Archive for June, 2018

UNMC-chaired Pan Pacific Lymphoma Conference in 24th year

Julie Vose, M.D.

UNMC’s lymphoma program continues to have an impact internationally.Just one of the areas is the Pan Pacific Lymphoma Conference, which UNMC faculty have chaired since its inception in 1994. The goal is to provide clinicians with the latest evidence in lymphoma to improve disease management and ultimately patient outcomes.

The conference, which is co-chaired by Julie Vose, M.D., James Armitage, M.D., and Matthew Lunning, D.O., of UNMC, will include presentations by internationally recognized speakers. Registration for the conference, which will be held July 16-20 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii, is now open.

“The conference has provided educational updates on lymphoma care and research to thousands of physicians and health care providers from around the world over the last 24 years,” said Dr. Vose, Neumann M. and Mildred E. Harris Professorial Chair and chief of the oncology/hematology division in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine. “The conference is a wonderful showcase for the work of the UNMC lymphoma team and now the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center facilities at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine.”

Brenda Ram, interim director of educational programs, UNMC Center for Continuing Education, said issues to be addressed include clinical challenges, “ask the experts” sessions, and insightful commentaries. A panel of expert faculty will discuss the current standards of practice, clinical trial information, and the emergence of new therapies for patients with leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma.

Target audience for the international conference is oncologists, hematologists, pathologists, clinical scientists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and pharmacists charged with the care of patients with lymphoma.

The conference will feature 58 submitted abstracts from around the world.

Registration for this year’s conference is the largest to date with 569 people representing 16 countries already registered.

This conference is administered by the UNMC Center for Continuing Education. It is certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™, as well as ANCC and ACPE credits by the UNMC Center for Continuing Education and credits from the UNMC College of Nursing Continuing Nursing Education and the Postgraduate Institute for Medicine.

Watchman Procedure

In January 2018, Nebraska Medicine became the first health care system in Omaha to implant the WATCHMAN™ left atrial appendage occlusion device. This device is designed to lower your risk of stroke due to atrial fibrillation (afib) while at the same time allowing you to stop blood thinners. Clinical trials have shown this implant to be a safe alternative to the blood thinner warfarin (also known as Coumadin) with comparable stroke-risk reduction.

The WATCHMAN™ device pictured above is about the size of a quarter.

Atrial fibrillation — irregular quivering of the upper chamber of the heart — affects more than 5 million Americans and is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of all strokes nationwide. The average person with afib is five times more likely to have a stroke than someone with a regular heartbeat. Afib leads to a decrease in the pumping capacity of the upper chambers of the heart. This results in decreased blood movement and encourages blood clots to form in a blind pouch connected to the left upper chamber, called the left atrial appendage. A blood clot could escape from this area and travel to another part of the body. When this part of the body is the brain, it can results in a stroke.

Medicines like warfarin that thin the blood to prevent clots have, until now, been the standard way to reduce the risk of stroke. However, these medications are not suitable for many patients due to bleeding risks, medication interactions, and other adverse reactions.

If you have a reason to seek an alternative to blood thinners, such as a history of bleeding or a lifestyle, occupation or condition that puts you at risk for bleeding, WATCHMAN™ may be right for you.

Why have this procedure done at Nebraska Medicine?

First in Omaha

We were the first in Omaha to offer the procedure, and we’re the only program in the state to offer a comprehensive team dedicated to treating atrial fibrillation.

Potential Permanent Solution

WATCHMAN™ is a permanent implant that provides an alternative to the lifelong use of blood thinners, while lowering your stroke due to afib risk. The device is about the size of a quarter and made from nitinol, a very light and compact material commonly used in many other medical implants.

Short Procedure Done Under General Anesthetic

We implant the WATCHMAN™ device through a vein in the leg using a minimally invasive catheter to reach the heart.  The procedure only takes about an hour and is guided by transesophageal echocardiography (TEE ultrasound).  A one-night hospital stay is typical.  The procedure is performed by Dr. Andrew Goldsweig and Dr. Jessica Delaney.

Medicare and many insurance companies now cover this device, which is approved by the FDA. Watch this video by Boston Scientific, manufacturer of the WATCHMAN™ device, to understand the procedure in more detail and to see statistics on its successful outcomes.

Normally, you’ll have to take blood thinners for about 45 days after the procedure. During this time, heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a barrier against blood clots. We’ll monitor this process by taking TEE ultrasound pictures of your heart to see when you can stop taking blood thinners.  Most patients will also need to take a medicine called clopidogrel (also known as Plavix®) for a few months and aspirin on an ongoing basis.

