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Loma Linda University Cancer Center announces three new research directors

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 13:38

From left, Almaguel, Payne and Singh have been appointed to address cancer discovery and treatments at Loma Linda University Health. Photo credit: Ansel Oliver

Loma Linda University Cancer Center has appointed three cancer researchers to lead the center’s commitment to premium cancer care through development of new methods of discovery and treatment.

Frankis Almaguel, PhD, MD, will serve as director of the Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics Research Program; Kim Payne, PhD, will serve as director of the Pediatric Leukemia Research Program; and Pramil Singh, DrPH, will serve as director of the Tobacco Cessation Research Program.

LLU Cancer Center director Mark E. Reeves, PhD, MD, said the new appointments are instrumental in the organization’s drive to improve treatment and diagnosis of patients, create resources for tobacco cessation and identify a cure for pediatric leukemia. Reeves believes the three new leaders will successfully address quests for cures and advance diagnostics and treatment.

“These three directors lead important initiatives the cancer community worldwide has struggled to tackle,” Reeves said. “I have full confidence they can pave the way to a better future for patients who are battling deadly diseases.”

The National Cancer Institute estimates 1.73 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year and more than 600,000 Americans will die from the disease.

According to Reeves, key objectives within the cancer community internationally are improving customizable and precise cancer treatment and diagnoses, filling the need for solutions for the cessation of smoking — which has been found to be one of the major cancer causes — and developing a cure in pediatric leukemia.

More about the three new directors

Almaguel said his goal of the Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics Research Program is to increase the use of lifesaving precision medicine for identifying cancer cells and treatment. The method of molecular imaging includes the use of cancer-specific biomarkers, which are indicators of the severity or presence of the disease. This novel type of imaging allows physicians to determine whether a specific drug or treatment is the right one for the right patient at the right time, enhancing precision in oncology. Once the cancer is identified, the same biomarkers specifically designed to identify the cancer cells are modified to destroy the tumors without killing healthy cells. Currently, chemotherapy is not as precise, often harming healthy cells or organs which affects the patient's quality of life. Almaguel believes that each patient deserves a personalized treatment plan specifically tailored to the patient's medical needs.

Through the Pediatric Leukemia Research Program, Payne is working to find a cure for pediatric leukemia — in particular, a cure for one very aggressive type of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). This type of B-ALL is the one of the deadliest cancers in children and it disproportionately targets Hispanic children with Native American ancestry — largely the patient base at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. Payne believes she and her team are closer to a treatment after their recent discovery that patients who were given high levels of a molecule required to produce leukemia both kills the leukemia cells and helps normal B-cells recover and come back stronger, according to the team’s data.

Singh’s focus at the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Program is on innovative cessation methods locally and globally for one of the primary concerns for disease burdens in the U.S.: tobacco. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of tobacco control and tobacco control research has grown. Program faculty have responded by publishing NIH-funded research linking smoked tobacco to infectious disease in rural Asia. Also, program faculty have recently submitted a series of grant proposals to investigate pathogen transmission on the surface of tobacco pipes. More grants on tobacco and infectious disease pathways — including COVID-19 — are planned. The program has received grant funding from several NIH institutes and is working with Pfizer Foundation to conduct a smoking cessation trial in Mongolia. Singh plans to continue working with a team of researchers to curtail tobacco use globally.

Cancer care, Research, Healthcare

The invisible barrier: Understanding barriers to minority mental health care

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 23:39

Understanding stigma, improving access are first steps to better mental health care.

Racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to have access to mental health services in the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to receive lower-quality care and have less overall access to mental health services.

Glenn Scott, LCSW, director of Loma Linda University Behavioral Health’s Youth Partial Hospital Program, says awareness for minority mental health is more important now than ever. “Recent events that have taken place across the country have reopened old and new wounds for many minorities,” Scott says. “Being able to access help and talk about the effects of these events on mental health is imperative.”

Scott identifies some of the invisible barriers many minorities face when seeking care:

Stigma:

Mental illnesses impact people of all ages, cultures and socioeconomic status. Despite being widespread, mental health has often been shrouded with stigma making it more difficult for people to seek help when suffering.

“The stigma of mental health issues or addiction problems can be enough to create a barrier between the patient and the care they need,” he says. “Fear of being unaccepted or different can lead people to refuse to seek help.” Scott says cultural stigma and shame can cause people to hide what they’re going through from their communities, contributing to a lack of recognition of mental health issues. 

Understanding:

When people speak candidly about their struggles, they’re able to change the conversation on mental health. This not only helps reduce stigma but promotes a better understanding of mental health in general.

“People may not understand or accept that they’re experiencing a treatable health condition,” Scott says. “Feeling ‘consistently sad and tired’ or ‘easily stressed out and worried’ may be signs of very treatable mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.”

Access:

A large obstacle for people seeking mental health care is access to mental health providers, especially in underserved communities. Many people looking for treatment struggle to find care that is reasonably close and accepting new patients, Scott says. “Access and wait times are huge obstacles, but mental health care continues to expand to meet the need,” he says. “There is still a lot of work to do, but if we identify the barriers to treatment, we can work as a community to find ways around them.”

Loma Linda University Health providers are committed to ensuring all patients have access to the care they need during this or any stressful time. Patients can schedule virtual or telephone visits by visiting MyChart or calling their provider.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, make sure they know about the Mental Health Programs at Loma Linda University Behavioral Health. Visit LLUBMC.org to learn more.

Healthcare, Behavioral Health, Minority Health, Behavioral Medicine Center, School of Behavioral Health

Children's Hospital earns coveted Magnet Recognition

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 16:29

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital staff celebrated the announcement of Magnet Recognition outside the hospital on Wednesday, July 15.

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital has earned Magnet Recognition as part of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program. The announcement was made today.

Sherry Nolfe, RN, MSN, chief nursing officer at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, said this award speaks to the level of care Children’s Hospital offers this community.

“The passion our nurses show for patients and for each other truly touches my heart,” Nolfe said. “We feel deeply grateful for each person who contributed to this moment. We know the tremendous teamwork this journey required, and we look forward to working alongside this team as we continue this journey — embracing change, improving patient outcomes and living out mission on a daily basis.”

