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Town hall meeting highlights happenings

MUSC President Ray Greenberg and John R. Raymond, vice president for academic affairs and provost, March 20 gave members of the university’s faculty a “sample” of significant happenings both on and off campus, beginning with the opening of Ashley River Tower.
“Six weeks ago, 66 patients were transferred from the existing hospital to Ashley River Tower. Many of them were intensive care patients, and the transfer went remarkably well,” said Greenberg. ART has a capacity of 156 beds, of which 105 have been opened. Although the demand to fill more beds is high, he said that MUSC will have to hire more staff to open the remaining beds.

“It’s been a real education for me, to see it in operation,” Greenberg said. “To see the intensive care floors are unlike any intensive care floor I’ve seen before. We probably all have the image of intensive care involving staff running around, a lot of noise and monitors going off. However, in this facility because of the way it’s laid out, it’s quiet and almost calming in there.” He said he hopes that it will be a model for improving patient care environments throughout MUSC. ART embraces all of the MUSC missions with research, education and patient care going on there, he said.
Meanwhile, ongoing renovations of the vacated floors in the main hospital will bring the structure into compliance with present hospital building standards and code, Greenberg said. He said it will take about 18 months to get the beds in the original hospital back on line.

Clinical Simulation Laboratory
With the complete gutting of the first floor of the College of Nursing, progress is well under way to create a clinical simulation laboratory to be used by all colleges of the university.
Greenberg said that from the Center for Economic Excellence effort in Patient Safety and Clinical Effectiveness emerged clinical simulation to enhance patient safety. Clinical simulation uses sophisticated computerized mannequins to simulate a variety of clinical scenarios. Health care professionals and students receive real-time feedback as they respond to the various patient conditions presented in the mannequins.
“Dr. (John) Schaefer, who occupies the endowed chair in clinical simulation, is developing evaluation technology that will monitor how people are performing and then learn from what people do well and not do well to improve the educational process,” Greenberg said. He predicts that this will transform the way clinical education is done from the old model of “see one, do one, teach one” to actually “learn one” without putting a patient at risk.
Simulation will allow the College of Nursing, for example, with a strict faculty-to-student ratio in the clinical setting to teach many more students by exposing them to procedures outside of the patients care environment. “Under Dr. Schafer’s leadership, we have the opportunity for South Carolina to become the state for leadership in clinical simulation education, because his charge is to set up a statewide network of these simulation centers,” Greenberg said, “all inter-connected by high speed fiber-optics.”
With a total of six interconnected simulation centers distributed in Greenville-Spartanburg, Columbia, Beaufort and Charleston, simulations going on in Greenville can be transparently monitored in Charleston. “This will make the education process more efficient and more clinicians will be trained because of it,” he said.

FCC grant
An $8 million grant that the Federal Communications Commission awarded to Health Sciences South Carolina will provide better broadband connectivity to rural hospitals in the state. The system will be developed by MUSC Chief Information Officer Frank Clark, Ph.D., who wrote the grant with a goal to connect 56 rural hospitals by Internet.
Greenberg said that the linkage between the major urban areas will be on a so-called “light rail,” a high speed dedicated fiber-optic connection, which is about to be up and running shortly. It will connect to the national network. “The power of it will be to have the expertise in the various centers available to every health care provider in the state,” he said.
This is particularly important in stroke cases where a three-hour window is critical in minimizing brain damage. By having emergency rooms statewide linked to a stroke specialty facility, people in rural areas can receive needed specialized care in time. Currently in the Lowcountry only 1 percent of stroke patients get clot-busting therapy within that three-hour window. Once the system is up and running, Greenberg said, it can be used not only to improve stroke care, but for any number of clinical applications to provide better care in communities in which there are few medical specialists available.

MUSC Excellence Program
Touching on universitywide initiatives that Raymond said are particularly exciting, “First and foremost is the MUSC Excellence Program, which is designed to help us be more effective and efficient in what we do every day and ensure that we treat each other and our constituents with respect.”
Progress in the program’s five pillars of people, service, quality, growth and finance will be measured against predetermined benchmarks. The program has been rolled out in the Medical University Hospital Authority, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, the College of Medicine and the Office of the Chief Information Officer. “I’m pleased to announce that the program has begun to be rolled out in the reporting lines of the other colleges, the library and the Office of the Provost,” Raymond said.

Humanities Scholar in Residence
The offices of the president and the provost have been working hard to enrich the learning environment and focus on faculty development and mentorship. One such program, Raymond said, is the Humanities Scholar in Residence, intended to bring persons to the institution to broaden the scope of the educational and learning environment.
The first to serve here under the program is J. Herman Blake, Ph.D., who arrived in November. As a former university provost and president, Blake brings with him a broad-based scholarship with a focus to eliminate barriers that prevent individuals from minority backgrounds from pursuing higher education.
“The idea is to bring illustrious faculty members in for a limited period of time—from six months to two years—in disciplines such as history, law, ethics, the humanities,” Raymond said.

