Thursday, December 21, 2017

USA Stanton Road Clinic Coat Drive A Success

Pictured from left: Lesley Fearn, radiation technologist coordinator; Ali Shropshire, clinical nurse practitioner; and Robin Geary, clinical registered nurse; pose for a photo with the coats collected for patients at the University of South Alabama Stanton Road Clinic.
The University of South Alabama Stanton Road Clinic recently hosted a coat drive, collecting over 500 coats, gloves, hats and scarves.

Ali Shropshire, family medicine practitioner and nurse manager at Stanton Road Clinic, said the purpose of the drive was to address the needs of the patients seen at the clinic. “Many of our patients often have to decide between paying for their medicine or groceries,” she said. “Last winter, we noticed a need for cold weather clothing items for many of our patients. This year we decided to fulfill those needs within the walls of our clinic.”

USA Health employees were urged to drop off their gently used items at one of the four drop-off locations in an effort to create a coat closet at the clinic. “If one of our staff members recognizes a patient in need of cold weather clothing, they will notify the supervisor who will then assist them in getting the clothing they need,” Shropshire said.

Shropshire said she is touched by the outpouring of support from USA Health. “Many of our patients live in the community surrounding USA Medical Center and Stanton Road Clinic,” she said. “This coat drive speaks to the quality of employees we have at USA and how much they care about taking care of the surrounding community. Stanton Road Clinic is built on a team of dreamers and doers. Through our teamwork we are able to create programs that truly benefit our patients.”

The Stanton Road Clinic will be hosting a health fair in early 2018 that also will provide community members with coats.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dr. John Bass Leaves Legacy of Mentoring, Medical Education

Dr. John Burrell Bass Jr., one of the founding faculty members at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and one of Alabama’s most prolific medical educators, passed away on Dec. 16, 2017. He was 73.

"We are grateful for the decades of dedicated service Dr. Bass provided to our school," said Dr. John Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine. "His early involvement in our medical school help set a trajectory for excellence in medical education that remains today."

Dr. Bass, noted as one of the nation’s leading tuberculosis experts, started his academic career at USA in 1974 as an assistant professor of internal medicine, rising through the academic ranks to lead the department of internal medicine as professor and chair on two separate occasions.

“Dr. Bass leaves a tremendous legacy at our medical school,” said Dr. Errol Crook, Professor and Abraham Mitchell Chair of Internal Medicine at the USA College of Medicine. “John served as a mentor for thousands of physicians and physicians-in-training. Many physicians today provide outstanding medical care with the benefit of lessons they learned from Dr. Bass.”

According to Dr. Crook, Dr. Bass was the first pulmonologist at the USA College of Medicine. He also was instrumental in establishing the first fellowship program at USA, as well as the division of pulmonology at critical care medicine.

Officially retiring in December 2009 as assistant dean for student affairs at the USA College of Medicine and Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Dr. Bass continued to follow his passion for teaching, volunteering his time to supervise medical students and residents in training. He took great pride in sharing the fact that he was the only faculty member to have lectured to each and every medical student since the medical school was established.

An extremely bright, humble and unassuming person, Dr. Bass lit up with enthusiasm when teaching medical students and resident physicians about the art and science of medicine. Outside the hospital, he was an avid reader of Walker Percy. He wrote poetry and played folk and bluegrass music using many acoustic musical instruments. The banjo was his instrument of choice.

According to Dr. Crook, being a physician educator was always a large part of Dr. Bass’ life. His teaching style was very unique, explaining concepts in a way that left everyone feeling good about themselves and confident in what they can do. “He loved music, literature and history, and he incorporated that into his teaching and lectures in a way that made them even more effective,” he said.

From 1999 to 2005, Dr. Bass served as professor and chair of the USA Department of Internal Medicine, having also served as department interim chair on two separate occasions. He also served as vice chair from 1989 to 1997, and for 25 years served as director of the USA Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care.

Throughout his career, Dr. Bass was recognized for his talents as a teacher and a mentor to physicians in training. In 2004, USA’s Housestaff Award for Best Attending was renamed the John B. Bass Jr. Award by the housestaff. He was honored with the medical school’s Best Clinical Professor Award nine times. In 2006, this award -- given by the College of Medicine’s senior class -- was renamed the John Bass Award for Teaching. Dr. Bass was honored with the Red Sash Award each year since it was established in 1990. Given by the senior class, this award recognizes medical school faculty who excel in teaching.

"Dr. Bass was teacher, mentor and good friend to me.  I had such respect for him that it took years before I could call him 'John',” said Dr. William “Jet” Broughton, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine. “In addition to teaching almost every student throughout our medical school’s history, it’s also true that he had almost every one of them over to his home for dinner at some point. All will remember these special moments.”

Dr. Bass’ close connection to the medical students at USA is reflected in the number of speaking invitations he received. He delivered the medical school’s convocation address in 1999, 2001 and 2003. The rising junior classes in 2004, 2005 and 2007-2009 selected him to speak during the College’s annual White Coat Ceremony. He deeply touched every student that he taught at USA, and many students often asked him to hood them at their graduation ceremony.

In the past, the USA College of Medicine Alumni Association presented Dr. Bass with the Distinguished Service Award. He has been listed in America’s Best Doctors each year it has published.

On a regional level, Dr. Bass served as president of the Alabama Thoracic Society from 1975 to 1976, later serving as a representative to the Medical Association of the State of Alabama Interspecialty Council. From 1986 to 1989, he served on the Mobile County Medical Society board of trustees. For almost a decade, he served on the board of directors for the American Lung Association of Alabama. From 1995 to 1999, Dr. Bass served as governor of the Alabama Chapter of the American College of Physicians, also chairing the chapter’s scientific program from 1991 to 1995.

Dr. Bass was active on a national level in shaping policy for the care of tuberculosis patients and medical education. He served on numerous committees for the American College of Physicians, including vice chair of the education committee. He chaired the subcommittee of tuberculosis statements for the American Thoracic Society, also chairing the scientific assembly on microbiology, tuberculosis and pulmonary infections for the organization.

He shared his leadership and expertise in the field of tuberculosis treatment, from 1989 to 1993, serving as chair of the Advisory Committee for Elimination of Tuberculosis for the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control. From 1992 to 1993, Dr. Bass served as president for the Association of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Program Directors.

In addition, Dr. Bass served on the executive committee for the National Lung Health Education Program and the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for Division of Tuberculosis Elimination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Dr. Broughton, who followed in Dr. Bass’ footsteps and chose a career in pulmonary medicine, Dr. Bass was beloved and famous on a global scale. “At international lung meetings, well-known researchers from all over the world greeted him by his first name,” he said. “All of them – as we did – thought of him as brilliant and a friend. We will all miss him and are grateful for the opportunity to have known him.”

During his career, Dr. Bass served on the editorial boards for the American Review of Respiratory Disease and Pulmonary Perspectives. He also served as an ad hoc reviewer for Chest, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Archives of Internal Medicine, the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the American Journal of Medical Sciences, the American Journal of Medicine, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Southern Medical Journal and the Pulmonary Infectious Forum.

Dr. Bass was a Master in the American College of Physicians, a fellow in the American College of Chest Physicians, a member of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the Medical Society of Mobile County and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, as well a member of the American Thoracic Society and the Alabama Thoracic Society.

Born in Abilene, Texas, Dr. Bass was a fourth-generation physician. He grew up in Gadsden, Ala., attended Auburn University and received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1965. He also earned his medical degree at Tulane University, graduating with honors.

