Wednesday, March 30, 2016

USA Team Awarded for Novel Approach to Concussion Education

Pictured from left: Mary Wilstrup, a pediatric nurse at USA Children's & Women's Hospital; Dr. Anthony Martino, professor and chair of neurosurgery at USA; and Dr. Ashley Marass, assistant professor in the USA College of Nursing. The three are working together to shape a culture of concussion education and awareness in our region.
In 2014, the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense began accepting proposals for the Mind Matters Challenge, an educational challenge aimed at changing concussion safety behaviors.

The initiative included grants up to $400,000 for scientific research to improve understanding of how to affect cultural change regarding concussions and awards up to $100,000 for an educational programs challenge to identify entities that create materials in the area of concussion education aimed at at-risk populations.

Last July, a team at the University of South Alabama found out that their proposal was chosen as one of the top six in the country – out of hundreds – for a novel approach to educating athletes about concussions. As one of the six education challenge winners, the team was awarded a $25,000 cash prize and a $75,000 production budget to develop their project. The USA team – consisting of Dr. Anthony Martino, professor and chair of neurosurgery at USA; Mary Wilstrup, a pediatric nurse at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital; and Dr. Ashley Marass, assistant professor in the USA College of Nursing -- developed an enhanced Concussion Awareness Program (CAP) that fulfills the needs of a school for a complete concussion awareness and management package.

“With the award, our team created a novel, web-based module in which education on concussions is provided to any athletic stakeholder via an engaging, interactive platform,” Wilstrup said.

The entire program is housed on a webpage, which can be accessed via computer, tablet or smart phone. The multi-tiered program includes education on concussions, a pre- and post-test, neurocognitive testing, on-field assessment, and referral to a specialized concussion clinic. Unique account profiles exist for athletes, parents and coaches so content is tailored to each individual.

Mis-diagnosis, underreporting and the stigma and implications of concussive injury are major issues, particularly in our region. According to Dr. Martino, student-athletes often fail to report head injuries and return to play before sufficiently recovering from a concussion – behaviors with significant short- and long-term consequences.

“Concussion education is critical now, particularly as we’re finding more and more that concussions have long-standing effects and that they need to be managed appropriately at a young age,” Dr. Martino said. “The premise behind this project was to use peer-to-peer education to give a better understanding of the symptoms.”

According to Dr. Martino, sometimes student-athletes fail to report head injuries because they may not be aware of all the symptoms, and some of the symptoms are subtle – they may feel dizzy or just a little stunned. Often, that’s a critical sign in concussion. They also want to keep playing and not lose their position on the team.

The education portion of the CAP module is accomplished with a captivating video, according to Dr. Marass. “Our video utilizes a peer-to-peer educational approach,” she said. “Having young athletes and coaches describe their experience with concussions and explain the importance of reporting concussion symptoms creates an environment for the learners to feel the relevance and seriousness of the issue. Also, highlighting athletes from a variety of contact sports reminds viewers that the burden of concussive injuries potentially occurs in all athletic activities.”

Housing other necessary tools in one location increases the module’s accessibility and functionality. “The CAP web tool allows us to assess an athlete’s knowledge and ability to recognize concussion symptoms,” Wilstrup said. “With this approach we empower athletes directly.”

Spreading the word about head injuries is nothing new for the USA team. Since 2005, USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital has been the site for a local chapter of ThinkFirst, a national head and spinal cord injury prevention program taught to children and young adults. Dr. Martino is the sponsoring physician for ThinkFirst Mobile, and Wilstrup acts as chapter director.

USA has also been providing concussion awareness education – in the form of the original CAP project – for high contact sport student athletes for close to five years. The original content included written material and lectures. The work of ThinkFirst and the original CAP initiative already complimented one another, and Dr. Martino, Dr. Marass, and Wilstrup supported the efforts of each other’s work prior to their collaboration on the Mind Matters Challenge.

“With the work being performed via ThinkFirst and CAP, we felt that our efforts met many of the qualifications for this new challenge,” Wilstrup said.

“I think the combination of neurosurgery with nursing really shows that our institution is caring for the people in this region that could potentially have concussions,” Dr. Martino added. “We really want to stress concussion education, especially in this region in particular where it’s a football-rich community.”

The USA concussion team believes CAP is a novel tool that will shape a culture of concussion education and awareness in the south Alabama region and beyond. Their efforts have already proven successful – all athletic teams at USA will use CAP by Fall Semester 2016, and the program was implemented in all Mobile County high schools earlier this year. The team is currently working to expand to surrounding counties. “With this dramatic increase in numbers, we will be able to assess the effectiveness of the program,” Dr. Marass said. “As we start presenting our project with results, we hope to take the program nation-wide.”

“We feel – and our initial results have demonstrated – that this program has had an effect on behavior,” Dr. Martino added. “We hope that there will be easier recognition of symptoms and that athletes will take care of themselves and their teammates.”

