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The Class of 87’s Apostolos Dallas to receive national award for volunteerism and community service

Apostolos “Paul” Dallas, M’87, has been awarded the Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service from the American College of Physicians, the national organization of internists. The award will be presented at ACP’s annual Convocation ceremony on Thursday, May 5, 2016, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington D.C., where ACP is hosting its annual scientific conference, Internal Medicine 2016, through May 7.

Apostolos “Paul” Dallas, M’87

A resident of Roanoke, Va., and a fellow of the ACP, Dallas is an associate program director of the internal medicine residency at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, assistant professor and director of Continuing Medical Education.

He has been extensively involved over the years in medical volunteer efforts locally and worldwide. Dallas has been a long-time board member and volunteer of the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke, Va., where he created a system for internal medicine students and residents to volunteer and also incorporate the Bradley Free Clinic into standard rotations. In the early 1990s, he coordinated a medical relief drive that sent approximately $100,000 of medical supplies to Puschino, Russia.

He also is intimately involved with the Roanoke Greek Festival, which annually benefits organizations such as the Bradley Free Clinic, Turning Point Women’s Shelter, Habitat for Humanity and the Roanoke Rescue Mission among other institutions. A founding board member of the Roanoke Rescue Mission Medical Clinic, Dallas continues to work with them to provide local homeless people, battered women and children with clinical care, food, solace and a new start in life through their many outreach programs.

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 143,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.

The Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service was established by ACP’s Board of Regents in 1998 and honors the late Dr. Edwards, a Governor and Regent of the College. The award is presented to an ACP medical student member, associate, member, fellow or master who has initiated or been involved with volunteer programs or has provided volunteer service post-training.

Courtesy of the American College of Physicians


Class of 67’s John Bagley recalls an unexpected connection to transplant pioneer H.M. Lee

As he flipped through a recent issue of VCU’s Impact, his eye fell on an article about transplant pioneer H. M. Lee, M.D., and the endowed lectureship that has been established in his name.

The sight reminded John Bagley, Jr., M’67, H’73, of one of his own favorite stories.

The Class of 67’s John Bagley, Jr. (on right), was drafted into the U.S. Army Medical Corps after completing his intern year. Sent 7,000 miles from his native Richmond to Korea, he had an unexpected encounter that reminded him of home.

After earning his medical degree in 1967, the Richmond native served his internship at Norfolk General Hospital. During that time, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

“It was the height of the Vietnam War, but my orders were for Korea,” says Bagley. “I was stationed at Camp Red Cloud along with three or four other doctors.”

Camp Red Cloud was about an hour north of Seoul, just outside of the village of Uijeongbu.

“If you have ever seen photos of slums in places like Bangladesh, you can imagine what Uijeongbu looked like in those days. Mud streets with ramshackle buildings on either side.”

After he’d been there several months, a recommendation came down for the Army doctors to meet the local Korean doctor, whose responsibilities included the gynecological care of the thousands of prostitutes who lived in Uijeongbu.

“So off we go to town to meet the local doctor, an elderly fellow named Dr. Lee,” describes Bagley. “We are ushered into this dark, cramped office on the main street of town. It reminded me of Doc Adam’s office in Gunsmoke. There were anatomical charts on the wall in Korean and jars filled with Ginseng roots. So we’re sitting there waiting for the doctor and I notice this 8×10 photo on the desk of a young Korean boy in a cap and gown. I think to myself, ‘That guy looks familiar.’”

John Bagley, Jr., M’67, H’73

The Korean doctor spoke no English, and the Army doctors spoke no Korean. “We are chatting through an interpreter and during a lull in the conversation, I say, ‘Dr. Lee, I was noticing the photo on your desk. Who is that young man?’

“He replied, ‘That is my son.’”

“What does your son do?”

“He is a doctor in the United States.”

“Where in the United States?”

“In Virginia.”

“When I recovered from my shock, I smiled and said ‘Dr. Lee, your son was one of my professors in medical school.’

“Naturally, he was as shocked as I was. I travel 7,000 miles from home to meet one of my professors’ father. That’s what I call my favorite ‘it’s a small world’ story.”

