5 Essential Facts You Need to Know About High Cholesterol

photo of a heart and stethoscope

How much do you know about high cholesterol? It’s an important topic and not just because it’s National Cholesterol Education Month in the United States but also because high cholesterol represents a significant health risk for millions of Americans.

With all the information that’s out there about cholesterol, it can be hard to know exactly where to begin. So here are five of the most essential things you should know about cholesterol right now:

If You Have High Cholesterol, You’re Not Alone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high cholesterol is a relatively common condition in the United States, with 95 million adults over the age of 20 having total cholesterol levels above the recommended level. Moreover, the CDC estimates that about 43 million of those people are currently taking medicine to manage their cholesterol levels.

What this means is that high cholesterol is not something to be embarrassed about or avoid in conversation. In fact, with high cholesterol playing a key role in raising a person’s risk for heart disease (the leading cause of death in America), there’s never been a better time to talk about it more.

Even Children Can Have High Cholesterol

Unfortunately, high cholesterol is not a condition that’s confined to adults. In fact, the CDC estimates that 7 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have total cholesterol levels above the recommended guideline.

Too Much “Bad” Cholesterol Can Put You at Risk for Stroke or Heart Disease 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that’s produced by your liver. It’s actually an essential part of maintaining a healthy body because it’s involved in everything from making hormones to digesting foods.

But did you know that, in most cases, your body already produces all of the cholesterol it needs? That means your lifestyle choices, health conditions, or family history can raise or lower your cholesterol, which can negatively impact your overall health. And when we talk about high cholesterol, we’re generally referring to having too much “bad” cholesterol in your blood. But what is “bad” cholesterol and how does it compare to “good” cholesterol? Read on.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is just one of the lipoproteins necessary for transporting fat molecules around your body. But too much LDL in your body can be bad for your health, which is why it’s most often considered “bad” cholesterol. And for “good” cholesterol? That’s usually considered your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) because it’s responsible for absorbing cholesterol and returning it to the liver to be removed from your body.

Too much LDL in your blood can lead to what is known as plaque, a buildup of cholesterol in your blood vessels that can ultimately make them more narrow over time. This can block your blood flow and put you at risk for having a stroke or heart attack.

Certain Conditions and Factors Can Raise Your Level of Risk

The most important thing to remember about high cholesterol is that there are a variety of risk factors that you can control and there are some that you can’t control.

Here are just some of the risk factors associated with high cholesterol:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Family history of high cholesterol
  • Certain inherited medical conditions
  • Age

Things like age and family history are obviously out of your control, but things like smoking or not being physically active are definitely up to you. Fortunately, limiting many of the risk factors associated with high cholesterol will mean that you’re limiting risk factors for a wide variety of other conditions as well.

There Usually Aren’t Any Symptoms

Because high cholesterol doesn’t usually come with any noticeable symptoms or warning signs, it’s important to talk with your doctor about getting your cholesterol levels checked.

To get your levels checked, your primary care provider can administer a blood test that will check your levels of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood). Below are general guidelines from the CDC about where your cholesterol levels should be:

  • LDL – Less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDG – Greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides – Less than 150 mg/dL

Remember, these are just basic guidelines. Your primary care doctor can help you analyze your results to determine if you have high cholesterol and if you need to take any action to lower your cholesterol.

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Looking Back at the 22nd Annual Autumn Wine Tasting: Raising Over $175,000 for Health Care in Your Community

Photo of the historic Port Tobacco Courthouse exterior

Our 22nd Annual Autumn Wine Tasting and Silent Auction has come and gone, but the evening of September 7, 2019, won’t soon be forgotten. Let’s raise just one more glass to all who helped make it possible.

Over Six Figures Raised for Health Care in Your Community

By the end of the night, attendees, sponsors, and silent-auction bidders helped us raise more than $175,000. These funds will be used to support the Foundation’s goal to equip our nursing units and fund improvements for our local imaging and surgical services.

Photo of group at wine tasting

An Evening of Generosity

From sponsors and volunteers to attendees and vendors, over 1,100 people joined us on the grounds of the historic Port Tobacco Courthouse for this event. Our vendors helped us celebrate another great year and the hospital’s 80th anniversary.

Photo of group at wine tasting

Special Thanks

We’re grateful to all of the generous sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who made this event’s 22nd year so memorable. The strength of our medical center is integrally connected with our community, and we are continually humbled by the support.

