MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center receives Get With The Guidelines Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award

American Heart Association Award recognizes MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s commitment to quality stroke care

Clinton, MD,  ― MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC) has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

MSMHC earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health, get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions.

“MSMHC is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our stroke patients by implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke initiative,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray. “The tools and resources provided help us track and measure our success in meeting evidenced-based clinical guidelines developed to improve patient outcomes.”

MSMHC additionally received the association’s Target: StrokeSM Elite Plus award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176-bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve. For more information, visit MedstarSouthernMaryland.org.

About Get With The Guidelines®

Get With The Guidelines® is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that provides hospitals with tools and resources to increase adherence to the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get With The Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 6 million patients since 2001. For more information, visit heart.org.

Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing
[email protected] 
Phone: 301-877-5556

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Wins 2019 Partner for Change Award From Practice Greenhealth

CLINTON, MD--For the third year in a row, Practice Greenhealth, the leading organization promoting sustainable health care, has recognized MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC) for exceptional performance. This year, the hospital has won the Partner for Change Award.

According to Practice Greenhealth, facilities winning this particular award must have demonstrated that they are recycling at least 15 percent of their total waste, have reduced regulated medical waste, are on track to eliminate mercury, and have developed successful sustainability programs in many areas.

“We’re proud to have earned recognition once again from Practice Greenhealth,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray. “We take environmental stewardship seriously, and it is our hope this recognition shows to our community how much we care about our environmental impact as we continue to improve our processes.”

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176-bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve.

For more information, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org.

About Practice Greenhealth:

Practice Greenhealth is the leading nonprofit membership and network organization for sustainable health care, delivering environmental solutions to more than 1,100 members throughout the United States. Founded on the principles of positive environmental stewardship within the health care community, Practice Greenhealth lends its expertise to organizations looking to create safer, sustainable workplaces as well as improve the health of their patients, staff, and communities.

For more information, visit practicegreenhealth.org.

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Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing
[email protected] 
Phone: 301-877-5556

Oncologist Stephen Rubenstein, MD, Joins MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

CLINTON, MD-- MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC)’s Cancer Care staff has grown by one oncologist, Dr. Stephen “Eric” Rubenstein.

In his previous position, Dr. Rubenstein cultivated a growing cancer treatment program from a collection of physicians into a thriving comprehensive cancer treatment center that expanded access to clinical trials and state-of-the-art care.  He has joined Medstar with the same goal of expanding access to tertiary services, multidisciplinary care, clinical trials, and supportive care by integrating service lines to improve both the patient experience and clinical outcomes. 

At MSMHC, physicians involved in cancer treatment also serve on MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s Cancer Committee.  This body meets regularly to consult on cases, discuss best practices, and foster more seamless relationships between those involved in cancer care.

“I hope to serve as a connector between all disciplines involved in cancer treatment, from the patient to radiation and surgical oncologists, specialists and primary care doctors, nursing, social workers and family support,” said Dr. Rubenstein.  “It’s our goal to serve everyone, working in an integrated fashion.”

 Dr. Rubenstein’s philosophy when it comes to cancer care is to tailor care to the individual patient’s needs while collaborating with all care providers, and taking an approach that involves cooperation between everyone involved in a patient’s treatment.  Doing so, he believes, results in a better patient experience.

“It’s in our best interest to create a comprehensive cancer care network for our community, to expand access to state-of-the-art care,” said Dr. Rubenstein.  “The key is to let patients stay near home, in their community, not have to struggle to get to a reputable cancer center.  We know there are physical limitations associated with a cancer diagnosis and the ideal place to heal is at home under the careful watch of family, friends and community.”

Prior to joining MSMHC, Dr. Rubenstein served as Medical Director of Oncology Research with the Franciscan Physician Network in Indiana.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and attended medical school at Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv, Israel.  His residency and fellowship took place at Albert Einstein and SUNY Downstate, and Dr. Rubenstein did research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

Dr. Rubenstein’s office is located in the Professional Building connected to MSMHC. For an appointment, please call 301-877-5800.

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176-bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve.

For more information, visit MedstarSouthernMaryland.org.

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Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing
[email protected] 
Phone: 301-877-5556

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Receives Mission: Lifeline Bronze Receiving Quality Achievement Award

Clinton, MD, — MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC) has received the Mission: Lifeline® Bronze Receiving Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks, beginning with the 9-1-1 call, to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge. The initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines.