After that encounter, Bagley and the elder Lee got together several times over the next year. Lee even took the Army doctors to some of his favorite restaurants in Seoul.

In 1969, having listened in on the radio to the first moon landing (they had no television at the Army camp), Bagley returned to the states. He went on to complete OB-GYN training on the MCV Campus and set up practice in Richmond. After a 39-year career and an estimated 3,000 labor and deliveries, he is now retired and living in Providence Forge, Va.


Class of 1966’s Llewellyn Stringer heads innovative mobile disaster hospital

When a disaster strikes, the medical community leaps into action. Hospitals brace for an influx of patients, emergency medical teams seek out those that may be injured and doctors provide care to their community in a time of great need. But what happens when a tornado, earthquake or hurricane destroys a community’s hospital and prevents people from getting the care they need?

In steps Llewellyn Stringer, M’66.

Stringer is the project manager for the National Mobile Disaster Hospital, which is designed to deploy anywhere in the country when disaster strikes. The mobile hospital contains all the familiar elements of a normal hospital, such as an x-ray unit, blood banks and pharmacy. This one, however, can be loaded on tractor-trailers, sent to a disaster area and begin receiving patients within days.

Llewellyn Stringer, M’66, outside the National Mobile Disaster Hospital

The mobile hospital project was conceived in 2005 after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and left many without access to medical services. FEMA decided it needed to find a way to respond to such disasters, when local hospitals are either damaged or overwhelmed by the number of patients.

Stringer, who served for 10 years as commander of the National Medical Response Team and was the senior medical advisor to FEMA under the Department of Homeland Security, was an obvious choice to lead the project. He retired from FEMA in 2006, but went back to work for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. In 2008 FEMA moved the hospital from Fort Detrick to North Carolina, and Stringer took charge again.

The hospital is made up of large tents and mobile hard structures. It features a 21-bed emergency department, 10-bed critical care unit, two operating rooms, full digital X-rays, a small lab, blood bank, a pharmacy and a central medical supply with enough stores for 72 hours of operation, a morgue and an administrative and command control unit.

“We can perform just about anything other than open heart surgery,” says Stringer.

Flexibility is key for Stringer and his team. Their home base in central N.C. allows them to quickly respond to tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes on the East Coast or in the Gulf. “The goal is to deploy within 24 hours of receiving an assignment, bring all units, except the ICU, online within 48 hours after arrival on site and have the ICU operational within 72 hours.”

Collaboration is another central part of the project. It is funded by FEMA when deployed, but maintained by NCEMS with funding from the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response grants. Much of the grunt work of unloading and setting up the hospital is done by volunteers from the N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief organization, who travel with the hospital when it’s deployed.

The volunteers include plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other tradesmen ready to solve any problems that might slow down the hospital’s deployment. Stringer has even partnered with a local N.C. hospital to make sure he can maintain a stockpile of medical materials that are ready at a moment’s notice.

Stringer and his team got their first taste of action last year when the hospital deployed to Louisville, Miss. The town and its local hospital were badly damaged by tornados and in need of help. Within days of being deployed the hospital was able to offer basic services and soon after was able to accept a wide range of patients.

Officials plan to have a temporary hospital open in some capacity until 2018 when construction of a new hospital in Louisville is complete. “Quick response time is obviously an important part of our mission, but maintaining a presence in the affected communities can be equally important. One of the major obstacles to New Orleans’ recovery after Katrina was that many of the health care workers had left town. There weren’t hospitals for them to work in.

“In Louisville we’ve managed to keep 100 of the 140 hospital employees. These people have relationships with their patients and it’s important that they stay in this community to continue providing care.”

The deployment in Louisville also provided an important opportunity to see what worked and what needed to be improved. Nurses told him that showers need to be wheelchair accessible and that they prefer simpler, single-channel IV pumps. Patients requested more private rooms. Doctors asked for improved access to electronic medical records.

Perhaps the biggest problem is one you wouldn’t expect. “Truckers. We have all the equipment loaded and ready to go, but it’s hard to find drivers and rigs to haul 23 trailers across the country at the drop of a hat. That hurt our response time.”