Photo of vendor tents at autumn wine tasting

To learn more about the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation and to support upcoming fundraisers, visit CRMCfoundation.org. Visit our official Flickr page to see more photos from this year’s event.

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7 Local Events and Classes Worth Checking Out This September

Hospital Events This September

As part of University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center’s mission to make Southern Maryland a happier, healthier place to call home, we’re proud to host so many events and classes here in our community. From exciting fundraisers to health-focused support groups, our calendar is chock-full of events 

22nd Annual Autumn Wine Tasting (September 7)

We’re just days away from Southern Maryland’s favorite fundraiser! Taking place on the grounds of historic Port Tobacco Courthouse, this event is about so much more than just wine. In addition to the offerings from local restaurants, it will also feature an impressive selection of silent auction items up for grabs.

Tickets are still available in limited quantities and can be purchased online or by calling (301) 609-4132. Proceeds benefit the CRMC Foundation!

Stroke & Brain Injury Support Group (September 9)

UM Charles Regional Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center and recently received the Stroke Honor Roll Elite Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, and we’re proud to offer this free support group.

Designed for members of our community and their loved ones who have been affected by stroke or a traumatic brain injury, this group meets monthly to go over education materials, take part in question-and-answer sessions, and listen to guest speakers.

To learn more about our Stroke & Brain Injury Support Group, please call (301) 609-4890.

Breastfeeding Support Groups (Wednesdays)

If you’re a new mom who could use the support of other moms as you work through questions and concerns about nursing your newborn, you’ll want to attend one of the weekly support group meetings hosted by one of our lactation consultants.

Support group meetings take place every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the 3 South Conference Room here at the hospital. 

Better Breathers Club (September 13)

If you or your loved one are currently dealing with chronic lung disease, this is the support group for you. 

The Better Breathers Club provides patient-focused, community-based education support, and we invite you to join us in the Nagula Conference Room #1 (first floor) for the next meeting. For more information about this support group or to learn more about our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Department, call (301) 609-4391 today.

Childbirth Class (September 17-18)

This two-session series is designed to prepare you and your support person for a safe and happy birthing experience. 

The class, taking place from 5:30-8:30pm on both dates, includes instruction for breathing, relaxation techniques, comfort measures, medications, hospital procedures, stages of labor, deliveries, and infant care. Instructors will also address complications that can arise during your pregnancy and childbirth.

The cost of this event is $85 per couple and includes the two-day class with hands-on training, a tour of the Family Birthing Center, and food for you and your partner.

Classes fill quickly, so be sure to register early on our website.

Prediabetes/Type 2 Diabetes Support Group (September 24)

If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you’re not alone, and this free support group is designed for people just like you. Join members of our Center for Diabetes Education to discuss different topics relating to managing and living with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. 

Meetings are held in the Nagula Conference Room 2, and RSVPs are not required but are preferred. You can RSVP by calling (301) 609-5444 or emailing DiabetesCenter@umm.edu.

Yoga, Body, and Mind (Beginning September 24)

Feeling stressed? This six-week course is designed to provide stress reduction and increase flexibility while you work on gentle body toning and building strength through asana work and other exercises. As a Traditional Hatha Yoga class, it is intended for those who are new to yoga as well as those who have some experience.

Preregistration/prepayment is required ($40 for the entire six-week class). To learn more, visit our website or call Anne Machetto at (240) 682-3229.

Want to see the full University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center events calendar? Visit our website today.

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Two La Plata Physical Therapists Receive Prestigious Board Certifications as Orthopaedic Specialists

Photos of board-certified physical therapists at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation

The strength of University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center and all of its related practices comes from its people. From general doctors who treat a wide range of ailments to specialists who focus their efforts on specific conditions, our team is made up of people who’ve dedicated their careers to providing exceptional healthcare in Southern Maryland.

UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation is a perfect reflection of that strength — with a diverse team of physical therapists who help people recover from a variety of injuries or surgeries. And we’re excited to announce that this team continues to grow even stronger as Physical Therapist Amol Bakre (left) and Physical Therapist Lourdes Potestades (right) have both received the Orthopaedic Specialist Certification.

What is the Orthopaedic Specialist Certification?

Just 10 percent of physical therapists have achieved the designation of orthopaedic clinical specialist. You can usually tell if a physical therapist has this certification when they include “OCS” after their name.

