Movember: Changing the face of men’s health with your moustaches

WMC-Foundation_MensHealthMovember_Poster_FReady your razors, bearded and moustached men of Natrona County. Beginning Friday, you will have 30 days to grow and groom the most spectacular ‘stache you can manage, all in the name of men’s health. The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angels Cancer Care Program and Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care are sponsoring this year’s Movember community events, including the ‘Stache Off on Friday. All men – bearded, moustached or otherwise – are encouraged to get a clean shave at Rocky Mountain Academy of Hair or at Galloway’s Pub. Your beautiful, budding facial hair will then serve as a walking billboard for men’s health awareness through Nov. 30. What pink and October have done for breast cancer, Movember organizers hope moustaches and November will do for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and other men’s health issues.

Becoming a Mo (in four easy steps)

1. Shave: Start Movember with a clean slate. Free shaves will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at Rocky Mountain Academy of Hair, Skin and Nails 315 E. Fifth St. Or, if you’re more of a night owl, attend the ‘Stache Off from 8 to 10 p.m. at Galloway’s Pub, 2800 CY Ave. Take photos of your baby-smooth mug and post them on Twitter with #CasperMovember or on the Wyoming Medical Center Facebook page.

2. Don’t shave: Let your moustache grow until Nov. 30. Experiment with it. Shape it with product. If people ask, tell them about Movember and what it’s trying to accomplish: Namely, to get men like you to talk about health. The campaign’s slogan is “changing the face of  men’s health,” as any self-respecting moustache should do.

3. Show your ‘stache:  Celebrate all your hard work at the Mo-Gress & Trivia event at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at Galloway’s Pub. Compare your lip caterpillars with other Mos (men who grow ‘staches for Movember). Or simply come for the trivia.

4. Duke it out: See if your ‘stache has the muscle to be named Best in Show in a lip-to-lip contest with other Mos. The Moustache Bash is 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29 at Galloway’s Pub. Don’t forget to post your awesome ‘stache photos to Twitter and Facebook. Before-and-afters would be nice.

Happy Halloween (and a few reminders from Safe Kids Wyoming)

halloween1Tonight’s the night your little witches and wizards have been waiting for: pillowcases full of candy, scaring smaller ghosts and goblins and, if all goes according to plan, sugar-induced stomach aches.

Safe Kids of Central Wyoming recommends trick-or-treating between the hours of 6 to 8 p.m.

“We continually encourage community members to be safety conscience, but ask that they pay even more attention on Halloween,” said Pam Evert, Wyoming Medical Center Safe Communities program director.

“The biggest dangers faced on Halloween are injuries from tripping and falling and pedestrian/car accidents. Unfortunately, many children forget safety tips out of shear excitement while traversing from house-to-house trick-or-treating. It is important for parents to set the example by staying on main pathways and crossing at corners.”

 To ensure a safe Halloween, Safe Kids Wyoming recommends the following rules.

 For children:

* Go only to well-lit houses. Do not enter houses, but stay on porches.

* Travel in small groups accompanied by an adult.

* Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards. Cross streets at the corners, use crosswalks and do not cross between parked cars.  Stop at all corners, and gather in a group before crossing.

* Know your phone number in case of emergencies.

* Use costume knives and swords that are flexible. Wear clothing that is bright, reflective and flame retardant. Only wear masks that do not obstruct your vision. Avoid wearing long, baggy or loose costumes or oversized shoes (to prevent tripping).

 For parents and adults:

* Supervise the outing for children under age 12. Establish a curfew for older children.

* Clear porches, lawns and sidewalks for trick-or-treaters and place jack-o-lanterns away from doorways and landings. Do not leave lit pumpkins unattended.

*  Inspect all candy for safety before children eat it.

* Drive slowly. Watch for children in the street and on medians.

* Have children exit cars on the curbside, not on the traffic side.

*  When decorating, remember that dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters. It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. 


Come say ‘Boo!’31-top-40-best-free-halloween-greeting-cards-templates-e-card-and-treats-vector-graphics

Stop by the Safe Kids of Central Wyoming booth tonight at Eastridge Mall.

