Health & Wellness

Press Release

New York, NY, February 5, 2021 — It’s the new year and one of your resolutions should be to get your eyes checked, advises Dr. Daniel Laroche, Director of Glaucoma Services and President of Advanced Eyecare of New York. Despite the busyness of the new year, he says it’s still important to stay on top of regular doctor visits, including visits with your eye doctor. 

What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a disease of the eye characterized by three components:

1. Damage and loss of the retinal ganglions cells and optic nerve described as cupping

2. Loss of visual field

3. Usually increased eye pressure (the mean normal eye pressure is 15mmHG)

People at risk for glaucoma include the elderly, Blacks, people with elevated eye pressure, primary relatives with glaucoma, persons with high myopia, high hyperopia, history of eye trauma and diabetes. Blindness from glaucoma is insidious. In most cases, there is no pain, and the loss of vision occurs slowly from peripheral to central. The central reading vision is not affected until the end, thus most people do not realize it until they have lost a substantial amount of their peripheral vision. In low or normal pressure glaucoma, the central vision may be affected first.

The elevated intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve both mechanically and creates decreased blood flow to the eye. The most identifiable cause of glaucoma is the enlarged lens or cataract in the eye. Early cataract surgery and trabecular bypass has become the best option to stop vision loss in patients with glaucoma. The current use of eyedrops and laser help to lower intraocular pressure but do not address the causative mechanism of the glaucoma being the enlarged lens. Incisional cataract surgery and glaucoma surgery is often needed to truly stabilize glaucoma.

All people should be screened regularly for glaucoma as part of a medical eye exam. Screening should consist of an eye examination consisting of gonioscopy (examination of the drainage angle), intraocular pressure measurement with Goldmann applanation tonometry and a dilated optic nerve examination. If there appears to be any damage to the optic nerve or abnormal pressure, then a visual field test should be performed, and optic nerve photos taken. Persons with thin corneas should be more aggressively monitored and treated for glaucoma as the disease tends to be worse in these patients.

If you have eye pressure or glaucoma and feel that you may be losing vision, Dr. Laroche recommends that you seek the care of a glaucoma specialist for a second opinion. DON’T GO BLIND FROM GLAUCOMA! People with conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy that could lead to blindness if left unchecked need to stay particularly vigilant with their checkups. The pandemic shouldn’t keep you from visiting your doctor, but for patients over 60, Dr. Laroche advises it's better to stay home and do telehealth visits or video consultations until the pandemic flattens. He also encourages people to wear face masks on visits and maintain social distancing, even if they are in a health clinic, and if you’re high-risk, consider adding eye protection when in public spaces.

“Eyesight or human vision is one of the most important senses. As much as 80 percent of what we feel comes through our sense of sight. By protecting the eyes, people will reduce the chance of blindness and vision loss while also staying on top of any developing eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts.

“A healthy brain function requires a healthy vision. The brain is our most essential organ, and it allows us to control other organs. Normal and healthy vision contributes to improved learning and comprehension for a better quality of life,” says Dr. Laroche.

About Dr. Daniel Laroche

Dr. Laroche is an exceptional glaucoma specialist in New York. He studied and received his bachelor's degree from New York University and a medical doctorate with honors in research from Weil Cornell University Medical College. He underwent a medical internship at Montefiore Hospital and finished his ophthalmology residency at Howard University Hospital in Washington D.C., where he was the chief resident in his third year. He later completed his glaucoma fellowship at New York Eye and Ear. 

For more information about Dr. Laroche, please call (212) 663-0473 or visitwww.advancedeyecareny.com. To learn what causes glaucoma, please watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEKOj-KJ0oo. To watch a glaucoma procedure, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7gS-7fGXGE&list=UUXVc2YbXJZGBSgtoknvid8w&index=4&t=2s.

