ROBERT C. BYRD HEALTH SCIENCES CENTER • WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
TRANSITIONS CHANGING WEST VIRGINIA CHANGING THE WORLD
WVUhealth Fall 2011 Vol. 2, Issue 2
CHANGE AND TRANSITION
A publication of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia www.hsc.wvu.edu Administration James P. Clements, PhD President, West Virginia University Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH Chancellor for Health Sciences Arthur Ross, MD Dean, School of Medicine Georgia L. Narsavage, PhD Dean, School of Nursing Patricia A. Chase, PhD Dean, School of Pharmacy David A. Felton, DDS, MS Dean, School of Dentistry Alan Ducatman, MD Interim Dean, School of Public Health In development Judie Charlton, MD Chief Medical Officer WVU Healthcare Bruce McClymonds President and CEO, WVU Hospitals
The future of West Virginia’s health is in
new ideas into the effort to change the
springing up in large cities and small
J. Thomas Jones President and CEO, WV United Health System
our hands. And when I say “our hands,”
history of our state’s health. (See page 8
towns. And, when WVU proposed the
I’m not talking just about those of us at
for a report on our students’ healthcare
establishment of a School of Public Health,
WVU – but all who work to educate health
reform forum this spring that brought
support was widespread across the state,
Bill Case, Editor Heidi Specht, Creative Director Stephanie Bock Jay Coughlin Norman Ferrari, MD Amy Johns Misti Michael Gary Murdock Amy Newton Lynda B. Nine Tricia Petty Julia W. Phalunas Shelia Price, DDS Stacy Wise
professionals, school children, and adults;
together policymakers, healthcare experts,
our elected officials gave us a mandate to
to provide health services; to advance
and community leaders.) The faculty
move forward, and private donors stepped
research; and to shape public health
on each of our campuses are devoted
up to speed the process of organizing the
to the development of these students
Contributors Bob Beverly Aira Burkhart Jeff Driggs Autumn Hill Angela Jones Walt Koskii Rick Lee Leigh Limerick Mary Rivasio Minard Michelle Moore Lori Savitch
policy. I’m confident that, working together, we can change what other generations simply accepted: the disparities that have
Our role as the state’s flagship academic health center is to develop the talents of the next generation of health leaders;
meant poorer health, shorter lives, and
people of West Virginia. In the past two
discover new knowledge that can make
higher healthcare costs for hundreds of
years, I’ve seen growing evidence of a
everyone’s efforts more effective; deliver
thousands of West Virginians.
consensus that we must all work together
high quality care; and partner with others
to achieve our mutual goals. There’s
who share our goals and values.
sources. Our students and graduates – several of whom you will meet in this issue – are energetic, smart, and capable, and they are bringing new skills and
West Virginia University is governed by the West Virginia University Board of Governors and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. West Virginia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution.
communities and their professions. There’s a larger source of confidence: the
My confidence comes from several
© 2011 West Virginia University
and engaged with the needs of our
been a real awakening in West Virginia communities to the idea that local action can make a difference, with walking
Change is coming. It’s needed. We welcome it.
programs, workplace wellness efforts, and other community-directed programs
—Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH
3 MAKING THE TRANSITION
Chancellor’s Message | CHANGE AND TRANSITION
The move from school to career By Angela Jones, Leigh Limerick, Amy Newton, and Stacy Wise
MAKING THE TRANSITION
FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE
ADVOCATING FOR THE PROFESSION
WHAT MATTERS MOST
SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT FOCUSES ON ORAL HEALTH
WVU HEALTHCARE STRATEGIC PLAN
MEDICAL MYSTERY LEADS TO RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP
UNITING A COMMUNITY’S HOSPITALS
Each year, hundreds of WVU Health Sciences graduates make the transition from student to health professional. Here are four of their stories.
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FALL 2011 | 3
SCHOOL OF NURSING
SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY
BE HEALTHY AND TEACH t’s the middle of Audrey Royce’s day: 2 a.m. Her
world is mostly dark and quiet.
The 2010 WVU School of Nursing graduate navigates the west wing of WVU Ruby Memorial Hospital’s tenth floor, doing
all she can to ensure cardiac step-down patients are as comfortable as possible.
“Sometimes when things are nuts, you think, ‘This profession is crazy,’ but I’m glad I’m a nurse,” said Royce. “Working in a hospital, you gain so much experience. I just really like being
Her move from student to nurse was eased by a one-on-one mentoring program WVU Healthcare offers to every first-year nurse. Transition coordinator Kathleen Schnell follows them all. It’s a service Royce believes gives fledgling nurses a great advantage. “Kathy pops in about once every week or so to see if everything’s okay, you can go to her with any questions or concerns. She’s always there with a smile.” Royce, who grew up in Morgantown, always knew she wanted
the happy, positive person I am. If my patients want to laugh
to pursue a career in healthcare, and the wide range of
at me because I’m goofy, then that’s great. I like to make them
opportunities in nursing held great appeal. Royce feels she’s
laugh while I’m doing my job.”
found her niche working with cardiac patients and their families. And, now, with the arrival of the next group of first-year nurses, Royce has moved from student to teacher. She will mentor a new nurse, work with students, and educate patients about making needed lifestyle changes. “Nursing really teaches you to be thankful for your own life,” said Royce. “It makes you want to be healthy and teach other people how to deal with illness.”
or Christopher Banks, DDS, a
2011 graduate of the School of Dentistry, tending to the oral health of West
Virginians is a family affair.
throughout the day. It is fast paced, and I really enjoy that,” Christopher said.