The voluntary credentialing program for hospitals recognizes excellence in nursing and is the highest honor a healthcare organization can receive for professional nursing practice. This is the first time the 343-bed hospital has received the prestigious distinction, which recognizes organizations where nursing strategic goals are aligned to improve patient outcomes. Only 9% of the more than 6,000 healthcare organizations in the United States have been evaluated as worthy of this designation.

After surveying Children’s Hospital May 12-14, the ANCC Commission on Magnet Recognition voted unanimously on the hospital’s designation.

While most hospitals seeking Magnet status spend 5 – 7 years doing so, Children’s Hospital’s application was completed in less than three years

Scott Perryman, senior vice president and administrator of Children’s Hospital, echoed Nolfe’s sentiments, saying the work could not have been done without the team.

“Because our nurses are in sync with not only one another, but with the other providers they work with daily, “Perryman said, “they’re able to provide a degree of care that displays excellence in medicine and the community that they themselves would want for their own families.”

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital also earned 10 exemplars on its appraisal, highlighting areas in which nursing staff exceeded performance benchmarks.

LLUCH Magnet Recognition LLUCH Magnet Recognition LLUCH Magnet Recognition LLUCH Magnet Recognition LLUCH Magnet Recognition LLUCH Magnet Recognition awards, milestones, Children's Hospital

Future hospital entrance area designed as a visual statement of commitment to whole person care

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:21

A view from inside the Galleria looking to the north east.

As patients, families and visitors approach the main entrance to the future hospitals, they will encounter an environment designed to calm nerves and inspire confidence. The new glass walled Galleria entrance area will offer access to the main lobbies of both the future adult hospital and the expanded Children’s Hospital.

A key part of the Galleria will be a new chapel, which will stand as a visual reminder of Loma Linda University Health’s faith-based focus. The 60-seat chapel and attached private prayer rooms will be a place where spiritual support will be found.

The area surrounding the Galleria will offer garden areas, natural light and outdoor seating areas for social interaction or quiet reflection. Sitting just to the east of the Galleria will be well-known “Come Unto Me” sculpture, which has sat by the Medical Center’s main entrance since its dedication in January 2009.

In early June, the Galleria began to take on a more finished look as workers installed the glass outer walls of the structure.

The most visible aspect of Vision 2020 – the Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow, the new adult hospital and Children’s Hospital towers will incorporate leading advances in patient safety and comfort. Designed to continue Loma Linda University Health’s 115-year legacy of outstanding care, the new buildings meet the future needs for adaptability and expansion. The new hospitals will anchor the healthcare needs of a vast region of Southern California and serve as an educational and research hub to shape healthcare in the United States and around the world.

You can follow the rise of the towers on a daily basis by checking the construction webcams.

We're sharing photographic updates of the hospital construction work on a periodic basis. Watch for special emphasis on some of the behind-the-scenes-views and untold stories at the Vision 2020 website.

This vignette is adapted from a blog by Dennis E. Park, which appears on the website www.docuvision2020.com.

Galleria taking shape

Radiant flooring tubes that provide recirculating thermal comfort and can be used with the HVAC system. This is the view into the coming chapel.

Galleria taking shape

Looking into the chapel, the masonry laborers are finishing the concrete floor. The laborer standing is using a concrete surface finishing walk-behind power trowel machine.

Galleria taking shape

Concrete masonry laborers are finishing the floors that had been poured in the Galleria. The concrete now covers the radiant heating and cooling system coils.

Galleria taking shape

Workers started installing the glass wall sections on the east side of the Galleria early in the morning of June 4.

Galleria taking shape

The front, or the north, side of the Galleria. The installers are preparing the fifth panel for installation.

Galleria taking shape

This view from inside the Galleria clearly shows the suction cup device, ladder and individual window panels.

Galleria taking shape

The “Come Unto Me” sculptures in a garden-like setting located a few feet from the now vacated Main Entrance (center left) to the Medical Center. An image of the dedicatory plaque is located at the lower right.

Galleria taking shape

The “Come Unto Me” statues as they are currently displayed a few steps north of the recently vacated main entrance to the Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Galleria taking shape

Discussing the upcoming relocation and orientation of the “Come Unto Me” sculptures are sculptor Victor Issa, (second from the right), Adam (left) Gerald (second from the left) and Kelly at the right. All three have significant project responsibilities.

Galleria taking shape

A broader view of the location just outside the Galleria's north wall, where the “Come Unto Me” sculptures are slated to be relocated in the Fall of 2020.

Vision 2020, campus transformation, Construction, new hospital

Staying indoors during COVID pandemic raises possible risk for the deadliest form of skin cancer

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 16:58

Stay-at-home orders, working from home and outdoor recreation limitations have left many Americans inside their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Going outside for extended periods following long indoor periods has put many Americans at risk for the deadliest form of skin cancer: melanoma. A Loma Linda University Cancer Center skin cancer expert breaks down how this indoor and outdoor exposure recipe can be disastrous and how people can protect themselves if they choose to venture outside following prolonged indoor spans.

Mark Reeves, MD, PhD, director of the Loma Linda University Cancer Center and skin cancer expert, says he equates the current pandemic to wintertime. He says too often he has seen people stay mostly indoors in the winter, thus limiting their sun exposure. Once spring or summer comes, patients often go outside for prolonged durations in the sun.

“When someone is sheltering at home, their skin is no longer used to the sun,” Reeves says. “Once they go outside for the first time, fall asleep at a park, fall asleep in their backyard, or are just outside too long, they end up getting a bad sunburn due to intense sun exposure. I have seen this time and time again, and this type of relationship with the sun can lead to melanoma.”

UV rays from intense sun exposure penetrate and damage the DNA in skin cells, which causes mutations that can lead to skin cancer. Making sure you are staying safe when you venture outdoors is key to decreasing your melanoma risk.

Reeves offers these tips to stay safe while enjoying the sunshine.

