COVID-19 resources and vaccine information at St. Clair can be found here.

St. Clair Health now using Tyrer-Cuzick Risk Assessment Calculator for breast cancer

Having additional knowledge can never be a bad thing, especially when it comes to detecting breast cancer.

St. Clair Health announced it is providing the Tyrer-Cuzick Risk Assessment Calculator, a tool utilized to gather information on a patient from personal history to breast density and mammogram images. The information is then used to determine the likelihood a woman will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

“Identifying these patients earlier helps us to catch their cancers earlier and gives them a better chance of survival,” said Dr. Raye J. Budway, director of breast surgical services for St. Clair Health Center. “This is about helping you understand where you are so we can get you where you need to go.”

According to, the Tyrer-Cuzick tool assesses breast cancer risk based on a woman’s answers to questions such as the age of her first period, height, weight, childbearing history, family history of breast cancer, menopausal status, and any use of hormone replacement therapy.

Women who may be at high risk are typically identified through family history. Additional data can lead to more patients being identified, Budway said.


Dr. Raye J. Budway, (left) director of breast surgical services for St. Clair Health, consults with a patient.

The Tyrer-Cuzick Risk Assessment Calculator is also being used for women undergoing early-stage detection and treatment for breast cancer, according to St. Clair Health, the parent organization of St. Clair Hospital, St. Clair Medical Group and St. Clair Health Foundation.

The results can be used by a team of specialists to develop care plans. The tool will be administered for every patient who comes for a screening mammogram. The timing of St. Clair’s announcement about the tool coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It is important for a health team to be involved to offer advice and options, Budway said, because there are better outcomes when caught early.

Dr. Bibianna A. Klepchick, director of breast imaging at St. Clair Health, who is partnering with Budway, said the goal is to give women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer clinical support, along with tools to keep a closer eye on their breast health.

“By identifying these patients, we hope to catch their cancers earlier, giving them a much better chance of survival,” Klepchick said in a statement. “This valuable screening tool is already available for patients, and we’re also in the process of launching a clinical program that’ll include a breast care specialist who follows each high-risk patient and participates in their care.”

Klepchick said those at high risk could also add a yearly screening breast MRI to the routine annual mammogram.

“The goal is also to improve care, we know that time-to-treatment is directly linked to survival, so we already work really hard to meet and exceed the standards,” said Klepchick. “But if we can reduce it even further, we can improve their outcome, and aligning our evidenced-based practices by talking about it together and sharing the latest data, that can only improve their care.”

Budway said the risk calculator tool is the next level of care and will help doctors continue to elevate cancer care and give patients the best possible care close to home.

When women generally come in for their annual screening mammogram, there isn’t a consistent practice or risk assessment, said Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, a professor and a consultant in the breast diagnostic clinic at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn.

She said like many other institutions across the world, the Mayo Clinic is able to access the online tool to calculate breast cancer risk. Results provide family history, previous breast biopsies and a screening report so doctors can determine if an MRI is needed.

“We can then talk with the patient and determine if she is high risk,” Pruthi said.

If the score shows high risk, doctors and patients need to be cautious and consider other factors, Pruthi said. You don’t want a woman to decide she wants to have a mastectomy when she might not have needed to do that. Some women may be high risk and live past what the numbers are predicting, Pruthi said.

“I tell her she has outlived the milestone and lessened her risk,” Pruthi said. “It is about education so we can determine the high-risk women.”

study has found that the Tyrer-Cuzick breast cancer risk assessment tool is accurate for at least 19 years. The research was published in 2018 by JAMA Oncology.

“We are always looking for new ways to deliver care to our patients at the St. Clair Hospital Breast Care Center,” said Budway. “We balance being on the cutting edge technologically with providing proven, safe methods for treating breast cancer.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Click here to view story. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, [email protected] or via Twitter .

St. Clair Health Named A ‘Most Wired’ Hospital

St. Clair Health has earned 2021 CHIME Digital Health Most Wired recognition as a certified Level 9.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Digital Health Most Wired program conducts the annual survey to assess how effectively healthcare organizations apply core and advanced technologies into their clinical and business programs to improve health and care in their communities.

“Digital transformation in healthcare has accelerated to an unprecedented level since 2020, and the next few years will bring a wave of innovation that empowers healthcare consumers and will astound the industry,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell. “The Digital Health Most Wired program recognizes the outstanding digital leaders who have paved the way for this imminent revolution in healthcare.

