Cynthia Woodcock, Hilltop, Discusses Affordable Care in Healthcare Journal of Little Rock

Cynthia Woodcock (2011)Cynthia Woodcock, executive director of The Hilltop Institute,  was quoted in an article in the May-June 2015 issue of the Healthcare Journal of Little Rock titled The Cost of Caring by John W. Mitchell. The article focuses on the tension for nonprofit tax-exempt hospitals between requirements that they provide community benefits and the financial costs to them of providing expensive life-saving treatments, all while remaining financially viable.

Woodcock discussed that under the Affordable Care Act and the new 501r Final Rule, hospital billing and collection practices have improved for patients, and that increases in coverage have afforded increased access to healthcare. The article also referenced the Hilltop Hospital Community Benefit Program’s State Law Profiles, which present a comprehensive analysis of each of the 50 state’s community benefit landscape as defined by its laws, regulations, tax exemptions, and, in some cases, policies and activities of state executive agencies.

Click here to read the article.

Marc Olano, CSEE, and Anne Rubin, History, Describe the Bandit Video Game Project in the Daily Record

Marc OlanoA team of professors and students across several disciplines have worked together to develop “Bandit,” a video game in which players control a fox that navigates the streets during Civil War-era Baltimore. The game is one of two developed this semester in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Professor Marc Olano’s game development class. The group collaborated with students in the history department and Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history, to develop viewpoints of diverse actors in the Pratt Street Riots.

Anne RubinThe work was featured in a Daily Record article published on May 19: “The game-design students initially pitched several game ideas to the history class, and Rubin said she and her history students were fond of a proposed mystery-style game because they thought it would lend itself more readily to the teaching of history. But the animal-focused game was the most feasible to produce, so that became the choice. ‘We’re really happy with how this turned out,’ Rubin said.”

To read about the Bandit video game presentation at URCAD 2015, click here. To read the article “At UMBC, a taste of professional life for game designers” in the Daily Record, click here (subscription required).

Center for Aging Studies Research on Senior Housing Transitions Featured in Reuters

An article published in The Gerontologist by the Center for Aging Studies on stigma and distress with multilevel senior housing residents was recently featured in Reuters. The article, published by Erin Roth, Center for Aging Studies senior research analyst, Kevin Eckert, professor and chair of sociology and anthropology, and Leslie Morgan, professor of sociology and co-director of the UMBC/UMB Ph.D. program in gerontology, found that “residents and places reflecting the highest levels of care are stigmatized in a context where people are monitored for health changes and required to relocate. Consequently, residents self-isolate, develop a diminished sense of self, and hide health and cognitive conditions out of fear of relocation.,” according to the study’s abstract.

Public Policy bldng.The researchers conducted 470 interviews with 367 residents, family, staff and administrators at seven facilities to better understand how stigma and distress are experienced in an environment where residents are grouped by levels of functioning.

“For senior housing developers, multilevel senior housing has proven to be profitable in many ways – it’s heavily marketed and has become the prevalent model for senior housing and care,” said Kevin Eckert in the Reuters article. “It is more cost-effective, profitable, and convenient to group people together by levels.”

“The social challenges that result are often recognized by staff and administrators but the difficulty for everyone is in imagining a true alternative, when the model so thoroughly dominates the senior housing landscape,” he added.

The researchers found that few residents in lower levels of care enjoy mingling with others in different levels of care: “Many people shopping for a senior housing setting are not wanting to face the possibility of these next moves – and so staff have said that some people will decline the part of the tour that includes the nursing care center,” Erin Roth said. “This points to a deeper sociocultural fear of death and decline that is so pervasive and is a contributing factor to the problems we layout in the article.”

To read the full article in Reuters, click here. To read the article “Stigma and Discontinuity in Multilevel Senior Housing’s Continuum of Care” in The Gerontologist, click here.

