Oregon Health & Science University

About OHSU Health

Your family’s well-being is important to us. That’s why OHSU’s Health magazine brings you the latest research news, expert advice and event listings to help you stay current and keep your family healthy. Our magazine is intended to educate and inform: If you have urgent medical issues or in-depth questions, please talk to your health care provider.

Got questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear your feedback: Email us at editor@ohsu.edu

Connect with us

facebook twitter linkedin blog


Rood Family Pavilion opens
Comfortable temporary housing for patients and families

Nearly half of OHSU’s patients live in rural Oregon or neighboring states. Finding temporary housing in Portland can be difficult and costly when they need to travel to OHSU and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for complex treatments, such as surgery, bone marrow transplants and clinical trials. A new guesthouse — named in honor of Gary and Christine Rood of Vancouver, Washington — will provide affordable housing close to OHSU. The new building has 76 guest rooms on the top five floors, half reserved for families of children who are patients and half for adult patients. This represents a sizable increase in available rooms, and the rates are lower than local hotels.

Family members of child patients gave input on the guesthouse design with the goal of creating a comfortable home away from home, adding friendly touches including a fireplace, warm carpets and other cozy details. Other features in the Rood Family Pavilion include shared kitchens, a fitness room, an indoor play area and beautiful outdoor spaces, including the Silver Family Children’s Park and the George and Janet Boldt Healing Garden.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington will subsidize and provide programming for the pediatric portion of the guesthouse and contract with OHSU to operate the entire facility.

The guesthouse opens Jan. 23 for pediatric patient families and will welcome the first adult patients in April.


Short breathing pauses in sleep harmful over time

Stops or pauses in breathing while sleeping is a serious condition known as sleep apnea. Doctors usually measure the severity of patients’ sleep apnea by the number of times they stop breathing per hour of sleep. Now, new research suggests that short pauses may be deadlier than longer stops. OHSU collaborated on a long-term study that measured not just how often but how long breathing interruptions occur in sleep apnea patients. After following patients for 10 years, the patients with the shortest apneas were 31 percent more likely to die. The research suggests that even patients with mild or moderate apnea could benefit from treatment.

This study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Excess weight may trigger puberty sooner

Overweight girls can start puberty earlier, which can lead to higher risks for health problems later, such as ovarian and breast cancer. OHSU is part of an international team of scientists who are tracking the biologic reasons for why this happens. They recently discovered a molecular mechanism in genes that leads overweight female rats to start puberty earlier than other females. The researchers identified an enzyme that informs the brain about body weight. In overweight rats, this information caused the brain to start puberty. By using animal models, the scientists hope to gather information on nutrition and specific processes that could help physicians prevent girls from having early puberty, a trend that has been rising over the last century.

This study was published in Nature Communications.

Maximum zoom reveals body’s atomic structure

Scientists are getting down to the atomic level to understand how our bodies work. By using a special piece of equipment, a cryo-electron microscope, OHSU researchers have assembled a precise, 3D image of an important tissue channel, called an epithelial sodium channel, or ENaC. This tissue channel plays an important role in controlling blood pressure, so the scientists say that having this clear, structural map may be helpful in developing medications to control high blood pressure and other diseases.

This study was published in the open-access journal eLife.

Your Questions, Our Answers

Q. My friend was up and walking shortly after his knee replacement. Will I be able to do the same when I have my knee replaced?

A: Yes, you will be up and moving right after your joint replacement. A physical therapist will have you walking the same afternoon as your surgery. At OHSU orthopaedics, we use rapid recovery protocols, so getting moving quickly is important. The other key is reducing or avoiding the use of opiates. Instead, we use a variety of other medications to reduce swelling and pain. By following these two methods, data show people have fewer problems and get back to their normal lives quicker. Many joint replacement patients go home the same day as the surgery with an at-home exercise plan. Knee patients start physical therapy about a week after surgery. Most of the healing happens within three months, however, you may continue to improve for up to a year after surgery.

OHSU Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation

Q. Our daughter was born with a strawberry birthmark. Should we see a doctor about it and when?

A: Early treatment is key. The sooner we treat these birthmarks (hemangiomas), the better the results. Though we don’t know what causes them, these red birthmarks usually need treatment, especially when on the face or neck. They can grow a lot in the first six months of life and cause lasting changes in the skin. With early treatment, we can keep hemangiomas from getting bigger and make them fade faster. Unfortunately, I often see babies after the birthmark has grown significantly, because parents didn’t know how important it is to seek early treatment. Though the color will fade over time, the skin is never normal where the hemangioma grew. As soon as you discover the birthmark, plan to meet with a pediatric dermatologist or an ear, nose and throat specialist for guidance. At OHSU Doernbecher, we have both types of specialists working together in the Hemangioma and Vascular Birthmarks Clinic.

