Friday, November 11, 2011

USA Children's & Women's Hospital Holds Topping Out Ceremony

USA Children's & Women's Hospital held its Topping Out ceremony on Nov. 11. At the event, a tree was lifted to the highest point of the structure to signify the progress that has been made on the hospital's expansion and to recognize those who have been involved. Construction began in November 2010 and the expansion is expected to be completed in 2013.

USA Children's & Women's Hospital Administrator Owen Bailey points to the tree before it's lifted to the top floor of the hospital's expansion.

Construction workers and contractors, among others, were recognized at the event.

Dr. Charles Hamm, professor of pediatrics, spoke of the hope that this new addition represented and the impact it will have on children and families in our commnity.

USA Children's & Women's Hospital patient instructs the crane operator to "lift that tree."

Reminder: Abstract Submissions Due Nov. 18

The fifth annual University of South Alabama College of Medicine Research Forum will be held Dec. 9, 2011, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at USA's Main Library. The deadline for abstract submission is Nov. 18, 2011.

The forum will highlight the work of graduate students in the Basic Medical Sciences program, postdoctoral fellows, residents and clinical fellows, who are all strongly encouraged to present their work in posters and/or short talks. New faculty members are also invited to present their work.

Click here for detailed instructions regarding preparation and submission of abstracts. For more information, contact Dr. Jody Brewer at or Dr. Donna Cioffi at

Should You Get the Shingles Vaccine?

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration approved Zostavax, a vaccine for adults that is used as a prevention strategy against shingles.

Julie Edmond, a physician assistant at the University of South Alabama Knollwood Physicians Group, said shingles is very common and can be prevented. She recommends the shingles vaccine to adults over the age of 60.

“The vaccine works, and I've seen many unnecessary cases of shingles that are very painful and debilitating,” she said.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful, blistering skin rash. “In some cases it can cause blindness if the virus occurs in the eye or deafness if it arises in the ear,” Edmond said. “It can also cause post-herpetic neuralgia, which is severe pain lasting months within the rash site.”

According to Edmond, shingles is a re-activation of the old chicken pox virus that stays in the body – locked away in the nerve roots by the immune system.

“Sometimes as we age or if our immune system gets distracted by things such as illness or stress, the virus can resurface and cause shingles,” Edmond said.

Edmond said the shingles vaccine is a one-time vaccination that stimulates the immune system to keep the virus “locked up.” Although the vaccine does not guarantee prevention, it will likely reduce its severity if the virus were to reappear.

According to Edmond, the highest risk groups for shingles are those over the age of 60 or in those who have a weakened immune system because of other diseases such as diabetes. Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences.

Because the vaccine is a live virus, Edmond said it should not be given to those who are immunosuppressed such as those on cancer chemotherapy or anyone with leukemia, lymphoma, or AIDS.

The most common side effect of the shingles vaccine is pain in the injection site. Although uncommon, additional side effects can include a headache and low grade fever, which can last 12-24 hours.

The shingles vaccine is available at USA Knollwood Physicians Group to anyone over the age of 50. The USA Health & Dental Plan covers the vaccination at 100 percent for members over 60. Check with your insurance provider if you have additional questions about coverage. To make an appointment, call (251) 660-5787.

To view more articles in our featured provider series, visit

Mark Your Calendars - Gulf Coast Liver Support Group Meeting

The Gulf Coast Liver Support Group, affiliated with the University of South Alabama’s Digestive Health Center, will hold its next meeting on Nov. 17, 2011, at 6 p.m. at the Infirmary West Hospital Conference Center at 5600 Girby Road in Mobile.

The support group, which meets once every other month, provides a forum for adult patients with liver disease to learn more about their condition. The educational programs cover medical, social and nutritional topics.

Dr. Jorge Herrera, professor of internal medicine at USA, formed the support group in 1998. The Gulf Coast Liver Support Group is the only physician-led liver support group in the region and state.

This month, the group will open the holiday season with a catered dinner with friends and family. Immediate family members are invited. Contact Betty Sims at (251) 607-0930 by Nov. 11 to reserve your spot.

Apple iPad 2 Awarded at Topping Out Ceremony

Tina Bryant (center), surrounded by fellow workers at USA Children's & Women's Hospital.
Tina Bryant, a social worker at USA Children's & Women's Hospital, won the Apple iPad 2 drawing sponsored by USA Physicians Group. The iPad was awarded during the Topping Out ceremony at the hospital on Nov. 11. Watch the video below or click here to see Bryant's reaction.

University employees can still complete the online survey to receive a free gel mouse pad. Prior to taking your survey, please visit Click here to take the short survey.

Newspaper Ad Features USA Physicians

Eight physicians who recently joined the USA Physicians Group were featured in an ad in the November 6th issue of the Press-Register. Click on the image below to view larger.