embodies the standards of BWH. She was determined to make sure this patient’s loved ones were found and he could be laid to rest with dignity.”

Kristen Sullivan, Practice Manager, Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine

“Kristen helps coordinate the Transition to Home program. Recently, Kristen faced administrative staffing challenges, and during this time she did it all. Kristen never lost her smile or her sense of humor, and was always willing to go above and beyond — assisting with cleaning patient rooms, setting up clinic staff for their day’s schedule changes, covering the NICU discharge rounds and going the extra step to make sure the families had all the resources they needed while at home, including going out of her way to pick up a special baby formula from a pharmacy outside of the area so a family could feed their baby until Supply Chain could send it to the BWH Pharmacy.”


If you know a colleague or team of five or fewer who go above and beyond to significantly enhance the Brigham Experience, consider nominating them for the Brigham Way. Nominations for the upcoming March luncheon are due Friday, Feb. 10. Those nominated by this deadline may be eligible for the 2023 one-time spot bonus.* For questions, contact BrighamWay@bwh.harvard.edu.

*Nurses in the collective bargaining unit are not eligible for the one-time spot bonus.

Over the past year, I have quickly become aware of how special our health care providers — including nurses, doctors and other care team members — are in taking care of our patients and their families. And now through personal experiences for me and my family, I further recognize the high-quality and compassionate care our organization provides. Recognizing what all of our patients and their families already know, our Brigham family delivers world-class care with outstanding compassion and dedication to our community and its well-being. Thank you for all that you do.

Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA
President, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Executive Vice President, Mass General Brigham

I will always remember the purple flag day we had at 15 Francis St. to honor overdose victims in 2022 for Recovery Month. As a person in long-term recovery, for me it is about saving lives. I have lost not only family members to the disease of addiction but also a lot of good friends and participants.

Pablo Gonzalez, CARC
Senior Recovery Coach, Bridge Clinic

Jaye Hall, our beloved administrative manager in the Department of Emergency Medicine, is always looking for opportunities for her staff. She has been diligently sourcing areas for opportunity and improvement for the administrative staff within the department.

During 2022, she developed the Administrator Academy. The academy is a hybrid-modeled platform that focuses on bridging the gap for employees who may not be exposed to professional development opportunities that are offered to other role groups. With over 10 courses focusing on technical skills, leadership and community-building, the Administrator Academy has become a fun and very needed resource for the department! Open to all, the classes have ranged in size and number. With leaders from our department hosting courses on public speaking, CME and finding your leadership style, everyone walks out with more knowledge than they had before and maybe even with a new friend! Thank you, Jaye, for being a wealth of information and advancement for our staff!

Cassandra ‘Cass’ Georges
Program Manager, Office of IDEaS
Department of Emergency Medicine

Victims of violence are part of our patient population on Braunwald Tower 8. To better care and support our patients, we partner with the Brigham’s Violence Recovery Program (VRP). One of the key members of the VRP is Rahsaan Peters. Rahsaan introduced us to the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute (LDBPI), which was spearheaded by Clementina Chéry, who lost her teenage son to senseless gun violence. The Peace Institute supports members of the community who have been affected by gun violence and continue their work in spreading peace across the city. Part of that work is the annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

In honor of Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month, Nov. 20–Dec. 20, our Tower 8 Practice Councils recently partnered with the LDBPI to create seven wreaths with the seven principles of the Peace Institute: faith, hope, unity, forgiveness, love, courage and justice.

Diane Tsitos, DNP, RN
Nursing Director
Braunwald Tower 8 Burn/Trauma/Surgical

I will never forget bringing the American flag on the field at the BC Healthcare Heroes game in September.

Jason Salzsieder
Provider Enrollment, Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization

I will always remember the feelings of joy and anticipation I felt upon learning that a new president had joined our BWH family. At the first town hall meeting, we had the opportunity to meet Dr. Higgins and ask him questions. I welcomed him, of course, and then told him, “Roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work.” His response felt genuine and comforting because I saw in him a leader of color, which makes me so very proud, and someone who is exceedingly qualified to lead this great institution!

Jacqueline Rodriguez-Louis, MPH, MEd, CTTS
Programs Leader, PAC Community Outreach, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Everything we do at the Brigham is centered around our patients. In inpatient areas, staff typically support patients for a brief window of time — sometimes the most difficult moments, days or weeks of their lives. These teams don’t always know how deep of an impression they have made on the lives of our patients and their loved ones after discharge.

That’s why this story out of Braunwald Tower 8 touched my heart.

This spring, John Bosse and his family returned to the unit to thank them for the care they provided when he was ill with COVID and intubated for 20 days. John and his family thanked the team for treating him “like family.”

During their visit, the family shared the “Starfish Story,” a parable about the difference one person can make in another’s life.

