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Class of 98’s Kenneth Redcross’ new take on the old fashioned house call

Though he keeps his black medical bag handy and makes frequent house calls, Kenneth Redcross, M’98, is anything but old fashioned.

The board-certified internal medicine physician found his calling as a provider of concierge medicine in the New York City area, meeting patients where they are and giving them time, access and convenience – a modern take on traditional medicine.

In concierge medicine, he’s found the kind of career fulfillment he believes all physicians should have. But the career that works for him isn’t right for everyone, he notes. “You’ve got to believe in yourself and know who you are. I had to figure out what was going to work with my spirit.”

It’s a message he shared recently with potential students at a recent Second Look program, which gives applicants who are members of underrepresented minorities a chance to explore the School of Medicine’s programs in more depth.

Dr Kenneth Redcross
Kenneth Redcross, M’98, returned to the MCV Campus to speak at the medical school’s Second Look program for applicants from underrepresented minorities in medicine. While here, he also toured campus with the Class of 2019’s Ifechukwude Ikem and Diana Otoya.

Each year, a weekend of activities is organized by the School of Medicine’s Office of Student Outreach and the MCV Campus’ chapters of the Student National Medical Association and Latino Medical Student Association. The weekend offers opportunities to interact with faculty and students in a more relaxed atmosphere than the usual formal tours and interviews.

Redcross appreciates that VCU’s School of Medicine seeks to attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds and gives them plenty of experiential learning. He expects that will be great preparation for future physicians to find their own calling, whether it’s a traditional practice or something else.

His presentation was designed to encourage them to dream big.

“It takes a little bit of time to figure out who we are as physicians,” Redcross said, who also earned a bachelor’s in biology from VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences in 1994.

“That’s an important thing that has been lost for a lot of people. I think a lot of physicians feel like their destiny has already been decided. But I am one of these spiritual beings who believe that we all have a different song to sing. We come together and sing our songs together and we make beautiful harmony.”

“For me, my passion has always been about the patient experience and I’ve been blessed enough to find a forum that allows me to focus on the patient experience.”

During medical school, Redcross took advantage of the National Health Service Corps’ program that offers either loan repayment or scholarships to medical students in return for an equal number of years’ service in underserved communities. After residency, as part of his NHSC service, he worked with patients who may not have otherwise found health care and later started a retail health clinic. But something was missing.

“It took me some years to realize that in a typical model of medicine, I couldn’t be happy,” he said. “I didn’t feel I could give patients what they deserve, but I didn’t know a way out. Then I started to realize and understand that I could create a different level of health care by being one-on-one with the patient in their environment, where they’re comfortable. I realized how much happier I was. I realized this was the model for me.”

For current medical students – or those soon-to-be – he recognizes that he can’t tell them one way to approach their careers. But he did share some thoughts on finding what works.

He commends the new medical curriculum’s emphasis on collaboration, which, he believes, will ensure better patient care and help develop networking skills. Those skills, which he developed on his own, have helped him land patients for his concierge practice and spokesperson jobs and stints as a media consultant.

“You have to network, learn its importance. The world is a lot smaller than you think. ”
The Second Look program is part of the encouragement and support the medical school offers its diverse student population, something Redcross didn’t necessarily have when he was on campus in the 1990s.

“It’s extremely important to have physicians from diverse backgrounds. Many, many patients want to see a doctor who looks like them. Half of being a good physician is being able to be a good listener, to come from different backgrounds and understand your patients.

“You’ll be really surprised what happens when you really listen. If you listen, you can find a lot of answers.”

By Lisa Crutchfield


Pathology alumnus credits Harry Dalton with starting his career in the lab

After a 38-year tenure, Peter H. Huley, MS’77 (PATH), retired in January 2013 from his position as senior vice president of lab operations with LabCorp in Burlington, N.C. He recalls how meeting the longtime School of Medicine professor Harry Dalton, Ph.D., put him on the path to graduate school. “MCV and the education made available to me there made a huge difference in my life,” says Huley.

