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World-Renowned Surgeons at St. Joseph’s Wield Sharpened Tools on Helpless Halloween Pumpkins and Offer Bewitching Safety Tips


World-renowned surgeons at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center were allowed out of the operating rooms today just long enough to wield scalpels on helpless Halloween pumpkins.

With Halloween brewing, nearly a dozen surgeons sliced and diced at St. Joseph’s Doc-O-Lantern Pumpkin Carving Contest to create scary masterpieces in just 30 minutes. Surgeons used sophisticated operating room equipment to carve pumpkin monsters, political satires, and health awareness platforms. This year’s winning gourd was carved by St. Joseph’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and cardiothoracic surgeon, Jeffrey Sugimoto, MD. A Doc-O-Lantern newcomer, Dr. Sugimoto slashed out a horrifying Alien creation to steal the trophy from last year’s defending champions—the medical students at Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph’s who this year created a hilarious scene paying tribute to two of their professors.

While the contest showcases the surgeons’ creative abilities, the participating doctors also remind Valley residents about important Halloween safety tips.

“Hospitals all over the nation are haunted by Halloween-related injuries this time of year,” says St. Joseph’s Chief Medical Officer and long-time Doc-O-Lantern contestant Edward Donahue, MD. “As surgeons, we know the importance of safety and of being prepared at all times. We don’t want anyone to have a gory Halloween.”

Jack-o-lantern carving tips include:

  • Cut the Other Way: Don’t carve towards yourself. Slice the other way in small, controlled strokes.
  • Smarter, Not Sharper: A sharp knife can become lodged in the thicker parts of the pumpkin and cause serious injury if your hand is in the wrong place when it dislodges. Local stores sell special carving kits that include small serrated saws which are less likely to get stuck in the pumpkin and are not sharp enough to cause a deep injury.
  • Location. Location. Location: Set up your carving station in a clean, dry and well-lit area. Wash and thoroughly dry the cutting area, your hands and all tools that you will use to carve your pumpkin. Moisture can cause slipping which can lead to injuries.
  • A Sharp Little Rule: Little hands and sharp tools do not mix. While children can draw the design on the pumpkin and clean out the inside, an adult should do the actual carving.
  • Big People Needed: It only takes a second for an injury to occur, so supervise closely. Do not leave children or adolescents alone with carving tools.

Trick-or-treating tips include:

  • Street Smarts: Carrying glow sticks or flashlights and equipping costumes with reflective tape are all ways to make trick-or-treaters more visible for drivers. When roaming streets in search of the best candy, remember the importance of safety in numbers and looking both ways before crossing the street.
  • Beware of Stranger Danger: Children should always be supervised and advised to never enter a stranger’s home.
  • Shorter Spooks: Costume selection is fun and exciting for all ages, but the best way to ward off trips and falls is to make sure that costumes are not too long and that high heels are not too tall.
  • Boo the Sweet Tooth: Along with checking candy for tampering before eating, try to keep kids from eating too much candy while collecting. Make sure they have a good meal before leaving home.

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