DIGEST PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
NOVEL WAYS OF LOOKING
VOL. 78, NO. 1, USPS, 413-060 Digest Magazine is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications under the direction of Wendy W. Romano, chief marketing and communications officer. EDITOR Jennifer Schaffer Leone, MA PUBLICATION DESIGN Abigail Harmon ART DIRECTION AND COVER DESIGN Melissa Kelly CONTRIBUTORS – FEATURES Janice Fisher David McKay Wilson CONTRIBUTORS – UPDATES Renee Cree Alyssa D’Addieco Barbara Myers CONTRIBUTORS – CLASS NOTES Institutional Advancement Staff Colleen Pelc CONTRIBUTORS – MY TURN Benjamin Daniel Whitfield, DO ’16 PHOTOGRAPHY Bruce Fairfield Melissa Kelly Ryan Smith Anthony Stalcup SEND QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ABOUT DIGEST MAGAZINE TO: Marketing and Communications, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 4180 City Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131-1695 215-871-6300 email@example.com SEND INFORMATION FOR CLASS NOTES AND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: Institutional Advancement, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 4180 City Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19131-1695 215-871-6120 firstname.lastname@example.org Periodical postage is paid at Upper Darby, PA, and at additional mailing offices.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by the College or the editor.
© 2017 Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. All rights reserved. 2
Dear Alumni and Friends: I was one of those people who knew what I wanted to do from a very early age. As a kid, I was the one who collected and tirelessly identified insects and other backyard critters and was eager to dissect frogs and fish to learn more about anatomy and physiology. I thought—and still think—that the human body is an amazing machine. As a student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, I discovered emergency medicine and adopted it as my first love. The diversity of cases thrilled me, as did the need for action. I delighted in my role as a first-line healthcare provider—being responsible for initiating investigations and interventions to diagnose and/or treat acute patients, for coordinating care, and for making decisions regarding a patient’s need for hospital admission or discharge. Daily, my decision making hinged on keen observation. Observation. Looking at new perspectives. Comprehending the whole. This issue of Digest Magazine invites us to delve beyond the surface of the road to the discovery of PCOM researchers, of the wild sojourns of a birding alumnus, and of the visual adaptations of a young osteopathic medical resident—among other stories and institutional updates. Enjoy!
Jay S. Feldstein, DO ‘81 President and Chief Executive Officer
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
CONTENTS 2 Updates 8 Institutional Heritage: Foundersâ€™ Day 2017
12 Features: Novel Ways of Looking
14 Groundbreaking 2
Microscopic and Macroscopic Discoveries
20 Bird by Bird 24 Seeing Without Seeing 26
33 A Look Back: Sullivan
County Medical Center
WHITE COAT WALTZ Students in PCOM’s DO, Pharmacy and Physician Assistant (PA) Studies programs embarked on the next steps of their training to become competent, caring health professionals as they received their very first white coats at ceremonies this past fall. This year marked the inaugural White Coat Ceremony for GA–PCOM PA Studies students. The white coat has been a part of the healthcare profession since the 19th century. The concept originated from the operating room’s white coat, and is symbolic of the need to balance excellence in science with compassionate caring for the patient. During the PA White Coat Ceremony at GA–PCOM, James Becker, PA-C, assistant professor and coordinator of clinical studies, physician assistant studies, reminded the class of 2018 that, “You empower the white coat. It doesn’t empower you.”
PRIMARY CARE INNOVATION FUND MAKES FIRST INVESTMENT PCOM’s Primary Care Innovation Fund, instituted in May 2016 to invest in companies with established products and services that are delivering healthcare innovations focused on primary care, has made its first investment in AristaMD, a digital health company focused on improving the specialty referral process. “We are thrilled to place our first investment in AristaMD,” says Dean Miller, managing director, PCOM Primary Care Innovation Fund. “AristaMD is exactly the type of company we are interested in funding; it provides an innovative service to help primary care providers improve efficiency, increase quality and reduce the cost of care, leading to an improved overall patient experience.” AristaMD will use the proceeds to continue commercialization of its eConsult Platform, which has been proven to resolve more than 50 percent of routine clinical questions at the primary point of care. The AristaMD solution replaces the need for many in-person specialist visits, improves the overall quality of care and significantly reduces costs. Designed by practicing physicians, the AristaMD eConsult Platform offers primary care providers clinical checklists being utilized by leading academic medical centers across the country, a HIPAA-compliant, eConsult platform, and a robust set of data analytics tools. Through investments in companies such as AristaMD, the PCOM Primary Care Innovation Fund allows the College to extend its osteopathic philosophy of preventive, holistic and patient-centered approaches to care beyond its campuses, to improve patients’ quality of life nationwide. More than half of the nearly 12,000 osteopathic physicians who trained at PCOM have gone into primary care; to that end, the College has a significant interest in funding companies such as AristaMD that will help primary care providers improve their efficiency and quality of care. “Our investment in AristaMD through the Primary Care Innovation Fund will further the College’s mission to advance knowledge and, on a national level, allow us to improve the well-being of the community and drive transformation in the way primary care is delivered,” says Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer of PCOM. “We are excited to invest in a company that shares our focus on optimal patient outcomes and patient-centered care.” 2
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
VEIT APPOINTED TO HHS COUNCIL Kenneth J. Veit, DO ’76, MBA, provost, senior vice president of academic affairs and dean, was recently appointed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell to serve on the Department of HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration’s Council on Graduate Medical Education. As part of the 17-member committee, Dr. Veit will assist in providing ongoing assessments of physician workforce trends, training issues and financing polices of undergraduate and graduate medical education programs, and recommendations for appropriate federal and private sector efforts to Secretary Burwell; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. “It is an honor to represent the osteopathic medical education community in this capacity. I look forward to working collaboratively with my Council colleagues to offer innovative recommendations to help ensure that we have a well-trained physician workforce to meet the healthcare needs of our nation’s patient populations,” says Dr. Veit.
PCOM SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH INTENT TO ESTABLISH SW GEORGIA LOCATION By signing a Memorandum of Agreement, representatives from Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Georgia, and PCOM agreed to develop a feasibility plan and present it for approval to the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) to develop an additional location in South Georgia. “Building a premier site for rural medical education has been a long-term goal for Colquitt Regional, and we are glad to partner with PCOM in potentially bringing a campus to this region,” says Colquitt Regional President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Matney. Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer, PCOM, says, “We look forward to bringing our College’s 117 years of experience in educating physicians and health sciences professionals to the South Georgia area. This MOA, signifying our mutual respect and trust, begins the extensive process with our accrediting agency to make this possibility come true within the region. While much has been done to get us to the point of signing this agreement, we all recognize that much more remains to be done. We enthusiastically look forward to a successful outcome.” Three graduates were chosen for the inaugural class of the Georgia South Family Medicine Residency Program opened by Colquitt Regional Medical Center in July. The program is affiliated with PCOM, and works with PCOM-MEDNet.
“We have enjoyed a very productive and reciprocal relationship with PCOM through our residency development,” says Kirby Smith, DO, program director for the residency program. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue growing the medical education pipeline in Southwest Georgia.”
IT TAKES A VILLAGE Olney High School
Center for Autism Camelot KAPS
The School Psychology program recently embarked on partnerships with ASPIRA Schools of Pennsylvania, Inc., the Camelot at Wynnefield KAPS Program, and the Center for Autism (CFA) to provide unique educational opportunities for its students. At Olney High School (overseen by ASPIRA Schools), school psychology PsyD candidates conduct their cognitive behavioral therapy practicums. “Ideally, this would turn into a long-standing, mutually beneficial partnership, in that the doctoral students from PCOM would have an opportunity to practice learned skills in an applied setting, and Olney/ASPIRA would obtain additional, much-needed mental health support for our students,” says Kathryn McKinley, EdS ’08, senior director of specialized education and specialized services at ASPIRA Schools. Yuma Tomes, PhD, professor and director, PsyD program in School Psychology, says the opportunity to work at Olney allows students to interact with a population they might not otherwise encounter. “We hope to provide a pipeline of healthy high school students, who become empowered to focus on aspects of their mental health, which will allow them to perform well academically,” he says. At Camelot KAPS, PCOM school psychology faculty and students in the School Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis
(ABA) programs will provide school-based behavioral support, consultation, technical assistance, and assessment and intervention services. And, at CFA, PCOM students and faculty will participate in the evaluation of programming, outcomes assessment and curriculum development. Thus far, students in the ABA program, along with school psychology faculty, have gone to CFA to observe the clinical staff there and evaluate some of their programs. Doctoral students with an interest in autism can also conduct dissertations there. Reggie Candio, MS/Psy ’08, EdS ’11, (PsyD ’22), program director at CFA, says the partnership allows for an open dialogue about the effectiveness of their programs and areas to improve. “We get great ideas for different ways to look at treatment modalities from the PCOM faculty,” he says. “We learn about different tools and other elements to consider when measuring those modalities.” Each of these partnerships brings benefits to both PCOM and to the institution, says Jessica Kendorski, PhD, director, MS program in School Psychology. “We provide a service to the community, while at the same time, we provide our students with the opportunity to learn new skills and practice those skills in real time.”
CANDIDATE STATUS SOUGHT FOR GA–PCOM’S NEW PT PROGRAM
TWO JOIN PHARMACY RESIDENCY PROGRAM
Preparing to implement a new physical therapist education program, GA–PCOM has welcomed a founding program director, as well as a director of clinical education. Phillip Palmer, PT, PhD, recently assumed the role of founding director of the Physical Therapy program. He will serve as professor and chair of the College’s department of physical therapy. Carol Miller, PT, PhD, GCS, has joined the staff as professor and director of clinical education. In this position, she coordinates clinical sites for the physical therapy curriculum. Drs. Palmer and Miller are preparing the doctoral program’s application for candidacy, which will be submitted to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) on December 1, 2017, as a requirement in the preaccreditation stage. If candidacy is granted, GA–PCOM will be approved to admit its first cohort of students to the Physical Therapy program for the summer term of 2018.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
PCOM School of Pharmacy – Georgia Campus welcomed new residents Brandon Cunningham, PharmD, and Keith Johnson, PharmD, to its Post-Graduate Year 1 (PGY-1) Residency Program in July. They make up the second class of residents to participate in the PCOM School of Pharmacy program. The School of Pharmacy’s PGY-1 program, in partnership with Gwinnett Medical Center, launched in 2015. The program prepares residents to work as clinical pharmacists with the ability to practice in a variety of patient care clinical settings and in academia. Residents complete a teaching and learning curriculum over the course of the year and earn a teaching certificate. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which is the national accrediting body for pharmacy residency programs, recently completed a two-day site visit to survey the program. ASHP’s Commission on Credentialing will meet in March 2017 to consider granting full accreditation to the program.
REACHING OUT WITH CARE
Despite balancing heavy course loads and long hours of studying, two DO students have reached out to a community in need. Christopher
Gable (DO ’18) and Adam Kardon (DO ’18) started a clinic at the St. Barnabas Women’s Shelter in West Philadelphia, where they and fellow first- and
HEALTH CARE: A WELL-OILED MACHINE
Students working to become healthcare practitioners need to be prepared to work in a team-based setting. To that end, PCOM and GA–PCOM have launched a series of seminars on both campuses focused on interprofessional education (IPE), which allows students from across disciplines to learn from each other by working side by side. DO, Physician Assistant Studies, Psychology, Pharmacy and Organizational Development and Leadership program students work together during the required seminars to complete assignments and participate in activities designed to foster communication and prepare them to take a team-based approach to patient care. “Health care is a team sport,” says Michael Becker, DO ’87, MS, vice-chair, family medicine. “The best thing for our patients is for all of us to combine our expertise and work together, rather than working in silos.” By working within their IPE groups and discussing professional, ethical and cultural issues in health care, students will be better prepared to work within team environments after graduation.
second-year DO students volunteer their time once a month. “The shelter has not been able to offer any kind of clinical care for 13 years,” says Mr. Gable. “If the moms aren’t healthy, it’s harder for them to take care of their children.” Mr. Gable and Mr. Kardon started the clinic to address the unique healthcare needs of women who are homeless. Mr. Kardon added that many of the activities first- and second-year students do during their time at the clinic involve advocacy for the patients. “We’re also there to help triage problems and, if need be, send patients to PCOM’s Lancaster Avenue Healthcare Center or to
Lankenau Medical Center for further care,” he says. The clinic launched officially in July and has screened about 30 residents thus far. Students have seen a variety of issues within the population, such as heart murmurs, uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension and depression. All activities are overseen by one of PCOM’s family medicine physicians. Mr. Kardon says that because psychological issues are so prevalent among the homeless population, he hopes to bring psychology students on board as well. The group also hopes to expand to a second site by the start of the next academic year.
