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Football injuries place the need for team doctors in the spotlight

It’s every coach’s worst nightmare.

With time running out in an intense football game, the quarterback drops back and hits his receiver for a first down. The safety comes out of nowhere to deliver a bone-crunching tackle.

A hush falls across the high school stadium as the receiver lays motionless, face down on the hard turf. The coach rushes in from the sideline. With no training to handle such a crisis, he calls 911.

In a perfect world, high school athletes would have access to both team physicians and athletic trainers, a luxury enjoyed at Hanover County’s Atlee High School thanks to the services of Sally Marks, ATC, and Mike Petrizzi, M.D.

In a perfect world, high school athletes would have access to both team physicians and athletic trainers,
a luxury enjoyed at Hanover County’s Atlee High School thanks to the services of Sally Marks, ATC, and Mike Petrizzi, M.D.

Scenes like this are not uncommon, because less than 20 percent of high schools have a working relationship with a team doctor. And only about 55 percent of high school student athletes have access to a licensed athletic trainer.

“It can be very scary,” says Mike Petrizzi, M.D., clinical professor of family medicine on the MCV Campus. He’s the medical director of Hanover Family Physicians and has been team physician at the county’s Atlee High School since 1991. “I think there are many family doctors and pediatricians who know they are needed on the sidelines, but are insecure about whether they have sufficient training.”

That’s why Petrizzi teamed up with Steve Cole, certified athletic trainer and associate athletic director at the College of William and Mary, to create the Sideline Management Assessment Response Technique (SMART) workshop in 2003. The course teaches physicians the skills necessary to be both competent and confident in their ability to serve the community at athletic events.

“The better trained providers are, the better chance we have of avoiding a catastrophic event on Friday night,” says Jeff Roberts, M’04, program director for the St. Francis Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship Program in Richmond.

Jeff Roberts, M’04

Jeff Roberts, M’04

Roberts, team physician for Virginia’s Powhatan High School, is a SMART instructor. The four-hour course emphasizes hands-on learning, with volunteers in football gear bringing the Friday night experience to life. Participants practice how to recognize and manage football injuries, including concussions, stingers, separated or dislocated joints, torn or sprained ligaments and broken bones. They practice the log roll – moving a player with a suspected neck injury onto a backboard.

“Thankfully, I have never had an athlete suffer a c-spine fracture,” Petrizzi says. “But you never know what you might face. It sure does help to have practiced what to do in the event of a catastrophic injury. Our student athletes deserve the best care.”

As a high school athlete, Petrizzi remembers watching a news program that asked, “who’s watching your kids?” Even then, he was alarmed to discover that first-aid training was not a requirement for coaches.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It became a passion of mine to develop a program that would help make sports participation safer for our youth. Trained personnel are needed whether the team is having a bad year or a winning year. If something should happen, these athletes need to be with someone they know and trust. That’s important.”

In an ideal world, Petrizzi says, schools would have an athletic trainer and team doctor working together to provide the best care. He is hopeful that SMART one day will be part of family medicine and pediatric residency training across the country and that those completing the course will, in turn, teach others – a vital step in providing more coverage at the high school level.

“Unfortunately, injuries are part of any sport,” Roberts says. “The question is, how prepared are you to handle them?”

Tips for High School Team Physicians from Mike Petrizzi

• When in doubt, keep them out.
• You can have a concussion and NOT lose consciousness.
• Learn the five steps to a graduated return-to-play protocol.

• Master the log roll.
• If an athlete remains unconscious, you must assume a broken neck.

• If an athlete’s arm is stinging or burning but there’s no neck pain, assume an injury to the brachial plexus. Sideline him unless the injured side can move as easily and with the same strength as the uninjured side.

• With a normal neurovascular exam and lacking the experience to reduce the dislocation, immobilize in a splint and transfer to the ER.
• If no pulse and a long drive to the hospital, one attempt to reduce it with longitudinal traction might save the limb.