“We all chose healthcare to make a difference in people’s lives and to help others.”
But what really gets the new Dr. Banks going is the chance to perform an
also through an American Academy of
Two weeks after graduation, Dr. Banks
extraction. “I feel more pressure on myself
Cosmetic Dentistry project called Give
joined Smile Designs of the Shenandoah
when I do an extraction over anything
Back a Smile, which is designed to
Valley, the Inwood dental practice
else because I know if I break a root tip,
help women who have been affected by
operated by his father, Kenneth. The
it’s my job to get it out. I don’t have the
elder Dr. Banks earned his DDS at WVU
oral surgeons at the School to bail me out
Dr. Banks and his dad aren’t the only family members tending to smiles in the
Royce has learned to love the night shift, thanks to the relaxed feel and cooperative spirit. Like her, most people working late nights are relatively recent staff additions. “The teamwork is amazing,” she said. “It’s a continuous learning environment.” Long, physically and emotionally demanding shifts are
The quick transition from school to the
Eastern Panhandle. Sarah Banks, RDH,
real world didn’t leave much time for
Christopher’s sister and a 2006 WVU
anxiety, though going into the family
dental hygiene graduate, also works at
practice did help take off some of the
the family clinic.
pressure. But Chris has found that “We all chose healthcare to make a
working as a dentist is different than life
difference in people’s lives and to
as a dental student.
just part of the job. Royce insists attitude is everything.
help others. Part of being a dentist,
“There are books about how the transition out of school
“At the dental school, we saw one patient
and into a career is like postpartum depression,” said
in the morning and one in the afternoon,
Royce. “People can have a really hard time with it.”
and some days you were only completing one filling on each of those patients. Now, I see a patient every hour, do multiple procedures, plus any emergencies, and hygiene checks for our three hygienists
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especially in small towns of West Virginia, is to become integrated with At the end of the day, he hopes to make
the local community through volunteer
a difference in the lives of West Virginians.
organizations and such,” Christopher
He and his father are doing that, not
said. “And, if I am going to be learning
only through their day-to-day work, but
from someone, I want it to be my dad.”
FALL 2011 | 5
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
SCHOOL OF PHARMACY
“I help put out fires”
sk New Jersey native James Bardes, MD, why he chose West Virginia University for medical school and he will give you an honest answer: “It was either WVU or Albany and I don’t like the snow in Albany.” Dr. Bardes quickly learned, however, that less snowfall isn’t the only great thing about WVU. The hands-on faculty of the School of Medicine not only helped to guide Bardes through four years of medical education but also influenced his decision to continue his medical training at WVU as a resident in the Department of Surgery.
LEARNING BY DOING
the rest of the night I just help put out fires. There’s a bit of a rush to it. I like it. I’m pretty good at staying calm in the chaos and being able to handle situations,” he said.
Last spring, she achieved that goal, earning a PharmD degree at WVU. But her education
In addition to caring for patients, Bardes’ medical education and training at WVU have also allowed him to explore another area he is passionate about—research.
is continuing with a pharmacy residency at Cabell Huntington Hospital.
“When I was a medical student, I ran into one of the residents, Thomas Caranasos. I told him I was interested in surgery, and he told me about some of the research projects he was working on. We’ve since gotten a couple of things published together. We did a case report for the West Virginia Medical Journal and we did a presentation at a cardiothoracic conference last year.”
“A residency gives you such an opportunity to challenge yourself as a young professional while under the watchful eyes of experienced clinicians,” Dr. Clyburn said. “You not only gain the skill of making informed clinical decisions, but a sense of competence that comes only after many years of practicing on your own.”
For Bardes, the decision to pursue a career in medicine was an easy one. “Medicine is a really challenging field and I feel like it will be something that will always be worthwhile,” he said. As for his post-residency plans, Bardes might one day be mentoring future medical students and residents. “I want to stay at an academic facility. I want to be on faculty somewhere someday.”