ADMISSIONS GOES GREEN New academic offerings, including a Doctor of Physical Therapy program anticipated to launch at GA–PCOM in 2018, and online offerings in various programs including psychology mean even more applications to the College. The Office of Admissions is working diligently to reduce the amount of paper needed to complete the application process, incorporating new technologies to reduce waste. And now, letters of recommendation can be submitted electronically, via recommend@ pcom.edu. Note: All letters must appear on letterhead (preferably signed) on behalf of the applicant. Phone calls and e-mails will not take the place of formal letters of recommendation. All processing is done at the Philadelphia campus; for specific questions, contact the Office of Admissions at 800-9996998 or email admissions@ pcom.edu.
LEARNING ABOUT HEALTH LITERACY
The PCOM Library has received a $15,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health to coordinate a patient-education needs assessment,
which will determine how education among the patient population of PCOM’s Healthcare Centers factors into their understanding of personal health issues, self-management of their health and, ultimately, compliance with the care plan laid out by their PCOM physician. “Studies have shown that a patient’s level of health literacy can affect compliance and adherence to their healthcare provider’s treatment plan, and access to credible health/patient education information is something that libraries provide,” explains the study’s principal investigator, P. J. Grier, MPA, MLIS, associate director, library and educational information systems. “Ultimately, we’d like the library to provide a sustained patient-education delivery platform, in concert with physicians and mental health providers in the clinics.” “Part of meeting the needs of our patients is providing them with relevant information about their health and any conditions they need to manage,” says Harry J. Morris, DO ’78, MPH, professor and chair, family medicine. “Something as simple as giving them a pamphlet to take with them can help underscore what their doctor is telling them, but it has to be well understood by the patient in order to be effective.”
TALKING SHOP During Health Literacy Month, Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, MEd, an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, led a workshop for GA–PCOM students, faculty and staff members on health literacy. In the healthcare field, Ms. Kurtz-Rossi noted, serious medical errors can occur in the areas of drug interactions, procedure preparation, medical history forms and discharge instructions, among others. Sponsored by the Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy, the session offered proven techniques that can be used to help patients better understand their health issues and to become more engaged partners in their treatments.
GA–PCOM STUDENTS MENTOR IN HEALTH CAREER ACADEMY
In September, 25 GA–PCOM osteopathic medicine and biomedical sciences students shared lunch with two dozen Central Gwinnett High School 11th graders. They gathered to kick off the
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
second semester of a Health Career Academy program offered to interested students and those who had participated in the program last spring as sophomores. Jade Gillispie, PhD, assistant principal of the high school’s Medical and Healthcare Sciences Academy, who oversees the program, says that the academy’s students “have been exposed to many different aspects of health care. What’s important is that not only have they received for themselves, but they take what they’ve learned and share with other students as well.” Designed by Main Line Health and supported by Aetna, the Health Career Academy brings GA–PCOM students into the classroom to provide mentorship and exposure to health careers through an engaging health curriculum. At GA–PCOM, the program is led by students Hannah Shin (DO ’19) and Yasmeen Shariff (DO ’19). The 11th-grade curriculum focuses on public health issues. Through active learning, the program integrates scientific principles with issues such as brain health, sexual health and healthy living.
SIMULATION CENTER PROVIDES HANDS-ON LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
GA–PCOM’s Simulation Center has recently been transformed with more space and new technology. As part of a $3+ million renovation, the “Sim Center” has expanded to 7,000 square feet and now features four simulation rooms, 10 patient exam rooms, an emergency department, surgery suite, control room, and upgrades in equipment and technology.
In December, the Simulation Center held an open house in conjunction with the College’s holiday luncheon; faculty, students and staff, including board members David McCleskey and Wayne Sikes, toured the newly renovated space.
GA–PCOM STUDENT RESEARCH POSTERS PLACE AT OMED Under the guidance of faculty mentors, two GA– PCOM osteopathic medical students won awards for research presented at the 121st Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition (OMED), held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California this September. Three first-place and six second-place prizes were awarded out of 111 abstract presentations. Students Jung “Charlie” Yoo (DO ’19) and Khin Win (DO ’19) took home first- and second-place prizes, respectively. Mr. Yoo presented “Mechanism of Cerebellar Ataxia Treatment by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation through Correlation Changes between Cerebellar and Motor Cortices: An In Vivo Approach” during the conference. Ms. Win shared her project, “Testosterone Modulation of Myogenic Tone in a Rat Mesenteric Resistance Microvessel: A Novel Mechanism.”
DID YOU KNOW? PCOM’s PsyD program in Clinical Psychology recently received reaccreditation by the American Psychological Association for seven years. The reaccreditation will extend until 2023.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
FOUNDERS’ DAY 2017
VINCENT G. LOBO, DO ’65 O. J. SNYDER MEMORIAL MEDAL RECIPIENT by David McKay Wilson
When Vincent G. Lobo, DO ’65, began his family practice in rural Kent County, Delaware, in the late 1960s, there were just 35 DOs working in a state where some hospitals wouldn’t grant admitting privileges to doctors trained in osteopathic medicine. Fifty years later, thanks in part to Dr. Lobo and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, these numbers have grown almost tenfold, with 334 DOs operating in a state where they now enjoy parity with MDs—and in a state which does not have a medical school. The state also promotes osteopathic training by paying for five slots for four years (20 slots each academic year) for qualified, accepted students from Delaware. Dr. Lobo notes with pride that PCOM’s class of 2020 includes 15 students from Delaware: “It’s been a very good thing for both PCOM and Delaware to have this close affiliation,” he says. “Delaware students have had a better chance to get into medical school, and we’re getting more coming back home. We need more family practitioners.” Dr. Lobo’s practice of medicine has taken place on two complementary levels. First were his patients, who came to his family practice office in Harrington to be treated for the full range of ailments, and whose homes he would visit on house calls. Second was his involvement in public policy and public service, through which he promoted DOs, public health and the medical school that launched him into his medical career in 1965.
Among his biggest allies in the state capital of Dover was Ruth Ann Minner, who served as Delaware’s governor from 2001 to 2009. During her 34 years in elected office in Dover, which included nine terms in the state legislature, Ms. Minner, along with her extended family, also happened to be Dr. Lobo’s patients. While governor, Ms. Minner signed the bill that provided state scholarships to Delaware students in medical school to become DOs. She also regularly sought Dr. Lobo’s advice on healthcare policy.
Dr. Lobo notes with pride that PCOM’s class of 2020 includes 15 students from Delaware: “It’s been a very good thing for both PCOM and Delaware to have this affiliation,” he says. DIGEST 2017
DR. LOBO’S ACHIEVEMENTS AT A GLANCE • Dr. Lobo was the first osteopathic physician to serve on the Delaware Board of Medical Practice. For more than a decade he acted as a legislative liaison and then as president. During his tenure on the board, he worked to change Delaware state laws to acknowledge that osteopathic physicians have the same rights as allopathic physicians to practice medicine. • Dr. Lobo has contributed his time and service to the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, the Delaware Board of Medical Practice, the Delaware Health Resources Board, the Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research, the Delaware State Osteopathic Medical Society, and the Medical Society of Delaware. He has served his alma mater as president of the PCOM alumni association and presently serves as a member of the PCOM Boards of Trustees. • In recognition of his many achievements, Dr. Lobo received a tribute (2006) from Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner; Senator Thurman Adams, Jr.; and State Representative J. Benjamin Ewing for outstanding contributions and service to the community as well as capable patient care. In 2007, he was awarded a Certificate of Honor from the PCOM Alumni Association. • Dr. Lobo holds a bachelor’s degree and a doctor of optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his medical internship at Riverside Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
Dr. Lobo began his healthcare career in the late 1950s as an optometrist. He kept up his optometric practice during his years at PCOM. On weekends, he would drive home to Delaware so he could see patients from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and work half a day on Sunday. He still does eye exams, and in October he was back in Philadelphia taking a course to keep up his certification. After graduating from PCOM, Dr. Lobo opened a solo medical practice in Harrington, which thrived from 1967 to 2010. That’s when he joined the staff of the Bayhealth medical system in Harrington. Osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) is still an important part of his practice. “You are not only relieving pain with OMM,” says Dr. Lobo. “Through touch, you are making a connection with your patient. There is healing and communication. You are showing your patient that you care.” Dr. Lobo has lent his leadership skills to myriad state and professional organizations. He has chaired the Delaware Board of Medical Practice and served as president of the Delaware State Osteopathic Medical Society. He is presently the health commissioner of the city of Harrington—and previously served as the city’s mayor. He has also served as mayor and health commissioner of the town of Fenwick Island. Today, he serves on the board of directors of the Delaware Institute of Medical Education and Research, which oversees state scholarship for medical education. He also has a seat on the Delaware Health Resources Board, which rules on major hospital capital projects. When Dr. Lobo was president of the state Osteopathic Medical Society, DOs were licensed in Delaware to practice osteopathy; medical doctors were licensed to practice medicine and surgery. When a bill would pass affecting the practice of medicine for MDs, the DOs would have to obtain a companion bill so they were covered. Dr. Lobo helped win passage of a bill that put DOs and MDs on equal footing. Then, when Delaware was combining its medical boards of licensure and discipline, Dr. Lobo was not happy that the proposed board lacked representation by DOs. “I told them: ‘We are physicians and we do exist.’ I remember one of the doctors said, ‘Settle it now, because the DOs always beat us in the legislature.’” Dr. Lobo was the first DO named to the Delaware Board of Medical Practice. “It was an important step for our profession,” he says. He also serves on PCOM’s Boards of Trustees and was once president of the PCOM Alumni Association. “You are what your school is,” says Dr. Lobo. “I got involved with the PCOM Alumni Association decades ago. If your medical school doesn’t have a good reputation, then you don’t have a good reputation as a physician. And PCOM has a beautiful reputation.”
ANNA ELISA MUZIO (DO ’17) 2017 PCOM MASON W. PRESSLY MEMORIAL MEDAL RECIPIENT
When Anna Elisa Muzio (DO ’17) became vice chair of PCOM’s Student Organizations Council, she was troubled by what she found. Student clubs were receiving College funding, but they weren’t all participating in community service. “The council decided that if you wanted to keep your funding, you’d have to complete two community service projects per academic year, and have documentation to show what you did,” recalls Ms. Muzio. Between 2014 and 2015, she tracked over 175 hours of community service. The requirement has remained. “Participating in community service and giving back to others has always motivated me and has been a key determinant in my decision to peruse a career in medicine,” says Ms. Muzio. Ms. Muzio’s involvement at PCOM has touched both the Philadelphia campus and the larger city community. Through the Athlete Health Organization, she provided physicals for middle-school and high school athletes. She was the survivorship chair of PCOM’s Relay for Life, working with cancer survivors to share their stories. She shared her love of medicine with local high school students through Lankenau Medical Center’s Health Care Academy. Once a week, she presented a medical case, and then talked about treatment options, discussing issues that ranged from fractures and hypertension to strep throat and influenza. Ms. Muzio’s PCOM journey began in 2012 when she entered into the College’s Biomedical Sciences program. After completing one year in the program and earning a 3.95 GPA, she started in the DO program in the fall of 2013. She worked as an admissions tour guide during her year in graduate school and during her first two years of medical school. By her third and fourth years, Ms. Muzio had a seat on the PCOM Admissions Committee, participating in interviews with prospective students. The daughter of a registered nurse, Ms. Muzio grew up fascinated by the study of anatomy. At Penn State, she studied life sciences with the hope of attending medical school. Ms. Muzio also competed in the shot put, hammer, and weight throws for the Penn State Varsity Women’s Track and Field Team, and served as team captain during her junior and senior years. Through her involvement in athletics, Ms. Muzio became interested in orthopedic surgery and will begin her residency training in that medical specialty. “The practice of orthopedics allows you to change the quality of someone’s life,” she says. “It’s such a gratifying field; patients enter your practice with debilitating ailments, and through surgery, rehabilitation, and personalized care plans, you are able to help your patients feel whole again.”