Why have so few physical therapists received this designation? While any physical therapist can specialize in orthopaedics, becoming a board-certified specialist requires a rigorous certification process that spans over a decade of a therapist’s career. Here are a few of the key requirements for receiving board certification:

  • Complete 2,000 hours of physical therapy in the last 10 years, 500 hours of which must have been completed in the past three years
  • Pass a 200-question certification exam
  • Commit to continuing education and ongoing professional development
  • Complete 10-hour Maintenance of Specialist Certification
  • Must recertify every 10 years

What This Certification Means for Patients

For patients receiving the care of a physical therapist, board certification is simply a testament to a therapist’s dedication to their craft. An OCS designation is a reflection of the thousands of hours someone has put into providing orthopaedic care as well as their commitment to expanding their knowledge in an ever-changing field.

More than anything, this certification gives patients confidence that they’re working with someone who is on the leading edge of physical therapy.

Schedule Your Appointment at UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation

Ready to schedule your appointment? UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation offers one-on-one physical therapy services with flexible appointment times Monday through Friday. Visit our website to learn more or call (301) 609-5494 today.

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Breastfeeding Benefits and Facts Every New or Expecting Mother Should Know

Photo of group of infants

If you’re a brand new mom or are getting ready to be one, you probably have a lot of questions about breastfeeding. You might be wondering whether breastfeeding or formula is the right way to go, or you’re simply wondering where you can find resources for breastfeeding near you. Fortunately, it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, so we’re breaking it all down. Here’s what you need to know.

Breastfeeding Has so Many Benefits for Babies

Although great strides have been made to make infant formula as nutritious and healthful as possible over the past several decades, there’s no question in the medical community that breast milk provides the greatest benefit to babies and their mothers.

Here’s what Dr. Ruth Peterson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had to say about breastfeeding:

“It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby.”

Breast milk is such a good source of nutrients that breastfeeding has been found to reduce the risk of the following conditions among infants:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ear and Respiratory Infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal Infections
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis
  • Allergies
  • Eczema

It Also Benefits Mothers, Too

One lesser-known fact about breastfeeding is that it can also have potentially beneficial health benefits for nursing mothers. 

The American Institute for Cancer Research notes that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. And it’s also been linked to a reduced risk of the following conditions:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Breast Cancer

Studies have also shown that breastfeeding for at least three months can help women lose weight after giving birth. 

Only 25 Percent of Infants Are Breastfed According to Recommendations

While the case for breastfeeding is a strong one, the CDC estimates that just one in four infants are exclusively breastfed (i.e., breastfeeding without supplemental infant formula) through six months after birth — the time frame recommended by the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Although breastfeeding has grown in popularity significantly since the 1990s, it’s clear that many babies still aren’t being breastfed or aren’t being breastfed for long enough. This trend has especially affected black infants, whom the CDC says are 21% less likely to be breastfed at all.

Many Mothers Stop Breastfeeding for a Variety of Reasons

There’s no question that moms just want to do what’s best for their children and their family, so the reasons why they don’t start breastfeeding or don’t continue doing it for the recommended amount of time are important to understand.

It’s estimated that 60% of mothers stop breastfeeding before they planned to, and these are a few of the most common reasons why:

  • Issues with Lactation and Latching
  • Nutrition and Weight Concerns
  • Unsupportive Work Policies
  • Lack of Support from Family
  • Didn’t Feel Aligned with Cultural Norms

With these things in mind, it’s essential for communities and medical professionals to continue supporting mothers who breastfeed by breaking the stigma or making education a top priority for new moms. And, that’s why University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center regularly hosts breastfeeding support groups. These free support groups are facilitated by a lactation consultant who can answer nursing moms’ questions and concerns. Visit our classes and events calendar to find out when this group meets next.

Not Breastfeeding Can Be Costly

Beyond the added upfront costs of purchasing baby formula — which can be a very expensive experience in and of itself — choosing to feed your baby formula instead of breast milk can have even more costly long-term effects.

Because breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of so many conditions and ailments, it’s important to view breastfeeding as an investment in health rather than just a lifestyle choice. In fact, the CDC estimates that low breastfeeding rates can cost Americans over $3 billion per year as a result of indirect medical costs. Unfortunately, studies have shown that breastfeeding rates are actually lower among lower-income Americans, so these health costs may be disproportionately affecting those who can least afford them.