Trick-or-treating for kids ages 2 to 12 will be from 5 to 7 p.m. while family-friendly events will be from 4 to 7 p.m. in Center Court.

Wyoming Medical Center is the lead agency for Safe Kids of Central Wyoming.

Joint Commission names WMC Top Performer for quality

PrintWhat a week it’s been for Wyoming Medical Center.

On Oct. 23, the Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog for patient safety, awarded us an ‘A’ in patient safety on its Hospital Safety Score — the third year in a row we’ve earned Leapfrog’s highest grade. (Read the entire story here.)

Today, the Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of healthcare organizations in America, named us a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for 2013. We were recognized for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care in four measured areas — heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care.

“We understand that what matters most to patients is safe, effective care,” said WMC President and CEO Vickie Diamond.

Vickie Diamond
Vickie Diamond, president and CEO

“That’s why Wyoming Medical Center has made a commitment to accreditation and to positive patient outcomes through evidence-based care processes.”

Top Performers are hospitals that sustain excellence in accountability measure performance. WMC earned a composite score of 99.3 percent compliance over four quarters. Only 33 percent of Joint Commission hospitals earned the rating.

The ratings are based on an aggregation of accountability measure data reported to The Joint Commission during the 2012 calendar year.

Further reading:

* Wyoming Medical Center is recognized in The Joint Commissions annual report, Improving America’s Hospitals, released today.

* We are also recognized on The Joint Commission’s Quality Check website,

* The Top Performer program will be featured in the December issues of The Joint Commission Perspectives and The Source.

‘BEST PAINT SCHEME EVER’: A Belgian YouTuber is our ambulances’ biggest fan

We stumbled across this great little You Tube video a couple of weeks ago and just had to share. ThePolicefreak posted the footage on Sept. 28 with this description:

“Ambulance MS 302 of the Wyoming Medical Center is responding. Notice the AMAZING paint schemes for this ambulance. I think it’s the best in whole world. Ambulance is also responding with Dual sirens. Sorry for the bad video but we just stopped for filling the car up when this ambulance was flying in Code 3.
RTW der Wyoming Medical Center Mit die beste Lackierung auf der ganzen Welt.
Een ziekenwagen van het Wyoming Medical center rijd met spoed met een zéér mooie striping als het niet de mooiste in de wereld is !!”

Judging by his other 854 video posts, ThePolicefreak is something of an enthusiast for mostly-European-looking EMS vehicles speeding away with sirens flashing. Our ambulance video has 948 views and 20 “thumbs ups” (one of them from us).

We love many things about this post. Here are but a few:

  1. The title: “Wyoming Medical Center Ambulance [BEST PAINT SCHEME EVER]” (Thanks, ThePolicefreak. We kind of agree.)
  2. Ambulance (and firetruck and police car) spotting is, apparently, a real thing.  ThePolicefreak has 1,800 subscribers and converses with viewers who seem as excited about his EMS videos as he is.
  3. The comments: “THAT WAS AN EPIC CATCH! VERY NICE VIDEO AND AMBULANCE! ;o)” commented THEMAJESTIRIUM1 “Great catch my friend! Love that livery ;D” commented Daddy2548 And our favorite, posted by sven pieters: “Wow zeer mooi dat ziet je maar 1 keer in je leven zoon ambulance!

Curious, we messaged ThePolicefreak to find out more. And guess what? He answered.

The Pulse: Who are you and where do you live?

ThePolicefreak: First of all thank you for your interest. You have a really nice blog. (We had to throw that in!) Here are the answers for you questions: K.Philips and I’m from Belgium, Europe.

The Pulse: What brought you to Casper, Wyo., on that day?

ThePolicefreak: I was on a road trip through the USA. And I tried to film emergency services from every city that I went through.

The Pulse: From where did your interest in EMS vehicles come?

ThePolicefreak: It all started 3 years ago with filming my local fire department and then I went filming emergency services from all over my country. I think emergency vehicles are very interesting. I also film them as a tribute for the crews.

The Pulse: We love your comments about our ambulance! What did you find so special about this video catch?