Pharmacists in the first year of residency work with a wide range of patients and conditions. Clyburn is taking the opportunity to work with the Cabell Huntington pharmacy staff
to decide if she’ll further specialize in a second-year residency or fellowship. hen Kristina Clyburn was 12 years
old, growing up in the Mercer County town of Kellysville, she thought she wanted to be
“We have a great group of both faculty and residents, and the way they interact with each other was something I hadn’t seen elsewhere,” he said. After earning his Doctor of Medicine degree in May, Bardes began residency training on the night shift in WVU Hospitals’ emergency department. Despite a few initial adjustments— including blackout curtains for daytime sleeping—Bardes’ transition from medical student to resident is going smoothly. “WVU definitely prepared me well when I was a med student as far as getting to do a lot,” Bardes said. “At other places, it’s more watching and learning. Here it’s more learning by doing. The faculty want you to make you own decisions before they would tell you the answer. Being forced to think that way certainly helped.” The long hours spent studying in medical school, he said, also helped prepare him for the volume of work as a resident. “When I come in on night-float, I get four different teams that check out their patients to me. I get 40 to 50 patients that I get a quick rundown on. I’m also the trauma intern overnight, so I go down for all trauma patients that come to the ED. And then
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a veterinarian. Then her younger brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“I saw how vital my brother’s medications were to his life and daily routine,” she said. “It was
She’s working with people she already knows and trusts—she completed two rotations at Cabell Huntington in her final year of pharmacy school. “All the pharmacists there were so helpful and nice and did their best to ensure that I had a great educational experience. I knew the residency program would do just the same,” she said. Even though she’s spending a year in Huntington, she’s still proudly wearing WVU’s Gold and Blue. “I wear my WVU alumni gear proudly.”
soon after that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in some sort of health science. Pharmacy seemed the perfect fit to balance my love of helping others, chemistry, biology, and research.” Following that dream brought her to West Virginia University, where she completed an undergraduate degree and earned a PharmD. “West Virginia University should be proud to house one of the best pharmacy schools in the country,” she said. “The faculty and staff at the WVU School of Pharmacy are second to none, and I couldn’t think of a better place to have attended college and pharmacy school. They have given a first-generation college kid from southern West Virginia opportunities that she couldn’t have imagined experiencing as a child.”
FALL 2011 | 7
hat does the healthcare reform legislation mean
for West Virginia? A group of 140 West Virginia University
ADVOCATING FOR THE PROFESSION by Amy Newton
health sciences students joined faculty members,
Our students represent the future for healthcare in West Virginia. It’s especially important that they understand how healthcare reform will affect their careers, their patients, and their communities.” —Christopher Colenda, MD, MPH, chancellor for health sciences at WVU
healthcare professionals, and state legislators earlier this
Kristin Showen, a third-year
year for a candid discussion about the Affordable Care
student in the WVU School of
Act’s impact on West Virginia’s healthcare providers and
Pharmacy, knew back in high
school that she wanted to work in healthcare. But it wasn’t until she met Betsy Elswick that she realized she could serve patients as both healthcare
Health Sciences students gather to discuss the Affordable Care Act by Stacy Wise Art by Kofi Opoku
practitioner and policy advocate. When she joined the WVU chapter of the Academy of Student Pharmacists in 2009, the group was involved in a letter-writing campaign to educate state legislators about covering Students from nine university programs participated in the discussion: dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medicine, dental hygiene, exercise physiology, public administration,
pharmacists under West Virginia’s professional liability laws. Showen traveled to the state capitol for Pharmacy Day at the Legislature.
biology, and public health. Thirty-one facilitators,
One of the people she
including legislators, healthcare professionals, and WVU
worked with was Betsy
faculty members, joined the conversation by leading
Elswick, PharmD, associate
14 small-group discussions on topics ranging from
professor in the school’s
preventive care to education and research.
Department of Clinical
Students were optimistic about the legislation, particularly the emphasis on prevention. “The hope is that people who otherwise could not afford care will now seek preventive care since they have insurance,” a public
Pharmacy, and instructor of the school’s leadership and advocacy elective. “Dr. Elswick invited a few other students and me to
administration student said.
a debate the class was having,” Showen said. “I
The Affordable Care Act encourages a multidisciplinary
thought since I was the Student Political Advocacy
approach to healthcare in the community, and the
Network liaison for ASP, this would be a good way to
majority of students said they want to get started
learn more about policy and advocacy.”
became interested in what the class offered and also
while they’re in school. “The future is going to require communication across all fields of healthcare, and we need to start now,” a dental student said.
Elswick is well-known at WVU for her ability to get busy pharmacy students – and working pharmacists around the state – to take the time to join policy
Students stressed the need for education about how
discussions that can help them provide better care for
healthcare is structured and funded in West Virginia and
the United States. ““I think it would be wonderful to have that in the curriculum,” said Sarah Peplowski, a dental hygiene student. “It would help us understand what we’re going to be getting into in the future.” The students generated questions and ideas that will help guide the WVU Health Sciences Center administration and faculty as they adapt WVU’s curriculum to the changing medical landscape. “You are the people who will be taking care of us,” Dr. Colenda told students. “We want you to be very well-informed, and we want to know what you need.”
Earlier this year, the American Pharmacists Association recognized her with their Good Government Pharmacist-of-the-Year award. The award honors a pharmacist who is actively involved in professional advocacy and leadership efforts. “My favorite things about Dr. Elswick as a professor and leader in pharmacy are her enthusiasm and passion,” Showen said. “She encourages students to find something that they are passionate about and act on it. Through her classes and encouragement, I have found passion in policy. She has shown me that even one person can make a difference.”
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FALL 2011 | 9
WHAT MATTERS MOST by Amy Johns
WVU breast cancer patient learns and shares life lessons
While Alison and her husband, Tom, were
the relationship with any of those doctors
willing to uproot the family and travel to
that I immediately had with Dr. Abraham,
Johns Hopkins in Baltimore or Memorial
Dr. (Hannah) Hazard, and the whole team
Sloan Kettering in New York City, after
consulting with cancer experts there, she ultimately decided to work with WVU
lison Conroy thought she
had it all. A life that included outdoor
adventures and world travels with a loving husband, two beautiful children, a nice home in Preston County, and a great job.