Resources for New and Expecting Moms in Southern Maryland

Deciding whether or not you want to breastfeed your child is a personal choice. New and expecting mothers should always talk with their doctor to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula so they can make an informed decision about what’s best for them and their family.

If you’re still unsure about breastfeeding or simply want the perspective of a women’s health doctor, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Women’s Health in La Plata, MD. Led by Dr. Erica Contreras and Dr. Katreena Settle, this practice is where you can get answers to your most pressing questions and care from women doctors who have a combined 22 years of experience.

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Previewing the Flavors of the 2019 Autumn Wine Tasting Event

Food vendors at CRMC's Autumn Wine Tasting smiling at their booth

Every year, Southern Maryland’s finest makes their way to the grounds of the historic Port Tobacco Courthouse to raise a glass to good health in their community. The reason why they’re all gathered there is the Annual Autumn Wine Tasting, which benefits the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation.

While this event’s name reflects the primary focus of the evening — wine tastings — one aspect not to be overlooked is the delicious food provided by some of the area’s favorite restaurateurs, cafes, and shops. And this year’s is no exception.

Here’s a look at just some of what guests can expect at the 22nd Annual Autumn Wine Tasting taking place on September 7. We’ll have others, but for now, here is a sneak peek at a few:

Charles Street Bakery Logo

Located in the heart of La Plata, Charles Street Bakery has been a purveyor of baked goods since 2002. This year, they’ll be sharing a delicious array of desserts with everyone attending the Autumn Wine Tasting.

The Greene Turtle Logo

The Greene Turtle has long been a local happy hour spot and for good reason. Its plentiful selection of beer and tasty eats is hard to turn down. They’ll bring a little bit of that flavor with them as they join us and serve crab dip with Bavarian pretzels as well as buffalo chicken nachos.

Hancock Family Farms Logo

If you live in Southern Maryland, you’d be hard-pressed to find better meat than what you can get from Hancock Family Farms. Don’t believe us? Just look at what everyone else has to say about them. Be prepared to sample their cheeseburger sliders.

The Charles Logo

There’s no question that Casey Jones Restaurant was an iconic La Plata landmark. Fortunately, The Charles has done their best to carry that legacy forward in that same location. If you haven’t checked out their delicious brunch, lunch, or dinner offerings yet, you’re in for a treat because they’ll have some of those items ready to try at the Autumn Wine Tasting.

Apple Spice Junction Logo

Over 30 years ago, Apple Spice Junction started as a small deli and bakery. Today, it’s grown to nearly 50 stores, including one right here in La Plata. They’ll be sharing a few of their menu items that’s made Apple Spice a go-to lunch spot for so many, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Michelle's Cakes Logo

One look at Michelle’s Cakes’ Instagram profile and you’ll know that this local bakery is special. This family-run business turns the process of making delicious cakes and desserts into an art form. Our sweet tooth is already craving the cupcakes, dessert bars, dessert cups, and cookies they’ll be sharing with our guests.

Swan Point Logo

Swan Point Yacht & Country Club is so much more than just a place to play golf. One of our favorite parts of this country club is its dining options for catered events or just a meal at The Point Grill. Be sure to find their event tent to sample their Louisiana shrimp and s’mores mousse.

Pizza Hotline Logo

You know who to call when you’re craving pizza or other Italian favorites. Pizza Hotline is one of La Plata’s favorite places to grab a slice (or a few), and we’re excited to announce that they’re bringing their delicious lasagna for guests to sample.

Secure Your Tickets for the Autumn Wine Tasting

Time is running out to purchase tickets to the 22nd Annual Autumn Wine Tasting. If you don’t want to miss out on any of this delicious food, wine offerings, or famed silent auction items, visit our website to buy your tickets now or call (301) 609-4132 to learn more.

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Celebrating 80 Years: The Fourth Decade (1969-1979)

Celebrating 80 Years: The Fourth Decade

Still riding high from the success of its latest expansion in the 1960s, Physicians Memorial Hospital was ready to continue its streak of achievement in the 1970s. The next step in the journey toward becoming the hospital we know and count on today? A second expansion, bringing more space and additional facilities.

A groundbreaking ceremony took place for the second expansion in April 1973. The renovations would take two years to complete while the county waited in anticipation.

On October 10, 1975, the wait was finally over and two additional round nursing units were dedicated. These units brought exponentially increased efficiency and nearly doubled the capacity of the hospital.