ThePolicefreak: I think the paint job is something (different) than all other paint jobs you see on most of the ambulances. I think it is very original. I wish the ambulances in Europe had these paint jobs.

The Pulse: How often do you film EMS vehicles? How big is your collection?

ThePolicefreak: I have a collection from about 900 videos from police, EMS and fire departments responding, mainly from Belgium. I have about 40 videos from USA emergency services responding. But not all these videos are all uploaded. Then I have a couple videos from fire departments from Germany, Luxembourg and Holland, responding code 3.

Greetings from Belgium!

As promised, ThePolicefreak, we are posting photos of all our ambulances. Come back to Casper anytime to film each of them in action. While we’re at it, dear readers, which is your favorite?

AmbulanceBigHorns AmbulanceHorse AmbulanceMountainLion AmbulanceDeer AmbulanceElk AmbulanceMoose

Chemo Buddies: Casper women forge friendship through breast cancer treatments

judy murray 2
Lillian Dinges, at left, sits with her “chemo buddy” Judy Murray at Metro Coffee Co. in Casper. The friends met during their treatments for breast cancer and supported each other through their journeys. They shared their story with The Pulse in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to educate women facing their own diagnoses.

They met in chemo therapy, each fighting her own type of breast cancer: Judy Murray, 53, mother of four, had stage II estrogen receptor positive which had spread to her lymph nodes; Lillian Dinges, 54, also a mother of four, had stage IV HER2-positive which had spread to her liver.

They always seemed to come to Rocky Mountain Oncology on the same day and sit at nearby stations through the long hours of treatment. The first time they met, Lillian’s husband taught Judy’s husband how to cook eggs in the microwave.

“And I remember thinking, ‘OK. This is a fun couple. There is a little bit of comedy relief here. This is going to be alright,’” Judy said.

Judy and Lillian decided to tell their stories this month – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – to remind women about the importance of the annual mammogram, whether or not the disease runs in their families. Neither Judy nor Lillian has a history of breast cancer in theirs.

They also hope to provide some comfort and support to women who may now be facing their own diagnoses. Though the months ahead will likely be long and stressful, scary and exhausting, you will get through it, the friends say.

They know because they got through it and they helped each other through it, even as they lost their hair and their skin broke out in terrible rashes. Even as they learned that one of them wasn’t yet done with the fight.

Said Lillian, looking over at her friend next to her on the couch at Metro Coffee Co.: “We are chemo buddies.”

 ‘You’re going to get through it’

Judy’s not sure it’s the phrase cancer patients want to hear, but she heard it a million times throughout treatment: “It’s going to be alright.”

The fight is hard, no way around it. It doesn’t feel alright when it’s you calling a family meeting to tell your children you have cancer.

Judy found her lump the week of her yearly exam in November 2011. She called to get her mammogram a couple days early, though with no family history, she figured it was just a lump of fat. Then it all happened so fast she barely had time to think about it. From her mammogram, she went for an ultrasound. Soon after the ultrasound, she and her husband met the surgeon and she went for surgery the next week.

Doctors biopsied the tumor during surgery and removed her lymph nodes.  Judy decided she would know it was cancer if she had to stay in the hospital. She awoke from surgery and asked, “So? Do I have to spend the night?”

“Yes,” the OR nurse said. “But it’s going to be OK.”

Judy started chemotherapy a couple of days later. An Angel from Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angel Cancer Care Program visited her home and offered whatever support she needed.

But it was something a stranger said that really helped her to face what lied ahead.

She was trying on hats in the store, preparing for when she’d lose her hair through treatment. A woman approached.

I overheard you talking that you are starting chemo therapy. I just want you to know that you’re going to get through it, the woman said.

“I think that was a huge thing to be said to me,” Judy said. “With Lillian, I knew we were going to get through it.”

Family history not required

Lillian admits she had been blasé about her mammograms. She had no history of breast cancer in her family and she never felt a lump. Instead, she felt severe pain in her right breast. She went to a doctor who sent her for a mammogram right after Thanksgiving 2011.

Doctors found calcification in Lillian’s breast, a good indication that the cancer was spreading.