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital

Coming soon to Tuality Healthcare, we will have pediatric ENT specialists performing outpatient surgery with a pediatric team of nurses, anesthesiologists and surgeons.

Q. I’ve started having hot flashes and I’m miserable! Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes, there are medical and lifestyle options to improve hot flashes. About 80 percent of women have hot flashes and night sweats in the four years or so before menopause, and some women will have these symptoms long after their periods have stopped. Each woman has to decide how much intervention she needs for daily comfort and function. For some, loose clothing, exercise and a fan at the ready are enough. For others, we can prescribe estrogen therapy, which will stop hot flashes within about three weeks. There are some other prescription alternatives that can also help. Other common symptoms of menopause include sleep and mood disturbance, vaginal dryness and low libido. Just know that you don’t need to suffer. If any of these symptoms are negatively impacting your life, speak to your health care provider. At OHSU, we have the Menopause and Sexual Medicine program to address multiple issues.

OHSU Center for Women’s Health

Q. Who should see a preventive cardiologist?

A: Heart disease is the leading cause of death and certain people are more at risk than others. A preventive cardiologist can identify your risk for a heart attack and suggest the right plan for managing that risk. Some people have risk factors at a younger age, but any man over 55 and woman over 60 will benefit from an expert evaluation to avoid a cardiac event. Also, anybody who has already survived one heart attack or stroke should be seen to help avoid a second one. Preventive visits include a review of family history, blood tests, nutrition advice and, in some cases, imaging tests. Preventive cardiology is a specialized service not available everywhere. OHSU Center for Preventive Cardiology is accepting new patients.

OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute

Q. I got a notice that I’m due for a cervical cancer screening. Why do I need that?

A: We recommend that women over 21 get tested periodically for cervical cancer because it is a type of cancer that doesn’t have symptoms until the disease is advanced. Importantly, it is a type of cancer that we can prevent. We can reliably catch precancers with swab tests – Pap and HPV – and resolve them with less traumatic treatment than if the disease progresses. Current guidelines recommend that women ages 21-29 get a Pap test every three years. Women ages 30-64 should get the same, or a co-test of Pap/HPV every five years. HPV is very common in the population now, and we know it is a driver for causing cervical cancer. If you have a positive HPV status, your provider will follow you more closely and may recommend additional testing.

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Q. As a parent, what should I know about vaping among children and teens?

A: Recent reports show a worrying increase in vaping among youth, with about one-fifth of high schoolers now vaping. By law, vaping (using a device to breathe in flavored products that usually contain nicotine) is restricted to people over 18 years old, but that hasn’t stopped curious teens. Youth, and even parents, often view vaping as having no health consequences and as safer than cigarettes. However, vaped nicotine can be addictive, especially for teens, whose brains are still developing. The aerosols also contain toxins, such as metals and formaldehyde, which may have as-yet unknown effects. Vaping fluids come in delicious-sounding flavors such as mango and crème brulee, avoiding the tobacco smell, making it easier to avoid detection by parents and teachers. One popular type of vaping device (Juul) looks like a thumb drive, not a cigarette. Parents should inform children about how unhealthy and addictive vaping is and that it is not harmless.

OHSU Family Medicine

Living Well

Helping paws: Two furry friends bring smiles in the hospital

A snuggle a day may not keep the doctor away, but it can certainly help make hospital visits a little more enjoyable. OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital welcomed Davis, a 2-year-old standard golden retriever, to the two-canine crew of the Hospital Facility Dog Program last fall. He joins Hope, a 5-year-old English cream golden retriever, in the very important job of making the hospital’s young patients and families feel better.

“Not all medicine is administered by doctors or nurses,” said Dana Braner, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.C.C.M., physician-in-chief at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Every week, Hope and Davis make bedside visits to about 40 Doernbecher patients and their families, giving snuggles that help distract from discomfort, ease anxiety or simply lighten the spirit of a child that longs for the comforts of home.

With the addition of Davis, Doernbecher becomes the only children’s hospital in the Pacific Northwest, and one of only a handful across the United States, to employ more than one full-time facility dog. Doernbecher considers both dogs to be OHSU staff members; they even have official ID badges! Both dogs went to special training to learn how to work in a hospital setting and show love to patients. Davis and Hope report to work each day and go home at night with OHSU employees certified in animal-assisted therapy.

Connecting good health to clear communications

Have you ever gotten home from a visit to a health provider and realized you don’t remember all the instructions you were given? Or can’t explain the provider’s answers to your spouse? Lots of data prove you aren’t the only one who gets easily confused by medical jargon, explanations and complex care instructions. No matter your education or background, visiting a clinic or hospital is stressful, and typically you aren’t at your best due to anxiety, illness or pain.

