Skip to main content
NIH Clinical Center
  Home | Contact Us | Site Map | Search
About the Clinical Center
For Researchers and Physicians
Participate in Clinical Studies

Back to: Clinical Center Home Page > About the Clinical Center > News and Events
This file is provided for reference purposes only. It was current when it was produced, but it is no longer maintained and may now be out of date. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing information may contact us for assistance. For reliable, current information on this and other health topics, we recommend consulting the NIH Clinical Center at
NIH Clinical CenterNational Institutes of Health
On the Frontline of Medical Discovery

Published monthly for CC employees by Clinical Center Communications

past issues

March 2001

HHS Secretary Thompson makes rounds at the Clinical Center

Quality of Worklife Council

Plain language awards

Housekeeping shines

Hazards: your right to know

African Americans: the history of a people

News briefs

Volunteers needed

HHS Secretary Thompson makes rounds at Clinical Center

Secretary Thompson held a press conference at NIH last month where he addressed questions concerning his first months in office. Prior to the conference, Secretary Thompson toured the CC and met with patients and institute directors. Six institute directors, Dr. Richard Klausner, NCI; Dr. Duane Alexander, NICHD; Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID; Dr. Vivian Pinn, NIH Office for Research on Women's Health; and Dr. Allen Spiegel, NIDDK, also spoke during the conference about initiatives within their departments. Secretary Thompson said that he has been passionate about research for a long time and supports the president's proposed $2.75 billion budget increase. The increase is the largest one-year increase in the history of the National Institutes of Health. Nearly 80 percent of that will be given as grants.

Newly appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson visited the CC last month and toured various institutes prior to a press conference held on campus where he expressed satisfaction with NIH's research efforts.

"This is truly a place where the future is made a better future for all Americans and the whole world through long-term investments and a lot of hard work from some very courageous scientists," said Thompson. "President Bush and I certainly understand the importance of these institutes. We know that the work done here and the results achieved here represent one of Americ's biggest contributions as a nation."

The former Wisconsin governor said he has been passionate about research for a long time, and that the president's proposed $2.75 billion budget increase, the largest one-year increase in the history of NIH, will support the highest level of research projects and grants that will be given to hospitals and scientists all over the country.

"I asked the question, are you sure you will be able to use this money effectively? They said, without a doubt," said Thompson. Nearly 80 percent of the proposed increase is allocated as grant money to support research hospitals and institutions throughout the country. Only 25 percent of the grant applications submitted to NIH last year were funded.

As part of his first 100 days in office, Thompson has toured the country giving press conferences and campaigning to raise awareness of organ donation, a problem he sees as being remedied by citizens signing a donor card.

"We have 6,100 Americans who lose their lives each year because of lack of organs and it's just not right in this great country of ours to have that kind of a problem," he said. Other problems he hopes to tackle while in office include retention and recruiting of medical professionals within NIH.

Quality of Worklife Initiative addresses issues

The Quality of Worklife Council has received a number of suggestions and requests to address "service" issues. Tim Tosten, chief, Worksite Enrichment Programs Branch, ORS, attended a recent council meeting and provided updated information on these topics of interest:

Healthy foods vending machines: The healthy foods vending machines directly outside the second floor cafeteria have been removed. They will be replaced in the near future with new machines, that will include a variety of healthy foods (e.g. yogurt, fruit, low calorie meals, flavored water, healthy entrees). If these machines are used enough, additional healthy foods vending machines may be placed in other locations in Building 10. Any complaints about any malfunctioning vending machines should be addressed to Chris Gaines at 402-8180.

Status of Building 10 B-1 cafeteria enhancements: Completion is scheduled for late spring. Delays were incurred because equipment modernization was required. A food court is planned, which will include Sbarro and Memphis Bar-B-Q, as well as healthier food selections (fish, fruits, and salads). More information on this project is available in the February CC News.

Cafeteria prices: A question was raised in the CC QWI suggestion box about variations in prices for identical items with regard to the two cafeterias on the B-1 and second floors. Tosten will research the problem. Comments and suggestions related to the cafeteria may be directed to the worksite enrichment website, In addition, comment cards are located outside the cafeteria exit on the second floor.