MATTHEW SHELNUTT (DO ’17) 2017 GA–PCOM MASON W. PRESSLY MEMORIAL MEDAL RECIPIENT
Outreach and inclusion are the foundation for the community work done by Matthew Shelnutt (DO ’17). It’s his way of connecting with and bettering the lives of those around him. Mr. Shelnutt’s community work has been wide-ranging. He served on GA–PCOM’s Diversity Council, helping develop on-campus programs for religious minorities, the school’s LGBT community, and new mothers looking for a private place to pump their breast milk. Mr. Shelnutt’s work with the Diversity Council grew out of a College survey of faculty, staff and students that looked at attitudes on race, religion and sexual orientation on campus. The Diversity Council helped set up the campus’s “safe space” program that let students know that certain faculty and staff were available to discuss incidents involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Council members also helped set up an interfaith meditation room to accommodate personal religious practices and space for quiet reflection during working/school hours. “We opened up the conversation about what should be addressed, and the school stepped in to make it happen,” he says. He did HIV testing at the Atlanta Pride rally, tended to injured long-distance runners at the Publix Georgia Marathon, and helped develop a health fair in a community looking to break the cycle of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. The fair included booths on diabetes, hypertension, condom use and HIV, and the benefits of healthy eating. As an OMM undergraduate teaching fellow, Mr. Shelnutt helped introduce first- and second-year medical students to the intricacies of hands-on healing. He was part of a GA–PCOM Fellows Clinic, in which senior medical students, under supervision, would work on fellow students so they could experience the healing technique. “In the early years of medical school, you are learning to diagnose clinically. You might know about OMM, but you don’t really get to put it all together,” says Mr. Shelnutt. “Our clinic lets students see it from start to finish, and they get to experience the results.” One student whom Mr. Shelnutt mentored through the fellows program found his outreach inspiring: “Matt’s patience and sincere instruction during tutoring sessions was beneficial to instill confidence in my skills, not limited to osteopathic manipulation or treatment. He has a strong work ethic, a compassionate heart, a level mind, and a joyful sense of humor to balance.” Mr. Shelnutt, a Georgia native, hopes to bring his attitudes on community connections and inclusion to his career in medicine, which, if all goes according to plan, will begin with a residency in obstetrics/gynecology upon graduation. DIGEST 2017
NOVEL WAYS OF LOOKING
by Jennifer Schaffer Leone
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD I Among twenty snowy mountains, The only moving thing Was the eye of the blackbird. II I was of three minds, Like a tree In which there are three blackbirds. III The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime. IV A man and a woman Are one. A man and a woman and a blackbird Are one. V I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after. VI Icicles filled the long window With barbaric glass. The shadow of the blackbird Crossed it, to and fro. The mood Traced in the shadow An indecipherable cause. VII O thin men of Haddam, Why do you imagine golden birds? Do you not see how the blackbird Walks around the feet Of the women about you?
Modernist poet Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” has been cited as an exercise in perspectivism. Each of the 13 stanzas expresses an endless possibility—questions that lead to more questions, thoughts that bleed into new thoughts. There is a fluidity to his way of looking. Such an art of observation is often a departure from the field of health care that necessitates quick differential diagnosis. For seeing—really seeing—isn’t only about looking outward; it involves looking inward as well. This issue of Digest Magazine delves into what it truly means to see—to look in depth, to look beneath the surface at facets of the body, the mind and the spirit. For Mindy George-Weinstein, PhD, chief research and science officer, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Jacquelyn Gerhart, MS, coordinator, research support staff and bio-imaging, PCOM, three decades of examination have been spent in discovery of
VIII I know noble accents And lucid, inescapable rhythms; But I know, too, That the blackbird is involved In what I know. IX When the blackbird flew out of sight, It marked the edge Of one of many circles. X At the sight of blackbirds Flying in a green light, Even the bawds of euphony Would cry out sharply. XI He rode over Connecticut In a glass coach. Once, a fear pierced him, In that he mistook The shadow of his equipage For blackbirds. XII The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying. XIII It was evening all afternoon. It was snowing And it was going to snow. The blackbird sat In the cedar-limbs. – Wallace Stevens, 1917
Myo/Nog cells, which are critical for normal embryonic development. Their Myo/Nog cells are now the focus of a multi-institutional research consortium that aims to provide a more complete understanding of the impact that the cells have on tumor growth, wound healing and protecting neurons in diseased retina and brain tissues. Bernard F. Master, DO ’66, a successful physician and businessman, has seen and recorded more species— some 7,825—of birds than almost anyone else on earth. Throughout his medical career, birding provided a respite, a balm and a profound connection to the natural world that has given him a sense of place like no other. Jeffrey Gazzara, DO ’16, a neuromusculoskeletal medicine resident at Mercy Health Muskegon, Michigan, suffers from retinitis pigmentosa. Yet he has adapted to and overcome many of the complexities of practicing with a visual deficiency through the power of touch and cognition. By interpreting sensory output, he “sees” health.
FNEOA VT EU LR EW A Y S O F L O O K I N G
ROUNDBREAKING G MICROSCOPIC AND MACROSCOPIC DISCOVERIES
Mindy George-Weinstein, PhD, chief research and science officer, has spent three decades discovering, targeting and closely observing Myo/Nog cells. Her pioneering work is presently the focus of a multi-institutional consortium consisting of four separate yet interrelated research projects.
by Janice Fisher
The road to discovery of the Myo/Nog lineage began almost 30 years ago with the identification of 10 skeletal muscle stem cells that were hidden among a hundred thousand other cells—the veritable needle in the haystack. “We were asking a relatively simple question, using the chick embryo as the model,” says Mindy George-Weinstein, PhD, chief research and science officer, Philadelphia College 14
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of Osteopathic Medicine. “The question was: When does skeletal muscle begin to develop in the embryo? The dogma at the time was that embryonic cells were naive until they received signals from the developing spinal cord to become programmed to form muscle.” But two reports in the literature caught the eye of Dr. George-Weinstein. Researchers Howard Holtzer, PhD, and Michael Solursh,
PhD, had found that muscle could develop from early embryos before the formation of the spinal cord if cells were grown in the presence of a rich, undefined mixture of molecules. “We decided to take a closer look.” The first step involved culturing embryonic cells in the absence of molecules seen within the embryo itself. Lo and behold, muscle appeared. Next, the George-Weinstein lab found 10 to 20 cells that contained MyoD, a molecule that drives skeletal muscle development. Visualizing MyoD was possible using three-dimensional DNA nanoparticles (3DNA) developed by PolyProbe, a company whose laboratory was housed at PCOM. The group then discovered that the cells with MyoD released a molecule called Noggin, an inhibitor of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) that are present in the embryo and adults. (The scientists who had discovered Noggin applied this name because a mutated form produces malformations of the head.) The cells found in the George-Weinstein lab were named Myo/Nog for their dual roles as precursors to muscle and factories for Noggin production. Myo/Nog cells were also identified with an antibody called G8. “The beauty of this antibody,” says Dr. George-Weinstein, “is that it binds to the cell surface. We could apply the antibody to living embryos to track Myo/Nog cells, isolate the cells to study their properties in culture, and kill them.” For almost 20 years, the George-Weinstein lab studied the roles of Myo/Nog cells during embryonic development. “As organs are forming,” explains Dr. George-Weinstein, “Myo/Nog cells become integrated into many different tissues, some that have muscle and some that don’t.” The tiny population of Myo/Nog cells present in the early embryo is critical for muscle formation and development of multiple organs, including the eyes, heart and brain.
“One unique feature of Myo/Nog cells,” says Dr. George-Weinstein, “is their stubbornness to remain as both a muscle precursor cell and a cell that produces Noggin regardless of their environment.” As it turns out, Myo/Nog cells are also found in normal and diseased tissue of adult mice, rats, rabbits and humans. They not only produce Noggin; they migrate very quickly to sites of injury. That’s where the story gets even more interesting.
OVERTURNING DOGMA IN NEW DISCOVERY
Based on the lab’s discovery that killing Myo/Nog cells disrupts normal eye development in the chick embryo, they began to study their roles in the more mature lens and retina. In collaboration with a group of researchers at Thomas Jefferson University, they found that Myo/Nog cells developed into a type of muscle cell called a myofibroblast, in response to wounding of the chick lens. The George-Weinstein lab then made the leap to adult human eyes, where Myo/Nog cells were found in low numbers. Again, the group found themselves overturning a dogma in the field. Myofibroblasts in the lens were presumed to develop from epithelial cells that along with their mature derivatives, the lens fiber cells, were thought to be the only cells in the lens. Using human lens tissue removed during cataract surgery, they discovered that Myo/Nog cells are the source of contractile myofibroblasts that resemble skeletal muscle cells. “The problem with myofibroblasts is that their contractions produce wrinkles in the capsule that surrounds the lens. These wrinkles can affect the pathway of light as it passes through the lens on its way to the retina,” says Dr. George-Weinstein. This phenomenon occurs in a DIGEST 2017
NOVEL WAYS OF LOOKING
DECADES OF COLLABORATION
When Jacquelyn Gerhart became PCOM’s laboratory coordinator of the scientific support staff and bio-imaging core facility in 2015, it was a definitive homecoming. Her campus home, the bio-imaging core facility in Evans Hall, is precisely where she began her PCOM career in 1987, right out of college. It was then the electron microscopy suite; she recalls two electron
disease called posterior capsule opacification (PCO), or secondary cataract. Between 15 and 30 percent of adults, and almost all children, get PCO after cataract surgery. This vision-impairing disease can be treated with laser, but side effects, some serious, can occur, and laser surgery isn’t available worldwide. Since it can’t be predicted which adults will get PCO, ideally a drug that kills Myo/Nog cells could be given to everyone having cataract surgery. The George-Weinstein lab developed such a drug in collaboration with Robert Getts, PhD, vice-president of research and development and chief scientific officer at Genisphere LLC, a company that evolved from PolyProbe. The G8 antibody used for targeting the drug to Myo/Nog cells was attached to 3DNA nanoparticles containing a toxic molecule called doxorubicin that’s commonly used for cancer chemotherapy. In a recently published paper, the team reported that this novel drug specifically kills Myo/Nog cells and prevents the emergence of myofibroblasts in cultures of human lens tissue. In collaboration with veterinarians at the University of Utah, the drug is currently being tested for its ability to reduce PCO in rabbits undergoing cataract surgery. Myo/Nog cells are also present in the retina. Arturo Bravo-Nuevo, PhD, at Jefferson University, and Alice 16
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microscopes, one of them room-sized. Today, a range of more sophisticated devices have joined those microscopes—now much smaller and more powerful. Ms. Gerhart is responsible for helping faculty and research staff from the Philadelphia and Georgia campuses with microscopy, cytology and related techniques. She also coordinates the efforts of the research support staff, participates in interviewing applicants for research positions, and orients new employees. Ms. Gerhart spends approximately 20 percent of her time conducting her own research. In 1990, Ms. Gerhart began working with Dr. GeorgeWeinstein when “the chick system was up and running. We were looking for an antibody that we could use to study skeletal muscle, and that’s where it all began.” The productivity and longevity of their collaboration (which continued even when they were not at PCOM) is perhaps no longer so unusual among contemporary women scientists. But Ms. Gerhart remembers chatting at a professional meeting with the late Elizabeth Hay, MD, a pioneering cell and developmental biologist. As they stood in a line for the women’s bathroom, Dr. Hay commented that she hadn’t always had to wait in such lines because there were so few women in the field. The collaborative culture of PCOM was a powerful lure for Ms. Gerhart. She knows that if she’s not able to check on the well-being of her cultures containing human lens tissue, for example, “there’s always someone who is willing to help out, from the people we’ve hired right out of college to staff that have been here
Brandli, PhD, and Jonathan Stone, PhD, both at the University of Sydney, have explored the roles of Myo/Nog cells in two models of retinal disease—retinopathy of prematurity, which afflicted Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, and light damage. Their publications describe the effects of either eliminating or adding Myo/Nog cells to the diseased retina. Myo/Nog cells were shown to be important for preserving the viability and function of photoreceptor cells that respond to light. The next step is to determine how Myo/Nog cells protect the retina. “If their protective effects are mediated by releasing a molecule, then hypothetically the molecule itself could be injected into the eye instead of the cells,” says Dr. George-Weinstein. “This approach would circumvent the formation of muscle from injected Myo/Nog cells whose contractions could have devastating effects on vision.”
MYO/NOG CELLS: GOOD, BAD OR BOTH?
“The take-home message from our work is that Myo/ Nog cells might be good guys or bad guys—or even both, in the same organ. That’s what makes these cells so inter-
for 20 or more years.” Students volunteer to work at night; they tell her, “I live right here, and I can come in and take care of this for you.” Students who worked in the lab with Ms. Gerhart and Dr. George-Weinstein stay in touch, seeking updates on their research as well as opportunities to network among the web of connections formed in their nurturing environment. Ms. Gerhart has mentored biomedical studies students on the research track, as well as research-loving DO students. She also welcomed undergraduates from Cabrini College and high school students from Lower Merion High School, her alma maters. The continuous opportunity to innovate sweetened her return to PCOM. “Some of the things we do haven’t been done before,” she notes, “or we had to modify someone else’s procedure to fit our project. Sometimes you have to sit there and think: ‘This is what we need to do. But how are we going to do it?’” In the early work with chick embryos, she recalls, “we had to figure out a way to grow the embryos so we could watch them develop in the absence of Myo/Nog cells. Right after the egg was laid we would cut a window in the shell and cover it with plastic wrap to watch them grow.” Ms. Gerhart, an artist, relied regularly on an art supply catalogue, following a recommendation by a fellow artist, the late Camille DiLullo, PhD, professor of anatomy, department of bio-medical sciences. “Tools for fine work in sculpture helped me manipulate embryos,” says Ms. Gerhart. “Crocus cloth, used to sand art projects, was perfect for sharpening our knives.”
Ms. Gerhart points to a desk drawer. “I have my box of tools right here, and no one is allowed to touch them; they are mine,” she says mildly. “I made them 20 years ago, and they still work and I still pull them out if I need them.” She remembers working with tissue sections “that are so thin you can barely see them; you have to float them on water and get the water to reflect just right to find them. To move them, you had to pull out an eyelash and glue it to a stick.” Years ago, learning how to perform a dissection under the microscope, Ms. Gerhart worried, “I can’t even see what we’re cutting!” Finally, “the light was just right, and I saw it. So I tell students, don’t worry; eventually it’s just going to light up for you.” What’s necessary, she stresses, is patience. “You have to be willing to sit and try things, or it’s not going to work. “Just the other day I called Mindy to say, ‘You’ve got to come over and see this!’ Mindy was as excited as I was. Leadership comes from the top down, so a leader who is excited will get everyone else excited. I think research at PCOM will do really well under her leadership as the chief research and science officer.” Ms. Gerhart and Dr. George-Weinstein continue to work together to test potential therapeutics that target Myo/Nog cells. Ms. Gerhart collaborates with Dr. Getts and his staff at Genisphere; Dr. Byrne, at Rowan University; and Liliana Werner, MD, PhD, at the University of Utah, to develop a drug that kills Myo/Nog cells to prevent secondary cataract formation.
THE GEORGE-WEINSTEIN LAB: “A BRILLIANT PLACE TO LEARN” Ms. Gerhart recalls “a fantastic PCOM student” who was recommended to the lab by his former undergraduate research mentor. The student was Mitchell B. Crawford, DO ’15. Dr. Crawford quickly learned how to dissect the delicate tissues of the embryo, a variety of histological procedures and novel approaches to culturing human tissue. “We relied upon Mitch’s imagination and ability to integrate information during brainstorming sessions in which we designed and interpreted experiments,” says Dr. George-Weinstein. Like other lab members, he coauthored several papers with Ms. Gerhart and Dr. George-Weinstein [see sidebar]. Dr. Crawford describes Ms. Gerhart and Dr. GeorgeWeinstein as great teachers. “The lab was such a welcoming environment; Jackie and Mindy were so kind and so eager to teach and have me be a part of anything I was willing to help out with. It was just a brilliant place to learn. “The lens project was pretty exciting,” he says. “We were doing things that we didn’t know how to do—and no one else did, either. How do you take human tissue
straight from the OR without damaging it? What kinds of solutions should be used? What’s the right temperature and humidity for the incubators? We were learning as we went along.” While Dr. Crawford misses working in the lab, he puts to use the skills he developed at the bench in multiple clinical research projects that engage him now, as a second-year psychiatry resident at the Harvard South Shore Psychiatry Training Program, Harvard Medical School/VA Boston Healthcare, Brockton, Massachusetts. Dr. George-Weinstein’s concern with children who suffered from ocular diseases made a strong impression on Dr. Crawford. “We talked about an eye drop that might be given on mission trips to kids in Third World countries. Some people say that psychiatry isn’t the most prestigious or financially rewarding specialty. My experience with Mindy and the lab helped orient me and remember that it’s important to do what you think is important in life.”
NOVEL WAYS OF LOOKING
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE AS A SPRINGBOARD TO A CAREER IN MEDICINE
When Jordanna Perlman Quinn, DO, MS/Biomed ’02, joined the George-Weinstein lab, she began at the very beginning: by learning what a stem cell is. “It wasn’t yet known that stem cells programmed to produce skeletal muscle are present in the very early embryo,” she says. Dr. George-Weinstein and Ms. Gerhart “took me under their wing, and taught me how to work in a lab.” Today, Dr. Quinn’s practice of regenerative medicine in Golden, Colorado, includes stem cell injections into her patients to help them grow cartilage. Dr. Quinn, who received her DO from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and maintains a musculoskeletal/ sports-based practice with a special interest in a natural medical approach. She describes herself as “having one foot in Western medicine and another in the holistic approach.” “Jordanna had a broad view of medicine and healing, and she embraced the osteopathic philosophy,” says Dr. George-Weinstein. Dr. Quinn recalls “living in the lab, day in and day out, with Jackie or by myself, extracting stem cells from quail eggs and chick eggs. It was a lot of work—late nights, and intense.” She developed the protocol for isolating Myo/Nog cells, a procedure that is currently utilized for analyses of their properties in normal and diseased adult tissues. “Jordanna’s contributions were enormous. She was exceptionally smart, dedicated and an absolute pleasure to work with,” recalls Dr. George-Weinstein. Dr. Quinn won the Sigma Xi Award for outstanding research, and was the coauthor (as Jordanna Perlman) of several papers with Ms. Gerhart and Dr. GeorgeWeinstein [see sidebar]. But her experiences in the lab influenced her beyond the realm of science. Throughout her career, Dr. Quinn has pondered how to inspire the people who work for her. “I see now that Mindy was a great work model,” she says. “The atmosphere in the lab was wonderful, and that makes you want to work harder. We had so much fun, but not at expense of hard work.” Dr. Quinn adds, “Jackie and Mindy were both so passionate about their work. That’s infective; you can’t help but be interested.”
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esting to study,” says Dr. George-Weinstein. In the embryo and the retina, Myo/Nog cells orchestrate normal development and protect cells from damage. While Myo/Nog cells are critical for lens development, they contribute to PCO with their contractions. “In some wounds, such as diabetic ulcers, the addition of Myo/Nog cells may help with healing,” suggests Dr. George-Weinstein. On the other hand, sometimes injury leads to scar tissue formation, for example after a myocardial infarction. “We know that Myo/ Nog cells are present in the heart, kidney and lungs. Do they mediate normal wound healing, deposit scar tissue, or both—and if the answer is both, what flips the switch?” Myo/Nog cells are also present in tumors. The group has proposed that Myo/Nog cells may indirectly affect the behavior of cancer cells. In animal models, an increase in Noggin promotes skin cancer, and in human skin tumors, the number of Myo/Nog cells correlates with the extent of invasion. While Myo/Nog cells may act indirectly in some tumors, a second hypothesis, and one that Dr. GeorgeWeinstein has been eager to test for years, is that the Myo/ Nog cell itself might be the stem cell for cancers with muscle-like properties. In both scenarios, eliminating Myo/Nog cells may be therapeutic.
THE MYO/NOG CELL CONSORTIUM
These questions and hypotheses will be addressed in a multi-institutional consortium of Myo/Nog cell researchers. Dr. George-Weinstein and Ms. Gerhart will continue their studies of targeting Myo/Nog cells in the lens to prevent PCO. Mark Byrne, PhD, of Rowan University is working with the scientists at Genisphere and Dr. George-Weinstein and Ms. Gerhart to develop a more effective method of drug delivery. Dr. Bravo-Nuevo
EXPANDING THE WORK OF THE GEORGE-WEINSTEIN LAB
Besides Dr. George-Weinstein and Ms. Gerhart, the following PCOM-affiliated students, faculty and technicians performed experiments that led to publications, presentations and grants. Most are coauthors on one or more of 26 peer-reviewed published papers arising from the work of the George-Weinstein lab. The first of these papers was published in Developmental Biology in 1991. Their most recent manuscripts will appear in PLOS ONE and the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics early in 2017.
and Nancy Philp, PhD, of Thomas Jefferson University will be studying the neuroprotective properties of Myo/ Nog cells. The role of Myo/Nog cells in fibrosis and sarcomas will be investigated by Kathryn Behling, MD, PhD, of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Dr. George-Weinstein describes the multi-institutional consortium as “an integrated and collaborative fact-finding mission that promotes the flow of ideas and data between investigators focused on a single cell type in multiple diseases.” Dr. George-Weinstein notes that the entire body of work was made possible by her 30-year collaboration with Ms. Gerhart [see sidebar]. “Jackie invented the techniques required for the experiments, generated and interpreted data, and contributed to the overall vision of the projects that were supported by PCOM, the NIH and multiple foundations over the years. Jackie’s work was described by reviewers of our manuscripts as a technical tour-de-force.” Many talented MS and DO students were also instrumental in uncovering the mysteries of Myo/Nog cells [see sidebars]. “It’s incredible,” reflects Dr. George-Weinstein, “that what appeared to be a simple question which we answered in the chick embryo has led to the development of potential therapies for human diseases. This extremely fulfilling journey, like most research, has had its struggles that were overcome with persistence and hard work. The winding path began at PCOM. We are thrilled to have returned to our roots for the next stage of the journey.”
Brian A. Bast, DO ’02 Michael C. Baytion, MS/Biomed ’98 Joanna N. Capparella, DO ’97 Eric T. Cochran, MS/Biomed ’97, DO ’01 Mitchell B. Crawford, DO ’15 Rocco J. Crescenzo, DO ’92, clinical assistant professor, internal medicine, PCOM Jeffrey T. Dare, MS/Biomed ’97, DO ’02 Steven M. DeLuca, MS/Biomed ’98, DO ’02 Camille DiLullo, PhD, professor of anatomy, bio-medical sciences [deceased] Kevin M. DuPrey, DO ’10 Justin L. Elder, DO ’07 Joseph M. Flynn, DO ’96 Gerard J. Foti, DO ’94 Carolyn E. Miehle Ianieri, DO ’95 Stephanie K. Iem, MS/Biomed ’03 Tage Nielsen Kvist, PhD, professor emeritus, bio-medical sciences, PCOM Christian S. Lopez, MS/Biomed ’99 Luis Alberto Narciso, DO ’08 Christine Neely, technician Robert Niewenhuis, PhD, professor emeritus, bio-medical sciences, PCOM Michele E. Paessler, DO ’97 Jessica Pfautz, technician Jordanna Perlman Quinn, MS/Biomed ’02 Rebecca A. Reed, DO ’97 Beth A. Ricci, DO ’95 Jared S. Schure, MS/Biomed ’05 Eileen P. Simak, DO ’00 Jennifer Leigh Sobel, DO ’99 Larry Wayne Spector, DO ’94 Adam C. Steinberg, DO ’98 Benjamin Leslie Stewart II, DO ’05 Robert J. Strony, DO ’03 Dolores R. Tornambe, MS/Biomed ’06, DO ’10 DIGEST 2017
NOVEL WAYS OF LOOKING
BIRD BY BIRD
Bernard F. Master, DO ’66, a successful physician and businessman, has seen more species of birds than almost anyone else on earth—and seeing the world through the eyes of birds has given him a sense of place like no other. by David McKay Wilson
Since his retirement 15 years ago, Bernard F. Master, DO ’66, is still making rounds—but not at the health network he built into a powerhouse in Columbus, Ohio. Instead, Dr. Master, known as a “world birder” for his list of 7,825 species that he has seen, regularly makes his rounds with Niger thistle seed and hulled sunflower seeds to fill the birdfeeders at his five-acre homestead in Columbus’ northern suburbs. He also makes the rounds of far-flung habitats around the world, where he spots rare species to add to his growing list. In early November, he’s studying up for a sojourn to Brazil, where 70 species he has yet to see are known to frequent his destination. He’s studying their plumage, their distinctive songs, and what they look like in flight. He’s developing a picture in his mind of each of the birds so that when he’s out in the wilderness, peering through his 20
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
Zeiss Victory 10x42 binoculars, he’ll be able to call it out. If it’s especially rare, he’ll snap a photograph, and later add it to his list. After you’ve been peering up for hours, the bird you’ve looked for all day can flash before you in an instant. A birder has an average of three seconds to identify a bird in flight. Preparation is the key. “When you finally see it, there’s exultation for a job well done,” he says. Topping his Brazilian wish list is a bird called Stresemann’s Bristlefront, one of the world’s rarest birds, which is near extinction with only two left in the world. The long-tailed songbird’s last remaining habitat is in the Atlantic Forest, a terrestrial biome on Brazil’s northeast coast. Permissions were secured for Dr. Master’s expedition to enter into private lands in search of the species.
NOVEL WAYS OF LOOKING
After a long, arduous hike up through a Brazilian forest, Dr. Master heard the bird, and spotted the male lurking in the darkest part of the forest. A female was calling nearby. “Success!” he exclaimed in an email message from Brazil. “There’s only one pair left in the world, so therefore it’s the rarest bird in the world. Only about 150 people have seen it since its rediscovery in 2002, after a 100-year absence.”
THE LIFE LIST
Dr. Master’s expedition to Brazil marks his latest excursion in his quest to build what’s called his “life list”— the cumulative record of species seen in the wilds over a lifetime. Since his retirement from medicine in 2001, and the sale of his remaining MEDCenter facilities in 2005, Dr. Master has dedicated his life to birding, wildlife conservation and sponsorships of local events, such as the Bernard Master Tennis Classic, now in its 38th year. Birding dates back to his childhood in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia. When Dr. Master was four years old, his father, Gilbert Master, DPM, an avid birder, had him start his list. On February 28, 1946, he recorded 10 birds, including a Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Song Sparrow. The Master family would also travel each year to the birder’s paradise of Cape May, New Jersey, where migratory birds stop for respite on their long-distance travels in fall and spring. By 2016, Dr. Master laid claim to being the first American to have seen species from all 237 families of the world’s birds. His list includes birds from six continents, 107 countries, and his Ohio homestead, which is bisected by Tucker Creek, and is inviting to a broad spectrum of birds.
From No Finish Line: Discovering the World’s Secrets One Bird at a Time: PRACTICAL BIRDING TIPS
After puberty it’s very difficult—but not impossible—to learn bird songs.
You have an average of three seconds to identify a bird.
Look at every bird you see through your binoculars, especially birds in flight. Practice makes perfect.
In a group, don’t contradict a person who makes a bird sighting that seems unlikely. He or she may hate you forever.
Wear a harness strap on your binoculars to distribute the weight across your shoulders and reduce the weight on your cervical spine.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
Every morning, Dr. Master walks his land to see what birds have come to visit. Only 437 bird species have ever been seen in Ohio. He has spotted 184 of them on his land. “My patch has woods, streams and gardens,” he says. “I keep my feeders filled year round, and I leave my hummingbird feeder out until December. There’s always a chance I might get a rare hummingbird from the West.” The details of Dr. Master’s birding life can be found in his 2015 memoir, No Finish Line: Discovering the World’s Secrets One Bird at a Time (Little White Dog Press). Readers discover that birding at the highest levels can be a heady life. There’s the sighting of the Raggiana Bird of Paradise in Papua New Guinea, his search for the Ivorybilled Woodpecker in an Arkansas mangrove forest, and the sightings of the radiant Souimanga Sunbird on a tiny atoll in the Indian Ocean. Dr. Master birded one year with Queen Noor of Jordan (Noor Al-Hussein) in his search for Sinai Rose Finch and was honored at a grand ceremony in the Netherlands for his support of wildlife conservation. But he was also part of a group detained in an extortion ploy in Brazil. On another trip to South Asia, his group’s transport was attacked by a gang in Papua New Guinea. “I was anxious for the safety of my wife,” he recalls. “I was angry.”
A SPIRITUAL CONNECTION TO THE NATURAL WORLD
It’s the birds—and that connection to the natural world instilled by his father—that remain at the center of Dr. Master’s life. “Birding provides a connection to family and to my father,” he says. “There’s such an adrenalin rush when you see the bird; it’s a delight that stays with me forever. The memory lingers, and I can recall these sightings in years to come.” Over the years, Dr. Master has taken many birders on walks to teach them the rudiments of identifying birds and learning their songs. Among them is fellow Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine alumnus Robert Weisberg, DO ’66, a senior partner at the Mainline Medical Group, Narberth, Pennsylvania. Dr. Weisberg still has the copy of a field guide to birds of North America that Dr. Master gave him many years ago. “I have that book to this day,” says Dr. Weisberg. “I’ve traveled all over the world, and when I see some weird bird, like I did in the jungles of Peru four years ago, I’ll take a picture of it, send it to Bernie, and ask him, ‘What do you think?’ ” Throughout Dr. Master’s medical career, birding provided a welcome respite from the pressures of running healthcare networks that began serving Columbus’ inner-city neighborhoods, and then spread out into the metropolitan region. “It was my release, my balm,” he says. “I’d go out to look at birds. It cleared my mind. And in would come fresh ideas. I used birding to help my business.”
A MEDICAL BUSINESS TAKES FLIGHT
Dr. Master’s business began in the late 1960s. Fresh out of PCOM, Dr. Master worked in family medicine in a small Columbus practice. Then he was drafted and sent to Vietnam
Above: Vireo masteri, meaning “of Master.” This bird, native to Colombia, is named for Dr. Master. [Photo courtesy of Paul Salaman] Additional birds include (clockwise from center top): the Horned Sungem, the Rufous-throated Sapphire, and the Pauraque. [Photos provided by Dr. Master] with a wave of 120 DOs. He served on the front lines with an infantry unit that saw bloody action near Khe Sanh. He spotted birds there too—24 of which were added to his life list, including a Jack Snipe and Yellow-bellied Wren Warbler. Back home, his practice in Columbus’ Linden neighborhood prospered. He expanded his healthcare company, which served the community during the heyday of health maintenance organizations, with his health centers providing comprehensive services under one roof. Dr. Master took the company public, with its stock sold on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Then he sold his interest in the company in 2000, giving himself time to devote to birding, and philanthropy. “Bernie built a monster business,” says Norman Ruttenberg, DO ’66, of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, who retired from his radiology practice in 2016, and served in Vietnam with Dr. Master. “He has great instincts for issues, situations and his patients. And those qualities have helped him tremendously in life.” Dr. Master’s medical practice was devoted to serving low-income patients whose health insurance came through the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs. His business instincts dovetailed with a commitment to provide health care to the city’s predominantly minority neighborhoods. “My practice grew rapidly because other doctors wouldn’t see this group of patients,” he says. That spirit has inspired Dr. Master’s philanthropy as well. In 1995, he endowed a scholarship fund at PCOM for minority medical students, called the Bernard Master DO Scholarship. He also endowed scholarship funds
at Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University, Ohio State University and Temple University. “My PCOM scholarship goes to minority students, underscoring my personal philosophy that raising everybody up in America is a patriotic act,” he says. “We can’t advance as a nation unless everybody is moving together.”
A BIRD NAMED FOR BERNIE
His international philanthropy led to one of the high points of Dr. Master’s birding career. In the early 1990s, an ornithologist discovered a new bird species high up in the forest canopy of a Colombian forest. At the time, the bird’s habitat was under threat, so the scientist who discovered the new species auctioned off the naming rights to raise money to preserve the land. Dr. Master stepped up, contributing the auction price of $125,000 to create the preserve. The scientific name of bird, known as the Choco Vireo, is Vireo masteri, with his family surname Latinized to the possessive, to mean “of Master.” He saw the bird on his fourth trip to Colombia on New Year’s Day 2010, after three previous attempts to enter the nesting grounds were aborted because of rebel activity in the region. “I saw a tiny figure moving through the leaves, then I saw it clearly, a small olive sprite with two wing bars and a white eye line,” he wrote. “After 15 years, I was watching three Choco Vireos singing and playing up in the canopy mist. I watched them for two hours. I could not pull myself away.” DIGEST 2017
N F EOAVTEULR W E AYS OF LOOKING
SEEING WITHOUT SEEING
Jeffrey Gazzara, DO ’16, has adapted to and overcome many of the complexities of practicing medicine with a visual deficiency through the power of touch and cognition.
by David McKay Wilson
Stricken with a degenerative eye disease at age 12, Jeffrey Gazzara, DO ’16, didn’t let vision loss stop his academic pursuits; he earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and then his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Gazzara began his residency in neuromusculoskeletal medicine this past summer at Mercy Health Muskegon, in Muskegon, Michigan. It’s the training he’ll need to become a practitioner in osteopathic manual manipulation three or four years down the road. 24
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
“I’m still trying to decide if I’ll do an extra year in sports medicine, but if not, I would love to have a small practice, working on my own, and practicing osteopathic manipulative medicine,” he says. Dr. Gazzara suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, which causes vision loss through the degeneration of the retina’s rod photoreceptor cells. It wasn’t a huge problem for Dr. Gazzara in high school, who ran the 100-meter dash on the track team and played running back on the football squad. But the degeneration began to take its toll on Dr. Gazzara’s eyesight during his undergraduate years in Philadelphia. It hasn’t been easy. Dr. Gazzara kept pace using certain accommodations, such as a computer program that reverses the screen, with white letters on a black backdrop. The program also has a bigger blinking mouse to provide added visual assistance. While on clinical rotations at PCOM, Dr. Gazzara needed to link his computer software to the electronic medical records system at each hospital so he could both read and input patient notes on his laptop. Dr. Gazzara says he would call ahead when he started a new rotation so he could visit the office to learn how it was
year, he was leaning toward the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. But as time approached for him to choose his residency, he decided to become a specialist in OMM. “I had a change of heart, and was driven to what I really wanted to do,” he says. His study of medicine, and OMM in particular, has honed his sense of touch. His hands help him see what’s beneath the skin. By interpreting sensory output, he “sees” health. “This field was perfect for my vision,” he says. “When you are doing a physical exam, people who have vision take it for granted. But when you listen to a patient’s heart and lungs, it has nothing to do with seeing. The same applies to an abdominal exam; you can feel that there’s a lesion by running your hands over the belly. You can put a hand on, and feel it.” During his residency, Dr. Gazzara looks forward to learning new ways to see—and to heal—with his hands. “I’m learning new techniques, so I’ll have more in my toolbox,” he says. “There are things you can do with your hands to make people feel better. The practice can be so gratifying.”
