Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital has been a second home to Idamae Claiborne.
Claiborne has been part of the St. Mary’s staff since the hospital opened 50 years ago. And she’s been there through the changes brought by technology and through the expansions that have resulted in a nearly eightfold increase in hospital staff over the years.
Aside from change, there's been one other constant over the years: "Everyone was nice back then, and they're still nice," she says.
The hospital has celebrated its half century with a series of events and celebrations over the year, including the release of a commemorative hardcover book, “Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, Good Help for a Lifetime,” by Mary Miley Theobald. Claiborne is one of dozens of people whose lives have been touched in one way or another by the facility to have their stories shared in the book.
St. Mary’s opened in January 1966 and admitted its first patients, all 13 of them, on Feb. 15 that year. The groundwork was laid long before, though. Two Catholic bishops of the Richmond diocese had dreamed of a Catholic hospital for the city, but it took an heiress with a vision, and an order of nuns, to bring the dreams to fruition.
The heiress was Florence H. Lawler, who gave some $4 million toward the construction of the hospital, about half the project’s cost. And the facility was to be developed by the sisters of Bon Secours, an order founded in France in the 1800s in the wake of the French Revolution and Napoleon, sisters dedicated to tending to the sick and dying.
Theobald writes that a vanguard of three sisters moved to Richmond in 1961: Mother Germanus, Sister Mary of the Incarnation and Sister Mary Margaret. Claiborne says the nuns were wonderful to work with, and describes Mother Germanus as “very sweet.”
Claiborne is a Goochland native, and sometimes the commute in to Richmond wasn’t the easiest in the earlier days, especially when it snowed heavily. She says she stayed overnight in the sisters’ seventh-floor convent when snow prevented her from traveling home so she could work the following day.
Claiborne says she’d always wanted to work in health care and took a nursing class for a year. She heard about St. Mary’s from friends, and applied and served as a nursing assistant. She followed that with classwork as a patient tech and worked in that field until those positions were eliminated in the 1980s. She trained in respiratory and EKG technology and has worked in that field ever since.
She’s enjoyed her years at St. Mary’s, loves working with the patients and says she didn’t realize she would be there this long. Retirement is calling, though. Claiborne says she likely will leave St. Mary’s in mid-2017. She’ll stay busy, though, with horses, chickens and dogs and plenty of yard work to do.
“It’s time to give it up,” she says.
The half-century celebration wraps with St. Mary’s Christmas tree illumination Nov. 29. A “50” in lights will be part of the display this year. You can learn more about St. Mary's history in this video from the Bon Secours Richmond Foundation.
Bon Secours Richmond Foundation
A weekly roundup of health and medicine news
Alcohol, Drugs and the Surgeon General
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is an optimist.
The numbers are grim in a report released today by his office on alcohol, drugs and health. It states that in 2015, 93 million Americans abused drugs or reported an incident of binge drinking, and that alcohol and drug abuse result in an estimated $442 billion hit on the economy each year. The report also notes that specialty treatment only goes to about 10 percent of people with a substance abuse disorder.
And yet the executive summary says that “this is a time of great opportunity.” Reasons cited for an optimistic outlook include clinical, information technology and research advances, as well as reforms in health care and criminal justice.
Learn about the extent of the problem and the possibilities in dealing with it in the full report.
Time to Quit
And speaking of substance abuse, it’s a great day to stop smoking.
Here’s why: Tobacco-related cancer deaths are on the decline, but tobacco use still accounts for 40 percent of all incidents of cancer in the United States. Three in 10 cancer deaths are linked to cigarette smoking.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an extensive study on Nov. 11 that found that tobacco-related cancers in the United States decreased 1.3 percent a year in 2004-2013, and that deaths from cancer associated with tobacco use declined 1.6 percent each year in that period. Still, tobacco use accounted for about 343,000 deaths and 660,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed each year from 2009 to 2013.
Need help or encouragement? It’s Virginia Quit Day, and there are several free tools available to get you going, courtesy of the Virginia Department of Health. One of the best is also free, Quit Now Virginia. Its basic component is a toll-free support that will put you in touch with “expert quit coaches.” The website has a quiz to help you determine whether you’re ready to quit and other supports.
Quit Now Virginia
David Cifu, VCU School of Medicine’s chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is the editor of the professional journal Brain Injury’s special edition focused on research related to combat-related concussions. Brain Injury is the publication of the International Brain Injury Association.
State of Statins
There may be a prescription for statins in your future. Or not — you need to talk with your doctor.
The drugs, which raise good cholesterol and help lower bad cholesterol and blood fats, can be of benefit to some adults age 40 to 75 who are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to a finding released Sunday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
The task force, which describes itself as “an independent, volunteer panel of national experts,” says the drugs would be of most benefit to those who are at a 10 percent or greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease over a 10-year period, and who have a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Conditions that put a person at risk include hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking. This recommendation is rated a “B”, which means that it comes with a “high certainty that the net benefit is moderate,” or that there is “moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.”
The report further states that there may be some benefit for statin use by people in the same age group who are at a slightly lesser risk factor (7.5 to 10 percent) for developing the disease over a 10-year period. That recommendation received a "C" rating, which means that doctors may want to "offer or provide this service for selected patients depending on individual circumstances."
There was insufficient evidence regarding the efficacy of statin use in individuals 76 and older who have no history of cardiovascular disease.