Thursday, January 18, 2018

'I Can Power Walk Again!'

Pat Buffa Patient Testimonial from USA Health on Vimeo.

"I often start my day walking with my dog. Last year I began experiencing severe symptoms of acid reflux and indigestion, which left me unable to power walk.

I had an appointment with Dr. Richards, and he let me know that I had a paraesophageal hiatal hernia and scheduled me for surgery. My stomach was twisted, which is why I was unable to keep my food down. My condition could have turned out very badly had it not been remedied.

The care I received at USA was phenomenal. Dr. Richards and his entire staff were all fabulous. Now, I can eat anything I want to and I'm able to power walk again."

Pat Buffa
Pensacola Beach, FL

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Register Now: Quality Payment Program Education Session

USA Physicians Group invites you to a Quality Payment Program Education Session on Jan. 30, 2018, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Strada Patient Care Center. Physicians, residents and advanced practice providers are encouraged to register.

The goal of the event is to increase provider awareness and knowledge of the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS), Medicare access and CHIP reauthorization of 2015 (MACRA) and the transforming clinical practice initiative (TCPi). The session will focus on the effect MIPS, MACRA and TCPi has on outpatient reimbursement and address the question “How are we as a network positioning ourselves to do well?”

The session will feature Tina Whited, quality improvement advisor and performance manager for TCPi. The Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Medical Society of Mobile will feature a representative from Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors.

“With much of Medicare and nearly 50 percent of the largest commercial plans’ medical spending going to alternative payment models, not learning how to practice value-based care will lead to business failure and bankruptcy,” said Dr. Allen Perkins, professor and chair of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine. “All providers should take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to deliver better, more efficient patient-centered care.”

Hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer will be provided.

Click here to register or for more information, email Christina Clark at

Mark Your Calendar: Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative TCPi Education Session

The USA Physicians Group Quality Department invites you to attend educational sessions on the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPi).

The purpose of the sessions is to help clinics prepare for the transition to alternative payment models. All staff members – clinical and non-clinical – are encouraged to attend and bring a snack or lunch to the session they attend.  All sessions are the same material, but presented at different locations to increase staff accessibility.

The first session will be held on Jan. 31, 2018, from noon to 1 p.m. at the USA Medical Center board room. The second session will take place on Feb. 1, 2018, from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at the Strada Patient Care Center in the first floor conference room. The final session will take place on Feb. 1, 2018, from noon to 1 p.m. at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in the Atlantis Room.

The goal of this informational opportunity is to increase awareness/knowledge of and help clinics prepare for the transition to alternative payment models. The session will focus on The Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative and how it relates to MIPS/MACRAs effect on outpatient reimbursement ~ value instead of volume, and address the question "How are we as a network positioning ourselves to do well?"

For more information, email Christina Clark at

Dr. Franklin Trimm Named Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Assistant Vice President for Medical Affairs

Dr. R. Franklin Trimm recently was named associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and assistant vice president for medical affairs at USA Health.

“Diversity and inclusion at our academic medical center is one of our primary strengths. We are fortunate to have faculty, staff, students and patients who have diverse experiences, cultures and perspectives,” said Dr. John V. Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine. “USA Health realizes the importance of supporting an environment where diversity is embraced and celebrated. Dr. Trimm will play a critical role in incorporating these ideals into our daily practices as we strengthen our organization’s ability to succeed in our mission.”

According to Owen Bailey, chief executive officer and senior associate vice president for medical affairs at USA Health, this appointment follows a national search. “Dr. Trimm has extensive experience related to diversity and inclusion on a national level and has demonstrated success in bringing about organizational change. This, along with his recruitment experiences here, gives him a unique advantage to continue strengthening our institution.”

In his new role, Dr. Trimm will be responsible for the oversight of policies and programs related to diversity and inclusion for students, residents, research and clinical fellows, faculty and staff in USA Health and the USA College of Medicine.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Trimm served as professor and vice chair of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and a pediatric developmental and behavioral physician with USA Physicians Group. He also served as pediatric residency director for the USA College of Medicine.