Despite the problems he encountered, says Stringer, the first deployment was a success. “I was the senior medical officer for many natural disasters in the country for 10 years, and I can honestly say that the collaboration and sense of community I witnessed on this project was the best I’ve ever seen.”

By Jack Carmichael


Inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day celebrates a long, successful career on the MCV Campus

For nearly 40 years Gordon Archer, M.D., has been an important part of the MCV Campus. Throughout his career he served the VCU School of Medicine in many ways: conducting groundbreaking research, mentoring medical and Ph.D. students and coordinating research opportunities throughout the school.

Gordon Archer, M.D.

To mark Archer’s retirement in August and the long legacy he built, the inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day in Infectious Disease, Microbiology and Immunology was presented by the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Internal Medicine. The event’s topics echoed the fields to which Archer devoted himself over the course of his research career by featuring presentations on a wide-range of issues, such as difficult-to-treat infections like Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus.

Archer is perhaps best known for investigating antibiotic resistant superbugs, which are linked to 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. His work began in the 1970s, when artificial devices, such as heart valves and joint replacements, were becoming infected at high rates. Archer and his team were able to identify the bacteria responsible for many of these infections, and the regimens he helped develop have become the standard treatment in the field. His work on understanding the genetic adaptations that gave rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria has had important implications for the development of new therapies.

Archer has spent nearly all of his adult life in Virginia, where he received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University and his M.D. from the University of Virginia. After training at the University of Michigan, he came to the MCV Campus in 1975 and never left.

During his time in the School of Medicine he served as chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease, director of the MD-PhD program and the first-ever senior associate dean for research and research training as well as in a variety of teaching roles. Archer’s work has been published widely, and he has had a consistent record of research funding from the NIH and other organizations.

The importance of Archer’s research and his commitment to the School of Medicine was on full display during his eponymous research day. The prominence given to student presentations throughout the day honored Archer’s commitment to coordinating research opportunities for students and mentoring them in their work.

The inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day in Infectious Disease, Microbiology and Immunology spotlighted the fields to which Archer devoted himself over the course of his research career. Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H.

“It was truly an honor to have a research day in my name and to hear research presented not only by faculty but also by trainees,” Archer said. “The quality and variety of science presented was fantastic and is a testament to the research environment in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.”

The research showcase was organized by chair of infectious diseases Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H., chair of rheumatology, allergy and immunology Lawrence Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., and chair of microbiology and immunology Dennis Ohman, Ph.D.

By Jack Carmichael


Alumna Emily Edelman honored by National Society for Genetics Counselors

Over the past eight years, Emily Edelman, MS’06, has devoted time, energy and expertise in her volunteer work with the National Society for Genetics Counselors. Her service was recognized with the NSGC’s 2015 Outstanding Volunteer Award at its annual education conference in Pittsburgh on Oct. 22.

Edelman has served the society on five task forces, chaired the personalized medicine special interest group and led the abstract review committee. But she may be most passionate about her work with the NSGC Education Committee that is responsible for the society’s annual education conference, webinar and online course planning and execution.

Genetic counselor Emily Edelman, MS’06

Genetic counselor Emily Edelman, MS’06

“Genetic information is increasingly relevant to patients and clinicians in many different medical specialties,” Edelman said. “As the number of clinically applicable genetic and genomic tests increases across health care, education is more important than ever. Patients and consumers need to be able to make informed decisions about genetic information and managing providers need to know when and how to implement genetics into their practice. Genetic counselors can help achieve these goals by keeping abreast of discoveries in the field and translating emerging tests and applications to patient care.”

According to Sara Hammer Riordan who nominated her for the award, Edelman has extensive experience with developing educational programs for health care providers both inside and outside of the genetic counseling field has been valuable to the NSGC.

Edelman works in the genomic education program at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. As the associate director of clinical and continuing education, she develops educational content for diverse health professional audiences.

In her nomination, Riordan also credits Edelman with working to move the genetic counseling profession forward.

“Her innovative work in developing genetic educational programs for a diverse spectrum of health care providers has paved the way for other genetic counselors to enter into this nontraditional career path,” said Riordan, who is clinical program manager with the IMPACT cancer care program at Thermo Fisher Scientific and a director-at-large with NSGC. “Her multiple invited presentations at national conferences, meetings and seminars clearly demonstrate that she is seen as a leader in our field.”