MSMHC earned the award by meeting specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility.

“Our hospital is dedicated to providing optimal care for heart attack patients,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in cardiac care through Mission: Lifeline.”

“We commend MSMHC for this award in recognition for following evidence-based guidelines for timely heart attack treatment,” said Tim Henry, M.D., Chair of the Mission: Lifeline Acute Coronary Syndrome Subcommittee. “We applaud the significant institutional commitment to their critical role in the system of care for quickly and appropriately treating heart attack patients.”

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176-bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve. For more information, visit MedstarSouthernMaryland.org.

About Mission: Lifeline

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation clinical treatment guidelines.  For more information, visit heart.org.

Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing
[email protected] 
Phone: 301-877-5556

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Publications Win Five Golds, One Silver, and Two Bronze Aster Awards for Excellence in Healthcare Communication

CLINTON, MD -  MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center’s community magazine, Health, and four pieces of its 2018 Hospital Week marketing materials have won 2019 Gold Aster Awards. MedStar Southern Maryland’s associate newsletter Connections won a Silver Aster Award, and MedStar Southern Maryland’s Annual Nursing Report and Hospital Week CNA and Tech Luncheon Invitation won Bronze Aster Awards. Aster Awards are granted annually for excellence in healthcare communication. 

“I’m very proud of our Marketing Team,” said MedStar Southern Maryland President Christine Wray. “We try not only to be a great hospital for our patients, but also a great place to come and work. We attract talented people to every team in the building and the Marketing Department is no exception. They come up with great content to inform our community members in Health magazine and important articles to inform associates in Connections. I applaud MedStar Southern Maryland’s Marketing associates for earning this recognition.” 

Health is a glossy magazine mailed out to more than 220,000 households surrounding the hospital. This magazine is shot by professional photographer Ryan Smith**. The publication also begins with a Letter from MedStar Southern Maryland President Christine Wray. It contains a Patient Testimonial cover story, and feature articles promoting the work of the hospital, educational articles on medical conditions and treatments, and a Heart&Soul section featuring MedStar Southern Maryland’s Cardiology Department. Current and past issues of Health are available on the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center website

Connections is published monthly and mailed to associates’ homes. It features a Letter from the President, stories about physicians and the latest innovations at MedStar Southern Maryland, department spotlights, and contributions from human resources and nursing. 

Hospital Week is celebrated annually in May with a series of fun events for hospital associates. The hospital’s annual nursing reports are created yearly to provide a detailed report of accomplishments throughout the year. 

To be considered for an Aster Award, a healthcare facility had to submit all advertising/marketing materials developed, produced and/or distributed during the calendar year 2018 to be eligible for the 2019 program. All entries for each category are placed together for judging by a panel of design and healthcare marketing professionals with decades of combined experience. Entries are judged on: Creativity, Layout/Design, Typography, Production, and Quality & Overall Effectiveness. For more information, visit www.asterawards.com
**For more information on photographer Ryan Smith, visit ryansmithproductions.com or call 267-712-9501. 

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176 bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve. 
For more information, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org

Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
Director of Marketing
[email protected] 
Phone: 301-877-5556

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Premieres Halcyon™ Cancer Treatment, Becomes First Center with this New Technology in DC/Metro Area

CLINTON, MD—MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC)’s new cancer treatment center is one step closer toward its completion with the addition of a new cancer-fighting technology in the office of Radiation Oncologist Andrew Satinsky, MD

On March 20, Dr. Satinsky began using the new Halcyon™ machine to treat patients. The Halcyon™ is an image guidance system delivering radiation more easily, more efficiently and with greater comfort, without compromising on quality. This results in a treatment that is highly effective in far less time.

Dr. Satinsky treating a patient with the Halcyon™ machine.

“This treatment revolutionizes the quality, expediency, comfort and safety of patients treated with radiation in the state of Maryland,” said Andrew Satinsky, MD. “This is exciting for us because we’re the first center in the DC Metro area to have this, and it means we’re on the cutting edge of technology.”

