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Bear Essentials Online - October 2011

Articles in this issue

Q&A with Our New President and CEO, Kurt Newman, MD

President and CEO, Kurt Newman, MD
Q: How has your first few weeks as CEO been?
A: I’ve been at Children’s National for a long time, more than 27 years. When I first came here, I felt like I belonged. So starting as President and CEO on Sept. 1 was really exciting – like starting over without having to leave. I feel honored, and I also feel a big sense of responsibility to do what’s right for children and their families.

Q: What does “doing what’s right” mean to you?
A: As an organization committed to children’s health, we have to put children at the core of everything we do. Every decision we make, every investment we make, has to be based on how it will affect our ability to care for children, make them well, and support their families. You know, people can sometimes get caught up in internal policies or “the way we’ve always done it,” but if we focus on what works best for children and their families, we’ll make Children’s National better.

Q: What’s it like going from being a surgeon to a CEO?
A: I think my background in surgery will help me in my new role as CEO. When you operate on a child, you have to be totally focused on that child – not what you’ve learned in medical school or read in books, or even your last patient. And I think as an organization, we have to bring that same focus and urgency to our jobs every day. We have to ask what will work best today, not what worked yesterday. And we have to do our best work every day, because children and their families are counting on us.

Q: What are your priorities as CEO?
A: Children’s National is a great place, and I want to make it even better. To succeed and lead, we will need to think bigger and think differently, develop big ideas, and apply innovation in everything we do. We also need to connect with people and organizations in new and creative ways, including other hospitals, government agencies, and other partners. We need to emphasize research and integrate it into our care as quickly and effectively as possible. And we need to provide the best possible care and service to every child and family who enters our door.

Q: How will you know if you’re succeeding?
A: I think in two ways. First, we need to measure our own “vital signs” – patient satisfaction scores, health outcomes, wait times, and much more. Second, I want families to know they can contact me any time if we are not meeting their needs. As an example, I heard that our patients and their parents had asked for access to social media on our GetWell Network at the hospital. On my first day as CEO, we lifted restrictions on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Parents can still block sites if they want to, but now it’s their choice. I want to find other ways that we can provide the best care and make families as comfortable as possible while they’re here.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
A: Most of all, I like to spend time with my family — my wife, Alison, and my sons, Jack and Robert. I enjoy biking, reading, and I go to my sons’ soccer games every chance I get. And anyone who knows me knows I live for University of North Carolina sports, especially basketball.

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Know the facts about Bullying

School Lockers
Bullying is defined as the act of intimidating or mistreating someone the bully portrays to be weaker. Bullying can present in more forms than you might think, including shoving, ridiculing, gossiping, name-calling, and threatening, although girls may witness different kinds of bullying than boys do.

Children who are perceived to have weaknesses, or are stereotypically out of the norm tend to be bullied the most. Children with disabilities, whether they be physical, mental, or speech are also at a greater risk for being bullied.

Children should be considered bullies if they shove, punch, or ridicule other children, including family members. Children from homes lacking emotional support or parental supervision are said to be at greater risk of displaying bullying habits.

Victims of bullying often seem anxious, tense, or fearful, and feelings can stay with the individual until adulthood. As the bullying continues, these individuals’ likelihood of developing self-esteem and self-worth issues increases. They tend to have difficulty concentrating, and may seem sad, moody, or depressed. Additionally, they may seem fearful about going to school.

If you suspect your child is a bully, or is the victim of bullying, take action. Build self-esteem by praising your child, or spending quality time with them to improve the communication between the two of you. If you think your child may be bullied at school, talk to school authorities to help to fix the problem.

Joseph Wright, MD, is the Senior Vice President of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National. Dr. Wright recently participated in an anti-bullying panel for Sesame Street. Watch the discussion here.

For more information about bullying prevention, click here.

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Constipation Q&A

When does constipation occur?
Constipation is a result of the body’s waste moving too slowly through the large intestines. When this happens, too much water is removed from the waste and the feces are difficult to pass. This common condition is presented in various ways at different stages of the child’s life.

How often should my child be forming stool?
Children should have a formed stool every day or every other day. It is not normal for a child to miss more than two days without having a stool.

How do I relieve my child’s constipation?
Increase the fluid intake and take advantage of the laxative effect of prune, apple, or pear juice.

How can I help prevent my child from constipation?
Establish a daily routine. Provide your child with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other foods high in fiber. Encourage regular physical activity and ensure that they are drinking an adequate amount of fluid, particularly water.

What happens if it’s left untreated?
If left untreated, constipation can become a chronic condition which requires evaluation and treatment from a health professional.

Learn more about the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

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Tips for Keeping Your Little Monsters Safe This Halloween

Be responsible and have some fun this Halloween by following these safety tips.

Pedestrian Safety:
  • Cross the street at corners using crosswalks and traffic signals.
  • Children younger than age 12 should cross streets at night with an adult.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights for added visibility to drivers.
  • If older kids are trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should make sure they go in a group and stick to a predetermined route with good lighting.
Candy Safety:
  • An adult should check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them.
  • Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.
  • Throw away candies if wrappers are faded, have holes or tears, or signs of re-wrapping.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Have a safe and fun Halloween!


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Spooky Halloween Snack Ideas

Pumpkin Seeds 101

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serves: 5

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Baking pan
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Rinse pumpkin seeds and pat them dry with a paper towel. Put the seeds in the baking pan.
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the pumpkin seeds and then sprinkle them with salt.
  • Spread the seeds evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and stir the seeds.
  • Return to the oven for another 10 minutes until the seeds are golden brown.

Monster Eyes

Preparation time: 5 minutes to prep, 1.5 hours to set
Serves: 6

  • Red Jell-O
  • Green grapes
  • Ice cube tray
  • Follow instructions on the Jell-O box.
  • Spoon the Jell-O gel into an ice cube tray and place in the refrigerator.
  • After 45 minutes, place a green grape in the middle of each Jell-O. Once the Jell-O is firm, place individual cubes (monster eyes) on a plate.

Finger Food

Finger Food
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1 finger per person

  • 1 package of Mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 Bell pepper
  • Cream cheese
  • With a paring knife, cut each string in half and then carve a shallow area for a fingernail just below the rounded end of each half.
  • Mark the joint right below the nail as well as the knuckle joint by carving out tiny horizontal wedges of cheese.
  • For the fingernails, slice a green bell pepper into 3/8-inch-wide strips. Cut the strips into the shape of a finger nail and stick them in place at the ends of the fingers with dabs of cream cheese.


Let us know what you think about these recipes at

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Are you following us for Parent Letter Tuesdays?

Like our Facebook page or follow @childrenshealth (hashtag #PLP) on Twitter for featured parent letters on Tuesdays.

Read a letter from Noble’s mom about coping with amputation after a lawn mower accident.

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