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Health Journalism 2010: Field Trips

Two field trips are being offered on Thursday. These tours are conducted as mobile panel sessions and are meant to offer background on several topics, provide fresh resources and inspire story ideas.

Attendees must have signed up in advance to take part in the field trips. Both buses will start loading at 8 a.m. at AHCJ's Lobby Concourse Registration Desk and will leave the hotel by 8:20 a.m. Lunch will be provided during each tour. Both buses are scheduled to be back at the hotel by 5 p.m., in time for the conference kickoff event at 5:30 p.m.

Field trip 1

NOTE: Both field trips are full. Please join us for the Thursday afternoon sessions Tools for tracking health care costs from 1-2:50 p.m. and Using data to depict the health of your local population from 3:10-5 p.m. You'll leave with a wealth of new information.

Mini-med school

The public consistently ranks physicians among the most trusted professionals. But what turns a recent undergraduate into a respected physician entrusted with lives? The Feinberg School of Medicine puts you in the mindset of a future doctor to experience mini-medical school in a state-of-the art, hands-on simulation center.

Simulation is a tool that augments traditional educational strategies to ensure health care professionals develop and maintain a foundation in basic technical skills. Increasing emphasis on patient safety and risk management concerns have presented convincing arguments for high-fidelity simulation. Participants will engage in simulations, practice life-saving technical skills and receive exposure to crisis resource management.

Tiniest patients

Each year in the United States, approximately one in 10 newborn babies are admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. The Renee Schine Crown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital is a level III unit that cares for an estimated 1,600 premature or seriously ill newborns each year. It's one of the nation's largest.

During your visit, you'll learn about new technologies that allow clinicians to treat the smallest patients, and how medical advancements are improving outcomes. You'll also have an opportunity to witness care in action during a tour of the state-of-the-art facility, and hear from experts who will offer short case studies and discuss trends in neonatology, pregnancy care and labor and delivery.

Genetic medicine

Imagine carrying your DNA on a card that physicians scan to determine which treatment will work best for your genetic makeup. Can it happen in our lifetime? Feinberg researchers believe it can happen in 10 years. This lunch discussion with leaders of the NUGene Project - a biobank of genetic samples and electronic health records from more than 10,000 volunteers - will focus on new research into fighting disease.

Bionics, robotics and virtual reality

Explore the latest technologies merging brain, body and machine interfaces at the largest rehabilitation research center in the world. This highly interactive visit to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's world-renown Center for Bionic Medicine, home to the targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) procedure - a procedure that "rewires" amputee's nerves allowing them to control prosthetic devices through their own neural impulses - offers the chance to meet patients testing advanced arm systems and even move a prosthetic arm using your own thoughts through a virtual reality simulator.

Also, try out some of the brain and body-machine interface systems in the Robotics Lab that allow you to operate a powered wheelchair using small sensors that read small movements in your shoulders and try some of the robotics programs that utilize virtual reality platforms to help patients relearn specific motor skills after stroke or brain injury.

Visit the Neuralplasticity Lab to learn how researchers are manipulating electric currents and exploring how they may affect magnetic fields in the brain which encourage new pathways for motor learning and movement after stroke.

Field trip 2

NOTE: Both field trips are full. Please join us for the Thursday afternoon sessions Tools for tracking health care costs from 1-2:50 p.m. and Using data to depict the health of your local population from 3:10-5 p.m. You'll leave with a wealth of new information.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is offering a behind-the-scenes tour of its Mobile Examination Center to show how health workers collect data that is representative of the nation's health status. NHANES has monitored the nation's health for 50 years and is responsible for the data that has lead to policies on getting lead taken out of gasoline, fortifying foods with folic acid, and developing growth charts to measure children across the United States. The hands-on survey, conducted across the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, combines household interviews, physical examinations, and laboratory tests to collect the latest information on obesity, diabetes, hypertension, nutrition intake and many more areas of public health relevance.

The Mobile Examination Center will arrive in the Chicago area just days before Health Journalism 2010 in preparation for interviews and exams with selected Cook County residents. The tour will provide a glimpse into what a survey participant goes through, as well as a behind-the-scenes perspective. Reporters will be able to pass through the exam center rooms and narrow passageways the participants go through and gain an understanding of the complexity of the exam, the breadth of information collected, and the impact of the data in informing public health policy and practice. In short, reporters will be able to see first-hand where a great deal of the nation's key health data comes from-data that has appeared in many news stories over the years.

A bonus: Embargoed data will be released to field trip attendees covering new information collected in the survey on hypertension and diabetes. The author of the report will be on hand for questions.

Veterans care

Jesse Brown VA Medical Center is one of the most active in the Department of Veterans Affairs, with over 1,000 outpatient visits a day. Its new seven-floor inpatient bed tower includes 200 inpatient beds, seven operating rooms, a cystology room, inpatient dialysis center and outpatient surgical center. It's the first VA medical center in more than 12 years and was designed with the input of 17 different user groups to create a building that best meets the needs of veterans and staff, while also being one of the most ecologically constructed medical facilities in the country.

Recently returning

Working with veterans recently returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is among the highest priorities in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jesse Brown VAMC currently has over 6,500 veterans from these most recent conflicts enrolled for care and members of the program team will discuss its comprehensive approach to treating the physical and mental health needs of this distinct patient group, including traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention awareness.  

Health IT

The Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture's computer application - Computerized Patient Record System - enables clinicians to enter, review and continuously update all information connected with any patient. The system has won national awards and serves as a model for nongovernmental hospitals. With CPRS, you can order lab tests, medications, diets, radiology tests and procedures, record a patient's allergies or adverse reactions to medications, request and track consults, enter progress notes, diagnoses, and treatments for each encounter, and enter discharge summaries. CPRS not only allows you to keep comprehensive patient records, it enables you to review and analyze the data gathered on any patient in a way that directly supports clinical decision-making. CPRS also has the capability to share clinical information across all VA medical centers and the Department of Defense.

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