This new technology involves a low energy X-ray that allows soft imaging of the patient to minimize radiation risks while delivering afterwards a powerful treatment capable of achieving the demands of each patient’s needs. Another advantage includes new software tools that allow clinical evaluations for quick decision making on the need for clinical changes to the treatment, through adaptive radiation therapy.

The first patient to be treated at MSMHC was U.S. Department of Behavioral Health Police Officer John Long, who is receiving this treatment five days per week for two months.

“The process was simpler than I thought,” said Long. “It takes just ten to twelve minutes and they have explained everything to me, really taken the time to explain the process.  I came here because my first impression was good and I haven’t been disappointed.”

Already, MSMHC has expanded its cancer treatment services to include a robust Cancer Committee, which meets throughout the year to discuss the latest innovations in cancer patient care.  It also has a weekly tumor board meeting where a team of physicians in different disciplines meet to confer on cases.  In addition, the hospital’s roster of cancer treatment physicians, which includes Andrew Satinsky, MD, and Breast Surgeon Ekaterina Tsiapali, MD, recently expanded to add Hematologist-Oncologist Eric Rubenstein, MD.

“The acquisition of the Halcyon™ machine is another step toward offering the most state-of-the-art medicine and creating the new cancer treatment center we are building at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray.

This fall, MSMHC plans to open its cancer treatment center. This center will serve as a connector between all disciplines involved in cancer treatment, from the patient to radiation oncologists, nursing, social workers, surgeons, specialists and primary care doctors, allowing the team to tailor care to the individual patient’s needs while collaborating with all care providers, and taking an approach that involves cooperation between everyone involved in a patient’s treatment. The second advantage of this center will be to offer state-of-the-art care close to the residents of southern Maryland.

“The key is to let patients stay near home, in their community, not have to struggle to get to a reputable cancer center.  We know there are physical limitations associated with a cancer diagnosis and the ideal place to heal is at home under the careful watch of family, friends and community,” said Dr. Rubenstein.

For more information about cancer treatment at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/CancerTreatment.

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176 bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve.

For more information, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org.

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Media Contact

Cheryl Richardson
301-877-5700

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Recognized Nationally for Promoting Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC) was among a select group of hospitals nationwide recognized for promoting enrollment in state organ donor registries in a national campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The campaign has added more than 443,000 donor enrollments to state registries nationwide.

MSMHC conducted awareness and registry campaigns to educate staff, patients, visitors, and community members about the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donors and, by doing so, increased the number of potential donors on the state’s donor registry. The hospital earned points for each activity implemented between October 2017 and April 2018 and was awarded Silver recognition through the HRSA Workplace Partnership for Life Hospital Campaign.

Of the 1,283 hospitals and transplant centers participating in the campaign, 360 Silver Awards were awarded during this phase of the campaign.

“Winning the Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) Silver Award for promotion of organ donation gives me such pride and also has personal meaning,” said Renee Sicheri, MSMHC RN and member of the MSMHC ICU team. “The collaboration between WRTC and our ICU team is evident with every donor patient, as well as the donor family, who are given compassionate care, love, respect and support by the entire team. My family has been touched personally by organ donation. My brother-in-law experienced a hemorrhagic stroke and was an organ donor. His gift of life impacted seven people’s lives. I remember how supportive the team was, and the comfort they brought my family. I am proud to be a part of this fabulous program and the great work carried out by the teams at MSMHC and the WRTC.”

The Donate Life campaign is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Workplace Partnership for Life, mobilizing the nation’s hospitals to increase the number of people in the country who are registered organ, eye, and tissue donors and ultimately, the number of organs available for transplant.

“MSMHC is proud to support organ donation,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray. “We humbly thank donors for giving the gift of life, and their families, for supporting their generous decision. We thank all physicians and associates who work in units where donations originate, for their professionalism and reverence for this delicate process. Finally, we thank WRTC for partnering with us in this important, life-saving mission.”

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176 bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve.

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MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center Welcomes Gastroenterologist Freaw Dejenie

CLINTON, MD--MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center (MSMHC) is proud to announce that we have added another gastroenterology (GI) physician, Dr. Freaw Dejenie, to our team.

Dr. Dejenie will perform colonoscopies and endoscopies, and will treat esophageal disorders, stomach and intestine issues, colon problems, and liver disease.