• Perform a functional assessment by asking the athlete to show you he can use the affected side doing what his sport demands. For instance, very few sports rely only on running straight ahead, so ask the athlete to cut, twist and stop on the injured joint.

Want to learn more?
Since Petrizzi and Cole started SMART, more than 500 physicians, athletic trainers, coaches and emergency personnel have completed the workshop. It has been offered at medical conferences across the country as well as local events and in small group settings. It is also a highlight of the VCU Sports Medicine Update in Primary Care conference. Sponsored in part by the VCU Continuing Medical Education Office, this year’s conference will be held Dec. 5-7 at Kingsmill Resort and Spa
in Williamsburg. Learn more and register at www.vcuhealth.org/cme

By Janet Showalter


Physician-Scientist rises to challenge of DC advocacy position

Margaret “Kenny” Offermann, M’80, PhD’81, honed some serious time-management skills during her years on the MCV Campus. That’s served her well in a career as medical oncologist, biomedical researcher and advocate for health and science policy—jobs which she sometimes holds simultaneously.

Margaret “Kenny” Offermann

Margaret “Kenny” Offermann, M’80, PhD’81
photo by Lawrence Green

Interests in medicine, science and policy – and the ability to juggle them all – laid the foundation for her term as president of FASEB that ended this past summer. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology is the nation’s largest coalition of biomedical researchers. As its leader, her priorities included educating legislators about the importance of funding and drawing their attention to tough issues – in terms they can appreciate.

“It’s not just advocating for increased dollars,” Offermann says. “It’s looking at our existing system and saying, ‘how can we make the system better so there is a bright future for science in America?’”

Offermann learned early how to balance her many passions, from ballet to basketball to biology.

A native Richmonder, Offermann was familiar with the MCV Campus. She worked with Gaylen Bradley, Ph.D., former chair of microbiology and immunology and dean of basic health sciences, on an undergraduate fellowship. She wasn’t willing to give up the goal of a career in medicine, but that experience, combined with her respect for biochemistry professor Judith Bond, Ph.D., (who later became FASEB’s president) had sealed her interest in research, too.

“I had started thinking of myself as a scientist,” says Offermann. So she added what she describes as a “stealth” Ph.D. to her medical school work. Since the university did not have a formal M.D.-Ph.D. program, she created her own path, keeping the secret from medical school administrators until fourth year. Juggling classes, writing a dissertation and playing intramural sports required discipline. “Paranoia can be a great motivator,” she laughs.

After graduation, Offermann continued to blend research and practice, eventually landing at Emory University’s School of Medicine, where she spent 17 years building a tumor biology program and later serving as associate director of Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

“There are so many opportunities and so much need for combining science and medicine,” she says. “Most physicians focus on delivery of care, and most researchers focus on one area. It takes a physician-scientist to know unmet clinical needs and to have the tools to be able to address those and move the bar.”

Several years ago, Offermann left academia for the health and science policy arena. At the American Cancer Society, she honed a natural talent for putting complicated ideas in layman’s terms, an important skill when she advocated for funding in a tough Washington environment.

With one daughter in medical school and another planning to attend veterinary school, the need for reform has hit home. “It seems tremendously wasteful and also very dangerous for the future by disincentivizing the best and the brightest. Many have said we’re likely to be sacrificing a generation of scientists because of funding policies.”

Offermann’s experience and insight made her uniquely qualified to lead FASEB in today’s challenging environment, says Howard H. Garrison, Ph.D., the organization’s deputy executive director for policy. “She brings a wonderfully diverse perspective on how and where science improves peoples’ lives.”

Offermann was a visible presence in Washington, advocating for reforms including a more stable, sustainable funding environment, decreased regulatory burden and re-structuring training to fit workplace needs. “Much of the training now doesn’t give students opportunities to customize their research for jobs they might want to pursue,” she explains. “They’ve been the workforce in the lab, doing technical and demanding and important work, but it doesn’t necessarily fit their career goals.”