Stamp machines/post office: CC employees have experienced long-standing problems with onsite stamp machines. ORS will place information on the stamp machines in their current location so that money can be recovered if lost. Please note that the R&W store also sells stamps. Upcoming plans include a mail service located on the first floor of Building 10, after the new CRC is open.

Lactation rooms: All new buildings on campus have incorporated lactation rooms for nursing mothers in their space. The current plan is for Building 10 to continue to have a nursing room, which would be moved to the B-1 level when the new CRC building plans have been completed.

Fitness facility: CC employees have requested an on-site exercise facility. The 25-year master plan includes a consolidated campus facility.

Childcare program: The new Childcare Programs Specialist in the ORS, Mary Ellen Savarese, is working with NIH staff to help enhance and/or improve upon current childcare facilities services at NIH. Additional current plans include development by ORS of a website that addresses childcare issues; making the existing NIH facilities more compatible; and increasing NIH staff awareness of the free resource and referral services currently available. To access this free resource for either childcare or elder care information, contact the NIH Work and Family Life Center on 435-1619. Please note that parents who obtain childcare subsidy state ("POC") vouchers anywhere in the state of Maryland may use them at any licensed childcare program (center or home) in Maryland. This does not apply to the District of Columbia or Virginia.

Other employee-friendly news: The NIH Work and Family Life Center has expanded its elder/childcare referral services to include two new free services:

Legal Resource and Referral Assistance related to estate planning, personal injury, consumer concerns, divorce/legal separation, issues related to death of a family member, child support and custody, real estate, financial issues, and any other situation in which it may be advisable to consult an attorney.

Personal Finance Assistance related to designing a budget, getting out of debt, planning for the education of a child, planning for retirement, leasing/buying a car, marriage and finances/credit ratings, divorce and financial issues and pros and cons of borrowing money from oneÕs retirement plan. Contact the NIH Work and Family Life Center at 435-1619 to learn more.

Upcoming employee-friendly, "Faces & Phases of Life" seminars, sponsored by the NIH Work and Family Life Center and the NIH Employee Assistance Program: Communicating Effectively - Starting from Scratch March 6, 12:30 - 1:30, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Blvd, Conference Room D; Fatherhood: The Most Important Job You'll Ever Have March 7, 12:00 - 1:30, Building 31, Room 6C6; Improving Your Skills as an Interviewee March 13, 11:30 - 1:30, Building 1, Wilson Hall; The Challenge of Personal Change Through the Life Cycle March 21, 12:00 - 1:30, Building 31, Room 6C6; Estate Planning II March 29, 2:00 - 4:00, Building 31, Room 6C10; Is Management for Me? April 27, 9:00 - 4:00, Executive Plaza North (Tuition: $260).

Call the NIH Work and Family Life Center at 435-1619 for registration information or visit the website at

Back to Top

Clinical Center employees keep it plain and simple
First annual plain language awards recognize clear, concise writing in a variety of media

CC Director Dr. John I. Gallin along with (from l to r) Dr. Gregory Curt, NCI, and Dr. Linda Silversmith, CC Communications, were presented with awards by Dr. Kirschstein for a publication on standards developed for patient safety and quality in the intramural clinical research program.

Hats off to the Clinical Center for winning two Plain Language awards during the first annual "Celebrating Plain Language at the National Institutes of Health" awards ceremony, March 5.

The CC won in two of four categories. Maureen Kennedy, R.N., and Cheryl Fisher, R.N., won in the Superior category for "7E Cardiology Unit Patient Information," a website that introduces incoming patients to the unit with information on the facilities, life on the unit and tests and medications patients may undergo or be prescribed.

CC Director Dr. John I. Gallin, Linda Silversmith, Ph.D., CC Communications and Dr. Gregory Curt, NCI, won in the Outstanding category for "Standards for Clinical Research within the NIH Intramural Research Program" The standards were developed to help ensure patient safety and high quality in NIH's intramural clinical research programs.

"Winning these prestigious plain language awards demonstrates NIH's success in communicating useful information, something we have striven for, for many years," said Ruth L. Kirschstein, acting director of NIH.

More than 100 submissions were received by the Plain Language Coordinating Committee, ranging from websites, journals, calendars and a traffic sign.