“In this specialty, we treat patients not at one point of contact, but with continuity of care over a period of healing,” said Dr. Dejenie. “If we do a colonoscopy, for instance, and discover polyps or cancer, we can change someone’s life, and we can decrease mortality.”

Dr. Dejenie attended medical school at Addis Ababa University in his native Ethiopia and then came to the United States to complete his internship, residency, and fellowship. All three took place at Howard University Hospital, where he fell in love with the Washington, DC-area and with the GI specialty, which is in high demand in this area and across the country.

He joins Dr. Walid Chalhoub, who has been with MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for more than two years. 

“There is a need for good GI physicians across the country,” said MSMHC President Christine Wray. “We are excited this practice is growing at our hospital, and we are proud to welcome Dr. Dejenie to partner with Dr. Chalhoub in this thriving specialty.  Both physicians, along with Nurse Practitioner Kayleigh Lambert, provide excellent care and help bring healing and relief to patients suffering from gastrointestinal issues.”

To make an appointment with either of MSMHC’s two GI specialists, call 301-877-4599.

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About MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center:

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, located in Clinton, Maryland, is a 176 bed acute care hospital serving the Washington, D.C., metro and Southern Maryland area. The hospital is focused on caring for patients and their loved ones utilizing advanced technology under the guidance of expert clinicians. Quality, Safety, Wellness, and Patient Satisfaction are achieved through a spirit of patient centered services that connect us to the community we serve.

Your Heart Questions Answered

We asked MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute Cardiologist Athanasios Thomaides, MD, FACC, to give us answers to the following common health questions he most often deals with as a cardiac electrophysiologist.

What is Tachycardia and how is it treated?

Tachycardia is a heart rhythm disorder characterized by the heart beating faster than normal, which is caused by rapid electrical signals in the heart. Because the heart muscle is beating so quickly, it can weaken the heart.

Typically, tachycardia is treated by catheter ablation, a newer process with a 70 to 80 percent success rate that replaces the use of drugs, which were less effective at a 30 to 40 percent rate of success. Ablation destroys the tissue that is causing abnormal electrical signals in the heart, stopping the arrhythmia.

Like with other heart conditions, people with tachycardia should limit their alcohol and caffeine intake, maintain a healthy weight, control their blood pressure, and treat complicating conditions, such as sleep apnea, asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

This and atrial flutter are the most common types of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat). It can be described as a quivering of the heart and indicates an electrical problem. Atrial Flutter means around 300 beats per minute, and Atrial Fibrillation could cause heartbeats of 500 to 600 in the upper chambers, which puts the heart into a kind of electrical chaos.

Symptoms include sudden fatigue, palpitations or feeling as if your heart is racing, shortness of breath and diminished energy. People most at risk are the elderly, those with hypertension, sleep apnea, and diabetes, as well as those who smoke or consume too much alcohol and caffeine.

Sometimes, a person with atrial fibrillation does not appear to have symptoms, but the young may be at risk for passing out and older people are at risk for having a stroke.

How is Atrial Fibrillation Treated?

Treatments can range from something simple like reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption or prescribing blood thinning medication, to a more complex solution, including the installation of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, to a more invasive solution, including a cardiac ablation or surgery.

What is a WATCHMAN device?

A WATCHMAN is a device that is implanted in the heart during a catheter-based procedure. This new technology does not allow clots to form, thereby reducing the risk of stroke. It is a great alternative to taking blood-thinning drugs, eliminating the food and drink restrictions of these drugs, as well as the possibility of bleeding problems from these medications.


To better understand common terms used by medical professionals who treat veins and arteries, this guide should help. It is important to know these terms and work with your primary care physician to prevent these conditions, when possible.

  • Arrhythmia: Arrhythmia means an abnormal heartbeat.
  • Atrium: The upper two chambers of the heart. The top right pumps blood to the lower chamber and the top left atrium pumps oxygenated blood out into the body.
  • Blood Flow: Deoxygenated blood travels from all parts of the body through your veins, back to your heart, to be pumped into the lungs to receive oxygen. Once the blood is oxygenated, it is pumped back through and out of the heart into the body through your arteries.
  • Cardiologist: A cardiologist is a physician who is specialized in the heart.
  • Electrophysiology: This is the study of the electrical activity of your heart, which is used to find where an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) is coming from.
  • Pulmonary: Simply, this refers to the lungs.
  • Stroke: Cardiologists who are electrophysiologists deal with blood clots that can form in the heart and travel to the brain, reducing or completely blocking blood flow that can cause a stroke, resulting in temporary or permanent damage.
  • Ventricles: The lower two chambers of the heart. The right ventricle takes blood pumped in from the upper chamber and pumps it into the lungs and the left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the left atrium to travel throughout the body.