Friday, 05 February 2021 19:11

SITUATION UPDATE: COVID-19 February 5, 2021

OSDH Advisory

  • This week, 76 Oklahoma counties are in the “orange" risk level and one is in the "yellow" risk level for the COVID-19 Risk Level System. OSDH continues to monitor closely the statewide hospitalization trends for COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 Risk Level System will be updated every Friday in the Situation Update at 11:00 a.m. This week’s map can be seen in this update below the test results chart.
  • As OSDH continues to meet with stakeholders across the state, the COVID-19 Alert Map is subject to further revisions as science and public health guidance advances with the ongoing pandemic.
  • As of this advisory, there are 399,727 cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.
  • 2,216 is today's 7-day rolling average for the number of new cases reported.
  • There are 29 additional deaths identified to report.
    • One in Caddo County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
    • Two in Canadian County, two males in the 65 or older age group.
    • One in Cleveland County, one male in the 50-64 age group.
    • Two in Delaware County, one female in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 36-49 age group.
    • One in Garvin County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
    • One in Grady County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
    • One in Le Flore County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
    • Two in Lincoln County, one female in the 36-49 age group, one male in the 50-64 age group.
    • One in McClain County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
    • Seven in Oklahoma County, four females in the 65 or older age group, three males in the 65 or older age group.
    • Two in Ottawa County, two females in the 65 or older age group.
    • One in Pontotoc County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
    • Two in Rogers County, one female in the 36-49 age group, one female in the 65 or older age group.
    • One in Stephens County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
    • Four in Tulsa County, two females in the 65 or older age group, two males in the 65 or older age group.

COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results

Cases 399,727
*Total Cumulative Negative Specimens to Date 2,866,417
*Total Cumulative Number of Specimens to Date 3,243,791
Acute Care OSDH Licensed Facility Hospitalizations 951
Other Types of Facilities Hospitalizations 100
Total Cumulative Hospitalizations 22,453
Total Cumulative Deaths 3,710

*The total includes laboratory information provided to OSDH at the time of the report. As a result, counts are subject to change. Total counts may not reflect unique individuals. 

***The purpose of publishing aggregated statistical COVID-19 data through the OSDH Dashboard, the Executive Order Report, and the Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report is to support the needs of the general public in receiving important and necessary information regarding the state of the health and safety of the citizens of Oklahoma. These resources may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be used in any way that would determine the identity of any reported cases.

Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
*As of 2021-02-05 at 7:00 a.m.


Oklahoma County Risk Levels 2021-02-04

COVID-19 Risk Level System

As of Feb. 4, 2021


Detailed case statistics are published on the website. Click here for more information.
Friday, 05 February 2021 18:48

Weekly Epidemiology Report February 5, 2021

OSDH Advisory

The weekly Oklahoma COVID-19 Weekly Report for January 29 - February 4 is now available.

Oklahoma’s current trend with new positive cases continues to reflect community transmission, which can be reduced by keeping 6 feet of physical distance from others, wearing face coverings when around individuals from outside the household, avoiding touching your face, and regular hand-washing.

Oklahoma currently ranks 24th in the number of total reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and 9th in the cumulative incidence (per 100,000 persons) of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

It is critical for Oklahomans to seek out testing, with or without symptoms. Diagnostic testing is freely available to all Oklahomans, and we continue to improve our ability to find and diagnose COVID-19 cases through our contact tracing efforts. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health worker may try to contact you; the need to adhere to instructions to quarantine and isolate remain critically important.

Reports from weeks past can be found here.

For more information, visit Oklahoma.gov/COVID19.

VACCINE DEMOGRAPHICS

OSDH Press Release

Over 500,000 Oklahomans have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, far surpassing the 397,065 cases in the state since the start of pandemic

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today that over 500,000 vaccines have been administered to Oklahomans. This includes over 100,000 Oklahomans who have completed the full vaccination series of both prime and boost doses.

As of Feb. 4, the state had reported a total of 397,065 COVID-19 cases since the virus was first reported in Oklahoma in March 2020.

“We’re proud to report this milestone of continued progress our state has made toward administering the COVID-19 vaccine, which has resulted in Oklahoma being among those leading the nation in COVID-19 vaccine distribution,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “Our team has worked tirelessly to stay proactive in this effort, and we’re seeing positive results. Since the first dose was administered 53 days ago, we’ve administered over 500,000 vaccinations averaging almost 9,500 shots per day. Thanks to the help and cooperation with county health departments, hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, volunteers and many others, we’re taking strides together toward a healthier Oklahoma.”

The state has reported significant progress in administering the vaccine to phase 2 groups, including over 40% of the 65+ population. In addition, 12% of the state’s population over 16 years of age who are eligible to receive the vaccine have received their first dose.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to stop the spread, but at this point we’ve vaccinated hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens. This will save lives,” said Keith Reid, Deputy Commissioner with OSDH. “The OSDH team is operating with the same rigor as we have since day one to deliver the vaccine to as many Oklahomans as possible in a safe and efficient way. We are excited to reach this significant milestone but want to remind Oklahomans as we wait for increased vaccine supply to keep practicing the three Ws: wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. We need all the tools in our arsenal to stop this pandemic.”

