Monday, November 14, 2016

by Guest blogger, Johanna Thomas
November is the unofficial start to the holiday season.  Some get into the spirit of the holidays immediately after Halloween.   Others dislike that Thanksgiving is almost always overlooked.  Facebook is full of friendly battles over when it’s appropriate to start decorating for the season.  On November 1st? Before Thanksgiving?  After Thanksgiving?   Most of us might never agree on the best time to start the celebrations.

What all of us can agree on is that November is also the month were we celebrate and give thanks to our Veterans.  Every year on November 11th we remember to give our thanks and show our appreciation to all of the sacrifices veterans have made for our freedom.  Here at Trinitas Regional Medical Center I am proud to say that we do not wait until Veterans Day to honor our veterans.  With the collaboration of Trinitas’ Palliative Care and the Hospital Elder Life Program, the “We Honor Veterans” program ( was implemented to honor and thank those hospitalized patients who served in the military. 
Since we started the recognition program we have honored over 45 veterans (and families) from all branches of service.  Patients who are identified as a veteran get a personalized certificate of appreciation, a thank you card, and an American flag.  The “We Honor Veterans” program at Trinitas Regional Medical Center has honored veterans from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, and Peacekeeping. 
I felt grateful to shake the hand of a patient who was a member of the Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican regiment of the US Army (  We were honored to be in the presence of one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military pilots!  As the staff presented him with his recognition certificate he told us several stories about the hardships and discrimination black pilots endured during their service. 

Another moving story came from a family whose estranged father had served in Vietnam.  The Social Work Team at Trinitas was able to locate the adult children and present them with their father’s certificate days before their father died.  Another patient thanked us through tears and said that no one had ever done that for him. 

Several of the veterans we have recognized during their hospital stay have struggled with addictions, PTSD, and depression to name a few.  During their hospitalization, our goal is to acknowledge their sacrifice to our country and to assist them and their families with any support services we can provide.  Our true democracy was and continues to be possible because of the brave men and women who fought for it.  At TRMC, with our most humble and sincere gratitude, we are proud to be a part of a team that recognizes and acknowledges the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families. 

Veterans can be honored any day of the year, not just on Veterans Day.
For more ways to support/honor veterans visit:

#trinitasregionalmedicalcenter #TRMC #wehonorveterans #veterans #veteransday

Friday, October 7, 2016

Celebrating Medical Librarians Month

National Medical Librarians Month 2016
Every year, the Medical Library Association designates October as National Medical Librarians Month  to raise awareness about the important role  Medical Librarians play. 
We all know what Librarians do but what exactly do Medical librarians do?
Most of our customers are health care professionals. In a teaching hospital we assist with the medical education needs of our doctors, nurses, students and other staff. Medical Librarians also conduct research, build collections, teach how to find and evaluate information, keep on top of technology trends and demands, and much more. In addition, by helping health care providers stay current with advances in their specialty areas, Medical Librarians help contribute to the quality of patient care.
Medical Librarians are an integral part of the healthcare team. Studies show that librarian-led information services and resources improve both clinical decision making and patient-care outcomes, so it is a win-win!
Here at Trinitas Regional Medical Center located in Elizabeth, New Jersey, our Medical Library is very active. We have several Residency programs ranging from Internal Medicine to Podiatry to Psychiatry, and medical students, nurses, and allied health personnel all using the Library's services and resources every day, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day!
Over the course of any given year, the Librarian performs hundreds of literature searches on various clinical topics for patient care and research. Plus, our support staff fulfills nearly 4,000 Interlibrary Loan and document delivery requests per year.
However, we're not just a clinical Library. We also offer a variety of services to hospital employees as well, such a family friendly DVDs, world music cds, a spiritual book collection, daily newspapers, tv news scroll, computer stations and even a courtesy charging station for our customers to use for a variety of electronic devices.  
Our Medical Library offers opportunities for consumers to learn about many medical topics, such as prediabetes, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's and  medical terms in the form of an online quiz game. The quizzes are now available in English and Spanish, too.

To date our quizzes have reached over 10,000 people world wide through our hospital and Library websites plus the virtual platform of Second Life!

Please feel free to follow us on social media. We tweet daily about consumer health studies, medical breakthroughs, technology trends etc:
Twitter: @TrinitasLibrary

Website: Medical Library:

staff: Elisabeth Marrapodi, Library Director
         Ritza Alexandre, Library Assistant

Friday, September 9, 2016

Volunteering is Good for You

Spotlight on the Trinitas Volunteers Department

Recent research has indicated that serving others might be the essence of good health, helping to ward off loneliness, depression and possibly even lowering blood pressure. With those kinds of rewards, it's no wonder around 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization over the past couple of years in the United States!