“I’m learning new techniques, so I’ll have more in my toolbox,” he says. “There are things you can do with your hands to make people feel better. The practice can be so gratifying.”
set up. He’d take a trial run on the bus as well, to get his bearings. “I can see well enough that I can navigate once I have an idea of where I’m going,” he says. “I just need to first get used to where I’m going.” Dr. Gazzara was recently featured in the American Osteopathic Association’s magazine,The DO, in which he discussed his journey through medical school while legally blind. When one online reader commented that she was struggling through her preclinical years at medical school, he offered her the advice about the strategies he relied on at PCOM. Listening, it turned out, was the key, as he sharpened his auditory skills. “When I began my first year of medical school, I tried to do too much,” he wrote. “I bogged myself down. Eventually, I had to convince myself to do less. I literally just listened to lectures and memorized. I would listen to each one twice before each exam. You really have to ask yourself: ‘Am I am auditory learner or a visual learner?’ Then create a study method so you can best learn.” When he began medical school, Dr. Gazzara had ruled out surgery as a specialty upon graduation. By his final
Paul Dyball, DO, who supervises the OMM residency program at Mercy Health Muskegon, reports that Dr. Gazzara has received good reviews from both attending physicians and his patients. “We’ve been blown away by how well he has managed,” says Dr. Dyball. “People who interact with him say Dr. Gazzara puts their concerns at ease, both with his demeanor and medical knowledge.” Dr. Gazzara, who grew up in South Jersey, was nervous about moving to Michigan, having stayed close to home throughout his upbringing and college years in Philadelphia. He feared he would be homesick. He feared he’d have to justify himself to Michigan naysayers, like some he met out in the Philadelphia healthcare world, who didn’t think he could make it because his vision was impaired. But Michigan has turned out to be a most pleasant surprise. “Michigan has been great,” he says. “The people are so nice. I’ve got a girlfriend. Nobody gives me any trouble. I’ve found that I can do it. I just have to do it a little differently.”
Stephen L. Burnstein, DO, Marlton, NJ, was elected as a vice president of the Associated Alumni of Central High School (AACHS) of Philadelphia. Dr. Burnstein has served as a member of the AACHS Board of Managers since 2012 and as chairperson of the AACHS Hall of Fame since 2013.
Eric Eugene Shore, DO, JD, MBA, Bala Cynwyd, PA, a physician and health law attorney, was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States in June 2016.
24th Annual PCOM Golf Classic On a picture-perfect day in September, nearly 90 golfers played in the PCOM Golf Classic held at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. Organized to benefit the PCOM Healthcare Centers, the event raised nearly $95,000 to help provide critical health services to underserved and at-risk populations in North and West Philadelphia, Wynnefield Heights, and Laporte, in rural Sullivan County. Many families who visit the centers are underinsured for the care they need, and with few healthcare options, they depend on PCOM for essential medical and mental health needs. A heartfelt thank you to all golfers for their outstanding generosity!
Sidney Simon, DO, Harrison, NY, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Joseph H. Ridgik, DO, League City, TX, published a book entitled Patients Say . . . (and Do) the Darndest Things (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 2016).
William F. Ranieri, DO, Ventnor City, NJ, received the Presidential Citation Award during the American Osteopathic Association House Delegates meeting held in July in Chicago, for evolving clinical education, training and practice in osteopathic psychiatry. Dr. Ranieri, now professor emeritus in psychiatry, was the founding chair of the department of psychiatry at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. 26
Ronald R. Blanck, DO, Fenwick Island, DE, received the Presidential Citation Award during the American Osteopathic Association House Delegates meeting held in July in Chicago, for the military service he has dedicated to our country and for the contributions he has made to advancing osteopathic medicine throughout the nation and the world.
John W. Becher, DO, Newtown Square, PA, visited Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM) in July to address the class of 2018 about the changing landscape of the medical profession. He also spoke with Harnett Health resident physicians and CUSOM faculty and staff. This visit to CUSOM was one of many Dr. Becher made while he served as president of the American Osteopathic Association from 2015 to 2016.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
James P. Dwyer, DO, Medford, NJ, was honored at the White Mass for Healthcare Workers held by the Diocese of Camden. Dr. Dwyer is executive coach and consultant for Navipoint LLC, helping physicians navigate the challenges of the healthcare leadership landscape. Before Navipoint, he was executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Virtua Memorial, and he continues to practice medicine as a rheumatologist.
John C. Prestosh, DO, Nazareth, PA, received the Strategic Team Award and Recognition (STAR) during the American Osteopathic Association House Delegates meeting held in July in Chicago, for his work enhancing the culture of osteopathic medicine. Kenneth J. Veit, DO, MBA, provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean, PCOM, Lafayette Hill, PA, has been appointed (November 2016) by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell to serve on the Department of HHS’ Health Resources and Service Administration’s Council on Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Veit was jointly nominated for this post by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians for his vast expertise on a range of policy issues related to osteopathic medical education, the physician workforce and healthcare delivery. In addition, Dr. Veit received the AOA Presidential Citation Award during the AOA House Delegates meeting held in July in Chicago, for his dedication to patient care and his commitment to training the next generation of osteopathic physicians.
Christopher M. Snyder, DO, Ooltewah, TN, joined CHI Memorial Medical Group in Cleveland. Dr. Snyder completed his residency in internal medicine at Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg. He is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine.
H. Timothy Dombrowski, DO, MPH, Voorhees, NJ, was awarded the Doctors of Distinction Community Service Award for his contributions to the Philadelphia medical community. Dr. Dombrowski currently serves as the chief medical officer of Kennedy University Hospital. Jay S. Feldstein, DO, president and chief executive officer, PCOM, Conshohocken, PA, was featured in an article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, “An Interview with the Head of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine” (June 24, 2016).
Benjamin L. Konell, DO, Milton, FL, opened a new private practice in Pensacola. His practice specializes in using osteopathic manipulative medicine to open blockages in the lymphatic and musculoskeletal systems.
Ronald M. Bishop, DO, East Lansing, MI, was elected to the Board of Trustees at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he is a professor and has been medical director of the emergency department since 2014.
AOA Alumni Reception On September 19, more than 100 alumni joined Jay S. Feldstein, DO ‘81, president and chief executive officer, PCOM; Kenneth J. Veit, DO ’76, MBA, provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean; and others to reconnect and reminisce at the Ranch Restaurant & Bar in Anaheim, California. Surrounded by excellent food, great company and conversation, the group watched the Philadelphia Eagles sail to victory.
CLASS NOTES Darlene Ann M. Dunay, DO, Old Forge, PA, was awarded the honor of Fellow of the American College of Family Physicians in San Juan, Puerto Rico (April 2016). In addition, she was the recipient of the Crest Award, which recognizes exceptional fellow nominee unpublished scientific papers, for her submission, “The New Crisis of the Baby Boomer Generation: Alzheimer’s Disease. Can Osteopathic Medicine Make an Impact?” Dr. Dunay is a past president of the PCOM Alumni Association and a recipient of the PCOM Alumni Association’s Certificate of Honor. She is currently the District IV Chairperson of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association.
Hal S. Bendit, DO, Delray Beach, FL, visited an underserved area in Nicaragua with several students from GA–PCOM, including Jeffrey Aguiar (DO ’19), Kaitlyn Banning (DO ’19), Francesca DiSantis (DO ’19), Rafael Miret (DO ’19) and Gary Prusky (DO ’19). Dr. Bendit and the students created a makeshift medical facility to assist local residents.
James T. Arscott, DO, Waverly, PA, was named vice president of Wayne Memorial Hospital to serve as a liaison between hospital administration and a medical staff of more than 200 physicians and mid-level providers. Dr. Arscott is a board-certified anesthesiologist and spent time in the Army National Guard, retiring from the Army Reserve in 2007. Nicholas J. Pennings, DO, Lillington, NC, was appointed vice chairman of the department of family medicine at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Daniel B. Sullivan, DO, Delray Beach, FL, was recertified by the National Board of Echocardiography in perioperative transesophageal echocardiography. Jennifer Weber, DO, Mechanicsburg, PA, joined Holy Spirit Cancer Center as medical director for extended care medicine, overseeing post-hospital rehabilitation and long-term care facilities. Dr. Weber was previously a geriatric physician with Messiah Lifeways.
Holly D. Dagney, DO, Naples, FL, joined Physicians Regional Medical Group as a board-certified family medicine physician. James J. Kelly, Jr., DO, Buffalo, NY, was welcomed into the
International Association of HealthCare Professionals for his contribution to the publication Leading Physicians of the World. Dr. Kelly serves as an orthopedic and hand surgeon at Excelsior Orthopaedics in Amherst. He is certified in both orthopedic surgery and hand surgery by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Robert R. Rodak, DO, Erie, PA, was elected president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians in March 2016. A fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Rodak practices family medicine at UPMC Hamot at Your Hometown Health Partners in Millcreek.
Thomas D. Caruso, DO, Chapel Hill, NC, joined the Beckley Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Interventional Pain Management (Beckley Health Care System). Dr. Caruso is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation. John F. Conlon, DO, MBA, Carmel, NY, has been appointed chief medical officer at Saint Anne’s Hospital. He served for 20 years as a commander in the Navy Reserve.
2016 Patrons’ Brunch Scholarship recipients and their donors were brought together for a lovely brunch in Evans Hall, PCOM, on November 13. Many PCOM students had an opportunity to meet and talk with the individuals who made their scholarships possible. MaryKathryn Hurst (DO ’18), recipient of the John Kearney Endowed Scholarship, spoke with those gathered about the tremendous impact that the scholarship has had on her journey in medical school.
Pictured above: Arlene Leone, widow of Anthony Girard Leone, DO ’57, with Veronica Williams (DO ‘18).
Christine F. Giesa, DO, Collegeville, PA, received the Strategic Team Award and Recognition (STAR) during the American Osteopathic Association House Delegates meeting held in July in Chicago, for her work enhancing the culture of osteopathic medicine. Steven F. Gitler, DO, Cherry Hill, NJ, joined the staff of the Virtua Express Urgent Care network of urgent care centers in South Jersey. Dr. Gitler continues to work at Fairview Village Family Practice in Camden, New Jersey, as well. Paul J. Lapoint, DO, East Amherst, NY, was elected chairman of orthopedics at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo. Andrea D. Pedano, DO, Philadelphia, PA, was named chief medical officer of Suburban Community Hospital, Norristown. Dr. Pedano is also the chief medical officer of Roxborough Memorial Hospital, where she has practiced for 23 years. She has been a member of the PCOM Boards of Trustees since 2009.
Kenneth M. Belkoff, DO, Tucson, AZ, urologist and president of Arizona Institute of Urology, gave a
President’s Appreciation Reception On November 12, at Hilton City Avenue Philadelphia, nearly 100 alumni and friends of the College gathered to meet, mingle with and hear from Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer, about the College’s strategic vision, PCOM 2020. After a review of the vision’s key aspects—transforming primary care, improving training, promoting research and expanding people and programs—many of the College’s most loyal and generous donors were recognized.
Pictured above: Fran Metzman, widow of Milton Metzman, DO ’56, with Joseph Hassman, DO ‘65. public talk, “Urinary Incontinence: Staying Dry in the Desert and Other Urological Pearls,” in June in Saddlebrook. Dr. Belkoff is on staff at Northwest Medical Center and Oro Valley Hospital and served as section chief of urology at both hospitals. He is board certified and affiliated with the American Osteopathic Association, the American Urological Association, the Arizona Osteopathic Medical
Association, the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons and the Pima County Medical Society. Gregory M. Christiansen, DO, Holly Springs, NC, chair and associate professor of emergency medicine at the Des Moines University of Osteopathic Medicine, was named dean of the institution and began his new position in December. DIGEST 2017
MARIE C. WEIL, MS, PSYD ’10 Psychologist receives accolades for diversity and behavioral health contributions by Colleen Pelc “Honored. So very honored.” That’s the best way Marie C. Weil, MS, PsyD ’10, San Juan, Puerto Rico, can sum up how she felt to be recognized as winner of the inaugural National Latino/Latina Psychological Association (NLPA)/American Board of Professional Psychology Foundation (ABPPF) Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Scholarship. “There are so many psychologists and students who are working toward making our world a better place for all of us to live,” says Dr. Weil. “This scholarship melds my professional and personal passions in life.” For her doctoral dissertation, Dr. Weil developed a cultural competency continuing education program for psychologists who supervise graduate students of clinical psychology, focused on developing and increasing sensitivity to Latino/Latina culture and language. The continuing education program is currently being offered at PCOM, and for her work, Dr. Weil also won the inaugural Pennsylvania Psychological Association’s Student Multiculturalism Award in 2010. Dr. Weil notes, “Striving for cultural competency as a bilingual psychologist is a lifelong journey for me.” She remains proud of the wisdom and the strength that she has to follow her dreams. “I’ve learned to appreciate the mysteries of life.” Credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists, Dr. Weil, who serves as a bilingual clinical psychologist with the Palliative Care Program and Community Living Center at the VA Caribbean Healthcare System, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Puerto Rico, envisions the remainder of her career in the Veterans Health Administration. “My long-term plans in psychology have consistently been to provide culturally competent bilingual treatment to Latinos/Latinas. I will continue to advocate for our value as psychologists and our unique contributions to health care,” she says.