In addition to another 5% increase in vaccine supply coming in the next week, Oklahoma has opted into the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, further expanding the state’s vaccination efforts starting next week. This program is a collaboration between the federal government, states and 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacy networks to provide COVID-19 vaccines to eligible individuals. OSDH has been told to expect 11,300 doses next week distributed to 73 independent pharmacies across the state.

Vaccine Scheduler Portal Update

As of February 4, at 8 a.m. the State Department of Health reported that 681,904 Oklahomans have registered to receive the vaccine with 148,058 appointments being booked. Oklahoma is progressing through phase 2 of its vaccine plan, currently ranking 8th in the nation for total doses administered per capita.

More information on this pilot system and how to schedule your second dose can be found in the Vaccine Scheduler Portal FAQs:    https://oklahoma.gov/covid19/vaccine-information/vaccine-faqs.html

Thursday, 04 February 2021 19:15

SITUATION UPDATE: COVID-19 February 4, 2021

OSDH Advisory

As of this advisory, there are 397,065 cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

2,234 is today's 7-day rolling average for the number of new cases reported.

There are 27 additional deaths identified to report.

  • One in Canadian County, one male in the 36-49 age group.
  • One in Cherokee County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • Four in Comanche County, one female in the 50-64 age group, one female in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 36-49 age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Custer County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Grady County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Le Flore County, one female in the 36-49 age group.
  • One in Muskogee County, one male in the 50-64 age group.
  • Four in Oklahoma County, one female in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 50-64 age group, two males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Payne County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Pottawatomie County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • Six in Tulsa County, two females in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 50-64 age group, three males in the 65 or older age group.
  • Two in Wagoner County, one female in the 36-49 age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Washington County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Woods County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Woodward County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • There are 3,681 total deaths in the state.

Additional hospitalization data can be found in the Hospital Tiers report, published evenings Monday through Friday.

Register online to receive a notification when you're eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.

For more information, visit https://oklahoma.gov/covid19.html.

COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results

Cases

397,065

*Total Cumulative Negative Specimens to Date

2,854,439

*Total Cumulative Number of Specimens to Date

3,230,563

Acute Care OSDH Licensed Facility Hospitalizations

1,008

Other Types of Facilities Hospitalizations

94

Total Cumulative Hospitalizations

22,317

Total Cumulative Deaths

3,681

*The total includes laboratory information provided to OSDH at the time of the report. As a result, counts are subject to change. Total counts may not reflect unique individuals. 

***The purpose of publishing aggregated statistical COVID-19 data through the OSDH Dashboard, the Executive Order Report, and the Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report is to support the needs of the general public in receiving important and necessary information regarding the state of the health and safety of the citizens of Oklahoma. These resources may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be used in any way that would determine the identity of any reported cases.

Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
*As of 2021-02-04 at 7:00 a.m.

Detailed case statistics are published on the website. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, 03 February 2021 21:33

SITUATION UPDATE: COVID-19 February 3, 2021

OSDH Advisory

As of this advisory, there are 394,283 cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

2,168 is today's 7-day rolling average for the number of new cases reported.

There are 52 additional deaths identified to report.

The deaths occurred between Jan. 4, 2021 and Feb. 1, 2021

32 occurred since 1/27

38 decedents were aged 65+

9 decedents were 50-64 years of age

4 decedents were 36-49 years of age

1 decedent was 18-35 years of age

47 were reported to have been hospitalized

5 of the deaths were LTC associated

52 deaths reported today:

  • One in Atoka County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • Five in Bryan County, one female in the 50-64 age group, one female in the 65 or older age group, three males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Carter County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Cherokee County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Choctaw County, one male in the  50-64 age group.
  • Two in Cleveland County, two males in the 65 or older age group.
  • Two in Comanche County, one female in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • Two in Creek County, one female in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • Three in Garfield County, one female in the 36-49 age group, one female in the 50-64 age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Grant County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • Three in Johnston County, one male in the 50-64 age group, two males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Kay County, one male in the 50-64 age group.
  • Two in McClain County, two males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in McCurtain County, one male in the 50-64 age group.
  • Two in McIntosh County, two males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Muskogee County, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • Six in Oklahoma County, one female in the 36-49 age group, three females in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 50-64 age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Osage County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Pottawatomie County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • Two in Pushmataha County, one male in the 50-64 age group, one male in the 65 or older age group.
  • Two in Rogers County, two males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Sequoyah County, one male in the 18-35 age group.
  • One in Stephens County, one female in the 36-49 age group.
  • Seven in Tulsa County, one female in the 36-49 age group, one female in the 65 or older age group, one male in the 50-64 age group, four males in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Wagoner County, one female in the 65 or older age group.
  • One in Washita County, one male in the 65 or older age group.

