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GrandRounds Healthcare Organizations Honor Saint Francis’ Audrey Gregory

UTHSC Professor Receives Grant to Study Newborn Seizures

Audrey Gregory, Market CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare, was honored recently by two healthcare organizations. Gregory, who has more than 25 years of healthcare leadership experience, was named to Becker’s annual list of women hospital and health system leaders to know in 2018. Becker’s Hospital Review says it “features up-to-date business and legal news and analysis relating to hospitals and health systems. Content is geared toward high-level hospital leaders, providing content, including hospital and health system news, best practices and legal guidance specifically for these decision-makers. “Each of the 12 annual issues of Becker’s Hospital Review  reaches a qualified audience of approximately 18,500 healthcare leaders. “ Gregory also has been named to the 2019 class for the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows which states that it “brings together a remarkable collection of healthcare’s brightest minds each year for a unique opportunity to positively transform our nation’s healthcare system. ‘The 2019 class includes 28 senior executives from across the country representing a diverse array of sectors within healthcare that will discuss and address the challenges facing the industry. The class was pulled together from the highest number of applications in the seven-year history of the program.”

Helena Parfenova, PhD, professor of Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has been awarded a $2.1 million grant to further study the functions and mechanisms behind neonatal seizures, and to potentially uncover naturally-occurring defensive mechanisms to prevent cerebrovascular disease in newborns. The neonatal brain is vulnerable to compromises in its blood supply because of its rapid development of neurons, and seizures are the most

Church Health Earns Special NCQA Designation Church Health has earned the designation of Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent 501 nonprofit organization that works to improve healthcare quality through the administration of evidencebased standards, measures, programs and accreditation. Church Health’s NCQA designation applies to its clinical and integrated behavioral health programs. The NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home program reflects the input of the American College of Physicians (ACP), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and others, and it was developed to assess whether clinician practices are functioning as medical homes and recognize them for these efforts. The NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement.



frequent abnormal neurological event in newborns. Neonatal cerebrovascular disease caused by oxidative stress during seizures, hypoxia/asphyxia, and ischemia can lead to debilitating and lifelong neurological complications. Presently, there is no effective treatment to prevent neurovascular dysfunction triggered by neonatal seizures. “Brain oxidative stress is the main component of neurovascular damage caused by seizures, and endothelial cells are key elements of the neurovascular unit,” Parfenova said. “Strengthening antioxidant mechanisms in the neonatal brain can prevent endothelial cell damage during oxidative stress conditions.”

Parfenova is specifically focusing on a novel gaseous mediator, carbon monoxide (CO), which is naturally produced in the brain. In small amounts, carbon monoxide has proven to be a vital part of antioxidant defense mechanisms that promote endothelial cell survival in newborn brains. “Our preliminary studies show that while head cooling does not stop seizures, it has proven to help reduce brain oxidative stress, prevent neonatal cerebrovascular disease, and protect bloodbrain barrier integrity,” she said. “We want to uncover the phenomenon and key players by which this positive defensive reaction occurs.”

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