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Dean's Weekly Message

July 31, 2017


Dear Colleague: 

Amira del Pino-Jones, MD, assistant professor of medicine, is the third person from the Anschutz Medical Campus we are featuring in the series “Black Men and Women in White Coats,” which was produced by the School of Medicine in partnership with PreMed StAR. Our goal with these videos is to inspire students and scholars of all backgrounds to join us at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In our profession, there is a severe shortage of black women and men, in particular. To provide communities with the best care, science and education, we have an obligation to engage, recruit and retain leaders from diverse backgrounds. Amira, who graduated from the School of Medicine in 2007 and joined our faculty after completing her residency, says it well in her video: “I hope one day to look around and say, ‘Look at our health care work force. It absolutely matches our population in terms of diversity.’ I’ve had patients call in their family to come and meet me so I can talk to their children or their grandchildren about what it’s like to be a doctor, which stresses to me the importance in making sure younger people are able to see successful people who look like them.” Amira is one of those success stories. She is director of the CU Hospitalist Scholars Program, providing mentoring to undergraduate students interested in careers in medicine. As a clinician, Amira is involved in projects aimed at improving transitions of care for patients who are underinsured or uninsured. We are proud to have her as a leader and role model in our academic community and appreciate her willingness to share her story in the video. I also want to thank medical student Bailey Loving ​and Vaughn Browne, MD, PhD,​ associate professor of emergency medicine, who were also featured in these videos. 

The U.S. Senate held a series of votes last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The proposals have been a hidden and moving target, but in every case, these proposals would decrease the number of Americans with health insurance by millions. According to the Congressional Budget Office, at least 15 million fewer Americans would have health insurance next year compared to current law, and individual insurance premiums would increase 20 percent on average, if the so-called “skinny repeal” proposal were to become law. The Senate voted 49-51 early Friday morning, rejecting that proposal. Other proposed repeal bills that were considered would result in even more people losing health insurance, with as many as 32 million becoming uninsured by 2026. Leading groups representing the medical profession have opposed these proposals and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) issued a statement saying in part: “Reform proposals currently under consideration would leave tens of millions of Americans without comprehensive, affordable health coverage — and potentially weaken insurance for millions of others. These are our patients, many of whom have pre-existing conditions or are currently on Medicaid. We know that when they do not have stable health coverage, they delay care, making manageable conditions more complicated and costly to treat.” These changes would have dire consequences for the health and finances of our patients, would further destabilize the individual health insurance markets and would cause sharp increases in premiums for those with insurance. I join our colleagues at the AAMC in urging lawmakers to step back and have a transparent and inclusive process in developing legislation that aims to improve the health of our patients and communities and does not harm the millions of vulnerable people who currently depend on the coverage provided through the Affordable Care Act. After casting the decisive vote in rejecting the skinny repeal proposal, U.S. Sen. John McCain issued a statement that said: “We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people.” 

The CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities is presenting its latest Hard Call podcast, “The Electronic Heart,” a four-part series that launched July 27 and follows a patient through a set of critical decisions about a risky and expensive treatment toward the end of life. Listeners will be invited to cast votes on what they would do if faced with the same situation.  Hard Call brings together creative minds in health care, radio and theater to tell the human stories behind the tough decisions we make about our health. The podcast, available in iTunes, Google Play, and on the web, has been developed with support from the Colorado Health Foundation and the Community First Foundation. Center Director Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, will be interviewed live on CPR’s Colorado Matters about Hard Call at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 7, with a rebroadcast that evening at 7 p.m. New episodes of the podcast will be released every Thursday through Aug. 17. 

The 11th Annual Faculty Professionalism Award will be awarded this year to Anna Bruckner, MD, associate professor of dermatology and pediatrics; and to Abigail Lara, MD, associate professor of medicine. Anna is being recognized as an outstanding clinician dedicated to providing high- quality, compassionate care. Abigail is being honored for her outstanding clinical and leadership skills and for establishing a culture of respect. The award will be presented to Anna and Abigail at the School of Medicine Matriculation Ceremony, Friday, Aug. 11.  All the nominees this year deserve our congratulations.  

The School of Medicine’s Faculty Senate officers for the 2017-2018 academic year have been named. Returning officers are President Kathleen Torkko, PhD, assistant professor of pathology, and Past-President Rebecca Braverman, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology. New officers are President-Elect David Raben, MD, professor of radiation oncology and Secretary Adria Boucharel, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology. 

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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