“So like a fool, I was looking on the internet, scaring the heck out of myself,” Lillian said.

HER2-positive is an aggressive cancer afflicting just 25 percent of woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Lesions covered 50 percent of Lillian’s liver. She started an aggressive treatment regimen at Rocky Mountain Oncology in January 2012.

“I think it was just surreal. I don’t think I asked ‘Why me?’ then,” Lillian said. “I have since though. I think it was like ‘What do we do now? How do we get through this?’ You go into a sort of survival mode. It just goes to show you there doesn’t have to be a history, there doesn’t have to be a lump. That’s why mammograms are important.”

Lillian recently learned that her cancer had come back, this time spreading to her brain. The prognosis is good, she says, and she is staying positive. Support from family, friends like Judy and the doctors at Rocky Mountain Oncology who make it possible for her to get her treatment in Casper where she lives, will help her get through it again.

Good to be alive

Besides going through treatment at the same time, Lillian and Judy are connected through several other details: Both are mothers of four children and roughly the same age. Both had lumpectomies. Both had a horrible reaction to the chemo drug taxotere. Judy’s skin flaked off from her hands, arms and feet. Lillian developed open sores on her face.

Neither woman had a history of breast cancer in their families, highlighting the importance using their stories as a reminder to getting a yearly mammogram.

“If I can just talk to one person and tell them, ‘go for that mammogram. You don’t have to have lumps. If just one person listens, I think it’s worthwhile,” Lillian said. “You have to look for a reason sometime as to why. I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, my reason is to bring people comfort and to help them through it.”

Just after her first round of radiation treatments ended, Lillian went to Deadwood, S.D., with her daughter and best friend. She won for once, scoring nearly $2,000. The three went to an open-air restaurant.

“And there’s this guy playing guitar and telling all the cheesy jokes and the sun was shining. I just sat there and suddenly started bawling. I thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s so good to be alive,’” Lillian said.

“It is so good to be alive, Lillian,” Judy answered.

“Sometimes, it still just overwhelms me,” Lillian said.

Judy looked at her friend, sitting next to her on the couch at Metro Coffee Co. just like she used to sit next to her at the chemo station at Rocky Mountain Oncology. She said: “Like right now, Lillian.”

1385857_10151918396079287_2017433438_nAbout the angels

The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angels Cancer Care program serves hundreds of cancer patients every year, offering emotional support, financial assistance and more. It also offers free mammograms to women who can’t afford them. To learn more or to make a donation, call (307) 577-4355 or visit our website.          

Support the Angels

 In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, support the Angels program in two pink-inspired ways:

 * ‘Like’ Wind City Dental: For every ‘like’ Wind City Dental has on its Facebook page at midnight Oct. 31, it will donate $1 to the Angels.

 * Buy a raffle ticket: The WMC Foundation, the Angels Program and The Merry Peddler are giving away one pink KitchenAid mixer this month. Tickets are $5 and are available at The Merry Peddler, 136 S. Wolcott St. The winner will be announced on the 6 a.m. news broadcast on KTWO television. 

Read more about the Angels program and Cheryl Rintamaki’s survival story in  “Cheryl’s Angels.”




Quick & healthy treat: Chocolate covered strawberries

Choc covered strawberries 013I received a call from my teenager this afternoon.  “Um, Mom, did I tell you I need to bring cookies or desserts for our meeting tonight? We are having desserts after new member and officer installation.  I need to leave by 6:15 p.m.”

I was not off work, let alone prepared to have treats ready for transport to a meeting.  I thought of past times when I tried to make baked goods at the last minute.  They were not cooled adequately to cut or needed to be transported warm and cut on site.  I did not want to do that again.

I came up with a quick, healthy idea that would need no additional cooling, would travel well and should look terrific for the dessert bar – Chocolate Covered Strawberries. They made a very attractive/festive offering for the group’s dessert bar.  He didn’t bring home leftovers.  The group must have enjoyed them.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries


6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 pounds strawberries with stems (about 24), washed and dried very well

1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

2.  In a microwave-safe glass bowl, microwave, at 50 percent power, the chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.  It usually melts well in 1 to 1 ½ minutes.