“Their trailblazing commitment to rapid transformation has set an example for the entire industry in how to pursue a leadership vision with determination, brilliant planning and courage to overcome all challenges.”

A total of 36,674 organizations were represented in the 2021 Digital Health Most Wired program, which includes four separate surveys: acute, ambulatory, long-term care and international acute. The surveys assessed the adoption, integration and impact of technologies in healthcare organizations at all stages of development, from early development to industry leading.

“We are honored to again be named a CHIME Digital Health Most Wired organization,” said Richard J. Schaeffer, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at St. Clair Health. “Our ability to stay at the forefront of use of digital health systems is due to our long-term commitment and investment in technologies to improve safety, deliver quality outcomes, and engage patients and families.

“Our newly opened Dunlap Family Outpatient Center, equipped with the latest technologies, is a unique state-of-the-art facility leveraging these latest digital health systems to offer convenient interdisciplinary care to the community.”

Hospitals included in the Most Wired program are certified as Levels 1-10, with Levels 9 and 10 designating the health IT leaders that have displayed the highest and most innovative uses of technology at their respective organizations. This is the third year that CHIME has conducted the survey and overseen the program. In each successive year, CHIME has expanded the survey to capture more types of organizations that serve patients across the continuum of care. CHIME also continues to promote the program internationally to provide a global overview of digital health advancements.

Caring for grandkids and keeping them safe on the road

As a grandparent involved in their grandkids’ everyday tasks and routines, much of your time with your grandchildren may be spent in the car. Whether it’s going to and from school, running errands or taking the kids to activities and events, you may find yourself spending a lot of time in your car. It’s vital to understand the ins and outs of safe car travel with kids in 2021, so everyone has the best and safest experience possible.

Grandchildren provide joy and add a new dimension to family dynamics. But for grandparents contributing to the care and upbringing of their grandchildren, things can get more complicated. Being responsible for your grandchildren may allow you to share in their daily lives, but it can also be overwhelming — especially when caring for more than one child at a time. You are not alone. It is estimated over 2.6 million children are being raised by their grandparents in the U.S. That’s why Bankrate put together a guide to help you navigate safe travel for you and your precious grandkids.

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Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

Pregnant, unvaccinated and intubated: Doctors alarmed by rise in virus cases among expectant mothers

More young and healthy pregnant people are ending up hospitalized on ventilators, delivering babies prematurely and sometimes dying from COVID-19 during the delta-fueled spike in cases.

Doctors across the country are reporting this trend, not seen in previous surges, largely in the South but also in states like California and Washington. As of Aug. 14, 76.2% of pregnant people were unvaccinated.

Pregnant women with COVID-19 are 15 times more likely to die, 14 times more likely to need to be intubated, and 22 times more likely to have preterm birth than those who are uninfected, according to a study published this month in JAMA Network Open. “I have not seen risks like this,” said Linda Eckert, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington.

Reluctance to get the shots has been widespread among the pregnant population because they were excluded from clinical trials for the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc., and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Studies on pregnant women began in February, and evidence has shown no increased risk of miscarriage from the shots. U.S. health officials this month stepped up calls for pregnant people to get vaccinated.

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Our Region’s Business – St. Clair Health Segment

St. Clair Health was featured in WPXI News segment called Our Region’s Business which highlights local businesses in Allegheny county. Our Region’s Business has been jointly produced by the Allegheny Conference and WPXI-TV since May 2004. The show is hosted by Bill Flanagan, Chief Corporate Relations Officer at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

This segment featuring St. Clair Health discussed how the healthcare system invests in the future of healthcare with its new outpatient center right on the main campus. The team took a look around Sunday on “Our Region’s Business,” jointly-produced by the Allegheny Conference and WPXI-TV.

-Hosted by Bill Flanagan, Chief Corporate Relations Officer

Please click the link below to watch the filmed broadcast.

Pittsburgh Business Times 20 People To Know In Law: Paula L. Hooper

Paula L. Hooper, senior vice president and chief legal officer, St. Clair Health

Paula Hooper joined St. Clair last summer from Butler Health System, where she had worked since 2009 and served as vice president and CLO. Previously, Hooper had been senior counsel for litigation at West Penn Allegheny Health System. At St. Clair, the region’s seventh-largest health system and among Pittsburgh’s 25-biggest employers, she provides legal and other advice and oversight across the organization, including governance, physician contracting, medical staff matters, compliance, risk management and general corporate matters.

