Our people make all the difference

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January 23, 2023

Our people make all the difference

“How are you?” It’s a simple question, too often taken for granted. But when you are unwell and in the hospital, this simple question can become much more—an uplifting expression of care and concern and a reassuring human connection.

I recently had the pleasure of witnessing such an interaction while visiting patients at Emory University Hospital (EUH). Delmi Reyes, EVS Tech I (pictured above), entered to tidy a patient’s room. Rather than simply going quietly about the task at hand, Delmi took a moment to look the patient in the eye, smile, and warmly ask, “How are you feeling today?” It was immediately clear from the patient’s reaction that this simple act of kindness had significantly brightened his day.

Team members such as Delmi, who are driven by genuine compassion and empathy for people in need, propel Emory into the top echelons of academic health centers nationwide and, most importantly, into the trust of the people we serve. She has been on staff at EUH for five months after serving Emory University Hospital Midtown for five years. Her teammates describe her as “upbeat, always smiling, and passionate about providing excellent patient care,” qualities that were evident in the patient interaction I observed.

Meeting Delmi inspired me to add a new feature to Health Sciences Update going forward. The segment “Our People” will highlight the outstanding contributions our team members across the breadth of the health sciences provide to the Emory family. To nominate a colleague to be featured, please email me at evphafeedback@emory.edu and let me know what makes them special.

Thank you, Delmi, for helping us improve lives and provide hope!

Kind regards,


Ravi I. Thadhani, MD, MPH
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Vice Chair, Emory Healthcare Board of Directors

Symposium participants mark 50th anniversary of Tuskegee syphilis study

Emory leaders and learners came together to participate in a CDC symposium reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the syphilis study at Tuskegee. This impactful, heartfelt, and powerful event allowed attendees to hear stories directly from the family members of those who were part of the study, to explore the context of what this means for the history of Black people who continue to suffer from health inequities, and to learn about the CDC’s commitment to make a difference. Jasmin Eatman, past president of the School of Medicine (SOM) Student National Medical Association, and Tuzo Mwarumba, president of Black Men in White Coats, attended the event and share their reflections here. (Emory login and password required.)

Emory University Hospital launches DEIB strategic plan

The Emory University Hospital Operating Unit has announced its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) strategic action plan, which will guide its efforts through FY2025. Aligned with the Emory Healthcare DEI action plan, the DEIB plan focuses on five key goals: 1) Enhance intercultural skills and competencies of our providers, staff, and leaders to foster an environment of empathy and fairness; 2) Ensure our human resource practices are transparent and inclusive to improve the recruitment and retention of diverse talent; 3) Cultivate a culture of equity and inclusivity; 4) Deliver equitable and culturally congruent care to all patients; and 5) Nurture community partnerships to address the social determinants of health concerns that impact our patient population. Emory Healthcare employees can visit the DEIB intranet page for more information including the specific initiatives under each goal.

Special thanks to the EUH/EUOSH/EWWH DEIB Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Georgia Jackson, director of Workforce Development and Patient-Family Centered Care, and Lucero Rodriguez, director, Employee and Patient Experience. 

Remembering Dr. R. Wayne Alexander

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Dr. R. Wayne Alexander, who served as the chair of the Department of Medicine from 1999 to 2013, and the R. Bruce Logue Professor in the Department of Medicine’s division of cardiology.

During Dr. Alexander’s career as a cardiologist, he was known for his research in the field of vascular biology. His lab focused on molecular mechanisms which control the cells in the blood vessel wall and, in particular, the role of inflammation in vascular disease. His research led to a new understanding of the pathogenesis of human diseases and the development of novel therapeutics. 

Dr. Alexander began his research career as a PhD student at Emory University in his late teens and early twenties. He contributed notably to the field of vascular biology, taking basic observations to applications that could be applied clinically, including drug development. In honor of his extensive impact, Emory University’s Department of Medicine created the R. Wayne Alexander Excellence in Research Accomplishment Award to recognize significant contributions to medical knowledge realized through a body of research over an individual’s career in either basic research or clinical and translational research. Read full tribute here.

A tribute to Dr. Armand Hendee

Earlier this month, we said goodbye to an esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Armand Elkin Hendee. Dr. Hendee received both his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Emory, did his residency training at Grady, and, except for three years in the Army Medical Corp, spent his entire medical career at Emory.

Dr. Hendee served as chief of GYN at the Emory Clinic and chief of the GYN service at Emory Hospital. He was a tenured full professor and upon retirement he received the honored title of professor emeritus. He also was honored with an academic, endowed chair in the Department of GYN-OB. He received the Emory School of Medicine Alumni Association Award in 2016.

When he retired, the gift he treasured most was a letter he received from the resident staff who wrote these lines, "You are a true southern gentleman and a scholar. We feel privileged to have been taught by you both in the operating room and at the patient's bedside. Your treatment of patients, nurses, residents, and colleagues with true warmth and respect is admired by all of us. You are a patient and empathetic teacher, the very definition of a gracious man. Thank you for all you have taught us."

During the last years of his life, he was actively involved in the writing of a School of Medicine history book, which will be published in July, 2023. Dr. Hendee died on January 5, 2023, at age 98. Dr. Hendee was a dedicated Emory physician and professor, and we are thankful for his service to so many.

EVPHA inaugural address

Ravi Thadhani, Emory’s executive vice president for Health Affairs, executive director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and vice chair of the board, Emory Healthcare, will deliver his inaugural address on Tuesday, February 21 at 4 p.m. in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building (WHSCAB) Auditorium. A reception will immediately following the address on the WHSCAB Plaza.   
In Brief
Studying Atlanta car crashes

The Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory, Grady Health System, and collaborators at the University of Michigan have been awarded a five-year, $4.4 million project to continue studying motor vehicle crashes in metro Atlanta that result in injuries treated at Grady. This project, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the next phase of research on motor-vehicle crashes and will expand the team’s focus to include pedestrian crashes. The latest award supports Emory and Grady’s continued role as a Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network Center. Read more.

