Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”   -Margaret Mead

 

A Haven Away From Home… For the Families of Sick Children

Last week we started out talking about our fabulous new academic home and this week we just had to start out talking about another awesome home taking beautiful shape on our campus. It is the incredible new Ronald McDonald House that is rising up just 200 yards away from our children’s hospital. They had the “topping off” celebration this week for this incredible new facility, which should have its ribbon cut in early January. This haven away from home is 20,000 square feet bigger than the historic location currently on Greene Street. It will feature a dozen more bedrooms, including a bathroom for each of the total of 23 bedrooms! Other awesome features include a small family kitchen where families can prepare their own meals, as well as a large group kitchen where terrific volunteer groups from places like Augusta Tech, ADPi sorority and Kitchen 1454, another one of our neighbors, come to cook for these families. How terrific is that and how terrific is our hometown for coming together for such a great cause?! Our children really are our future and we are so privileged to help parents take care of them. Our thanks to so many, but our special thanks and congratulations go out to Betts Murdison, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, and to Tori Boardman, and our own Dr. Charlie Howell who have co-chaired the campaign to build this fine facility. Our (top) hats off to them and to Augusta for once again stepping up for children and families.

A Defining Difference… In the Care of Those Children

Did you know that about 90 percent of the families that use the Ronald McDonald House in Augusta have a child at our Children’s Hospital of Georgia? Most of the rest have a child at the incredible Joseph M. Still Burn Unit at Doctors Hospital. Hope you know that the late Dr. Still was a 1965 graduate of our medical school and that Dr. Robert F. Mullins, the Burn Center’s Medical Director, is a 1996 graduate. This facility is one of only two in our huge state to have verification by the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons as having expertise in this super-specialized field of medicine. This new house, our children’s hospital, and our incredible alumni are just such terrific examples of the real impact each of you have on the lives of so many every single day at Georgia’s public medical school. So, our hats go off to you as well for stepping up always.

A Resounding Commitment to the Next Generation…

And speaking of our awesome alums. The late Dr. Lamar Peacock, like so many, was an extremely accomplished professional and individual. Right after college, this Albany, Ga., native contracted a severe case of polio, an experience that, rather than getting him down, inspired him to become a physician. He chose MCG as his medical school, trained in internal medicine under Dr. Virgil P. Sydenstricker (sound familiar!), and completed an allergy/immunology fellowship at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. This Atlanta physician’s accomplishments include serving as President of the Southeastern Allergy Association and the American College of Allergy and Immunology. He served on the Georgia State Board of Health, expanded residency training at the former Georgia Baptist Hospital, and was super active in our Alumni Association, including terms as President of the Alumni Association and our MCG Foundation. You get the idea. Well he and his wife, Jane, more than a half dozen years back also established an endowment to ensure that our residents in the Department of Medicine always had a great facility to meet, to learn, and to teach. What a great legacy. Well, the Dr. Lamar B. and Jane B. Peacock Medicine Library on the fifth floor of our hospital has been a busy place ever since. Mrs. Peacock honored us with a visit this week to check out the latest updates, which included a large sideboard table to ensure there is plenty of room for food for the body as well as the brain. Great idea and a great pair of individuals. We so appreciate Mrs. Peacock taking her time to come see us. Please come back!

The Reality is They All Require Resources…

We have been thinking recently about philanthropy and it struck us how, while greatness is not for sale, it really does have a price, in addition to just plain hard work and smarts. While we are very fortunate to have the support of the state of Georgia – along with the grant and clinical resources generated by your considerable efforts – we so definitely need many, many other resources to ensure that each of you have what you need to educate, to learn, to discover, and to serve. The great news is that the way you go about all of the above, should surely inspire such support.

Passion and Purpose…

Others need our help as well and here’s an awesome example. You know we have been taking terrific care of sickle cell patients at our institution for many years. That’s included making major advances in care, such as finding an easy way to identify which children with sickle cell disease are also at risk for stroke then finding that regular blood transfusions dramatically reduce that risk. As we speak, under the leadership of Dr. Abdullah Kutlar, Director of our Sickle Cell Center, we are searching for other important answers such as whether restoring the balance of a powerful blood vessel dilator and constrictor can help these patients also avoid kidney and lung damage as well as those classic pain crises. There is some seriously inspired work going on here. Well this fits right in. Monday we are having a “Back to School Special” to help young patients and their families get ready for the school year with folks like school guidance counselors and nurses on hand to give them information and answer questions. Terrific. Cara Bryan, social worker for pediatric hematology/oncology, tells us that, as an extra show of support and affection, this great group of care providers also is collecting things like book bags, folders, notebooks, paper, pens and pencils, that will also help these children get off to a terrific start in school. If you would like to help, as so many of you always do, please reach out to Ms. Bryan at 706-721-4929. In fact, our Class of 2016 already has! Our very own Nora Zeidan is helping coordinate the delightful drive for a dear cause. Once again, what a terrific show of support and honest-to-goodness character. Just inspiring.