  1. Pace yourself with sun exposure. Reeves says, pacing yourself with how much sun you expose to your skin will allow your body to adjust to the UV rays. If you have been indoors for several months, it’s not wise to go running on the beach for hours or barbeque in the backyard for several hours. Pace yourself by doing short stretches of time in the sun then slowly increasing your exposure over time. Intervals can decrease the damage done to your skin.
  2. Protect yourself with the proper clothing items. Make sure you wear long sleeves and a hat if you have an occupation requiring long outdoor exposure. Find ways to cover your skin if you are required to be outdoors for several hours. 
  3. No umbrella, no problem. Some beaches in California are only open for exercise activities. Some people sit under umbrellas, and some beaches are not allowing lounging, so Reeves warns people not to forget about the risk of sun exposure without the safety of an umbrella. Additionally, he says this is a great time to make sure you wear the proper clothing to stay safe.
  4. If you forget all of the tips, don’t ever forget the sunscreen. Using sunscreen is the most important tip. Aim for SPF 50 and higher, Reeves recommends. Above all else, sunscreen is your greatest defense against the sun. It is just as essential to put the ointment on when going out for a walk, lounging in the backyard or even gardening. No simple task outside is too small to use this ointment as a defense. Any sun exposure requires sunblock.

The Loma Linda University Cancer Center has a team of experts willing to answer any questions you may have if you think you may be at risk for skin cancer. If you are concerned with a new spot, mole or skin alteration, please contact the cancer center to schedule an appointment with a specialist at 1-800-782-2623.

Cancer Center, Longevity, Our Doctors, Mark E. Reeves

Future hospital’s surgery center located on third floor

Thu, 07/02/2020 - 14:44

Equipment is being installed in the future hospital’s surgery center. Here is equipment waiting for use in one of the two specialty operating rooms.

The future hospital’s surgery center for adult patients will be located on Level 3, part of the new structure’s podium section. The new surgical facilities will treat patients who come for anything from routine to unexpected lifesaving surgeries.

These new operating rooms in are larger than the ones in the existing hospital, averaging 747 square feet. Two hybrid operating rooms, an operating room with an X-ray built in, will be part of the surgical offerings for the first time.

The patient experience will be enhanced by having all operating rooms as well as pre- and post-op care units on the same floor, with a family waiting area as well. There will be a total of 39 Pre-Op bays and 24 PACU bays. Three endoscopic procedure rooms adjacent to the Pre-Op/PACU spaces.

Once a patient is transported to one of the PACU’s or “Recovery Room,” the family will know the operation is over. In the Recovery Room, patients will slowly wake up from anesthesia while their vital signs are closely monitored, given IV fluids, and pain management begins. From the PACU, patients are taken to a predetermined hospital room based on the level of care each individual patient will require.

The future adult hospital and Children’s Hospital towers will incorporate leading advances in patient safety and comfort. Designed to continue Loma Linda University Health’s 115-year legacy of outstanding care, the future hospitals will anchor the healthcare needs of a vast region of Southern California and serve as an educational and research hub to shape healthcare in the United States and around the world.

You can follow the rise of the towers on a daily basis by checking the construction webcams.

We're sharing photographic updates of the hospital construction work on a periodic basis. Watch for special emphasis on some of the behind-the-scenes views and untold stories at the Vision 2020 website.

This vignette is adapted from a blog by Dennis E. Park, which appears on the website www.docuvision2020.com.

Future Surgery Center

Workmen prepare to place a piece of OR equipment, where it will be anchored to the pre-installed mounting bolds dropping out of the ceiling opening.

 

Future Surgery Center

Specialty equipment installed in an operating room awaits future use. In the meantime, the room also serves as a storage area.

Future Surgery Center

One of several conference rooms located on the third floor.

Vision 2020, campus transformation, LLUH Homepage

Loma Linda University Health receives $3.5-million federal grant for addiction recovery services

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 13:45

Funds will support the training of additional physicians to help patients in the Inland Empire recover from addictions.

Loma Linda University Health has been awarded a federal grant of $3.5 million to train additional physicians who help patients in the Inland Empire recover from addictions.

The grant, to be awarded over five years, will create a pipeline of addiction medicine specialists trained in treating addictions as part of the federal Addiction Medicine Fellowship program, which helps patients regardless of their socioeconomic status. These fellows will treat patients and train at Loma Linda University Health, SAC Health System, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center – Loma Linda.

 The grant is issued from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grant was secured with help from Congressman Pete Aguilar, U.S. representative for the congressional district.

“We’re grateful for Congressman Aguilar’s work over the years to help us secure grants that will make a difference for people in need here in the Inland Empire,” said Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, president of Loma Linda University Health. “Specialized treatment is so important to a person struggling with addiction issues, and we’re pleased these funds will help provide additional staff to serve more patients with this type of needed care.”

The initiative is overseen by Daniel Giang, MD, associate dean for Graduate Medical Education, and Adley Dason, MD, MPH, a faculty member in the Department of Preventive Medicine.

“Dr. Dason and I are excited to be able to develop a training pathway that will train outstanding addiction medicine specialists and provide them with the added skills they need treat veterans and economically disadvantaged patients,” Giang said.

SAC Health System operates the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) clinic with the onsite Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), which offers individual and group-based substance use counseling services. MAT and the IOP are both located at SAC Health System’s Norton campus.

Since its founding, Loma Linda University Health has treated and innovated ways of helping people overcome addictions. For over 25 years, Mickey Ask, MD, has worked as a nationally-recognized addiction medicine educator, having trained scores of addiction medicine fellows at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center ­– Loma Linda and at Loma Linda University Health.

The discipline of addiction medicine has become a recognized and accredited fellowship by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education. Led by Lori Karan, MD, Loma Linda University Health established the first ACGME accredited Addiction Medicine Fellowship in the Inland Empire. Fellows receive broad training in the field and receive a unique focus on veteran's health and economically disadvantaged individuals. They are trained to address addictions from a population medicine standpoint and are prepared to reduce the health disparities among patients needing treatment for addictions.

“Loma Linda University Health has always been at the forefront of providing high-quality care to Inland Empire residents,” said Congressman Aguilar. “I was proud to advocate for this funding, which will help members of our community access the care they need to treat their addiction issues and will increase the number of highly skilled medical professionals in our region.”

Research, Grants, Healthcare, Behavioral Health

Head to toe men’s health: The joints

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 17:04

Men's Health Month serves as a timely reminder for men to see their healthcare provider and raises awareness about the benefit of early detection. Men are more likely than women to suffer from a broad spectrum of issues ranging from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse, depression and suicide.

Thomas K. Donaldson, MD, chair of orthopaedics at Loma Linda University Health, shares tips that can make a big difference for the man in your life. “Joints are what make the entire body tick, but they’re prone to wear and tear like any mechanical system,” Donaldson says. “They’ll function best — and longer — when you take care of them.”