Volunteerism At Trinitas Regional Medical Center
Volunteers at Trinitas Regional Medical Center are an important part of our hospital family. These dedicated individuals donate their time and efforts to supplement and extend the activities of our employees.

The Volunteer program at Trinitas helps to hold down escalating healthcare costs as we continue to offer the highest quality service to our patients and community.

In 2015, our 309 volunteers, ranging from 14 to 95 years of age, provided 52,018 hours of service to the hospital, and volunteered in over 52 different departments.  One of our volunteers has been here for 32 years! In total, they have donated 716 years of service.

The Role Of A Volunteer: Patient Care
Volunteers supplement our employees in many ways: transporting patients, escort service, comforting and entertaining patients within the hospital through several programs, such as Spirit of Service and  Reach Out and Read.

Elder Life Program (HELP)
This program was created in 2013. It is designed to prevent delirium (acute confusion) by keeping hospitalized older patients oriented to their surroundings. This is done by promoting activities, adequate nutrition and fluids, and a calm environment. Our volunteers offer older patients extra special attention that could ultimately improve their overall hospital stay.

To be involved in this area, volunteers receive specific training and play a key role in carrying out interventions that are created for each patient in the program on an individual basis. To date 63 volunteers have participated.

If you'd like more in depth information about this program, HELP was spotlighted in a previous blog post.

Patients' Families
Volunteers work at the Information Desk and provide visitors with information and assistance as needed. Volunteers also offer families in the Surgical Waiting Room coffee/tea and various reading materials and games, as well as providing limited patient information.

Other non-clinical areas such as Administration, Medical Offices, Finance, the Library, Public Relations, Human Resources and the Lab are also supported by volunteers who assist with clerical and computer skills.

Seniors First
Trinitas Regional Medical Center's commitment to the needs of seniors is reflected in our Seniors First program, which is an all-in-one approach to care for seniors and their caregivers. Volunteers serve as Seniors First escorts, and in helping older patients find their way around the hospital.

Support Services
Volunteers also supplement the paid staff in such service areas as Building Management, Dietary, Warehouse and Transportation.

Community Outreach
Many volunteers are recruited from local schools and colleges focusing on the specific needs of the Hospital. In addition, agreements with such programs as: Community Work Experience (Welfare), Union County College and various others provide work experience through community outreach.

Our volunteers also assist in Health Fairs, Screening Programs, and other public advocacy efforts.

Patient Liason
Volunteers visit patients to welcome them to the medical center. They also advise patients as to how to register their concerns regarding any unmet needs.  Volunteers also provide blankets, ice water, and reading materials. This program began in 2009, and 186 volunteers to date have participated.

Animal Assisted Activities Program
Trinitas also offers special volunteer program that offers patients visits by specially trained animals!

* The Morris & Charlotte Rudner Memorial Award is presented to an outstanding adult volunteer in memory of Nadine Brechner's (Trinitas Health Foundation) parents
* Janet Memorial Teen Award is presented to an outstanding teen volunteer

Hours Of Operation
The Volunteer Services Office is open Monday through Friday from 8am-4pm. The Information Desk is open 8am-8 pm, Monday through Friday and 9am-8pm Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers are assigned to various areas during their specific hours of operation within the 8am-8pm daily schedules. An added benefit is that all Trinitas volunteers receive free, on-site parking as well as free lunch each day they work!

How To Become A Volunteer
To become a volunteer, stop by the Volunteer Office to pick up an application, fill it out and return it in the postage paid envelope. You may also phone the Volunteer Office to request an application at


Thursday, August 18, 2016

What is Hospital Delirium?

Hospital Delirium
by Guest Blogger Johanna Thomas, Trinitas Elder Life Clinician

A few years ago I visited my 89 year old father in law at the hospital after his hip replacement surgery.  Having been told that the surgery went well and that he was even joking with the nurses, I was surprised to find him acting a little “off”.  He insisted on getting dressed even though we repeatedly told him he was staying for a few days.  Minutes later he tried to tip the dietary associate because he thought we were at a restaurant.  This might not sound alarming for someone who just had hip surgery but I informed the nurse that he was "not his usual self".  When I got home that evening, the hospital staff informed us that my father in law, usually a very pleasant man, had become somewhat restless, angry, and was trying to leave.  For safety, he was restrained and required additional staff supervision for the remainder of the night.  
This is not an uncommon scenario for a hospitalized older patient.  Hospital Acquired Delirium (HAD) is an under recognized but very serious condition.  A person experiencing acute confusion could become disoriented, have bizarre thoughts and ideas, or might experience hallucinations.  Older patients have a higher risk for experiencing delirium.  Dehydration, infection, and/or a side effect of a medication can all be reasons why an otherwise “sharp as a tack” elder could become delirious during hospitalization.  It is important to remember that, unlike dementia, delirium is reversible.  With a few simple steps, caregivers can help in the prevention or reduction of delirium. 