Athanasios Thomaides, MD, FACC

For more information on this and other heart-related issues, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Heart or call 301-877-4367. 

If you do not have a physician, visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/FindADoc.

Please call 301-877-5677 if you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Thomaides.

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
7503 Surratts Road
Clinton, Maryland 20735
[Get Directions]
Phone: 301-877-4367

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center partners with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a national leader in research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

OB-GYN Meghan Malentacchi, MD, on Postpartum Depression

What is Postpartum Depression?

It is very common for new moms to experience stress and a short-term bout of “the blues” after having a baby. However, Postpartum Depression is a mood disorder that causes emotional and physical changes that are more severe and last for a longer period of time. Typically, it involves a prolonged sad mood, inability to focus and to find pleasure in things. Moms with Postpartum Depression often have feelings of worthlessness and unhealthy changes in sleeping and eating. They may cry frequently, have no appetite, or be unable to sleep even when exhausted. Postpartum Depression can occur anytime in the first year after birth. Unlike the exhaustion and anxiety that accompanies nearly all births, Postpartum Depression doesn’t usually go away on its own.

What causes Postpartum Depression?

The postpartum period is a perfect storm of emotional and physical changes, fluctuating hormones, stress, and sleep deprivation that all contribute to Postpartum Depression. This can also be exacerbated by a lack of support after birth. There is often a genetic link to Postpartum Depression, and women who have previously experienced bouts of depression or anxiety are more at risk.

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Look for anxiety that goes beyond what would be normal after having a baby. Women may be overly worried about the baby’s health or their ability to take care of their baby. On the other hand, they may be uninterested in the infant’s activities or unable to bond with baby. They can be overwhelmed by negative thoughts. Watch out for excessive crying, appetite changes, mood swings, reduced concentration, withdrawing from family and friends, and failure to enjoy the things the new mother used to enjoy.

OB/GYN’s can screen for Postpartum Depression by utilizing a questionnaire in the office. If a woman scores 12 or higher out of a possible 30 points, she is probably suffering from Postpartum Depression.

Can it be prevented?

Having a baby is a stressful and difficult time even in the best of circumstances. While Postpartum Depression may not be preventable for some, there are things you can do to help set yourself up for success. The best way to help is to build a support system before you have a baby. Oftentimes people ask if they can help you out, so take advantage of that. Having family members and friends pitch in to help you after you welcome your baby will ease some pressure and help you cope. Try to sleep whenever you can and do small things to take care of your own well-being.

Another tip I recommend is to watch for symptoms right away, especially for women who have had depression in the past, as Postpartum Depression can be more easily helped the earlier it is addressed. All new moms should come to their OB/GYN for a follow-up around six weeks after giving birth, but if Postpartum Depression is suspected, come in earlier.

How is Postpartum Depression treated?

Both mood-elevating medications and therapy are recommended to help combat the effects of Postpartum Depression. Using a dual approach of medication and therapy often works better than either treatment does alone. You don’t have to be on medication forever afterward, but the boost these proven drugs can provide may be able to effectively help a Postpartum Depression sufferer, and talking to someone about your problems always has the potential to help.

What do you want women to know?

Postpartum Depression is common.  It’s not something to feel guilty or embarrassed about. Think about it this way: if you had diabetes, you would have no trouble seeking treatment for it, and you should think about Postpartum Depression in the same way.

There are very effective treatments available. If you don’t treat Postpartum Depression, it can lead to longer-lasting emotional issues for the mother and developmental issues for the baby. Mother-baby bonding can also be affected, so please, if you feel like you may be experiencing Postpartum Depression, ask for help.

If you need an OB/GYN, Dr. Malentacchi is taking new patients at our MedStar Waldorf location. You can call her office at 301-645-8867, or you can use our Find-A-Doc feature at MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/FindADoc

Please visit MedStarSouthernMaryland.org/Maternity for more information on pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care.