Taking a break from the lab in the 1970s, Peter H. Huley, MS’77 (PATH), made time for a picnic with his daughters and wife, Tracy, at the nearby Capitol Square.

He’d been working as a supervisor of the microbiology department and a medical technologist at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., before Dalton met him at a workshop. “He convinced me MCV was the next step in my career.”

When he began grad school on the MCV Campus in 1975, he and his wife Tracy moved with their 18-month-old daughter into married student housing at Jarrett apartments. That same year, he took a job with Physicians Clinical Lab, a small, pathologist-run private medical lab that through a series of mergers and acquisitions eventually became LabCorp.

By the time Huley graduated with his masters in 1977, a second daughter had arrived, and Huley was mapping his course to a Ph.D. But though he’d go on to pass his written and oral comps, “it became apparent that in the three main focuses of my life, family, work and school, something had to go. Doing all three at that time was not sustainable. I withdrew from the pursuit of the Ph.D. and from MCV.”

Physicians Clinical Lab was acquired first by Consolidated Biomedical Labs and then by Roche Biomedical Labs, which ultimately became LabCorp. Huley grew along with the company. A leadership role in microbiology for RBL’s national lab led to a move to corporate headquarters in Burlington, N.C., where he managed the growing microbiology lab and the national standardization of the microbiology lab discipline within RBL.

Peter H. Huley, MS’77 (PATH), with his wife, Tracy, and daughters, Colleen and Krista.

After the merger that created LabCorp, he eventually took on responsibility for the entire Burlington lab, the largest lab in the company and, possibly, in the world. By the time he retired in 2013, it was receiving samples from about 100,000 patients a day.

“The years at MCV, and especially the association with Dr. Dalton, were invaluable. MCV prepared me for the future. As Louis Pasteur is reported to have said, ‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’ Although perhaps not in the context intended by Pasteur, that statement certainly applied to me. I will always hold my time at MCV in high regard. The people were world class. The environment was challenging and stimulating. Although I did not complete a terminal degree, I was able to take the education gained at MCV, build on it, and use it to enhance patient care for millions.”

Huley now lives in Beaufort, N.C., with Tracy, his wife of 45 years.


The EMR drove him to it

It was the summer of 2014, and Darren S. Witte M’96, H’00, was facing the stress of migrating eight years of patient data into a new electronic medical record.

He’d merged his internal medicine and pediatrics practice with the VCU Health System and was getting to know the system’s Cerner EMR. After long nights of sweating the details, he got a suggestion from his clinical coordinator: find a distraction and blow off some steam.

Darren Witte, M’96, H’00, behind the wheel of his 1970 Karmann Ghia.

Good thing there was a Vintage Volkswagen show coming up that weekend.

“I have this memory from when I was about 7,” Witte says, “of this gorgeous green car. It was frequently parked at a store where I went with my parents.”

Back then, he wasn’t yet a Volkswagen fan and didn’t know what the car was. But 35 years later, he spotted the same compelling curves that were a vivid reminder of his childhood love. It was a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

He started frequenting car shows hoping to catch another glimpse, but sightings were rare. That weekend’s show was no different. When he recounted his disappointment to his clinical coordinator, Lesli Davis, she made another suggestion, “Maybe you just need to find one of your own?”

Witte began doing some research. After work or before bedtime he’d snatch a few minutes, but the car proved elusive, especially on the east coast where either harsh winters plus road salt or high heat and humidity take a toll on paint and cause body panels to rust out.

An aerial view of Bug Out, the all-Volkswagen car show based in Virginia that’s one of the largest in the country.

“They made about 445,000 Karmann Ghias between 1954 and 1974,” says Witte. “It is estimated that maybe only about 10 percent of those remain on the planet today, and many are getting consumed two-for-one as donors for restorations. I found a few really rusty ones that would have taken more work and money than I was willing to put in. I didn’t need more stresses.”

Then one night, he spotted a pastel blue 1970 Karmann Ghia for sale online that looked to be in great shape. Originally from California, the car was owned by a surgeon who’d moved the car with him to South Dakota and kept it garaged. The seller sent him some high quality photos and answered his questions.