Choc covered strawberries 0083.  Holding a strawberry by the stem end, dip it in the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off, then transfer to the wax paper.   Repeat with the remaining berries.

4.  Melt the white chocolate in a zippered bag, using the same process as in step 2, mixing every 30 seconds by squeezing the bag.

5.  Cut a small corner off the plastic bag & drizzle the white chocolate over the dipped strawberries.

6.  Set the strawberries aside until the chocolate sets, 15- 30 minutes.

‘Little turns into big’: Mick and Susie McMurry are building a healthier community

Mick and Susie McMurry pose with nurses from the Wyoming Medical Center's mother/baby unit, The Birth Place. Both Mick and Susie were born in the hospital in 1946, and they have been enthusiastic WMC supporters for more than 30 years. When the McMurry West Tower opens next year, a full floor will be devoted The Birth Place, giving parents and families the room and privacy to bond with their newest members.
Mick and Susie McMurry pose with nurses from the Wyoming Medical Center’s mother/baby unit, The Birth Place. Both Mick and Susie were born in the hospital in 1946, and they have been enthusiastic WMC supporters for more than 30 years. When the McMurry West Tower opens next year, a full floor will be devoted The Birth Place, giving parents and families the room and privacy to bond with their newest members.

Susie McMurry met Angela under the worst of circumstances. A car crash killed Angela’s mother and her husband. One son was flown to Children’s Hospital in Denver, another suffered a severe head injury. Angela’s family had moved to the United States from Tokyo and she spoke little English.

Susie, a longtime volunteer at Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) and co-founder of the patient advocacy group Gentle Hands, helped find housing for Angela’s extended family. She met with Angela despite the language barrier and provided whatever small comfort she could through the long recovery. Above all, Susie gave her time, becoming a familiar face in an unfamiliar town.

“Angela was here for a very long time. I spent many many hours with her,” Susie said. “It was every bit as meaningful to me as it was to her.”

If there is a theme to Mick and Susie McMurrys’ philanthropy, it is this: The smallest kindness can have big impact. And it is up to us to build the community in which we want to live.

The McMurrys have a long relationship with WMC, beginning when each was born at Memorial Hospital of Natrona County in 1946, 10 months apart.  It continues today with the couple’s recent donation to name the McMurry West Tower. Slated to open in 2014, the tower will add 98,000 square feet for state-of-the-art medical care, 30 new private patient rooms, a mother-baby unit and more.

Lending their support wasn’t a hard decision, Susie said: “If our citizens are healthy and they have access to great healthcare, then our community will be healthy.”

Humble beginnings

Both Susie and Mick grew up in families of modest means. Susie grew up in Elk Mountain and moved to Hannah in fourth grade. She studied elementary education at Casper College for two years before going to the University of Wyoming. She returned to Casper to teach first grade at Crest Hill Elementary.

Mick says he lucky because he’s never had to leave Casper – except for 19 months in the Army when he served in the 128th Assault Helicopter Company in Southeast Asia. He also studied two years at Casper College and two years at UW, but met Susie after college. They married in 1973.

Mick started a construction company and built roads across the state. They adopted their daughter, Trudi, and Susie retired from teaching in 1976.

In 1979, they became foster parents, caring for hundreds of children over almost three decades. They adopted their second daughter, Jillian, from the foster program and one of their six granddaughters, Alaceia (Lou) was one of their foster children before Trudi adopted her.

“I was gone the first 18 years of the marriage, building highways around Wyoming. Susie would usually have a few new children each week when I’d come home on the weekends. We did that for 27 years. We’ve never been without a car seat,” Mick said.

In 1990, the McMurrys sold the construction business and bought some oil and gas leases in Sublette County. That turned into the highly lucrative Jonah Field, a natural gas field that Mick describes as a great gift to Wyoming. With money from that endeavor, the couple founded the McMurry Foundation in 1998.

“We’ve had great mentors. We both grew up in modest beginnings, but our parents showed the value of giving back,” Susie said.