New CoEE endowed chairs
Since 2002, MUSC has added 13 centers, 26 approved chairs and participates in a number of centers that are run by University of South Carolina (USC) and Clemson University. “We filled 10 chairs at our institution,” Raymond said. “I think that shows the strength of our department chairs and deans here because they spearheaded all these recruitment efforts. We’re bringing a lot of strength in a lot of different areas to the state and to the institution.”
The Centers for Economic Excellence program in stroke has been enhanced by the recent recruitment of  Marc Ivor Chimowitz, M.D., associate dean for faculty in the College of Medicine. Chimowitz is principal investigator of a $25 million multi-center clinical grant to evaluate the efficacy of adding intracranial stenting to the treatment of patients with arterial stenosis already being treated with aggressive pharmacological and life-style modifications.
Iain Sanderson, Ph.D., arrived in October from Duke University and is a medical informatics expert. He will lead statewide and regional academic informatics efforts to develop a regional electronic institutional review board, regional clinical trials management software, and regional tissue and data repositories which will require addressing a number of interoperability issues.

College of Health Professions
Mark Sothman, Ph.D., was recruited from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis nearly a year ago to serve as dean of the College of Health Professions. He is an exercise scientist and founding faculty member of the Indiana University School of Informatics.

College of Nursing 125th anniversary
Raymond recognized the college for its 125 years of training nurses and noted its sacrifice in giving up valuable space for MUSC to create its Clinical Simulation Laboratory.

SC College of Pharmacy
Since the 2004 merger of pharmacy colleges at USC  and MUSC, faculty and students have made terrific progress, Raymond said. Research funding and scholarship has increased, and research productivity has more than doubled, with the combined college having improved in National Institutes of Health (NIH) rankings from 31st to 19th.
As a combined college, they were able to recruit two centers for economic excellence endowed chairs, something that Raymond said would have been difficult to do without the critical mass of resources and intellectual capital they now have. The chairs are filled by Chuck Smith, Ph.D., and John Lemasters, M.D., Ph.D., who are spearheading new efforts in drug discovery and high fidelity microscopy.
He reported that the curricula of the combined campuses are aligned, two classes have been enrolled, the school is in candidate status for accreditation,  and there are plans  to expand into the upstate.

Pharmacology renovation
People in the Department of Pharmacology have been squeezed into temporary space while the third floor of the Basic Science Building is renovated. Funded by the College of Medicine at $8 million, about half the floor will be turned into “world-class laboratory and office space.” Raymond said completion of the project is expected in August or September.

College of Dental Medicine
Rising out of the dust, the College of Dental Medicine’s new facility can now boast of a skeletal steel structure beginning to give shape to the building, which will yield 100,000 square feet of space at an estimated cost of more than $60 million. The building, which will be primarily a clinical teaching facility, is a first for the college in terms of an identifiable structure to call its home, Raymond said.

Drug Discovery and Bioengineering
Expected within the next year are what Raymond called “partner buildings” to house drug discovery and bioengineering through the S.C. Life Sciences Act, also known as the Research Universities Infrastructure Act. He said the state provides a dollar for dollar match for MUSC for research facilities construction. It will include a drug discovery building and an interdisciplinary building that will be partnered with a bioengineering and life sciences building. And it will contain a genomics effort as well, he said.

SACS accreditation
MUSC has earned a 10-year reaffirmation and accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities. Credit for primary leadership in the effort goes to Tom Higerd, Ph.D., associate provost for institutional research and assessment. Amy Blue, Ph.D., assistant provost for education, provided primary leadership in a quality enhancement plan on inter-professional education.

Health Sciences South Carolina
Created as a partnership among USC, MUSC, MUHA, Palmetto Health and Greenville Hospital System in 2004, Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC) was joined in 2005 by Clemson University and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. HSSC has grown through collaborations and boasts emerging initiatives in information systems inter-operability, single region Institutional Review Board (IRB), clinical trials network with consent docents, common research consent form, shared IRB software, shared clinical trials management platform (Velos), shared faculty profiling/fingerprinting (Colexis), and distributed regional tissue bank.
HSSC’s new president, Jay Moskowitz, Ph.D., arrived in September, following a 24-year career at NIH where he was the founding director of the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. He was also the NIH deputy director for science policy and technology. His career in academics includes senior associate dean at Wake Forest School of Medicine and associate vice president for research, Pennsylvania State University-Hershey.


Friday, March 28, 2008
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