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PRESIDENT’S

SEPTEMBER 2012

Lila Rose Burbage’s life was saved in 2010 by award-winning ECMO technology at Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center. The two-year-old returned to the CMC on Aug. 15 with her mother and brother to say thanks to some of her care team. Pictured from left are: ECMO Medical Director Dr. Jatinder Bhatia; ECMO Specialists Dana Dudley and Patricia Parker; Lila Rose, Alice and Charles Burbage; ECMO Coordinator Linda Wise; and Neonatologist Dr. Oommen Mathew. See story on page 2.

The Next Five Minutes

Ricardo Azziz, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. President, Georgia Health Sciences University and CEO, Georgia Health Sciences Health System

n I had the honor of addressing GHSU’s first-year students during our annual Professionalism Forum last month. (Read more on page 3.) These exceptional students need little inspiration from me—they’ve done just fine on their own, as evidenced by their acceptance into our university— but I did seize the opportunity to share a few insights. Specifically, I challenged them to think of professionalism as something that happens not at some undetermined time in the future, but in the next five minutes. It’s what we’re doing right now that defines our character and shapes our destiny. The next five minutes are a building block for the five minutes that come next, and on and on and on. What we do matters. What we say matters. I urged the students not to lose sight of that in our fast-paced world. I have no doubt that our students will make the next five minutes count, and will continue building on

a foundation of compassion and integrity every five minutes for the rest of their lives. Society will be the beneficiaries. These students will be tomorrow’s physicians, nurses, dentists, biomedical researchers and allied health professionals. Aren’t you glad they’re spending the next five minutes (multiplied many times over) at one of the finest health sciences universities in the world? We are very proud to set their careers in motion. These fine students are also among the ranks of our largest-ever student body, some 3,000-strong. Supporting our institution means supporting them— the bright, kind, compassionate and principled people who will carry our torch into the future. I can’t wait to see what the next five minutes will bring. l

Our vision: To be a globally recognized research university and academic health center, while transforming the region into a health care and biomedical research destination.


CMC earns fourth international ECMO award n Roughly two out of three babies born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia die. But Lila Rose Burbage is a survivor. “When she was born, she didn’t cry, and she seemed to be having trouble breathing,” said her mother, Alice Burbage. Doctors discovered that the condition, in which a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to move into the chest, were causing Lila Rose’s right kidney and liver to crush her right lung. Her left lung was in jeopardy as well. The Burbages were told that without quick help, Lila Rose wouldn’t make it. “It was terrifying,” said Burbage. “We were just in shock.” Within the hour, Lila Rose was transported to the Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center, where she was put on ECMO. ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a lifesaving technique that mimics the natural function of the heart and lungs, allowing an infant or child to heal without taxing these

vital functions. Conditions requiring ECMO include respiratory and/or cardiac failure as a result of birth defects, trauma and severe infection. ECMO channeled Lila Rose’s blood into a roller pump that served as her “heart.” This pump sent her blood through an oxygenator, which served as her artificial lung, infusing her blood with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide before returning it to her body. Lila Rose spent nine days on ECMO and went home a few weeks later. “They expected her to be on it longer, but she is such a little fighter that she did better than expected,” Burbage said. “We were also told she could have severe cerebral palsy and other problems, but her lungs are fully developed now. In fact, besides being a little underweight, she is a very healthy and active 2-year-old.” The CMC ECMO team recently earned its fourth consecutive Award of Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, an international group of health care professionals and scientists who develop and evaluate novel therapies to support failing organ systems. The organization recognizes and honors ECMO programs that optimize performance, innovation, satisfaction and quality. The Award of Excellence is recognized by U.S. News and World Report and Parents magazine as criteria for top pediatric hospitals. The GHS Children’s Medical Center is a pioneer in ECMO technology, introducing the Southeast’s first ECMO program for children in 1985. The program has administered lifesaving support to more than 450 patients since then, and it is one of only two ECMO programs in Georgia. “We are very blessed and fortunate to have ECMO here in Augusta,” said Burbage. “Lila Rose is proof of that.” l Lila Rose Burbage on her recent visit to the Children’s Medical Center and as an infant on ECMO.