“And there were wonderful people in Casper who we’ve watched and been mentored by. I think that’s also our responsibility now: to be mentors to our children and our community.”

Building a healthy community

Susie McMurry holds a newborn baby in WMC's The Birth Place. Susie volunteers several hours a day with WMC patients as the founder of Gentle Hands, a patient advocacy group.
Susie McMurry holds a newborn baby in WMC’s The Birth Place. Susie volunteers several hours a day with WMC patients as the founder of Gentle Hands, a patient advocacy group.

Thirty years ago, Susie started Gentle Hands with Gail Kennah and Ellie Ellbogen. The program offers non-medical support to patients and families, providing everything from plane tickets to clothes to neck pillows that make hospital beds more comfortable.

Susie spends hours every day walking the halls of WMC asking patients and families how she can help.

“Patients are usually most often well cared for because we have a great facility and we have great medical people overseeing patients,” she said. “Oftentimes, families are the ones who are left without support, especially people who are from out of town or who have a new diagnosis that they or their families are struggling with.”

In 2001, the McMurrys made their first major contribution to the healthcare community with the McMurry Medical Arts building, a partnership between local physicians to provide needed office space. They also donated to the remodel of WMC’s emergency room.

Susie is currently a member of the hospital foundation’s board and served nine years on the WMC board of directors before taking a two-year break. She rejoined the board this year.

Today, they support the West Tower and the future of healthcare for our community and state.

“I could see the benefits not only for our community but for ourselves and our family,” Susie said of the project.

“If we have great facilities that can accommodate all the wonderful health services that we have, that would accomplish a goal that both Mickey and I seek: To make a better Wyoming. And that’s extremely important for us because our children and grandchildren also live here. This is where we live. This is the place we love.”

Paying it forward

Through the McMurry Foundation, their personal donations and the time both give through volunteering, Mick and Susie are building a healthier more vibrant community.

They hope others will do whatever they can do, however big or small.

You never know what influence you have, Susie says. She meets people all the time who thank her for the smallest of gestures.

“Every single person in our community can do that. You don’t have to be giant. You just start little and it passes on, it passes through, it improves. There isn’t anyone who can’t contribute positively towards our hospital, towards our community,” she said.

“You start little and little turns into big.”


Support the West Tower

West_Tower_Front_DoorThe McMurry West Tower will open in 2014, providing 98,000 square feet for state-of-the-art medical care. It includes a new front door and lobby with a curbside canopy for drop-offs and pick-ups, more than 30 new private patient rooms and a new mother-baby unit.

In October 2012, The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation kicked-off the McMurry West Tower Capital Campaign with a goal of raising $3 million. It has secured $2.1 million so far.

The campaign has several giving levels and naming opportunities, starting at $1,500, which can be pledged over five years. For questions, to make a donation or to get involved with the project, contact the foundation at 577-2973 or go to

Click here to read more about what the McMurry West Tower will offer.

WMC earns an ‘A’ in patient safety for third year in a row

Wyoming Medical Center is proud to report that the Leapfrog Group has again awarded us an “A” grade for patient safety.

It is the third year in a row that we’ve earned an “A” on the group’s Hospital Safety Score.

“In 2009, we started building our ‘culture of safety,’ implementing a hospital-wide safety initiative. We examined current practices and found ways to cut errors that could harm patients,” said President and CEO Vickie Diamond.

“We implemented our morning safety call to address issues before they become problems. Every day, and at every shift, we talk about safety and we work to improve our safety. Our hard work and commitment has been recognized – in Wyoming and across the country.”

The Leapfrog Group, a national safety watchdog group, grades hospitals on their overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. It bases its safety score on 26 different measures. Wyoming Medical Center earned the highest possible scores in 11 safety categories, including hand hygiene, care of the ventilated patient, nursing workforce, teamwork and training, ICU Physician Staffing and other categories.

“I want to thank all of our employees for their dedication to patient safety, no matter their job title. It is evident in the work they do every day, and in this latest recognition from the Leapfrog Group,” Diamond said.