Dr. Bass completed his internship and residency training at the University of Alabama Hospital and Clinic in Birmingham, Ala., serving as chief medical resident. In 1974, he completed his fellowship in pulmonary medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “While completing his fellowship training at UAB, leaders who had moved to Mobile to start our medical school recognized Dr. Bass as an outstanding clinician and educator and recruited him to USA where he would complete his entire medical career,” Dr. Crook said.

Dr. Bass is survived by his wife Rebecca Fordham Bass of Mobile, Ala.; two adult children, John Burrell Bass III (Johnnie) of Memphis, TN, and Anna Fordham Bass of Houston, TX; and grandchildren Ella Rose Bass and Nathaniel Jay Bass.

Donations may be made to the John B. Bass Endowment Fund for Education in Internal Medicine, USA Office of Medical Development, 300 Alumni Circle, Mobile, AL 36688. This fund is used to enhance the mission of the USA Department of Internal Medicine and continue the legacy made by Dr. Bass during his career.

Terry O’Neil Appointed Director of Operations for Neurosciences at USA Physicians Group

Terry O’Neil recently was appointed director of operations for neurosciences at USA Physicians Group.

In her new position, O’Neil manages the day-to-day operations of USA neurosciences clinics, as well as spreads awareness of the comprehensive care, academic services and research that is available in the neurosciences department. In addition, she will continue to support physicians and staff members in the growth of electronic medical records.

Prior to her appointment at USA, O’Neil served as practice manager of Infirmary Health in Mobile, Ala. She has also served as clinic manager of women’s health at Coordinated Health in Allentown, Pa., a practice and program manager at Lehigh Valley Physician Group in Allentown, Pa., and a practice and program manager at Lehigh Valley Neurology and Neuropsychiatry at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa.

O’Neil earned her respiratory therapy degree from Wadley University Medical Center in Texarkana, Ark.

O’Neil spent 25 years in Allentown, Pa. and recently moved to Fairhope. She brings experience of having worked in a diversified environment on the east coast. She is married with two grown sons. When not working, she enjoys time with friends and family, as well as practicing yoga.

Monday, December 18, 2017

USA Medical Students Attend APPA Conference

Anna Williams, a third-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, and Caleb Wilson, a fourth-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, tied for first place in the poster contest at the Alabama Psychiatric Physicians Association (APPA) fall conference in Birmingham, Ala.

At the conference, Williams presented “Serotonin Syndrome: Common but Easily Overlooked,” and Wilson presented “The Interplay Between Depression and Cosmetic Surgery” to psychiatrists, residents, fellows and medical students from across Alabama.

According to Williams, serotonin syndrome can be a reaction to many commonly used drugs such as antidepressants, pain medicines, and certain antiemetic and illicit substances. “The condition can present very subtly at first, so it can be easy to miss,” she said. “It can be caused by either excessive dosing of a particular medication or the interaction between different but similarly acting substances.”

Williams said conducting research and attending conferences is a good way for medical students to meet potential mentors, explore possible career interests and increase their comfort level with medical literature. “I had a chance to speak with several doctors who had encountered and treated serotonin syndrome throughout their career and they each had a very different story to tell,” she said. “It was interesting to hear how each of them managed their particular patients and their input definitely added to my overall understanding of the subject.”

Wilson’s project studied the relationship between mental illness and cosmetic surgery, a connection that has been well-established for decades. “Our case highlights the role of depression in our patients’ decision to undergo cosmetic surgery, as well as the need for mental health professionals and cosmetic surgeons to better understand how surgery can affect patient depression and vice versa,” he said.

According to Wilson, the prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder among those who undergo cosmetic surgery has been estimated to be between seven to 15 times that of the general population, and it has also been shown that these patients are more likely to be dissatisfied with the results of their surgery. “This information –  along with repeated studies showing a two-to three-fold increase in suicide rate among cosmetic surgery patients when compared with the general population –  has led many cosmetic surgeons to regularly screen for mental illness and often refer patients for psychiatric evaluation prior to performing surgery,” he said.

The Alabama Psychiatric Physicians Association is a district branch of the American Psychiatric Association and is the only association representing psychiatrists in the state of Alabama. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Malozzi Weighs in on New Blood Pressure Guidelines

Last month, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association announced new guidelines for blood pressure that lower what a healthy blood pressure looks like.

According to Dr. Christopher Malozzi, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a cardiologist with USA Physicians Group, the new standard lowers optimal blood pressure numbers from 140/90 to 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). This means that more patients, who were previously not under surveillance from their physicians for high blood pressure, will now be more closely monitored.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. The more blood a heart pumps and the narrower the arteries, the higher blood pressure can become. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can exist in patients for years without any noticeable symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and the heart continues and can be detected.

Lowering the target blood pressure guidelines will impact patient treatment. Many hypertension patients who were previously at goal blood pressure may need to have their medications increased -- and in some cases medications added -- to bring them to the new target range. For those patients with borderline symptoms of hypertension, a medication regimen could be recommended.

“As physicians, our ultimate goal is to prevent diseases," Dr. Malozzi said. "We will have to urge medication compliance with our patients so that their blood pressures remain controlled as much as possible in an attempt to avoid serious health issues.”

Beyond medication, patients looking to lower their blood pressure should also consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products in conjunction with a reduction in dietary sodium intake. This dietary regimen is otherwise known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to treat Systolic Hypertension) diet.

Hypertension also can be controlled by participating in physical activity three to four days a week and moderating alcohol consumption. In many cases, hypertension can be managed with these lifestyle changes.

The USA Heart Center serves a population of patients who are at risk of or suffering from the long-term complications of hypertension such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney disease and death.

“We have an obligation to our patients to provide the most cost-effective, quality-driven, patient-centered and evidence-based medical care," Dr. Malozzi said. "The new guidelines give us updated and comprehensive recommendations on how to best fulfill that obligation.”

USA Welcomes Dr. Bassam Rimawi

Dr. Bassam Rimawi recently was appointed assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and serves as a maternal-fetal physician with USA Physicians Group.

Prior to joining USA, Dr. Rimawi served as an associate of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Dr. Rimawi earned his medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica, West Indies, in 2006. He completed an internship in general surgery at Lutheran Medical Center in New York and his residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. He then completed a clinical research fellowship at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., and a reproductive infectious diseases fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. Dr. Rimawi also completed a maternal-fetal fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine.

He is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine and the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network.

To make an appointment with Dr. Rimawi, call (251) 415-1496.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Gift that Goes the Longest Mile

Third-year medical student Maelynn La talks with Rachel Smith at the Salvation Army's Family Haven facility in Mobile after distributing socks to her and her children. La received a grant that allowed the Student-Run Free Clinic to distribute 1,000 pairs of specially-made, durable socks to patients seen at the clinic.
One medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine made it her mission to relieve the temperature-induced worries often experienced by patients seen at the USA Student-Run Free Clinic (SRFC) by providing them with the most needed, yet least donated, item this winter – socks.

Under the direction of third-year medical student Maelynn La, the USA SRFC received a grant from Bombas to distribute 1,000 pairs of specially-made, durable socks to patients seen at the clinic. The socks were distributed last week.

“Just this morning during our weekly housing community meeting we were asked what items our families were in need of as the cold weather approaches,” said Rachel Smith, a resident at the Salvation Army Family Haven and a SRFC patient. “Everyone said they were in desperate need of socks for their children, so this donation came at the perfect time.”

Smith – along with her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son –  was the first patient to receive socks. “I am expecting my third child in just a few short weeks, and now I have a pair of socks to pack in my hospital bag,” she said. “To a lot of people, they are just socks. But for us, it is the little things that go the longest mile. I can’t express how thankful we are.”

