The Henry Ford Violins: Where Medicine Meets Music

I would normally be concerned about privacy issues and other regulations regarding the sharing of clinical information about patients, but I am going to risk it to tell you about two recent and unique patients we examined at Henry Ford:  Mr. Stradivarius and Mr. Guarneri.

Actually these were not really patients but two extraordinary musical instruments: the 1709 Stradivarius and the 1744 Guarneri del Gesu.

These very rare violins – part of the historical artifact collection at The Henry Ford in Dearborn – weren’t here for the usual examination and blood work that we would recommend for 300-year-old patients.  They weren’t here for a tune-up either.

The Henry Ford, the museum and more which is one of the great treasures in the world, was hoping to make new discoveries about these “old world” musical instruments using some of our “high-tech” medical instruments, specifically the computed tomography equipment in the Department of Radiology.

So how do you use modern-day medical technology designed for humans to uncover the history of a 300-year-old violin’s design and repair?

Enter Henry Ford Hospital radiologist Dr. John Bonnett.

While his focus is on abdominal imaging at the hospital, he has made a hobby out of imaging non-human objects with the CT scanner – flowers, seashells, watches. Continue reading

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The Power of Habit

How’s that New Year’s resolution going so far? Still carrying those extra 10, 15 or 20 pounds?

Certainly, if we resolve to do something and put all of our effort behind it, we should be able to do it, right? This type of “free will” is a great part of our traditional view of how we change or conduct our lives and business.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.

I recently read an opinion piece by David Brooks in the New York Times that highlighted a book written by Charles Duhigg called “The Power of Habit.” In the book, Duhigg, who’s also a reporter at the Times, explores research about how our habits determine our actions.

As much as we think free will overcomes all, much of our actions and behaviors are driven by unconscious habits. Duhigg notes that researchers at Duke University calculated that 40% of our actions are governed by habit, not by conscious decisions.

So much for free will!

According to Brooks’ article, researchers have also come to know the structure of habits. Cue, routine, reward is how habits become ingrained.

Duhigg highlights several examples of how people have learned to replace bad habits with good ones, or create new habits.

From the routine use of toothpaste to football coaches creating practice drills to Starbucks baristas, creation of habits will dictate how one responds to a situation even more quickly and routinely.

Changing your neural network not merely based on forming routine or common triggers. These are instead fortified by emotions and strong desires, like the commitment to a higher purpose or gaining admiration.

What does this have to do with Henry Ford Hospital? 

We are going through a world class service training exercise called by the mnemonic, AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, Thanks).

The habit that we wish to create is a common greeting and dialogue that forms the basis of our service culture.

I have heard from many that say they already do this in their patient interactions. Me too, except sometimes I do A, I and E, or I, D and T, but not the habit of routinely doing all the elements. I have a hunch you are no different. Continue reading

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Dr. Clean: Shadowing an OR Custodian

If there’s one thing that Walk in My Shoes proves, it’s that every one of our employees at Henry Ford Hospital plays an important role in patient care. Not to mention, it really highlights what an incredibly talented and customer service-orientated team we have here.

This time around, I had the opportunity to shadow one of our dedicated operating room custodians, Katrina Walker.

Wasting no time, Katrina put me to work.

Mop in hand, Katrina showed me the proper cleaning techniques used in the OR. (I just hope my wife doesn’t see this and get any ideas).

In all seriousness, I hope everyone understands how hard this work is, physically demanding, on your feet, and orchestrating all the activities to keep the operating room flowing.

Similar to the actual surgeries, each case is treated differently, with different equipment and techniques used to clean each time. Katrina and her team religiously scrub each room for infection control purposes, giving repetitive attention to each crevice and necessary detail.

Not only do I admire Katrina’s dedication and spirit, but also the pure speed and efficiency at which she is able to work.

Did you know the custodians only have 3 to 5 minutes to turn over a room in the OR? Continue reading

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Drinking from the Fire Hose

I am not sure exactly what is going on in the world to have caused the major increase in emergency visits and hospitalizations at Henry Ford Hospital over the last several days (or weeks or months). 

Maybe it’s solar winds, sun spots, loss of insurance, inadequate access to primary care, excessive co-pays or the leap year effect? It’s probably a combination of all of the above.

Maintaining high volumes of admissions by and large is good for the hospital. Better than the opposite. 

It’s a bit like: drinking water is good, while drinking water through a fire hose has its problems.

I do know that the teams of nurses, doctor, and all other employees at Henry Ford Hospital have been working at levels that have not been present for almost a decade. 

In the last few months, we’ve had the highest admissions of any January in 11 years, the greatest number of admissions (over 180) and the greatest number of discharges in our recorded history. 

It doesn’t matter if you are working on the front, middle or back end of hospitalization; you are experiencing high work loads, significant stress and strained processes.

Thank you for being here.

I was walking in the emergency department with Ronnie Hall, our COO, who I have worked with for over 25 years. Patients in CAT 1 were very sick, and triage patients, to our surprise, looked even sicker.  

Patients and their families were patient, but weary. Being sick and feeling poorly, waiting in a wheelchair or stretcher to be seen, is no way to spend a beautiful March afternoon.

