Cancer Currents for September 2012

News and Notes from the Director
Photo: Mark Israel, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Each month when I write this note I take the opportunity to celebrate what we have done together to ease the burden of cancer. On the surface, one can see that we have a terrific staff that works with state of the art techniques and equipment. The result is excellent science and the latest in care for patients with cancer. But that short description is missing something fundamental. One can sum it up in the D-H tagline, Culture of Caring. It is what we do, and it is why we do it. We care.

Recently, the Cancer Center's Konstantin Dragnev, MD, a physician-scientist in the CTOP group was named winner of the Schwartz Center Compassionate Care Caregiver Award. Dr. Dragnev's care for patients is based on the ethic of empathy and it is his mission to help medical students learn what that means in the doctor-patient relationship. He says to them, "When you are the doctor, you are the one the patient and the entire family are waiting to see. You are the one with the answers to their questions. The more questions they have, the more time you will need to spend with them." In medical school, he had an experience that grounded his practice even decades later. Appendicitis put him in a hospital bed instead of standing by its side and he says, "I remember clearly waiting and waiting to see the doctor. The doctor had the answers I was so anxious to get." In being cared for, he learned to care.

This Culture of Caring is the foundation for Cancer Center research too. In a survey given to a sample of our scientists, we asked about their motivation to do investigation in cancer. "A desire to help people," was their most common answer followed closely by, "Improving peoples' lives through research and patient care." Cancer research ranges from the sub-molecular level to studying whole populations and results in incremental new knowledge. Scientists persist not because of a steady stream of thrilling and important discoveries; rather, they stay with their research through slow days – or months, because they know it is the only way we will help people with cancer. Because they care.

As I write this, we are sending out 1,000+ invitations to an Ice Cream Social on September 28 to celebrate the Cancer Center's 40th year. Though use of the term Culture of Caring is new to D-H, it is a very old concept and is truly the underpinning of how we meet each patient. Like Dr. Dragnev said, the patient looks to the doctor for answers. We make every effort to be there with the answers, because we care.

Mark Israel, Director

Rad/Onc Accelerator Rad/Onc Prepares for New Accelerator

Activity is underway on the second floor to install a Varian True Beam linear accelerator in mid-November. The old accelerator has been removed and construction is underway in the C Bunker. Flooring and cabinetry will be remodeled to accommodate the new unit. Architects have also designed plans that make the space more visually pleasing. A translucent ceiling will transmit soothing ambient light replicating a natural skylight. The Varian True Beam expands capacity in Radiation Oncology and has the ability to support more sophisticated technology, which can improve the accuracy and safety of treatment. See the Varian True Beam in action:

Welcome Dr. Sroka

Thomas C. Sroka, MD, PhD, has joined the Medicine/Radiation Oncology staff. Dr. Sroka comes to us from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, where he completed his residency and received an MD, PhD, and BS. Sroka has participated in a range of research programs, mostly recent as Principal Investigator for a Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Training Award. An active outdoorsman and sporting enthusiast, Sroka enjoys hiking, running, and camping.

Welcome to New Members

Norris Cotton Cancer Center welcomes Manabu Kurokawa, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, to the Molecular Therapeutics Program, and Giovanni Bosco, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, to the Cancer Mechanisms Program, and Todd W. Miller, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, as a member of the Molecular Therapeutics Research Program.

Best Wishes

Meg Gerrard, PhD, Co-Director, NCCC Cancer Control Program, has relocated to the Center for Health Intervention and Prevention at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Gerrard's work on the association between response to life stress and adoption of cancer risk behaviors provided Program members with a strong theoretical model for a wide variety of patient-oriented studies, particularly in adolescents. Her husband, Frederick ‘Rick' Gibbons, PhD, also a member of Cancer Control and Professor of Psychology at Dartmouth has also joined the faculty at UConn. We wish them well in their new opportunities.

June Rhoda, APRN, has announced that she will be leaving NCCC North to accept an Oncology Nurse Practitioner position at the University of Pennsylvania. June's relocation to Pennsylvania will allow her to live closer to her family. Since 2008, June has helped build the Hematology/Oncology practice in the North.

Louis Shelzi will be leaving Radiation Oncology to serve as business manager in the Department of Value Performance, Measurement, and Patient Safety. In his five years with us, Louis played a key role in many capital acquisitions and quality improvement projects.

Steve Bjerklie, who served as communications coordinator at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, and as editor of Cancer Currents has accepted a position with another organization that will allow him to commit a portion of his time to freelance assignments. PFSS Calendar

Patient and Family Support Programs' Fall Calendar

The fall calendar has arrived – you can find the new one online. Please take a moment to review and share with others. We offer many wonderful support services for patients.

Dr. Rothstein
Rothstein Appointed Chair of Medicine

The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system have named Richard I. Rothstein, MD, as the Joseph M. Huber Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Rothstein served as the interim chair of the Department of Medicine for the past year.

Update Your Email Signatures

Email signatures help to reinforce and build a unified brand. The standards have recently changed for both the hospital and College. If you are a DH employee, please visit the brand guidelines on the DH Intranet to find directions on how to change your email signature in Outlook. If you have any questions, please email If you are a College employee, please make sure you have updated your email signature to include The Geisel School of Medicine.