At 29, she was living the dream. Then in April of 2010, she felt a hard knot in her breast and knew something
Healthcare’s Jame Abraham, MD, medical director of the Cancer Center and founder of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program. “I pursued those options only to find out
Alison says she has great respect and great affection for Dr. Abraham. “I absolutely adore him, because in addition to trusting him with my life and having that professional respect for him, I think he’s a wonderful person, unbelievably caring, kind, and charismatic. He’s never treated
that not only did they not have anything
me like I was sick or dying. He’s always
different or better than what I was going to
had this extreme optimism.”
be receiving at WVU, but also I didn’t have
was wrong. A few days later, at WVU Healthcare’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors told her it was stage IV, an advanced, invasive cancer that had spread to some lymph nodes in her neck. But instead of letting the diagnosis devastate her, Alison immediately set up a plan of attack. “I actually process things better head on. Having too much time to think about it or get nervous about it would have just weakened my constitution,” Alison said. “I realized the severity of the situation and I didn’t take a moment to pause.”
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The Cancer Project by SkySight Photography www.TheCancerProject.yolasite.com
Heidi Specht FALL 2011 | 11
‘‘ ’’ My husband and I will raise our two boys with each other at our sides. My family will talk with me not about me at our family reunions. My friends and I will still have long conversations. I will be a survivor.
The Cancer Project by SkySight Photography
So I think about how lucky I am that at my young age I should be presented with such an opportunity to really fight for my life. To know that I am in danger, that for me the odds are not in my favor, yet realize what I am up against and know in my soul that I can beat it.
in hopes of helping others. She wrote a poignant essay (excerpts
yolasite.com), a collection of photographs and stories of cancer
Alison was a full partner in her treatment from the very beginning,
patients meant to inspire and empower patients. She said
learning as much as she could about breast cancer. Along the
posing for the family photo was a great experience.
way, she also learned a lot about herself. Some of those lessons came from her children, Ethan, 3 1/2, and Logan, 2.
“Small children live entirely in the present moment. They are so
“It was this beautiful moment where I was mostly bald, and I had my two young boys and my husband there. It’s the best family
a helpful part of my own therapy—just trying to put into words
at risk of something terrible happening,” Alison said. “That’s
some of my emotional responses to the ordeal. If anything that
been a real blessing because it’s helped me take my life one day
I’ve gone through can inspire or assist or motivate or just put a
at a time.”
smile on someone’s face, then I feel like I’ve done something.”
She’s planning to return to work in retail management soon, but
Alison’s arsenal in her battle against breast cancer since April
vows that life will be different.
of 2010 has included chemotherapy, radiation, and multiple
“I am devoted to going forward and making sure that I have a better balance. I’ve always been inclined to choose work over family. Balance is something I didn’t appreciate nor did I really strive for hard enough,” she said. “I want to have it all now. I want to still have the career, but I want to be a more active
It is a cliché thing to talk about the awakening that comes with lifethreatening experiences, but it’s a cliché because it is a common human experience. I feel it too. I feel a revitalized appreciation for the little things, and a deep, deep gratitude for the big ones.
picture we’ve ever gotten! And then writing the story was also
young that they don’t understand mommy’s sick and mommy’s
surgeries. She recently completed a five-month course of prophylactic chemo—an extra measure to help ensure the cancer won’t return. And she’s looking forward to an active and healthy future. “I went from stage IV to cancer free in a year. You know you couldn’t possibly ask for anything more than that.”
WVU HEALTHCARE BREAST CANCER PROGRAMS RECOGNIZED Two WVU Healthcare programs have been recognized by national organizations for excellence in breast care.
Imaging Centers of Excellence Award and breast ultrasound imaging accreditation by the American College of Radiology (ACR).
The Comprehensive Breast Care Program at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center has earned three-year, full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). In addition, the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center has been awarded the Breast
The Breast Care Program was 100% compliant with NAPBC standards in leadership, clinical management, research, and all other quality measures, and, in some cases, exceeded them. The ACR recognizes breast imaging centers that have earned accreditation in mammography, stereotactic breast
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I’ve given a lot of thought to the idea of mortality. Before cancer. Before children. Perhaps always. I have thought about the contradiction and marriage of our human fragility and triumphant perseverance. No one has made it this far without knowing, intimately, that life is random and cannot always be controlled. We know this as strongly as we know that life is beautiful beyond our comprehension, and that love can move us to depths that we have forgotten existed.
Alison is sharing the story of her journey through breast cancer
facing page) for The Cancer Project website (thecancerproject.
participant in my own family.”
Excerpts from Alison’s story
biopsy, and breast ultrasound (including ultrasound-guided breast biopsy). WVU’s comprehensive approach to breast care and breast cancer includes a wide range of services from screening mammograms to survivorship care and points in between such as minimally invasive biopsy techniques, breast conserving surgery, genetic evaluation, and high-risk management.
For me, the only decision was to agree to the most aggressive anti-cancer plan Dr. Abraham could design. Chemo, yeah, give me as much as you can, as fast as you can, with the least amount of time in-between. Surgery, yeah, cut out everything that you can, don’t leave a scrap or cell behind. Radiation, yeah, give me the strongest, most expansive coverage, for as long as you can ... because I will bear it.
What I have learned from my cancer is what I always knew but had stopped paying attention to. It is that life is precious and brief. It is that the challenges that we face and overcome define who we become. It is that how long we live is not as important as how we live. The people in our lives are what matter the most. To all of you whom I have loved and known love from, you all have made my journey through cancer one filled with more joy than fear, gratitude not anger, and faith instead of despair.
FALL 2011 | 13
s a child, I always loved
going to the dentist,” fourth-year dental
SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT FOCUSES ON
student Stephanie Henderson recalls. When she talks about dentistry, her eyes
shine and her teeth gleam. She knows that’s not true for everyone.
UNEXPECTED PHILANTHROPIST Nathan Baker, DDS
Her WVU undergraduate thesis in
Professional, but laid back and
psychology focused on dental fears among
personable; well-to-do, but thrifty;
children in Summersville, WV. “Because
inventor and jeweler; avid golfer and
parents often wait until their children have
friend to many; WVU alum, dentist
cavities, many people have unpleasant first
Nathan Baker, DDS, passed away in
experiences. Instead, children should see a
dentist when the first tooth erupts.”
by Aira Burkhart
Henderson, from Cross Lanes, is the first
Dr. Baker was, according to his family,
member of her family to graduate from
a very extroverted person who rarely
college. She hopes to someday develop
spoke about himself and always asked
in-school programs to educate children
others what they did or thought. He
and parents about the importance of oral
was not known for spending money—
health. Her path toward dentistry has been
he drove a used car, made practical
smoothed by the generous contributions of
things in his workshop, and tended
Health Sciences donors. Beginning in ninth grade, Stephanie joined the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA), which targets talented students from rural and minority communities who want to explore careers in technology and healthcare. By her senior year, Stephanie focused her HSTA efforts on dentistry through the ASPIRE program run by WVU’s Dr. Shelia Price. She won a PROMISE Scholarship to WVU.
to tip in the 5% range. “We’d remind him he could afford a new car, and explain the usual tipping custom,” says nephew Jim Bartlett, “but he was always frugal with money.” He lived in Charleston, WV, his entire life. He used his Ham Radio skills to help others during natural disasters, but he rarely gave to charity. All that changed when Dr. Baker left $2.7 million to establish the Norman H. and Nathan P. Baker Dental Scholarship for African-American students at the WVU School of Dentistry. He told friends, “When you read my will, you’ll be surprised!” His family is sure he’d be pleased with the impact his gift will have.
Henderson is among the first winners of
Dr. Baker’s bequest is the largest single gift in the history of the WVU
the Norman H. and Nathan P. Baker Dental
School of Dentistry.
Scholarship, allowing her to pursue her dreams free of debt—and to participate in additional educational and service activities. “Because of these scholarships, I was able to travel to Guatemala to perform dental work for rural people. Many of them had never seen a dentist. For 10 days, we extracted teeth on front lawns and in abandoned houses. It was an amazing experience, and I hope to return with WVU when I am a dentist.” After dental school, Stephanie will pursue a Master of Public Health—a goal that might have been postponed indefinitely, she believes, had she not been supported by scholarships. Through her hard work and the generosity of many, Stephanie will soon
Baker and “Chappy,” undated photo
begin her professional life spreading the “smiles [she] loves to see.” FALL 2011 | 13 15 Fall 2010
14 | WVUhealth Heidi Specht
ART By Angela Jones
ou can’t tell by looking at her. But nine years after her first cancer diagnosis, Vicki Flink of Moundsville has a custom-made titanium mesh implant that takes the place of missing bones on one side of her face. But that’s not what’s important to her. Flink is most concerned with her quality of life and her ability to function. And she doesn’t have the luxury of taking those things for granted.
In 2002, Flink was diagnosed with a chordoma, a bone cancer that strikes 300 people in the United States each year. That’s when she met Charles Rosen, MD, the WVU neurosurgeon she calls “fantastic.” Her mother, she added, “thinks he can walk on water.” In a two-stage operation, Dr. Rosen and his colleagues removed the tumor. After radiation treatment, Flink was able to return to work at Tridelphia Middle School in Ohio County and maintain the life she so greatly desired. But chordomas are notorious for recurring. If one or two cells are left behind, it’s almost guaranteed that another tumor will grow. That’s what happened to Flink. She developed double vision and was unable to read, drive, or even watch television. “It’s difficult
Heidi Specht having to depend on someone else,” she said. “Especially not being able to read.” To remove the tumor this time, the surgeons would have to remove some of the bones in her face. Rosen was able to call on WVU’s ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery team, who specialize in operations around the eye. ‘There
are no egos’
Multidisciplinary collaboration is crucial to success in patients with tumors in the complex regions around the face and eyes. “We work with several different specialties, including neurosurgery, plastic surgery and otolaryngology,” said Jennifer Sivak, MD, director of the oculoplastics fellowship program. “It’s hard to have a successful program like ours if you don’t have the right team members in place. We are fortunate to have that here. “Our patients really get good care because we each come at their cases from different aspects. When you combine all those specialties, you get the best possible care,” Sivak said. “We have a cohesive team that works well together, and we’ve done so for over a decade. All of the team members are tremendously competent and good at what they do.”