There are 3,654 total deaths in the state.

Additional hospitalization data can be found in the Hospital Tiers report, published evenings Monday through Friday.

Register online to receive a notification when you're eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.

For more information, visit https://oklahoma.gov/covid19.html.

COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results

Cases

394,283

*Total Cumulative Negative Specimens to Date

2,838,989

*Total Cumulative Number of Specimens to Date

3,213,657

Acute Care OSDH Licensed Facility Hospitalizations

1,048

Other Types of Facilities Hospitalizations

95

Total Cumulative Hospitalizations

22,167

Total Cumulative Deaths

3,654

*The total includes laboratory information provided to OSDH at the time of the report. As a result, counts are subject to change. Total counts may not reflect unique individuals. 

***The purpose of publishing aggregated statistical COVID-19 data through the OSDH Dashboard, the Executive Order Report, and the Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report is to support the needs of the general public in receiving important and necessary information regarding the state of the health and safety of the citizens of Oklahoma. These resources may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be used in any way that would determine the identity of any reported cases.

Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
*As of 2021-02-03 at 7:00 a.m.

Detailed case statistics are published on the website. Click here for more information.

Press Release

(STILLWATER, Oklahoma, Feb. 3, 2021)— Herd immunity. While this term is commonplace in my professional life, chances are these words rarely graced the dinner table prior to 2020. It is more settling to think of herds of cattle than herds of people. Yet, now we are immersed in a world where the fields of public health, epidemiology, and medical science surround us whether we like it or not. Here are the top 5 things I wish we all knew about herd immunity and the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. We achieve herd immunity through infections and through vaccinations.

An outbreak can end when we create roadblocks between people who have the disease and people who can get the disease. I suppose we could mass test every single person and physically separate these populations for a very long and indefinite time... but in a world where humanity thrives on connectedness, relationship and community, we should prefer to build those roadblocks through herd immunity when it can be safely achieved.

To achieve herd immunity, we need enough people within a population that have pre-existing protection from disease to prevent spread of that disease. Your immune system must “see” either the virus or a part of it to build your own personalized immune cell army for future defense. Natural infection creates natural immunity. Vaccination also creates … (wait for it)… natural immunity. Either way, your own cells are doing the work to protect you from future disease.

2. We don’t exactly know the % required for herd immunity.

Now, before you get too discouraged, hear me out a moment. This number is not some imaginary, magic guess. It is scientifically based, but it is largely dependent on what we want the end goal to be. Are we trying to eradicate this virus completely and rid the Earth of ever seeing COVID-19 again? That is unlikely — we have only done that a couple times before in the history of all history. Smallpox is the only human disease we have effectively eradicated from this globe.

Are we trying to knock this back from pandemic level to a typical seasonal virus, much like the flu? That will probably require 50-60% of the population to have immunity. What if we could take COVID-19 and push it back to a level like mumps? Or measles? Where it was uncommon enough to require reporting, tracing and public health interventions to prevent another large-scale emergence? I don’t know about you, but that seems like a great goal to me. We would probably need about 80% of the population with immunity to achieve that goal.

3. The available vaccinations for COVID-19 are good.

Are they perfect? No vaccine is. These vaccines were not rushed. Scientists were able to move through the trial phases faster because they are well-funded, and the process was streamlined to answer a very specific question: does vaccination prevent moderate to severe disease? The answer to that question is better than we could have ever dreamed with greater than 90% efficacy. The vaccines prevent death. They prevent hospitalizations, overwhelmed hospitals and overworked health care workers. They allow breathing room to get our kids back in school, our businesses fully opened and our most vulnerable to once again feel some community.

Don’t get me wrong — they can pack a punch. You can feel achy, sore and even a little feverish after vaccination. These are signs that your immune system is responding well. But the chances of a severe reaction are incredibly low; about 10 reactions per 1 million doses administered. In contrast, your chances of being hospitalized with COVID-19 are about 35-40,000 per 1 million cases. Your chance of dying from COVID-19 is about 15-20,000 per 1 million cases. That risk is much higher if you are older, if you have a comorbidity or if you are a part of a racial or ethnic minority group. Vaccination is the safest, most ethical way to achieve herd immunity. Hands down.