By this time, round nursing units were more popular throughout the nation, but Physicians Memorial remained on the cutting edge, keeping its patients’ needs at the center of every thoughtful expansion.

Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming stories about our hospital over the decades. And be sure to follow us on Facebook — we’ll be sharing facts and photos from over the past eight decades throughout 2019.

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Why You Should See a Specialist for Your Acute or Chronic Wounds

Photo of doctor seeing chronic wound patient

According to a 2017 study from the National Institutes of Health, over 7 million Americans suffered from chronic wounds at the time of the research. Now, a decade later, that number continues to rise.

When you have a wound that won’t heal, it can have a lasting impact on your everyday life. If you’ve considered wound care treatment for you or a loved one for improved quality of life, consider seeking specialist care for a more efficient and effective recovery. 

Here are some reasons why making specialized care a part of your wound care experience may be right for you:

A Multidisciplinary Team Means a Well-Rounded Approach

When seeking a care program that specializes in wound care, you’ll have access to a trained team of nurses, physicians and physical therapists. Their expertise and diverse clinical knowledge can be combined to create a holistic plan for comfort and healing.

Don’t Just Treat the Symptom, Find the Cause

Working with a specialized wound care team means you have more resources at your disposal to determine the causes that contribute to your slow-healing wounds. Many factors can play into a delayed healing process, including:

Infection — Leads to larger wounds and a slower healing process

Diabetes — Increases the likelihood that chronic wounds will develop

Obesity — Increases risk for infection after surgery and can put tension on stitches, causing them to break open and further delay healing

Age — Generally plays a factor in the speed of the healing process because wounds heal more slowly as you get older

Alcohol — Excessive drinking can increase a person’s risk for post-surgical complications and contribute to a slower healing process

Smoking — Like drinking, tobacco use can delay the healing process after surgery, while also increasing risk for infections and opening wounds

Stress — Can often lead to poor sleep and eating habits, as well as excessive drinking or smoking 

Medications — Some medications, including painkillers known as Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs, can slow the healing process

Advanced Technologies Lead to Advanced Care

From specialized dressings to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, wound care centers have the equipment and techniques at their disposal to offer a wide variety of treatment that is usually unavailable at a medical office that does not specialize in wound care. These can have a huge impact on the speed of recovery and the final results of wound treatment. Some other techniques typically specific to wound care centers are: 

Wound debridement — A process of removing tissue from the wound bed to promote healing

Bioengineered tissue substitutes — Replacements for damaged tissue that can seamlessly integrate into the skin

Platelet growth technologies — Stimulation of the body’s natural platelet production, leading to the skin healing faster

Wound Care Specialists Can Save Limbs and Lives

While a wound that doesn’t heal can first appear like more of an annoyance than a serious medical concern, if left untreated and unmanaged, it can lead to serious medical complications. Conversely, according to a 2012 study using data from the US Wound Registry, nearly two-thirds of patients seen at hospital-based outpatient wound centers heal their wounds, avoiding these complications and instead experiencing an improved quality of life going forward.

Concerned about a wound that just won’t heal? Ask your doctor if you should consider seeing a wound care specialist today. For more information, call 301-609-7701 or visit our website.

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What You Need to Know About the 2019 Autumn Wine Tasting

Photo of group of people at CRMC’s autumn wine tasting in 2018

We hope you’re as excited as we are for the 22nd annual Autumn Wine Tasting. Southern Maryland’s favorite event is the place to be this September, and we’re giving you a sneak preview of everything you need to know for this year’s event: 

Date, Time, and Location

This year’s event will once again take place on the grounds of the historic Port Tobacco Courthouse on Saturday, September 7th.

This historic venue provides the perfect backdrop for an evening of food, wine, and fundraising for a great cause.

The event goes from 6pm-10pm. From there, it’s not uncommon to see many of the attendees relocate to local bars and restaurants to keep the festivities going.

What to Expect at the Event

Guests will enjoy samplings of more than 30 wines, specialty beverages, an open bar, and more than a dozen cuisine stations hosted by area restaurants. Guests will also have access to a cigar lounge as well as a silent auction that features a wide variety of unique memorabilia, collectibles, and experiences, courtesy of our sponsors and generous donors.

Ticket Options

Tickets for the Autumn Wine Tasting are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting the CRMC Foundation website or by calling (301) 609-4132. As always, tickets must be purchased in advance, and you must be 21 or older to attend.