In the midst of a sea of patients in triage, one of the patients wanted to leave before service could be provided. She was tired and just wanted to go home. Continue reading

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Eat This, Not That: Shadowing a Henry Ford Hospital Dietitian

It’s no secret that health and wellness is a hot topic of discussion, especially on Doc in the D.  Seems like a lot more of our employees and others are becoming more “engaged” in establishing new and healthy habits. 

So I thought it would be interesting to walk in the shoes of an expert who deals directly with health, wellness and one of our favorite topics on this blog…food.

I recently shadowed Rebecca Trepasso, a registered dietitian at Henry Ford Hospital, who cares for some of our sickest patients in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.

Rebecca is another great example of Henry Ford employees – committed, professional, expert and funny.

(I still am working on convincing her that pizza does have all major food groups represented and truly is the perfect food.  Once I do that, it is on to Buffalo wings and fries.)

But seriously…

Rebecca works daily with patients to educate them on their dietary needs and how to best follow the dietary plan created by their health care team.

She’s also a preceptor in the Henry Ford Hospital Dietetic Internship Program, mentoring promising students within the Dietary Department.

During our time together, Rebecca showed me how she uses information technology in caring for her patient case load, the many processes and steps she goes through daily to educate her patients, and how she supports students.

But her work doesn’t end there. Continue reading

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Walking in the D: Get Moving in 2012

Wellness has been an important topic of discussion during the past year on Doc in the D.

Beyond talking about healthy food and eating habits, I’ve also received a number of comments on my blog from Henry Ford Hospital employees who are looking to incorporate exercise into their lives.

I hear it all of the time from members of our health care team: After working a long day, it can be a challenge to find the time and energy to exercise.

When we encourage our patients to lead healthier lifestyles, we should too. And keeping our employees healthy is a priority at Henry Ford.

So to help those with a resolution to “get moving” in 2012, or those just looking to incorporate additional exercise into their day, I turned to my colleague Dr. Steven Keteyian, program director with Preventive Cardiology in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Henry Ford, for advice.

His recommendation: Start walking.

The best part is you don’t need to go outside in the middle of our “mild” Michigan winter to get started. Continue reading

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Tweets from inside the MRI

While I was waiting to get an MRI of my hip, I thought: “I should be tweeting this.”  But a blog is the limit of this man’s social networking skills.

From Facebook to Twitter, it seems half of the world wants to tell the other half of the world every mundane activity that they are experiencing: “Going to the mall!”; “in the car on the Lodge!”; “buying popcorn!”; “solving the global climate crisis!”

Still, I thought you might want to hear from me on the other side of the white coat as I experienced my MRI at Henry Ford Hospital.

If I had a Twitter account and was tweeting during my MRI experience, my tweets may have looked something like this…




Dr. John Popovich

Checking in to x-ray! @HenryFordNews


Dr. John Popovich

No, I am not the basketball coach #spurs


Dr. John Popovich

Yes I have insurance.
I am sure we take HAP.

Dr. John Popovich

Are any hospital gowns made for someone over 6 feet?


Dr. John Popovich

Need two gowns, you don’t want to see what’s behind #youtube

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“Undercover Boss” Is Something Every CEO Should Do (Minus The Disguise)

If you could walk in anyone’s shoes, who’s would it be?

When asked that question, I bet a good percentage of the population would pick their favorite celebrity, or somebody they have yet to meet.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to shadow the crazy lives of Jay- Z, Lady Gaga or George Clooney (personally, I’d like to follow the life of Dr. Dre, given our professional kinship), the television show “Undercover Boss” gives this concept a meaningful twist.

In “Undercover Boss,” we see leadership literally step into the shoes of their employees to see what an average day is like at their company – the challenges, the rewards, the areas for improvement.

It’s really an intriguing concept – something that every CEO could do, regardless of their field (but perhaps without the fake mustaches and other disguises).

It’s something that I’ve just begun to do at Henry Ford Hospital.

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Behind the Scenes: Henry Ford Hospital’s New iMRI

I normally do not use this blog to tout the technological advantages of Henry Ford Hospital, despite the many such wonders that we have on the Detroit Campus.

I am breaking that mold to inform you of an exciting new technology at Henry Ford Hospital that is providing neurosurgeons with an amazingly detailed view of brain tumors during surgery.

The Intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (iMRI) scanner – the first and only one in Michigan – makes it possible to safely and effectively navigate the brain to remove the maximum amount of tumor tissue, improving patient outcomes. The iMRI also will aid in the treatment of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and neuro-psychiatric disorders.

In the above video clip, neurosurgeon Steven Kalkanis, M.D., director of the Laboratory for Translational Brain Tumor Research at Henry Ford Hospital, discusses the technology behind the iMRI and how it will ultimately benefit our patients.
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Behind the Scenes @ Henry Ford: Sterile Processing

Many are not aware of the enormous support provided behind the scenes at a major medical center such as Henry Ford Hospital.

Let’s take one area: sterile processing.

You may have different ideas about how such a large operation sterilizes equipment used for surgery and other procedures to ensure protection from contamination and infectious diseases.

Some may have a concept similar to what is used in a small facility, like a dentist’s office or even a barber shop, with multiple small sterilizing units.

Henry Ford Hospital’s central sterile supply department requires large amounts of high-pressure steam generated from a boiler room. This is what the steam intake valve looks like:

Sterile Processing Intake Valve

Continue reading

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