What’s your outlook for the legal industry for 2021? There is certainly never a shortage of legal issues, both emerging and ongoing in most areas of law. The pandemic has only served to add another layer of complexity to these issues, as well as creating novel legal battles across all industries.

Do you expect lateral movement to accelerate in 2021? Yes. I believe the past year has influenced individual’s thoughts and needs regarding one’s outside obligations and prioritization of what is most important. I believe this will result in lateral moves, as well as other moves to industries that provide job security in continuing to have work available.

Will corporations continue to use alternatives to law firms? Yes. Health care is an extremely regulated industry. Having in-house counsel as part of the senior executive team is a way to include that legal expertise in the everyday management of an organization, to improve the breadth of legal and other input received, while reducing the costs incurred in outside legal fees. That said, I continue to work with highly skilled, specialized outside counsel on certain matters, and that need will continue.

What is your most memorable case or major legal project? The AHERF bankruptcy. It was the largest health care bankruptcy to occur as of 1998. AHERF at the time was a statewide health system with many hospitals and other subsidiaries. I was just beginning my third year of practicing. Even now, almost 23 years later, I use lessons learned from that experience, particularly the importance of strong governance and management practices, to function as a stronger leader and provide better guidance in my role as a senior executive and chief legal officer.

What can the legal industry do to improve diversity and attract more diverse candidates? Women and minorities need to continue to reach out and share their success stories and serve as mentors for others. In my experience, health care has always been an area with a significant number of women in leadership. My first position included a female general counsel, with eight of the 10 senior attorneys being female. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be allowed flexibility when needed, which has only served to increase my loyalty and dedication to my organization. Perhaps the pandemic has allowed organizations to appreciate the ability to function efficiently with more flexibility.

What is your favorite depiction of a lawyer in a book, TV or cinema? Matthew McConaughey’s closing argument in “A Time to Kill” stands out as my favorite movie scene.

What attracted you to St. Clair? Health care leadership roles are very demanding, keeping every day interesting and challenging. It has always been important to me to remain in an industry for which I am extremely proud of the daily efforts and achievements made. St. Clair Health’s high quality ratings, strong financial performance and relationship as a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network attracted me to St. Clair Health. In addition, I had the pleasure of working with several of the leaders of St. Clair Health in a prior role.



CMS 5-Star Rating Ranks St. Clair Health Among Top In Region, Nation

Compassion, Dedication and Expertise Form The Cornerstone

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has awarded St. Clair Health a 5-star quality rating, the highest rating available, as part of CMS’ update of its Care Compare website. It is one of only two 5-star ratings awarded in western Pennsylvania. According to CMS, less than 14 percent of hospitals in the nation received a 5-star rating in the most recent update.

CMS uses a 1 to 5 star rating scale. The scores are based on hospital performance in mortality, readmission, safety of care, patient experience, and timely and effective care.

“Earning CMS’ 5-star rating is validation of the exceptional care provided at St. Clair Health,” said Todd Pollock, M.S., Executive Director, Quality & Care Management, St. Clair Health. “Our commitment to provide expert care from people who care is borne out by these excellent results and is another example of how St. Clair Health is creating a healthier region. St. Clair’s unwavering goal is to put every patient first, every single time.”

CMS said the Care Compare website and Stars Rating System are valuable consumer tools that provide helpful and important information on the safety and quality of the nation’s hospitals. These decision-making tools offer great transparency on hospital performance for a wide variety of users – patients, caregivers, families, and the broader health care industry.

Today’s announcement continues a tradition of excellence that is unsurpassed in western Pennsylvania. In addition to CMS, St. Clair this week also received national recognition from 100 Top Hospitals and The Leapfrog Group.

In recent years, St. Clair has received numerous accolades from not only CMS, but also from 100 Top Hospitals, The Leapfrog Group, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, CareChex, Healthgrades, and others. St. Clair remains western Pennsylvania’s exclusive member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

455 hospitals with 5 stars from CMS: 2021

CMS updated its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings for 2021, giving 455 hospitals a rating of five stars.

CMS assigned star ratings to hospitals nationwide based on their performance across five quality categories. This is the first star ratings update since January 2020. This year:

204 hospitals received a one-star rating
690 hospitals received a two-star rating
1,018 hospitals received a three-star rating
988 received a four-star rating
455 received a five-star rating

Click link below for the hospitals that received a five-star rating from CMS, broken down by state, as listed on the Hospital Compare website.