Heidi Specht 18 | WVUhealth
FALL 2011 | 17
A Clear Mission WVU Healthcare, the hospital and clinic operations in and around Morgantown associated with West Virginia University, was formed in 2010 by WVU Hospitals, University Health Associates, and the School of Medicine. WVU Healthcare’s mission is to improve the health of West Virginians and all we serve through excellence in patient care, research and education. Over the summer, WVU Healthcare adopted a new strategic plan to guide its Rosen, who performs the neurosurgical portion of the procedures, said all the team members are good surgeons and nice people. “There are no egos,” he said. “I look forward to working on these cases together. It’s very rewarding.” In 2010, WVU’s Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship Program became one of the first five programs in the country to earn approval from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. ‘There
was nothing I could do to change it’ For Flink, the team planned to reconstruct the bones that would be taken out of her face by shaping a flat sheet of titanium.
“We made cuts and bends in the operating room until we were satisfied that her reconstruction would be as symmetric and anatomic as possible,” Sivak said. “We essentially made a sculpture of the area that needed to be reconstructed out of this mesh.” Rosen said the process is sort of an art form. “The art is getting the patient to
growth in the next five years. The plan calls for a patient-centered system of
look like he or she never had surgery. It’s related to patient healing. If you exactly recreate the original contours of the resected tissue, atrophy and scar tissue will make some areas look bad. You need to guess a little at how the patient will heal and how the reconstruction will look,” he said. “We hide scars behind hairlines and account for healing. It’s one of the many tricks we use.” Flink remained confident. “I realized there was nothing I could do to change it. I had a lot of support from my family and the people I worked with at the time,” she said. “And I was very fortunate to have an excellent team at WVU taking care of me.” Today, Flink is recurrence free. “She’s doing wonderfully,” Rosen said. “She has a very full life.” “I can see, I can function and I can read,” she said. “I’m very thankful.”
care that includes: • An expanded regional healthcare delivery system. • Consistent, integrated patient care recognized for delivering the right care in the right place at the right time at all sites. • Development of new approaches to improve healthcare, including team-based models of care; expanding WVU clinical and translational research. • Educational programs throughout the network recognized for training uniquely qualified healthcare team members and leaders. • A culture of performance and excellence throughout the network. The plan will require a sharp increase in the number of faculty physicians She’s retired from the school, but her former coworkers have been incredibly supportive in addition to her family members. “I’m very fortunate to have my friends and family,” she said.
and other healthcare providers, and a multimillion-dollar investment in new hospital and outpatient facilities.
From the nurses in the various units to all the doctors who have treated her along the way, Flink just can’t say enough about the care she received at WVU. “I think the world of them.” For more details on the WVU Healthcare Strategic Plan, and other plans being developed around the Health Sciences Center, please visit http://www.hsc.wvu. edu/HSC2020/.
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FALL 2011 | 19
MEDICAL MYSTERY LEADS TO RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP by Bill Case
arly in the 1990s, Walter Mwanda, MD, a
cancer specialist in Nairobi, Kenya, began seeing patients with unusual symptoms. Several adults came to his clinic with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a disease previously seen only in children. Others arrived with cancerous skin lesions, enlarged
four years, he has chaired the National
lymph nodes, or cancers around their eyes. He
Cancer Institute-sponsored AIDS-
soon realized that the three groups of patients
Malignancy Consortium International
had a common factor – all tested positive for HIV
Resource Committee, involving African
and U.S. experts.
Dr. Mwanda turned to his doctoral mentor, Scot
He heads a research partnership among
and other diagnostic information and
Remick, MD, for assistance. Dr. Remick helped
three Kenyan institutions and three
contribute toward building a treatment
him determine how best to treat his patients –
American universities. They’re working
plan. The Kenyans will organize electronic
and they began a research collaboration that has
together on research and training
tumor boards —linked by computer and
programs that will:
video with WVU specialists—to help more
the potential to improve the lives of thousands of Africans.
• Strengthen the ability of Kenyan
AIDS and related illnesses are the most pressing
pathologists to diagnose patients with
health issues in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently
AIDS-related tumors and to study
22.4 million people in the region are infected—
viruses that cause cancer. They will train
two-thirds of the world’s AIDS burden.
at WVU under the direction of cancer
Kenyatta National Hospital has 2,400 beds and
researcher Laura Gibson, PhD
sees more than 9,000 patients a day. Like many
• Improve Kenya’s tumor registry to help
institutions in Africa, Remick says, it’s “resource
guide public health planning.
challenged.” Over the past decade Remick has
• Support rural research projects.
seen considerable change for the better. But, he says, “they still face issues of scarcity and
Mwanda will lead the Kenyan participants
shortage on an ongoing basis.”
in the project. Other participants include
AN INTERNATIONAL EFFORT
Research Institute in Nairobi and in
CAMPUS-TO-CAMPUS VIDEO LINK Tumor boards are a key part of cancer care. Teams from all the specialists involved in a patient’s care gather to examine lab results, medical images,
precisely diagnose and treat their patients and identify patients who might benefit from clinical trial research.