The Salvation Army Family Haven is home to 15 displaced families and is described as an expanded service model designed with a goal of keeping homeless families together. Families who stay at the Family Haven receive three meals a day, their own room and bathroom and a place to do their laundry. Twice a month, SRFC student volunteers visit the residents to conduct health screenings and provide access to community health resources.

La, who previously served as the SRFC volunteer coordinator, said numerous patient interactions at the SRFC inspired her to look for sock companies who donate to charitable causes and ultimately apply for the grant. “When I asked several patients what resources they were most in need of, many mentioned socks, especially during the winter months,” she said. “One patient even said he would often share food or hygiene products with others, but he could not share socks since they are too difficult to come by.”

After discovering the need for socks, La said she found Bombas – an online sock company that works with shelters, nonprofits and organizations dedicated to helping the homeless, in-need and at-risk communities. “I saw that Bombas had a grant application, so I decided to apply for it,” La said. “Even though it was my first time applying for a grant I continued to move forward with it because I knew our patients were in desperate need and would be very thankful.”

The socks donated by Bombas to the USA SRFC specifically meet the needs of people who do not have the luxury of putting on a clean pair of socks every day. The socks contain an anti-microbial treatment, which decreases the need to be washed as often. They also have reinforced seams and darker colors, giving them greater durability with less visible wear.

According to Dr. Alison Rudd, assistant professor of nursing and operations director of the USA SRFC, the sock donation is much needed. “Many of our patients are homeless, work outside or simply do not have the funds to purchase new, clean clothing items,” she said. “Socks are a very practical item, especially for our diabetic patients as good, strong and clean footwear is essential to their health.”

Dr. Rudd, who also serves as assistant professor and assistant director of the USA Simulation Program, said the donation also represents the caliber of student volunteers at the SRFC. “The fact that Maelynn took initiative without any prompting from faculty is evidence of how much USA students believe in and support the greater Mobile community,” she said. “It also demonstrates what is most impressive about our clinic—that it is student-run and student-led.”

Located at the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama in Mobile, the SRFC is comprised of student volunteers from the USA College of Medicine and other students from health professional programs at USA. The students see patients at the clinic, working in an inter-professional atmosphere that is unique not only to programs within USA, but also to schools throughout the country. The clinic aims to provide experiential learning for students to practice clinical and communication skills while improving sensitivity to vulnerable populations and promoting a life-long commitment to service.

Click here to learn more about the SRFC.

Click here to learn more about Bombas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Brittany Brown Appointed Director of Operations for Internal Medicine at USA Physicians Group

Brittany Brown recently was appointed director of operations for internal medicine at the University of South Alabama Physicians Group.

“I have been fortunate to work with many extraordinary leaders that have helped structure USA Health to be a leading health care organization in the community,” Brown said. “I am most excited that my experiences and career as a nurse for 10 years with USA has evolved into a leadership role that will help provide our team in internal medicine the opportunity to help make substantial changes to better serve the needs of our patients.”

In her new role, Brown will assist with the supervision of all internal medicine staff; implement policies and procedures while working in collaboration with the compliance department; assist in the recruitment of providers for internal medicine; and interact with physicians and staff members in both the outpatient and hospital setting.

Prior to her new appointment, Brown served as a manager of clinical operations for the internal medicine division of USA Physicians Group. She also has served as a clinical adult registered nurse at the USA Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center and as a pediatric critical care nurse at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

“My knowledge as a nurse gives me an advantage to understanding my providers’ desire to do what’s best for our patients,” Brown said.

Brown earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing and recently her master of nursing administration degree from USA.

CLINIC 1 Program Provides Students with Hands-On Experiences

Through the newly developed CLINIC 1 program at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, first-year medical students are now able to gain hands-on clinical experiences as they partner with local family medicine, pediatric and internal medicine practitioners.

“The CLINIC 1 program is beneficial because it gives us a chance to apply concepts we learned in clinical skills in a practical setting,” said Jazmin Scott, a second-year student at the USA College of Medicine. “We have really great preceptors who want to teach us and answer our questions, and it is a great opportunity to get experience without the stress of being graded. You are just there to learn.”

The program stresses patient-centered care and partners with medical professionals with a penchant for physician development and education. Watch the video below to learn more about CLINIC 1.
USA COM Clinic 1 Program from USA Health on Vimeo.

USA Welcomes Dr. Christopher Kinnard

Dr. Christopher Kinnard recently rejoined the University of South Alabama College of Medicine as assistant professor of surgery and serves as a trauma and critical care surgeon with USA Health.

Dr. Kinnard previously served as a clinical instructor of surgery at USA. Prior to joining USA, he served as a general surgeon at Magnolia Surgery in Warner Robins, Ga.

Dr. Kinnard earned his bachelor of science degree in zoology and his master of science degree in zoology from Louisiana State University Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, La. He earned his medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Baton Rouge, La. Dr. Kinnard completed his residency training in general surgery at USA and a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.

Dr. Kinnard is a member of the American College of Surgeons.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pediatrics Hosting Grand Rounds on Dec. 15

Dr. Osama Abdul-Rahim, assistant professor of radiology and section chief of interventional radiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, will present “What can IR do for you?” for December’s grand rounds.

The event will take place Friday, Dec. 15, at 8 a.m. in the Atlantis Room in the CWEB-2 building behind USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Abdul-Rahim will discuss the increasing awareness of infrared radiation (IR) procedures available to pediatric patients and explain how to arrange needed procedures to improve timeliness of care and health outcomes.

The event is open to faculty, staff and students at USA. A light breakfast, coffee and beverages will be provided. For additional information, contact Katie Catlin at kncatlin@health.southalabama.edu.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

'It Has Been a Pleasure to Serve'

A decade after the first class of medical students was admitted to the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Dr. Eugene Quindlen arrived in Mobile with the goal of developing state-of-the-art neurosurgical care at USA.

It was 1983 and Dr. Quindlen was recruited to lead the USA Department of Neurosurgery as its second chair. Founding chair Dr. David Dean had helped establish the department.  Dr. Quindlen’s task was to build on that foundation.

“I think we’ve done that,” said Dr. Quindlen, who served as chair of the department for 28 years, stepping down from the chair position in 2011.

“We have provided excellent cranial aneurysm surgery, pituitary surgery, tumor surgery and pediatric neurosurgery to many patients in our region,” he said. “In more recent years, we also excelled at complex spine surgery.”

Dr. Quindlen is known for his enthusiasm for technology and was ahead of his time in many ways.  He led an effort in neurosurgery to adopt an electronic medical record system and electronic fax system 14 years ago.  “We were the first paperless practice in the Mobile area,” he explained. “This became an important advantage not only in supporting patient care, but also in our neurosurgical clinic relocations – we moved six times in the past 34 years,” he said.

“During his career, Dr. Quindlen has trained and served as a mentor for countless medical students, residents, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Anthony Martino, chair of the USA Department of Neurosurgery.  “The direct impact he has made through patient care and medical education is immeasurable.”

During his career at USA, Dr. Quindlen provided leadership in many ways serving on the College of Medicine’s Executive Council; as president of the Health Services Foundation Medical Executive Committee; chair of the Health Services Foundation Investment Committee; chair of the Bylaws Committee; chair of the Surgical Case Review Committee; and director of the Neurotrauma Intensive Care Unit.

Dr. Quindlen taught neurosurgical clerkship courses and had a profound positive impact on medical students – many of whom chose to pursue a career in neurosurgery. “It has been a pleasure to serve and be a part of the USA College of Medicine and health system,” Dr. Quindlen said.

