Member portal ...

Join or renew today Membership portal


Health Journalism 2016: Field trips

AHCJ MEMBERS ONLY: Sign-up for Thursday field trips.

Sign-ups opened Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. CT. There are only a limited number of seats for each field trip.

You must have received confirmation from us that you are registered for the conference before you can sign up. There are two options for field trips this year, featuring the following:

Field trip 1

Surgical Theater - Virtual reality for brain surgery

University Hospital’s Surgical Theater gives
neurosurgeons 3D imaging for more precise

Virtual reality isn’t only for video gaming. Neurosurgeons at University Hospitals Case Medical Center worked with former Israeli Air Force flight simulator officers to design a 3D virtual reality surgical simulator. Developed by the Cleveland-based company Surgical Theater LLC, the simulator uploads and transforms medical images, such as CT and MRI scans into life-like, dynamic and interactive 3-D models. Surgical Theater enables surgeons to view and interact with dynamic brain images of their patients, allowing surgeons to see and interact with an accurate replica of what they would see and use when operating on the patient.

During the field trip, journalists will see a brief video showing the Surgical Theater in use during a brain tumor operation and in a deep brain stimulation surgery as seen in the National Geographic Channel special Brain Surgery Live.  Neurosurgeons will explain and demonstrate how the Surgical Theater is used in medical education, pre-op preparation, and during surgery. Journalists will have an opportunity to put on Oculus Rift 3-D goggles for a virtual trip through brain tissues, vessels, and a 360 degree view around a brain tumor and aneurysm.

Cancer fighting technology – proton therapy

Tour one of the world’s first “compact” proton therapy centers. This summer, University Hospitals' Seidman Cancer Center will open a new proton therapy center featuring a unique single room system that is significantly smaller and more economical while delivering the same powerful and highly precise cancer-fighting radiation therapy. This field trip gives you a look before its opening.

Proton therapy center
The proton therapy system is in its final preparation
phase, set to be operational in July.

Traditional proton therapy systems cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and are typically the size of a football field. The cost, size and complexity of these conventional proton therapy systems have greatly limited their widespread clinical use. However, the MEVION S250™ being installed at UH Seidman Cancer Center is designed to deliver the same precise, non-invasive treatments but with a greatly reduced physical footprint, streamlined clinical workflow, and significantly lower implementation and operational costs.

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that targets a patient’s tumor with sub-millimeter precision, potentially decreasing side effects and improving outcomes. The highly precise treatment targets cancer cells more directly while sparing much of the surrounding healthy tissue, thus making it ideal for pediatric patients as well as adults with cancer in sensitive locations such as near the heart or brain.

You will be able to see the system’s gantry-mounted proton source with a highly integrated, image-based workflow, making proton therapy a practical clinical reality. There are currently only about a dozen operational proton therapy centers in the nation and the UH Seidman Cancer Center site will be the first in Ohio when it opens in July.

Visit a high-tech cath lab

The medical device industry shares an interesting resemblance to consumer electronics, in that devices are updated regularly, making last year’s model almost obsolete. Medical device technology is advancing at such a pace that just when patients receive the latest life-saving technology, an update or entirely new approach is created, tested and marketed.

The University Hospitals' Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute is at the forefront of advancement in the field of cardiology. Whether developing, studying or piloting the latest technology, UH physicians-scientists are constantly evolving their treatment protocols to better treat patients.

This tour of the UH Case Medical Center Cath Lab provides the opportunity to witness the most advanced technologies at work. If a case is able to be scheduled, tour participants may have the opportunity to observe a procedure in real time, and witness how patients – who are awake during the procedure – provide verbal feedback to the surgeons in real time. Watch as the latest drug-eluding stent or balloon angioplasty is placed in the patient and see blood flow restored. Additionally, get the chance to listen to the cath lab team as they utilize the 3-D Heartflow technology to plot out the best treatment course prior to surgery.