By – Mackenzie Bean and Gabrielle Masson, Becker’s Hospital Review


Consortium urges everyone to get vaccinated

Chief medical officers from a consortium of Southwestern Pennsylvania hospitals and health-care systems issued a letter strongly recommending everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional CMO Consortium’s doctors said in Tuesday’s letter that “we do not have enough vaccine participation yet to create the collective protection we all seek, protection that will allow us to have more normal lifestyles.”
The consortium reassured those who are hesitant to get the vaccine that each vaccine available, from the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer to the single-dose Johnson & Johnson, “is well studied and offers safe, excellent protection from severe illness.”

The consortium said the temporary pause taken last week with the J&J vaccine to assess a rare – about 1 in a million – potential blood clot issue “highlights the careful nature of our approach. The risk of serious illness, including blood clots or other problems – even in the young – is much higher if you get COVID-19 infection than if you get the vaccine. And, if you skip vaccination, you are much more likely to get COVID 19 and be harmed.”
The letter continues, “Wondering about the safety of any care is wise. That is why we are sharing the evidence, which is clear: These vaccines protect many people and have very little risk – it is far safer to get vaccinated than to get COVID-19.”

The consortium urges people to get a vaccine as soon as possible “to keep you safe and to keep others safe.”

“We have supplies and vaccination clinics ready for you. Go to or contact whichever vaccination provider that is easiest for you; if you have a concern, ask your doctor or call ahead for advice. We want you to be safe.

Please encourage all 16 years old and older in your family and among your friends to get a vaccine. We will get this pandemic behind us if we all finish this last step.”
The letter was signed by members of the consortium, Dr. Donald Yealy, CMO UPMC; Dr. Donald M. Whiting, CMO Allegheny Health Network; Dr. Carol J. Fox, CMO Excela Health System; Dr. Michael Cratty, CMO Heritage Valley Health System; Dr. John Sullivan, CMO St. Clair Hospital; Dr. John Six, CMO Washington Health System; Dr. Elizabeth Dunmore, CMO Conemaugh Health System; Dr. Russell Cameron, CMO Penn Highlands Healthcare; Dr. Richard K. Neff, CMO Indiana Regional Medical Center; and Dr. James Backstrom, CMO Armstrong County Memorial Hospital.

WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital is currently without a CMO after the departure of Dr. Surabhi Gaur at the beginning of the year. Hospital President and CEO Dr. David Hess has also been vocal in encouraging vaccination in all who are eligible.


By –  Karen Mansfield – Reporter, Harold-Standard


St. Clair Health Leads The State With Its 18th Consecutive ‘A’ Hospital Safety Grade From The Leapfrog Group

‘Expert Care From People Who Care’ Is Foundation of Rating

The Leapfrog Group, the nation’s leading patient safety watchdog, has released its new Hospital Safety Grades for Spring 2021, awarding St. Clair Health an “A” for its demonstrated record of preventing patient harm.

St. Clair is one of only 39 hospitals across the country to have earned 18 “As” in a row and the only hospital in Pennsylvania to have done so, placing St. Clair amongst the top 1.5 percent of hospitals in the country and the leader in the region for patient safety.

Developed under the guidance of a national Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses up to 27 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,700 acute care hospitals twice a year. The Safety Grade assigns letter grades of A, B, C, D and F to hospitals nationwide based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms.

“An ‘A’ safety grade is an elite designation that your community should be proud of,” said Leah Binder, President and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “The past year has been extraordinarily difficult for hospitals, but St. Clair Health shows us it is possible to keep a laser focus on patients and their safety, no matter what it takes.”

Diane L. Puccetti, R.N., BSN, MS, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at St. Clair, said,  “Our mission to put patients first is built into the culture at St. Clair and prioritizes patient safety by providing an environment of care that protects patients from harm.”

Today’s announcement continues a tradition of excellence that is unsurpassed in western Pennsylvania. In addition to The Leapfrog Group, St. Clair this week also was named among the 100 Top Hospitals for the fourth consecutive year. It is the sixth time since 2012 that St. Clair has received this honor, and the seventh overall, the most in western Pennsylvania.

In recent years, St. Clair has received numerous accolades from not only The Leapfrog Group, 100 Top Hospitals, but also from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, CareChex, Healthgrades, and others. St. Clair remains western Pennsylvania’s exclusive member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.