The family’s emotional reunion with staff is a powerful reminder of the impact of relationship-based care and the difference our teams make. This is one beautiful example among so many throughout the hospital — in inpatient, outpatient, emergency and procedural areas — that demonstrates how much the compassion of our staff means to patients and loved ones, long after they’ve left the hospital.

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

I loved serving as a mentor and internship coordinator for our first in-person Diversity in Pharmacoepidemiology undergraduate summer program. Mentorship is one of the most rewarding roles I’ve experienced.

Theresa Odoul
Research Assistant, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics

Our beloved Radiation Oncology colleague Maureen Farrell retired this year after 41 straight years as a nurse at BWH. Maureen was a dedicated and steady presence in Radiation Oncology, always ready to assist wherever needed. She was known for her consistency and reliability, her caring nature and her willingness to go above and beyond on behalf of her patients and her co-workers.

A recent comment on a Press Ganey survey described Maureen to a tee: “Maureen Farrell was extremely caring, helpful, responsive, calm, and thorough. She’s a gem.” To give her a warm sendoff on her final day in the department, Rad Onc staff surprised Maureen by lining the hallway as she exited the clinic. The emotional walk brought tears to Maureen’s eyes and also to those of us who had worked with her over the years — many of us having gone through our medical training in the department and, in a sense, having “grown up” with Maureen as a wise and compassionate guide. Maureen’s walk down that hallway was a touching goodbye for all of us, honoring someone who had a profound impact on her patients and colleagues alike. We will miss her greatly!

Paul Nguyen, MD, MBA
Vice Chair, Clinical Research
Department of Radiation Oncology

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A few weeks ago, I was covering our Radiation Oncology urgent patient service in our Boston clinic, and the number of simulation, or “sim,” appointments crept up to nearly 100 for the week. These are the radiation mapping appointments that precede every patient’s course of radiation treatment. Just a few years ago, seeing 100 sims in a week would have been unthinkable and unmanageable for us.

During the week I was covering, there was, appropriately, no big celebration for reaching this number. For me, however, it represented the culmination of lots of small steps that our department has taken over the years to live up to our commitment of being there for our patients. These include things like changing the sim scheduling model, increasing efficiency to allow shorter sim appointment slots, hiring staff to match demand and implementing a “doc-of-the-day” system to provide physician coverage. No heroics — just the result of purposeful, team-oriented projects that unlocked our potential.

I’ll remember that week for what it was (a celebration of sorts) and what it wasn’t (a disaster of scrambling and rescheduling). It made me proud of what we accomplished working together, and optimistic for the accomplishments we will see in the future.

Neil Martin, MD, MPH
Clinical Director, Department of Radiation Oncology

I’d like to give a shout-out to my colleagues and co-workers — including Dr. Robert Barbieri, Deborah Darveau, Aaron McDonald, Pamela Linzer, Lisa Maccioli and Sigfredo Salguero — for their unwavering support and incredible collaboration in Interpreter Services’ DirectResponse pilot and for their continual drive to roll it out to all Brigham on-call services outside business hours.

This program allows our limited-English proficiency patients and their families to receive equitable care and service without language barriers. The meetings, emails and tons of behind-the-scenes work paid off due to each one’s dedication, hard work and brilliant ideas. This is my brightest shining moment of 2022.

Yilu Ma, MS, MA, CMI
Director, Interpreter Services

The medicine nursing leadership team (12A, 14ABCD, 16AB) got a rare moment in November to participate in a team-building event at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, led by the Center for Visual Arts in Healthcare team, which was co-created and led by Dr. Joel Katz and Brooke DiGiovanni Evans at BWH.

The group’s goals were aimed at training health care teams in visual arts methods to build essential skills in humanistic health care, including empathy, teamwork, respect, and curiosity; enhance critical thinking, diagnostic analysis, communication skills and cultural understanding; and improve the lives of health care workers through opportunities for self-care, reflection, social connections and creativity.

For example, one activity asked the team to observe the museum’s beautiful courtyard and create poems based on their five senses. It was a memorable activity for team bonding and a break from patient care activities.

Here are our team poems about the courtyard describing our visions and insights in a collaboratively constructed poem.

Protected Beauty
Virgin Beauty
Cold Vibes
In Vibrant Color
with Peaceful Vitality

—Pam Linzer, Kate Callahan and Linda Delaporta

***

Autumnal Peace
Sounds of waterfall renews your soul.
The brightly muted autumnal scene brings you calm and peace;
The watchful eyes of the statutes appear in awe of the surroundings like the guests;
The soothing tranquil light allows you to reflect, if just for one moment;

—Marie Swain Price, Jennifer Cartright and Maria Daveiga Etheart

***

Meditative Whispers
Meditative whispers, the calming sounds of the waterfall;
Bring peace together;
Falling into the wonderous tranquility of the golden hour.