Exploring Old Ideas… And Finding New Ones

An interesting report out this week from the Institute of Medicine on graduate medical education. It emanated from the request of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation for an independent review of how GME works and is financed. Certainly this 21-member panel made some interesting observations and served up some serious discussion material. The committee notes that government support for this phase of physician education is unparalleled in any other profession, with more than $15 billion in public tax dollars in 2012 alone, most coming from Medicare and Medicaid. Yet, as many of us in this business of educating the next generation know, there are significant problems such as the fact that we still do not have a mix of specialists that matches our nation’s needs. Other hard realities, which likely have been hashed out many times in the Peacock library, include a workforce that is geographically maldistributed and insufficiently diverse. Maldistribution also applies to which regions of the nation get how much federal funding, a formula based on how many residents a hospital had back in 1996, never mind what has happened to the population they serve since. They also made the terrific point that the funding that exists goes exclusively to hospitals even though so much of our health care these days is not in the hospital. The bottom line included phasing out the current Medicare payment system for one that is more modern, rewards performance, and demands accountability as it incentivizes innovation. They also would like to make some federal dollars available for new programs. We are so fortunate in our state that Gov. Deal and the University System of Georgia already have an initiative to add 400 new residency slots over the next many years at hospitals, like St. Mary’s Health Care System in Athens, which haven’t had programs before. St. Mary’s, in fact, should be operational by this time next year! Again, lots of food for thought in this new report that you can chew on here: http://bit.ly/1zDGgDc.

And Knowing How and When to Reach Out…

Finally today, as a terrific follow up to the NIM report, we share that Denise Kornegay, Executive Director of the Georgia Statewide Area Health Education Center, has a new job with our medical school. Already an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, she is now also our new and first Associate Dean for AHEC. AHEC and Georgia’s public medical school have some pretty serious common interests in ensuring that the right medical professionals are where they are needed in our vast and largely rural state. AHEC is one of the best cheerleaders for our medical school, and others across Georgia, in garnering the knowledge, talent and time of physicians to teach medical students and ensuring that students have essentials like housing when they are out and about learning. The even closer affiliation should help strengthen those and other important health initiatives for our state. Please join in congratulating Ms. Kornegay on her new position and thanking her and the entire AHEC team for their invaluable contributions. You may remember that just two weeks ago we shared that Georgia AHEC had received the prestigious 2014 Eugene S. Mayer Program of Excellence Award from the National AHEC Office. This is definitely the kind of company we want to keep!

Upcoming Events

Aug. 4 – MCG Alumni Association Freshman Brunch, 10:30 am, The Augusta Marriott.

Aug. 6 – First day of class for our freshmen!

Aug. 7 – MCG Alumni Association Freshman Lunch for the Athens campus, UGA Russell Hall, noon.

Aug. 15 – Freshman Convocation for undergraduates, all day at the Summerville Campus

Aug. 28 – MCG Alumni Association, Athens Regional Reception, 6 pm, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Ellison.

Sept. 6 – Please mark your calendars for the university’s Day of Service to the community.

Sept. 6 – MCG Foundation 60th Anniversary Celebration in conjunction with the Alumni Association’s Augusta Regional Reception, 6 pm, Augusta Marriott.

Sept. 7 – MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, 9:30 am, GRU Health Sciences Campus.

Sept. 22 – Presidential Lecture Series, noon, Lee Auditorium. Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, former University of Toledo President, led a vigorous process of growth and transformation to establish a new vision, a new identity and a new level of educational quality and excellence at the university. For more info visit gru.edu/president/lectureseries

Oct. 7 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Savannah, 6 pm, Savannah Golf Club.

Oct. 11 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 pm, Bell Auditorium.

Oct. 16 – Opening of the J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons! More details to come.

Feb. 24 – MCG Alumni Association Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, Board Meeting and Regional Event, starting at 2:30 pm, Idle Hour Country Club, Macon.

March 5 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception, 6 pm, Northeast History Museum, Gainesville.

April 17 – Raft Debate, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, 6 pm, Lee Auditorium.

April 23-26 – Alumni Weekend.

May 4 – MCG Graduation Dinner, 6:30 pm, location to be determined.

May 7 – Hooding Ceremony, 2 pm, Bell Auditorium.

May 8 – Graduation, 2 pm, Civic Center.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

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