Offermann remains involved in FASEB as its immediate past president. “She has been a great, enthusiastic spokesperson for FASEB,” says Bond, Offermann’s former mentor who went on to her own term as FASEB president. “Kenny has great breadth from her training and experience in academia, science funding agencies, and entrepreneurial enterprises. It gives her a unique perspective to represent biomedical scientists and engineers in our country.”

Now she has more time to devote to her job as managing partner at the Salutramed Group Inc., an Atlanta-based consulting firm. And because one job is never enough, she and husband Russell Medford, M.D., Ph.D., own Artetude, an art gallery in Asheville, N.C.

FASEB, Immediate Past President
Salutramed Group, Inc., Managing Partner

Emory University School of Medicine, Professor of Hematology and Oncology, Co-Director of MD-PhD training program, Associate Director of postgraduate training program, Associate Director of Winship Cancer Institute

American Cancer Society, Deputy National Vice President for Research

BA, Mount Holyoke College
M.D., Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University

Internship/ residency in internal medicine at University of Chicago Hospitals; training in medical oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

• Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
• The nation’s largest coalition of biomedical researchers, comprised of more than 120,000 researchers worldwide from 26 scientific societies
• Founded in 1910 and located in Bethesda, Md., one mile from NIH

By Lisa Crutchfield



Use your IRA to support student scholarships

The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) has long been a tool for forward-thinking physicians and scientists planning for a secure retirement. Those funds can also be an overlooked resource for charitable giving.

The Class of 1965’s Donald Francis Perkins, though, spotted the opportunity and used his fund to give a helping hand to students following in his footsteps.

Perkins completed an ophthalmology residency at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. Calling on his training and skills, he went on to open an ophthalmology practice in his native New Jersey.

Long before his death in April 2014, Perkins made arrangements for his IRA to provide student scholarships that will give others the kind of education that laid the foundation for his career.

“My hope is that my contribution would specifically be used for financial aid for deserving students who need it,” he wrote when he informed the school of his plans, calling himself a “grateful out-of state student.”

The gift sounds like the generous friend he remembers from medical school, says classmate Harry G. Plunkett, Jr., M’65. “He was determined and dedicated. He loved all the experiences of studying medicine. He was consistent and always upbeat.” Dr. Plunkett fondly remembers getting to know Perkins over a cadaver in their first-year anatomy class. He also recalls how Perkins, a classically trained musician, would rush to the student center after exams to play the piano to relax and entertain friends.

“When you’re going through medical school, it’s tight. It’s tough. You watch every penny, and it’s great when someone can help you along,” says Plunkett, who also has donated to the school.

Donating an IRA is a way to remember MCV and to ensure that tomorrow’s student doctors have the resources they need to succeed. Letting the medical school know of your plans can qualify you for membership in the Medical College of Virginia Society.

“Dr. Perkins’ gift testifies to his commitment to ensuring the legacy of excellence in medical education on the MCV Campus,” says Brian Thomas, interim president of the MCV Foundation. “Future generations of medical students will benefit from Dr. Perkins’ generosity.”

By Lisa Crutchfield

Donating an IRA could have significant tax advantages. Consider:

As some individuals approach retirement, they realize they have accumulated a significant amount of money in their IRS-qualified retirement plans where taxes are due when money is distributed. Some even find that their retirement accounts are over-funded for their retirement income needs.

In many cases, minimum distributions are required at age 70. Depending on your tax situation, you could face a sizeable tax bill since distributions are taxed as ordinary income. Charitable contributions
can reduce taxable income, so think of using your IRA as a source for giving. The income tax due on the IRA distribution can be offset by the charitable income tax deduction creating a “wash” for tax purposes.

Leaving your retirement account to your spouse can be a fine idea if he or she rolls the lump sum into another traditional IRA. However, that route may not be open to other heirs who could find the inherited account subject to a substantial tax burden both at the federal and state level. Instead, consider avoiding such tax problems by leaving your children or other non-spouse heirs other assets like stock and bequeathing your IRA to charity where the full amount of the retirement account value can go to the organization. Thomas notes that every case is different, so consulting with advisors familiar with your particular estate plans and individual tax situation is essential.