—Ruth Jones, Daphnee Souvenir and Jill Osborne


Pamela Linzer, PhD, NEA-BC, RN
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Medicine and the Center for Nursing Excellence

We are coming up on year TWO as the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Social Justice (IDEaS) within the Department of Emergency Medicine! For the past two years, IDEaS has been creating spaces for growth, collaboration and healing — with a mission centered around creating a safe and respectful home for all employees — to advance racial, ethnic, gender and religious diversity, with a focus on those underrepresented in medicine (URiM).

To revamp our in-person activities, IDEaS hosted our first in-person moonlight dinner to welcome new URiM faculty and staff! A night full of great food, big laughs and shared experiences, it provided a much-needed space to continue fostering spaces of community and belonging!

Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Justice (Office of IDEaS)
Department of Emergency Medicine

 

I supported our Brigham Block Party event by giving out cookies to thank our employees. It was so wonderful to see so many people and to hear such appreciation for Brigham. I enjoyed hearing about everyone’s roles and the impact they make for our patients. Several patients had asked what we were doing, and they were thrilled that we were doing something to appreciate our people. Our teams are very hardworking, and it was great to be able to give something little back to thank them.

Patricia Hollinger, MBA
HR Specialist, Human Resources

We started off 2022 as just 14AB and our tight-knit community of nurses, PCAs and UCs, and we’re ending 2022 now as 12A/14AB/15A, with many new nurses joining our family. It was not always easy growing this much — between the staff orienting new grads and travelers, being short-staffed at times and the stress that comes with opening two units — but we all stuck together and lifted each other up during this difficult time. We’re looking forward to making new memories in 2023!

Leslie Hirshberg, BSN, RN
Staff Nurse, Braunwald Tower 12A/14AB/15A

I will always remember the Brigham Way lunch where Renata Morales, RN, was honored. She is our iCMP nurse and very deserving of the award.

Charlene Victorino-Griffiths
Practice Manager, Primary Care
Brigham Circle Medical Associates

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The 2022 Connors Center Annual Research Symposium was held at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on Nov. 29 in conjunction with the Brigham/Harvard Reproductive Outcomes of Stress & Aging (ROSA) Center, a National Institutes of Health Specialized Center of Research Excellence on Sex Differences. Over 100 attendees from the Connors Center, BWH, MGB and external community gathered for the first in-person event hosted by the Connors Center since 2019. Speakers included investigators and trainees from the ROSA Center and recipients of Connors Center awards and fellowships.

Daniel Grossman, MD, delivered the keynote address, “All Hands on Deck: Strategies to Maintain Access to Reproductive Healthcare Post-Roe.” Dr. Grossman is currently the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a research program in the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at University of California, San Francisco, where he is also professor. During the symposium, he shared insight into the current status of reproductive health care access after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, including its disproportionate effects on people of color and individuals in rural, anti-choice areas. Dr. Grossman discussed the consequences of reduced abortion access leading to an increased rate of self-managed abortions and criminalization of patients. He shared strategies to meet increased demand for reproductive care in states with protective policies in response to these changes. Alisa Goldberg, MD, MPH, program director, Family Planning Fellowship, and Lydia Pace, MD, MPH, director of Women’s Health Policy and Advocacy and director of the Global Women’s Health Fellowship, provided introductory remarks and facilitated the Q&A session with Dr. Grossman.

Connors Center members then presented their research in a series of presentations and Q&As.

Session 1:

  • “Sex differences in characteristics, outcomes and treatment response with dapagliflozin across the range of ejection fraction in patients with heart failure: Insights from DAPA-HF and DELIVER,” presented by Wendy Wang, MD, First.In.Women fellow
  • “Physiologic and social stressors and health during the menopausal transition,” presented by Emily Oken, MD, MPH, ROSA Center project 2 co-investigator
  • “The action of melanocortins on Kiss1 neurons in the control of fertility in the female mouse,” presented by Rajae Talbi, PhD, ROSA Center pilot awardee

The proceeding Q&A session was moderated by JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, MACP.

Session 2:

  • “Brain-based outcomes in postmenopausal women with MDD,” presented by Katherine Burdick, PhD, IGNITE awardee
  • “Novel approaches using machine learning to investigate and predict hypertensive disorders of pregnancy,” presented by Vesela Kovacheva, MD, PhD, IGNITE awardee
  • “Codifying the right to abortion: Impact of the Massachusetts ROE Act on out-of-state referrals,” presented by Steffanie Wright, MD, Family Planning fellow

The proceeding Q&A session was moderated by Cindy Liu, PhD, director of Psychosocial Stress, Diversity and Health.

The symposium concluded with brief remarks from Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN, introducing a project funded by the Lisa L. Leiden Fund for Research in Women’s Health Excellence. The collaborative, multidisciplinary project will analyze the effects of trauma-informed care on providers and patients alike. The collaborative aims to integrate nursing leadership in research and transformative programing.

Thank you to all speakers, moderators and attendees for supporting and engaging with the important research funded by the Connors Center and making this event a success!

Patricia Gallegos, MPH
Project Manager, Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology