Dean's Weekly Message

January 26, 2015


Dear colleague: 

I am writing this week’s message on a Sunday at 34,000 feet for the first time in a long time. Des Moines is beneath the clouds below me as I head to Philadelphia hoping that I am able to get back to Denver Monday evening.  I will be attending a meeting of the leadership of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program to discuss how that program, which is set to be ended by the Foundation in 2017, might continue.  Whether I get back Monday is entirely dependent on what winter storm “Juno” does to the Philadelphia airport.  Personally, I think the naming of storms by the Weather Channel is “lame,” to quote my 11-year-old grandson, but he may not be going to school in Boston today or tomorrow if the weather forecasters’ dire warnings hold.  

The past two weeks since my last note reminded me a lot of December’s bounty of events.  During these past two weeks I was invited to 10 dinners, evening meetings or receptions in 12 days!  I made it to eight of them. The Citizen of the West dinner at the National Western Stock show honored Philip Anschutz, who gave a very nice acceptance speech; the Denver Post honored several of us with its Strength in Health awards; the Center on Aging and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome  had events; the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences had its annual winter gathering at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; University of Colorado Hospital had a dinner to honor Lilly Marks, Robert McIntyre, MD, and me (all of whom have attended our last University of Colorado Hospital Authority board meetings this past month) the night before the University of Colorado Medical Staff annual dinner was held; and then on Saturday night the University of Colorado Hospital had its annual gala, this year to raise funds for the University of Colorado Cancer Center. They raised a lot of money, and Reggie Rivers was just about the best live auctioneer I have seen, but I have to confess that I left the evening thinking that our own Dogs in the Yard is still my favorite band for entertainment at these dinners. Maybe I’ll be able to trim down after April 1 (and that’s not a joke). 

Last Tuesday we changed the format of the usual Super Tuesday schedule and instead had a joint four-hour meeting of the School of Medicine Executive Committee, the University Physicians, Inc. (UPI) Board of Directors and the University of Colorado Hospital Medical Board to discuss the Office of Professionalism, which launched operations last March and has already considered more than 100 cases. Barry Rumack, MD, who is director of the office, offered several scenarios to help department chairs, center directors and other campus leaders understand the role of this office. The Office of Professionalism helps faculty, residents, fellows, and students of the School of Medicine resolve conflict, ranging from interpersonal disputes to acts of student mistreatment of any kind. I consider this office an essential resource in providing a better working and learning environment on our campus. While it does not replace the roles of offices charged with addressing workplace discrimination and harassment, it does provide a safe place for anyone seeking help addressing professional behavior at work and in the classroom. I do not look at this process as a mandatory reporting system. Mandatory reporting systems almost inevitably lead to overwhelming amounts of investigation and underwhelming amounts of help. We expect this office to provide the right balance. 

We also announced at Tuesday’s meeting the school’s plan to open the search for the senior associate dean for academic affairs, a process and position that will be finalized by John Reilly, MD, when he arrives as dean in April. John and I have discussed getting this process started so that the person is on board as quickly as possible after John arrives. We have put together a search committee and are reviewing the job description with the search committee and executive committee. We are looking for internal candidates for this position.  

The joint meeting also heard a presentation from Liz Concordia, president and CEO of University of Colorado Health, about her assessment of where the system is and where it needs to go. In her first 100 days on the job, she has developed a growth strategy that is well-considered, ambitious and recognizes that we have a significant opportunity here. University of Colorado Hospital, the system’s flagship here in metro Denver and our partner on this campus, offers the best care in this community yet has less than 10 percent of the market share. We must find ways to offer better access to patients while building better awareness of the high-quality brand we share. I am confident that we will. 

John Carroll, MD, professor of medicine, is one of the invited speakers at a briefing on Thursday, Feb. 5, in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Health Affairs, a journal of health policy and research. John will be discussing an article he wrote for the journal’s upcoming special issue on biomedical innovation. About 200 government officials, congressional staff, academics, other health care policy professionals and members of the news media are expected to attend. 

Congratulations to Jody Tanabe, MD, professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Radiology, for receiving the 2014 Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy of Radiology Research. She is one of 46 researchers selected to receive the honor, which recognizes accomplishments in the field of medical imaging. 

Thanks to Regina Richards, MSW, director of the School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and 22 BA/BS-MD and two BA/BS-DDS students who, with Kaiser Permanente, participated in a MLK Day of Service project last Monday at the Hope Center in northeast Denver. Last Monday, the team helped stock a food pantry and clean up debris at the community center, which had been damaged by flooding. The efforts were recognized at a news conference that included local community leaders and representatives from the Governor’s office.

The annual Top Doctors ballot by 5280 magazine is now online. Physicians can visit and click on the Top Doctors button on the top right-hand side of the page to visit the login page to vote. Every eligible physician living and/or practicing in metro Denver can log in to vote with his or her full first name, last name, physician license number and valid email address. More than 150 of those who were selected by peer physicians as Top Doctors in 2014 are School of Medicine faculty members. 

Thanks to all who volunteered at the National Western Stock Show this month. Volunteers from our campus worked every day of the show covering about 2,000 hours in shifts, providing health screenings to thousands of visitors. Special thanks to Jennifer Hellier, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine and cell and developmental biology and deputy director of the Colorado Area Health Education Centers, for her work coordinating the event. There were several news reports on this excellent program, including this article in the Longmont Times-Call. 

The UPI annual meeting is tomorrow night when he winners of the board elections will be announced and we will review UPI’s past year (the best year ever for UPI).  I hope many members can come. 


Have a good week,

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



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