Online job shadowing lays groundwork for careers n Georgia and South Carolina youths can learn about nuclear medicine through interactive online job shadowing, thanks to a GHSU collaboration with a community organization. “Nuclear medicine is the hot career nobody has ever heard of,” said Mimi Owen, Associate Professor of Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences in the College of Allied Health Sciences. The discipline uses radioactivity to help diagnose and treat many diseases. Practitioners work as technologists, radiopharmacists, physicians and physicists. Owen, Program Manager of Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Dr. Gregory Passmore, Professor of Nuclear Medicine Physics, have developed content that students, parents and educators can access online to learn real-world applications for nuclear medicine. Offering the content digitally precludes the logistical, security and safety factors that often impede job shadowing in the field, Owen said.

The Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization funded and helped develop the initiative. “As the nuclear industry expands in our region, informing students and teachers about the huge career potential in the field becomes vital,” said Mindy Mets, the organization’s Nuclear Workforce Initiative Program Manager. “As part of our outreach effort, we want to make sure people in our region have the opportunity to move into the careers available in our region so we can build a skilled workforce.”  The organization is a private economic development program focused on diversifying the area’s economy. A 2009 study showed the need for 10,000 new nuclear workers in the five-county Central Savannah River Area over the next 10 years. Working from their GHSU lesson plans and collaborating with Microburst Learning, an education and business development firm, Owen and Passmore created content adjusted for tweens

and teens that explains basic nuclear medicine tasks, shows a typical day in the workplace, offers course suggestions and more. The interactive tools incorporate animation, music, games and video interviews with nuclear medicine professionals, faculty and students at GHSU and the Medical University of South Carolina. The MicroCareerBurst program is available to South Carolina students and students in Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties in Georgia. Passmore hopes the program will be a recruiting tool for nuclear medicine. “The potential for growth is definitely there,” he said. “Our students graduate with increased skills in diagnostic imaging and with a bachelor’s degree, which will become an entry-level requirement in the profession in 2015.” For more information about the program, visit www.georgiahealth.edu/alliedhealth/brt/nmt/ index.html. l


Terris receives Distinquished Service Award

Professionalism Forum strikes poignant chord

n Dr. David Terris, Porubsky Distinguished Professor in Otolaryngology at Georgia Health Sciences University’s Medical College of Georgia, has received the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation’s Distinguished Dr. David Terris Service Award. Terris, Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology and Surgical Director of the Georgia Health Thyroid Center, was recognized in the August issue of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery and was recently honored at the academy’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Distinguished Service Awards acknowledge members’ volunteer service to the academy. Terris is internationally renowned for minimally invasive thyroid and parathyroid surgery. He investigates innovative surgical techniques for thyroid and parathyroid disorders. He is a member of the academy’s Endocrine Surgery Committee, as well as the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons and the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. He chairs the Otolaryngology Advisory Council of the American College of Surgeons. Terris serves on the editorial boards of Laryngoscope, Operative Techniques of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Microsurgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Terris earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a medical degree from Duke University. He came to MCG in 2002 from Stanford University, where he directed the otolaryngology/head and neck surgery residency program. l