“I’m surrounded by neighbors who are car guys so I showed them the pictures, and we talked it all over. … Then I told my wife! I decided to take a calculated risk.”

A few weeks later, an enclosed auto trailer brought it from South Dakota to his practice’s parking lot. “My clinical coordinator, Lesli, was right there snapping pictures in the early morning hours when it was delivered.”

Darren Witte, M’96, H’00, with his wife and daughters at the May 2015 Bug Out where his Karmann Ghia took first place in her class.

Forty-four years spent in western climes had left Witte’s vintage car in near perfect condition, but he and his neighbor enjoyed tinkering with it, nonetheless. “I’m pretty good at paint and body work, and my neighbor, Wally, has been great to teach me a lot of mechanical skills. We decided to get it in tip top shape in time for Bug Out the next spring.”

The aptly named all-Volkswagen car show is based in Virginia and is one of the largest in the country. Volkswagen enthusiasts race their cars, enter them in competitions for best of show and swap stories about their passion.

Witte and his neighbor were rewarded when the car took first place in her class. More blue ribbons followed at other local shows. “I’ve maintained a long-distance friendship with the surgeon who owned the car before me and tell him about the shows we go to and what we win. He’s happy to see that it went to a good home and is being enjoyed.

“I like meeting others who have stories about their own connections to Karmann Ghias,” he says of the car events he now frequents. “It’s fun to drive, but I also really love just sitting back and admiring its shape. There’s just something about the shape of that car.”

Witte is a regular at the local Cars and Coffee event that’s held every other Saturday in Richmond. He often takes his 8- and 12-year-old daughters along. “There’s a big car culture in Richmond, and it’s important that we expose our youth to it so that we can continue to preserve the interest in and value of vintage vehicles as time goes on.”

He says that Karmann Ghias are great starter collector cars. In the past few years they have been starting to see an uptick in popularity and value. “I feel like I got in on the ground floor.”

By Erin Lucero


MacGyver medicine: Medical school team wins wilderness medicine event

Stabilizing a patient with spinal cord injury. Emergency tracheotomy. Intubation. It’s all in a day’s work.

Except now imagine doing these procedures while mountain biking, canoeing, running through the woods with map and compass, and carrying all your supplies on your back.

The Class of 2016’s Phil Griffith, Chris Woleben, M’97, H’01, and the Class of 2017’s Jenika Ferretti-Gallon prevailed in the Mid-Atlantic MedWAR that combines wilderness medicine and adventure racing.

Sounds almost impossible, but the medical school’s Lactated Ringers team prevailed at the Mid-Atlantic MedWAR (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race) competition on March 19.

MedWAR events pit three-person teams of wilderness medicine enthusiasts against each other for a day-long event that challenges their medical knowledge, orienteering skills and stamina. The competition, held in several locations throughout the U.S., was created in 2000 by two emergency medicine physicians with a passion for adventure racing. MedWAR events have no route markers, water stations or cheering spectators; instead they simulate backcountry rescue situations so participants can test and improve their skills.

The Class of 2016’s Phil Griffith heard about the event last year and decided it was the perfect venue for his love of the outdoors and career plans as an emergency physician. “Emergency medicine fits with wilderness medicine,” he noted. Except in the outdoors, “You’re practicing with fewer resources, higher evacuation times and the same principles of stabilize and improvise.”

He participated in the event for the first time last year with Chris Woleben, M’97, H’01, on a team dubbed the Lactated Ringers. This year, the Class of 2017’s Jenika Ferretti-Gallon joined them.

An associate professor in the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Woleben is also associate dean for student affairs in the medical school. Though he’s far more experienced in medicine, Woleben calls the students “the masterminds to our team’s success.”

The competition, held in Newport News, includes three loops (four for more advanced competitors) consisting of questions and hands-on scenarios. Each team must navigate to checkpoints where they will encounter physical challenges or wilderness medicine simulations, which they must successfully complete before moving forward.

The team takes its name from Ringer’s lactate solution that’s often used for fluid resuscitation after blood loss due to trauma, surgery or other injury.

