Thursday, August 20, 2015

Meet Ackneil Muldrow

Every one of us has a story we can share. Think of a past event in your life related to GBMC. Whether it’s care you received, an opportunity you have, or a loved one you remember, this event should have very personal meaning to you. What’s happened in your life since your experience at GBMC? Read Ackneil Muldrow’s story below, and share yours at

Ackneil Muldrow's Story: "My Physician Saved My Life"

Dr. Eugene Obah has been coordinating my care since 2004, from managing my diabetes to recognizing a life-threatening situation and ultimately saving my life. Dr. Obah has gone above and beyond when it comes to my personal health and is a caring and passionate physician. He spends time with his patients, communicates exceptionally well about health conditions, and takes the time to explain how it will impact your overall being.

In the mid-2000s, I suffered from a series of mini-strokes. Dr. Obah recognized my condition right away and did an excellent job caring for me. As a result of the mini-strokes, I also suffered from a partially collapsed vessel in my brain and had to get blood drawn monthly to manage and monitor this condition. Then, in 2010, I saw Dr. Obah for a regular checkup when he suspected I had internal bleeding. I felt fine so I was surprised, but he saw that my blood counts were not quite right.

He immediately made me an appointment with Dr. David Saltzberg for a colonoscopy, and it was confirmed that I indeed had internal bleeding. During the colonoscopy, some of the colon polyps were removed, but Dr. Saltzberg found an additional growth that required a general surgeon. Dr. Obah then arranged for me to see surgeon Dr. Francis “Frank” Rotolo. Within days, I was in surgery to remove an enlarged polyp and repair a hernia, when Dr. Rotolo also found cancerous tissue in two areas of my body. Fortunately, the cancers were discovered in time and successfully removed. To date, there have been no signs of cancer.

After this ordeal, I wrote Dr. Obah a letter, thanking him for his great observation of my condition and immediately taking a series of actions to bring me back to a state of wellness. A portion of this heartfelt letter reads:

‘My family – especially my wife Ruth – is greatly appreciative of your keen analysis of my health condition and your response with great dispatch in moving me along the healthcare continuum. With you and Dr. Saltzberg collaborating on my charts, the two of you felt that I needed immediate attention. And, thus, Dr. Francis Rotolo became the third participant in this GBMC partnership. I’m grateful for each and all of you.’

I give great credit to Dr. Obah, who saw the impending dangers and set in motion actions to keep me healthy.

Dr. Obah is a wonderful doctor who really cares about his patients. He’s not just my doctor, but is also my friend.  In fact, it’s gotten to the point where his staff schedules my appointments at the end of the day because we talk so much! He’s a wonderful person to talk with about life. We have a wonderful relationship beyond just healthcare.

GBMC certainly means a lot to me on a couple of levels. First, as a member of the GBMC Board of Directors from 1996-2004, the hospital has provided great governance experience. The Board is a diverse body of knowledgeable individuals in healthcare, patient care, fundraising and community service. The administration is exceptional in its approaches to growth and quality of care. Second, GBMC’s doctors and staff mean the world to me when it comes to patient services and customer satisfaction. The keen diagnosis by Dr. Eugene Obah and the actions of Drs. Saltzberg and Rotolo have prolonged my quality of life and has given me perspective on what quality of healthcare and service to a patient really means.  For all of this, I will be eternally thankful to GBMC.

Wake Up! Sleep Problems Increase Risk for Chronic Illness

About 117 million Americans have some form of chronic illness or disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Sleep Foundation also reports that 37 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, which occurs when a person’s breathing is disrupted during sleep. These statistics are noteworthy because sleep deprivation and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can increase the risk for some chronic illnesses. Additionally, sleep disorders can worsen the outcome of a chronic illness.