According to Dr. Quindlen, the job did come with its challenges; namely, the ever-expanding health care system with the University of South Alabama’s hospital acquisitions in the early 90s, adding to both the inpatient and our clinic’s coverage responsibilities.

Throughout his career, Dr. Quindlen has made significant contributions to the mission of USA Health.

Later this month – after 34 years of dedicated service – he will officially retire from USA.

A reception in Dr. Quindlen’s honor will be held December 7th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Strada Patient Care Center Conference Center. We hope you will be able to attend as we celebrate the career of Dr. Quindlen and honor him for his many years of service to the USA College of Medicine and USA Health. The Strada Patient Care Center is located at 1601 Center St. in Mobile.

Dr. Elizabeth Minto Honored by National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Dr. Elizabeth Minto, assistant professor of neurology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a neurologist with USA Physicians Group, was named “Healthcare Professional of the Year” by the Alabama/Mississippi chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She was presented with the award at a ceremony in Birmingham last week.

“This award means a great deal to me, both personally and professionally,” Dr. Minto said. “It is humbling to be recognized by such a vital organization that does so much for people living with multiple sclerosis.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. According to Dr. Minto, access to neurologists with the level of comfort and experience to treat MS is limited in our region. “I have long felt that those in the southern part of Alabama are particularly disadvantaged, as there are so many more resources available in Birmingham and its surrounding areas,” she said.

MS is currently treatable, but not curable, and even with treatment it remains a progressive disease. Dr. Minto said it gives her great pride to offer treatment to those living in the area who previously had to drive hours to access care. In addition, she is passionate about teaching future neurologists to help improve the care for patients with the complex diagnosis of MS. “Without an MS specialist in our academic medical center at USA, the exposure of our neurology residents and medical students to patients with MS would be severely limited,” she said.

At the ceremony, a volunteer of the year from both Alabama and Mississippi also were presented with awards. “It was a truly moving event, highlighting the various ways the MS Society helps raise money for research on the disease, as well as connecting those living with MS to resources when they are challenged with things like transportation, access to care, and even home modifications and meals,” she said.

Dr. Minto feels strongly that the MS Society is the most effective community resource for those living with MS, as it helps to connect patients with resources, as well as raise millions of dollars for research into not only treating the disease, but also preventing it. She said the MS Society is also in part to thank for funding the fellowship training of Dr. William Kilgo, who completed his neurology residency at USA in 2017 and is currently midway through his fellowship training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He will be returning to USA next year, further expanding the access to care for those living with MS in the Gulf Coast region.

Dr. Minto has volunteered in numerous capacities to raise funds for the Alabama state chapter and has served as an educational speaker for many Society events for patients and their caregivers. In addition, she helped organize a team – called “Jag Nation for Remyelination” – for the MS Walk in 2017, which raised approximately $2,000.

Dr. Minto said she shares this award with her staff at the USA Department of Neurology outpatient clinic and the USA infusion center. “They spend countless hours helping patients with the complex tangle of insurance precertifications and scheduling that goes along with the various medications used to treat MS,” she said. “It would not be possible to care for these patients without the tireless work of our staff members.”

Nominees for the award were judged on their dedication to the MS movement, passion for providing personalized care to people affected by MS, and innovation in disease management and treatment. Learn more about the award here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dr. Mohammed Berrou Presents at 13th Annual Respiratory Disease Young Investigators’ Forum

Dr. Mohammed Berrou, a pulmonary and critical care fellow with USA Health, recently was chosen to present his research at the highly-competitive 13th Annual Respiratory Disease Young Investigators’ Forum in Denver.

At the event, Dr. Berrou received second place for his research project on “The Indirect Cytotoxic Effects of Pseudomans aeruginosa Infection on Microvascular and Pulmonary Artery Endothelial Cells.”

The forum, sponsored by National Jewish Health, was open to fellows who are actively enrolled in a pediatric, pulmonary, allergy or immunology fellowship programs. The top 30 abstract submissions from fellowship programs across the United States were selected to present their research at the forum.

Dr. Berrou said his research project studied sepsis patients in intensive care units who experienced changes in their cognitive function by the time they were discharged. "Sepsis due to bacterial pneumonia remains a main cause of mortality in intensive care units," he said. "Patients who survive the acute phase of these bacterial infections remain at a significantly increased risk of mortality long after their discharge from the hospital and the exact etiology of this phenomenon is unclear."

According to Dr. Berrou, this research holds far-reaching potential to improve health care among patients seen in intensive care units. "The occurrence of patients experiencing cognitive impairment, such as delirium or Alzheimer’s disease, after leaving the intensive care unit is well-described," he said. "Often times these patients never return to baseline and have to live nursing homes after leaving the hospital, which impairs their relationship with family and their ability to go back to work."

In addition to presenting their research, the forum provided an excellent opportunity for fellows to network with faculty experts and peers conducting research in respiratory medicine. The forum was also beneficial for young investigators, such as Dr. Berrou, who will be transitioning to initial faculty positions following the completion of their fellowship training. Starting in July, he will serve as a pulmonary and critical care attending at Hurley and McLaren Hospitals in addition to working as a clinical assistant professor at Michigan State University, where he will continue to collaborate with the Center for Lung Biology at USA Health.

He credits the collaboration with the USA Center for Lung Biology and the curriculum within the USA College of Medicine’s pulmonary and critical care fellowship program for providing him with the education, training and clinical skills necessary to pursue an academic career in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

“One important element of fellowship training is the development of research expertise,” said Dr. Karen Fagan, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and director of the division of pulmonary at critical care medicine.

According to Dr. Berrou, the department’s dedication to both the clinical and research aspects of medicine has been beneficial throughout his training. Dr. Troy Stevens, professor and chair of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine, served as Dr. Berrou’s mentor for the project. "The Center for Lung biology provides a vibrant collaborative research environment within the USA College of Medicine, which forms an outstanding framework for training in lung biology and related areas,” he said.

Dr. Berrou said the department incorporates basic science research opportunities in collaboration with the USA Center for Lung Biology, which immediately sparked his interest. “Each month, faculty members from the Center come to the USA Medical Center to discuss their current research endeavors and serve as mentors as we progress through our training,” he said. “USA’s integration of research, academia, teaching and clinical experiences for fellows is rare to find, which is one of the main reasons why I chose this program.”

To learn more about the Respiratory Diseases Young Investigators’ Forum, click here.

Anthony Beck Named Director of Operations for Family Medicine

Anthony Beck, clinical nurse supervisor for family medicine at the University of South Alabama, recently was appointed director of operations for USA Family Medicine Clinic.

In his new position, Beck is responsible for the operating process of family medicine, including patient and paper flow, revenue controls, staff work environment and the development of new practice functions and activities.

Beck said he is most excited for the opportunity to build upon the foundation that has already been laid. “My ultimate goal is to increase patient volume for the department of family medicine and optimize workflow,” he said. “I plan to further improve the delivery of care patients receive by improving front desk efficiency and clinical competency among nurses and medical assistants. I also plan to streamline all facets of the department, improving flow throughout.”

Prior to joining USA, Beck served as director of telemetry at Springhill Medical Center. As director of telemetry, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of all aspects of the cardiac telemetry unit, including staffing, management of the budget, quality measures, patient service recovery, hiring and electronic medical records chart review.