Three ticket levels are being offered, so you can select the experience that suits you best. Purchase by August 26th to save on general admission tickets with early bird pricing!

VIP Tickets – $150

  • 1-hour early access (5 p.m.) to the venue, including food and beverage samplings
  • On-site parking
  • Commemorative 80th Anniversary wine glass
  • Complimentary wine samples
  • Gourmet food station tastings

General Admission – $90 (Through 8/26/19)

  • General admittance (6 p.m.) to the venue
  • Free parking at the Charles County Government Building
  • Complimentary motorcoach to and from the event
  • Commemorative 80th Anniversary wine glass
  • Complimentary wine samples
  • Gourmet food station tastings

Designated Driver Ticket – $45

  • General admittance (6 p.m.) to the venue
  • Free parking at the Charles County Government Building
  • Complimentary shuttle to and from the event
  • Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages
  • Gourmet food station tastings

Proceeds from this year’s event will help equip our nursing units, fund improvements for our imaging and surgical services and help bridge the gap and reduce barriers to care through health initiatives for our expanding community.

Purchase Tickets

In the Event of Inclement Weather…

This is a rain-or-shine event; however, in the event of rain or inclement weather, be sure to check our Facebook page for real-time updates and recommendations.

Parking and Transportation

General admission parking will be at the Charles County Government Building (200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, MD), and complimentary round-trip motorcoach service, courtesy of Keller Transportation, will be provided beginning at 5:45 p.m. Event tickets must be provided to BOARD the motorcoach.

VIP ticket holders can access on-site parking as an added benefit of their ticket purchase. 

Donate an Item or Become a Sponsor

Want to make a difference in your community while promoting your business or organization? You can donate an item for our silent auction or become a sponsor of the event by contacting Tricia Holcomb at 301-609-4319 or tricia.holcomb@umm.edu. Additional information about sponsorship levels is also available on the CRMC Foundation website.

Become a sponsor

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Why Cord Blood Banking is Something Expecting Parents Should Consider

Infant child sleeping

If you’re an expecting parent, you probably have a long to-do list of things that need to get done before the big day. But if you haven’t added “donating cord blood” to that list yet, here’s why you should consider it:

What is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is the blood that’s found in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord and placenta. This blood is a primary source of stem cells, which are the cells that are necessary for producing blood. 

Here’s a quick video that explains what cord blood is and how the stem cells found in cord blood can benefit patients in the case of a transplant: 

What Normally Happens to Cord Blood?

Although the potential of cord blood and its stem cells is incredible, this is still an emerging element of modern medicine. For that reason, the umbilical cord and placenta are often discarded as medical waste today rather than used for potentially lifesaving transplants.

How Does Saved Cord Blood Get Used?

The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation notes that about 70% of patients who need a stem cell transplant don’t have a matching donor in their own family. Fortunately, cord blood doesn’t have to be perfectly matched to help those dealing with ailments such as:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Sickle Cell
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune Disorders

Although these cancers and disorders can often be treated by bone marrow transplants, cord blood donations can contain as much as 10 times more stem cells than bone marrow donations. In addition, stem cells from cord blood are less likely to be rejected than those from bone marrow.

Public vs. Private Cord Blood Banking

While the general concept of cord blood banking involves the preservation of cord blood, there are a few different types of cord blood banking:

Public cord blood banking doesn’t cost anything for the parents and is designed to make the potentially lifesaving cells available to anyone who needs them. Public cord blood banks collect, test, and preserve the cord blood until it is needed by a patient or patients.

Private cord blood banks do exist, too. Sometimes called “family banks,” these are designed to save cord blood exclusively for members of your family so that it can be used if there are any specific medical needs within the family. Unfortunately, private cord blood banking means that the cells are not made available to those outside of your family, so those who are in need will not be able to make use of those cells if they need a transplant. Moreover, private cord blood banks are usually expensive and, even if the cord blood comes from a family member, there’s only about a 25 percent chance that another family member’s body will even be able to receive the cells.

Cord Blood Donations at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center

Although we do not currently offer public cord banking here at the hospital, we encourage families to consider participating in one of many mail-in programs that you can learn more about here

Ultimately, your decision to take part in cord blood banking — public or private — is up to you and your family, and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. If you’re considering cord blood banking, visit the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation’s website and be sure to talk to your doctor and/or your midwife to find out more and to answer any questions you may have. 

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