Raya Wehbeh, MD, a physician with GBMC’s Sleep Medicine practice and Sleep Center, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who suffer from sleep disorders. “Research has linked insufficient sleep to an increased risk for developing chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity,” says Dr. Wehbeh, who is board-certified in neurology and sleep medicine. “People who frequently have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or who are excessively tired throughout the day should speak with a primary care physician about those symptoms instead of ignoring them. Controlling a sleep disorder like sleep apnea may help to prevent a person from developing a more serious chronic illness later in life,” she explains. Patients who have already been diagnosed with a chronic illness and are also experiencing symptoms of poor sleep should speak with their primary care physicians as well. “Improving a patient’s quality of sleep often has a positive impact on his or her chronic illness,” notes Dr. Wehbeh.

Fortunately, primary care physicians can refer patients with sleep problems to specialists like Dr. Wehbeh, who perform sleep studies to monitor a patient’s brain waves, breathing patterns, limb movements and snoring. Sleep studies are painless tests that require an overnight stay at GBMC. A technician attaches wires with electrodes to the patient and monitors the resulting activity as the patient sleeps. After interpreting the results, the physician will make a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment.

“In addition to speaking with a primary care physician about their symptoms, there are several things that patients can do at home if they’re having difficulty sleeping,” says Dr. Wehbeh. “Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule with a standard bedtime routine, avoid looking at television, computer or phone screens about a half hour before going to bed and allow yourself enough time to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night, which is the recommended amount for most adults.”

Speak with a primary care physician about whether a sleep study or consultation could be beneficial for you or a loved one. If you do not have a primary care physician, visit or call 443-849-GBMC (4262) to find one who is right for you.

Recognizing Hidden Sugar in Your Diet

In a world with ever-growing diet and health trends, knowing which foods are good and bad can be tricky. One thing most experts agree on is that too much sugar can cause short- and long-term health issues such as obesity, tooth decay, metabolic syndrome, liver issues, diabetes and more. Tracking the amount of sugar in your daily diet may seem like an easy task – everyone knows there is sugar in items like regular soda, candy, cookies and baked sweets – but it can be found in some unexpected foods, too. If you are interested in eliminating extra sugar from your diet, get to know the obvious and “hidden” sources.

Candy, cookies, ice cream, frozen yogurt, baked sweets (pies, cobblers, custards, turnovers, brownies, etc.) – Most people realize that baked goods, candies and desserts contain sugar, but they may not know how much. This category of items contains the most common sources of sugar in the daily diet. Examples include:
  • Cookies – 8-23g per serving (not necessarily per cookie)
  • Ice cream – 14-24g per ½ cup serving
  • Pie – 18-20g per slice
Soda, fruit juice, alcohol, enhanced waters, sports drinks, coffee drinks, milk, soy or almond milk, salsa – Many people forget about the sugar used to sweeten regular soda, fruit juices, flavor-enhanced waters, sports drinks, coffee drinks like frappuccinos and mochas, iced teas and other drinks with any type of sweetness involved. Even certain types of milk are sweetened, so pay attention to nutrition labels. These sources of sugar add up quickly, often packing upward of 15g of sugar per serving (and often including more than one serving per container). Examples include:
  • Soda – 44g per can
  • Soy milk (chocolate) – 19g per cup
  • Caramel frappuccino – 45g per serving (12 oz) 
  • Gatorade – 14g per 8oz serving
Condiments, sauces, syrups – Any time you add ketchup, mustard, relish, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, gravies, butter sauces, glazes, maple syrup, fruit syrups, honey, chocolate and caramel syrups and other types of condiments to your food or drinks, you are adding sugar to your diet. Though in smaller increments, each gram of sugar adds up quickly. Examples include:
  • Ketchup – 3.7g in 1 tbsp
  • Barbecue sauce – 6g per 1 tbsp
  • Maple syrup – 14g per 1 tbsp
According to the American Heart Association, the average woman should only consume about 24 total grams of sugar each day. Men should consume about 36 grams total, teenagers about 20 to 32 grams, children ages four to eight about 12 grams and preschoolers about 16 grams per day. One teaspoon of granulated white sugar equals about four grams. Whenever possible, limit your intake of processed sugars found in items like sweets, condiments and soda. Instead, consume small amounts of fruit or vegetables when you would like something sweet, or stick to one serving of 70 to 80 percent cacao (or darker) dark chocolate, which only has about 6.7g of sugar in a one-ounce bar.

