“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The loss is horrific…
With the horrific loss of life in our country this past weekend, we shake our heads as we send our support and hope to the many families devastated by tragedy. Part of what is uplifting here is that, even in situations such as this, so many individuals in this great nation once again reached out to help others, often as their own lives were also on the line. And, like you, the health care professionals of Orlando stood ready to give those who lived through the mass shooting their optimal chance to survive. Just a few blocks away was the Orlando Regional Medical Center, an academic affiliate hospital for three Florida medical schools and the area’s level 1 trauma center, where the majority of the injured were taken. But hospitals and health care providers, including residents, throughout the area rose to this too-real occasion. At this time of great sorrow, we want to send our utmost thanks to our colleagues at Orlando Regional Medical Center and throughout Orlando for their remarkable commitment and skill. We want to take a moment as well to thank the men and women right here who provide 24-7 support to our level 1 trauma center. There’s no doubt that when things are at their worst, academic medicine is at its best. Please see this compelling piece in the New York Times.

The response, inspirational…
We’ve talked about the disaster preparedness courses folks like our Dr. Richard Schwartz helped develop to ensure optimal handling of these types of horrific scenarios where chaos can easily reign. Please also know that our Dr. Gina Piazza, another seasoned expert in tactical and disaster medicine, is co-chairing the American College of Emergency Physicians High Threat Emergency Casualty Task Force to enable still better understanding, tracking and responding to mass-casualty situations such as the one in Orlando. Some of the important work of this group includes ensuring that critical lessons are learned from each tragedy; developing a method to collect solid data on the kinds of wounds that occur and causes of death in these situations; and continuing efforts to ensure that all responders, from our firefighters to police and paramedics, provide their experience and input to ensure best practices by all. We cannot thank Dr. Piazza, medical director of emergency medicine at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center; Dr. Schwartz; and our entire Department of Emergency Medicine enough for making such tremendous national contributions when the stakes are so high.

The results, powerful…
Speaking of being on ready, we talked earlier this year about our many relationships with Fort Gordon and Eisenhower Army Medical Center. We shared then that one of those remarkable relationships is helping educate the next generation of emergency medicine physicians. That, in fact, six of the 13 residents we have in each of the three years of emergency medicine training are active duty Army colleagues. Well it seems fitting to share at this time that just this past Friday, six new emergency physicians celebrated the completion of their training and headed to military hospitals across our nation. They include Drs. Michelle L. Bailey, Jason T. Barter, Stephanie A. Couch, Jennifer A. Guyant, Daniel H. Reed and Michael A. Samuels. All also are captains in the U.S. Army. This, no doubt, is another one of those moments that makes us so very proud. So does this. Our 2013 graduate, Dr. Zorana Mrsic, also a captain, finished up her training at Eisenhower as the Outstanding Graduating Resident in Internal Medicine. She is going to a cardiology fellowship at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. We salute you all for your service to our country and to medicine.

The individuals, inspiring…
The Summer Olympics may still be a few weeks away but some of our amazing alums are already getting gold medals. We just talked about our residents and alums capturing great honors at the American College of Radiology meeting. Well, the Georgia Radiological Society, our state chapter of that fine national group, just honored two more of our amazing graduates with their top honor. Dr. James Tallman is a diagnostic radiologist in marvelous Marietta who has been in practice more than 40 years. He is a 1972 graduate who did his training at Emory University School of Medicine and also served as a U.S. Navy physician. Did we mention he is a lifetime member of our Alumni Association and past President of the Cobb County Medical Society?

By any definition
Our Dr. Dan Hanks, a 1965 graduate, who did his training at the Medical College of Virginia and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, then came back this way for his diagnostic radiology and neuroradiology training, was the other honoree. Dr. Hanks is retired now but had an amazing career, serving as a major in the U.S. Medical Corps, serving on our faculty for a time, being chief of radiology services at our Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and then – we are tired from just hearing about all this never mind doing it – he joined the Rome Radiology Group. He too is a lifetime member of our Alumni Association – in fact he is a past President – and a true leader in our MCG Foundation as well for better than a quarter of a century, including a term as chair of the board. We salute these two fine graduates as well on yet another honor and thank them again for their service to medicine, to MCG and to our country. By the by, our Dr. James Rawson is president of this state radiology group and Dr. Hanks is a past president.

The future, full of promise…
Did you know we also are home to two of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce and Augusta Magazine’s to 10 young professionals to watch? No doubt! We’ve talked a fair amount recently about the terrific Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home just across 15th Street from our hospital. Well one key thing that makes it great is the clear commitment employees have to our veterans. That truly defines Carlton L. Deese, associate director. This terrific young man is accomplished by many definitions. He is an active volunteer in our community as he has been in many locales. Here he volunteers at our university, United Way, the American Heart Association and for several veterans’ service organizations in addition to Georgia War where he already works long and hard. He played baseball while a student at Coker College, completed preceptorships in finance and administration, and has a master’s in health care administration from our colleagues at Medical University of South Carolina. He appears to already be a natural and humble leader. Terrific. Also on this list is Dr. Nicholas Madden, an honors graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. He’s already a pediatrician and is now in our radiation oncology residency. This determined young physician wants to specialize in pediatric radiation oncology and treat brain tumors in both children and adults and, of course, he wants to move knowledge and care ever forward. His colleagues say he will no doubt reach the top of his highly specialized field. We say, we wish him great success in such important endeavors. Our congratulations to you both.

Anchored by hard work and determination…
Determined also describes our Dr. Zheng Dong. Like many top colleagues here, Dr. Dong, a Regents’ professor in our Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy who also is a senior career research scientist at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, absolutely wants to protect our hard-working kidneys. He is one of those individuals who is an amazing amalgam of calm and passion. And, Dr. Dong’s many, significant accomplishments include recently securing another $1.5 million National Institutes of Health grant to try and find a way to protect the kidneys from the effective chemotherapy drug, cisplatin. Because, while the drug is good at battling cancer, in about 25 percent of patients, kidney damage, even kidney failure, can be a casualty of the fight. We appreciate the dogged persistence of scientists like our Dr. Dong who work tirelessly to ensure a better life for us all. You all truly are an amazing group of scientists, health care providers, educators, future physicians and scientists, staff and individuals. Learn more at here and here.

Upcoming Events

Aug. 12 – New date for the State of the College address, noon, Lee Auditorium!

Nov. 4 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 5 – White Coat Ceremony, Bell Auditorium, 3 p.m.; reception to follow at the Old Medical College building.

Sept. 1 – MCG Alumni Association Athens Regional Reception, home of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Ellison, 6 p.m.

Sept. 17 – Alumni Association 125th Anniversary Celebration, Marriott Augusta, 6 p.m. cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner.

Sept. 24 – Augusta University Day of Service

Oct. 6 – Alumni Association, Albany Regional Reception, Doublegate Country Club, 6 p.m.

Oct. 13 – Alumni Association Savannah Regional Reception, Savannah Golf Club, 6 p.m.

Oct. 25 – Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception. Coosa Country Club, 6 p.m.

Have a warm and wonderful weekend.

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