The benefits of the partnership won’t all flow in one direction, Remick says. “WVU’s leadership – from President Clements on down – has recognized that WVU needs to build and maintain international partnerships to be a strong research university. The National Cancer Institute project in Kenya is part of a broader University effort to contribute to the international community of scholars and develop new opportunities for WVU faculty and students. “We see this project as a springboard to a long-term relationship with Kenyatta National Hospital and more formal research collaborations in the future,” he said. “At the end of the three-year project, there should be a strong group of welltrained clinical researchers in Kenya who can carry on additional projects and make a difference in the health of the entire continent.”
researchers at the Kenya Medical Kisumu. The new project will engage a
Remick, the director of WVU’s Mary Babb
number of faculty and staff at WVU, along
Randolph Cancer Center, is convinced that it’s
with Leona Ayers, MD, at Ohio State
crucial for African doctors and hospitals to take
University and Rosemary Rochford, PhD,
the lead in clinical research to find effective treatment for AIDS-related cancer. For the past
20 | WVUhealth
at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
FALL Fall 2010 2011 || 19 21
Building a School More than 50 faculty members from across the Health Sciences Center met in
New Technology Will Probe Leukemia Cells
June to start the process of forming the first new school since WVU established a health campus in 1960. The planned School of Public Health
High Honor Yon Rojanasakul, PhD, has dedicated his career to cancer research. “Cancer is a disease that affects so many lives,” he said. “Almost everyone has someone close to them affected by the disease.” Through his research on how cancer cells gain competitive growth advantages over normal cells and how they become resistant to death, Dr. Rojanasakul , a professor in the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, hopes to lay the groundwork for researchers working to identify the causes of cancer and develop more effective treatments.
WVU a “Best Place” for Scientists
Each year, the WVU Research Corporation selects researchers for its highest
will be based in Morgantown and is expected to have a statewide presence. Representatives of all four existing schools and the Charleston and Eastern Divisions are participating in the planning process. West Virginia is one of a handful of states that lack an accredited school of public health. The West Virginia Legislature included $1 million in the University’s 2011-12 budget to support the effort. That commitment has attracted private support for the school as well, including a $1 million gift in May – expected to be matched by the state’s “Bucks for Brains” fund – that established the Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professorship in Epidemiology. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation are providing financial support for
Protea Biosciences, a developer of bioanalytical technology, is working with
WVU’s research enterprise clocked in at number 20 on the Best Places to Work in
honor: the Robert C. Byrd Professorship.
Academia list compiled by The Scientist – a respected news magazine that focuses
Rojanasakul was one of only two selected
planning the school.
primarily on biology and life science. The magazine highlighted the cooperative
Alan Ducatman, MD, chair of the
unresponsive to chemotherapy. The collaboration will be a first use of Protea’s
Department of Community Medicine in
laser ablation electrospray ionization technology, which allows a researcher to
research climate at WVU and how it benefited cancer researcher Elena Pugacheva, PhD. Dr. Pugacheva and her colleagues at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center needed a new, specialized ultrasound machine for research on cell proliferation. Colleagues across town in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ Physics Department rode to the rescue and helped build a new ultrasound machine from scratch.
“Cancer is difficult to treat because of the lack of basic understanding of the disease process.” he said. “Basic research helps to identify causes and develop strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatments.”
the WVU School of Medicine, has been
rapidly identify immense numbers of different chemicals within cells. The device
named interim dean and is leading the
uses a special laser to burn a tiny hole in an individual cell, releasing a plume of
planning process. He has appointed five
cellular particles. The plume is intersected by a jet of ionizing gases and analyzed
interim department chairs. “During this
in a mass spectrometer – providing researchers with a wealth of data on the
transformational planning, the faculty
composition of the cells.
Rojanasakul has been awarded numerous
continue to publish new research and to
grants over the past decade to fund his
support an expanding teaching mission,”
research. His most recent award, a $1.4
Dr. Ducatman said.
At 90, Still Serving
million grant from the National Institutes
The departments and their interim chairs
This summer, West Virginia University neurosurgeon Robert Nugent, MD, beloved
of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, will fund research in identifying whether or not exposure to carbon nanotubes — one of the most commonly used nanomaterials in commercial and biomedical applications — causes scarring and inflammation of the lungs that may lead to cancer.
to past and present staff, students, and colleagues, celebrated his 50th year
• Biostatistics: Matthew Gurka, PhD
at WVU. A crowd gathered at Morgantown’s Waterfront Place Hotel July 16 to
• Environmental Health: Michael McCawley, PhD
surprise and honor the longtime faculty member. Neurosurgery chair until 65, Dr. Nugent planned to keep teaching and practicing
• Epidemiology: Anoop Shankar, MD, PhD
medicine until he turned 75, a milestone he again passed without leaving his
• Health Services Administration and
career, patients, or students. At 90, Nugent still performs a couple of procedures
Policy: Michael Hendryx, PhD • Social and Behavioral Health: Keith Zullig, PhD
22 | WVUhealth
Laura Gibson, PhD, of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center to help understand why some leukemia cancer cells become resistant to treatment and
a month. “I have difficulty giving up,” he explained.