Limiting the abundance of sugar in your diet can have an amazing effect! You might notice improved energy levels, better sleep, less emotional turmoil or mood swings, improved body mass index (BMI) and more. For more information about your diet or blood sugar levels, contact your primary care provider. To find the primary care provider that is right for you, call 443-849-GBMC or visit

Pasta Primavera


8 oz dry whole-wheat spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
4 cups assorted cooked vegetables (such as red pepper strips, broccoli florets, carrot sticks or green beans)
1 15.5-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 15.5-oz can low-sodium tomato juice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a 4-quart saucepan, bring three quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add the whole-wheat spaghetti, and cook according to package directions. Drain the spaghetti.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil and garlic in a large saute pan. Cook until garlic is soft but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the mixed vegetables and cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add spaghetti and Parmesan cheese. Toss until the pasta is hot and well mixed, then serve.

Nutrition Information

Servings: 4
Calories: 319
Fat: 6 g
Sodium: 167 mg
Fiber: 12 g
Protein: 13 g
Carbohydrates: 59 g

Recipe Source: Reprinted with permission from Keep the Beat™ Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. NIH Publication No. 10-7531. Page 29. December 2010.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lee Ann Vasil's "Because of GBMC" Story

Lee Ann's daughter and father
Every one of us has a story we can share. Think of a past event in your life related to GBMC. Whether it’s care you received, an opportunity you have, or a loved one you remember, this event should have very personal meaning to you. What’s happened in your life since your experience at GBMC? Read Lee Ann Vasil’s story below, and share yours at

Lee Ann Vasil's Story: "The Best Surgeons"

About 50 years ago, when GBMC was brand new, my dad was still working as a supervisor in installation of products for BGE. He must have felt ill as he was driving near his home and stopped there to take a break. A neighbor noticed the company car was there for a long period of time and knew there must be a problem. The neighbor called his wife at her work and they soon got to my dad. They found him unconscious on the bathroom floor.

An ambulance was called, and when my dad arrived at GBMC, he was told that his bowel had ruptured and needed immediate surgery. His condition was rapidly deteriorating but we were assured that he would be in good hands. How fortunate we were to have Dr. Geary Stonesifer ready to take care of him. This kind of surgery doesn't stop with the initial operation – there was a colostomy involved and then more surgery in six months to close it. It did not take the family long to realize that our very sick dad and husband had one of the best surgeons…someone that we could have only hoped for in our situation. Also, how fortunate that the ambulance took him to GBMC, where he was given very good care as he recovered from a serious situation.

Two years ago my daughter, who was 58 at the time, had very intense pain in her abdomen and was rushed to the emergency room at GBMC. We were advised by her gastroenterologist that we needed to call in a surgeon. History had repeated itself, and my daughter's colon had also ruptured. She had been in a hospital near her home the week before with pneumonia and also had other health issues, which posed a very serious situation. Again, we had the good fortune that GBMC had another special surgeon, Dr. Francis Rotolo. I told him the day of surgery that I knew it was a very serious situation but knowing what a skilled surgeon he was gave me much encouragement. Her visits are now six months apart, and after two surgeries and two years of visits, we know what a blessing it was to once again have been fortunate to have one of the best surgeons for a very ill patient.

I cannot imagine having to move to a place where I would not have this great hospital that has some of the very best surgeons. My father lived another 20 years. As ill as he was that day, I know how lucky we were to have had Dad long enough to see my daughter get married and to meet his great grandchildren. I have no other family but my daughter, and I can’t help but think how different my life and the life of her family could have been.

After I retired, I knew I wanted to give back. I'm now a GBMC volunteer, giving back to the place that helped my family so much.

Sun Safety Tips

Keeping your skin and eyes safe from the sun is an important aspect of summer health and skin cancer prevention. Typically the result of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The good news is that skin cancer caused by sun damage can be avoided with proper precautions. Early detection and proper treatment also make it highly likely that those who are diagnosed can be cured. It is essential to take precautions to help prevent the negative effects of UV rays.

