Scripps Tips - July 2008

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla to be Focal Point of Emergency
Training Event to Respond to Mock Bio-Terrorism Attack July 23

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla will be the focal point of a training event that will link multiple public safety and law enforcement agencies in a simulated response to a mock bio-terrorism attack. At approximately 8 a.m. on July 23, two H-46 military helicopters will land at the Scripps La Jolla helipad, and two dozen local law enforcement officials dressed in full decontamination gear will disembark and practice traffic control measures at the hospital’s main traffic entrance off Genesee Avenue. The San Diego Fire Department will also practice wash-downs of those “contaminated” with bio-terrorism materials. Local law enforcement agencies will practice protecting Scripps La Jolla as one of the community’s critical infrastructure assets so that it may remain operational during any disaster. This hospital-focused event is part of Golden Phoenix 08, a multi-agency emergency training event planned for July 21-24. To arrange an interview with a member of the Scripps Office of Disaster Preparedness, please contact Steve Carpowich at (858) 678-7183, or

Proposed Health Care Budget Greatly Impacts Medi-Cal Funding
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a 10 percent cut in the state’s Medi-Cal program, meaning California hospitals are facing $1.5 billion in cuts. In San Diego, Scripps Health expects to lose $2.3 million in revenues if the cuts are not restored. The health care cuts will have a lasting impact on all California residents, not just those receiving Medi-Cal benefits, in the form of overcrowded emergency departments due to increased volumes of uninsured patients. More than 70 hospitals and emergency rooms in California have closed in the past decade, leaving fewer emergency departments to treat more patients. Valerie Norton, M.D., chief of emergency medicine at Scripps Mercy Hospital, is available to speak on this subject. To arrange an interview, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or

Tips for Helping Dogs and Babies Get Along
Almost 3 million children will suffer dog bites in the U.S. this year, including toddlers and infants. Parents-to-be will learn important tips to keep their babies safe around their dogs at a special class Sunday, July 27 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the UTC Scripps Mende Well Being Center. To learn more about practical safety tips, or to make plans to cover this story, please contact Jori Victor at or 858-678-7137.

Scripps Health Study Breaks New Ground
Research Tailors Drug Therapy for Patients with Drug-Coated Stents

Every year, about 1 million Americans receive drug-coated stents to prop open clogged arteries as well as to restore and maintain blood flow to the heart. Scripps Translational Science Institute is spearheading an unprecedented international study designed to evaluate whether patients with drug-coated stents benefit from tailored dosages of the anti-platelet medication, clopidogrel (Plavix®). The GRAVITAS clinical study will test this personalized drug therapy for angioplasty patients with coronary artery disease — the nation’s leading cause of death for both men and women.

The GRAVITAS study challenges the current one-size-fits-all approach to drug therapy following placement of the device. Over the next year, physicians at approximately 60 sites across the United States and Canada will be enrolling approximately 2,200 participants into this clinical study. The drug works by blocking a receptor on the platelet, but it doesn’t work the same for everyone. Recent studies indicate that up to 30 percent of patients may respond poorly to anti-platelet medication. That population may be at greater risk of a major adverse cardiac event after a physician inserts a drug-coated stent. For more information or to schedule an interview with Matthew Price, M.D., director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Scripps Clinic and overall study chair and principal investigator of the GRAVITAS study, please contact Ian Wright at (858) 652-5519 or

New Portable Ear Acupuncture Device Helps Patients Heal
Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine is one of five medical clinics in the United States offering PSTIM IS-3, an FDA approved portable auricular (ear) device, to help people manage chronic pain. Robert Bonakdar, M.D., director of pain management, uses this device to help a wide range of medical concerns including pain, weight management, depression and anxiety. Patient Blythe Stokes has experienced outstanding results using IS-3 for her Fibromyalgia and is also benefitting from a suppressed appetite. To arrange interviews with Dr. Bonakdar and Blythe Stokes, please contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at or 858-678-7170.

Tips to Avoid Food-borne Illnesses
Over the past few years, tomatoes, ground beef, spinach and lettuce have been associated with some type of illness—and unfortunately, you don’t know they’re not safe to eat until the nausea, cramping and other symptoms have started. Food-borne illnesses result from consuming contaminated foods or beverages and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 76 million Americans are affected each year. The effects can be as mild as an upset stomach or as severe as a life-threatening infection. To learn about how to prevent and treat food-borne illnesses or to schedule an interview with a Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla pathologist, please contact Lisa Ohmstede, at 858-626-7142 or

Stressing Yourself Sick
Stress and emotions such as anger are risk factors for heart disease. Under stress our body releases cortisol, a hormone that is useful in the fight or flight response. Chronic production of cortisol and other stress hormones can lead to long-term problems including heart disease, insomnia and impaired immune function. Whether it’s an argument with a family member or a traffic jam, the response to stressful experiences can have health consequences. Mimi Guarneri, M.D., cardiologist at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, helps people understand the importance of emotional health and how mind-body approaches such as mantra repetition can lower cortisol production and improve immune function. To arrange an interview with Dr. Guarneri, please contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at or 858-678-7170.

What Men Don’t Know About Their Health Could Kill Them
Some men take pride in toughing it out when they are sick or grieving, stressed or in pain. They tend to dismiss the clues in their bodies because they are either too busy to go to the doctor, too macho to ask for help or too afraid to discover they are not invincible. This attitude, however, can be harmful to men’s overall health. For example, more than 10 million adult men have diabetes — but almost one-third of them don’t know it, which could lead to further deterioration. If caught early, most medical problems can be easily corrected with medications or lifestyle changes, yet if left alone, such problems can become life-threatening. David Leopold, M.D., director of medical education, has tips for men that could save their lives and can provide detailed information on diabetes prevention, blood pressure screenings, symptoms and treatments for depression, and the importance of eating a vitamin-rich diet. To arrange an interview with Dr. Leopold, contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at or 858-678-7170.

More Teens Smoke Marijuana in Summer Months Than Any Other Time of Year
According to data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, more teens smoke marijuana in the summer months than any time of the year. Moreover, 1 in 10 (or 2.4 million) teens are abusing cough medicine to get high, and nearly 1 in 5 (or 4.5 million) teens have abused prescription pain medication. The McDonald Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla operates a 12-week intensive outpatient program for adolescents with substance abuse issues. For more information about adolescent substance abuse or to speak to a McDonald Center counselor, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

Backyard Pool Safety Tips for Summer – California Is One of Five States with The Highest Number of Drowning Incidents
Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury and death among children 14 and younger. And with warm summer weather attracting more children to backyard swimming pools, it’s critical for parents, babysitters and anyone who supervises kids to learn about water safety, CPR and first aid. To arrange an interview with a Scripps expert on pool safety tips, please contact Jori Victor at or 858-678-7137.

AARP Class Puts Senior Drivers on Road to Safety July 19
Seniors are California’s fastest-growing group, with the state’s population of those 65 and older expected to increase by 75 percent from 2000 to 2020. AARP and Scripps Mercy Hospital will present a special program July 19 to help seniors improve their driving skills, while helping to avoid accidents and traffic violations. The class will take place at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make plans to cover this story, please contact Jori Victor at or 858-678-7137.