South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday April 14, 2021
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April 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 10
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More Transplants More Life (“MTML”) announced its recognition as a tax-exempt non-profit under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to MTML are now fully tax-deductible. Even more importantly, MTML is also eligible to apply for public and private grants. Leveraging grants with matching funds from donors will create more opportunities to improve availability of additional organs for transplantation to those in need. They will also provide support for living donors and recipients.

“This is a major milestone for our growing organization, and we are excited to help support patients on the organ transplant list as well as help educate the community about the importance of organ donation,” commented Louis Betz, President and Founder of MTML.
 
Betz, himself, contracted a rare autoimmune disease that resulted in a double lung transplant at the end of 2018. He learned first-hand about the great demand for organs and that every day people die while on waiting lists – or even trying to get on the list at all. Kidneys, lungs, hearts, and livers are desperately needed. In fact, while in the hospital recovering, one of his fellow patients died while waiting for lungs. It hit him hard; but blessed with a full recovery, he decided to share his experiences and improve the processes associated with organ transplants.
 
Since its original formation in mid-2019 as a Political Committee, MTML has been a growing voice about the importance of organ donation and in support of organ transplant candidates waiting on – or trying to be approved to - the National registry.
 
“This opens many doors for our organization to expand fundraising and increase advocacy on behalf of transplant candidates across the board,” added Betz.

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center has opened a new orthopedic unit for patients having orthopedic procedures. The unit has 15 newly renovated private rooms with a spacious room set up including plush sofa beds, private bathroom and shower designed and equipped for safety, to go along with their supervised rehabilitation center offering a fully equipped gym for physical occupational rehabilitation.  

Some of the new amenities include:
• 15 newly renovated private rooms
• Spacious room set-up – armoire, a generous countertop and desk area, and plush sofa beds
• Private bathroom and shower designed and equipped for safety
• Professionally supervised rehabilitation center offering a fully equipped gym for physical and occupational rehabilitation
• Rehabilitation center furnished with various daily activity simulators to prepare for driving, using the restroom, shower or tub, and going up and down stairs post-surgery
• Comfortable dining area is a private space for orthopedic patients to go with their guest to enjoy refreshments and stretch their legs
Researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Florida Research and Innovation Center (FRIC) have identified a potential new target for anti-COVID-19 therapies. Their findings were published in Nature Microbiology.
 
Led by FRIC scientific director Michaela Gack, Ph.D., the team discovered that a coronavirus enzyme called PLpro (papain-like protease) blocks the body’s immune response to the infection. More research is necessary, but the findings suggest that therapeutics that inhibit the enzyme may help treat COVID-19.
 
“SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – has evolved quickly against many of the body’s well-known defense mechanisms,” Gack said. “Our findings, however, offer insights into a never-before characterized mechanism of immune activation and how PLpro disrupts this response, enabling SARS-CoV-2 to freely replicate and wreak havoc throughout the host. We discovered that inhibiting PLpro may help rescue the early immune response that is key to limiting viral replication and spread.”
 
One of the body’s frontline immune defenses is a class of receptor proteins, including one called MDA5, that identify invaders by foreign patterns in their genetic material. When the receptors recognize a foreign pattern, they become activated and kick-start the immune system into antiviral mode. This is done in part by increasing the downstream expression of proteins encoded by interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs).
 
In this study, Gack and her team identified a novel mechanism that leads to MDA5 activation during virus infection. They found that ISG15 must physically bind to specific regions in the MDA5 receptor – a process termed ISGylation – in order for MDA5 to effectively activate and unleash antiviral actors against invaders. They showed that ISGylation helps to promote the formation of larger MDA5 protein complexes, which ultimately results in a more robust immune response against a range of viruses.
 
“While discovery of a novel mechanism of immune activation is exciting on its own,” Gack said, “we also discovered a bit of bad news, which is that SARS-CoV-2 also understands how the mechanism works, considering it has already developed a strategy to block it.”
 
The research team shows that the coronavirus enzyme PLpro physically interacts with the receptor MDA5 and inhibits the ISGylation process.

Using state-of-the art technology that promises to become tomorrow’s standard of care, neurosurgeons at Marcus Neuroscience Institute, Frank Vrionis, M.D., and Timothy Miller, M.D., have successfully performed their first robotic-assisted spine surgery. The Institute, located at Baptist Health’s Boca Raton Regional Hospital, is the only facility in Palm Beach and Broward counties to offer this advanced technology and one of only two facilities between Central Florida and the Florida Keys.

The patient, a man in his 70s, underwent a minimally invasive spinal fusion to stabilize the lumbar area of his back using the Mazor X™ Robotic Guidance Platform.
 
“Robotics allow us to perform minimally-invasive surgeries with increased safety and precision, leading to less blood loss, less post-operative pain and faster recovery,” says neurosurgeon Frank Vrionis, M.D., the Institute’s director. “With our new sophisticated robotic system, we will be able to perform more minimally invasive procedures safely and effectively. This is particularly beneficial to our aging population, because it reduces the risk of infection and shortens hospital stays.”
 
The robotics platform assists surgeons by combining 3D pre-operative planning, robotic guidance and intra-operative surgical navigation for precise placement of spinal implants and screws. “The margin of error is very small in the spine,” Dr. Vrionis says. “If you’re placing hardware in the spine, there are times when one millimeter is all it takes to leave a person with weakness or a neurological problem. The more precise we can be, the better.”
 
The Mazor X™ Robotic Guidance Platform provides surgeons comprehensive information and visualization before ever making an incision. Using 3D imaging and computer analytics, the surgeon plans an optimal surgery in a CT-based 3D simulation of the patient’s spine. This means the angle, width and length of every screw are very specifically mapped for each patient and guided in real time during surgery.

Orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Jonathan Hersch, M.D., FAAOS, with Tenet Florida Physician Services and West Boca Medical Center in Boca Raton, is now specializing in the new ExactTechGPS® Shoulder Application, a preoperative surgery planning tool. Dr. Hersch is using this technology as a tool to create guided personalized surgery for shoulder replacements. Similar to a GPS navigation device in a vehicle, this shoulder procedure platform gives the surgeon a visual map of the patient’s shoulder joint on a high-definition (HD) screen. This allows the shoulder specialist to combine their preoperative planning with intraoperative computer-assisted technology. Dr. Hersch said this helps to perform implant alignment relative to the patient’s needs.

“This is the latest advancement in technology providing surgeons with real-time visual guidance and alignment data in total shoulder surgery. The precision and accuracy is unparalleled,” said Dr. Hersch.
 
Dr. Hersch is now using this preoperative planning tool to plan cases based on a 3D anatomical model built during a patient’s visit to his office prior to surgery, thus allowing him to make any adjustments needed prior to the procedure.

When a new bundle of joy requires extra special medical care in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, parents and extended family might feel overwhelmed. At West Boca Medical Center, the medical staff works hard to relieve those fears, by caring for any premature or at-risk baby.

Further enhancing this care, the hospital is now the only one in Palm Beach and North Broward County, to have installed the NICVIEW 2™ Live Streaming Camera Systems in its Level III NICU, the highest level of care available. Parents and their family members can now see their baby at all times, even when they cannot be there in person. The password-protected camera provides parents and their family members a secure virtual window to their newborn in the NICU.
 
“This new and protected technology is giving families and loved ones another way to connect with their baby even when they can’t be present all of the time in our Level III NICU,” said George Rizzuto, chief executive officer of West Boca Medical Center. “We understand the challenges families face when their child is in the NICU, often unexpectedly, so we are trying to take concerns about separation out of the equation. Families can see their baby at any time, and feel secure knowing they are getting the very best care possible at our hospital.” 

Holy Cross Health is one of the first in South Florida to offer a new lung valve treatment for patients with severe COPD/emphysema. 

Recently approved by the FDA under its “Breakthrough Devices” status, the Zephyr® Endobronchial Valve treatment is a major advancement because it is the first minimally invasive procedure to help emphysema sufferers breathe easier without major surgery. Through a simple bronchoscopy, the valves improve a patient’s quality of life by allowing them to breathe easier, reducing the shortness of breath, while promoting a more active and energetic lifestyle. 
 
“We are very excited to have this new treatment option because emphysema patients are often in poor physical condition, struggling with each breath despite medication therapy. Before the Zephyr Valves, the only options for relief were highly invasive treatments including lung surgeries,” said Sam G. Kosseifi, M.D., DABSM, lead pulmonologist at Holy Cross Health. “Being able to offer this minimally invasive procedure has the potential to improve the quality of life for many emphysema sufferers in Florida and beyond.”
 
The one-time procedure is done during a simple bronchoscopy that requires no cutting or incisions. During the procedure, an average of four tiny valves are placed in the airways to block off the diseased parts of the lungs where air gets trapped. Keeping air from getting trapped in the diseased parts of the lung allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and take in more air. This results in patients being able to breathe easier and have less shortness of breath. 

Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is now offering patients new treatment for valve repair and replacement procedures. The hospital is now able to perform minimally invasive surgery for several heart valve diseases. Dr. Nishant Patel, cardiothoracic surgeon, is one of the first, and currently the only surgeon performing this procedure at the hospital.

“These procedures are a breakthrough in our community, and we are looking forward to providing this level of care to our patients at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center,” said Dr. Patel. “Unlike traditional open heart surgery where the breast bone needs to be surgically separated, minimally invasive valve surgery is performed through a small incision between the ribs, which may offer less pain, scarring, and a faster return to your daily activities.”
 
The following minimally procedures are now being offered at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center:
• Mitral Valve Repair and Replacement
• Tricuspid Repair and Replacement
• Aortic Valve Replacement
• Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation
• Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Repair
• Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Repair

The North Broward Hospital District’s Baa2 rating and stable outlook on its outstanding bonds have been affirmed by Moody’s Investor Services. According to Moody’s, “the affirmation of the Baa2 expects that the North Broward Hospital District will generate stable, but modest, margins in fiscal 2021,” adding that the system is expected to “maintain a strong cash position to help absorb the impact of COVID-19 and provide robust coverage of a low risk debt burden.”

“Maintaining the designation of ‘stable’ during a global pandemic demonstrates Broward Health’s strong fiscal positioning,” said Alex Fernandez, senior vice president and CFO of Broward Health. “Our leadership team and caregivers have worked tirelessly during this pandemic to perform at the highest level of care with financial integrity and compliance. We look forward to the future and improved financial conditions that should further positively impact our financial outlook.”
 
In the Moody’s report released February 24, 2021, Broward Health was acknowledged for its strong balance sheet and its modest debt load. “The North Broward Hospital District will continue to benefit from the system’s role as a large and diversified health system and as a safety net provider for Broward County.”

Delray Medical Center is now offering a new way to care for its orthopedic patients with the new Ortho-Fast Track program. Patients can now seek immediate care at its off-campus emergency center in Lake Worth, after an orthopedic injury. This new service allows patients to connect directly with an orthopedic surgeon so they can schedule a follow up appointment, after getting an initial examination by an emergency room physician.

Some of the benefits of the Ortho-Fast Track program include:
• Minimal waiting
• No appointment required
• Evaluation by a board certified ER physician
• Follow-up appointment with an orthopedic surgeon scheduled within 48 hours of your visit 
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