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Health Journalism 2014: Field Trips

The period to sign-up for Thursday field trips has begun. There are six options for field trips this year, featuring the following:

Cancer research – from lab to research to patient

Building precision body parts

Advancing Down syndrome treatment and research

The healing powers of art therapy

Transforming young lives in two weeks

Testing your breathing

Allergic to your artificial knee?

Simulated training for future health professionals

Incubating health care businesses

The evolution of the ER

High-climbing research

Eliminating preventable harm

Correcting anomalies in the womb

Focusing on wellness


High-climbing research

Altitude chamber

The Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado medical school is figuring out what happens to people far above sea level – and why.

Visit the hypobaric chamber that can take subjects to the equivalent of the top of Mount Everest. Researchers from the center have traveled to Bolivia, Nepal and the lofty stretches of Colorado to determine a genetic marker for altitude sickness, and ways to predict who will get ill when they climb too high. The results will have implications for everyone from skiers and snowboarders to soldiers.

Cancer research – from lab to research to patient

From the laboratory to the clinic, get the inside story on research and treatment of lung cancer. In the lab, University of Colorado Cancer Center scientists look for genetic abnormalities in cancer cells that can be targeted with drugs that help patients live longer lives. In addition to the scientists looking for better treatments and the physicians, you will meet cancer survivors with whom they worked.

Advancing Down syndrome treatment and research

See the latest in Down syndrome treatment and assessment in action at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome. Tour the clinic where experts in comprehensive medical care, therapeutic care – including speech, physical, occupational, recreational and feeding therapies – advocacy and translational research are brought together in one place.

Building precision body partsBiomechatronics Lab

Explore how bioengineering helps the human experience. In the Biomechatronics Lab, researchers create prosthetic hands and fingers that provide a full range of movement from muscle signals, as well as a sense of touch for persons with arm amputations. Hands and fingers are designed and built using advanced 3-D printers, including a dual-material plastic printer and much rarer metal printer.

The 3-D printers are available to all the doctors and researchers on the Anschutz Medical Campus; therefore, you may see a hand, heart valve, nose or newly conceived surgical tool in the making.

The healing powers of art therapy

The Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado provides music, art, dance/movement and yoga therapy to patients – many of whom are experiencing mental health challenges – and their families. Experience a group art therapy session with adolescents struggling with depression, thought/mood disorders, suicidal ideation or suicide attempt recovery.

You will witness their use of musical instruments, art supplies and verbal expression to interpret and communicate their thoughts and feelings, practice building healthy relationships and further their road to recovery.

Testing your breathing

What is actually going on inside your lungs? Find out at National Jewish Health’s Pulmonary Physiology Unit, one of the largest, most advanced pulmonary function laboratories in the country.

You will see firsthand how physicians use the instruments and tests to understand airflow into and out of the lungs, oxygen diffusion into the blood stream, and exercise tolerance, and to diagnose asthma, emphysema, COPD and other diseases. Technicians will get you on some of the equipment to test how well you truly breathe.

Transforming young lives in two weeks

Children and their families come from across the country to enter a special two-week program aimed at solving cases of severe allergy and asthma from multiple angles. National Jewish Health uses a comprehensive team approach by bringing together pulmonologists, allergists, psychologists and nurse practitioners to share insights and find solutions for each patient.

You’ll see the latest in food allergy treatment and research, including a food challenge that’s the definitive diagnostic test for food allergy. You’ll see soak-and-seal, a simple but extraordinary method for treating severe eczema. And you’ll learn how psychosocial counseling, including hypnosis and biofeedback, is incorporated into patient care.

National Jewish HealthAllergic to your artificial knee?

With implants of artificial joints increasing rapidly, so are allergies to the metals and glue used in them. National Jewish Health is working with surgeons to diagnose allergies both before implants are placed and afterward to determine if allergy has caused the joint to fail.

Incubating health care businesses

Located next to the Anschutz Medical Campus is a bioscience park that nurtures businesses, many of which are spun off from the adjacent campus. One company is pioneering a surface that inhibits bacterial growth by mimicking the skin of sharks. Another is developing a small, disposable device that can perform hundreds of diagnostic tests on a single drop of blood in about 10 minutes.

Visit several of the companies located in the Bioscience Park Center and meet the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority’s new president, who came from the Mayo Clinic campus to lead this increasingly important aspect of running a life science campus.

Eliminating preventable harm

Make the rounds on patient floors with Chief Quality Officer Daniel Hyman, M.D., to better understand how Children’s Hospital Colorado focuses on patient safety through its Target Zero initiative. The goal is to eliminate preventable harm, including hospital-acquired conditions. Many patients have diseases that put them at a higher risk for common complications of care. Everyone, from bedside staff to the board, has committed to working together to accelerate cultural and process improvements. Since the 2013 inception of this strategic organizational approach, Target Zero has helped reduce preventable harm by more than 20 percent.Emergency rooms

The evolution of the ER

See how this redesigned ER is becoming a model for hospitals across the nation by minimizing wait, maximizing quality and drastically increasing patient satisfaction.

Also, learn how the University of Colorado Hospital's Emergency Department plans for and responds to mass casualty incidents like the Aurora theater shooting which brought 23 patients to the already-full hospital. Lessons learned were shared with doctors in Boston, helping them handle casualties from the Boston Marathon bombings.

Correcting anomalies in the womb

Tour the Colorado Fetal Care Center, which focuses on maternal and fetal care for families facing a pregnancy with a known or suspected fetal anomaly. As part of the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health, the team includes pioneers in maternal fetal medicine, fetal surgery and the full range of pediatric subspecialties.

This collaborative team provides the full spectrum of prenatal diagnostics and fetal treatment, from shunts to fetoscopic and open fetal surgery to EXIT procedures (surgery performed just before delivery while baby is still connected to the umbilical cord) and long-term follow-up care for the newborn. 

Training at the Center for Advancing Professional ExcellenceSimulated training for future health professionals

You might feel sorry for Noelle, who gives birth, on demand, every four minutes. But don’t. The robotic mannequin is part of the University of Colorado’s. Students in various health care disciplines interact with the mannequins and standardized patients to hone skills without the potential of harming actual patients.

You’ll walk through it, from the mock emergency room to the elaborate monitoring system through which students are evaluated.

Focusing on wellness 

WellnessSee the latest in health and wellness research and practice. The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center aims to help people shift their thinking. The Colorado Mindset helps people make small, sustainable changes that will transform their lives.

As an integrated health and wellness center, the CU facility is trying to make a healthy choice the preferred choice, add quality to people’s lives and help reverse the unsustainable rise in health care costs.