What's Going on Here?

February 11, 2013


Dear Colleague,

I am sitting at home Sunday afternoon preparing to head out to my seventh dinner in seven nights!  Part of me says, “Good grief!” But looking back, with the exception of two meals that were on United Airlines, they were part of important and very nice events.  Monday night was the start of the University of Colorado Health Strategic Planning retreat (every significant advance has to be accompanied by a retreat).  We heard from the medical director of ChenMed, a health system back East, who described its approach to providing cost-effective quality care to the Medicare population. The next morning – having awakened to the headline in the Denver Post that University of Colorado Health was “starting an HMO” – we spent the first half hour of the retreat hearing from Rulon Stacey, President of UC Health, that the system was NOT starting an HMO and to ignore what was reported.  The conversations the rest of the day between the physician groups at Memorial, the Colorado Health Medical Group and several members of the Board of UPI, went very well and increased the understanding we need to have about each other for our collaboration to work.

I was United Airlines’ guest for dinner after the retreat, heading to Washington, D.C., for the final meeting of the committee I have co-chaired for the Institute of Medicine on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minor Children in the United States.  Our committee reached consensus on what our conclusions were after a year of study and what we would recommend when the report comes out in September.  There will be a lot of writing and editing going on before April, when the draft report will go out for peer review.  The meeting was in the boardroom of the National Academy of Sciences, where a large portrait of Abraham Lincoln looks down on you.  The NAS was chartered 150 years ago (March 3, 1863) by Lincoln (who I remember was born 204 years ago tomorrow).  That concluded with yet another dinner on United Airlines Thursday afternoon coming home in time for maybe the nicest dinner of the week: The Annual Donor Recognition event held by the CU Foundation at the Seawell Grand Ballroom downtown.  Five major donors were recognized for their contributions to the University of Colorado Denver.  The accompanying short videos were terrific and the recognition of Jerome and Mary Kern, Donald Bennallack, MD (’50), Delta Dental of Colorado, CoBank and the Piton Foundation were all well deserved.  You can see the videos here.

The penultimate dinner of the week was “The Premiere Event” on Saturday, organized by University of Colorado Hospital Foundation.  It was a wonderful night that included tours of the new Emergency Room at UCH (it is HUGE) and dinner for 930 people.   A very nice recognition was given to Tony Ruiz, who has overseen the construction of every bit of University of Colorado Hospital building projects over the last 14 years.  There will be a horseshoe entrance area to the new tower that will be named for Tony and he was given a golden horseshoe worn by Thunder – the Denver Broncos mascot – donated by Sharon Magness Blake (who Co-Chaired the event with Claudia Beauprez for the UCH Foundation).  It was really a terrific event and we sat there thinking that we have come a long way from being Colorado General Hospital, where I was once an intern, resident and medical staff member!  The event probably raised one million dollars for the hospital.

Then last night, Rich Schulick, MD, MBA, Professor and Chair of Surgery, hosted a dinner for John Cameron, MD, who is the Alfred Blalock Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  John was Rich’s mentor for many years at Hopkins and is here to give the annual Henry Swan Lecture for the Department of Surgery this evening at the Denver Academy of Surgery. So there it is – a week of dinners.  Happily, I am the same weight at the end of it as I was at the beginning of it; sadly, that is still too much. Oh, well.  I have been in the control group for a long time.

Last Friday, Bill Betz, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, organized the eighth annual Nobel Prize Seminar at which the work of the past year’s Nobel Laureates was presented.  David Wineland, PhD, Professor of Physics at CU Boulder, who shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in quantum physics was the first presenter; the work of the prize winners in Medicine or Physiology was presented by Dennis Roop, PhD, Director of the Charles C. Gates Center on Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, and the work by the co-laureates for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was described by David Port, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology.  It was a really nice session, and the five of us had a nice lunch from the Bistro Elaia. Fewest calories of the week!

In other news of the past couple of weeks, University Physicians Inc. reported strong financial and operational results at its annual meeting on Jan. 29. Executive Director Jane Schumaker said UPI’s total operating revenue increased last year and she outlined initiatives aimed at advancing the practice and preparing for upcoming changes in reimbursement and care-delivery models.  Associate Medical Directors Michael Narkewicz, MD, and Christina Finlayson, MD, described the process and quality improvement projects underway in the pediatric and adult practices. Congratulations to Robin Deterding, MD, and Brian Davidson, MD, MBA, two School of Medicine faculty members who were elected to the UPI board. Robin will be the new First Vice President. UPI’s support to the School of Medicine is critical to our ongoing success.

If you are a clinician (MD, NP or PA) practicing at the University of Colorado Hospital, don’t forget to take the Provider Satisfaction Survey, an anonymous survey of what works and what could be improved at UCH and UPI. The survey, which is administered by Morehead Associates, is available through Monday, Feb. 18. If you have questions, please contact Darci Dreiling at darci.dreiling@upicolo.org. Final results will be completed by Morehead on Friday, March 22, and we are reviewing schedules to set a time for Morehead to present the results on campus.

You’re invited to the Fourth Annual Neighborhood Health Summit on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Denver School of the Arts Concert Hall, 7111 Montview Blvd., Denver. The event is intended to encourage discussion on ways to improve health and healthcare in the neighborhoods near the Anschutz Medical Campus. The keynote panel will focus on gun violence. Other sessions throughout the day will cover diabetes, asthma and the Affordable Care Act. To learn more, go to 2040 Partners for Health.

Sarah Allexan, MD candidate 2016, grabbed national attention last week as a co-author of an article published in the Feb. 4 online edition of the journal Pediatrics.  Allexan and her co-authors concluded that scarlet fever was likely not the cause of blindness to Mary Ingalls, sister of the author Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” series. The work was noticed by The New York Times, USA Today and U.S. News and World Report.

Who are you grateful for? This Solidarity Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, join the University of Colorado Medical Student, Resident and Fellow Gold Humanism Honor Society Chapters, and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in saying a big “Thank You” to that special patient, teacher, student, co-worker, nurse or doctor for their compassion or humanistic qualities.  Write a note, call them on the phone, or tell them in person how they have inspired you. Send a photo and a description of your Gratitude Visit to Jessica.campbell@ucdenver.edu.  The same group will also spend a portion of Valentine's Day visiting elderly patients and their families on the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) inpatient service at University of Colorado Hospital.  Other student groups will visit residents of the Colorado State Nursing Home at Fitzsimons. Students will bring their patients a homemade Valentine’s Day card and a flower, and will wish them Happy Valentine’s Day from the medical students of the class of 2013, staying for a few moments to chat. The students hope this will become an annual tradition. For more information on these and future Gold Humanism Honor Society events visit Coloradogold.wordpress.com.

Have a good week,
Richard D. Krugman, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine



"What’s Going On Here" is an email news bulletin from Richard Krugman, MD, Dean of the CU School of Medicine, that is distributed to inform University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members about issues pertaining to the School’s mission of education, research, clinical care and community service. See the UCH-Insider →

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