FALL 2011 | 23
Felton to Lead School of Dentistry
UNITING A COMMUNITY’S HOSPITALS
Several $1 million-plus gifts to the WVU Foundation earlier this year are advancing teaching, healthcare, and research
David A. Felton, DDS, MS, is
at the Health Sciences Center.
the new dean of the WVU School of Dentistry.
The Cline Family Foundation, led by Christopher Cline, a
“Dr. Felton has an international
southern West Virginia native and successful coal operator, has provided $2 million to create an endowed chair in
reputation as a clinician, an
orthopaedic surgery. The gift will qualify for matching
educator, and a researcher
funds from the state “Bucks for Brains” initiative, making
and is eager to work with our
the total benefit to WVU $4 million. Joseph Prudhomme,
excellent faculty to advance the
MD, is the first to hold the chair.
oral health of West Virginians,” said Christopher C. Colenda,
WVU efforts to combat pediatric diabetes received a
MD, MPH, chancellor for health
$1 million donation from former state legislator Mike
sciences. “He is a hands-on
Ross. WVU Children’s Hospital and the WVU Department of Pediatrics will use the gift to support treatment and education for children with diabetes and their families and to establish the Mike Ross Family Pediatric Diabetes Research Fund. The research portion of the gift is expected to qualify for the state match.
leader with exemplary academic credentials. We’re confident that he can help build upon the success of the WVU School of Dentistry and bring it to national prominence.” Felton is a graduate of the University of North Carolina dental school and served on its faculty from 1990 until his appointment at WVU. He is a past president of the American College of Prosthodontics and has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Prosthodontics since 2003.
Gift Supports Nursing Research The West Virginia United Health System (WVUHS) has provided $42,500 to support research in the West Virginia University School of Nursing, creating the Evidence-Based Nursing Practice Research Endowment. This gift qualifies for a dollar for dollar match from the West Virginia Research Trust Fund. The gift will support faculty and students in advanced nursing research, promoting high quality patient care, according to System CEO Tom Jones. WVUHS is the largest healthcare system based in West Virginia, with member hospitals in north central West Virginia, the Parkersburg area and the Eastern Panhandle. The future School of Public Health attracted support for a faculty position before even beginning its organizational work. The Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professorship in Epidemiology was established with a $1 million gift in May – also expected to be matched by the state. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute received $1 million from The Bernard Osher Foundation to enrich the educational programs it offers to people age 50 and older. About 40 active and retired WVU faculty members teach classes at the Institute, along with state and local experts in public programs, business professionals, and artists.
24 | WVUhealth
For more than a century, Parkersburg, West Virginia, had two hospitals less than a mile apart: Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital near the center of the city and St Joseph’s Hospital. Late in 2010, leaders of both organizations announced a plan to consolidate into a single medical center, and to join the West Virginia United Health System, the regional health group that also includes WVU Hospitals and United Hospital Center in Clarksburg. Mike King, chief executive officer of the combined Camden Clark Medical Center, says the change was made with widespread community support. By early 2011, all the regulatory hurdles had been cleared, the boards approved the plan, and the agreement was completed. It’s now the third largest hospital system in the state with
598 beds, 75,000 annual emergency visits, 320,000 outpatient visits, 2,000 employees, and 225 physicians on the medical staff. At the March 1 consolidation ceremony, King talked with a large crowd of hospital employees, civic leaders, and area residents about the benefits the hospital hopes to bring to Parkersburg: efficiency of operations, expanding services, better access to technology, physician training opportunities, and, most of all, better healthcare for the community. For WVU Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda, MD, MPH, the move supports WVU’s commitment to serving all of West Virginia. “Our hospital partners in West Virginia United Health System share our values and our commitment to transforming lives and eliminating health disparities across the state,” he said. Now, the people who depend on the hospital are looking for results. “It is rare for me to be out in the community without being asked, ‘How are things
going these days?’” King said. “My response is always ‘exceptionally well.’ Every process like this has glitches, but overall I think it has gone remarkably well.” Hospital management worked immediately to identify areas where people from the two former competitors can work together, consolidating laboratory, infusion, mammography, PET scanning, and aeromedical support services, and creating a single quality and safety structure spanning both campuses. “We saved millions of dollars hung up in resources and services duplicated between the two hospitals,” King said. “I’ve been impressed with the support we’ve received from the community,” he said. “Working together, in a very supportive community, with a great workforce and excellent physicians, we can do what we promised: build a stronger and healthier regional
medical center and provide improved quality and safer health care now and far into the future, right here at home.”
PO Box 9083 Morgantown, WV 26506 www.hsc.wvu.edu School of Dentistry School of Medicine School of Nursing School of Pharmacy School of Public Health (in Development) WVU Healthcare University Health Associates West Virginia University Hospitals Member, West Virginia United Health System University Physicians of Charleston
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