He credits his experience as both a nurse and director of telemetry for giving him the tools to help family medicine make advances in both patient care and customer service. “The wide range of experiences I was provided during my nursing career will be beneficial in this new position,” he said. “As a nurse, my philosophy was always to put the patient first. Now, I carry on those same values by making a point to educate the staff and emphasize the importance of understanding the patients’ needs.”

In 2000, Beck earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. He later earned his master’s degree in nursing administration and education from the University of Mobile in Mobile, Ala.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December 7 DSS to Feature Dr. Jonathan Rayner

The next Distinguished Scientist Seminar at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine will feature Dr. Jonathan Rayner, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the USA College of Medicine.

The lecture, titled “Drug Development and the Need for Good Laboratory Practice as Defined by the Food and Drug Administration,” will take place Dec. 7, 2017, at 4 p.m. in the first floor auditorium of the Medical Sciences Building on USA's main campus.

Dr. Rayner earned his Ph.D. in microbiology at Colorado State University in 1998 as part of the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory where he studied the factors influencing vector-competence for yellow fever virus and dengue viruses. He then completed two post-doctoral research programs with the American Society for Microbiology/National Centers for Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Arthropod-borne Infectious Diseases where he studied the role of non-structural protein mutations on attenuation of dengue virus.

The lecture series is comprised of distinguished scientists from other academic institutions who are invited by the USA College of Medicine basic science departments to present a seminar showcasing their latest research findings. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to attend.

Learn more about Dr. Rayner here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

USA Medical Student Addresses Food Insecurity with On-Campus Food Pantry

Sippy Sridhar (far right), a second-year medical student at USA, poses for a photo with her fellow classmates and volunteers Patricia Connor (far left) and Jorden Smith in the food pantry at the Academic Services Center on USA's main campus. Sridhar recently started the pantry, which is available for students experiencing food insecurity.
Sippy Sridhar, a second-year student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently started an on-campus food pantry available for USA students experiencing food insecurity.

According to Sridhar, Donor to Diner (D2D) is the first and only non-profit organization that solely devotes itself to combating collegiate hunger.

Sridhar started the organization at the University of Alabama at Birmingham while earning her undergraduate degree in 2013. She credits a conversation with one of her close friends for inspiring her to create a program that not only increases awareness about food insecurity among college students, but also provides resources to help those experiencing collegiate hunger during their time of need.

“One day, a friend discreetly asked me if I’d mind paying for her lunch with an extra meal from my meal plan,” Sridhar said. “Once we got our food and started talking, our conversation made me wonder if other students shared her same experiences.”

According to Sridhar, a survey conducted by USA’s Student Government Association in 2016 showed 57 percent of USA students have experienced food insecurity at some point during their college career. “Although this number is high, we are by no means an outlier and are still within the national range, which is shocking,” she said. “When I matriculated to the USA College of Medicine last year, I learned that there wasn’t an on-campus food pantry available to students. I connected with Dr. Michael Mitchell, vice president of student affairs and dean of students at USA, to establish additional resources.”

The new food pantry, located on USA’s main campus, is available to provide short-term relief for any USA student who does not have sufficient funds to purchase food or can only afford inexpensive but unhealthy meals. “We chose a location in the center of campus that is convenient but still private,” she said. “The food pantry currently accepts non-perishable food items donated from both individuals and organizations.”

Sridhar said Dr. Mitchell, who also serves as the faculty sponsor of USA’s D2D Chapter, has been instrumental in the development of the on-campus food pantry. In October, Sridhar and Dr. Mitchell attended the #RealCollege National Conference for Hunger in Philadelphia, where they spoke about collegiate hunger.

In addition, Sridhar said Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean for medical education at the USA College of Medicine, along with other College of Medicine administrators have also been very supportive of D2D.

"Altruism is one of those characteristics that we look for when we accept students into the USA College of Medicine, and Sippy Sridhar exemplifies this value in the passion and persistence that she has shown in getting the food pantry project started,” Dr. LeDoux said.

“Several medical students also serve as volunteers,” Sridhar said. “Patricia Connor and Jorden Smith, both second-year medical students, serve as officers for the USA Chapter of D2D.”

Sridhar said it is especially important for medical students to participate community service activities. “We should all do what we can to improve the lives of those around us,” she said. “Food insecurity impacts the health of patients and determines the feasibility of certain treatment options.

Understanding their circumstances now will help me to better serve patients with similar experiences in the future.”

Sridhar said although food insecurity can happen to anyone and is not something to be ashamed of, all correspondences to the pantry are confidential. “We like to maintain confidentiality to protect students’ privacy,” she said. “This sentiment is similar to how a patient’s privacy is protected in a clinical setting. Patients aren’t necessarily embarrassed of their diagnosis or illness and may freely share that information with others, but it is not the place of the medical provider to disseminate patient information.”

Click here for more information on D2D and here for the D2D Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

USA COM Announces Intramural Grants Awardees

From left: Dr. Mark Taylor, Dr. Donna Cioffi, Dr. Mike Lin, Dr. Lawrence LeClaire and Dr. Robert Barrington.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently announced the recipients of the 2017 College of Medicine Faculty Intramural Grants Program Research Awards, which provides funds through an annual competition to five full-time basic science faculty members.

Drs. Robert Barrington, associate professor of microbiology and immunology; Donna Cioffi, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Lawrence LeClaire, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Mike Lin, assistant professor of physiology and cell biology; and Mark Taylor, associate professor of physiology and cell biology, each received one-year awards of up to $50,000.

According to Dr. Mary Townsley, senior associate dean of the USA College of Medicine, the research funds provided by the Intramural Grants Program enables sustained laboratory progress between extramural grant funding periods and supports the development of both new research ideas and new critical preliminary data for extramural proposal submissions. “Each year, the USA College of Medicine will commit $250,000 to this program to provide individual one-year awards of up to $50,000 in direct costs,” she said. “Faculty members in the USA College of Medicine basic science departments are encouraged to submit ‘mini-proposals’ to compete for these awards each September.”

According to Dr. Barrington, the USA College of Medicine Intramural Grants Program provides an outstanding mechanism to support cutting-edge research in a new era where federal funding is more limited. “This generous support provided will allow investigators to expand and strengthen preliminary experimental data to build more competitive extramural proposals,” he said.

Dr. Barrington’s research project, “Underlying Mechanisms Mediating Autoimmune Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis,” explores the pathways responsible for cytokine-specific antibody-mediated diseases.

“My laboratory has discovered the first model for autoimmune pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (ApAP), a disease caused by antibodies to a cytokine called GM-CSF,” he said. “Our preliminary studies suggest that GM-CSF-specific antibodies produced in individuals with and without disease differ, and these key differences may explain the disease state. We hope to identify new therapeutic strategies aimed at helping the 100,000-200,000 individuals in the United States who are diagnosed with this deadly disease.”

Dr. Cioffi also received the award to continue her research, which may offer pharmacological benefits against some inflammatory conditions.

“In inflammatory conditions, calcium can enter endothelial cells through specific ion channels — one of which is the ISOC channel — and cause disruption of the endothelial barrier,” Dr. Cioffi said. “We have identified two proteins, FKBP51 and PP5C, which act together to inhibit the ISOC channel and thereby protect the endothelial barrier from disruption.”

Dr. Cioffi said the support this program offers will ultimately lead to increased extramural funding, which will benefit the USA College of Medicine financially and help gain both national and international recognition.

According to Dr. LeClaire, another recipient of the Intramural Grants Research Award, his lab will use the research funds to discover new pharmaceuticals to treat fungal infections.

His project, “Actin-associated Proteins of the Aspergillus Cytoskeleton,” examines the cell structures inside fungi. “Currently, there are very few drugs available for fighting fungal infections in patients and new resistant strains of fungi are emerging that cannot be treated,” he said.