Pulitzer-prize-winning author and Washington Post "Book World," Senior Editor Michael Dirda spoke to more than 70 award recipients in Lipsett Auditorium about the power of clear and simple language.

"As scientists and administrators, you have all been taught the cardinal virtue of plain prose. If writing is communication, then only clear writing is effective communication," said Dirda.

Plain language is clear and effective writing that communicates with a specific audience so that the audience can fully understand the information provided. In 1998, President Clinton issued a memorandum requiring use of plain language in all government documents written for the public that explain how to obtain a benefit or service or how to comply with a requirement. A government-wide directive requires all Federal agencies to use plain language in all documents written for the public by January 2002.

Back to Top

Housekeeping shines with improved reputation

For the past three years, the Housekeeping Department has made efforts to improve the level of customer service provided to the Clinical Center. Today, those efforts have paid off. With new management and training, the Housekeeping Department has marked its course for a stellar reputation.

"Housekeeping had a bad reputation, but it doesn't anymore," said Henry Primas, chief of the Housekeeping and Fabric Care Department (HFCD). "We are not at the point where we want to be. We want it to have a sterling reputation. But at least the people have a sense of pride in their work and the management is more credible."

The HFCD initiated a training program that has elevated the credibility of the department. Part of their success, they said, has come from teamwork. The team includes (front l to r) Chauncey Buford, Marie Vought and Osmond Adams, (back l to r) Henry Primas, Juanita Coleman, James Jackson. Not pictured are Ronald Moss and Joe Cowling.

Part of that credibility came through a training program targeted at supervisors, that not only taught the theories of proper management, but also gave opportunities for workers to move up and not remain complacent.

"The old supervisors did the best they could, but they were never trained in how to be supervisors," said Primas. "Through this program, they learn not only how to supervise, but how to do the jobs of everyone they manage."

The year-long program begins with intense classroom training that focuses on infection control, safety issues and quality customer service. Trainees are taught management theory and leadership development skills and are also given hands-on assignments in public speaking and professional writing.

"Where there were deficiencies, we corrected them with job skills training and academic education," said Osmond Adams, assistant chief of HFCD.

Trainees are continuously tested throughout the program, given homework and take outside classes at local facilities and community college. Each trainee must pass a final examination with 80 percent or better before being placed in a supervisory position.

"There is potential for serious injury from lack of training," said Marie Vought, training coordinator for HFCD. "It's our responsibility to ensure that employees are equipped to do their jobs safely and efficiently."

Vought joined HFCD in 1999 and began training staff members. The department soon realized there was a need for supervisory development. In response, Vought developed a training program to prepare candidates for supervisory positions. "People were being promoted from within the ranks, but weren't given the tools necessary to suceed in their new positions," said Vought.

James Jackson was there when the breakdowns began. Jackson has been a supervisor for 10 years, but it wasn't until he went through the training that he fully understood what it is to be a supervisor.

"We were made accountable. Before, no one was made accountable and things went haywire. Now I have confidence because I know what is required of me and I know how to do it," said Jackson.

As part of the training, Adams places trainees on a floor and assesses their work, how they dress, their communication skills and professionalism. Trainees that are lacking in certain areas must take that portion of the training course over.

"This program gave me the skills to do my job effectively. Everyone says they can be a manager, but there is a lot to it," said Chauncey Buford, a manager in the HFCD, and a product of the training program.

For 15 years, Buford wore a housekeeping uniform, mopped the floors, picked up trash and cleaned the bathrooms. He took on leadership roles, which eventually moved him to a housekeeping aide and later to an assistant supervisor. Adams selected Buford as one of the initial four trainees to join the program last March.

"I have a lot of confidence now," said Buford. "When I leave my job, I have a different smile on my face. My friends see me and they can tell that I'm doing something with myself."

Sandra Bowles agrees that there have been positive changes not only in the managerial staff, but with the type of service provided. "I was a little concerned when we were told there were going to be changes. I thought the changes might be for the worst," said Bowles, a nurse manager in the CC nursing department. "They have taken extra steps to get things done. I am so impressed with the changes."