To help maintain your joint health, Donaldson recommends following these three quick tips:

Although you may not be able to completely prevent injury or avoid health conditions such as arthritis, following these simple tips can help safeguard your joints throughout your life.

Stay physically active

Joints like motion, and the more they move, the less stiffness they’ll have. It’s important for people who work at a desk or computer to make sure they’re changing positions often and taking breaks to walk around and exercise their joints.

Know your limits

Don’t push the body to the point of pain, but instead, listen to the body. Stretching before exercise can help limit some of the pain by loosening the ligaments that form the joints. If the body is still in pain, make sure it’s getting an appropriate amount of rest and water.

Maintain a healthy diet

A healthy diet will lead to a healthy weight and overall mental and physical health. Weight impacts the strain on the hips and knees and can cause them to wear down prematurely. Additionally, foods that lower inflammation can help mitigate joint pain and tenderness. Ask a physician about the best way to get started.

Loma Linda University Health providers are committed to ensuring all patients have access to the care they need — especially during this stressful time. Patients can schedule video visits by visiting lluh.org/video-visitsMyChart or calling their provider.

Healthcare, LLUH Homepage, Orthopedics, orthopaedics, Primary Care, Men’s health, health tips, Medical Center, Our Doctors, Thomas K. Donaldson

Access to future hospital’s emergency departments relocates to Barton Road

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 12:50

A new left turn lane on Barton Road Emergency-only turn lane will provide rapid access to ER entrancesreserved for emergency vehicles only will provide faster access for ambulances to arrive at the emergency room entrances.

Ambulances and other emergency vehicles approaching the new Loma Linda University Health hospital facility will enter the emergency department area from Barton Road. Emergency Department access in the current cloverleaf facility has been from Campus Street.

A new left-turn lane for use by emergency vehicles only has been constructed on Barton Road to give easier access when approaching from the west. This special lane will allow vehicles to directly enter the Emergency Department area, rather than go to the Barton Road/Anderson Street intersection. Bypassing the intersection will eliminate the need for a U-turn onto westbound Barton, and will make the Anderson/Barton intersection safer for general traffic.

The Emergency Department is located on the second floor of the new structure, on the south side of the building. There are separately licensed Emergency Departments for the Adult hospital and the Children’s hospital. Arriving ambulances will have access to two trauma rooms in the Children’s ED, and four trauma rooms in the Adult ED. Both departments will have separate walk-in entrances. The new departments feature increased square-footage and number of beds to better serve the surrounding community.

The future adult hospital and Children’s Hospital towers will incorporate leading advances in patient safety and comfort. Designed to continue Loma Linda’s 115-year legacy of outstanding care, the future hospitals will anchor the healthcare needs of a vast region of Southern California, and serve as an educational and research hub to shape healthcare in the United States and around the world.

You can follow the rise of the towers on a daily basis by checking the construction webcams.

We're sharing photographic updates of the hospital construction work on a periodic basis. Watch for special emphasis on some of the behind-the-scenes-views and untold stories at the Vision 2020 website.

This vignette is adapted from a blog by Dennis E. Park, which appears on the website www.docuvision2020.com.

Future hospital emergency access

Diagram of the new emergency access lane and where the two departments are located.

Future hospital emergency access

Workers grade the roadbed for the new emergency department turn lane.

Future hospital emergency access

Workers lay a gravel base before the new emergency access turn lane is paved.

Future hospital emergency access

The newly-paved road is currently blocked off from any traffic use.

Vision 2020, campus transformation, Construction, new hospital

Scholarship program designed to increase diversity of mental health workforce

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 10:37

Loma Linda University's School of Behavioral Health will be distributing $2.97 million in scholarship funds to students in the Department of Psychology during the coming five years. The funding comes from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, and is part of a program emphasizing support for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and increase the diversity of the workforce in the mental health profession.

Loma Linda University's School of Behavioral Health will be distributing $2.97 million in scholarship funds to students in the Department of Psychology during the coming five years, following receipt of a grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The grant program originated in the HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program. The grant will be overseen by Bridgette Peteet, PhD, principal investigator and associate professor of psychology, and Patricia Flynn, PhD, co-principal investigator and assistant professor of psychology and preventive medicine.

Grants will provide financial assistance to 42 doctoral-level psychology students whose backgrounds include economic or educational hardship. The HHS program emphasizes support for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and is designed to increase the diversity of the workforce in the mental health profession.

“Our goal is for students in this program to commit to improving the distribution, diversity, and competency of the primary care psychology workforce in the medically underserved region of San Bernardino County,” said Beverly Buckles, DSW, dean of the School of Behavioral Health.

The Primary Care Psychology Pipeline Program (4P) will provide eligible students up to $30,000 per year ($90,000 over three years) to students who demonstrate a commitment to the grant’s mission of addressing the mental health needs of patients in medically underserved communities. The grants can be used to cover tuition, fees, books and living expenses. Students can begin receiving these funds in the fall of 2020.

Seeking to increase the number of potential qualified grant recipients, the department of psychology has begun to cultivate a psychology pipeline with sister Seventh-day Adventist institutions Oakwood University and the Adventist University of the Antilles. Other Historically Black colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions are also being notified of the program in an effort to diversify the pool of aspiring primary care psychologists.

An online application process for 4P grants is being installed on the department of psychology website. More information on the program is available by emailing Bridgette Peteet, PhD at bpeteet@llu.edu.

School of Behavioral Health, Academics, Grants

Head to toe men’s health: The brain

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 12:07

June is Men’s Health Month, and doctors are sharing tips to help men avoid common health mistakes.

Men's Health Month serves as a timely reminder for men to see their healthcare provider and raises awareness about the benefit of early detection. Men are more likely than women to suffer from a broad spectrum of issues ranging from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse, depression and suicide.

Kenneth De Los Reyes, MD, neurosurgeon and co-director of Skull Base Surgery at Loma Linda University Health, shares tips that can make a big difference for the man in your life. “Good brain health starts with safety, good overall health and balance,” De Los Reyes says.

To help men avoid health mistakes, De Los Reyes recommends keeping these tips in mind:

Take precautions when engaging in higher-risk activities

Wearing protective gear when engaging in higher-risk activities can reduce the risk of serious brain injury, or even death, as the result of a fall or collision. The impact that could harm the body is instead absorbed by the protective gear, such as a helmet.

Maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle

Keeping a healthy lifestyle means more than exercising and eating right. It also means maintaining a balanced mental and emotional health. Be conscious of engaging in things that have positive effects on brain health. Physical activity, a high-quality diet and cognitive activities can be great ways to stay healthy and keep the brain in shape.

Spend time outdoors to destress and practice mindfulness in peace and quiet.

Practicing mindfulness can help prevent chronic diseases that can take a toll on brain health over time. In times of crisis or uncertainly, it becomes especially important to calm your brain. Mindful meditation can make it easier to sleep, reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue and confusion.

Loma Linda University Health providers are committed to ensuring all patients have access to the care they need — especially during this stressful time. Patients can schedule video visits by visiting lluh.org/video-visitsMyChart or calling their provider.

Healthcare, Primary Care, Men’s health, health tips, Medical Center, Our Doctors, Kenneth M. De Los Reyes, Neurosurgery, East Campus

$3 million grant awarded to Loma Linda University School of Medicine researchers for maternal hypoxia study

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 08:58

The School of Medicine research team stands in excitement to receive an additional grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to continue their hypoxia studies.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute awarded $3.05 million to researchers from the Lawrence D. Longo, MD Center for Perinatal Biology at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, allowing investigators to add a new element to their study portfolio of exploring the effects of oxygen deprivation — or hypoxia — on mother and baby during pregnancy.

Investigators will use the four-year grant toward the center’s research project, titled "Gestational Hypoxia and Programming of Maternal, Fetal and Newborn Vascular Function.” Starting in July 2020, researchers will use the funds to search for mechanisms causing pregnancy complications of preeclampsia and developmental programming of cardiovascular disease from gestational hypoxia. 

Hypoxia during gestation has profound adverse effects on the mother’s health and fetal development. Hypoxia is one of the most frequent and severe stresses on an organism's body regulation of metabolism, temperature, fluid composition, blood sugar, blood flow and blood pressure. Worldwide, more than 140 million people live at risk of hypoxia in high altitude environments. In addition, a large portion of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, smoking and placental insufficiency, expose the fetus to chronic hypoxia.

The study’s principal investigator, Lubo Zhang, PhD, director of the Lawrence D. Longo Center for Perinatal Biology, said he and his team look forward to making additional strides toward meaningful discoveries that could be life-saving for families.

“We are pleased and honored to receive this grant because the research it supports can change the lives of mothers and babies,” Zhang said. “The team’s overall vision is to build on the center’s prior accomplishments to formulate a highly innovative program for advancing and transforming the research field in the understanding maternal, fetal and newborn vascular function in response to hypoxia during gestation.” 

In addition to this new research project, the investigator team headed by Zhang is currently conducting four studies on the effects of hypoxia. Those studies are funded by a Program Project grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2016, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, an NIH entity, awarded the center a $6.29 million grant to work on discoveries revealing oxygen deprivation’s effects on uterine blood flow, fetal cerebral circulation, and the impact of hypoxia on fat cell and metabolism.

Investigators found high altitude hypoxia during gestation decreased uterine blood flow and increased the mother’s systemic arterial blood pressure. Researchers came to this conclusion after using an animal model of pregnant sheep acclimatized to high altitude above 10,000 feet. In addition to maternal cardiovascular complications, the studies revealed that newborn lambs at high altitude showed significantly increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension — similar to humans. Investigators also found pregnancy complications and fetal hypoxia were associated with dysregulation of cerebral blood flow and increased risk of bleeding in the developing brain.

The five-year NIH grant will expire in March of 2021. With this looming expiration, the research team is looking forward to continue exploring the topic for another four years.

The new grant was secured with help from Congressman Pete Aguilar, U.S. representative for the congressional district.

“Loma Linda University Health is a point of pride for our region, and the lifesaving research of Dr. Zhang and his team is exciting and inspiring,” Aguilar said. “As Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and LLUH’s representative in Congress, I’m proud to support their work and will continue to advocate for the funding that makes these groundbreaking studies possible.”

Academics, Research, Grants, School of Medicine

New hospital facility a year from opening, includes San Manuel Maternity Pavilion

Tue, 06/23/2020 - 13:59

Tribal leaders and representatives toured the future hospital construction site on March 3.

Loma Linda University Health is approximately one year away from opening its future hospital. Along with this exciting expansion of healthcare for the Inland Empire, the opening of the San Manuel Maternity Pavilion inside the future hospital will bring full circle a relationship between Loma Linda University Health and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians that spans more than a century.  

The San Manuel Maternity Pavilion was made possible by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, who announced a landmark gift to Loma Linda University Medical Center at the 26th annual Children’s Hospital Foundation Gala in 2019 to support the expansion of this new mother and baby unit.

Loma Linda University Health administration hosted tribal leaders and representatives from the tribe on a special tour of the future hospital construction site on March 3, providing a first look at the pavilion.

“The best relationships are the ones that last the longest, and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Loma Linda University Health have a friendship based on community service that stretches over a century,” said Richard Hart, MD, DrPh, president of Loma Linda University Health. “San Manuel’s support of our new maternity pavilion is a significant addition to the many ways we work together to offer hope to our region’s most vulnerable mothers and children.”

The entire fifth floor of the new hospital will be named the San Manuel Maternity Pavilion in honor of their incredible generosity. This pavilion will allow Loma Linda to continue as the leader in high-risk birth care in the region, with approximately 50% of births at the hospital being high-risk.

During the tour, the tribe visited the basement level, which houses the seismic base isolators that will allow the entire structure to move four feet from side-to-side during major earthquakes. The tribe continued their tour of the fifth floor of the hospital, viewing several areas, including the triage area, birthing rooms and post-partum rooms. The tour ended on the 16th floor of the new adult hospital tower with a picturesque view of the valley below. 

Despite challenges faced at the hospital from the COVID-19 pandemic during the past few months, construction has continued without delay.

Check out photos from the visit below. 

San Manuel Visit to New Hospital

The tribe traveled to the various levels of the new hospital, including the basement level, 5th floor and 16th floor. 

San Manuel Visit to New Hospital

Several physicians and administration took turns leading the tour, including Dr. Martin, Dr. Balli, Dr. Hart, Kerry Heinrich and Allison Ong. 