During the race, which the Lactated Ringers completed in under seven hours by mountain bike, canoe and foot, they performed a cricothyrotomy on a pig trachea and removed a fish hook from someone’s skin (using a pig’s foot as a stand-in). One memorable scenario involved stabilizing a skydiver who had landed in a tree and sustained spinal cord injury.

The trio capitalized on the lessons learned from the experiences of the 2015 team.

“The reason for our success was that we planned in advance,” said Ferretti-Gallon. “We practiced orienteering the weekend before the race at a Boy Scout camp.”

The group also knew what to carry in their pack, smaller than last year’s but still a hefty 20 pounds of wilderness supplies. “The most important thing you can have is gloves,” said Griffith. “And a knife is always useful.” The group also hauled water purification equipment, shelter, epinephrine for anaphylactic shock, gauze and a CPR mask. A skin stapler came in handy, too, for making quick repairs on their simulated victims so the team could get back on the course.

With few penalties for wrong answers and some bonus points for their knot-tying skills, the team was named winner of the Intermediate division. In addition to bragging rights, the team won a copy of “Improvised Medicine,” a book Griffith dubs MacGyver medicine. “Actually, I’ve had my eye on that for a while,” he said.

It also gave them confidence. “MedWAR can change the way you think about practicing medicine,” Ferretti-Gallon said. “It gives you skills to apply in the field. It’s encouraging and it’s empowering.”

She’ll hold down the fort next year at MedWAR, as Griffith moves to Ohio for residency.

However, he remains prepared for anything he encounters. “I always try to keep my medical bag with me. And my keychain is just exploding now with a bag of gloves, a pocket knife and other supplies.”

By Lisa Crutchfield


Guests from a dozen states pack reception celebrating the Kirkpatrick Professorship

Affection and respect for Barry Kirkpatrick, M’66, filled the reception hall on March 12. The evening celebrated the successful completion of a campaign to honor a pediatrician who was as dedicated to the tiniest babies as he was to training medical students and residents.

Longtime faculty member Barry Kirkpatrick, M’66, with seven of the neonatal‐perinatal medicine fellows he’s trained. Dozens of former trainees were on hand to celebrate the creation of a professorship that bears his name.

In 1973, Kirkpatrick established the first Neonatal ICU at MCV Hospitals. It was also the first in Central Virginia and would grow to become one of the largest on the east coast. He shared his knowledge and skill with generations of future physicians, creating a fellowship training program in neonatal‐perinatal medicine and an innovative community pediatric clerkship for medical students and residents. He ultimately was named vice chairman for education in the Department of Pediatrics.

Those former residents and students en masse supported a campaign to endow the Barry V. Kirkpatrick, M.D., Professorship. The campaign enjoyed the broadest base of support of any in the medical school in recent years, with scores of commitments coming in from 21 states.

About 150 of those Kirkpatrick fans were on hand in March at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens to celebrate the professorship that will support the teaching mission of the Department of Pediatrics. kirkpatrick-gallerybuttonTogether they recalled the many firsts that Kirkpatrick pioneered: the first 600-gram baby, introducing mechanical ventilation for infants and designing a van to transport newborns from surrounding hospitals to the MCV Campus. In addition, he and surgeon Tom Krummel, H’83, established the east coast’s first ECMO program in 1980 at a time when it had only been offered for infants at UC Irvine, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan. They went on to help other university medical centers get their own programs up and running. These were dramatic advances at a time when the medical field was just beginning to learn how to save the lives of very premature babies.

Dawn Mueller, M’72, F’75, a retired associate professor of pediatrics at VCU, was the first of Kirkpatrick’s seven fellows. She was also the chief champion of the professorship campaign, writing letters and making phone calls to ensure everyone had an opportunity to participate.

At the March reception she noted the Kirkpatrick Professorship now takes its place beside endowed professorships honoring Walter Bundy, M’45, and Edwin Kendig, H’36, two other longtime faculty members in the medical school. Mueller characterized the three physicians as “the pantheon of iconic Richmond pediatricians,” and added, “This trio of professorships extends their legacies and influence for generations to come.”

By Erin Lucero


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