Time to Track Your Community Benefits Activities

We are collecting information on Community Benefits delivered by Dartmouth-Hitchcock employees between October 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 (FY 2012). We ask all DH staff to self-report Community Benefit activities in which they have been involved during FY 2012.

Use this link to report on Community Benefits activities you have participated in. If you have been involved in a Community Benefits activity in which more than one DH staff member was involved, please identify one person to report your combined efforts, using the same reporting form.

We ask that all staff use this form, as the form includes questions that will help us validate whether Dartmouth-Hitchcock can report these activities as Community Benefits. The form will also help DH provide more consistent documentation of Community Benefits activities and ensure better compliance with new state and federal reporting guidelines.

New Palliative Care Pilot

Age Wise, a nursing fellowship training program, started a new "comfort measures only" initiative. Laminated posters will be displayed outside any in-patient floor room where a patient has been moved for comfort measures only.

The intent of this symbol is to alert staff that the patient and family are coping with end of life decisions and emotions may be running high. When you see this symbol of a flower, please be respectful of the family, try to avoid speaking loudly, laughing, or relaying jokes. This is a time that is serious for the patient and their loved ones. For more information on the "comfort measures only" initiative, please email

Flu shots It's Back: Flu Season
Preparations are underway for the annual flu vaccination program. Employee flu clinics, lobby clinics, and the ambassador program will start in September. Last year, 99.9 percent of DH employees were either immunized or received medically necessary exemptions under the mandatory flu vaccination policy. This year the same program will be in effect but with different deadlines. Requests for exemptions are due by October 1 and vaccinations are due by November 30.
Quality blog

Remember to check out oncolution for latest quality improvement news.

DH Service Awards

September is the month to celebrate your dedication to DHMC. Catch up on all the upcoming events in your honor at this page.

DH Engagement Survey

Interested in finding out the results of the DH Engagement survey? Click here to learn more and watch for more news to follow.

Halloween deadline for eLearning

The eLearning program is a requirement for all med school, hospital, and clinic employees to receive necessary recurring safety and compliance training for 2012. Modules are now available and the deadline to complete this year's eLearning modules is Wednesday, October 31.

To access your eLearning modules, visit the eLearning page on the DH Intranet. For more information, email

Upcoming Events of Note
Alliance 5K logo The Alliance Against Cancer 5K Run

Lace up your running shoes for Sunday, September 9, 2012, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The New Hampshire Athletic Alliance Running Club sponsors The Prouty Alliance Against Cancer 5K walk/run road race in Manchester, NH. The event includes cash prizes, awards, T-shirts, lots of refreshments, music, and FUN! Visit the Alliance Run's website to sign up!

Introduction to Clinical Research

A series of five educational sessions will be offered September 11, 14, 17, 18, and 21. These educational sessions are intended for new research staff, a refresher for current research staff, or anyone interested in learning how to coordinate clinical trials.

Sign up only for the days you want to attend, as space is limited. The classes run from 8:00 a.m. to noon (the last day's special "VOICE" Valid-Optimized-Informed-Consent-Education session lasts until 1:30 p.m.). The sessions will all take place at the Evergreen Center building on Centerra Parkway.

Topics to be covered can be viewed on the Dartmouth Clinical Trials Office website or on the DH Intranet.

Celebrate the Cancer Center's 40th Anniversary

It's an ice cream social to celebrate 40 years of caring for patients and superb science. Michael Ward will be back with his band, Smoke & Mirrors, and there will plenty of great ice cream and toppings. Join the Cancer Center staff on Friday, September 28, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the Rubin 6th floor atrium. Everyone is welcome!

Healing with Art

Based on the belief that art contributes to and reinforces the healing process for patients with cancer, we will host exhibits of juried works by New England artists this fall. Please join the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center for opening receptions at our Norris Cotton Cancer Center locations in Lebanon on October 4, in Manchester on September 27, and in Nashua on October 11, all from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Call (603) 703-6955 for info.

Harpoon image Missing the Olympics? Try Octoberfest!

The Harpoon Octoberfest Road Race kicks off the Sunday, October 7th in Windsor, VT. Work up an appetite for Harpoon Octoberfest beer, Kayem Bratwurst and some Oompah on a scenic, 3.6 mile course at the brewery. The race starts at 11:00 a.m. and the festivities get underway at noon.

All proceeds will go to the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Core Directors Take Note

On Wednesday, October 24, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Northeast Regional Life Sciences Core Directors (NERLSCD) will host a regional forum for core facility directors and managers to:

  • Network with colleagues
  • Learn about biotechnology advances and applications
  • Discuss the challenges and results of implementing shared research resources

Join in at the Mountain View Grand Resort, Whitefield, NH ( Contact Steve Bobin at (603) 653-6189 or for info.

Poems of Illness and Healing

Mark your calendars. Join us for the second annual reading of works by patients and caregivers, plus art show and reception for November 12, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Auditorium G, Level 4, Rubin.