Our Team Offers a Wide Variety of Ways to Assist You

If this procedure is not the right fit for you, we offer a wide variety of other ways to help you with cardiac arrhythmias, of which afib is the most common.

See a list of insurance companies we accept.

The information contained on this page is for information purposes only. For specific questions regarding your medical condition or treatment, please consult with your doctor directly.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Nebraska Medicine, call +1-402-559-3090 or OIHS@nebraskamed.com.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center Marks One Year

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Director Ken Cowan, MD, PhD, called it “an incredibly successful year and the beginning of a very exciting future.”

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, says the impact of the cancer center has exceeded all expectations.

“The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center has shown in its first year the breadth and depth of its efforts in the battle against cancer, through its state-of-the-art patient care, by providing a base for cutting-edge cancer research, and through its education of the next generation of cancer-fighting health professionals,” Dr. Gold says. “We are incredibly grateful for the public-private partnership with our community that made the cancer center possible and are so proud of the work that has been done here. We expect even greater achievements in the future.”

“Nebraska Medicine and UNMC share a mission to lead the world,” says Dan DeBehnke, MD, MBA, CEO of Nebraska Medicine. “The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center is a beautiful example of that partnership and mission. We’ve done some extraordinary things in the past year thanks to a dedicated team. This first year lays a foundation for all the years to come. We are just getting started.”

“This center shows what is possible when we focus on what is important and are determined to do it right and at the highest level,” says Sarah Thayer, MD, PhD, physician in chief at the cancer center. “And we will keep reaching for new breakthroughs.”

Feedback from patients, faculty and staff has been “incredibly positive,” Dr. Cowan says.

“Everybody is excited about working closer together to advance the opportunities to develop new therapies and treatments for patients and to make them available sooner,” he says. “And for patients — in terms of the ease of being able to see all of their oncology providers and all the services they need in one environment — it has been very successful.”

“When we look at where we were a year ago and the patient experience we can provide today it is transformational,” says Theresa Franco, vice president of Nebraska Medicine cancer services. “What the cancer team has dreamed, designed, and committed to our patients has come to life.”

Educationally, Dr. Cowan says, the center has been transformational in allowing graduate students in the PhD programs to learn more about clinical challenges while clinical trainees, residents and fellows learn more about cutting-edge cancer research.

“Our ability to put everybody together means literally everybody can learn from each other, from the earliest part of their education,” he says.

Dr. Cowan spoke for the medical center leaders when he praised the supporters of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

“I want to say thank you to our state, city and county, who supported the vision of the cancer center early on, and to the many philanthropic donors and foundations and businesses that supported the vision and provided support for the building of the cancer center to make this the largest public-private partnership in the history of the state of Nebraska,” he says. “And I’d like to thank all of our patients, our staff and faculty and students.”


To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Nebraska Medicine, call +1-402-559-3090 or OIHS@nebraskamed.com.

Top Performer in Treatment of Heart Attack Patients

Nebraska Medical Center Among Nation’s Best When it Comes to Recognizing and Treating a Heart Attack

Nebraska Medical Center has received the American College of Cardiology’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry ACTION Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award for 2018. Nebraska Medical Center is one of only 95 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor.

“This national award by the American College of Cardiology recognizes the commitment and dedication of the personnel at Nebraska Medical Center to provide the highest level of patient care,” says Edward O’Leary, MD, Chest Pain Center medical director. “It is truly inspiring and amazing to watch all the teams come together for the care of these patients.”

To receive the ACTION Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award, Nebraska Medical Center has demonstrated sustained achievement in the ACTION Registry for four consecutive quarters and has performed at the top level of standards for specific performance measures. Full participation in the registry engages hospitals in a robust quality improvement process using data to drive improvements in adherence to guideline recommendations and overall quality of care provided to heart attack patients.

Participating in the ACTION registry has allowed Nebraska Medical Center to benchmark its performance and optimize care delivery for its heart attack patients.

“Our performance throughout 2017 demonstrates a consistent approach to guideline-directed therapy and adhering to national standards,” says Melissa Lederer, Heart and Vascular Chest Pain Center coordinator. “Internal improvement efforts hinged on using our ACTION registry results to evaluate outcomes and our ability to provide safe, effective care. Our Chest Pain Center team has done a tremendous amount of work to establish an evidenced-based regional system of care through strong collaboration with our Emergency Medical Services and our community-hospital providers. We’re proud of all of the work that has been done to improve processes for this patient population.”


To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Nebraska Medicine, call +1-402-559-3090 or OIHS@nebraskamed.com.