October 5, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

The White Coat ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow
“To continue the legacy established by the Medical College of Georgia. To acknowledge the magnitude of our responsibility, yet remain humble. To face every obstacle with honesty and integrity while striving to maintain the highest moral standards….” These are the words that our Class of 2022 wrote and will recite during tomorrow’s White Coat Ceremony. I have to say that while I don’t often stand on ceremony, I am happy to sit for this one. Like the words of our students, this annual event gives you a sense of what it is to be a doctor, to put on that iconic white coat, to ideally begin a profession of service. “To establish trust and be worthy of it…. To serve communities selflessly across the state of Georgia and beyond. To advocate for the underserved and engage diverse perspectives in order to alleviate health disparities. To put patients’ needs above our own….” I often say that seeing patients, like I do on Fridays, helps me refocus on why I became a doctor. Our students and residents are always a great inspiration as well. It is really a privilege to do what we do here at the Medical College of Georgia and we are fortunate that very often it also is a pleasure. Please join us at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Bell Auditorium and experience some of both.

The first White Coat Ceremony was in 1993 in New York City
Did you know that the first White Coat Ceremony took place in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. It was the brainchild of longtime pediatric neurologist Dr. Arnold Gold, who was on the faculty there and lamented that the Hippocratic Oath students take as they complete medical school was just too late. The Gold Foundation would help establish the White Coat Ceremony for medical schools, as well as nursing and physician assistant programs, to help raise the flag of humanism early. It is a pretty neat reminder later on as well. We congratulate our freshmen as they put on their short white coats for the very first time.

Students take the lead in identifying frequent flyers at our hospital
Here’s another flag of humanism. It’s called medical hotspotting, a concept pioneered by Camden, New Jersey, family medicine physician Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and a graduate of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, see here. He decided to take on the reality that a lot of health care costs are driven by a relatively small number of patients, so called frequent flyers, who show up time and again for care. While the cost to the “system” is enormous, so is the price the individual and his family must pay in terms of lost quality of life from illness and frequent hospitalization. In Dr. Brenner’s great tradition, a group of students decided to look here and quickly found the top 20 users of our Emergency Room, some of whom were here on average every third day. Medical student Cole Phillips and pharmacy student Bill Olney, led this charge that also included third-year medical students Katherine Jennings and Noreen Syed, AU College of Nursing students Chelsea Kulling and Jada Lewis along with Mack Phillips, a physical therapy student in the AU College of Allied Health Sciences. This already sounds like a great health care team.

The new initiative is reducing hospitals visits, improving lives
Together these students set out to improve the lives of these individuals as they cut health care costs by more strategically addressing their needs and enrolling them in the Comprehensive Health Care Initiative. This young health care team goes to patients’ homes, helps them set health goals, identify health care barriers, and even connects them with a primary care physician if needed. While this is still a new effort, they have already reduced one patient’s visits by more than half. That is success and it’s also living the oath that our freshmen take tomorrow. These great students of course have great help that includes Denise Kornegay, executive director of Area Health Education Centers and MCG associate dean, and Dr. Philip Coule, interim chief medical officer and chief safety officer for our hospital, who also happens to be an MCG graduate and emergency medicine physician. Thank you all.

The M. Bert Storey Research Building celebration is Oct. 10
Next Wednesday, we can celebrate together again. It’s the official opening of the Georgia Cancer Center’s M. Bert Storey Research Building. We have all watched this facility take on new life on the corner of RA Dent and Laney Walker Boulevards. Construction added 72,000 square feet of new space and 6,000 feet of renovation to the 12-year-old building. The expansive connector across Laney-Walker that ties the M. Bert Storey Research Building to the outpatient clinic serves as functional office and meeting space and as a stone and mortar reminder to all of us of why we do research, and to our patients of the hope for even better treatment and prevention to come. Let me thank again the family and friends of the late Mr. Storey, a community leader, philanthropist and volunteer, for their essential support in making this huge project possible. It is a really beautiful, open facility that will better enable us to attract and keep the best investigators, medical and graduate students and postdocs. Like many of ours, the Storey family has battled cancer and now they are helping Georgia’s public medical school and the families who come to us for care do the same.