San Manuel Visit to New Hospital

One of the last stops of the tour was the 16th floor where tribe members walked out onto the balcony overlooking the valley. 

San Manuel Visit to New Hospital

On the 16th floor, they were met with a panoramic view.

San Manuel Visit to New Hospital

Loma Linda University Health administrators presented the tribe with a framed picture from the Topping Off Ceremony. The picture shows the steel frame of the tower perfectly framing the tribe's location in San Bernardino. 

Healthcare, Children's health, Mother & Baby, Vision 2020, campus transformation

Head to toe men’s health: The urinary tract

Mon, 06/22/2020 - 13:15

June is Men’s Health Month, and doctors are sharing tips to help men avoid common health mistakes.

Men's Health Month serves as a timely reminder for men to see their healthcare provider and raises awareness about the benefit of early detection. Men are more likely than women to suffer from a broad spectrum of issues ranging from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse, depression and suicide.

Herbert Ruckle, MD, chair of urology for Loma Linda University Health, shares tips that can make a big difference for the man in your life. “Men’s health — and urological health in particular — isn’t always front of mind until there is an issue or illness, but it’s important to take proactive measures to minimize risk for bladder, prostate, or kidney problems,” Ruckle says.

To help men avoid urological health mistakes, Ruckle recommends keeping these tips in mind:

Understand and embrace a low-fat diet.

There are clear links between proper nutrition and various urologic and renal diseases. Maintaining a healthy diet can limit the risk of cancer, and staying at a healthy weight can keep the body in shape to fight off diseases and help maintain sexual function.

Stay physically active and take care of your mental health

The benefits of regular exercise are many, including maintaining a healthy heart and a clear mind. Still, consistent physical activity can do more — research has shown exercise to reduce the symptoms of certain urological health issues such as symptomatic benign prostatic hypertrophy, kidney stones and erectile problems. Regular exercise and weight control are a great way to keep a healthy urinary tract.

Keep up-to-date on recommended cancer screenings.

It’s much easier to care for problems when they’re picked up early in screenings, and knowing what tests and screenings are available can make a huge difference. Avoid smoking to prevent bladder and kidney cancer, and get a yearly PSA blood test starting at age 50 to detect aggressive prostate cancer. Screenings for cancer may seem intrusive, but they can be life-saving.                                                 

Good men’s health is proven to lead to better pelvic and sexual health. Take steps now to care for your or your man’s health in the future. Working with a primary care doctor and urologist can help identify and manage bladder, prostate or kidney problems.

Loma Linda University Health providers are committed to ensuring all patients have access to the care they need — especially during this stressful time. Patients can schedule video visits by visiting lluh.org/video-visitsMyChart or calling their provider.

 

Healthcare, Primary Care, Men’s health, health tips, Medical Center, Our Doctors, Herbert C. Ruckle

A tour of the future adult hospital’s ICU Floors 7-10

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 13:23

A view of a seventh floor room in the future adult hospital.

Floors seven to 10 in the new adult hospital tower will house our three ICUs and our Cardiac Progressive Care Unit. These four floors are set up to provide the critical care and life support for the most acutely ill and injured patients. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers offer highly skilled care to our patients who have been admitted to Loma Linda University Medical Center’s ICU suffering from a variety of medical, surgical, and trauma conditions.

Shared features across each floor include:
•    32 single occupancy patient rooms (16 rooms per wing)
•    Two med prep rooms (one per wing)
•    One dedicated staff lounge with locker storage per floor
•    Three on call rooms (located in the core) per floor
•    Two physician workspaces (one office space on the west wing and a large team room on the east wing)
•    Lactation rooms for staff on select units
•    Specialized ICU Equipment
•    Rooms dedicated to cardiac monitoring

Service line designations by floor are:
•       Floor 7: Surgical, Trauma, Transplant, and Neuroscience ICU
•       Floor 8: Medical ICU
•       Floor 9: Cardiac and Cardio-thoracic  ICU
•       Floor 10: Cardiac Progressive Care Unit

The ongoing hospital construction is a part of Loma Linda University Health’s Vision 2020 – The Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow. New buildings for adult patients and an addition to  Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital will exceed California’s upcoming seismic requirements for hospitals.

You can follow the rise of the towers on a daily basis by checking the construction web cams.

We're sharing photographic updates of the hospital construction work on a periodic basis. Watch for special emphasis on some of the behind-the-scenes-views and untold stories at the Vision 2020 website.

Dennis E. Park posts regular updates and photos on the project, which appear on the website www.docuvision2020.com.

 

 

Adult Hospital ICU floors

A corridor and doors leading to patient room on the seventh floor of the future adult hospital.

Adult Hospital ICU floors

View of a nurses' station on the future adult hospital's eighth floor.

Adult Hospital ICU floors

One of many nursing stations on the seventh floor that will offer rapid access to several patient rooms.

Vision 2020, campus transformation, LLU Medical Center

Living through a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 08:34

There is life after a cancer diagnosis — that’s the message Gina Valvo, 49, wants new cancer patients to see and hear clearly. Valvo hopes sharing her story will inspire many who are faced with a similar life-altering medical report.

Valvo learned she had Stage 4 cancer in May of 2019. Physicians at Loma Linda University Medical Center told her it started in her left breast and spread to her spine, liver, bones and finally, her left ovary.

When physicians began to explain her life-expectancy, she stopped them and said she was putting her faith in a higher power.

She was treated at the Loma Linda University Cancer Center by a team of experts. In February 2020, she received the news her medical treatments were working and her left ovary was clear of disease. In a candid tell-all interview with the Loma Linda University Health film’s team, Valvo shares her full story. Watch the video below to learn more.

The Loma Linda University Cancer Center offers patients comprehensive care that gives them the best opportunity to beat cancer. The center offers therapy, treatment by expert physicians and resources like massages and wigs. To learn more about the center, visit its website.

Cancer Center, Women’s health, Men’s health, Patient stories

Head to toe men’s health: The heart

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 09:33

June is Men’s Health month, and doctors are sharing tips to help men avoid common health mistakes.

Men's Health Month serves as a timely reminder for men to see their healthcare provider and raises awareness about the benefit of early detection. Men can suffer from a broad spectrum of issues ranging from heart disease and cancer to depression and suicide.

