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Dean's Weekly Message

Jan. 23, 2017


Dear colleague: 

I would like to thank everyone who attended or watched the State of the School address on Jan. 18 where I reported that the University of Colorado School of Medicine is strong thanks to the collaborative environment on the Anschutz Medical Campus. We are strong because our faculty has a commitment to the common enterprise of providing outstanding clinical care, performing biomedical research that advances knowledge and care, teaching the next generation of health care professionals and serving our community. Our faculty make this commitment real by investing in our students, colleagues, buildings and equipment.  As I said last Wednesday: “Everybody will tell you they are committed to the common enterprise. It’s a God, mother, and apple pie kind of thing. But if you judge people by what they do or how they spend their money, I think you have tangible evidence here.” Our clinical endeavors provide essential power to our research and educational enterprise. Through our practice plan, we provide scholarships, endowments and funding to buy equipment and to support collaboration. We have been successful in recruiting talent from first-class institutions and we will do more. 

It is also worth noting that while the care we provide has fueled our continued growth it is absolutely critical to our community. Those who need care often turn first to us for the best and most comprehensive care they can get. In 2013, we took care of about 95,000 Medicaid patients on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Last year, we cared for 165,000 Medicaid patients on this campus. About 50 percent of the clinical volume at Children’s Hospital Colorado is Medicaid. If you go to University of Colorado Hospital, about 30 percent of the beds are occupied by Medicaid patients. So in a state where 20 percent of the population is now on Medicaid, we are certainly not only doing our share, but more than our share statistically in caring for this population. 

Again, thanks everyone at the School of Medicine for the outstanding work you do and for your substantial commitment to our ongoing efforts to provide for the health and welfare of our community. 

The Department of Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology has posted an excellent video featuring the work it does as seen through the eyes of a patient who had a liver transplant. A highlight of the video is that it demonstrates the value of working as a team. The providers with the division include nursing staff, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nutrition specialists, and the video includes Division Head Hugo Rosen, MD, professor of medicine, and faculty members Blair Fennimore, MD, Mark Gerich, MD, and Steven Edmundowicz, MD, explaining their roles in the patient’s care and the connection to others on campus. Hugo explains that the division has streamlined the patient experience to improve treatment by bringing providers together sooner to discuss treatment options. The video also highlights the connection between our clinical efforts and our research and educational missions. I recommend the video and I commend the division’s approach to smart, compassionate care. 

At the annual meeting of University of Colorado Medicine on Wednesday, Jan. 11, our faculty practice plan’s leadership reported results that all members should be proud of. By several key measures – revenue, income, productivity – our practice is healthy and strong, and as a result, we have a stronger school. CU Medicine has reinvested in the school through increased commitment to scholarships, an endowed chair with more to come, and a record contribution to the Academic Enrichment Fund. I want to thank Jane Schumaker, executive director, Liz Kissick, MBA, vice president of health plans and analytics, Chief Financial Officer Mark Evans, MBA, Chief Operating Officer Gail Albertson, MD, for their remarkable performance managing the business enterprise. Thanks also to Medical Director Anne Fuhlbrigge, MD, MS, Christina Finlayson, MD, associate medical director of adult health, and Michael Narkewicz, MD, associate medical director of child health, for their exceptional work maintaining and improving the high quality of care our faculty provides. 

Our team is paying close attention to the impending changes to health care and recognizes that there are likely significant challenges ahead. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in 2010, we have seen an increase in the number and percentage of patients who depend on Medicaid as their payer. Colorado is a Medicaid-expansion state under the ACA. Proposals to repeal the ACA without a plan to pay for the care received by those patients could leave those patients without insurance and foregoing necessary testing, treatment and care. The financial impact could decrease our revenues and income and that would have a detrimental effect on the school’s ability to recruit top students and talented faculty and to invest in the future. We will remain vigilant in protecting our ability to serve patients and in looking for constructive solutions. 

The Faculty Senate approved the establishment of a Master’s of Medical Science degree at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10. This master’s degree is for those students who had intended to complete a medical degree, but through personal circumstances find that they are unable to continue medical school after successfully completing their second year. Often, these students face personal difficulties and their job searches are complicated by a two-year gap on their resumes. To qualify, students will be required to withdraw from medical school and complete a capstone project. The new degree proposal now goes to University administration and the Board of Regents for review. 

The Faculty Senate on Tuesday, Jan. 10, also approved the creation of two new divisions in the Department of Surgery: The Division of Vascular Surgery and the Division of Surgical Oncology. The new divisions were unanimously recommended by a faculty committee. The new divisions recognize the outstanding work by these surgical specialists and will strengthen the Department’s ability to recruit faculty. The Division of Surgical Oncology also plans to establish a clinical surgical oncology fellowship program and begin recruiting fellows in 2018. 

On Saturday evening, the DAWN Clinic held a gala to raise funds, rally support and recognize the impressive accomplishments of this student-run clinic providing much-needed care to members of the Aurora community. The clinic offers free medical, physical therapy and dental services to people without insurance coverage. The volunteers help patients with insurance enrollment, health education and navigating the healthcare system. Jackie To, a fourth-year medical student, said that 330 student volunteers and 90 faculty have provided care for 450 patients at the clinic. During the gala, COPIC, a provider of medical liability insurance, presented the clinic leaders a $50,000 donation, a generous gift that will help the clinic continue and extend its mission. I encourage everyone to support this worthy endeavor. 

Congratulations to the Denver Health Foundation on completing its $1.5 million Child and Adolescent Behavioral Research Endowment. The foundation hosted a celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Clyfford Still Museum where donors were recognized and Robert House, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of mental health services at Denver Health, explained that endowment is providing resources that will extend and improve care and will allow the team to add experts to their program. Denver Health’s Mental Health Services program is an interdisciplinary team of psychologists, drug and alcohol addiction counselors and licensed social workers. 

I want to express gratitude to Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, director of the VA Eastern Colorado Health System, and her team for giving campus leadership a tour of the VA medical center-under-construction east of the Anschutz Medical Campus last Friday, Jan. 20. The medical center is now 84 percent complete. The tour included visiting suites where VA physicians and providers will care for veterans with spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and mental health needs. The mission of the VA is demanding, but our nation’s veterans deserve excellent care for their service to the country. The VA team expects its research building on the 31 acre site to be operational in mid-2017. Research is a significant part of the VA’s mission and we are proud partners with them. There are nearly 400 research projects, funded by more than $24 million, at the VA Eastern Colorado Health System, including the national Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value Driven Care, a Mental Illness Research Educational and Clinical Center and a Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center. 

Have a good week,

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine

 

The Dean’s weekly message is an email news bulletin from John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members, staff, students and others about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service. See the UCH-Insider →

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