Penn Medicine News Blog Archive: Family Medicine and Community Health

Melding Music and Medicine

By Robert Press | December 7, 2016 | Comments Notes

If I asked you what sort of music would best be paired with a health system, you might be at a bit of a loss. That’s okay. It’s not an easy question. My first thought? Elevator music. My second thought? Basically every song ever played in Scrubs. Here’s the thing,... Read more

The Olympics, Medically Speaking

By Lee-Ann Donegan | July 22, 2016 | Comments image from

The author and her mother in Olympic stadium at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta Citius, Altius, Fortius is the Olympic motto. Translated from Latin this is Faster, Higher, Stronger. Names like Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, and Michael Phelps and so many more are synonymous with the Summer Olympic Games.... Read more

The Dickens Tradition

By John Shea | May 6, 2016 | Comments Helen Dickens

Helen O. Dickens, left, in 1975 Trailblazer. Heroine. Exemplar. These are just some of the descriptive names that can be applied to Helen O. Dickens, MD, who joined Penn’s department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1956 and was the first female black board-certified OB/GYN practitioner in Philadelphia. Among her other... Read more

Who Is the Cookie Doctor?

By John Shea | January 29, 2016 | Comments Cookie Doctor cover

Peter T. Pugliese, MD, a member of the Class of 1957 of what is now the Perelman School of Medicine, has had a varied career. Becoming a doctor was, he says, “a long and arduous trip.” Along the way, “I found God, lost him, and found him again. . .... Read more

Shedding More Light on Postpartum Depression

By Olivia Fermano | January 4, 2016 | Comments Ppd

Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow suffered from it. “Friends” and “Cougar Town” star Courteney Cox did too. Brook Shields and Marie Osmond both penned memoirs about their experiences with it. “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere openly admitted seeking treatment for it in real time in the hopes of helping other sufferers. Just as... Read more

“The White Mountains” Awarded for Innovative Education on Dangerous Asbestos

By Greg Richter | October 16, 2015 | Comments Photo taken by Bill D'Agostino

Photo by Bill D’Agostino of Act II Playhouse Setting: Ambler in Winter. 50 years in the future. Lulu, a girl, and her grandmother, on top of a hill with a sled. GRANDMA: Do you know the story of this hill? LULU: No. GRANDMA: Your granddad and I met here. We... Read more

Expanding Understanding of Adversity

By Greg Richter | August 21, 2015 | Comments

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998, marked a major step forward in connecting how a child’s experience of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction can influence their future health. Now, a recently published Penn Medicine study in the same journal led... Read more

Great Expectations: The Primary Care Experience of Low-Income, Chronically Ill Patients

By Anna Duerr | July 24, 2015 | Comments Pt Staff blog photo

Hopefully, we’ve al l had the experience of being a patient who leaves a doctor appointment feeling like we’ve been heard, we’ve received attentive care, and we know what the next steps are. However, some of us have probably also experienced a less-than-stellar visit to our primary care doctor’s office,... Read more

Location, Location, Location… Determines Access to Primary Care in Philadelphia

By Anna Duerr | May 8, 2015 | Comments image from

Number of adults per provider within a five-minute drive time of each census tract. As attention shifts away from people trying to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, researchers have started examining some of the other elements that determine overall access to primary care — things like how close... Read more

Puentes de Salud – Providing “Bridges of Health” in a New Home Base

By Olivia Fermano | April 28, 2015 | Comments PdS_1

“This is a tremendous day for the community…” “What an honor and pleasure it is to see this dream come true…” “This has been a labor of love…” Positive emotions were running high when these heartfelt remarks were heard at an open house for the nonprofit health and wellness organization... Read more

Neither Snow nor Rain…

By Olivia Fermano | February 19, 2015 | Comments image from

We’ve all heard it – or at least part of it – the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. As Philadelphia experiences what is slated to go... Read more

Removing Barriers to Breast Cancer Care

By Olivia Fermano | February 13, 2015 | Comments image from

I overheard a breast cancer patient once say: There is only one thing worse than having cancer – not being able to afford it. Sobering. Financial cost remains a barrier to cancer screenings - let alone cancer treatment - among lower income women. While multiple factors contribute to racial and... Read more

The New Nightingale

By Olivia Fermano | January 8, 2015 | Comments Deb Ferrarello_1

The image of the nurse is synonymous with hospitals and doctors’ offices. But in 2015, that sure is one old school point of view. Today’s nurses defy old stereotypes. Both male and female, many earn multiple advanced degrees, working out of uniform and beyond the bedside to all areas of... Read more

When Sentiment Overcomes Reason

By Olivia Fermano | December 23, 2014 | Comments Mehta-Rima

We humans, we’re definitely a sentimental lot. Some might even argue that is one of the key traits that separate us from other animals – our desire to acquire mementos of life’s experiences. We sure do treasure our keepsakes, those tangible tokens of endearment to commemorate a special time, person... Read more

Penn Med Alum is the ‘Mama Doc’ of Health Bloggers

By John Shea | October 17, 2014 | Comments Wendy-Sue-Swanson,-M.D.

The Fall 2014 issue of Penn Medicine, redesigned for a more contemporary look, includes a very contemporary feature that would have been unimaginable when I became editor of the magazine. The article about Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, who earned her medical degree and master’s degree in bioethics from Penn in... Read more

Whole Genome Sequencing of Amish Families Reveals Complexity of Bipolar Disorder

By Karen Kreeger | September 16, 2014 | Comments Lonestar

Perelman School genetics professor Maja Bucan, PhD, told me of her deep appreciation for the work going on at the clinic: “From my first visit to the clinic [Clinic for Special Children], I knew I wanted to be part of their team as a collaborator.” Read more

A Visionary Dean, 44 Years Before Health Care Reform

By John Shea | September 3, 2014 | Comments image from

Alfred A. Gellhorn, MD Compare these two quotations. First: “Medical want in the midst of medical riches is an unconscionable inequity, and it could be socially explosive. Good medical care for some of the people some of the time is no longer acceptable; competent medical care for all of the... Read more

Humanistic Physicians – How Do They Stay That Way?

By John Shea | August 14, 2014 | Comments Hippocrates

Having recently done some research and writing about Penn Medicine’s new Academy of Master Clinicians and the Penn Pearls awards that medical students give out for clinical teaching, I found myself drawn to an article in the most recent issue of Academic Medicine. Its title: “Attitudes and Habits of Highly... Read more

To Examine or Not to Examine? That is the Question

By Olivia Fermano | July 18, 2014 | Comments Gearhart-Peter

The field of medicine has a funny way of contradicting itself. Not that it’s on purpose, mind you. Thanks to rapid-fire advances in technology and new research discoveries, medicine is in a constant state of flux, always evolving. Think about it…20 years ago, fat was the dietary demon to avoid... Read more

Penn Medicine: Caring for Philly’s Hometown Team

By Lee-Ann Donegan | March 3, 2014 | Comments image from

Athletics has been in the news lately, with the recent Olympic Games. For a fortnight, we watched as triumphant athletes celebrate the highest highs and ascended the medals podium to claim their reward. But as skiers tumbled down mountains, snowboarders navigated the half pipe, sometimes within inches of their life,... Read more

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