Gary Bonfante, DO, Northampton, PA, was named medical director of emergency medicine at Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazelton.
First-Year Welcome Parties In August, the PCOM Alumni Association welcomed all first-year students to the College with receptions held in both Philadelphia and Georgia. Attendees had the opportunity to mix not only with fellow classmates, but with local alumni as well. The PCOM Alumni Association looks forward to making this event an annual tradition.
Fred McAlpin, III, DO, Mullica Hill, NJ, was welcomed into the International Association of HealthCare Professionals for his contribution to the publication Leading Physicians of the World. Dr. McAlpin is an orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of practice experience. He serves patients at Premier Orthopaedic Associates in Vineland, Elmer and Mullica Hill. He is also the director of the orthopedic residency program at Inspira Health Network. Milagros Soto-Pillot, DO, Pennsauken, NJ, a Mercy LIFE physician, was named one of the Philadelphia region’s Most Influential Latinos by The Most Influential Latinos Foundation, Impacto Latin Newspaper, and PHLDiversity during an awards ceremony held in November at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Dr. Soto-Pillot has been a staff physician with Mercy LIFE since January 2014.
David M. Jaspan, DO, Philadelphia, PA, was selected as one of six “Emerging Icons” recognized by the Philadelphia Inquirer for his work in the field of education and medicine. Winners were chosen based upon their business acumen and their contributions to the city of Philadelphia. Dr. Jaspan was recognized during the Philadelphia Industry Icon Awards event held in November.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
John B. Hinckley, DO, Santa Rosa Beach, FL, founded Hinckley Functional Medicine after 20 years as an emergency physician. Dr. Hinckley has received advanced training from the Institute for Functional Medicine and uses functional medicine to address the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-based approach and engaging both patient and physician in a therapeutic partnership.
Steven M. DeLuca, MS/Biomed ’98, DO, Mechanicsburg, PA, was welcomed into the International Association of HealthCare Professionals for his contribution to the publication Leading Physicians of the World. Dr. DeLuca serves patients at the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania; he is also affiliated with Holy Spirit Hospital and PinnacleHealth System, specializing in minimally invasive surgery of the spine and hip. Damean William Freas, DO, MBA, Annapolis, MD, was appointed as the chairman of the Maryland Board of Physicians. Dr. Freas is the chief executive officer for Kure Pain LLC. He is board certified and fellowship trained in pain medicine. Dr. Freas performed his medical residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of
Pennsylvania. His fellowship training was completed at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. Jeffery Gilbert, DO, Port Matilda, PA, joined Geisinger Health System in Lewistown. Dr. Gilbert is board certified in nuclear cardiology, cardiovascular disease and echocardiography. He completed his cardiology fellowship in 2009 at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Keri Jo A. McHugh, DO, Overland Park, KS, joined the medical staff of Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Patrick James McHugh, DO, Overland Park, KS, received a master of business administration degree from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in May 2016. In October 2015, Dr. McHugh accepted the position of executive vice president for the EmCare Alliance Group.
Gabriel Chiu, Jr., DO, Beverly Hills, CA, joined Haute Beauty Network as a partner. Dr. Chiu is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He is the founder and CEO of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery, Inc., serving more than 20,000 patients worldwide. Andrew J. McMarlin, DO, Mt. Pleasant, SC, was elected the first DO president of the Charleston County Medical Society. Dr. McMarlin also celebrated the second year of his orthopedics and sports medicine practice, Winning Health, in Mount Pleasant.
Roger O. Beardmore, PsyD, Summerville, SC, was named medical director of behavioral health for Select Health of South Carolina, the state’s oldest and largest managed care company. Refky Nicola, DO, Rochester, NY, joined University of Massachusetts Memorial Group as an assistant professor in the musculoskeletal radiology division. He completed his residency program at Cooper University Hospital, Camden, New Jersey; an interventional and vascular fellowship program at St. Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York; and a musculoskeletal radiology fellowship at Strong Memorial Hospital – University of Rochester. Dr. Nicola is board certified in diagnostic radiology.
Erin O’Connor Lavin, DO, Morgantown, PA, joined MidAtlantic Family Practice as a primary care provider. Dr. Lavin
received her board certification through the American Board of Family Medicine in 2009. She had most recently been in practice with Reading Health Physician Network. Paul M. Rutkowski, DO, Dickson City, PA, was welcomed into the International Association of HealthCare Professionals for his contribution to the publication Leading Physicians of the World. Dr. Rutkowski has been practicing for over four years, currently serving patients at Advanced Inpatient Medicine in Wilkes-Barre. He is also chairman of the department of medicine at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and clinical instructor of medicine at the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton. James A. Thiel, DO, Rockville, MD, joined Most Sports Medicine as a specialist in general orthopedics and sports medicine. Dr. Thiel completed his orthopedic surgery residency training at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He then completed a year of specialized training in an orthopedic sports medicine fellowship through the University of Pennsylvania.
William J. Librizzi, PsyD, Manasquan, NJ, joined Charleston Southern University as director of the university’s master of science program in psychology. In addition, Dr. Librizzi teaches graduate and undergraduate clinical psychology courses. Erik G. Polan, DO, Cherry Hill, NJ, was featured in a Philly.com article, “Sorting Out Heart-Health Suggestions” (October 9, 2016). He was also published on Philly. com for “How Can I Protect Myself and My Family from Zika and Other Mosquito-borne Illnesses?” (August 6, 2016). Dr. Polan serves as instructor, department of internal medicine, at PCOM. Shaun M. Sheehan, DO, Duncansville, PA, joined Penn Highlands Healthcare as the first medical director of the emergency department. Dr. Sheehan will develop and implement overall operating plans for emergency services for the system’s four hospitals.
Allison A. Aggon, DO, Philadelphia, PA, joined the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s department of surgical oncology, focusing on breast surgery. Dr. Aggon previously practiced as a breast surgeon and served as medical director at Crozer-Keystone Health System, Delaware County. She completed her fellowship in breast surgi-
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
Rabia Ali, DO ‘12, and Julio Gomez, DO ‘12, Panama City, FL, were married on September 4, 2016, at Morais Vineyards and Winery in Bealeton, Virginia. [Photo courtesy of Danielle Real Photography] Lauren R. Gambescia, MS/FM ’13, King of Prussia, PA, wed Christopher J. Calvey at the Chapel of St. Cornelius the Centurion at Valley Forge Military Academy, Wayne, on May 23, 2016. Bryan K. Houseman, DO ’10, York, PA, and wife, Jessica, announce the birth of their daughter, Aveline, born on March 15, 2016. Robert Palermo, DO ’09, Allentown, PA, and his wife, Alexandra, welcomed their daughter, Stella Christina, on May 9, 2016. Amanda M. Fischer Reeves, DO ’11, Rome, GA, and her husband, Mark Reeves, welcomed new daughter, Reagan Michelle, on October 5, 2016. cal oncology at Fox Chase and a general surgery residency at PinnacleHealth Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg. Jay D. Bhatt, DO, MPH, Chicago, IL, was selected to the 2016 Class of Presidential Leadership Scholars, an initiative supported by a partnership between the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson. Dr. Bhatt is chief health officer of the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA), president of the Midwest Alliance for Patient Safety, and is responsible for providing clinical leadership of IHA’s Institute for Innovations in Care and Quality, serving nearly 200 hospitals and 50 health system members. Peter F. Bidey, DO, Philadelphia, PA, authored an article for Philly. com entitled “What’s New with the Flu Vaccine?” (July 11, 2016), in which he discussed the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Gary P. MacDonald, Jr., DO, Kaysville, UT, joined the faculty at University of Utah as an adjunct instructor in family and preventive medicine. He also practices family medicine with the University of Utah Health Care Community Physician Group. Lisa A. Malys, DO, Wooster, OH, joined Buckeye Family Healthcare along with her husband Mark Stutzman, DO. The two recently practiced at Wooster Family
Wellness. Dr. Malys’ expertise lies in women’s health, family wellness (preventive medicine) and geriatrics. Benjamin J. Saks, DO, Montour Falls, NY, joined Jenna Wilkens, PA-C, to provide comprehensive primary care for patients in Schuyler County. Dr. Saks has been practicing at Schuyler Hospital since 2011. Scott Andrew Shainker, MS, DO, Waban, MA, joined the maternal-fetal medicine faculty at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, after completing his fellowship there. Dr. Shainker was appointed director of the New England Center for Placental Disorders.
Jennifer L. Murie, DO, Everett, WA, completed active duty service in the United States Navy and four years aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Dr. Murie joined the Everett Clinic as a family physician in Marysville. Brian K. Yorkgitis, DO, Jacksonville, FL, was appointed assistant professor of surgery in the division of acute care surgery at University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
Debra Ann Slayman Bjork, DO, Blythewood, SC, had her article “The Effects of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors on Bone Health” published in the Journal of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (December 2015).
Ashley E. Kurz Caplan, DO, Malvern, PA, is the newest diagnostic cardiologist at Hanover Medical Group Cardiology. She completed her internal medicine residency at PinnacleHealth Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg. Helen Rachael Levey, DO, Rochester, NY, matched for a urology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering/Cornell Weill Medical Institute for July 2017. Adam David Sadler, DO, Conshohocken, PA, joined St. Luke’s Orthopaedic Specialists, New Jersey, following completion of his fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery at the Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Sadler served as chief resident and completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at PCOM.
Steelers Watch Party On September 25, PCOM alumni from Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western Pennsylvania region met at Mullen’s Bar & Grill on Pittsburgh’s North Shore to watch the Steelers and Eagles battle it out on the gridiron. Depending on which side of the state you favored, the game either was a delight or a disaster, as the Steelers fell to the Eagles, 3 to 34.
CLASS NOTES Gregory Alan Tocks, DO, New Cumberland, PA, joined Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster, where he will focus on total body health and wellness, as well as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Dr. Tocks completed his internship in the orthopedic track through PinnacleHealth System at Community General Osteopathic Hospital, his residency at the Community General, Harrisburg and West Shore Hospitals, and a fellowship in total joint reconstruction at Virginia Commonwealth University.
JUSTIN BURKHOLDER, DO ’15 Opportunity of a lifetime: An emergency medicine resident treats Olympic athletes For Justin Burkholder, DO ’15, Miami Beach, FL, the Olympics have always been a spectacular sporting event viewed from the comfort of his own home. This year, Dr. Burkholder got the ultimate surprise when he experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity just by asking a simple question. Dr. Burkholder is currently a second-year emergency medicine resident at Miami University Ryder Trauma Center, one of the top trauma centers in the country. At Ryder Trauma Center, the team encounters complicated cases from South America, the Caribbean and South Florida, which means working with doctors from around the world. Dr. Burkholder found himself one day on a case with Dr. Antonio Marttos, a renowned Brazilian trauma surgeon and University of Miami faculty member, and struck up a conversation. It turned out that Dr. Marttos was to act as the overall director of medical services for the Rio Olympics. The simple question of “Well, do you need an ER doc?” led to an application, and Dr. Burkholder found himself preparing for the trip of a lifetime. Dr. Burkholder was fortunate in that he had spent some time in Rio de Janeiro previously, where he was able to learn Portuguese, explore the city and make friends. This experience gave him an advantage when he arrived in Brazil for the Olympics. Dr. Burkholder’s assignment throughout the duration of the Olympics was to be the field of play physician on a four-person medical team in the Olympic handball venue, the Future Arena. He was scheduled for shifts of eight hours each. This required prep work and training during off hours with his team about how they would react in emergency situations. “If a player needed, we could stabilize, evacuate and resuscitate them in our trauma bay,” says Dr. Burkholder. “We had a fully staffed, fully functional clinic in the arena and if indicated, we would transfer the patient to a local hospital.” On being the only ER doctor on his team, Dr. Burkholder says, “It was cool, but it was an immensely stressful situation.” Thankfully, under Dr. Burkholder’s watch, no major incidents occurred on the court. “I’ve always been an athlete and a big sports fan, so to work in the Olympics as a physician was an extraordinary honor,” says Dr. Burkholder. He’s already dreaming about 2020.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
Kennita Luvangee BurnsJohnson, DO, Westhampton Beach, NY, joined the Penn Highlands Clearfield medical staff as a general surgeon, performing laparoscopic surgery and general surgical procedures. Dr. BurnsJohnson completed a general surgery residency at East End Health Alliance Southampton.
