September 30, 2014

American Cancer Society in need of volunteer drivers

It is estimated at 9,550 Nebraskans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and getting every one of them to scheduled treatment is a big challenge. The American Cancer Society relies on volunteer drivers to help those with no vehicle or friends and family nearby to provide those rides.

Mission Delivery Specialist Christine Bleich says unfortunately there are more patients needing rides than volunteers to give them in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. Bleich says so far this year volunteers have provided about 500 rides to cancer patients in the Omaha metro area but they had to turn down about 25 requests because their current drivers were unavailable.

She says volunteers need to have a valid license, insurance and a reliable vehicle. They also must pass a background check and complete their required training.

Bleich says the American Cancer Society also relies on volunteer drivers in and around Lancaster County, Columbus, Kearney, Hastings and Grand Island as well.

Anyone wanting more information can log on to or call 1-800-227-2345.


UNMC fires two workers after inappropriate access to Ebola patient records

Two employees at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha have been fired after being accused of  violating HIPAA regulations in connection with the records kept on Dr. Rick Sacra, recently treated for Ebola at the center’s bio-containment unit.

The Med Center audited its electronic medical records and discovered that two employees inappropriately accessed the records of Dr. Sacra who was being treated for Ebola there.

Based on the results of an investigation, two employees no longer work for the organization and other corrective action has been taken.

The Med Center stresses this is extremely uncommon and they have a zero tolerance for unauthorized access to patient information. In accordance with HIPPA regulations, Dr. Sacra was notified in person and in writing before his departure from the hospital.

Dr. Sacra was released Thursday morning and returned to his home in Massachusetts later that day.

Nebraska Medical Center shares information on how to treat Ebola

The Ebola patient treated at the Nebraska Medical Center returned home to Massachusetts on Thursday after being released earlier that day. Dr. Phil Smith is the director of the Med Center’s biocontainment unit and says extra precautions were taken to treat Dr. Rick Sacra and to insure sure all of the infectious waste was properly disposed of.

Dr. Smith says, “Everything in the unit goes into an autoclave, is sterilized, is tested multiple times to make sure it is an effective sterilization mode, comes out the other side and is handled by the hospital’s waste system.”

That included gowns, sheets and all materials that were used in the unit. Dr. Smith says that is something that every unit that treats an Ebola patient will have to plan for.

The Nebraska Medical Center is sharing what they learned in treating Dr. Sacra with the C-D-C and other health organizations that are responding to massive Ebola outbreak in Africa.


National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Joan McVoy with the Nebraska Regional Poison Center says there are thousands of locations across the country that will provide this free and anonymous service sponsored by the U-S Drug Enforcement Administration


McVoy says 70% of those who abuse prescription pain medication for the first time get it from a friend or relative’s resident. She says disposing of these drugs in a safe, secure way prevents misuse. More than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2011 were from prescription drugs and pain relievers. McVoy says more than half of the calls to the Poison Center involve a medication.


Contact the Nebraska Poison Center to find the drop off center closest to you. The number is 1-800-222-1222.


Study of rare disorder underway at UNMC

People with a rare debilitating disorder from around the world are in Omaha this week at the University of Nebraska Medical Center taking part in the largest study ever done on orthostatic tremor, or OT.   Dr. Diego Torres-Russotto is a movement disorder specialist at UNMC and says “OT is a miserable disease”.

Dr. Torres-Russotto the disorder causes people to feel like they are going to fall down but only when they are standing still. He says they can only stand for short periods of time before they have to either sit down or start walking to relieve the symptom. Little is known about this disorder but Dr. Torres-Rossotto says they do know it is more common in females and onset occurs around age 40.

Patients from Spain, England, Canada, and Australia and from all over the U-S are taking part in the week long study that ends Friday. Dr. Torres-Russotto hopes this study will lead to further research and treatment options.