Lia Purpura and Deborah Rudacille, English, Reflect on Freddie Gray’s Death in the Baltimore Sun and American Short Fiction

English Writer in Residence Lia Purpura and English Professor of the Practice Deborah Rudacille recently published their thoughts and reflections on the death of Freddie Gray in American Short Fiction. Their powerful commentaries focused on the problematic use of cliches in how the Baltimore riots were described and the tactics of police in certain neighborhoods in the city.

Lia PurpuraIn “Baltimore, April 2015: Some Thoughts on Thugs and Clichés,” Purpura wrote about some of the words that were surrounding descriptions of the riots (thugs, criminals, etc.) and the need to listen and reflect to fully understand the complexity of the situation: “What can done to accurately communicate the complexity of Baltimore, April 2015? Slow the language way down. Occupy the space clichés have claimed—clichés want to buddy up, cozy up, shut the door and flip the lock. Set up, in place of clichés, language that searches, creates friction, challenges sensibilities. Restless language. Language arrived at after listening hard. Refuse the ease of rant and cant—the power gained by repeating words that have come before yours, and that no longer work.” An excerpt of Purpura’s commentary was also published in the Baltimore Sun.

DeborahRudacilleIn “Our Depraved Hearts,” Deborah Rudacille wrote about her observations of different police tactics in certain areas of Baltimore City: “We may not have administered the beating, we may not have loaded Gray into the van, but like the subjects of [Sidney] Milgram’s experiment…we acquiesce to the authorities who tell us we will not be held responsible for the state of our city or for the fate of young men like Freddie Gray… Last week white Baltimore joined black Baltimore in rejecting the experiment. The protests and marches around the city have been remarkable for their diversity. I attended one of the rallies at City Hall and saw old people and young, black and white, similarly outraged by Gray’s death.”

To read complete versions of both articles in American Short Fiction, click here.

Rebecca Adelman, Media and Communication Studies, Writes About the Adam Gadahn Case in The Conversation

In an article published May 18 in The Conversation,  Rebecca Adelman, an assistant professor of media and communication studies, wrote about Adam Gadahn’s complicated relationship with the U.S. government in the wake of the announcement of his death on April 23. Gadahn, an American propagandist for al-Qaida, was killed by an accidental drone strike in Pakistan on January 19. He had previously been charged with treason in 2006.

Rebecca Adelman“The federal government’s decision to indict him for the capital offense of treason reveals its need to confront and contain visual threats. Like a latter-day Toyko Rose, Gadahn’s skillful use of propaganda made him a potent enemy in the eyes of the state,” Adelman wrote.

In her article, Adelman draws reference to her book Beyond the Checkpoint: Visual Practices in the Global War on Terror, in which she closely examines how the Gadahn case evolved: “I analyze the documents surrounding the case to argue that the state did not truly desire to execute Gadahn or even to try him. Neither of these actions would have satisfactorily redressed his explicitly visual crimes Instead, I suggested that the most likely outcome for a captured Gadahn would have been indefinite detention: active, perpetual disappearance in an effort to finally control his image. My hypothesis that the government would not seek to kill Gadahn was borne out by his status as an unintended casualty of this drone strike.”

To read the full article titled “What the accidental killing of an American ‘traitor’ says about the power of visual weapons,” click here.

Taste of Catonsville (6/1)

15365064460_649cdd1abb_zOn June 1, 2015 from 6-9 p.m., the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce will host the 19th annual Taste of Catonsville at the historic Overhills Mansion. This year’s Taste of Catonsville highlights the best cuisine our area has to offer with generous samples and cooking demonstrations from local chefs, but it also features much more than food. The evening includes a “taste” of our Farmers Market, a “taste” of our Arts & Crafts Festival, a “taste” of our Flower Fest and a “taste” of the Catonsville community, as well as tastings of local craft beer and fine wine. Vendors will offer samples to enjoy that evening as well as products to purchase and take home.

For a full list of this year’s participants, a video tour of last year’s event, and more visit our website.