Gov. Deal, Chancellor Wrigley and USG Chair Jim Hull will be on hand
I hope you can be with us at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 10 on the new green space beside the M. Bert Storey Research Building. We already know of some great individuals who will be there. Gov. Nathan Deal, who has been instrumental in helping provide much support for the Georgia Cancer Center, including $50 million for the new construction we celebrate next week, will be with us. So will Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, and lifelong Augustan Jim Hull, chairman of the USG Board of Regents. In fact, many Regents, who are meeting next week in Augusta, will be with us. I very much appreciate the support of all these Georgia leaders for the war on cancer and for the success of MCG. We also will be privileged to hear from our patient Kim Gauldin. Tours of the new facility will follow.

Nearly 100 new faculty, a dozen cancer docs hired since July 2017
In the larger war on disease, we have hired nearly 100 new faculty – mostly physicians – since July 2017 in areas from orthopaedic surgery to dermatology to radiology to trauma. As we all know so well, even more faculty are needed on every clinical, science and educational front as we strive to grow and strengthen MCG. Please also know that more vigorous recruitments are very much underway. The new hires include 12 physicians who specialize in diverse aspects of cancer treatment. Faculty like Dr. Nnenna Badamosi, who studied pediatrics at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn and completed her pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York. Like Dr. Nagla Abdel Karim, an adult hematologist/oncologist who completed her residency at a Cleveland Clinic hospital, her fellowship at the University of Cincinnati and postdoctoral work at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Faculty like radiation oncologist Dr. Stephen Ramey. He’s a Furman University and Medical University of South Carolina graduate who completed his radiation oncology training at the University of Miami and has done additional training in the latest gamma knife technology at the Cleveland Clinic. I thank and welcome them all.

Julie Gaines honored with Michael E. DeBakey Library Services Outreach Award
One more celebration as we close. Julie K. Gaines, medical librarian and core faculty member at our Athens campus, the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, has been honored with the 2018 Michael E. DeBakey Library Services Outreach Award by the Friends of the National Library of Medicine. She was cited for her extraordinary resourcefulness in supporting the health information needs of patients and caregivers in northeast Georgia. This health sciences librarian is a core educator for our students in Athens, helping teach evidence-based medicine topics, and is a small-group facilitator in community health classes. Ms. Gaines not only helps faculty and students find information, but helps ensure they have found good information and can apply it well in the clinic and classroom. She even helps faculty and students with social media and mobile technologies and is a mentor for students’ community-based projects. She is from Elberton, Georgia, earned her master of library and information sciences degree from the University of South Carolina and did graduate work at the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. We thank Ms. Gaines for her service to medical education and to her community.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 6 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

Oct. 10 – Grand opening of the Georgia Cancer Center’s M. Bert Storey Research Building,10:30 a.m., in the new garden area between the research building and Hamilton Wing. Tours will follow from about 11:30 to 1 p.m. Gov. Nathan Deal, the USG Board of Regents and Chancellor Steve Wrigley are expected to attend.

Oct. 11 – MCG Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Coosa Country Club.

Oct. 30 – Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium. Reception will follow.

Nov. 9 – The annual Memorial Service for Body Donors will be held at 1 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium. Donors’ families and friends are the honored guests. The service is conducted jointly by the students, faculty and chaplains from the Medical College of Georgia and its Athens campus, the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, the Dental College of Georgia, the Colleges of Allied Health Sciences and Nursing and The Graduate School.

Nov. 30 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Dec. 7 – AU Alumni Holiday Drop-in, 6-8 p.m., Maxwell Alumni House, Summerville Campus.

2019 Events

Jan. 24 – AU All Alumni Savannah Reception, 6 p.m., Chatham Club.

Jan. 25 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 19 – MCG Alumni Association Board meeting, 3:30 p.m., and Macon Regional Reception, 6 p.m., both at the Idle Hour Country Club.

Feb. 22 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

March 7 – MCG Alumni Association Gainesville Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Northeast Georgia History Center.

March 15 – Match Day, noon, Christenberry Fieldhouse (new location).

March 29 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

April 26-28 – Alumni Weekend, Dean’s Reception, 6 p.m., April 26, Harrison Commons.

May 9 – Hooding ceremony.

May 24 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

June 21 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

Leave a Reply