To learn more about joining the MCV Society, contact Tom Holland, associate dean for development and alumni affairs at 800.332.8813 or tehollan@vcu.edu.

By Lisa Crutchfield


Bequest creates scholarship in mentor’s memory

Thomas Poole

Thomas Poole, M’61, and his wife, Kay. Photo courtesy of Chris Gotshall.

Thomas R. Poole, M’61, grew up in a small West Virginia community. He and his family washed their clothes and their bodies in the town’s namesake, Briar Creek, and pumped drinking water out of the ground. That was more than 80 years ago.

From those humble beginnings, Poole’s path led him to medical school and to a fulfilling career as an obstetrician. Now retired and living in Palm Coast, Florida, with his wife, Kay, Poole recently alerted his alma mater that the couple has made provisions in their estate plan for a $1 million bequest. In doing so, they became members of the MCV Society. The planned gift memorializes Poole’s mentor and friend, Daniel T. Watts, Ph.D., with a scholarship fund that will support generations of students in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

In 1966, Watts, a nationally recognized pharmacologist, became dean of the School of Basic Health Sciences and Graduate Studies at the Medical College of Virginia. But Poole met him before that, when Watts was chair of pharmacology at West Virginia University.

“He interviewed me as I applied for medical school at West Virginia,” Poole said. “He knew I was a poor fellow and wondered how I was going to finance my family while I was in medical school. He offered me a job in his lab that would pay $300 a month for a year. That was hard to refuse. I got to know him very well. He was a man of great integrity. I couldn’t have been luckier to have that opportunity to work with him.”

Poole completed his first two years of medical school at West Virginia University before finishing his studies at MCV.

Watts touched many lives throughout his career. Lou Harris, Ph.D., vice chair of the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, was attracted to VCU in 1972 because of Watts’ leadership of the unique School of Basic Health Sciences, which is now a part of the VCU School of Medicine.

“A School of Basic Health Sciences was completely unusual in medical schools across the country at the time,” Harris said. “As dean in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Watts put together a group of fantastic faculty and associate deans. He was a brilliant manager and very encouraging of our working in the community particularly in programs to increase minority students’ interest in science.”

Under Watts’ deanship, Harris said, the school created a program that exposed high school students to on-campus lab instruction, and he advocated for the development of the Ph.D. program.

“With Watts’ help and support, we built a very large graduate and postgraduate program that has consistently received high national rankings. He was a good friend,” Harris said.

The Pooles feel fortunate to be in the position to memorialize Watts.

“I’m getting into my twilight years and want to do what I think is best because I’ve been so fortunate,” Poole said. “I thought so much of Dr. Watts who once asked me if the shoes I was wearing were the best I had. I replied, ‘They’re not only the best shoes I have, they’re the only shoes I have.’ The next day he gave me a pair of his own.”

This article by Nan Johnson first appeared in the 2014 summer issue of the Power of Personal Philanthropy.


1904 graduate practiced medicine on the western frontier

Charles Johnson Kinsolving1904

C. J. Kinsolving at his 1904 graduation from University College of Medicine. Scroll below for a slide show of more photos provided by Doc Kinsolving’s family.

Shortly after earning his medical degree in 1904, adventure-loving Charles Johnson Kinsolving packed his bags and headed west. His goal was the Alaskan frontier.

Before that, the Abingdon, Va., native had been to South Carolina to work in a cotton mill. And he’d made the 300-mile trip to Richmond to enroll in the University College of Medicine. Founded in 1893, UCM would merge with MCV in 1913.

On his westward trip, Kinsolving would occasionally interrupt his travels with short-term assignments. By the fall of 1906, he’d already worked for a time as a staff physician for mine operations in both West Virginia and South Dakota.

And on a Sunday in October, he was again making the most of his adventure, taking a roundtrip excursion on a steamboat. He departed from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where he’d taken a position as a staff physician at the local hospital. He disembarked on the docks of St. Maries for some lunch and to wait for the return trip.

