OhioHealth, Ohio State, Nationwide Children's hospitals' newest health initiatives

OhioHealth will begin its blood and marrow transplant program this summer, while Ohio State investigates youth vaping, and Nationwide researches the effect of youth mental health on parental labor.

Laura Newpoff
For Columbus CEO
Dr. Yvonne Efebera, OhioHealth

Blood and bone marrow transplant program at OhioHealth

In 2010, a football player named John Stephens learned about a bone-marrow registry drive while he was attending a freshman recruiting weekend at the State University of New York at Cortland. The day he registered with Be The Match, Clara Violet Boyle was 17 days old. When she reached the four-month-old mark, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. That’s when Stephens got a call that he was the “perfect match.”

Boyle’s form of leukemia was high risk and her chances for survival were considered slim. It turns out that Stephens’ donation was 3.5 to 4.5 times more than she required and doctors used all of it to treat her. “Your stem cells engrafted so quickly that they didn’t tell us initially, for fear of getting our hopes up,” Boyle’s mom would later write to Stephens.

In the coming years, more success stories like Boyle’s may be possible because of a blood and marrow transplant program starting this summer at OhioHealth. Doctors didn’t want to send patients to other hospitals to receive transplants, a procedure expected to grow 9 percent over the next five years.

Dr. Yvonne Efebera has joined OhioHealth to launch the program. “The system knew the benefit for patients to get all of their care in one place,” she says. Being able to perform the transplants will give patients a sense of consistency during a stressful time, she says.

The program will serve 150 patients a year who have hematologic or blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Patients with non-cancerous disorders, like bone marrow failure, metabolic disorders and immunodeficiency disorders also will benefit.

OhioHealth is investing $20.5 million to establish the program. An inpatient unit is currently being built within 17,000 square feet of existing space at Riverside Methodist Hospital and a 10,000 square-foot portion of the atrium level of the Bing Cancer Center, previously occupied by conference room spaces, has been converted to include an infusion space for BMT patients, ambulatory care and outpatient clinics, a lab and a pharmacy. Because there’s a need for more blood marrow donors, including more diversity of donors, Efebera encourages those who have an interest in this life saving program to sign up at Be The Match.

Dr. Yvonne Efebera, OhioHealth

Ohio State studies effects of youth vaping

Ohio State University’s experience running the Center for Tobacco Research helped it land a $5.5 million grant in 2020 to study the effects of e-cigarettes and nicotine in youth and develop vaping cessation programs. The award was among the highest individual grants given in the American Heart Association’s history.

So far, the grant has led to a groundbreaking study released in February that found vaping had a significant and long-term cardiovascular effect on adolescent males but, surprisingly, not females.

Loren Wold, the study’s senior author and associate dean for research operations and compliance in the College of Medicine, says the long-term effects of vaping aren’t known because these compounds have been around only since the early 2000s. “Understanding the long-term effects and informing the public is one of the main goals but we also want to come up with cessation tools,” he says. Because COVID caused labs to shut down when OSU first got the grant, an extension will allow Wold and his team to continue their work.

Nationwide studies children's mental health on the workforce

The pediatric and adolescent mental health crisis—punctuated by the stresses of the pandemic—is having dramatic implications in the workplace. That’s according to a first-of-its-kind study released this year by Nationwide Children’s Hospital as part of its On Our Sleeves movement for children’s mental health. The Great Collide: The Impact of Children’s Mental Health on the Workforce, funded by the Nationwide Foundation, found:

  • 53 percent of working parents have missed work at least once per month to deal with their children’s mental health.
  • 54 percent of working parents interrupted their work to answer communication about their child’s mental health needs during business hours.
  • 30 to 50 percent of working parents’ thoughts are on their child’s mental health while at work.
  • 85 percent of working parents think it’s a good idea to talk about children’s mental health, but few talked to managers, HR or colleagues.
  • Working parents under the age of 40 are more concerned about their children’s mental health and more likely to choose employers based on access to mental health care benefits.

Marti Bledsoe Post, lead study author and executive director of On Our Sleeves, says there’s still a lot of stigma tied to mental health, and many people fear they can’t leave work early to deal with their children’s issues without losing pay or facing negative consequences such as being passed over for a promotion. “The workforce is highly concerned ... There is still fear around either talking about the issue or taking time to deal with these issues.”

Bledsoe Post says the next steps are to add resources for parents on OnOurSleeves.org throughout the year. A new program also will be rolled out in the fall through employers. The self-paced digital curriculum will be created for parents and caregivers to help them learn about issues tied to children’s mental health. Post says 88 percent of parents are interested in this type of coursework.

Laura Newpoff is a freelance writer.