Once a week, Bowles walks with a housekeeping manager and is asked to rate the level of cleanliness and point out at least three areas that need to be approved upon. "We have a great deal of respect for the department because they fill a need. Being a nurse and being in patient care, we understand that and have a great deal of respect for their work," said Bowles.

And that was the ultimate goal of the HCFD staff. "There is now a greater focus on customer service and our supervisors are more confident and more competent," said Adams. "The department now has more solid leadership at higher levels and provides good service to the Clinical Center."

Back to Top

Hazards: your right to know
Safety Office prepares hazard communication book

Hazardous chemicals are everywhere. From the correction fluid on your desk to the preservatives used for clinical specimens. But to what extent should you go to protect yourself from the harmful effects? What if you come in contact with something you are not sure is harmful? Don't you have a right to know?

"It's not necessarily a right to know, but have to know," said Dr. Michele Evans, environmental safety officer. "It's good business that we want our employees to know what they are using."

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation requires that employees know the risks and follow precautions to minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals at work. The regulation, referred to as Hazard Communication, is also known as (your) "Right to Know." According to Dr. Evans, manufacturers are using fewer hazardous materials in their products and the Clinical Center has taken steps to use those safer products.

In 1996, an initiative was undertaken to rid the Clinical Center of mercury in medical devices and laboratory chemicals. To date, the Clinical Center is clean of mercury-containing devices and uses safer instruments and chemicals that perform the same job.

"But when there isn't a substitute, we want employees to know how to handle hazardous materials," said Dr. Evans.

The Clinical Center uses policies and procedures, Material Safety Data Sheets, warning labels, and training programs to teach employees about chemical risks in the workplace. Chemical manufacturers prepare an MSDS for each of their products, which describes the scientific and chemical trade name of the product, its physical and chemical properties (e.g. vapor pressure, reactivity or flash point), health hazards and recommendations for safe use and emergency response procedures. The Clinical Center has adopted the Hazardous Materials Identification System, which assigns a numerical score to varying levels of hazardous materials.

The Safety Office is currently preparing a hazard communication book that will contain a description of the Hazard Communication Act, the Clinical Center guideline for identifying hazardous chemicals and a list of commonly used products and their respective safety data sheets. The book will be delivered to all clinical areas by September.


Back to Top

African Americans: the history of a people

Dr. Randall Robinson, president of the Washington-based TransAfrica and TransAfrica forum and author of The Debt - What America Owes to Blacks, was the keynote speaker during the annual African American History Month observance. Dr. Robinson, along with the University of Maryland Baltimore County Gospel Choir, celebrated in Masur Auditorium with the theme "The History of Medicine and Science in Creating and Defining the African American Community."&

"In Black History Month, we will talk in these 28 days about how many things George Washington Carver did with that peanut, what Sojourner Truth did, where Harriet Tubman went, what Frederick Douglas wrote, how Malcolm was brave and how King did this, that and the other," said Dr. Robinson. "It represents a period scarcely three centuries long for a people who have civilization, culture, memory and story that are thousands of years long."


Back to Top


Donate blood

The Department of Transfusion Medicine is in critical need of type O blood. Several recent surgical procedures have significantly depleted the inventory of this type blood. If you have type O blood, please donate by visiting the Blood Bank, Room 1C-713B, or call 496-1048 to verify the best time to donate. We need your help to contintue to supply blood to our patients.

Interpreters needed

Interpreters are needed in the following languages: Farsi, Cambodian, French and Haitian. If you are fluent in these languages and would like to volunteer, please contact Andrea Rander at 301-496-1807.

CC News on web

Did you know that the Clinical Center News is online? Visit us at

Support group

You are invited to attend the Thyroid Cancer Support Group for survivors, families and friends, every second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the Social Work Conference Room 1N248, Bldg. 10. For more information contact Margaret Sarris at 301-496-6020.

Parking renewals

NIH general parking permits for campus employees whose last names begin with E, F, or G will expire on the last day of March. To renew yours, visit the NIH Parking Office in Building 31, Room B3B04, weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Please remember to bring your valid NIH identification card, driver's license and valid vehicle registration certificate for each vehicle to be registered.