4. We aren’t there yet… but we could be there this year.

The race to herd immunity is more of a marathon than a sprint. I sincerely hope the worst is behind us. As the numbers of vaccinated people rise and winter changes to spring and then summer, we should observe our COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to drop steadily. As these numbers drop, we will be able to better contact trace and control new pockets of outbreaks. New variants of the virus may create some setbacks, but if we can stay true to our task and continue following masking and distancing guidelines, restricting large gatherings and encouraging vaccination, we can put the worst of this pandemic behind us and instead focus on what we want our end goal to be.

5. You matter.

You play a critical role in the trajectory of this disease. So much of our lives are out of our control. That can make you feel overwhelmed and discouraged, or it might make you feel apathetic and hopeless. I encourage you to let that stuff go and instead ask yourself what you CAN control. If you are hesitant to get vaccinated, educate yourself and ask questions. Identify unbiased, trustworthy sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or personal acquaintances who are directly educated in the field of infectious disease and epidemiology. Follow public health guidelines by wearing your mask, washing your hands, and avoiding risky behaviors.

Help an elderly friend or family member get vaccinated. Collect goodies for your health care workers. Raise money for teachers or for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Be creative and find ways to create community for those who are isolated or grieving. Don’t forget you are a part of something bigger. Be kind. Your community needs your positive light. I believe we can do this.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. JenniferRuddis a veterinarian, researcher, and boarded microbiologist at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. She teaches infectious diseases to our veterinary students and is active in SARS-CoV-2 research. Due to her research, she is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has yet to grow a third arm. Although, she is interested in acquiring a third arm to manage her two raucous boys, virtual schooling, potty training, and this pandemic life.

 

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 34,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 100 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 275,000 students to serve the state of Oklahoma, the nation and the world.

Wednesday, 03 February 2021 20:33

Make A Relaxing Valentine Wellness Box

This Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to keep wellness in mind with when you are creating the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. A relaxing and thoughtful gift suggests TV host of Alive & Well Michelle Harris can be a custom created wellness box that you to put together for a personalized wellness experience.

 1.       Begin with a great box or container that is beautiful and can be re-used after Valentine’s Day

2.       Get a new take on the traditional flowers with floral sage sticks. They look beautiful and stay that way once they have dried.

3.       Healthy sweet treats are always a hit. Vegan heart shaped sugar cookies are a nice touch!

4.       Add some relaxing spa type items like a fuzzy sleep mask and pretty loofa.

5.       Alcohol free beverages are the latest trend. Some Noughty alcohol free sparkling wine is low in calories, festive and tastes delicious.

6.       Say it with love. Fun décor can be inexpensively purchased almost anywhere.

7.       Make sure to personalize your box. Feel free to add favorites for that special someone. Massage oils, aroma therapy sprays and something high tech like fit bit all make great additions to any Valentine’s Day Wellness Box!

All of these ideas will help to create a memorable Valentine’s Day this year!

Press Release

(STILLWATER, Oklahoma, Feb. 2, 2021) — Mitchell Berenson left corporate medicine in 2008 with the goal of creating strong IV infusion programs in rural hospitals. His Dallas-based company, Community Infusion Solutions, now works with 40 hospitals in 22 states, and, with the help of Oklahoma State University’s entrepreneurial program, he’s launched a new product that could revolutionize in-home infusion treatment.

Home infusion therapy allows patients to administer medication directly into the bloodstream without leaving their homes, and can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from cancer to neurological conditions or disorders of the nervous system. According to a study by the National Home Infusion Association, in 2019 home infusion and specialty providers cared for more than 3 million patients in the United States, representing a 300% increase since the last industry study in 2008.

“The compliance rate for patients infusing in the home is about 35 percent,” Berenson said. “We’re talking about people who leave the hospital, many of them very ill, and only 35 percent of them take their medicine the way they’re supposed to. That’s why the readmission rates into hospitals are so high — in some cases, almost 50 percent.

“For so many chronic diseases, like diabetic foot infections, bone infections and rheumatoid arthritis, each has prescribed IV infusion therapy that can be done at home, but if the patient is not compliant with the doctors orders, the diabetic foot infection will turn into an amputation, then an infected stump, and then death. Unfortunately, it’s that clear and tragic,” said Berenson.