Providers are becoming more aware of their responsibility to communicate clearly, and Cliff Coleman, M.D., M.P.H. of OHSU Family Medicine is training the next generation of physicians to recognize the connection this makes to good health.

“All of your health care professionals are caring people who know their business but don’t realize when they are making information harder to understand,” Dr. Coleman says. “As a patient, you can help lower barriers to understanding by making sure you know the answers to these three questions by the end of the visit: what was the main problem we discussed today, what should I do about it, and why is doing that important?”

Rachael Postman, D.N.P., F.N.P.-C. of OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond, emphasizes that questions are not only OK, they are welcome. Patients may feel shy about quizzing their providers, but Dr. Postman encourages patients to speak up.

“We want you to feel like you are getting information that makes sense, so you know what to do next,” she says.

Drs. Postman and Coleman suggest that patients help providers by:

  • Bringing a written list of questions/concerns.
  • Bringing another person to help listen.
  • Taking notes.
  • Asking for explanations of any words or instructions you don’t understand.
  • Asking for a written summary of the conversation.
  • Asking for information in your native language using an interpreter and/or in writing.
  • Getting instructions for follow-up questions.
  • For prescriptions, asking the provider to list the reason for the medicine on the label.


Request reasonable accommodation for these events at 503-494-2834 or hsmktg@ohsu.edu.

A Toast to Midlife

Join us as we raise glasses to midlife – and to the changes and opportunities that come with it. Over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, our women’s health experts will chat about night sweats, painful sex, brain fog and more, and what you can do to take control.
First of four events:
March 21, 2019, 6:30-8 p.m.
Is natural really better? What you need to know about bioidentical hormone therapy options
Location: OHSU Center for Women’s Health
Kohler Pavilion, 7th floor, 808 S.W. Campus Dr., Portland, OR 97239

Marquam Hill lectures

FEB. 21
OHSU Auditorium
Understanding trauma: When the fear switch is always on
Alisha Moreland-Capuia, M.D.

RLSB 1A001
Being who you are: the case for gender-affirming health care
Christina E. Milano, M.D.
Jens U. Berli, M.D.

Beaverton Ask the Health Expert: If Heart Disease is in Your Genes, Are You Out of Luck?

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, 7 p.m.
Location: OHSU Beaverton, 2nd Floor Lobby, 15700 SW Greystone Ct., Beaverton 97006
Speaker: Sergio Fazio, M.D., Ph.D.
As the leading cause of death for American men and women, your risk of heart disease may be influenced by your ancestors.
Learn what steps you can take to manage this danger.

Baby Talk, With OHSU Fertility Consultants

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Financial sessions at 5 or 6 p.m.
Meet with fertility experts 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Considering fertility treatment? At OHSU, we offer a full range of fertility services. Want to learn about what might be best for you? Join us at an open house. Meet briefly with a fertility expert, get to know our staff, learn about financial options, and get your questions answered.

OHSU Center for Health & Healing
10th Floor, Fertility Clinic lobby
3303 S.W. Bond Ave., Portland, OR 97239

2019 Brain Awareness Lectures

Mind-altering Medicine
Join us as top researchers in neuroscience investigate inspiring behavioral change using complementary and alternative methods to overcome negative emotional and psychological cycles.

Good vibes only: Treating addiction with mindfulness
MAY 6, 2019
Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, University of New Mexico

Lifestyle tweaks for teen psychosis
MAY 13, 2019
Lynne Shinto, N.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Neurology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, OHSU

Magic mushrooms: Easing depression and anxiety at end of life
MAY 20, 2019
Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology, NYU Langone Health

Bariatric Surgery Seminar

Take the first step toward a healthier life. Attend a free bariatric surgery seminar to learn more about weight-loss surgery. You can also watch our one-hour online seminar from your home computer. To register, please visit www.ohsu.edu/bariatrics or call 503-494-1983.

Feb. 7, 7 p.m.
Speaker: Andrea Stroud, M.D.
Location: CHH1
OHSU Center for Health & Healing
3303 S.W. Bond Ave., Portland, OR 97239


Each issue, we bring timely health tips and information to help you and your family live healthier lives. Got a question or health issue you’d like our experts to address? Email us at editor@ohsu.edu.

Subscribe to Health

Want to receive the latest issue of Health in your email inbox? Sign up below.


Fine Print

Health is a quarterly publication of OHSU serving the greater Portland area. Information is intended to educate and is not a substitute for consulting with a health care provider.

Got questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear your feedback: Email us.

If you would like to opt out of receiving the printed version of Health you can do so here.

Editor-in-chief: Ashley Uchtman
Copywriter: Cheryl Rose
Graphic designer: David Riofrio