Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Family Medicine Center recognized again as a patient-centered medical home
Back in 2010, our Family Medicine Center became the first academic health center-based practice in our state to be recognized as a patient-centered medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. I am happy to share the center just got its fourth recognition. The idea of pursuing this rather rigorous review is to help ensure we are providing consistently great care to patients — and a great education/experience for students and residents — which means looking out for patients’ individual and changing needs often over a lifetime. This can be quite a span for primary care doctors who are a patient’s frontline eyes, ears and advocates as they work collaboratively to both prevent and/or manage a wide variety of conditions, a list that tends to get longer as life gets longer.  As with everything we do, seeking this recognition then living by those standards, takes a village.

Primary care is an increasingly important frontline at MCG
This family friendly village includes Dr. Carla Duffie, the center’s nurse manager; Patrick Hatch, the department’s IT Manager; Lauren Williams, director of Population Health for AU Health System; Dr. Janis Coffin, a department faculty member and chief transformation officer for AU Health; Dr. Bruce LeClair, the center’s medical director; and Wendy Widener, project specialist for the center. Of course the village mayor is family medicine chair (and 1974 MCG graduate) Dr. Joseph Hobbs. Thank you and congratulations again on looking out for patients. Great primary care will be an increasingly important frontline for all of MCG as we expand our emphasis on providing more primary care physicians for Georgia with initiatives like the 3 + Primary Care Pathway. In keeping with our state’s needs, we’ll be adding two more family medicine residents per year starting this July. Right now we technically have 10 residents per year, although actual counting may give you a dozen. That’s because we have a collaborative rural family medicine training program with Memorial Satilla Health in Waycross, so we take the two residents they have per year for their first year of training, which is a great opportunity for all parties. Please note that the residency program in Waycross was a direct result of that community’s need for physicians.

USDA grant enables “tele-EDs” in rural Georgia
Here’s a different way we are reaching out across our expansive state. Our Department of Emergency Medicine has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help equip five rural Georgia hospital emergency rooms with carts and connections that will help us help the hospitals and doctors there take care of patients. Just like that village, this relationship is about partnership with our great emergency physicians and Wills Memorial Hospital in Washington, Georgia (the first consult therehappened just this week); Emanuel Medical Center in Swainsboro; Washington County Regional Medical Center in Sandersville; Miller County Hospital in Colquitt; and Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele. These “tele-EDs” will be staffed 24 hours a day by our docs. Many of you know I am a huge advocate of MCG reaching out in every way we can to serve our state. I believe it is central to our purpose, and also our privilege. And you also may know I am a big fan of using technology to make thishappen. I want to thank the physicians and hospitals for letting us make this great connection and emergency medicine chair Dr. Richard Schwartz and vice chair Dr. Matt Lyon (another MCG graduate) for their insight and tenacity. Great stuff.

Anesthesiology department, Simulation Center first in Georgia to offer MOCA Here’s
another way we are reaching out, this time across the nation. Our Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine along with the super lifelike Interdisciplinary Simulation Center, have been approved as a Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology, or MOCA, site by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Simulation Education Network. MOCA certification is required every 10 years for anesthesiologists and there are only about 50 certified simulation centers in the country for all of them. I am happy to add that we are the first in Georgia. I want to thank Dr. Vikas Kumar, associate director for our anesthesiology critical care medicine fellowship and director of simulation for medical students and residents in the department, for thinking that MCG should be doing this and for helping make it happen. I thank as well Dr. Matthew Tews, our associate dean for educational simulation and director of the university’s medical simulation program, for helping keep it real.

Second-year students Brittany Gill, Brock Parman present at national meeting
Here’s another. This weekend second-year students Brittany Gill and Brock Parman are giving presentations at the Triological Society, aka the American Laryngological, Rhinological and OtologicalSociety, Inc., Combined Sections Meeting in Coronado, California. Brittany and Brock both worked with Dr. Chadi Makary, a rhinology, sinus and skull base surgery fellow, this past summer as part of our Medical Scholars Program. In keeping with MCG’s great tradition of passing on knowledge and enthusiasm, Dr. Makary is a fellow of otolaryngology chair Dr. Stil Kountakis. Brittany looked at patients with autoimmune disorders who also had sinonasal symptoms, like serious nasal congestion, seen in our clinic, and compared those without autoimmune disease but with similar sinonasal problems, and found those with autoimmune disease had worse symptoms and evidence of disease like nasal obstructions and nosebleeds.

Rhinology, sinus and skull base surgery fellow Dr. Chadi Makary was a mentor for both 
Brock looked at patients with the common sinus infection allergic fungal rhinosinusitis, which can make you pretty sick with symptoms like fever, even facial pain, numbness or swelling. He wanted to look at variants in the structure of patients’ nasal and sinus passages and how that might impact their infection risk. Brock found the infection more common on the side with an anatomical variant and it was particularly associated with the variant concha bullosa. This is when shell-shaped bony structures inside your nose get air trapped inside, which, as you can imagine, can keep your sinuses from draining well. Like any good investigator, Brock says more study is needed. My thanks to Brittany and Brock and to so many of our students for taking this extra, early leap to not just learn but to find. Great job per usual by our Department of Otolaryngology.

Dr. Daron Ferris first American honored with Penn Nursing award for global women’s health
Of course, there really are no boundaries to the impact of you and MCG. This week it was announced that Dr. Daron Ferris, who came to us in 1988 as director of the Student Health Service, quickly became coordinator of the colposcopy clinic in family medicine and is now a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is being honored for his contributions to global women’s health. He will be honored April 23 as the first American to win the Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, since the award was established in 2012. Dr. Ferris was an early leader in trials of the HPV vaccines to protect women by preventing cervical cancer in this country. Peru has one of the world’s highest rates of cervical cancer, and in 2008 Ferris founded CerviCusco to help meet the clearly unmet screening, diagnosis and treatment needs of these women. “His innovative approach to establishing health care access for underserved women, establishing international partnerships with nurses and other interdisciplinary colleagues, and building community capacity to improve the lives of women make him — and CerviCusco — exemplary recipients of the Penn Renfield Foundation Award winner,” says Penn Nursing Dean Dr. Antonia Villarruel. I say, I agree. Thank you Dr. Ferris. 

Cardiovascular research fund for students established to honor Dr. Ranita Donald
Finally today, we belatedly note the unexpected passing of Dr. Ranita Donald, a 20-year faculty member in our Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, on December 24. Dr. Donald was a dedicated, prolific educator who directed the anesthesia clerkship program for more than a dozen years, a longtime member of the department’s Education Committee and director of its Journal Club. She was a mentor to many students and residents, helped with resident selection for our training program and with mock oral board exams to help ensure they were ready to practice. She was also a prolific volunteer, most recently with Habitat for Humanity International, the National Wildlife Federation and Augusta chapters of the American Red Cross and Asian Indian Christian Mission. The department held a memorial service for her earlier this month and to honor her further has established a fund that will enable medical students to present their cardiovascular research locally, regionally and beyond. You can help by visiting the MCG Foundation. Our thoughts are with Dr. Donald’s family, friends and colleagues.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 13 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

March 19 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

March 20 – Match Day, noon, The Miller Theater, 708 Broad St.

April 17 – The Raft Debate, the annual fun, educational deliberation of which type of doctor should get the only raft on a sinking ship, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, 6:30 p.m., Harrison Commons.

April 29 – MCG Faculty Senate Awards, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

May 7 – Hooding, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium. Reception follows in the Old Medical College building on Telfair Street. 

May 8 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena

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