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Cedars-Sinai Team Saves Patient with 25-Pound Ovarian Tumor

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Cedars-Sinai Team Saves Life of Patient with 25-Pound Ovarian Tumor

LOS ANGELES – Maria Robles Garcia was sure her uncomfortable abdominal symptoms weren’t caused by irritable bowel syndrome or from being overweight, no matter that her local doctors repeatedly told her that was the case.

Eight months of escalating abdominal and back pain, bloating, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue added up to something worse—of that she was certain.

“My doctor told me I was getting fatter, and that was the problem, even though I could feel something hard in my belly,” Garcia, 53, recalled of the months of frustrating physician visits at which she believed her symptoms were dismissed because she’s overweight and a woman. “I’ve been overweight for a long time. That was not the problem. I was actually losing weight because I was so sick.”

Garcia credits her Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department physicians and surgeon with saving her life, after they detected and removed a 25-pound, cancerous ovarian tumor.

“They listened to me,” Garcia said. “If not, I could have died.”

Physician dismissals of women’s physical symptoms as “all in your head” or “irritable bowel syndrome” are nothing new to Bobbie J. Rimel, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai and Garcia’s gynecologic oncologist. 

“I have treated many patients who were told they felt ill because they’re fat or have gluten intolerance when, in fact, they had cancer,” Rimel said.

Lack of financial resources and access to proper health screenings, plus physician bias based on physical appearance, ethnicity and gender are among the health inequities that often delay cancer diagnoses and treatment, Rimel said. “These disparities in healthcare break my heart.”

In the case of ovarian cancer, women face the additional burden of vague and mild-sounding symptoms that often fail to prompt a pelvic exam, delaying diagnosis.

“Indigestion, fatigue and changes in bowel movements don’t usually prompt doctors to palpate women’s abdomens,” Rimel said. “Nor do they do so when women complain of constipation. If Maria’s doctors had, they would have felt the large tumor.”“

“Women need to know that it’s not normal to suffer. Do not delay a doctor visit. If you are in pain, don’t give up until you feel better.” — Bobbie J. Rimel, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Garcia’s torturous road to a life-saving diagnosis began two years ago with multiple visits to an Antelope Valley primary care physician and a gastroenterologist. She repeatedly complained of vomiting and frequent diarrhea and she felt a hard mass in her abdomen.

Garcia said she “begged” her gastroenterologist for a CT scan to get an accurate look inside her abdomen and pelvis, but he rejected her request. She did undergo an ultrasound, but the ovarian tumor apparently was not identified, Rimel said. The physician told Garcia she was fat and had a liver condition, the cure for which, he said, was weight loss.

As the Lancaster resident’s condition worsened, she sought help again from her primary care physician, who told her to go immediately to the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department. Once there, abdominal and pelvic imaging quickly confirmed the huge mass in her ovary. About 48 hours later, Garcia was in surgery, where Rimel removed the 18-inch, 25-pound tumor.

“She was incredibly lucky that the cancer had not spread,” Rimel said. Unlike most cancerous tumors, which grow on the surface of the ovary and then spread into the abdomen, Garcia’s cancer apparently lived inside her ovary and grew there.

“Women need to know that it’s not normal to suffer,” Rimel said. “Do not delay a doctor visit. If you are in pain, don’t give up until you feel better.” She encourages women with ongoing abdominal pain to see a gynecologist who, she said, “is more in tune with the cancer risks women face. They are more likely to pursue diagnostic tests.”

Garcia underwent chemotherapy for six months following surgery because tests revealed some cancer cells in her abdominal fluid. Genetic testing also revealed that Garcia has one of the BRCA gene mutations, which increases her risk for breast and other cancers. Follow-up CT imaging and regular blood tests that monitor the presence of cancer during and after treatment have revealed no cancer recurrence, Rimel said.

To maintain her physical and emotional well-being, Garcia participates in the Cedars-Sinai Wellness, Resilience and Survivorship Programs. She’s completed the six-week “Emerging from the Haze” program, which helps cancer survivors deal with cognitive concerns, strong emotions or other quality of life issues following cancer treatments. She also has partaken of the “Nutrition in the Kitchen” program and art therapy classes. She currently is enrolled in the “Community for Resilience with Exercise” program.

Garcia says she is on a mission to help other women who need guidance as they deal with the effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. She says the hard work is worth it.

“I’m the luckiest woman out there,” Garcia said. “I want other women to listen to their bodies and not doubt what they’re hearing. There is beauty in this world, and I want them to be around to enjoy it.”

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County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family

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LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

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Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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