Anthony Hilliard, MD, chief of cardiology for Loma Linda University Health, shares tips that can make a big difference for the man in your life. “Committing to simple changes can protect your heart from developing heart disease, which remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States,” Hilliard says.

To help men avoid heart health mistakes, Hilliard recommends keeping these tips in mind:

1. Keep up with preventive care.

Many risk factors — such as avoiding tobacco use and maintaining proper weight — can significantly decrease the likelihood of illness or premature death.

2. Include cardiovascular exercises in your workouts.

Exercise strengthens the muscles in the body, and the heart is not exempt. Cardiovascular-focused activities can help the heart muscle become stronger and more efficient.

3. Be intentional about stress management.

Stress — whether financial, traumatic, workplace-related, COVID-19 or other — may take a toll on the heart. Lack of sleep can worsen stress, as can inactivity, an unhealthy diet or neglecting mental health. Relaxation techniques and time-management skills can help keep balance and maintain a low level of stress.

Take steps now to care for your health in the future. Heart disease is largely preventable. Working with a primary care doctor and cardiologist can help identify and manage heart disease. Loma Linda University Health providers are committed to ensuring all patients have access to the care they need — especially during this stressful time. Patients can schedule video visits by visiting lluh.org/video-visitsMyChart or calling their provider.

Healthcare, Heart & Vascular, Primary Care, Men’s health, health tips, Medical Center, Our Doctors, Anthony A. Hilliard

Rehabilitation Services team offers hope to Riverside family

Wed, 06/17/2020 - 13:41

Andrea Yeager, of Riverside, California, honored 16 Loma Linda University Health personnel for their caring service surrounding her daughter Jackie. Jackie came to the Loma Linda rehabilitation program for treatment to recover from a brain hemorrage.

Andrea Yaeger has honored 16 Loma Linda University Health employees who helped her daughter Jackie receive ongoing rehabilitative care. Her gift of $35,000, raised from family and friends, has provided upgraded software to therapy equipment and will also support patient scholarship.

Jackie, a young attorney at a prominent Riverside, California, law firm, suffered a brain hemorrhage before coming to Loma Linda University Health. She had first felt sudden, severe pain in her jaw and visited an oral surgeon, but wasn’t able to find relief. A neurologist ordered an MRI, which revealed that Jackie had an arteriovenous malformation in her brain. The condition involves a tangle of abnormal blood vessels that disrupt the normal brain blood flow. Unfortunately she later suffered an aneurism and ultimately a life-altering hemorrhage.

Andrea knew that Loma Linda University Health was the right place for Jackie when they met Lisa McMillan, DPT, a physical therapist on Jackie’s rehab team.

“When I found out that Jackie was going to be my patient, I read all I could about her case and background,” McMillian told her. “I have been praying for you before I met you.”

As Jackie’s therapy progressed, her doctor suggested she would be a good candidate for exsoskeleton therapy, a wearable robotic device that helps patients relearn how to walk.

“This machine is training Jackie’s brain to rewire her walking skills,” Andrea said. And while Jackie was showing improvement, Lisa Zidek, MPT, Jackie’s robotic physical therapist, mentioned to Andrea that so much more could be accomplished if the department could acquire an important software upgrade.

“I can help with that,” Andrea replied. An email to family and friends brought in $24,000, allowing the robotic unit Jackie was using in the outpatient clinic and an identical unit in the inpatient clinic to receive new software.

Zidek says the new software operates the machine’s robotic movements more smoothly, adds a touch screen control device, and adds a number of real-time data reports, testing programs, and safety features previously unavailable.

“These upgrades will benefit so many individuals,” Zidek said.

“People kept giving, and we have $35,000 now,” Andrea said. “The software company gave a $4,000 discount because both units were upgraded, so we have $15,000 for other uses.”  David Dai, executive director of Loma Linda University Health – East Campus, has designated those extra funds to be used as scholarships for future patients who would benefit from robotic therapy but may not be able to afford the sessions.

Jackie continues to improve. She has a long way to go, but she also is strongly motivated to push herself in her therapy, Andrea said. “Jackie’s goal is to walk. She is engaged and her fiancé is a lawyer in Los Angeles. She wants to wait until she can walk down the aisle to be married.”

Andrea decided to have the $35,000 directed through the Healing Hands program. At a recent celebration luncheon honoring Jackie’s progress, Andrea was able to announce the names of 16 Healing Hands honorees who made significant contributions to Jackie’s healing:

  • Kent Hansen, LLU Health attorney                                    
  • Trevor Wright, LLU Medical Center CEO
  • Sammi Wright, Trevor Wright’s wife, and a significant source of emotional support
  • Jonathan Jean-Marie, East Campus administrator
  • David Dai, East Campus executive director
  • David Tan, clinical manager of outpatient rehab
  • Lisa Alfred, speech pathologist
  • Lisa McMilian, physical therapist
  • Katie Lee, occupational therapist
  • Alicia Lozano, East Campus office manager
  • Arlene Maldonado, Rehab Institute scheduler
  • Marina Vega, Rehab Institute scheduler
  • Sarah Meredith, occupational therapist
  • Dr. Christopher Tarver, physician
  • Lisa Zidek, physical therapist
  • Greg Margart, speech pathologist

“I can’t say enough about this place,” Andrea said. “We are VERY thankful to be here. I don’t know if the community realizes what a special place it is. When you watch Jackie in therapy with all the other people, you see there’s a big need. The therapy center could be twice as big and still be jam-packed.”

Most of all, Andrea says the atmosphere in the rehabilitation clinics is one full of hope.

“Jackie is not giving up,” Andrea said. “It’s so hopeful here. Jackie is used to working hard, and this process is giving her the hope she needs.”

 

Healing Hands awards

Jackie Yeager enters the February Healing Hands event assisted by an exsoskeleton, a wearable robotic device that helps patients relearn how to walk. Jackie's mother, Andrea, raised enough money to pay for software upgrades for two of these exsoskeleton units used by the rehabilitation program.

East Campus, Rehabilitation, Donor stories, Whole Person Care

A guide to resuming strenuous physical activity following a COVID-19 infection

Wed, 06/17/2020 - 13:07

Loma Linda University Health experts recommend a staged plan for people wanting to start high-impact physical activity following any lung or heart damage as a result of a COVID-19 infection. A patient’s phased plan can range from a couple of weeks to several weeks of delayed activity start, depending on the extent of organ injury.