          The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey (HFNJ) understands the importance of using proven and cost-effective measures to prevent or reduce the onset of delirium, and in 2013 HFNJ awarded Trinitas Regional Medical Center with its first Delirium Prevention Initiative grant.  Trinitas subsequently adapted the Hospital Elder Life Program (H.E.L.P.) model founded by Dr. Sharon Inouye, a pioneer in delirium research and prevention.  The original program allows volunteers to feed patients.  Although our volunteers do not feed patients, they provide bedside companionship during mealtimes to encourage the importance of nutrition.   
        H.E.L.P. consists of an interdisciplinary team and specially trained volunteers who perform daily protocols with patients 65 years and older.  Daily orientation visits, feeding encouragement during mealtimes, bedside therapeutic activities, and non-pharmacological sleep protocols (such as hand massages and soothing music) are part of the structured therapies offered by the HELP volunteers. 
Our H.E.L.P. patients are also offered music from the Medical Library’s World Music Collection.  The collection of world music has been well received, as noted on their surveys, by many of our patients who have been able to listen to music from their native country.  
We have a diverse group of volunteers that consists of college students, graduate students, working adults and retirees.  Most recently, we have added a few highly qualified high school students to our program. 
At home, family and caregivers of at-risk elders can also aide in preventing their loved one from experiencing acute confusion.  The Hospital Elder Life Program website offers tips to help reduce the risk of delirium.  Some include:
  • Prepare a “medical information sheet” listing all allergies, names and phone numbers of physicians, the name of the patient’s usual pharmacy and all known medical conditions. Also, be sure all pertinent medical records have been forwarded to the doctors who will be caring for the patient
  • Bring glasses, hearing aids (with fresh batteries), and dentures to the hospital. Older persons do better if they can see, hear and eat
  • Bring in a few familiar objects from home. Things such as family photos, a favorite  comforter or blanket for the bed, rosary beads, a beloved book and relaxation tapes can be quite comforting
·    Help orient the patient throughout the day. Speak in a calm, reassuring tone of voice, and tell the patient where he is and why he is there
·    Stay with the hospitalized patient as much as possible. During an acute episode of delirium, relatives should try to arrange shifts so someone can be present around the clock
For more information on the delirium prevention, please visit:
        If you would like to be a part of our enthusiastic and rewarding H.E.L.P. Team at Trinitas RMC, please visit and click on “links to application form”. 
You may also contact Johanna Thomas, Elder Life Clinician or Diana Noboa, Elder Life Assistant at (908-994-5620). 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Trinitas Veterans Program: Project Pride

Project Pride
What is it?
Trinitas' Project Pride for Veterans, which has been in existence for a little over a year, was the brain child of Trinitas Regional Medical Center and the VA clinic, co-located at Trinitas, Elizabeth, N.J.
What does it do?
The goal of Project Pride is to provide group and individual therapy for veterans and their families. 
A 2013 study by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs found: suicides from 1999 to 2010 showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide per day -- or one every 65 minutes! Some sources even suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.
How does it work?
To provide these services, a soldier (Reservist) was hired along with a Licensed Social Worker.  In addition, we also have a prescriber that is an Air Force veteran.
While the VA thought they would be able to give at least 100 referrals, unfortunately that did not happen. However, not to be deterred, Project Pride started friendly visits to hospitalized veterans to determine if there was anything they might need or if there was any way the program could help them.
Although the program hoped to help more, they are still happy to report about 13 veterans are engaged in treatment and currently have no wait time for services for veterans.
 Taletha Surujnath (left), an advanced practice nurse and Air Force veteran
and Linda Reynolds (right), LSW and Director
Unfortunately,  funding will cease in September 2016. This loss of funding will impact its ability to visit another campus --but the good news is the program will continue to offer therapy.
For more information about this program please contact:
Linda Reynolds MA, LCSW,
Director, Adult Outpatient Unit
Trinitas Regional Medical Center

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Why We Offer a Standing Computer Station: "Sitting is the New Smoking"

One Medical Library's Approach to Encourage Patron Wellness
            Thanks to a small grant from the Trinitas Health Foundation, the Medical Library was able to incorporate a new standing desk computer station in early June 2016. 
            There were several reasons why this type of desk station was introduced into the library: customer demand for an additional computer, space limitations, and health benefits.  Yes, health benefits!  

             Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, who has been studying the adverse effects of increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years, concluded, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” In fact, Levine is credited with coining the phrase, “sitting is the new smoking.”  The reason this is so dangerous is because when you sit for long periods, sluggish blood flow can set the stage for a blood clot to form.  

              A recent study of more than 100,000 men and women also supported this conclusion.  It found those who sat for more than six hours a day were more likely to have died from cardiovascular disease over the course of the 14-year study than those who sat for less than three hours a day. This held true even among those who exercised regularly!

              "Overall, current evidence suggests that both standing and treadmill desks may be effective in improving overall health considering both physiological and mental health components," stated an article from Preventive Magazine.

              Digging deeper, there are a myriad of reasons why standing for a bit of time instead of sitting is better for you: 
  1. A standing workstation could increase HDL cholesterol: the "good" cholesterol
  2. 18 participants in one study who used a standing desk for three months lost some weight
  3. Seven studies of standing desks, totaling 220 participants, found they had very little impact on typical work tasks (typing).  In one telling study, employees using a sit-stand workstation for four hours a day during on work week had no significant difference number of characters typed per minute or typing errors made when standing compared to sitting. 
  4. In one seven-week study using a standing desk use, participants not only reported less fatigue, tension, confusion, and depression, but more vigor, energy, focus, and happiness. Even more significant, when they returned to their seated desks, their overall mood returned to baseline levels.

One of our hospital employees trying out the Library's new standing station.

             By the way, this idea isn't exactly new. While they may not have had studies backing up their preference to stand up while working, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and even Donald Rumsfeld all reportedly used stand-up desks.
             The win here is that standing more might help you live longer-- and also improve your mood in the process. At our Medical Library, we are excited to offer our new standing station, and knowing we are doing our part to contribute to wellness.

update: 7/25/16
"Sedentary time at very high levels is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease independent of other well-established risk factors, including low physical activity and high body-mass index." Dr Ambarish Pandey (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas) and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of nine prospective cohort studies published before July 6, 2015 covering 720,425 participants (mean age 54.5, 57.1% women) and 25,769 unique cardiovascular events. Median follow-up came to 11 years.

The meta-analysis was published online July 13, 2016 in JAMA Cardiology

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Brain Attack!

May is Stroke Awareness Month!

      Did you know that a stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack"? It occurs when blood flow to an area in your brain is cut off.  When this happens, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen and glucose needed to survive, and die. If a stroke is not caught early, permanent brain damage or even death can result. Stroke is the #5 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the USA.

     Treatment targets factors that put you at risk, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.  Still, it takes more than that to prevent a stroke. You also have an important role to play in preventing stroke, too! Why? Because only you can make lifestyle changes to help lower your risk.

      So, what are some things you can do? Try to follow the Life's Simple 7 tips from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association:

1) Manage and control blood pressure: Lowering your systolic blood pressure (bp) number (top) by 10 or your diastolic number (bottom) by 5 can cut your risk of stroke death by half

2) Control cholesterol: By controlling your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries a chance to remain clear of blockages

3) Reduce blood sugar: High levels of blood sugar over time can lead to diabetes, which increases your risk for having a stroke

4) Get active! Increase walking time has been associated with reduced stroke risk. 30 minutes a day, 5xs a week is an easy goal to improve your heart and brain health, plus it helps to prevent stroke

5) Eat better: A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting stroke! Adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and reducing sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day is a great start towards healthier eating

6) Lose weight: Nearly 70% of American adults are overweight or obese! Obesity increases your risk for stroke so losing weight can help lower your blood pressure and reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones

7) Stop smoking: If you smoke, your risk for stroke is 2-4xs higher  than for nonsmokers or even those who have quit for more than 10 years!

See how much you know about stroke by taking our Medical Library's health literacy quiz, now available in both English and Spanish versions:

It is important to know the common symptoms of stroke so you recognize what may be happening to yourself,  your loved ones or others.

If you are located in N.J. and your community or organization would like to learn more about stroke, please contact:
Terry Finamore RN BSN MS
Stroke Coordinator

Trinitas Regional Medical Center
Elizabeth, N.J.
908 994 8787 (phone)

Many thanks to Terry Finamore who helped with this post.