Edelman is a diplomate of the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She earned a master’s degree in genetic counseling from the VCU School of Medicine in 2006. The medical school’s M.S. program in Genetic Counseling is the only one in Virginia. It was established in 1990 and has more than 90 graduates.


Safety Net Collaborative a win-win for VCU and Richmond

When three safety net primary care clinics in Richmond found they could not fully meet the mental health needs of their patients, they knew they had to find a solution to provide these critical services to the city’s most vulnerable populations.

Rachel Waller, M’99
Rachel Waller, M’99

With over half of all patients receiving substandard or no mental health care, the clinics needed to provide thousands of behavioral care sessions to their patients. But where to find a group psychologists willing to contribute hundreds of hours of work at little or no cost?

Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D., a professor in VCU’s Department of Psychology, had the perfect answer: his doctoral trainees. As a result, since 2008 trainees have delivered over 10,000 pro bono sessions at the Ambulatory Care Center on the MCV Campus, the Daily Planet for the Homeless and the Fan Free Clinic. A fourth clinic, VCU’s Hayes E. Willis Health Center, was added in August.

The Safety Net Primary Care Psychology Collaborative has proved fruitful for everyone involved. The clinics are able to better cover the mental health needs of their patients, while the doctoral students get valuable experience working with a wide-range of patients. Most importantly, the medically underserved in the Richmond community get access to the care they need.

Rachel Waller, M’99, has seen the benefits of the collaborative firsthand through her work on the internal medicine service at the Ambulatory Care Center.

“Integrating mental and physical health care is important because you cannot have good control of physical health outcomes when mental health issues such as anxiety and depression go untreated. In our patient population, with limited care access and transportation issues, having psychology resources available during the primary care visit is vital.”

“The ‘warm handoff,’ in which a primary care provider introduces the clinical psychology services team to the patient can really improve willingness to seek care, particularly since there remains an unfortunate stigma for many in acknowledging that they are experiencing mental health issues.”

Integrating mental and physical health care services at the clinics has been an effective method for improving patient outcomes. Behavioral and physical health problems are often interconnected; treating one side of a patient’s problems but not the other often means more care, and more costs, down the road. Study findings show patients receiving this type of integrated healthcare had fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Psychology professor Bruce Rybarcyz and vice provost for community engagement Catherine Howard celebrated the success of the Safety Net Collaborative this spring’s Currents of Change Award Ceremony. Photo credit: Steven Casanova.
Psychology professor Bruce Rybarczyk and vice provost for community engagement Catherine Howard celebrated the success of the Safety Net Collaborative this spring’s Currents of Change Award Ceremony. Also pictured are Kathy Yost Benham, director of Client Support and Mental Health Services at the Fan Free Clinic, and Paul Perrin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, who supervises the program at the Daily Planet. Photo credit: Steven Casanova.

These results are evident on the MCV Campus. Waller, who works as an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, says the clinic has seen “decreased admission rates for medical illness for our patients who utilize clinical psychology students compared to controls.”

The success of the program has not gone unnoticed. This year the collaborative won VCU’s Currents of Change Award, which recognizes mutually beneficial partnerships between the university and the Richmond community.

This experience in collaborative, team-based care is invaluable for both medical and psychology trainees. Since the collaboration began, 80 doctoral students have worked at the clinics, six of whom have gone on to work in integrated care positions as a result of their experience at VCU.

Medical residents also benefit from the help offered by their colleagues in the psychology department, as many report greater work satisfaction and significant benefits for their patients since the collaboration started.

Waller says that outpatient care is moving from a model that emphasizes productivity to one that focuses on medical outcomes. Cohesive, interdisciplinary teams like the collaborative will be better equipped to meet the demands of the newly emerging outpatient medical system.

The collaborative has been funded for three years by the HRSA Graduate Psychology Education program, and this past summer additional support was received from the Virginia Health Care Foundation and Richmond Memorial Health Foundation.

By Jack Carmichael