There are more than 2 million COVID-19 cases in the United States as of June 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In May, a report published in the Cardiology Journal of American Medical Association revealed 22% of COVID-19 symptomatic patients admitted to the hospital experienced a cardiac injury. There are no current statistics on pulmonary injuries from a COVID-19 infection. But a Loma Linda University Medical center pulmonologist says COVID-19 is a viral infection that can affect the lungs, resulting in the possibility of lung damage. This can include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome with low oxygen levels, and in some instances, long-term damage to the lung tissue.  

Saba Hamiduzzaman, MD, pulmonary disease specialist at Loma Linda University Health, says the body relies on the partnership between the heart and the lungs to supply oxygenated blood. If the lungs are not able to recruit more air sacs due to underlying damage to the lungs, then more oxygen is not able to get into the blood or to the tissues in our body during physical activity. 

Purvi Parwani, MD, director of Loma Linda University International Heart Institute’s Women’s Heart Health Clinic, says cardiac injury happens when viral replication inflames the tissue of the heart, causing cardiac cell death — also known as cellular necrosis. Parwani says risk stratification is required before resuming any physical activity if there is any injury to the heart from viral infection.

Both experts offer specific guidelines dependent on which organ was injured.

Guidance for cardiac Injury

Parwani recommends patients who are positive for COVID-19 and develop mild or moderate symptoms to have a minimum of two weeks of cessation of any exercise training. During this time, there should be a complete symptom resolution. She recommends careful clinical cardiovascular evaluation with consideration of repeated cardiac testing for advanced cardiac injury. For hospitalized patients who recovered from COVID-19, she suggests they resume activity or training with restrictions. She adds that these patients start with dull activity and continue to increase their amount of activity over time. If at any point during physical activity a patient feels fatigued, experiences chest pains or shortness of breath, they should stop the activity immediately and call their doctor.   

Guidance for Lung Injury

Resumption of activity should be discussed with a pulmonologist after the diagnosis of COVID, Hamiduzzaman says. Following diagnosis, patients should slowly start with walking. If they can tolerate walking without shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain, she encourages patients to slowly increase their activity to their usual level. Patients who have underlying health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, heart disease or cancer should seek physician evaluation before resuming any exercise program. Patients with underlying medical conditions can be referred to a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which will be a supervised program 2 to 3 times a week. Individuals can then follow up with their pulmonologist to monitor their progress after starting the program.    

Both experts instruct patients to always consult first with a physician before taking any suggestions. A patient’s primary care doctor or medical expert can provide personalized care according to their condition. If you are concerned about resuming any physical activity following a COVID-19 infection, please consult with your primary care doctor by scheduling a video visit on My Chart or by calling 1-877-558-6248.

COVID-19, Primary Care, Heart health, Heart & Vascular, Our Doctors, Purvi J. Parwani, Saba Hamiduzzaman

Part of wearing a mask is washing a mask: Here’s the best way

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 11:18

Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended wearing face masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to know how to properly wash, disinfect and handle reusable cloth masks.

Ryan Sinclair, PhD, MPH, associate professor of environmental microbiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health says his research supports that fabric, when not properly disinfected, are carriers for both bacteria, including E. coli, and viruses — norovirus and coronavirus. 

Sinclair says pathogens like bacteria and viruses can live on cloth fabric for longer than one may think — up to 8-12 hours. “Because we don’t know what germs we’ve been in contact with or how low long the germs have been active on the cloth fibers, it is crucial to regularly wash, sanitize and dry reusable face masks,” Sinclair says. 

Part of wearing a mask is washing a mask. Here’s the best way:

How to clean, disinfect and dry your cloth mask

Although it may be time-consuming to wash reusable masks daily, after each use, Sinclair says this healthy habit is essential to prevent germ transmission. “Have a few extra face masks on hand so they can be rotated,” Sinclair says. “That way you will always have a fresh, clean mask ready to use.”

Masks made from a cotton material stand up best to hand or machine washing with bleach or other disinfectants. “These fabric masks are the easiest to clean and dry properly,” Sinclair says.

Sinclair says to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling soiled masks. 

Launder masks by completing these steps:
  1. Remove detachable parts like interior filters or elastic ear bands from a folded scarf or bandana before washing.

  2. Use a mesh laundry bag to reduce entanglement with other clothes during machine washing.

  3. Set machine water temperature to high or use water that is 140° Fahrenheit or higher. 

    • Use your washer’s “sanitize” cycle if it has one. 

  4. Add a detergent that contains disinfectant or bleach to ensure you’re killing as many germs as possible. 

    • If washing by hand, prepare a bleach solution of five tablespoons bleach per gallon of water, soak for at least five minutes and rinse thoroughly.

  5. Dry masks on the highest dryer setting or use direct sunlight to dry masks. 

    • Because household dryer temperatures rarely reach the threshold temperature you need for disinfection, consider adding disinfectant dryer sheets or dryer sanitizers.

    • Ultra-violet light from the sun can kill up to 99.99% of pathogens on the sun facing surface of a mask if it is left in the bright sun during the middle of a day for at least one hour. It is best to allow masks to be exposed to the sun and heat for an entire day — flipping it over mid-day. Hang dry the masks or construct a dedicated portable box or surface for solar disinfection. 

Face mask hygiene etiquette

To further reduce risk of infection, Sinclair offers these hygiene etiquette tips:

  • Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put on your mask.
  • Make sure your mask is facing the right direction, so your face is not touching the mask exterior.
  • Wear your mask snuggly over both your nose and mouth.
  • Try not to touch the mask while you’re wearing it.
  • When removing the mask, touch only the attached strings or elastic bands. Hold it or place the mask on a sanitized surface until you’re ready to or wear it again or throw directly into the washing machine when you get home. Then wash your hands again.

In addition, Sinclair advises washing your hands frequently, keeping surfaces at home sanitized and avoid touching high-traffic public areas, like counters, handrails and doorknobs. 

“If you practice these habits, you will be less likely to contract the virus, whether it’s on your mask or another surface,” Sinclair says.

School of Public Health, health tips, Coronavirus, Our Faculty, Research, LLUH Homepage