Alone we can do so little

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
Helen Keller

A Terrific Team … Helping Women

Let’s start today with a great example of the impact and innovation of our faculty and staff! We told you a while back that Dr. Lara Stepleman had gotten a $1.6 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for a community program to help stop the spread of HIV. It will work a couple of ways, but the focus is African-American women who are also are struggling with substance abuse. Bottom line, Dr. Stepleman and her incredible team want to help reduce these women’s risk of getting and spreading HIV. Check out the terrific piece WJBF-TV News Anchor Jennie Montgomery’s did this week on this important program for our community: You can also read more here: This is really a remarkable initiative rightly named SHE PREVAILS. Our many thanks to the incredible line up of individuals, making this happen including Treatment Navigators Kena Arnold and Elizabeth Brown; HIV Peer Educator Kathleen Childs; Risk Reduction Services Coordinator Walidah Walker; Director of Trauma Services Amy House; Medical Director Cheryl Newman; Postdoctoral Fellows Lauren Penwell-Waines and Abbey Valvano; and Program Evaluator Kristina Kintziger. With that kind of line up, she will prevail!

Tackling More Tough Patient Problems… with Finesse

Here’s another tough issue we are tackling head on. We all think we know at least something about Parkinson’s disease, the terrible tremors and physical instability, that can result as the disease takes a toll on the dopamine-producing neurons in our brain. What most of us may not realize is that the disease also takes a toll on the nerve cells in our gut, which means constipation can be another problem these patients must face. Our Dr. John Morgan is leading a study here that is also taking place at about a dozen other centers across the nation, exploring a new drug that appears to improve gut motility in a non-dopamine related way so maybe it can help these patients who also struggle with constipation. We say: here’s hoping. And we also thank Dr. Morgan and his great team for taking such awesome care of patients. Did you know we follow about 700 patients with Parkinson’s ranging in age from their 20s to their 90s? Did you know we are a National Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence?? We also are part of the national Parkinson’s Study Group so we can offer our patients a lot of potential new therapies, like this one, for better managing different aspects of this difficult disease. Terrific.

Finessing Patient Care … with Innovation

Since we already are talking science, we wanted to also share that our own Dr. David Terris’ development of a no-neck scar approach for some patients who need their thyroid removed was recently featured in The Baltimore Sun. You see John Hopkins head and neck surgeon, Dr. Jeremy D. Richmon, is now using the technique he learned from Dr. Terris. This is another terrific example of the impact and innovative spirit of our faculty. You can check the story out here:,0,3495289.story.

The Grades Are In … and They Aren’t So Hot

So this isn’t good news but it is news that probably also needs sharing. Our nation got a D+ for its emergency care environment in a recent report by the American College of Emergency Physicians. Please note that is down from the 2009 grade of C-. Access to emergency care got the worst score, a D-, but there were just Cs for other important indicators like quality and patient safety environment, disaster preparedness, and public health injury and prevention. While our state did not rank among the bottom five, at least not consistently, it also got an overall D+. Our state’s highest grade, a B-, was in medical liability environment. And, by the way, access to care was 30 percent of the grade. We could go on, but you get the picture. Clearly much work needs to be done on this critical issue, which, as the report rightly summarizes, is caught in the common quagmire of realities like shrinking capacity in the face of increasing demand. The good news here is that our incredible Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalist Services is making needed inroads, including working with their colleagues across the country to formulate and teach a series of courses now used round the world to improve the management of manmade and natural disasters, adding an Emergency Medical Services fellowship this summer to better educate emergency physicians on prehospital care, and expanding our emergency medicine residency program, which is already sizeable with 36 residents, to 39 residents this summer as well. With access to mental health services a particular concern in Georgia, several years ago we added a behavioral medicine unit in our ER to give these patients some respite from the usual vibe of the ER and to enable rapid transport to our partners at East Central Regional Hospital when needed. Of course, our ongoing strategies to help our state educate more physicians will help with the clear shortage of physicians across most specialties. So, all in all, while this is mostly not good to hear, it is very good that so many are working to make this better. If you can take it… learn more here, or check out Tom Corwin’s recent article,

But these Rankings … Do Look Pretty Good

So this is a timely reminder of what we are talking about! In terms of first-year enrollment, our medical school ranked 8th out of 137 medical schools, 6th for all public medical schools, in 2013, up from 9th and 7th, respectively, in 2012, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ just updated Medical School Profile System report. For total enrollment, we moved up one spot, to 13th , for all medical schools over that same time period and kept the ranking of 11th for public medical schools. Pretty good stuff!

The Right Stuff … to be Awesome Alumni

And here’s more. We had a couple of great recent outings across our fair state. Dr. and Mrs. George McCluskey opened their beautiful home for a glorious alumni gathering in Columbus late last week. Our Alumni Association President, Sam Richwine, was there of course giving his unsurpassed snippets on the incredible work of the alumni association to engage our graduates and support our students with important programs and events like the Raft Debate and Freshman Brunch. Dr. Richwine, who will be stepping down from his year as president at the end of April, is such an incredible advocate for our students and his school and we are so fortunate to have the likes of him, Dr. McCluskey and so many more. Speaking of which, Dr. Cecil Whitaker, who has an enduringly huge leadership role with our alumni in Columbus, was given a beautifully blue MCG plate as a symbol of his incredible advocacy role for his alma mater and his state’s public medical school. And speaking of support, earlier this week, we had the distinct honor of attending the Dougherty Rotary Club in lovely and incredibly supportive, Albany. There was a great crowd there as well, and per Albany usual, lots of incredible support for our medical school. Did you know our very first clinical campus was established in Albany back in 2005. Talk about some diligent and awesome partners. We then had the distinct honor of vising our alums in Sylvester, Valdosta and Macon as well as Albany. Talk about statewide support. Just truly inspirational. Wish you all could have been there.