The McGinley Method: Casper doctor revolutionizes treatment for chronic exertional compartment syndrome

mcginley-3 (1)
Dr. Joe McGinley demonstrates how he uses three-dimensional images of a patient’s legs to diagnose chronic exertional compartment syndrome. McGinley developed a non-invasive treatment for the syndrome as an alternative to surgery. Now patients fly to Casper from around the country to get the treatment. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

Five years ago, Lauren was a college athlete, sprinting up and down the soccer field. She gradually noticed pain in her calves when she ran. It seemed to be getting worse. The deep burning pain eventually appeared every time she exerted any force on her legs — flexing her feet, walking up stairs, running or squatting.

Doctors diagnosed her with chronic exertional compartment syndrome, an exercise-induced pain and swelling in leg muscles that will often sideline athletes from favored sports. Lauren underwent three surgeries on each leg. None worked.

“After each one, I never had any relief. Doctors kept convincing me to have another one. This is not my style. I used to be a high-level athlete who never had injuries,” said Lauren, a patient of Dr. Joe McGinley who recently flew to Casper from her home in New Jersey to undergo a new non-surgical treatment for the syndrome. McGinley, who specializes in musculoskeletal radiology and sports medicine, is the only doctor in the country to offer this therapy, but is traveling the country training other doctors to do it safely.

A new procedure

Until very recently, athletes with exertional compartment syndrome had two options: conservatively treat symptoms with rest and pain killers, but these are only successful if they give up the activities they love. The other option was surgery.

McGinley 006
Dr. Joe McGinley, at left, uses a portable ultrasound machine to see inside the legs of Lauren, a college-level soccer player from New Jersey until chronic lower leg pain stopped almost all physical activity.

Lauren didn’t want to give up soccer and she’d found no relief through surgery. During one of her many late night Google searches, she found Dr. McGinley, a Casper doctor who claimed to have a new procedure that used Botox injections to relieve exertional compartment syndrome symptoms.

Dr. McGinley understands athletes. He’s one himself. In July, he ran the Cowboy Tough, a 300-mile adventure race from Cheyenne to Casper. He puts a special emphasis on treating sports injuries without surgery.

He is also a mechanical engineer, with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the field. He often applies engineering principals to treating patients. It’s how he developed his new therapy for exertional compartment syndrome.

In 2011, Laura Stamp was a venerable high school athlete for Natrona County High School, competing in cross country, soccer and Nordic skiing. Her calf pain had started in 2008 at the end of her freshman year and gradually worsened. She was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome.

About a month before Stamp was to undergo surgery, a friend heard a talk on the syndrome by Dr. McGinley and arranged for the two to meet.

Dr. Joe McGinley inserts guide needles into Lauren's legs at a recent treatment in Casper. The needles mark the pressure points where McGinley will inject Botox into the legs.
Dr. Joe McGinley inserts guide needles into Lauren’s legs at a recent treatment in Casper. The needles mark the pressure points where McGinley will inject Botox into the legs.

On a CT scan, McGinley noticed that Stamp’s thigh muscles were compressing her veins during exercise. Her arteries were carrying blood down to her calves, but her veins weren’t carrying it out at the same rate. It caused swelling, pressure and pain in her calves.

“From there, I just put the engineering mechanics together: If she is exercising, she is exerting force and the artery is open, but the vein is now compressed. It’s a pressure mismatch. It’s a flow mismatch, and from an engineering standpoint, there has to be a consequence to that,” McGinley said.

The mechanics of exertion compartment syndrome had never been considered in this way. But, McGinley had to prove his theory. He temporarily blocked the muscle compressing Stamp’s vein and rescanned her legs. Not only had the pain disappeared, the compression had too. All McGinley had to do was figure out how to keep the muscle off the vein long term.

He doesn’t often work with Botox, but knew that it would temporarily block muscle function, perhaps preventing the muscle from compressing the vein. “So I called (Stamp’s) parents, and said don’t hang up on me, but I have a great idea.”

Stamp was McGinley’s first patient in the experimental treatment. She canceled her scheduled surgery and was back to playing soccer within a month. Two months later, she ran a half marathon. She’s now on the Nordic ski team at Williams College in Massachusetts.