Dr. Lin is using the award to further study the causative mechanisms leading to abrupt cognitive impairment among patients in intensive care units. His project tests the hypothesis that endothelium-derived cytotoxins directly impair neural function after bacterial pneumonia infection.

“Patients in intensive care units are at a high risk for long-term health threats including cognitive impairment,” Dr. Lin said. “The correlation was only recently revealed after large-scale follow-up cognitive assessments on intensive patient survivors once discharged from the hospital were conducted. There are testimonials, reviews and calls-to-action on many critical care websites and in journal issues over the last two to three years on this public health crisis.”

According to Dr. Lin, his study aims to gain insight on this phenomenon that remains unclear. “The causative mechanisms that lead to abrupt cognitive impairment are not attributable to age, gender, relative brain hypoxia, anesthetics or sedatives,” he said. “My proposed study offers a mechanism that may explain cognitive dysfunction in patients suffering from hospital-acquired pneumonia.”

Dr. Taylor said the funds provided by the intramural grants program will allow him to further study vibrio induced sepsis, a fatal bacterial infection commonly seen among the Gulf Coast.

“Consumption of raw seafood or exposure of an open wound to contaminated water can result in a fatal bacterial infection,” he said. “This is a real threat in our region and such infections are often lethal due to rapid progression to septic shock, a condition in which the blood-borne infection essential shuts down the cardiovascular system.”

According to Dr. Taylor the goal of his project is to identify the induced toxic factor and characterize its specific effects on the endothelial cells, which may reveal new targets for therapy against Vibrio-induced sepsis.

Dr. Taylor said he is excited to be one of the first recipients to receive funding from this new program. “As external funding becomes increasingly scarce, the Intramural Grants Program provides a crucial mechanism to support novel research initiatives and allow exciting new biomedical research questions to move from the chalkboard to the lab, and eventually to the bedside,” he said.

For more information, click here.

Stanton Road Clinic: Bundling You with Care

The University of South Alabama Stanton Road Clinic is hosting a coat drive through Dec. 15. New or gently used coats, gloves, hats and scarves are being accepted.

Ali Shropshire, family medicine practitioner and nurse manager at Stanton Road Clinic, said the goal of the drive is to collect enough coats to create a coat closet at the clinic. She credits Robin Geary, the internal medicine nurse supervisor at Stanton Road Clinic, for coming up with the idea.

“The staff and management of Stanton Road Clinic wants to be more than just a clinic," Shropshire said. "We want to serve as a medical home to meet all of our patients' needs. If we can't meet their needs within the walls of the clinic, then we will utilize community resources to help.”
Items may be dropped off at the Stanton Road Clinic, the nursing administration office at USA Medical Center, the second-floor break room at the Strada Patient Care Center or the Mastin Professional Building, Suite 102.

The Stanton Road Clinic will be hosting a health fair in early 2018 that will also provide community members with coats.

Bart Benson Named Director of Operations for Orthopaedics at USA Physicians Group

Bart Benson recently was appointed director of operations for orthopaedics at USA Physicians Group.

In his position, Benson provides day-to-day leadership in orthopaedics as he leads efforts that include working with the latest health care technology to better optimize communication and efficiency in the department. He said he looks forward to getting to know each staff member personally and assisting the efforts of Dr. Richard Marks, chair of orthopaedics.

“I am excited about being a part of a health system that provides life-changing services to our community. I look forward to growing as I learn from those around me, and I look forward to being a productive member of our talented work force,” Benson said.

Benson has 10 years of experience working in an academic setting at Children's of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala. Through his experience, he has learned the importance of maintaining a balance of excellent patient care, educating future physicians, engaging and supporting employees and being fiscally responsible.

Benson earned his bachelor of arts degree in health promotion from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. He earned a master of arts degree in health education, a master of public health degree in health care organization and a master of business administration degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Students, Faculty Present Research Projects at 11th Annual COM Research Forum

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine’s 11th annual Research Forum was held Nov. 17, 2017, on USA’s main campus.

The forum consisted of two sessions. The morning session was comprised of nine oral presentations, and the afternoon session included 42 poster presentations.

Dr. Donna Cioffi, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the USA College of Medicine, said the research forum is beneficial to both students and faculty. “The forum is a great way for students and post-docs to learn how to network and gives participants a chance to practice their presentation skills,” she said. “The forum also provides the researchers an opportunity to get feedback on their projects, which might include new or different ways of testing a hypothesis, consideration of novel applications or even what might be a good journal to publish in.”

Dr. Cioffi said the event often leads to new collaborations between different research groups within the USA College of Medicine and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

This is the third year that the research forum is offering travel awards: one for the best overall graduate student presentation and one for the best overall post-doctoral fellow presentation. These awards are $1,000 each and are to be used for travel to national or international meetings or workshops.

According to Dr. Cioffi, the awards were made possible by the generous support of the USA College of Medicine Dean’s Office, the USA Office of Research and Economic Development, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and the BMSSO graduate student organization. Awards will be announced later this month.

To learn more about participating in the annual COM Research Forum, contact Dr. Cioffi at dlcioffi@southalabama.edu.

View more photos from the event here.

USA Internal Medicine Attends 2017 ACG Meeting

Several internal medicine residents, fellows and faculty from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently attended the World Congress of Gastroenterology at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course in Orlando, Fla.

At the meeting, attendees were able to gain invaluable insight as world-leading gastroenterologists discussed a global view of gastroenterology, hepatology and treatments.

USA gastroenterology fellows – Dr. Manoj Kumar, Dr. Benjamin Niland and Dr. William Sonnier – along with USA internal medicine residents – Dr. Andrew Berry and Dr. M. Caitlin Marshall – presented their research at the event.

Several faculty members from the USA College of Medicine also attended the conference, including Drs. Brooks Cash, professor of internal medicine, chief of the division of gastroenterology and director of the USA Digestive Health Center; Jack Di Palma, professor of internal medicine and program director for the division of gastroenterology; Phillip Henderson, assistant professor of internal medicine; Jorge Herrera, professor of internal medicine and director of the section of hepatology; and Reynaldo Rodriguez, assistant professor of internal medicine.

At the conference, Dr. Berry presented six research projects and received the 2017 Presidential Award in the esophagus category.

According to Dr. Berry, conducting research and presenting his findings at the conference enhanced his medical education. “My experience designing several multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research projects has helped me understand the ethical importance of patient care, enriching team communication skills, better adjusting to setbacks and hurdles along the way, and facing risk and uncertainty while not steering away from innovation — all qualities that can transition to quality patient care,” he said.

The American College of Gastroenterology is a recognized leader in educating gastroenterology professionals and the general public about digestive disorders. Their mission is to advance world-class care for patients with gastrointestinal disorders through excellence, innovation and advocacy in the areas of scientific investigation, education, prevention and treatment.

To learn more about ACG, click here.

Bradley Cross Named Director of Operations for Pediatrics

Bradley Cross recently was appointed director of operations for pediatrics with USA Physicians Group.

In his new position, Cross is responsible for the operating process of pediatrics, including patient and paper flow, revenue controls, staff work environment and the development of new practice functions and activities.

According to Cross, his leadership experience in both inpatient and outpatient pediatric environments makes him uniquely suited to help the department continue to make advances in patient care.

“We have a great group of physicians and advanced practice providers who are always looking at ways to expand patient care,” he said. “I am very impressed with the quality of employees at USA Physicians Group, and I look forward to working side-by-side with them to help reach the goals of the department and organization.”

