Dean's Weekly Message

June 26, 2023

Dear colleague: 

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is ending its COVID-19 vaccine requirement, effective July 1. The new campus policy follows the decision earlier this month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to lift the requirement that employees at health care facilities be vaccinated against the virus. Masks also will no longer be required by the university. Policies at clinical sites and for individual campus units may continue to require vaccination against COVID-19, so anyone working in those sites should follow the policies of those sites or units.

UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital hosted a grand-opening event for the Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion 3 last Tuesday evening. With 10 new operating rooms and 215 new inpatient beds, including a 40-bed behavioral health unit, the tower will allow the hospital and our faculty to provide outstanding care to more patients and their families. In the hospital’s announcement, Jean Kutner, MD, MPH, chief medical officer at the hospital and associate dean for clinical affairs at the school, explained that the hospital is often at or near capacity. “In the last year, University of Colorado Hospital had more than 50,000 inpatient admissions and received approximately 4,000 patient transfers from other facilities. Our physicians, who are also faculty at CU School of Medicine, provide highly specialized care and access to clinical trials not offered anywhere else in the region,” she said. “The additional inpatient rooms and services in the new tower allow us to meet the needs of even more patients.” The new tower is undergoing a staged opening and is expected to be at full capacity in 2024.

Four specialties at Children’s Hospital Colorado are listed in top 10 in rankings released last week by U.S. News and World Report: gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery, No. 3; diabetes and endocrinology, No. 4; pulmonology and lung surgery, No. 6; and cancer, No. 7. It is the best-ever showing for cancer care in the annual Best Children’s Hospitals rankings by U.S. News. Children’s Hospital Colorado remains the No. 1 pediatric hospital in the state and the region.

Faculty Updates 

Samuel Porter, MD, instructor of medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine, is author of a Perspective article published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine. In the article, Sam describes a shift working the wards, and a shift in how we interact – or more precisely how technology has shifted the way we interact – with patients and colleagues. “As is usual in a 21st-century hospital, I don’t get paged, I get an electronic message,” he writes. “I used to call pages back to be greeted by a faceless voice. Now, I receive electronic messages from a voiceless face. Faces appear and disappear beside ellipses all throughout my day, little ghosts flitting across my attention to announce the day’s events.” The article is an appeal for the human touch. Rather than staring at a screen, Sam writes about missing the smiles and grimaces, the sidelong glances and the knowing looks we get when meeting our patients face-to-face. This is an article worth your time.

John Corboy, MD, professor of neurology, is primary author of an article published last week in The Lancet Neurology which says that discontinuation of disease-modifying therapy might be a reasonable option in multiple sclerosis patients older than 55 years. The article reports the results of a clinical trial known as DISCOMS, a randomized trial of discontinuation of disease-modifying therapies in multiple sclerosis. Between May 2017 and February 2020, researchers recruited 259 participants from 19 multiple sclerosis centers in the United States.

Seven School of Medicine faculty members have received 2023 SPARK Awards for projects developing innovative therapeutics, medical devices, and diagnostics. The 2023 SPARK awardees and their projects are:

  • Vikas Patel, MD, professor of orthopedics, advanced cervical fixation. 
  • Cristin Welle, PhD, associate professor of neurosurgery, vagus nerve stimulation to treat multiple sclerosis. 
  • Adam Green, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, development of a device for intact pill delivery to patients unable to swallow. 
  • Evalina Burger-Van der Walt, MD, chair of orthopedics, novelty cages accommodating individual endplate architecture. 
  • Brian Herrmann, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, slumberscope for efficient obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis. 
  • Daewon Park, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering, microbicidal polymer spray. 
  • Liping Yu, MD, associate research professor of pediatrics in the Barbara Davis Center, simple multiplex assay to screen multiple autoimmune diseases simultaneously in children. 

Allison Silverstein, MD, MS, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Adam B. Hill, MD, visiting associate professor of pediatrics and head the department’s section of palliative medicine, have been invited to serve on the Pediatric Council of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. The council has eight members. Allison and Adam will be serving three-year terms through 2026.

There will be no message next Monday, July 3, due to the Fourth of July holiday.

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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