lowering car crash risk | Working with Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, researchers at Saint Louis University have found that a computerized skill training course lowers the risk of car crashes among teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Called Enhanced Focused Concentration and Attention Learning (FOCAL+), the program is designed to decrease dangerous long-glance behavior by using eye-tracking monitors and an auditory alarm to give immediate feedback. “We know that people with ADHD really need practices that mirror what happens in the real world,” says Annie Artiga Garner, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology. “Skills learned in an environment that is as close to real-world conditions as possible are better implemented when they go out driving. A basic computer program isn’t as effective.”

robotic assistance
Mercy has implemented an innovative way to help health care workers complete time-intensive support tasks. After a successful pilot program at Mercy Hospital Jefferson, autonomous robots called TUGs are coming to St. Louis in January. The robots are named for the way the pull supply carts and are able to sense and navigate around obstacles, react to emergencies and remove themselves from the area, and ride elevators to navigate the hospital. “When there aren’t enough hands or feet to get everything done, a set of wheels can make all the difference.” says Kim Kerlagon, a patient ambassador at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. “They can pick up and deliver patient meals, linens and even medications. Every trip a TUG makes is one a human being doesn’t have to, and for nurses and other caregivers, it means we can spend more time with our patients.”

health care expansion
SSM Health is opening a new ambulatory center. A groundbreaking was held for the 66,000-square-foot facility earlier this month, and construction is expected to be completed in 2024. The center will offer extensive urgent care services, laboratory services and a retail pharmacy and will partner with SSM Health Medical Group, SLUCare Physician Group and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital to provide extensive primary, specialty and pediatric care services. “We are looking to the future needs of the St. Charles County community, and with seven and a half acres of land available for future development, there is opportunity to expand as the community continues to grow,” notes Jeremy Fotheringham, R.N., MHSA, J.D., academic and St. Louis regional president.

fighting fentanyl
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain reliever, but it is also the leading cause of overdose in the U.S. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine are working to make the drug less lethal and addictive while keeping it effective as a pain reliever. The team altered the drug’s chemical properties and how it binds to opioid receptors on nerve cells. Mouse models indicated that the modified drug was still effective but didn’t have as many potentially deadly side effects. “We are desperately looking for ways to maintain the analgesic effects of opioids, while avoiding dangerous side effects such as addiction and respiratory distress that too often lead to death,” says corresponding author Susruta Majumdar, Ph.D. “Our research is still in its early stages, but we’re excited about its potential for leading to safer pain-relieving drugs.”