If there is no case, tour participants will have the opportunity to meet directly with the lead surgeons, examine heart valve replacements, and get a dynamic introduction to how procedures are done – using real case studies. The tour group will be able to see before and after snapshots of how a patient’s heart was failing and how the treatment dramatically improved operating time, recovery and health of the patient.

Lunch with a pediatric oncology expert

Advancements in early detection and treatment have led to greater cancer survival rates for babies, children and adults. However, for teens and young adults diagnosed with certain types of cancers, survival rates over the last three decades remain unchanged.

Often caught between pediatric and adult oncology, adolescents face unique challenges because their cancers, treatments and social needs differ from infants, younger children and adults. During a lunch discussion, John Letterio, M.D., chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s, will discuss how programs and facilities like the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute are tailored to specifically increase survival rates and quality of life in this population. He will also provide an overview on advancements in care for children with cancer, including early stage clinical trials, half-match bone marrow transplantation and proton therapy.

Letterio will discuss Angie’s Institute’s and its focus on eliminating barriers, developing early diagnosis strategies, and improving access to life-saving clinical trials. The program provides highly personalized, comprehensive programming and support services for teens. Additionally, he will show images of the recently opened outpatient cancer floor, one of the first in the country to offer separate, age-appropriate areas, technologies and amenities for babies/children and adolescents/young adults. The floor was designed with a unique atmosphere that surrounds teens and young adults as well as children in an environment suited to their needs.

Holographic medical anatomy

Holographic technology
Case Western University School of Medicine students will soon use Microsoft HoloLens for 3D models to explore human anatomy.

Case Western Reserve University and the School of Medicine, in partnership with Cleveland Clinic, are developing a holographic medical anatomy curriculum for the newly launched Microsoft HoloLens, a headset device that projects holograms into the real world. The curriculum will feature a library of labeled 3-D holographic human models that provide a systems-level perspective to anatomy that is nearly impossible for students to experience through traditional dissection or with 2-D medical illustrations. With simple gesture and voice commands, students can turn on and off entire biological systems or explore individual organs and structures in exquisite detail. Students and professors can even look at the same hologram together and see and hear each other as they interact with the digital world, creating a unique augmented reality experience. The curriculum will roll out with the opening of Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic’s new Health Education Campus in 2019, but join us now to learn more about the many HoloLens applications that Case Western Reserve envisions to advance research and teaching in medicine, science, and a wide variety of specialities.

Watch the manufacturing process for cells

Cell therapy
The Cellular Therapy Lab operates a cleanroom
to grow and manipulate cells for patients.

Cellular therapy is the medical application of living cellular material used to provide novel, replacement cellular material to regenerate, restore or rejuvenate the human body. At the National Center for Regenerative Medicine’s Cellular Therapy Lab, a state-of-the-art facility at the School of Medicine, experts manufacture large numbers of cells for physicians who use them in clinical trials to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis. The lab contains a unique cleanroom which controls environmental conditions and limits airborne particles, making it possible to grow and manipulate cells for use in patients. Its advanced equipment includes a machine using microscopic magnetic beads to separate out particular types of cells, another that sends electronic pulses through collections of cells to count them by the millions, and a bioreactor that can grow cells in the billions.

These therapies represent a unique technology that cannot be substituted with an equivalent therapeutic, as the only equivalent is healthy functioning tissue. Some of these techniques are used to insert genes into patients’ blood stem cells to make their bone marrow more resistant to chemotherapy and create vaccines from the patients’ own immune cells to target their tumor.

The NCRM is a multi-institutional center including Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and Ohio State University.

See how nursing takes flight

Nursing flight simulater
With realistic noise and movement, nursing students
learn how to take care of patients during a
helicopter flight.

Spinning rotor blades whir as the helicopter takes off from a field. Nurses surround a gurney with a patient in critical condition that must be monitored above the din and vibrations en route to a nearby hospital.

This life-and-death scenario is a training exercise at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and its first-of-its-kind Flight Nursing Helicopter Simulator, where students learn to deliver care in one of the most stressful environments in health care.

