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TODAY news for Thursday, January 12, 2006

Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center news

2005: A Loma Linda year in review

Crystal and Cristina Molina
In 2005, conjoined twins Crystal and Cristina Molina of Coachella Valley underwent extensive preoperative care and surgery to separate them where they were joined at the skulls. Just three weeks later, the girls were able to go home, healthy and happy.
Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center experienced a historic year in 2005. From the separation of the Molina conjoined twins and international coverage received in National Geographic, to the celebrations of the University and Medical Center’s founding in 1905-1906, 2005 will be remembered as an eventful and joyful time. We pause now to take a look back at some of the big moments of the last year.

New leases on life

The new year began eventfully with life-saving operations performed on two young men with connections to the Middle East: one a 12-year-old Afghan boy and the other a 22-year-old Marine who had recently returned from service in Iraq.

Lance Cpl. Christopher LeBleu began experiencing signs of liver failure just two and a half months after his unit returned from Iraq in 2004. He was first admitted to the base hospital at Twentynine Palms, then transferred to LLUMC in late January. After finding a donor, doctors performed a successful liver transplant on Lance Cpl. LeBleu on January 30.

Just five days later, on February 4, a young Afghan boy underwent an operation in which surgeons repaired a nickel-sized hole in his heart that had allowed oxygen-depleted blood entering the heart to mix with oxygen-rich blood pumping out of the heart. Because of his condition, the boy had been running on only two-thirds the oxygen he needed.

Utah National Guardsman Layne Pace met the boy, Asadullah, while serving in Afghanistan and sent out an e-mail requesting help. Through the generosity of airlines, LLUMC, and various charities, Asadullah and his father were able to travel to Loma Linda for the operation that would result in a better life for Asadullah.

Celebration begins

Also in February, Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center kicked off their celebrations of 100 years of service with a concert from gospel artist Wintley Phipps.

That same weekend, Loma Linda hosted a Centennial Gala to celebrate “Fulfilling the Global Vision” and a Centennial Recognition Banquet. The weekend also featured a ribbon cutting for the East Campus’s newly remodeled unit 1100 and a groundbreaking for the 23-acre, $12.5 million East Campus expansion project, of which unit 1100 was the first phase.

Twins separated

March 3 marked one of the biggest events of the year for the Loma Linda community. Twin baby girls who had been born joined at the head were separated by LLUMC doctors after weeks and weeks of intensive preparation.

Conjoined twins Crystal and Cristina Molina of Coachella Valley underwent extensive preoperative care and surgery to separate them where they were joined at the skulls. Just three weeks later, the girls were able to go home, healthy and happy.

Excellence in care

In May, a Los Angeles Times article noted that Loma Linda University Medical Center is one  of the safest places in Southern California to undergo bypass surgery. The Medical Center—along with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and Torrence Memorial Medical Center—had about half the number of deaths that would normally be expected to occur during the procedure.

Organizational changes

In June, an important reorganization began that transformed the Graduate School into the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The functions of the Graduate School were apportioned to the various schools sponsoring the degree programs, to the University records office, and to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Also in June, Loma Linda University honored 24 years of service from Helen E. King, PhD, RN, dean of the School of Nursing. Dr. King retired as of June 2005, but stayed on through the end of the year until the board could appoint a replacement. As of January 1, Marilyn Herrmann, PhD, RN, is the new dean.

General Conference

LLUAHSC was well represented at the 58th session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which was held in St. Louis, Missouri, from June 29 through July 9. The LLUAHSC exhibit featured the 100th anniversary of the University and Medical Center. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 conference goers visited the LLUAHSC exhibit.

Community rallies together

August saw a rallying-together of the LLUAHSC family to oppose the coming to Loma Linda of a specialty hospital that would provide care in 12 medical disciplines, including the most profitable areas of orthopaedic and cardiothoracic surgery. LLUMC and other area community hospitals feared that the arrival of a specialty hospital would financially damage them to the point where their own less profitable services, such as emergency care and infant heart transplantation, would be jeopardized.

Hundreds of people gathered for a rally outside City Council on August 23. That night, the council postponed a decision until September 6. At that point, to the disappointment of LLUAHSC, the council approved allowing the California Heart and Surgical Hospital to come to Loma Linda.

School of Nursing honored

The School of Nursing received big honors when U.S. News and World Report named it to its 2006 “America’s Best Graduate Schools” list. The School was ranked 77th on the list of 100 best graduate nursing programs in the country.

Celebration continues

In September it was free picnic food, fireworks, and a Christian concert by Steven Curtis Chapman to celebrate the centennial. LLUAHSC employees and students gathered at Arrowhead Credit Union Park in San Bernardino on September 25 for food, games, and entertainment.

October and November were full with more centennial celebrations. The Medical Center marked a special evening with approximately 800 guests attending the gala held at Drayson Center October 16 celebrating “Fulfilling the Health Care Vision.” On the weekend of November 11-13, LLU celebrated a centennial homecoming.

Long life

November was a big month for LLUAHSC in the media. A National Geographic article on “The Secrets of Living Longer” featured the Seventh-day Adventists of Loma Linda as being among the world’s longevity all-stars. In addition to Adventists, the article featured residents of Okinawa, Japan, and Sardinia, Italy, who also tend to live long lives.

It seems fitting that in the year Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center celebrate 100 years, the Seventh-day Adventist way of life, practiced by many in the Loma Linda community, was given this recognition.

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, January 12, 2006