n After years of “pokes, prods, needle sticks and injections,” Rachel Brown spent one of the last weeks of her life just being a kid. “It was the single best week of her life,” her father, Joe Black, said, his voice choked with emotion as he shared the story with incoming students from all five Georgia Health Sciences University colleges. Black recounted his daughter’s heartbreaking journey—her diagnosis at age 7 with a virus that attacked her liver, then her bone marrow . . . the four years of grueling treatments she endured, including a bone marrow transplant . . . her love and affection for the GHS Children’s Medical Center health care team . . . her blissful week at Camp Rainbow, an annual just-forfun refuge for CMC patients staffed by volunteer GHSU faculty, staff and students . . . her death at age 11—to urge the students in attendance to think of Rachel when charting their health care careers. His lecture was part of GHSU’s annual Professionalism Forum. This year’s forum, held Aug. 24 at Augusta’s Imperial Theatre, featured skits, videos, lectures and other presentations aimed at heightening the students’ sensitivity to professionalism, ethics and integrity. “Excellence is the next five minutes—not what you want to do some time in the future, but what you’re doing right now,” President Ricardo Azziz told the students. “That’s what professionalism is all about. What we do matters. What we say matters. Don’t lose sight of that in this fast-paced, tweeted world. Don’t lose sight of the next five minutes.” Dr. Kevin Frazier, Vice President for Student Services and Development, echoed the theme. “Don’t let ethics be an abstract concept,” he said. “Practice and model it throughout your GHSU careers.” The forum touched on timeless themes, such as respect—for instance, a video satirized casual and dismissive stereotyping—as well as topical subjects such as social media. “What happens in Augusta stays on the Internet,” dental student Andy Bedenfield noted wryly as classmates role-played the sometimes disastrous consequences of sharing too much information online. “Don’t rant on a social networking site when you’re in an emotional state,” he advised. But it was Black’s presentation that offered the starkest reminder of the students’ endowment: the faith and trust of their future patients. “I learned with Rachel that there are wonderful people all around us, people who give without asking for anything in return,” he said, urging the students to carry this torch in her honor. “She considered her health care providers her friends. It wasn’t the pain she remembered; it was the caring.” l

Meditation may improve teens’ heart health n Regular meditation could decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in teens who are most at risk, according to Georgia Health Sciences University researchers. In a study of 62 black teens with high blood pressure, those who meditated twice a day for 15 minutes had lower left ventricular mass, an indicator of future cardiovascular disease, than a control group, said Dr. Vernon Barnes, a physiologist in the Medical College of Georgia and the Georgia Health Sciences University Institute of Public and Preventive Health. Barnes, Dr. Gaston Kapuku, a cardiovascular researcher in the institute, and Dr. Frank Treiber, a psychologist and former GHSU Vice President for Research, co-authored the study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Half of the group was trained in transcendental meditation and asked to meditate for 15 minutes

with a class and 15 minutes at home for a four-month period. The other half was exposed to health education on how to lower blood pressure and risk for cardiovascular disease, but no meditation. Left ventricular mass was measured with two-dimensional echocardiograms before and after the study and the group that meditated showed a significant decrease. “Increased mass of the heart muscle’s left ventricle is caused by the extra workload on the heart with higher blood pressure,” Barnes explained. “Some of these teens already had higher measures of left ventricular mass because of their elevated blood pressure, which they are likely to maintain into adulthood.” “Transcendental meditation results in a rest for the body that is often deeper than sleep,” “Statistics indicate that one in every 10 black youths have high blood pressure.  If practiced

over time, the meditation may reduce the risk of these teens developing cardiovascular disease, in addition to other added health benefits. “ GHSU’s new Institute of Public and Preventive Health seeks to improve health, reduce health disparities and prevent injury and illness in Georgia through research, service, leadership and training. l


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Students volunteer for Special Olympics n Georgia Health Sciences University dentistry and dental hygiene students recently volunteered to give special smiles to some special athletes. College of Dental Medicine students partnered with Georgia Dental Association dentists and hygienists and hygiene students from GHSU, Middle Georgia Technical College and Western Georgia Technical College to provide dental screenings, fluoride varnish applications and oral hygiene education to athletes at the Special Olympics Master’s Bowling event Aug. 25 as a part of the Special Olympics program. They also distributed toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. The event was held at the Museum of Aviation

in Warner Robins, Ga. The 800-plus volunteers included 17 GHSU faculty, staff and students, who helped screen 343 athletes. Special Smiles was developed by Dr. Steven Perlman in 1993 to address the dental needs of disabled athletes. Adopted by the Special Olympics in 1997, it is recognized as an essential component of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative, which provides health screenings to improve athletes’ ability to train and compete in the Special Olympics. More than 1.2 million athletes in more than 100 countries have received screenings as a part of the Healthy Athletes program since its inception. l

Sculpting in Clay: Reflections on Leadership and Transformation GHSUpdate is a monthly publication from the office of President Ricardo Azziz. For additional insight and timely updates, please follow his blog at: azziz.georgiahealth.edu


GHSUpdate - September 2012