Scripps Tips- January 2008

A Monthly List of Story Ideas for Journalists

Rapid Response Teams Prove Effective in Cutting Number of ‘Code Blues,’ Mortalities in Scripps Hospitals
About one-third of patients who suffer cardiac arrests in hospitals don’t receive attention within the recommended two-minute timeframe, according to a January 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers estimate these delays contribute to thousands of deaths a year in the United States – but Scripps Health’s five hospital campuses in San Diego County have implemented Rapid Response Teams to fast-track medical attention to the patient bedside before the situation reaches Code Blue status. All Scripps nurses are trained to identify early warning signs that could lead to cardiac/respiratory arrests – and when signs occur, nurses can dial a special phone extension to request a Rapid Response team (a respiratory therapist and ICU nurse), who arrive at the patient bedside to provide immediate attention. Hundreds of patients at Scripps hospitals have been assisted by Rapid Response Teams, and the number of Scripps’ Code Blues and mortalities have decreased. To interview a Scripps physician about the success of its Rapid Response Teams, please contact Steve Carpowich at

Tips on How to Keep Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution
“Getting in shape” and “working out more” are consistently among the country’s top New Years’ resolutions—yet more often than not, San Diegans trade in their “seated-row” exercises for a seat on the couch after just a few short months. Most people set unattainable goals for themselves, and as a result, get discouraged when the total-body transformation that they had in mind doesn’t come to fruition overnight. Scripps Clinic fitness expert Paul Stricker, M.D. is available to offer advice on how to set, keep and exceed realistic New Year’s resolutions by implementing a gradual exercise program that not only increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with it, but also decreases risk of injury from overexertion. To arrange an interview, please contact Ian Wright at

And Improve Heart Health
Setting personal fitness and nutritional goals at the start of the New Year will help you look and feel better and are also preventative steps to improve your heart health – better lifestyle habits help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Scripps La Jolla Cardiologist John Harrington will be the keynote speaker at a free community lecture on the relationship between heart health, food and weight. The talk will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. To interview Dr. Harrington or to cover this free community event please contact Lisa Ohmstede at

First Wave of Baby Boom Retirements Coming in 2008; Scripps Health Creates Programs to Retain Older Workers
Starting in 2008, the first wave of baby boomers will turn 62 and become eligible to apply for early Medicare. This retirement trend will have a particular impact on industries that rely on older workers, such as health care. Scripps Health has developed an array of benefits that are helping retain older workers, such as a “phased retirement” benefit that lets employees over 50 work shorter hours and still receive full-time medical benefits. Scripps also enables employees to purchase long-term care insurance not only for themselves, but also for their parents. For the past four years, AARP has ranked Scripps as one of its 50 Best Employers for Workers Over 50. Approximately 40 percent of Scripps’ workforce is age 50 or older.Scripps Senior Vice President of Human Resources Victor Buzachero is available to discuss how Scripps is adapting to today’s aging workforce. For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Steve Carpowich at

Scripps Chula Vista to Host Healthy Living Fair
Free blood pressure, glucose and body fat screenings available
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with consistently elevated glucose levels are at an increased risk for pre-diabetes and the development of type 2 diabetes. Scripps Mercy Chula Vista family medicine physician Dr. Jean Rizkallah, recommends annual glucose level screenings to aid in the detection of diabetes. Scripps Mercy Chula Vista will host a Healthy Living Health Fair on Jan. 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offer free blood pressure, glucose and body fat screenings. For more information on this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at

Writing Workshop Helps Cancer Patients with Healing Process
San Diego County residents living with a cancer diagnosis will participate in a free therapeutic writing workshop series running Feb. 4 – March 31, 2008 at Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines in La Jolla. “When Words Heal” is an eight-week workshop series designed to help participants express the complex emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis and to gain perspective and cope more effectively with life’s emotional and physical hardships. Writing experience is not required to benefit from the workshop series, which will be led by Sharon Bray, Ed.D., a breast cancer survivor and respected figure in the expressive writing field. Bray can discuss the positive effect that writing has in the healing process (and can cite research studies that bear this out). Scripps Cancer Center hosts similar workshops throughout the year. To participate in a workshop session and interview participants and Bray, please contact Steve Carpowich at

Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet
With so many medications to treat all sorts of ailments, it is not unusual to develop a cluttered medicine cabinet. As the cold and flu season begins it is important to safely dispose of expired medications, stock up on necessary supplies and store them properly. (Here’s a hint: you shouldn’t keep them in the medicine cabinet.) Harminder Sikand, Pharm.D., clinical director of pharmacy as Scripps Mercy Hospital is available to discuss the dangers of expired medications and offer tips. To arrange an interview contact Kristin Reinhardt at