According to Cross, his overarching goal for the department is to increase patient access. “We have plans to expand our clinic hours into the evening, which will prevent patients from having to go to emergency rooms or urgent care centers when they have an issue that can be handled by a primary care provider,” he said. “Furthermore, with the implementation of our new electronic health record system, I am looking forward to having a more integrated approach to patient scheduling, as it can be a great tool to improve our processes system wide.”

Cross began his professional career as a respiratory therapist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “I am fortunate to have both inpatient and outpatient health care experience,” he said. “My career as a respiratory therapist helped me understand the big picture of health care and see the patient experience in its entirety.”

Prior to joining USA, he served as senior practice manager with UT Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. During his time with UT Health, he managed and coordinated all administrative, clinical and clerical functions required for the operation of a multi-specialty pediatric clinic.

In 2006, Cross earned his associate’s degree in applied science and respiratory care from Alvin Community College in Alvin, Texas. He then earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Columbia Southern University and a master of business administration from Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas.

Friday, November 17, 2017

USA Medical Students Participate in Light the Night

Students from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently participated in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk and campaign events.

Second-year medical student Benjamin McCormick led efforts to promote and coordinate the campaign.

Light the Night brings together cancer patients, survivors and friends and family of people in the community who have experienced the effects of cancer. The campaign provides an opportunity to raise money for a non-profit organization that directly provides funds for cancer research.

After McCormick’s father passed away from complications of a blood-based cancer earlier this year, he wanted to raise money for research efforts related to the disease. He reached out to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and has since become one of their community leaders known as a “Leader of Light.”

McCormick is interested in pursuing oncology as a future physician. He spent the past summer in the stem cell transplant clinic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., doing research with the physician who attended to his father’s transplant in 2011.

“As medical students and physicians at USA, we are the light for many people fighting cancer in the Mobile area,” McCormick said. “We will be the ones implementing the research funded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in years to come, so I think it is very important for students and members of USA Health to be involved in community events like this.”

In addition to USA’s involvement with the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s campaign, McCormick also reached out the MudLove Organization, a non-profit organization that typically funds efforts for safer drinking water in Africa. They also partner with communities for local causes. In this instance, Mudlove is working with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in an effort to raise funds for cancer research and treatment through the sale of handcrafted mugs and wrist bands.

McCormick is grateful to the 20 medical student team members who participated in the Light the Night event and many friends and family members who provided support.

“Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Light the Night celebration and for those of you who donated to our campaign,” McCormick said. “This event has a huge impact on funding cancer research nationwide and will no doubt lead to better treatment options in years to come,” he said.

To donate directly to McCormick’s campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, click here.

To purchase handmade items from the MudLove Organization that will go directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, click here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dr. John Marymont Appointed to Advisory Roles

Dr. John V. Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama, was appointed to the Jones Health Care Advisory Board at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and as the Council of Deans Liaison to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Group on Business Affairs (GBA).

According to Dr. Marymont, both appointments provide the opportunity to contribute to programs that play a significant role in the health care and medical education fields while providing the opportunity to build relationships with business, health care and educational leaders from across the country.

“It’s an honor to represent the University of South Alabama on a national level and to work with leaders at the AAMC and at Rice University,” Dr. Marymont said.  “Both of these appointments not only provide an opportunity to give insight and advice, but also to learn and to incorporate new ideas, best practices and programs at USA.”

The Jones Health Care Advisory Board at Rice University comprises a group of national leaders from different sectors of the health care industry that advise and interact with different constituents at the Jones Graduate School of Business. Dr. Marymont is a graduate from the Jones School of Business with the highest distinction of a “Jones Scholar.”

The AAMC’s GBA is an active group comprised of senior finance and administration leaders at medical schools, as well as department business managers and other dean’s office staff involved in medical school operations.

Department of Pediatrics Hosts Residents Day

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics hosted its 16th  annual Residents Day on Oct. 24, 2017. At the event, senior residents in the pediatrics residency program presented their scholarly work to fellow residents, faculty and students.

Dr. Haidee Custodio, associate director of the pediatrics and residency program and assistant professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine, says that Research Day serves to recognize and highlight the residents’ scholarly activity with their faculty mentors.

Residents choose a topic and faculty advisor and then work on their scholarly activity for the first two years of their training.

Dr. Custodio said that many of the residents subsequently present their research in oral or poster presentations at the Southern Regional Meeting.

“Our Research Day and participation at the Southern Regional Meeting is a testament to the dedication and support of the pediatrics department to our residents’ professional growth,” Dr. Custodio said.

The pediatrics department bestows the Charles Jay Hoff Award for excellence in scholarly activity to the resident and his/her faculty adviser with the best project, as chosen by evaluations from faculty members in the department. The recipient of this award is announced at the end of the academic year.

View more photos from the event here.

USA Internal Medicine Residency Program Participates in Service Project for Children in Need

University of South Alabama internal medicine residents Drs. April Renee Ruffin and Keniel Pierre were among several internal medicine residents who raised more than $2,000 for Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program. The program helps meet the needs of chronically hungry children by providing them with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to take home from school on weekends.
The University of South Alabama Internal Medicine Residency Program recently raised more than $2,000 for Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program. The program helps meet the needs of chronically hungry children by providing them with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to take home from school on weekends.

USA internal medicine resident Dr. Keniel Pierre spearheaded the service project at USA. The residency program’s original goal was to collect enough money to sponsor one or two children for the school year. However, Dr. Pierre’s fellow internal medicine residents “took the charge” and decided to give. With the money they have collected, they plan on sponsoring at least 19 children for the entire 34-week school year.

“It is important for physicians to be a part of their communities,” said Dr. Judy Blair-Elortegui, associate professor of internal medicine and program director for the department.  “We should not only provide health care, but also advocate for and participate in creating healthy communities for our patients. She said the benefits are two-fold - participation in service activities also can be an important aspect of personal wellness for residents.

Dr. Pierre got the idea to participate in a community service project after performing an act of altruism last December. Working with USA physician Dr. Antwan Hogue, Dr. Pierre was able to set up a patient at a Halfway House during the holiday. “The smile on the patient’s face when I told him the good news was inspiring and reminded me of the reason I chose medicine – to help people,” Dr. Pierre said.

According to Dr. Pierre, community service puts things into perspective. “Often times -- as physicians -- we focus on the acute issues that bring patients into the hospital or the treatment of their chronic conditions within our short clinic visit,” he said. “Thus, we rarely find the time to understand the patient's specific barriers to our treatment plan.”

Looking at the big picture, Dr. Pierre said you realize there are things that medications or surgeries can't fix. “Your penicillin won’t find this diabetic a home to live in so he can keep his insulin refrigerated,” he said. “The medication you prescribed won’t be filled when a single mother has to decide between that and feeding her children over the weekend. Community service allows physicians the opportunity to donate their time and energy into identifying and understanding these barriers in an effort to use our influence and resources to help resolve them.”

As a previous Service Scholar at Florida State University, Dr. Pierre worked with the local food bank in Tallahassee. Once at USA, he learned about Feeding the Gulf Coast and loved the idea of providing meals for kids who would otherwise go hungry on the weekends. “Being able to feed the kids within our own community was the cherry on top,” he said.

Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program is available at schools that have a high incidence of children in need. Every Friday, the school distributes a bag of food to the participating children. The children’s identities remain anonymous to the food bank, donors, and their peers. Bags are placed discreetly in children’s backpacks on Friday afternoons for them to take home over the weekend.

