Friday, March 4, 2016

New USA Physicians Group Building Named

The University of South Alabama Board of Trustees announced today that the new USA Physicians Group clinical office building now under construction will be named in honor of Dr. Samuel J. Strada, dean of the USA College of Medicine, and his late wife, Judy.

Located across from USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the Judith Susan and Samuel Joseph Strada Patient Care Center will open this summer and contain 153 patient exam rooms, 16 nurses stations and seven educational conference rooms.  A large portion of the USA Physicians Group practice including general pediatrics, pediatric subspecialties, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopaedics and orthopaedic rehabilitation, neurosciences and ancillary care will move from their current locations to the new building.

“We recognize both Dr. Strada and Judy for their collective, indelible impact on the advancement of medicine, as well as their generosity to their community,” said USA President Dr. Tony G. Waldrop. “Their names will be placed on this building as a lasting honor, recognizing their contributions to the mission of USA and their efforts to help those in our community. Both Judy and Sam have served as examples for others through their deep commitment to family and their firm belief in the transformative experience of education.”

"I am extremely humbled and honored by the decision taken today by members of the Board of Trustees," Dr. Strada said. "I am especially pleased that you have also chosen to honor my beloved wife, Judy, by recognizing her and by acknowledging the many contributions she made to family, friends and the community throughout her life. Wonderful things will occur in this building. And, what will occur there will always be special to us, just as USA and many of you have been so special to me during the past 33 years."

Dr. Strada is recognized as a successful dean, leader in academic medicine, professor, researcher, keynote speaker and active member in the community. He has made significant contributions to patient care through medical education in the state of Alabama and nation.

Dr. Strada joined USA as professor and chair of pharmacology in 1983 and has provided leadership in the USA College of Medicine for the past 33 years, including 12 years as senior associate dean and more than 10 years as dean. During his tenure at USA, Dr. Strada has also served as acting director of the graduate program in basic medical sciences, assistant dean for admissions, acting chair of psychiatry, and was faculty athletics representative from 1990-97.

Judy Strada, the late wife of Dr. Strada, passed away in December of 2014. She lived in Mobile and played an active role in service to her community, her church, and both primary and secondary education as a volunteer. Judy served as a model of excellence for others through her love of family and community and demonstrated great strength and courage in all aspects of her life, providing hope and encouragement to those who knew her.

The new 133,000-square-foot building will provide an expansion of clinical space for the physicians’ practice and will offer patients additional conveniences. In addition to many of the clinics in the Physicians Group practice, the space will contain a new breast and mammography center as well as clinical space for related oncology care provided by faculty and staff from the Mitchell Cancer Institute. Unique design features that are planned for the new building include large windows with a visual connection to the Geri Moulton Children’s Park and interior and exterior designs that are similar to other buildings on the campus.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

USA Health System Launches New Website Design

The University of South Alabama Health System recently optimized its website for mobile devices and improved the site's navigation and appearance.  The site,, which provides information for patients, clinicians, researchers, employees and students, re-launched Feb. 11, 2016.

Bernell Dorrough, assistant director of web marketing for USA College of Medicine and USA Physician’s Group, said the website re-design project started in June 2015. The change in design was prompted by the need for responsiveness, easier navigation and a more modern appearance.

The largest change was making the new website responsive.  Now, the website will automatically adjust to fit any device, a feature the previous website design lacked. Whether someone accesses the site from a desktop computer, tablet or a smartphone, the new site adjusts to fit the size of the screen.

"Google announced last year that it receives more search queries in the United States on mobile devices than on PCs. The company also began giving better search rankings to pages that are optimized for mobile devices,” Dorrough explained. “On the USA Health System's website year-to-date, more than 40 percent of our visitors were using smartphones or tablets."

In addition to responsiveness, the site is now easier to navigate. The previous website design had several points of navigation-- top, left side and sometimes even on the right side of the page. The new site provides a more intuitive design by removing the right-hand navigation bar on all pages and displaying fewer tabs on the navigation bars.

Dorrough said virtually every element of the design was updated including fonts, colors and graphical elements. The goal was to create a more visually appealing and professional site that would make a great first impression on the user. “Designing a website for a health system can be challenging because it caters to a multitude of audiences,” Dorrough said. “The main focus for the new design was to visually reflect the excellence in education, patient care and research.”

The new, user-friendly website design is built on the content of the old site. It incorporates USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, USA College of Medicine, USA Medical Center, USA Physicians Group and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Dorrough maintains the site as a whole and manages the top-level pages. The majority of the pages on the site are updated by page editors from individual departments. Dorrough will be leading training sessions for the page editors in the coming weeks. During the sessions, he will show editors how to update the content on their pages and discuss the site’s new style guidelines.