Daniel Ahn, DO, Petaluma, CA, joined Horizon Family Medical Group. He received his medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and was the chief ophthalmic resident at PCOM. Dr. Ahn specializes in anterior segment surgery, glaucoma, and eyelid and facial rejuvenation. Kemoria Q. Granberry, DO, Miami, FL, joined the Women’s Health Care Center at Illinois Valley Community Hospital as an obstetrician/gynecologist. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. Courtney E. Houde, MS/PA-C, Glassboro, NJ, joined Burlington County Dermatology. Chelsea E. Marks, DO, Gettysburg, PA, joined WellSpan OB/GYN in Gettysburg. She completed her OB/GYN residency at Memorial Hospital in York. Brett R. Tidwell, DO, Gulf Breeze, FL, joined Sacred Heart Medical Group in obstetrics/gynecology. He completed his residency training in obstetrics and gynecology through the University of Florida College of Medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola. Lindsey Jo Wegrzyniak, DO, New Cumberland, PA, joined Partners in Women’s Healthcare in Harrisburg/ Lemoyne/Carlisle. She completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she received the Outstanding Resident Teaching Award.
David G. Aderholdt, DO, Millville, NJ, joined Inspira Medical Group Family Medicine Millville. He is board certified by the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians. Connie J. Borgerding, DO, Sylva, NC, joined Harris Medical Associates as a board-certified family physician. She completed a residency in family practice with the Spartanburg Regional Family Medicine Residency Program. Lance B. Joseph, DO, Altoona, PA, graduated from the UPMC Altoona Family Medicine residency program. He will pursue a fellowship in palliative care at UPMC Altoona. Jared M. Nothstein, DO, Dallas, PA, joined St. Luke’s Medical Associates of Monroe County. He specializes in internal medicine, having recently completed an internal medicine residency at St. Luke’s University Hospital. Haley C. Spagnola, DO, Mount Joy, PA, joined Penn State Health St. Joseph as a pediatric hospitalist. Dr. Spagnola completed her pediatric residency at the Penn State Children’s Hospital, Hershey, and is certified in advanced trauma life support, pediatric advanced life support, and neonatal resuscitation. Megan J. Vorass, DO, Eau Claire, WI, joined St. Luke’s Mariner Medical Clinic in Superior as a family physician. She completed her internship and residency at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s department of family medicine.
LeeAnn M. Tanaka, DO, Philadelphia, PA, is a medical resident at Westside Family Healthcare and Christiana Care.
Marc P. Levicoff, MS/Biomed, Erial, NJ, was accepted at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine for admission to the School of Dentistry program.
PCOM ALUMNI WEEKEND 2017 • JUNE 2 – 4, 2017
ALUMNI WEEKEND SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FRIDAY, JUNE 2
SATURDAY, JUNE 3
REUNION LUNCHEON FOR THE CLASSES OF 1967, 1962, 1957, 1952, AND 1947; CELEBRATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY CLASS OF 1967. 12:00 noon Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue $30 per person (50-year class is free)
PASSING THE TORCH: PCOM LEGACY FAMILIES COFFEE AND CONVERSATION 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Levin Administration Building, PCOM Campus Free
A NIGHT WITH NEIL DIAMOND TRIBUTE BAND 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue $60 per person
NAVIGATING MEDICAL SCHOOL ADMISSIONS Evans Hall, PCOM Campus 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Free PCOM AT THE PHILADELPHIA ZOO 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. $35 for adults and $25 for children
CSI: PCOM EDITION 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Evans Hall, PCOM Campus Free COFFEE BAR 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. Evans Hall, PCOM Campus Free ALUMNI COCKTAIL RECEPTION 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Evans Hall, PCOM Campus $75 per person
SUNDAY, JUNE 4 ALUMNI BRUNCH AND CAMPUS TOURS 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Evans Hall, PCOM Campus $5 per person; children are free
For full details of all scheduled events, please visit pcom.edu/alumni. Registration coming soon.
IN MEMORIAM David S. Asbel, DO ‘62, Ardmore, PA, January 8, 2017. James F. Conroy, DO ‘65, Durham, ME, November 24, 2016. Sidney E. Corbin, DO ’59, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, September 30, 2016. Charles A. Depfer, DO ‘58, Wilmington, DE, September 8, 2016. Francis M. Felice, DO ’62, Huntingdon Valley, PA, September 16, 2016. Thomas H. Halpin, DO ’60, Bensalem, PA, November 9, 2016. Bonnie J. Gardner, DO ‘80, Muncy, PA, November 4, 2016. Robert S. Maurer, DO ’62, Edison, NJ, September 11, 2016. Jason W. O’Neal, PharmD ’14, Decatur, GA, August 12, 2016. Gerald Scharf, DO ‘54, Penn Valley, PA, December 16, 2016. Lola Stone Schmidt, RN ’56, South Windsor, CT, May 20, 2016. Pauline M. Schultz, DO ’66, Riverside, NJ, October 3, 2016. Murray Schwartz, DO ’78, Cherry Hill, NJ, August 18, 2016. Albert M. Shkane, DO ‘58, Utica, NY, October 31, 2016.
IN MEMORIAM: ROBERT S. MAURER, DO ’62 1933 – 2016 It is with great sadness that Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine recognizes the passing of Robert S. Maurer, DO ’62, Edison, New Jersey, a valued member of the PCOM community for more than five decades. Dr. Maurer served on the Board of Directors for the College’s Alumni Association for more than 40 years, and as alumni association board representative to the PCOM Boards of Trustees. As president of the class of 1962, he led his class to have the highest percentage of Annual Fund donors and the highest total amount donated for any class in the history of the College. Dr. Maurer, who practiced family medicine in Iselin and Avenel, New Jersey, was a pioneering osteopathic physician; he led efforts to advocate for healthcare reform in his home state, serving on several task forces and health advisory committees, and running for state legislature twice. He also was a founding member of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Osteopathic Medicine, and was on faculty at that institution for 32 years. He was recognized with myriad awards and honors throughout his lifetime, including the Korean Service Medal, U.S. Navy (1954); the Dean’s Award, PCOM (1962); the Veterans of Foreign Wars Citizen of the Year Award (1983); the Distinguished Service Award (1998) and the Physicians of the Year Award (1990), New Jersey Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons; and a Special Commendation, New Jersey State Assembly (1990). In 2000, he received the PCOM Alumni Association Certificate of Honor and in 2011, he was awarded PCOM’s O. J. Snyder Memorial Medal, the College’s highest honor. Dr. Maurer earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Donations made in honor of Dr. Maurer may be sent to PCOM: Institutional Advancement, 4180 City Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19131. Checks should be made payable to the PCOM Foundation.
Peter E. Sojka, DO ’79, Philadelphia, PA, July 28, 2016. John M. Williams, DO ’65, Jackson, MI, October 4, 2016. H Michael Zal, DO ‘66, Upper Gwynedd, PA, December 16, 2016.
PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
A LOOK BACK: SULLIVAN COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER
by Benjamin Daniel Whitfield, DO ’16
As I stood sipping coffee, looking outside, my breath fogged the window, blurring the dawn breaking and the snow falling over the town square in Laporte, Pennsylvania. The clinic did not open for several more hours. I thought of the long legacy I was following: young student doctors leaving the comfort of home to spend four weeks practicing as country doctors in rural Sullivan County. I had arrived in Laporte as a fourth-year osteopathic medical student the night before my rotation was to begin, leaving Philadelphia and turning off the Northeast Extension to wind through the Endless Mountains, past old hunting lodges and abandoned stores through the complete darkness and falling snow. At last, I aimed the headlights of my old truck through the fog and was just able to make out the sign of the clinic at the corner of King and Main Streets. Unsure of what to expect, I had brought with me a duffel bag of clothes, a stethoscope and an armful of books—mostly medical—and settled in for the night in my small furnished room just above the clinic. Sullivan County Medical Center is the only full-time medical center servicing the population of less than 7,000 people who reside in Sullivan County. While it is staffed with two physicians—Ernest R. Gelb, DO ’78, medical director, and Eric Longenbach, MD—and several nurses, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine students make up the majority of the staff. The clinic serves rural patients without other options, and at the same time provides students with a variety of illnesses and injuries to learn from. Daily, our team attended to patients, charting, drawing labs, making diagnoses and delivering treatment under the supervision of the watchful doctors and nurses. Each evening after the last patients were cared for and the last notes written, the students retired upstairs to exercise, read or watch television. Most nights we gathered in the kitchen for a hearty meal and to discuss the day’s events. Afterwards, we settled into our rooms to pore over medical books or old paperback novels to pass the evening hours. But as dusk settled, I ended my day as it began, watching the light shift and the snow fall over the town square, content with the day, but knowing that the four weeks were passing all too fast. Among other clinical requirements, every student at PCOM is required to complete one month of rural medicine to graduate. So on the first Sunday of the month, every month, for the past 40 years, six students have driven from Philadelphia and made themselves at home on the second floor of Sullivan County Medical Center. They work, eat and spend their time together serving patients in the downstairs clinic. It’s said that over 2,500 students have served in Laporte under the banner of PCOM. It is a tradition representing the remarkable relationship between Sullivan County and PCOM.
The myth of Sullivan County Medical Center is so well rehearsed in Philadelphia and in Sullivan County that it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction. It starts in Eagles Mere, where PCOM President Frederick Barth (College president from 1957 to 1974) had a vacation home. On a summer’s day while President Barth was playing golf with a foursome of friends, one of them collapsed on the green, clutching his chest in pain. With no medical treatment available for miles, President Barth watched his friend pass away from a heart attack. Grieved by the event, President Barth resolved that day that while he had not been able to save his friend, no one else should die in Sullivan County because of the lack of medical access. An opportunity to fulfill his oath arose several months later when President Barth sat down to a game of five-card stud one Saturday night with Mac Marthe, the proprietor of the Mokoma Inn. They played hand after hand, luck ebbing and flowing; the hours passed until the morning sun found the men still sitting around the table. Mr. Marthe, out of money, out of luck and exhausted, put the brass key for the dilapidated Mokoma Inn in the pot and into the hands of fate. As the tired men turned their last hand face up on the felt, the history of Sullivan County, PCOM and the Mokoma Inn were changed forever. I would like to think that as President Barth left the smoky room and stepped outside, blinking under the bright morning sun, he wore a small smile feeling the brass key in his pocket, assured his promise could finally be fulfilled. That is the legend. What is factual is that the old Mokoma Inn served as the original medical center for the first years of the clinic. Three of the hotel rooms were converted into treatment rooms, and the medical center was placed in the basement. In 1971, the first group of PCOM medical students was chosen and sent to Sullivan County to staff the new center. Just as they do today, students slept above the clinic and tended to the injuries and illnesses of all who rang the bell at any hour of the day or night. The Mokoma Inn, already in disrepair, never truly served as a suitable healthcare center for the people of Sullivan County. A new facility was built at its current location of 217 King Street with the help of Sullivan County, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and PCOM. While the old Mokoma Inn is gone, and estate plans are no longer brokered in backroom poker games, the commitment of President Barth is still alive. It lives in the doctors and nurses that serve the clinic every day. It lives in the commitment pursued by every future generation of PCOM physicians that drives up the mountain to learn and love country medicine in Sullivan County. And it lives in me as I take with me my experience of Laporte and my rural medicine knowledge wherever I go next to practice medicine. Dedicated to the late Sandra Gulich, LPN, who worked at Sullivan County Medical Center for many years. DIGEST 2017
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