Dr. Pierre expressed his thanks to all who gave to the cause. “This was truly a departmental project,” he said. “Here at USA, we’re not just another residency program; we’re a family that comes together to help other families.”

Anne Norton Appointed Director of Operations for Surgery at USA Physicians Group

Anne Norton recently was appointed director of operations for surgery at USA Physicians Group.

In her new position, Norton will manage the day-to-day operations in the outpatient surgery clinics associated with USA Physicians Group. She will also assist in implementing new initiatives that will maximize the improvement of patient experiences, efficiency and employee morale.

“I am excited about the opportunity to support the success of the department of surgery. We have outstanding faculty, and it is an honor to work with them,” Norton said. “As a nurse, each business decision begins with a consultation of how it will impact the patient and improve patient care.”

Since 2000, Norton served USA Physicians Group as a manager of clinical operations and has been responsible for the operations of four surgery clinic locations and an orthopaedic clinic. In addition, she has worked extensively with the implementation of electronic health records.

Norton earned her diploma in nursing from the Providence School of Nursing in Mobile, Ala.

Prior to serving at USA, Norton was the vice president of operations and director of development and customer service at PrimeHealth in Mobile, Ala.

Norton has been married to her husband, Bob, for 33 years, and they have three adult children. She is an active member of the Corpus Christi Parish in Mobile, Ala. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

USA Health Names Rickert as Chief Policy Officer

USA Health has named Danny Rickert as its chief policy officer and assistant vice president for medical affairs, a new role that will lead the system's efforts in healthcare policy, regional outreach, and federal and state managed care.

Rickert, a 27-year veteran of USA Health, most recently served as associate administrator for external affiliates and network development.

"We are in a period of growth at USA Health, and I am happy to be a part of the team," Rickert said. "In our role as our region’s only academic health system, we are able to offer the community many unique services through our hospitals, clinics and support services, as well as our teaching and research efforts."

USA Health Chief Executive Officer and Senior Associate Vice President Owen Bailey said, "Danny is a valuable member of our team. His knowledge of healthcare policy is impressive, and he never loses sight of our mission -- to help people lead longer, better lives. His leadership will help us grow both now and in the future."

In this new role, Rickert will work closely with the USA Health leadership team to develop strategies and monitor national trends, particularly regarding changes in Medicare, Medicaid and insurance reimbursements. He will collaborate with USA government relations staff in national and state healthcare policy efforts.

He will also be responsible for USA Health's regional referral network and telehealth efforts. Rickert will continue in his leadership role with Gulf Coast Regional Care, a network of Medicaid providers and care management services.

An alumnus of USA, Rickert received his degree in communications. He and his wife, Joan, who also received her degree from USA, have two children and a new grandson, all of whom were born at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Physicians Group, College of Medicine Employees Named to USA-Team

The University of South Alabama employee service recognition program recently nominated exceptional employees for the 2017 Christie Miree USA National Alumni Association Outstanding Employee award.

USA Physicians Group and USA College of Medicine employees were among those honored.

Employees who were nominated are a part of the USA-Team and meet the following criteria: “performs beyond the call of duty to improve service, quality and the image of the university, division or department; exemplifies professionalism and dedication to the excellent service and works as a team player; makes outstanding contributes to the university, division or department by developing a better way to execute the job by saving time, space or money.”

Each member was recognized by USA President Dr. Tony Waldrop and presented a USA-Team certificate.

Charlene Jordan, associate director of health systems grant administration and development at the USA College of Medicine, is one of the Christie Miree award winners and has been working at USA for 27 years. “I am truly humbled and honored that my colleagues went the extra mile to write recommendations on my behalf,” she said.

As research administrator, Jordan helps investigators at USA in all aspects of pre- and post-award grant submissions. “It is exciting to see them succeed in obtaining external funding and very rewarding to know that their research benefits not only our local area, but also has an impact nationwide,” she said.

Rodger Smith, a pedorthist for USA Health, is also one of the Christie Miree Award winners. He has been at USA for 14 years and was pleasantly surprised by his nomination. “I see many people who work very hard and go out of their way for others,” he said. “I am very honored to have been nominated and even more honored to have been selected.”

Smith said working in the orthotics lab is his favorite place to be. “I enjoy using my skills to help people walk better and with less pain,” he said. “I told both of my kids that one of the most important things in life is to pick a career that you love and it will never seem like work. I am fortunate enough to have done just that.”

The Christie Miree Award represents dedicated employees who go above and beyond in the work force. Christie Miree is an alumna of USA and a former member of the board of trustees.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

USA Medical Students Perform in Top Quartile of Medical Students Across the United States

Results recently released from the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Graduation Questionnaire (GQ)  provide insight on student performance, quality of medical education and student satisfaction at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

The data revealed that medical students at the USA College of Medicine performed at the highest level when compared to other medical students from across the United States. USA medical students scored in the top quartile of medical schools on several measures that demonstrate student academic performance and achievement.

According to Dr. John Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine, this new data speaks to the caliber of our faculty members, students, educational process and learning environment.

“The USA College of Medicine has always enjoyed a reputation of providing outstanding education for medical students,” he said. “The mentorship and encouragement demonstrated by faculty members coupled with the dedication and hard work displayed by students creates a nurturing environment that breeds academic success.”

According to Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean for medical education and student affairs at USA, students at the USA College of Medicine performed exceptionally well on both the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2.

The USMLE Step 1 is the first of three licensure exams that students take to assess their ability to apply knowledge, concepts and principles, and to demonstrate fundamental patient-centered skills.

“In 2017 the average score for USA medical students taking Step 1 was 235, compared to a national average of 230,” Dr. LeDoux said.

The USMLE Step 2 exam measures clinical knowledge and is taken during the beginning of the fourth year of medical school.  According to Dr. Tony Gard, assistant dean for medical education at the USA College of Medicine, out of 102 medical schools reporting their scores, only 13 outperformed USA during the 2015-2016 academic year, when the upward trending of scores for our students first became clear. This placed USA’s graduating Class of 2016 in the top quartile of performance compared to other medical schools.

“For the graduating Class of 2017, the average score for USA medical students increased further to 248, while the national average on this exam did not change from the preceding year,” Dr. Gard said. “The results for the current senior class are just as promising. These results predict that successive classes of senior USA graduates are sustaining a high level of competence in medical knowledge ranking among the very best medical schools in the country.”

The GQ, administered by the AAMC, is designed to identify issues critical to the future of medical education and the well-being of medical students, and is used by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) for benchmarking and improving medical education.

Dr. LeDoux said one of the key questions graduates are asked concerns satisfaction with their educational experience. “The results from the 2017 AAMC graduation questionnaire showed that 98 percent of students from the USA College of Medicine were either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with their education,” she said. “When compared to other schools across the United States, the results put us above the ninetieth percentile in student satisfaction.”

Dr. Keith Peevy, professor of pediatrics and a member of the curriculum committee at the USA College of Medicine, said the USA College of Medicine has experienced a positive trend in student performance since the implementation of the organ-system, competency-based curriculum in 2012. “The USMLE scores continue to reflect the excellence of the revised curriculum,” he said. “The way our curriculum is designed results in students who are better prepared to address clinical problems and excel in the clinical environment.”

The USA College of Medicine is a vibrant and expanding academic medical center providing all facets of medical education, research and patient care. Founded in 1973, the USA College of Medicine is the region’s only medical school and one of only two allopathic medical schools in the state of Alabama. More than 2,500 medical students have graduated from the USA College of Medicine and approximately one-third of local practicing physicians trained at the USA College of Medicine and/or USA Health. The College is a member of the AAMC and accredited by the LMCE and by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).