During the next few months, the site will continue to be optimized to ensure the new design is functioning to its full potential.

USA Welcomes Dr. Kane Schaphorst

Dr. Kane Schaphorst recently rejoined the University of South Alabama College of Medicine as associate professor of internal medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Dr. Schaphorst earned his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center located in Omaha, Neb. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine, as well as a pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, Ind.

From 1998 to 2003 Dr. Schaphorst was an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., before joining the USA Center for Lung Biology as associate professor of internal medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine until 2013.

He is a prior recipient of research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.  During his time at USA, he was awarded Student Recognition for Excellence in Teaching. He is a current and past member of the American College of Chest Physicians and the American Thoracic Society.

To make an appointment with Dr. Schaphorst, call 470-5890.

Patients Needed for Research Study on Chronic Diarrhea

The University of South Alabama Digestive Health Center is in need of patients to participate in a research study on chronic diarrhea.

Dr. Brooks Cash, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and a gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group, is conducting the study in an effort to help evaluate markers to aid in the diagnosis of chronic diarrhea.

Diarrhea is a common gastrointestinal symptom that all people experience at least periodically. Some people, however, can experience diarrhea chronically, defined as intermittent or continuous symptoms for at least four weeks. There are a multitude of potential causes of chronic diarrhea, ranging from inflammatory and infectious causes to food intolerances and a common gastrointestinal condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dr. Cash said the symptoms of chronic diarrhea, regardless of the cause, negatively impact quality of life.

Dr. Cash said because chronic diarrhea is so common and has such diverse causes, the diagnostic approach is very broad, often utilizing blood, stool, endoscopic, and radiologic tests.  “For some conditions involving chronic diarrhea, the diagnosis of the cause is often one of exclusion,” Dr. Cash said. “For instance, many clinicians arrive at a diagnosis when other tests are negative for conditions such as colon cancer, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, resulting in significant expense in terms of the cost of testing as well as the patient time required to undergo these tests.”

The current research study will evaluate a panel of biomarkers in an effort to provide greater diagnostic certainty and hopefully streamline the diagnostic process for chronic diarrhea. Dr. Cash hopes the blood panel will serve as a theragnostic test, which will help determine the cause of chronic diarrhea and enable tailored treatment plans for patients.

To qualify for the study, participants must be at least 18-70 years old and have any of the following:

1. Clinical symptoms consistent with chronic diarrhea defined as intermittent or continuous diarrhea of at least four weeks duration at presentation
2. Unexplained diarrhea of at least four weeks duration.
3. Diarrhea (three or more soft stools/day) for at least two weeks after trip to a developing country in the past year.
4. Diarrhea-causing bacterial infection of at least four weeks duration.

Eligible participants will receive study-related visits and blood tests at no costs. For more information, call the University of South Alabama Digestive Health Center at (251) 660-5555.

New Breastfeeding Support Group to Host Open House March 7

The Breastfeeding Friendly Group (BFF Group), started by the University of South Alabama Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will host an open house on Monday, March 7, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. at the USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital Campus.

The group, which provides new mothers with one-on-one breastfeeding guidance, was founded by a group of USA nurses, lactation counselors and physicians who saw a great need for breastfeeding support within the community. As medical professionals and moms, creators of the BFF Group wanted to develop a place to help calm breastfeeding fears and educate new mothers.

During the weekly meetings, USA physicians will lead brief educational talks specific to moms and their infants. Nurses and lactation consultants will be available to provide newborn weight checks and to answer general questions. The BFF Group also gives new mothers the opportunity to fellowship with other moms who share similar experiences.

Genevieve Mantell, nursing supervisor the USA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said breastfeeding is important for a variety of health reasons, including providing infants with vital nutrients and immune support. Nationally, Alabama ranks in the bottom five lowest scores for women who choose to exclusively breastfeed. Likewise, Mobile County has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the state. The BFF Group was developed to improve these statistics. Studies have shown that the availability of breastfeeding support after leaving the hospital directly improves a community’s breastfeeding rates. “The BFF Group is the first of its kind in Mobile County,” Mantell explained. “We are not just peer support; we can assess and help a mom and her infant with medical judgement and expertise.”

The BFF Group’s mission is to empower all moms in the community by promoting and encouraging breastfeeding through an open, educational, social-group environment.

The group’s open house will be held on March 7, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. at the Allen Cox Building Conference Room at 204 Lambert Avenue in Mobile, Ala.  Meetings are held every Monday from 5:30-7 p.m. and are free of charge. All soon-to-be mothers, postpartum mothers, spouses and support partners are invited.