Here are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself:
  • Use sunscreen. Sunscreen – which comes in many forms such as creams, gels, lip balms, lotions, ointments, sprays and wipes – with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating to help protect your skin from burning. Sunscreen is just a filter and does not block all UV rays, so it is important to combine sunscreens with other forms of UV protection.
  • Step out of the sun. UV rays are present year-round, but their strength changes with the time of year and your location on the globe. Periodically taking a break from the sun to sit indoors or in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is the hottest, will allow your skin to recover and help you avoid over-exposure.
  • Put on clothing. While an “even tan” is something many people strive to achieve, covering your skin a few times during your summer outing is best for your health. A hat with a two- to three-inch brim that has a dark, non-reflective underside will protect the sensitive skin of your head and neck, and a t-shirt will protect your shoulders and chest. Cover as much of your skin as possible to avoid burning and dehydration.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses. UV rays can cause eye problems such as cataracts. The delicate skin around the eyes can be harmed by UV rays, making wraparound sunglasses labeled with “UV absorption up to 400nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” essential to eye health. These labels mean the glasses will block out nearly 99 percent of UV rays, whereas cosmetic sunglasses will only block about 70 percent. Unlabeled sunglasses likely provide no UV protection.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps. The UV rays present in tanning beds and sun lamps can cause long-term skin damage that contributes to skin cancer. The American Cancer Society  recommends using a sunless tanning lotion in place of tanning beds and sun lamps.
Regular skin examinations performed by a primary care physician or dermatologist can help to detect potentially harmful skin changes. Be sure to ask your primary care physician for a skin exam during your annual checkup. In need of a primary care physician? Visit to select one who is right for you.

Meet Your Neighbors – GBMC at Joppa Road

When it comes to healthcare, the patient should always come first. That is why every GBMC primary care practice functions as a patient-centered medical home (PCMH), focusing on providing patients with better health and care at a lower cost. In addition to delivering evidence-based care, preventive medicine and management of chronic illness, PCMHs include patients as integral parts of their own care. Through proactive monitoring, caregivers at PCMHs help to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital.

GBMC at Joppa Road is one of the organization’s nine PCMHs. The practice is located near the Towson Place Shopping Center and Calvert Hall College High School on LaSalle Road in Towson. With a care team that consists of three physicians, one nurse practitioner and nine other staff members, the practice has extended weekday hours to accommodate patients’ busy schedules.

Paul Valle, MD, is board-certified in both family care and geriatrics, meaning that he is qualified to treat a wide age group of people, from pediatric patients to senior citizens. Alan Halle, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatrics, available to care for patients as young as 18 years and through adulthood to old age. Lama Al Samara, MD, is also board-certified in internal medicine with a special training in dermatology and endocrinology. In addition to the three physicians on the care team, nurse practitioner Johannah Butler, CRNP, has experience in adult and pediatric primary care and women’s health. She acts as an extension of the physicians to offer convenient, timely access to care.

Other benefits of GBMC at Joppa Road include free parking and an on-site lab to make blood testing more convenient for patients. Like all PCMHs, the physicians and staff focus on wellness and prevention of illness, but they build time into their schedules to care for walk-in patients who are sick or have minor urgencies such as sprains. Appointments are required for non-sick visits like physicals. Additionally, the practice is equipped to care for patients who primarily speak Spanish or Arabic. If needed, nurse care managers and care coordinators are also available to help patients navigate the healthcare system. They can offer assistance with obtaining referrals, making follow-up appointments and locating social or financial resources to help patients meet their goals.

Patients at GBMC at Joppa Road, or any of GBMC's PCMH practices, have secure and easy access to their electronic health records (EHR) through a Web-based tool known as myGBMC. Using myGBMC, patients can request prescription refills, look up test results, communicate electronically with their caregivers and view past and current statements. This is one more way that patients are empowered to participate in their own care.

Learn More
GBMC at Joppa Road is accepting patients of all ages. For more information about the practice’s office hours, insurance accepted or other inquiries, visit or call 443-849-GBMC (4262).