UMBC Research Forum Tackles High-Performance Computing

UMBC hosted its semi-annual Research Forum on May 1, 2015.  This semester’s forum focused on the role high-performance computing (HPC) can play in a variety of interdisciplinary applications, and featured speakers from diverse programs such as information systems, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and environmental systems, and computer science and electrical engineering.  UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski noted, “The mid-Atlantic region has one of the greatest concentrations of super-computing in the world.  That gives us a certain advantage as researchers.”  One key advantage is the facility of creating partnerships, “not just between universities, but with companies,” Hrabowski said.

HighPerformanceComputingThe forum keynote speaker, Al Grasso, is the CEO of MITRE Corporation, a critical UMBC partner.  MITRE and the University System of Maryland are developing the first federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC) devoted exclusively to cybersecurity.  It’s also unique among the FFRDCs, because it addresses applications in both the public and private sectors.

“I couldn’t think of a better partner to have to deal with one of the most complex problems that this nation and, quite frankly, the world face today,” said Grasso of UMBC.  The group of institutions involved in the FFRDC is “the brain trust in this country” for cybersecurity, Grasso added.  While the current partnership is focused on the FFRDC and cybersecurity, Grasso hopes MITRE’s partnership with UMBC will expand.  “What excites me is not only what we’re doing today, but what we could be doing in the future,” he said.

Jack Suess, UMBC Vice President of Information Technology, said, “HPC is the poster child for these kinds of collaborations here at UMBC.”  Several industry partners and 16 departments at UMBC have all contributed funds to grow the university’s computing power for research, which creates a “robust HPC environment,” he said.  Matthias Gobbert, Director of the High-performance Computing Facility at UMBC, added that in April 2015 there were 71 active users of the facility from 28 different research groups on campus.  Seventeen theses and 181 other publications have come from work done at the facility since 2008.

UMBC’s growing computing power is impressive, but research on these machines addresses fundamental questions that are “nothing new,” according to Milt Halem, UMBC Site Director of the Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity.  Compared to several decades ago, “what’s different is the scale and scope of these problems,” he said.

A panel at the forum addressed how HPC can impact health care.  “High-performance computing has the potential to completely change the way we practice medicine,” said Eliot Siegel, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  He envisions doctors using gigantic databases to help recommend treatments and make prognoses based on thousands of data points from patients with similar backgrounds and symptoms.  With fingertip access to thorough aggregate health information and advanced computational tools, doctors could answer some patient questions, like “How likely is my cancer to go into remission with surgery alone?” in seconds rather than days.

Ian Stockwell, Director of Special Studies at UMBC’s Hilltop Institute, sees another use for HPC in health care.  “Health and medicine are not the same thing,” he said.  Getting to a doctor’s office or pharmacy is a challenge for many, and housing quality and location can play a big role in physical and emotional health, too.  Stockwell is working on using HPC to integrate information about an individual’s lifestyle and medical history, which would allow for a more holistic approach to health.  That would create the possibility of providing non-medical (and often less-expensive) interventions that improve health.  Stockwell acknowledges the challenges to an integrative approach, such as initially getting individuals to fill out extensive surveys about their lifestyle, but “anything we can do is better than the status quo,” he said.

The two afternoon panels focused on cybersecurity and on modeling, simulation and visualization.  Poster sessions allowed for mingling, in hopes that attendees would forge new collaborations.  Irene Qualters, Director of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation, also spoke.  She emphasized the diversity of computational requirements and instrumentation for new research projects.  She also addressed the unprecedented growth in data collection that HPC makes possible and the importance of collaboration.  “Collaborations are geographically distributed and conversations are international,” she said.  And, with research budgets expected to stay flat, “that will be more incentive to collaborate across agencies,” she added.

While challenges like funding can make research today tricky, Qualters is quick to point out the silver lining.  “This is a world of opportunity.  This is an important and a very exciting time, and I hope you’re feeling it at your institution,” she said.  The Research Forum and new FFRDC demonstrate that UMBC is pouncing on new opportunities.  President Hrabowski acknowledged that in this era of tight funding, “the name of the game will be interdisciplinarity, collaboration, having the right attitude, multi-year process, and execution,” he said.  “Welcome to UMBC.”