“I’ve always been very active and competitive, so when compartment syndrome started to take that away, it was beyond frustrating. To have it fixed and be able to compete at my best has allowed me to live the lifestyle I crave. I fully attribute this to Dr. McGinley’s therapy,” Stamp said.

Promising outcomes

Dr. Joe McGinley poses in front of the CT scanner at Casper Medical Imaging. McGinley scans the legs of his chronic exertional compartment syndrome patients to determine where muscles are constricting blood flow through veins, creating painful swelling during exercise. He then injects botox into the pressure areas to allow blood to flow freely. He is the only doctor in the country to use this non-evasive treatment, but is training doctors from top hospitals so they may treat patients closer to home (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

McGinley has since treated about 50 patients with this Botox therapy. They have flown to Casper from all over the country, often finding the procedure from the Internet or word of mouth. The first injections relieve symptoms an average of about three months. The second round of injections last about six months, and after three injections, many patients don’t need any more. About 75 percent of McGinley’s patients report positive outcomes.

“It makes a huge difference in their lives. Sports they could no longer do, they can now do on a competitive basis. Some thought their sporting careers were over and we were able to get them back out on the field or the court,” McGinley said.

McGinley has a patent pending on the procedure to protect patient safety. It’s highly technical and can pose serious risks if physicians aren’t properly trained. He is working with doctors at New York University, the Cleveland Clinic and a clinic in Colorado who want to start offering the treatment closer to patients who need it – patients like Tyler McIntosh, 19, of Jackson.

McIntosh, a sophomore at Stanford University, quit the triathlon club team and walked slowly across campus because of the pain in his lower legs. Like Stamp, he was scheduled for surgery before finding Dr. McGinley on the internet. He received his first injections in July and returned in August for a touch-up, required in about half of patients. But before coming back to Casper, he hiked 30 miles on a backpacking trip – something he wouldn’t have been able to do before McGinley’s treatment.

Dr. McGinley specializes in musculoskeletal radiology and sports medicine with an emphasis in non-surgical treatments at Wyoming Medical Center and Casper Medical Imaging. He is an adjunct faculty member at Stanford University in the Department of Radiology. Click here to learn more at about McGinley’s new therapy or  watch this report from CBS New York which traveled to Casper this spring to report on McGinley’s treatment. 

Finding my ideal weight: Downhill slide

You haven’t seen my weight blog in three weeks now. My last entry was followed by a weeklong trip to Chicago.  I got home and came down with the nasty cold.  The only thing as bad as vacation for weight loss is illness.  Fortunately, I didn’t have much of an appetite, but when I’m sick, I want real chicken noodle soup, which doesn’t fall within the confines of the Ideal Protein plan.

In three weeks, I’m down a pound.  Under the circumstances, it’s OK with me.  I know that if I had kept my head down and stuck with it through the trip and a cold, I might have lost this last 10 pounds by now, or at least close.  But I also went through two things that can easily lead to weight gain, and I’m still down a pound.

I’m officially on the downhill slide to my goal, and I’ve started to think about how I’m going to maintain my weight.  I am excited about where I’ve gotten with the help of Ideal Protein, but after three months, I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to start applying what I’ve learned to my regular life not on a diet.  I’m trying to keep my eye on the ball.  That’s a lot easier now that my pants fit!

What do you do to stay motivated?  How do you maintain your weight?

If you are interested in finding your ideal weight using Ideal Protein call the WMC Weight Management Program at (307) 577-2158.

My Ideal Tracker – Week 10-12

Pounds lost this week: 1

Pounds lost so far: 29

Pounds to go: 9

Power tip: It’s not a race!

Finding my ideal weight

Mandy Cepeda is the senior manager of community development at Wyoming Medical Center and contributor to The Pulse.  After graduating from the University of Wyoming, she started her career as a copy editor at the Casper Star-Tribune over 10 years ago.  While she decided journalism was not for her, she married one of the photographers, Dan, in 2006. They enjoy a lovely life together with their pound-puppy mutt, Maddie.