“In fact, Oklahoma has the second highest lower limb amputation rate tied to diabetes, and Mississippi has the highest rate, which is why Community Infusion Solutions launched there in 2008 has since  reduced readmission rates for such diseases as much as 300%.”

The new device, called IV Ensure, uses remote monitoring to help patients monitor their health and improve compliance and health outcomes. Berenson said the device will help prevent problems from spiraling out of control and chewing up precious health care resources.

“If you can reduce readmission rates and that cascading effect that creates a lot of health care consumption, then it means more health care for other people.”

Berenson said the product has major potential for rural areas in particular, but the scope of the patient compliance is global and his vision is, too.

“In rural areas, it’s a real challenge because patients often go to the big cities. They get life-flighted or transferred there to see a specialist. But when they return to the rural environment, often they will be very challenged there.

“People always ask me, ‘That’s a very narrow niche; how on Earth did you come up with that idea?’ The answer is when I was working at the Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma, I saw children who were in the hospital who would get relief — very sick children who would get stabilized and end up going back to rural Oklahoma where they would pass away. They simply couldn’t survive once they went back home.”

The issue, he said, was in a lack of continuity of care. For many patients, leaving the hospital is not the end of treatment, and follow-through can mean the difference between life and death.

“For rural patients getting treatment in big cities like Dallas, the continuity of care hasn’t been there when they return home, so patients have really struggled. So that’s why we started Community Infusion Solutions — to address that.”

Community Infusion Solutions joint ventures with rural community hospitals to develop and manage their outpatient IV infusion and oncology programs. Berenson said the company has developed 80 programs, created a 90 percent culture of patient drug adherence rate, and delivered $70 million in cash flow for rural hospitals to date.

Berenson said IV Ensure was the next logical step in his quest to improve health outcomes. One of the first steps he took to getting his product off the ground was going back to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University.

“I’m an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur, but I’ve never worked on a piece of biotechnology before, from FDA approval to patents and all these other pieces,” Berenson said. “So, when this question came up of what my next step would be, I went back to the people that I trusted, who I knew had integrity.”

Fellow OSU alumni Stuart Kennedy, an entrepreneur; Brent Kisling, executive director of commerce for the state of Oklahoma; and Matt Bowler, the head of OSU’s MBA program, offered Berenson counsel. Bowler also linked Berenson up with David Thomison, a clinical professor of entrepreneurship at OSU.

“It honestly felt like I was pitching [Thomison], like you might see on Shark Tank or something,” Berenson said. “David is such a wise man. After about 15 minutes, he said, ‘I want our students to get an opportunity to work on this project and help you with the financial plan and model for this product.’ I was just blown away.”

After working with Thomison and four OSU students on the groundwork to bring  the product to market, IV Ensure now holds three patents and is in the final stages of beta testing. The company aims to launch the product within the first quarter of this year and is in discussions with insurance companies in Oklahoma and other states to cover the product.

Bowler said he was eager to connect Berenson with resources at OSU, both for the opportunity it would afford students and to see Berenson’s vision become reality.

“The impact of IV Ensure is going to be huge for multiple stakeholders including caregivers, insurers, and most importantly patients,” Bowler said. “As MBA director, it is wonderful to see our Spears alumni like Mitchell Berenson making such great contributions and bringing our Spears MBA students along with him in that success. Relative to the innovations that we work with in the MBA program, this is one of the most exciting because of the life improvements it will bring to patients. For our students, especially the four students working on this project, it is wonderful to get to make such a contribution to society through this project.”

Berenson said he couldn’t have made his vision a reality without his Cowboy connections and the lessons he learned while making them.

“So much of the success we’ve had within our company, and myself professionally, is tied to my activity at OSU from ’94-96.”

In particular, Berenson mentioned such important lessons from OSU as one from Dr. Kent Olson, professor emeritus of economics, who told him that health care is not an unlimited resource.

“[Olson] said if you squander it, then some people aren’t going to get it at all. And that is a perfect example of rural America,” Berenson said.

“When I was at Oklahoma State, I had this philosophy that if you had your palm open and your hand up, Oklahoma State would fill that. You didn’t have to ask; it would just happen. This is just yet another example. To say that I feel fortunate to be involved with OSU and have that relationship is truly an understatement.”

 

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 34,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 100 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 275,000 students to serve the state of Oklahoma, the nation and the world.

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