According to Dr. Trimm, his overarching goal is to improve the diversity and culture of the organization to be inclusive of all groups. “To begin, we must conduct a detailed environmental scan of the entire health system,” he said. “Based on standard approaches, this process could take six to nine months.”

Dr. Trimm credits his previous experiences in medical education and national organizations for preparing him for this position. “Almost everything that I have had the opportunity to do throughout my career provided me with the information, experience and skills needed to perform in this position,” he said. “I have chosen to work in health systems that typically serve underserved communities, which tend to be underrepresented minorities and diverse populations. As residency program director, I also have had the opportunity to work with a very diverse group of people.”

Dr. Trimm also serves as president of the Association of Pediatric Program Directors (APPD), an organization that assists pediatric programs across the nation by leading the advancement of education to ensure the health and well-being of children. “I had the opportunity to be a founding leader of a group with the APPD that focuses on LGBTQ diversity,” he said. “The group focused on addressing ways to make sure those members of the community were understood in the medical education setting and ensuring that our future pediatricians are competent in serving LGBTQ families. I also support an additional group that focuses on underrepresented minorities, raising awareness of implicit biases.”

Dr. Trimm said USA Health has an opportunity to continue striving toward excellence, not just a good contributor in medicine. “Excellence on every front involves a diverse group of people being part of a team,” he said. “The higher the diversity, the greater chance we have of achieving excellence.”

Friday, January 12, 2018

USA Researchers Develop Experimental Model to Further Understand Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

USA researchers Dr. Jonathon Audia (right) and Dr. Diego Alvarez (left) work in a lab on Jan. 10, 2018. They recently developed a model of bacterial sepsis and pneumonia that can aid in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Researchers at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine are aiding in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria – an ever increasing issue of importance in public health.

Dr. Jonathon Audia, associate professor of microbiology, and Dr. Diego Alvarez, associate professor of physiology and cell biology, have developed a vertically integrated research program to study Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen recognized by the World Health Organization to be critically in need of new antimicrobial treatments due to current antibiotic resistance profiles.

“At USA, we have developed a clinically translatable, vertically integrated experimental model to further our understanding of Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia and sepsis,” Dr. Audia said. “Our work models infection and host stress responses at the levels of cells in culture, isolated lungs, and in infected rodents."

This comprehensive approach is one of the first of its kind. Drs. Alvarez and Audia have been researching the pathogen and studying its impact on lung biology and pathogenesis since 2010, publishing numerous scientific articles on the topic. Dr. Mark Gillespie, chair of pharmacology, and Dr. Troy Stevens, chair of physiology and cell biology and director of the USA Center for Lung Biology, are using the model for NIH-supported research in their labs at the USA College of Medicine.

The World Health Organization developed its global priority pathogens list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to help in prioritizing the research and development of new and effective antibiotic treatments – identifying the most important resistant bacteria at a global level for which there is an urgent need for new treatments. The pathogens were then grouped into three priority tiers: critical, high and medium. The pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa was listed in the critical tier.

A pseudomonas infection is hard to treat because the bacteria can resist many types of antibiotics, the medicines normally used to kill bacteria.

According to Dr. Jonathan Rayner, director of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the USA College of Medicine, there is a critical need for new drugs to be developed against pseudomonas. “There hasn’t been a new antibiotic on the market in approximately 30 years,” he said. “We have this very dire situation where we have bacterial strains that are resistant to most current antibiotic regimens.”

Dr. Alvarez said pneumonia and sepsis remain the most deadly diseases caused by infectious agents worldwide – resulting in 3.2 million deaths in 2015 and representing the third overall cause of mortality. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most common causes of hospital-acquired pneumonia and sepsis and is associated with high mortality and significant impairment in quality of life for those that survive.

“Experimental models such as ours are of critical need to understand the pathogenesis of the bacteria, and the response of the host to infection - both of which contribute to pathogenesis,” Dr. Audia said.

“We envision this model being extremely useful for testing of new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to combat Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and we are currently in the process of expanding the model to test other similar infections,” he added. “This experimental model could represent an important resource to outside organizations that have identified lead technologies that require further testing in order to move toward human clinical trials.”