Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Psychiatrists and mental health care are in short supply
Here’s some bad math. While the need for mental health care escalates, with record reports of opioid addiction and depression and suicide a top 10 killer, there is also a record shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health care professionals and the essential services they provide. 111 million of us are living in a mental health professional shortage area, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To me this makes what I share with you next all the more amazing.

Psychiatry resident Dr. Norah Essali leads establishment of a free mental health clinic
Dr. Norah Essali, psychiatry resident in the MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, went looking for a free mental health clinic where she could volunteer the precious little free time she has. That by itself is news worth sharing, but like so many of you Dr. Essali did not stop there. While she found some resources in our community, she didn’t find a mental health care focused free clinic so, unhappy with the reality that being uninsured or even underinsured means that many do not get mental health care, she decided to start one. The free mental health clinic will provide psychiatric evaluation and medication management.  It will be held the last Thursday of every month from 6-8 p.m. at the Psychiatry Department home, the Stoney Building, 997 St. Sebastian Way. The first clinic is next Thursday, April 25.

The first free mental health clinic is Thursday, April 25, from 6-8 p.m.
Like I see so often at MCG, Dr. Essali’s good thoughts quickly ignited a lot more help. People like Dr. William Salazar, who came to MCG 22 years ago and practices both internal medicine and psychiatry. Many years ago, Dr. Salazar helped our students found the free Clinica Latina and remains its medical director. He provided Dr. Essali valuable insight on this new mental health clinic. In fact, the new clinic will operate under the nonprofit organizational status of the Asociacion Latina de Servicios del CSRA, or ALAS, of which Dr. Salazar is president. Dr. Richard Camino, training director of our general psychiatry residency program, is the new clinic’s medical director. Six of our students are running the clinic. They include lead coordinator Emily Moore along with Shalini Vemuru, Marissa Balkcom, Fakhra Sultan, Sneha Sareddy and Sambit Panda.  Other psychiatry residents will be providing care and physician assistant and pharmacy students are already signing up. This is really great and it keeps getting better.

A musical event to help is set for 2 p.m., May 4
Dr. Peter Rosenquist, psychiatry vice chair, has also been a big supporter of this effort and now he is going to help put it to music. The blues harmonica and slide trombone aficionado will perform with The Blues for Yesterday band, under the leadership of AU music professor Carl Purdy, at a benefit concert 2 p.m., May 4 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, 3501 Walton Way Ext. Carl studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and teaches violin, chamber music and humanities at the Katherine Reese Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences here. His band is billed as an old time blues and jazz group that harkens back to its roots in New Orleans and Chicago. Dollars raised will help pay for the medications needed by patients at the new free clinic. In fact, Dr. Essali tells us that our students already are out there talking with pharmacies about a voucher system that will make this possible. I want to thank everyone involved with this needed project and encourage each of us to help how we can.

Alumni Weekend is April 25-28
Here’s another reason to celebrate. Next weekend, April 25-28 is Alumni Weekend. I would love for all of you to join us Friday, April 26, from 6-7 p.m. for the Dean’s Reception in the lobby of the J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons – named for our renowned 1948 graduate. This is a great time to meet some of our alums. I promise you, it is never disappointing. In fact, one of my favorite dean duties is attending alumni events across our state and beyond, where you can feel the impact of MCG by talking with our graduates. Of course some of those graduates you can talk to pretty often because we were lucky enough to recruit them back to us. Graduates like Dr. Renee Hilton.

Dr. Renee Hilton is Outstanding Young Alumnus
This 2011 graduate is a dynamo, a bundle of energy, knowledge and enthusiasm who is chief of our Section of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery and director of the Center for Obesity and Metabolism. This year she is also the MCG Alumni Association’s Outstanding Young Alumnus. We recruited Dr. Hilton back to her alma mater after she finished her minimally invasive and bariatric surgery fellowship at Yale. In just a few short years, she is already a leader in her field, working to find better treatments for obesity and advocating access to today’s care for all who need it. She is a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Georgia Chapter of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the State Access to Care Representative for Georgia for the society and a member of the national society’s Access to Care Committee. In fact, you will be reading more about her and her surgery partner and classmate Dr. Aaron Bolduc in the upcoming issue of MCG Medicinemagazine, which should be here by mid-June. Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Hilton.

