Dean's Weekly Message

May 1, 2017


Dear colleague: 

As of last week, the state legislature had not yet resolved differences related to a bill that would change how the state classifies the Hospital Provider Fee in the state budget. The proposed legislation called for changing how that fee income counts toward state revenue limits. Currently, it flows into the state general fund and would trigger larger tax refunds, squeezing parts of the budget, like higher education, that cannot afford to take deep cuts. Reclassifying the fee as an enterprise would allow it to be used for its dedicated purpose without affecting the general fund budget. So far, much of the media attention has focused on the impact to rural hospitals and the dire consequences that could result by failing to make the change. Last week, the Denver Business Journal reviewed the impact of how a cut to the hospital provider fee in the upcoming fiscal year will affect three of our affiliated providers. Children’s Hospital Colorado is reviewing how to scale back growth in in-patient pre-teen psychiatric programs and perhaps a cut in telehealth services. Denver Health reports that it could lose between $46 million and $60 million if legislators don’t take action to prevent cuts to the provider fee. University of Colorado Hospital would see a decrease of $15 million, which could force cuts to expanded services it offers at clinics in Lowry or Stapleton, where they see higher percentages of Medicaid patients. There are consequences to the health of Coloradans and to the financial standing of Colorado hospitals of failing to address this budget issue. 

Congratulations to Angie Ribera, PhD, chair of the department of physiology and biophysics, who last week completed her fellowship in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program. For her project, Angie reviewed support of basic science research at ten Schools of Medicine that rank in the top 40 for receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a particularly relevant topic in light of recent federal budget proposals that would sharply curb NIH funding. With pressure on clinical funding and these proposed cuts to federal support, leaders in the years ahead will likely need to strengthen philanthropic sources for supporting basic sciences, which creates another set of challenges. Her presentation included the possible allocation of a portion of gifts from grateful patients and the creation of capital campaign events for basic science research. While the feasibility of such proposals depends on the resources available to an institution, the work of our scientists deserve and need support. 

Last week, the Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) hosted the annual meeting of its Scientific Council, a group of scientists from CU and universities across the country. The meeting began with several CWHR scientists presenting current research projects. Among them were Stacey Simon, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, who presented her CWHR-funded research on sleep disorders and insulin resistance in adolescent girls with obesity, and Sarah Perman, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, who shared the most recent findings related to her CWHR-funded seed grant on sex and gender differences in post-arrest care and neurologic prognostication. In addition to providing helpful feedback to the junior faculty researchers, the Scientific Council guides the CWHR’s scientific agenda. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado last week honored more than 100 providers, units and clinics that received patient satisfaction scores that exceed the exceptionally high rating that patients and families award overall to the hospital. According to data posted on the Children’s Hospital Colorado website, families rated their experience a 9 or 10 on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, 83 percent of the time. Those honored last week were rated at 85 percent or above. Among the group were five providers who achieved exceptional ratings 100 percent of the time: Christopher Baker, MD, associate professor of pediatrics-pulmonary medicine; Timothy Benke, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics-neurology; Emily DeBoer, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics-pulmonary medicine; Melanie Green, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics-endocrinology; and Ronald Sokol, MD, professor of pediatrics-gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. 

Congratulations to Kelsey Spaur, member of the MD Class of 2018, who was named to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Medical Research Fellows Program last week. Kelsey is one of 79 medical and veterinary students selected this year by the program, which awards each fellow $43,000 in grant support to spend a year pursuing basic, translational, or applied biomedical research. 

Robert Feinstein, MD, professor of psychiatry, is one of the editors of a new textbook, “Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care,” which will be published May 11 by Oxford University Press. Co-editors are Joseph Connelly, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Marilyn Feinstein, a licensed clinical social worker. The book provides a comprehensive overview and guide to existing and innovative evidence-based integrated care models and features contributions by more than two dozen CU School of Medicine faculty members. 

The University of Colorado Alpha Omega Alpha Chapter will host its annual visiting professor on Thursday, May 11.  Gus Lee, a leadership authority, ethicist, and bestselling author, will present a series of activities, including an opening address, workshops and a lunch lecture, all focused on “Courageous Leadership in Medicine.” On Tuesday, May 16, the chapter will hold its Annual Banquet and Induction Ceremony to install its junior and senior medical student honorees, as well as selected house officers and faculty members. The student-selected speaker will be Mel Anderson, MD, associate professor of medicine.  Inquiries can be directed to the AOA Councilor James Beck, MD, at

Jorge Di Paola, MD, professor of pediatrics and associate director of the Medical Scientist Training Program, was elected on April 22 to the Association of American Physicians, which is a competitively selected organization with about 1,700 active members dedicated to advancing medical knowledge and clinical medicine. 

Congratulations to Jennifer Adams, MD, associate professor of medicine, who has been named the recipient of the Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award by the board of the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation. The award recognizes the work of a U.S. physician who has demonstrated altruism, compassion, integrity, leadership and personal sacrifice while providing quality health care to a distressed or marginalized population in an impoverished community. The award is one of the AMA’s 2017 Excellence in Medicine Award. Jen, who is director of the Denver Health Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (DH-LIC), will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner in Chicago in June, held in conjunction with the AMA’s Annual Meeting. 


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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