Developed by Redbird Flight Simulations and Hartzell Propeller, the simulator, a Sikorsky S76 fuselage mounted on a motion platform with a FAA-approved medical interior and specially designed rear projection panels that display real-world views and weather conditions mimics all aspects of flight from liftoff to landing.

Journalists will see a live demonstration of the simulator’s capacity for learning.

Field trip 2

Say goodbye to human cadavers and hello to 3-D models

Journalists are invited to see how 3-D printing is revolutionizing medicine at Cleveland Clinic. This novel technology is bringing a new era of education and patient care. Today, patient-customized medical devices can be more readily accessible thanks to 3-D. Just as an inkjet printer reproduces a digital image with ink, a 3-D printer reproduces a digital model – often derived from high-resolution CT or MRI scans – with resin, thermoplastics, photopolymers or other materials. By stacking the material layer by layer, 3-D printing builds physical objects often within hours.  3-D printing is still in its infancy at Cleveland Clinic and other major medical centers, but the technology is already revolutionizing medicine.

Programmable patients offer realistic simulations

Simulation and advanced skills
training at Cleveland Clinic allows
for better training of professionals
to deliver patient care and safety.

Journalists will also have the opportunity to participate in realistic simulations of procedures and surgeries at Cleveland Clinic’s 60,000-sqare-feet Multidisciplinary Simulation Center.

The center is home to programmable patients (children and adults) and 100 different types of simulators that help prepare surgeons and nurses for unique procedures or to just practice “routine” tasks such as laparoscopic suturing.

Genetics at the forefront

The role of genetics in health care is expanding. Diagnostic and predictive genetic testing is used to help physicians and their patients understand risk for certain diseases and take action when possible. Journalists will have the opportunity to attend a Mock Genetic Counseling Session and experience how “patients” are counseled on suspected genetic conditions, which family members may be affected and the genetic testing process. They will see the Liquid Handling Robot and how it automates the processing of patient samples, providing higher throughput and greater accuracy. Also, they will experience DNA Spooling, where they will have the opportunity to actually see DNA.

Lunch with health practitioners

Field trip attendees will have lunch with professionals at the main campus of MetroHealth, Cleveland’s original safety-net hospital.

Built upon 1837’s City Hospital, MetroHealth is a key trauma center for the region, with nearly 3,000 trauma admissions a year. Before learning about cutting-edge research to restore function for paralyzed people and touring the still-being-built Critical Care Pavilion, field trip participants will have a short lunch to hear more about the hospital’s work in the community and beyond.

Tour a brand new Ebola treatment center

MetroHealth is home to Ohio’s only designated Ebola treatment center and one of 55 in the United States. The infection control team constantly conducts training sessions to ensure it is ready for every aspect of caring for an Ebola patient. The donning and doffing of personal protective equipment  is critically important to preventing the spread of Ebola.

MetroHealth Ebola treatment center
MetroHealth will soon open a new Ebola treatment center with the latest technology.

In this part of the field trip, reporters will see the skill and care needed in donning and doffing. And they'll do that in MetroHealth's two brand-new Special Disease Care Units, part of our newly expanded Critical Care Pavilion.

The expansion of the Critical Care Pavilion is the start of a major campus overhaul at MetroHealth, adding 85 intensive-care beds that will be ready in time for the Republican National Convention in July.

Reporters will meet with Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, medical director of infectious control, to learn about the extensive ongoing training for clinicians who practice at designated Ebola treatment centers.

Innovation for restoring function for paralyzed people

Cleveland is the international hub for innovation in neurotechnologies that provide movement and restore function to people with paralysis. A collaboration among MetroHealth, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland VA has resulted in the development of implantable technology that provides paralyzed people restored hand grasp and arm movement, trunk stability, standing and walking, bladder and bowel control and breathing and cough. This technology dramatically improves their quality of life, allowing them to resume employment, family, and social activities again. Journalists will have the opportunity to see this technology in action as demonstrated by users, and hear from members of the research team that developed and intend to commercialize it.