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Information Byway

Almost three dozen computers have been placed in 26 sites across southeast Louisiana to help displaced doctors, patients and the general public access medical information from reliable sources as part of the Medical Library Recovery Project for Southeast Louisiana. The project is funded by a $100,000 donation from the National Library of Medicine and has been implemented by Ochsner Clinic Foundation Medical Library, Stephen Russo of Spire Network Services, Chabert Medical Center in Houma and Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Consortium on the Northshore.

Professionals and people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita now will have computer access to medical information housed in the libraries at Ochsner, Chabert and the Health Education Consortium. Ochsner also has hired a library systems specialist who will visit sites to offer classes on how to locate quality health information on the Internet -- including the National Library of Medicine Web portal for consumer health information.

The donated computers have been placed in facilities according to need and are available in New Orleans, Slidell, Covington, Houma, Baton Rouge, Raceland, Hammond, Bogalusa, Independence and Greensburg.

A Higher Degree

Students who want to become physical therapists now can obtain a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from the School of Allied Health Professions at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

LSU's addition of the degree tracks a trend across the country to provide a doctoral-level program for physical therapists that requires three years of doctoral education to cover everything the professionals need to practice. Nationwide, there is a shortage of physical therapists and the demand for them is expected to increase as baby boomers reach retirement age, according to School of Allied Health Professions Dean J. M. Cairo.

To help fill that gap in the future, LSU is increasing enrollment for the program over the next three years. Admission is granted on a competitive basis. For more information, log onto www.lsuhsc.edu or call (225) 408-4975 or (225) 763-2827.

What's In a Name

Ochsner Clinic Foundation has changed it name to Ochsner Health System (1514 Jefferson Hwy.; www.ochsner.org) in an effort to make its name more clearly reflect its product. The organization changed its name after four years of market research and substantial growth in Ochsner's services, programs and facilities.

Officials say the new name is intended to establish a more emotional connection with patients and to emphasize the commitment Ochsner has to the communities it serves.

The name change also will be evident in other places. Summit Hospital in Baton Rouge recently was renamed Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge, and there is a new partnership in Raceland called Ochsner-St. Anne General Hospital which seeks to bring additional specialized medical services to Lafourche Parish. That partnership is effective May 1.

The main campus on Jefferson Highway will be known as Ochsner Medical Center, and the institution's pediatric inpatient services will be called Ochsner Medical Center for Children. Its 25 clinics in southeast Louisiana will bear a new name and regional designations, such as Ochsner Health Center-Metairie.

Stick-free Gets Sticky

The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon, invented by DuPont, to be a carcinogen and Teflon-coated pans should be used carefully. Others in the scientific community consider PFOA to be linked to birth defects and other health hazards as well.

DuPont scientists conclude that humans can contract polymer fume fever when a Teflon-coated pan reaches about 662 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature exceeded during preheating on a burner, use beneath a broiler or during the self-cleaning cycle on an oven. The company and EPA officials recommend consumers use such pans only on the stovetop for limited periods of time, ventilate well, and don't let anything burn in the pan. Further, you should discard any pans on which the Teflon coating has deteriorated and don't use Teflon-coated heat lamps at all.

The information about PFOA and Teflon resulted from a class-action lawsuit brought by some 50,000 residents near a DuPont plant in West Virginia, which contended the plant's emissions were linked to birth defects and health problems. In an out-of-court settlement, DuPont eventually agreed to pay the plaintiffs $50 million in cash, $22 million for legal costs and to spend $10 million to filter PFOA from the water.

Hero of the Storm

Dr. Victor E. Tedesco IV, who was chief of the medical staff at Touro Infirmary (1440 Foucher St., 897-7011) when Hurricane Katrina hit the city, is recipient of the 2006 Judah Touro society Award and was honored at a gala earlier this month, along with other Touro and Woldenberg Village workers who helped patients and their institutions in the aftermath of the storm.

The award Tedesco received is named after the founder of Touro Infirmary and is given each year in recognition of outstanding contributions to the welfare of the institution. Tedesco was chosen because of his key role in the safe evacuation of hundreds of patients, staff, their families and even pets in the days following the storm. Tedesco and his family have since moved to Lafayette.

Good As Gold

West Jefferson Medical Center (1101 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero, 341-5641) has received a Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care, and the hospital's stroke unit has been certified for its commitment to excellence by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

Medical center President and Chief Executive Officer A. Gary Muller says the designations recognize the health-care center's commitment to patient care. "The fact that [the stroke unit] has earned this distinction during these challenging times following Hurricane Katrina is a great compliment to our physicians, nurses and staff and to our community," he says of the comprehensive stroke unit. Medical statistics show that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in this country.

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