Dr. Dan DeLoach is the Distinguished Alumnus for Loyalty
This year’s Distinguished Alumnus for Loyalty is the great Dr. Dan DeLoach, 1973 MCG graduate and recently retired plastic surgeon from Savannah. What an awesome individual and supporter of MCG and medicine. He is a longtime board member and former president of the Medical Association of Georgia who actually helped bring MCG and MAG, whose membership has a lot of MCG graduates, closer together. He is a longtime leader of our Alumni Association, including serving as president, and has been an active board member since 2003. He also has served as president of the MCG Foundation.  Governor Sonny Perdue appointed Dr. DeLoach to the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce and Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the Georgia Composite Board of Medical Examiners, where he is still a member. He helped establish our Southeast Campus and ensure its success. Words cannot thank you enough, Dr. DeLoach, but thank you.

The late Dr. Marion Jordan is the Distinguished Alumnus for Professional Achievement
Last October we told you about the tragic loss of Dr. Marion Jordan, 74, in a traffic accident in Maryland. The life and the death of this 1969 MCG graduate made many headlines and had tremendous impact. During Alumni Weekend, Dr. Jordan will be honored as the Distinguished Alumnus for Professional Achievement. He was the longtime medical director of The Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.  He and his team provided care to the survivors of the Sept. 11 plane crash into the Pentagon. Dr. Jordan was actively involved in the American Burn Association, the International Association of Firefighters and the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation. In fact, he served as president of the American Burn Association in 2003 and received the Association’s Harvey Stuart Allen Distinguished Service Award five years later. I wanted to repeat this because it demonstrates his impact: At his death, the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation posted on Facebook, “His loss will be felt by firefighters, burn teams and burn survivors around the country.” We thank Dr. Jordan again for his service to all.

Raft Debate starts tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Looks like next weekend will be another great one for MCG and this one won’t be too shabby either. If you have never been to the MCG Raft Debate, please check it out tonight at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at the Harrison Commons. This is the 17th annual debate sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association and it is way better than anybody’s reality television. In fact, it can be hysterical. The premise is three different specialists go head to head on who is most valuable to save when there is only room for one on a life raft.  This year Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Pamela Tipler, Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Daniel Kaminstein and our 2019 Outstanding Young Alumnus Dr. Hilton will wrangle. You know you want to see and hear this. Dr. David Kozlowski, from the Department of Neuroscience, will help stir the pot and the calm, collected associate dean of the Southwest Campus, Dr. Doug Patten will moderate. I promise you will start the weekend with laughter if you go. I thank the MCG Alumni Association for their support always and definitely for the next two weekends.


Upcoming Events

Today – The annual MCG Raft Debate, 6:30 p.m. J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association

April 25 – MCG Faculty Awards Ceremony, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

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

May 1 – State of the University, President Brooks A. Keel, Noon, Lee Auditorium

May 9 – Hooding ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium. The guest speaker is Dr. Leah Brown, orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and treatment of the knee, shoulder and elbow. She was an NCAA All American and two-time NCAA National Gymnastics Champion while a student at the University of Georgia. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and served for two years as battalion surgeon at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego. She was a Medical Aid Station Director during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Orthopaedic Surgery Department Head during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and has received the Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal.  Reception will follow at the Old Medical College.

May 10 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

May 10-11Paceline bike riding event to benefit the Georgia Cancer Center. You can choose various routes and ride 20, 45 or 100 miles and raise $750, $1,000 or $1,500, respectively, to help us fight cancer.

May 24 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

May 30-June 1MCG Statewide Faculty Development Conference, Teaching Tomorrow’s Physicians Today: MCG’s Mission for Georgia, Jekyll Island Convention Center.

June 21 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

Oct. 19 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

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