As his grandson Laurence Kinsolving tells the story, “word spread that a doctor was in town.” Soon, he received an urgent request to treat an injured man at a waterfront hotel. He always carried his black bag with him, but he did need to restock his medical supplies. “He set out to visit a local drugstore,” his grandson continues. “When the druggist learned that the visitor was a physician, he asked Dr. Kinsolving to look in on several loggers with serious injuries residing in the rooms upstairs.”

An afternoon spent in treating broken bones and other injuries left Kinsolving so concerned for his patients that he missed the return trip to Coeur d’Alene, and spent the rest of his life in St. Maries. “He never made it to Alaska until after retirement.”

Kinsolving briefly returned to Virginia in 1909 to marry his childhood sweetheart, Julia Elizabeth Eanes. He carried her west to the frontier where, her grandson says, she found it astonishing that a town of 1,100 inhabitants could support 11 saloons.

University College of Medicine

The University College of Medicine was established by Hunter Holmes McGuire, M.D., in 1893 just three blocks away from MCV. It was first known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1913, MCV and UCM merged through the efforts of MCV Professor of Surgery George Ben Johnston, M.D., and Hunter H. McGuire’s son Stuart McGuire, M.D., who was president of UCM at the time.

Their home doubled as a medical office. Kinsolving – known simply as “Doc” around town – was accustomed to making house calls far outside St. Maries, sometimes accepting nothing more than chickens, venison or eggs as payment. In his career, Doc would face Idaho’s fires of 1910, treating injured fire fighters and going four or five days without unsaddling his horse or getting any rest. In the end, the fires would claim the life of his and Julia’s newborn daughter.

He also battled the deadly flu pandemic of 1918. “He treated over 500 flu victims,” reports his grandson, “many under quarantine, but was proud to say that he did not lose one patient.”

In 1945, Doc Kinsolving closed his black bag for the last time and fully retired to his Goosehaven farm. He was known, though, in those later years after retirement to sometimes keep office hours at the Elks Lodge where he was a charter member and to give fistfuls of silver dollars to his grandchildren, including Laurence Kinsolving, of Marianna, Fla.

Our thanks to Laurence Kinsolving for sharing his grandfather’s story with us.

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Alumna Marcella Fierro’s continued service to forensic medicine featured in Richmond Academy of Medicine newsletter

Marcella F. Fierro, M.D.

Fierro retired in 2007 from her post as the state’s Chief Medical Examiner, where she investigated the results of some of the nation’s most notorious crimes.

Retirement hasn’t hindered how alumna Marcella F. Fierro, M.D., is impacting the future of forensic medicine. Following a 34-year career and serving as Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner, Fierro has remained a steady influence in her field. Recently featured in the summer issue of the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s quarterly newsletter, Fierro describes her current work educating others and advocating on behalf of the profession that she dedicated her life to serving.

Fierro’s recent work includes the 2009 publication of a book she co-wrote with her colleagues on the NAS Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Community: “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.” Fierro shared her thoughts on the publication of the book for the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s Ramifications, “If you asked me what’s the most important achievement of my career, this had to be one of them.” The book outlines basic infrastructural necessities in the field of forensic medicine and is being used to garner support from Congress to address those needs.

Widely known as the inspiration for Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta book series, Fierro also has appeared on TV including a recent PBS special on New York’s first trained medical examiner. Asked how she’s coped with what she’s witnessed as Virginia’s CME, Fierro compared it to trauma surgeons and other physicians who help accident victims. She told Ramifications: “You realize what the patient needs is not your emotions or your outrage. What the patient needs is your care, and no one but you can provide it. The discipline is you know you can do something—you can speak for that patient.”

Fierro has multiple connections to the medical school. She completed her residency and fellowship training with the School of Medicine in 1973 and 1974 respectively. She also served on faculty and as the chairman of the Department of Legal Medicine and Pathology until her retirement in 2008.

Read more about her recent activities and her plans for the future in the Ramifications’ summer issue, page 14.

By Eleana M. Legree