Discover What’s Next … Telling our Story

In the ongoing work to tell our story, the university has teamed up with Augusta’s WJBF and WAGT TV on a media campaign that will run through September and focus on important stuff like health and wellness, innovative academics, athletics, our children’s hospital, and community work and so much more. The total package will include infomercials, web and social media messages and special events. Dave Brond says it will help raise awareness about the important contributions each of you make each day to education, to health care, and to our community as well as the huge economic impact our institution has on the community. We say, that is a terrific idea. We are delighted that our medical school was featured in the very first infomercial which started airing last week. Please check it out here, We look forward to seeing ‘what’s next’ and thank Mr. Brond and his communications team for their leadership!

Another Great Seat at the Table… Thanks to a Professor Emeritus

We sign off today by sharing more heartening news!! We are so pleased that the Glen E. Garrison MD Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine has been established at our medical school. Dr. Garrison, a Professor Emeritus of our school who continues to take care of patients at the VA, has served MCG in so many different capacities in his years here, including 21 years as Director of Continuing Education and Continuing Medical Education, Chair of the former Department of Community Medicine from 1966-73, and as Professor of medicine (cardiology) and family medicine from 1973, until his retirement in 2000 when he was named a Clinical Professor. His endowment of this chair will enable us to recruit a strong physician-scientist with expertise in heart failure, which will contribute incredibly to Dr. Garrison’s fine legacy and to MCG’s. We thank him for his service now and then and for his commitment to healthier hearts. A national search will be launched for this endowed chair position and we will definitely keep you posted.


Jan. 28 – President Ricardo Azziz’s State of the Georgia Regents University & Health System Enterprise Address, Maxwell Performing Arts Theater, noon, Summerville Campus. A live webcast will be offered at the Health Sciences Building in EC-1222. A limited number of boxed lunches will be available after the talk.

Feb. 1 – Move date to an electronic system, TimeNet, for real-time tracking of leave balances as well as some changes to the Outside Professional Activities policy, see

Feb. 3 – University Faculty Senate Meeting and Assembly, meeting, 5:30-6 p.m. and assembly, 6-7:30 p.m., Jaguar Student Activity Center Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

Feb. 8 – GRU’s annual Military Appreciation Day will take place as the GRU Jaguars take on the Young Harris Mountain Lions in women’s and men’s basketball. Hundreds of soldiers will be in attendance from Fort Gordon as well as the 2014 recruits. Fans are encouraged to get to the arena at 1:00 p.m., prior to the women’s tipoff, to welcome and honor the soldiers as they enter Christenberry Fieldhouse in a “Ring of Honor”. The women’s halftime will feature a performance from local drill teams and the men’s halftime will include an induction ceremony for the new recruits along with the reading of the soldier’s creed. Both games are free to veterans and active duty personnel and family members, who present their military ID, veteran card, or DD-214 form.
Feb. 13 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.
Feb. 14 – A night of fun and Latin Dancing in support of the MCG student run Clinica Latina, a local clinic providing free primary health care services to uninsured patients in the community. The event begins at 7 p.m. at Surreal at Surrey in Surrey Center. Student tickets are $10, regular tickets, $15 per person, $25 per couple. A free salsa lesson is provided. More details coming soon.
Feb. 22 – Igniting the Dream, a one-day conference for high school or college undergraduates interested in a career in medicine., see

Feb. 27 –EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, Using Mobile, Video Analysis Technology to Record and Evaluate Student Interviews: A Pilot Study, Dr. Marlene Rosenkoetter, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing, and Dr. Deborah Smith, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., EC 1210.
March 6 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting and Awards Ceremony, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.
March 7 – EII Health Science Education Grand Rounds, Passing on the Fundamentals of Patient Care to a Tech-Saturated Generation of Learners, Dr. John Richard Pittman Jr., Visiting Professor, Emory University, 8-9 a.m., BT 1810.
March 13 – GRU University Senate Spring Assembly and Faculty Awards, 5-7:30 p.m., Alumni Center, Health Sciences Campus, Ballrooms A, B and C.
March 21 – Match Day, noon, Lee Auditorium. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

April 3-4 – Composite Sate Board for Medical Educational quarterly board meeting will be held on the Southeast Campus, Savannah.
April 17 – EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, Teaching Laparoscopic Skills through Validated Measures, Dr. Kelli Braun, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, noon-1 p.m., HB 4010.
April 18 – MCG Alumni Association Raft Debate, 5-7 p.m., location to be determined.
April 24-27 – The 2014 Alumni Weekend including the MCG Class Reunions & Alumni Banquet.

May 1 – Annual State of the Medical College of Georgia Address, noon, Lee Auditorium.
May 8 – Hooding Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, with Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, President of the Association of American Medical Colleges, as guest speaker. Reception follows at the Old Medical College Building.
May 9 – GRU Graduation, James Brown Arena.
June 12 – Investiture Ceremony, 5-6:30 p.m., location to be determined.
Ongoing – The GRU Cancer Center is offering a two-step tobacco cessation service for all Georgia Regents University & Health System students and employees who need help quitting tobacco use. Step 1: Initial Visit and Health Assessment. Make an appointment by calling 706-721-6744 or on-line at (click on “Request Appointment”). Step 2: Tobacco Cessation Classes, one-hour group sessions for six weeks, provide tools and support to help you quit tobacco. Cessation classes are held on the Summerville and Health Sciences campuses. For more information, visit

Check out our MCG Facebook page at and Twitter page as well.

It’s supposed to warm a bit this weekend, so get out and enjoy!