Medicaid expansion improves cancer survival outcomes for young adults

A first-of-its-kind study led by researchers at Winship and the American Cancer Society finds that expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) leads to better survival outcomes for young adults aged 18-39 newly diagnosed with cancer, particularly those identified as of Hispanic ethnicity or non-Hispanic Black race. Additionally, young adults with breast cancer and stage IV cancers had pronounced improvements attributable to ACA-expanded Medicaid. Georgia is one of 11 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion. Read more.

AI-based biomarker help predict immunotherapy response for patients with lung cancer

Emory researchers were part of a team that discovered a new artificial intelligence (AI)-derived biomarker that uses routine imaging scans to help predict which patients with lung cancer will respond to immunotherapy. The findings, which were published in a recent article in the journal Science Advances, not only offer guidance for patients and their physicians making treatment decisions, but can also curtail the financial burden associated with immunotherapy. Read more.

Emory Healthcare helps Atlanta Falcons legend get back to health

Health problems, such as significant weight gain, chronic pain, and hypertension, are common among retired NFL players. Learn about Alge Crumpler, the former Atlanta Falcons great, and his journey to address the health problems he developed after his retirement. Over the past four years, Crumpler has worked with Emory Healthcare to significantly improve his health. Read about Crumpler’s journey here.

SON launching Master in Cardiovascular Perfusion Science program

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (SON) is launching a Master in Cardiovascular Perfusion Science program with the inaugural cohort slated to start in Fall 2023. A cardiovascular perfusionist is responsible for operating cardiopulmonary bypass or support machines used for the temporary replacement of heart and/or lung function. With more than 340,000 coronary artery bypass surgeries performed annually, perfusionists are in high demand. Read more.

Inaugural Health Equity Advocacy Community Forum

The SOM’s department of medicine hosted its inaugural Health Equity Advocacy Community Forum in November at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. More than 80 faculty, health care professionals, learners, and community members came together to discuss and build consensus around health-related priorities for advocacy. It was a powerful day of knowledge exchange, partnership, and tools for actionable change. View the recap video.

Sports cardiologist in the news

Everyone wants to talk with Jonathan Kim, it seems. Kim is the director of Emory’s sports cardiology program, team cardiologist for the Atlanta Falcons, Braves and Hawks, and chair elect for the American College of Cardiology Sports and Exercise Council. Since Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a game on Jan. 2, Kim has been interviewed by the Atlanta Journal & ConstitutionFox 5 Atlanta, 11 Alive, USA Today, and Amazon Prime’s Power Hour. In each interview, he has emphasized the importance of avoiding speculation about Hamlin’s case specifically.

Healing hurting hearts

In a career spanning several continents and just as many advanced degrees, Emory cardiologist Azizul Hoque has made it his life mission to bring as much care to as many people as possible, on a pay scale they can afford. When not practicing cardiology or teaching as a distinguished physician and assistant professor at Emory, for instance, he’s leading a telemedicine healthcare project in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, one of the world’s most crowded cities. Read more.

SON receives award to advance health equity through nursing
An SON program promoting dementia care for African American families through faith-based partnerships is among 16 organizations to receive a Health Equity Innovation Fund award. The awards from the AARP Center for Health Equity through Nursing and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are for projects offering promising solutions aimed at eliminating structural inequities, particularly structural racism, within the nursing profession, health systems or community, and for projects that help improve access to care and services for those most disproportionately impacted by health disparities. Read more.
SON celebrates 2022 Winter Awards and Diploma Ceremonies

The SON celebrated the accomplishments of its students Friday, December 9 during the school’s annual winter graduation events. The school hosted two ceremonies—the Winter Diploma, Pinning, and Awards Ceremony for its pre-licensure Master of Science in Nursing (MN) and Distance Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (DABSN) graduates, and the Winter Diploma and Awards Ceremony for its post-licensure Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and post-graduate certificate graduates. Read more.

Treating knee pain with patient’s own blood

Emory Sports Medicine physician Casey Wagner’s use of platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP) to treat chronic knee pain was recently featured on Fox5 Atlanta. The treatment, which involves using components of a patient's own blood to ease osteoarthritis pain, has been around for more than a decade, but many patients have never heard of it.

Easing combat-linked PTSD
Sheila Rauch, deputy director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, was featured in a HealthDay news article that appeared in outlets across the US. Rauch commented on a clinical trial that shows the benefits of an intensive approach to therapy for combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Gari Clifford, professor of biomedical informatics and biomedical engineering, has been elected as an IEEE Fellow for his contributions to machine-learning applications in cardiovascular time series. The IEEE, or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is the world's leading association of technical professionals aimed at the educational and technical advancement of electrical and electronic engineering, telecommunications, computer engineering and similar disciplines.

Ted Johnson, division director of the division of general internal medicine and chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, is the recipient of the 2023 Larry Zaroff Man of Good Conscience Award. The award is presented annually to a man who has been a champion and supporter of women in medicine. Read more.

Anant Mandawat, Winship cardio-oncologist, has been appointed to the American College of Cardiology Leadership Council on Cardiovascular Management. In this role, he will provide expertise on the structure and development of cardio-oncology services in the U.S.

Jill Morgan, a critical care nurse at Emory University Hospital, has been appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Workshop on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Personal Protective Technology (PPT) Product Standardization for a Resilient Public Health Supply Chain. This appointment will allow Morgan to help update and streamline the national standardization system for PPE and PPT in support of an unexpected disruption to the supply chain.

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