To view CAP, visit A demonstration option exists by logging in with the following information: Username: ; Password: ncaapass.

USA Health System Information Services Department Hosts Chili Cook-Off for its Employees

Alison Greene, HSIS consultant, poses for a photo with Mark Lauteren, chief information officer at USA Health, after winning the HSIS department's chili cook-off on March 9, 2016.
The USA Health System Information Services (HSIS) department hosted its third annual department chili cook-off on March 9, 2016. Because the HSIS department is spread across four locations, the event serves as a fun way to encourage employee engagement and interaction.

Contestants in the HSIS department create secret chili recipes, which are then judged by administrators and leaders of USA Health.

Mark Lauteren, chief information officer at USA Health, started the cook-off when he joined USA three years ago. “After the first event I saw how it changed the HSIS department by building team spirit,” he said. “It breaks down walls between different departments within HSIS and improves morale.”

The winner of the Chili Cook-off receives a trophy, "The Golden Ladle." The event was held at the USA Spring Hill Avenue Campus.

View more photos from the event here.

USA Neurology to Host Annual Spring Symposium

The University of South Alabama department of neurology will host its third annual neuroscience symposium April 1-3, 2016, at the Island House Hotel in Orange Beach, Ala. The event will cover a broad range of topics including epilepsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, dementia, deep brain stimulation, neuromuscular disease, movement disorders and headaches. Registration and breakfast will begin at 7 a.m.

The program is designed as an interdisciplinary conference for neurologists, primary care physicians, nurses and health professionals throughout the Gulf Coast region. This conference is open to all health care providers interested in increasing knowledge, addressing competence or performance, and improving patient outcomes.

USA faculty speakers include Dr. Bassam Bassam, Dr. Elias Chalhub, Dr. Daniel Dees, Dr. Paul Maertens, Dr. Elizabeth Minto, Dr. Juan Ochoa and Dr. David Williamson. Special guest speakers will be Dr. Joni Clark, associate professor of neurology at the University of Arizona in Phoenix and director of the stroke center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix; and Dr. Khurram Bashir, professor of neurology and director of neuroimmunology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

Advanced registration is requested. Fees include course materials, breakfasts, lunch, refreshments, receptions and a course syllabus. For more information and to register, visit .

Monday, March 28, 2016

Owen Bailey Named Chief Operating Officer of USA Health

Owen Bailey, a veteran health care leader who serves as administrator of University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital, has been named chief operating officer of USA Health, a comprehensive academic health care system dedicated to helping people lead longer, better lives.

In this newly created role, Bailey will be responsible for the management, operation and oversight of USA Health, with a goal of enhancing a high-quality, cost effective, integrated care delivery system. He will work closely with USA and USA Health leaders to set strategic direction and operational goals. With more than 3,700 employees, USA Health’s annual economic impact is $560 million.

USA Health Vice President Stan Hammack said Bailey’s leadership skills and experience in health care will be assets in this new role.

"Five years ago, we were glad to have Owen join our management team," Hammack said. "His combination of experience and leadership is appreciated, and we are pleased he has taken on this new position. He will work closely with our administrative teams and advocate on state and national health care policy matters that directly affect our patients."

Bailey said he is proud to serve USA Health as chief operating officer, even as he continues to lead USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital for the immediate future.

"It's an honor to work with this great team," Bailey said. "I'm proud to be part of a system that provides such unique programs and services. USA Health plays a crucial role in providing health care, research and education to our region."

Bailey has served as administrator of USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital since 2011, leading the development and opening of a new children’s tower in 2013. The tower doubled the size of the hospital and expanded USA Children’s & Women’s pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, which are unique in the region.

Prior to joining USA, he led Fairhope’s Thomas Hospital as president and chief executive officer from 1992-2006 before joining Infirmary Health System as an executive vice president from 2006-2011.

A fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Bailey has served on the boards of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama. He is past chairman of the Southwest Council for the Alabama Hospital Association, Mobile Area Education Foundation and the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council.  He serves on several boards including the Alabama Hospital Association, University of Mobile, United Way of Southwest Alabama, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile and the Business Council of Alabama.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration from Auburn University and a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has been active in alumni associations at both schools. He and his wife, Genie, have four children.

USA Health   

USA Health helps people lead longer, better lives through its excellence in education, research and medical care. With more than 3,700 employees, USA's health network includes USA Medical Center, USA Children's & Women's Hospital, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, USA Physicians Group and the USA College of Medicine. Each year, our team of 180 physicians, 240 residents and fellows, and 800 nurses handle some 185,000 clinic visits and 350,000 outpatient procedures. USA Health delivers 2,800 babies a year, more than any other regional hospital, and treats patients through some 60,000 emergency room visits annually.

In addition to advanced and innovative patient care offered at University hospitals and clinics, USA's medical education programs provide first-class training experiences for the next generation of physicians and scientists. USA Health delivers excellence in care while improving the quality of life for residents across the Gulf Coast.