Back to Top

volunteers needed

Menopause study

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development invites healthy women, ages 45-70, to participate in a study of a new investigational hormonal treatment for menopause. You may be eligible if you are not diabetic, had no menstrual periods for at least one year, do not take hormone replacement therapy, do not smoke and have not had a hysterectomy. Participation involves brief weekly outpatient visits over 8-10 weeks. Compensation is provided. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010).

Outpatient study

College-educated adults ages 30-50, are needed for a two-day outpatient study with the National Institute of Mental Health. Involves blood draw and routine clinical, neurological and cognitive procedures. Compensation provided. For more information or to volunteer, please call 301-435-8970.

Female volunteers

The Behavioral Endocrinology Branch, NIMH, is seeking female volunteers ages 18-55, to participate in studies of the effects of menstrual cycle hormones on brain and behavior. Must have regular menstrual cycles with no changes in mood in relationship to menses, be free of medical illnesses and not taking any hormones or medication on a regular basis. You will complete daily rating forms and be offered participation in one or more protocols. Payment will be in accordance with the duration of each visit and the type of protocol. For more information, call Linda Simpson-St. Clair at 496-9576.

Speech disorder

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke seeks families with stuttering or speech articulation disorders. Compensation provided. For more information call 1-800-411-1222.

Women needed

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is seeking women, ages 18-42, to participate in a study comparing bone density in healthy women. You may be eligible to participate if you have no medical conditions, a regular menstrual cycle, not pregnant, nursing or planning pregnancy over the next three years, do not use oral contraceptives or prescribed medications, smoke less than two cigarettes per day, and drink less than two alcoholic drinks per day. Participation involves four visits over a three-year period, blood test, bone density test, urine test and cognitive testing. Compensation is provided. For more information call 301-435-7926 or 301-594-3839.

Depression study

The Clinical Neuroendocrinology Branch is seeking people with current or past depression, as well as matched normal controls, to participate in an evaluation study . Participants must be 18-65 years old; medically healthy; nonsmokers within the past year, able to participate in studies involving at least a one night stay at the Clinical Center. Eligible volunteers will receive a physical evaluation, metabolic studies and participate in studies for possible heart disease in depression. Compensation provided. For more information call 301-496-5831.

Asthma sufferers

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is seeking volunteers, ages 18-50, with asthma made worse by exposure to allergens (dust, pets, pollen) for a research study of allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots). Participants will have allergy and lung function tests and will have blood drawn. For more information or to volunteer for the study, please contact Mary Huber at 301-496-7935. Compensation provided.

Back and leg pain

The NIH Pain Research Clinic is conducting research studies to improve the treatment of chronic back and leg pain. They are interested in pain resulting from a pinched lumbar nerve caused by conditions such as a herniated disc, a bone spur or arthritis. You may be able to take part if you are age 18 or older and if you have had pain in your back and leg or buttock for the last 3 months. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010).

Crohn's disease

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is conducting a study to test the safety and effectiveness of a potential new Crohn's disease treatment against a placebo (a substance that neither harms nor helps). If you are 18 or older with moderate CrohnÕs symptoms, call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010) for more information.

Postpartum study

The Behavioral Endocrinology Branch is seeking female volunteer mothers ages 18-40, who have had one or more past episodes of postpartum depression following a full-term pregnancy. Must be six-months post-delivery and not lactating, have no current symptoms of depression and must be medically healthy and medication-free. Volunteers may be asked to participate in a six-month protocol investigating the effects of ovarian and stress hormones on brain behavior. Compensation provided. For information call Linda Simpson-St. Clair at 301-496-9576.

Jaw pain/TMD

The National Institutes of Health seeks people 18-65, with early onset or later stage TMD for a study testing treatment medications against placebo. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010).

Back to Top

Editor: Tanya C. Brown

Clinical Center News, 6100 Executive Blvd., Suite 3C01, MSC 7511, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-7511. Tel: 301-496-2563. Fax: 301-402-2984. Published monthly for CC employees by the Office of Clinical Center Communications, Colleen Henrichsen, chief. News, article ideas, calendar events, letters, and photographs are welcome. Deadline for submissions is the second Monday of each month.

National Institutes
of Health
  Department of Health
and Human Services
NIH Clinical Center