UNC Health Care on Ebola

Hospitals across the country are preparing for the possible admission of patients with Ebola. While North Carolina has not had a case of Ebola, UNC Health Care is prepared for the safe care of patients with these types of highly communicable diseases.

The safety of our patients and co-workers will remain, as always, our top priority.

A group of experts at UNC hospitals and the UNC School of Medicine is working to ensure that all appropriate individuals are trained and equipped to protect patients, guests, the community and each other if we do admit a patient with Ebola.

An inpatient location for Ebola care has been designated at UNC Hospitals if needed. This area has space for patient care, point-of-care laboratory testing, equipment storage and separate areas for donning and doffing personal protective equipment.

While Ebola is a serious illness, keep in mind that the disease has not spread through casual contact, air, water or food grown or legally purchased in the United States.  The virus can be spread only via direct contact with bodily fluids, objects contaminated with the virus (e.g., needles, medical equipment) and infected animals (by contact with blood, fluids or infected meat). Ebola outbreaks have occurred primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa.  Still, it’s important to take precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases including Ebola. As with any other infectious disease, washing your hands frequently is one of the best methods to protect yourself and others from contracting the infection.

Our Ebola Coordinating Group is chaired by Dr. David Weber, medical director of Hospital Epidemiology, and co-chaired by Dr. Billy Fischer, Assistant Professor of Medicine, who treated Ebola patients in West Africa this summer. We are working in close consultation with the State of North Carolina’s Division of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is significant and understandable anxiety about this situation. Please rest assured that we have a comprehensive plan in place. We will continue to update our co-workers and the general public with relevant updates as they become available.

To learn more about our Ebola preparedness, click here.

 

UNC School of Medicine Recognized by AAMC

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently delivered its annual report, and the UNC School of Medicine ranked highly. The report said that at UNC, we are:

  • Providing graduates that meet priority needs
  • Delivering a diverse physician workforce
  • Advancing medical discoveries
  • Producing very satisfied graduates
  • Meeting community needs
  • Offering an affordable education

The report is evidence that the school continues to strive toward our mission, but also shows us where there are opportunities for improvement. For example, our school was ranked in the 17th percentile for Hispanic graduates, but in the 94th percentile for African-American graduates. We must continue working to recruit, train and graduate a more diverse workforce, as well as maintain and improve upon our success in all other areas.

To view the AAMC’s full report, click here: UNC AAMC Rankings.

The State Of Things: My View on Health Care in America

I recently was interviewed by Frank Stasio on WUNC’s “The State of Things.” We discussed the health care challenges our country faces, including gaps in mental health and preventive care, among others. I also discussed some of the myths about health care in our country and explained how UNC Health Care is working with others to provide high-quality affordable care and to train the next generation of physicians.

Listen to the full interview here.

What will health care look like in 2020?

The delivery and coordination of care in our country and across the world continues to change. On Feb. 26-27 in Raleigh, leaders in health care will gather to discuss the future of health care at CED’s Life Science conference. As a conference co-chair, I hope you will join me to explore how the convergence of medicine, technology and regulation will impact health care moving forward. To learn more about the conference and why you should attend, please view the video below.

 

Moving forward with change

It’s no secret that things are changing in health care, with big potential impact on our patients, students, faculty and staff, and for the entire state of North Carolina. State funding to the UNC System, UNC School of Medicine and the University Cancer Research Fund was cut, and our System is working to adjust to the shifting health care environment.

We face downward pressure on our finances from every direction, including private insurers, federal government and state government. UNC Health Care and the School of Medicine will have to focus on doing more with less, and we will.

We know that the legislature faced a difficult task in balancing the budget, and we hope to continue working with our legislators to help them understand the health care needs of our citizens, including: the challenge of providing the highest quality care to our patients, regardless of their ability to pay; the responsibility we have as the state’s largest medical school to train the next generation of physicians and other health professionals; and the need to continue to produce world-class research that provides breakthrough cures and jobs for North Carolina and beyond.

While the health care environment in our state is shifting, UNC Health Care remains committed to its mission. We are up to the challenges the future brings and will continue to be here when North Carolinians need us.

Two passionate surgeons

Today the UNC medical family is learning about and dealing with the loss of two of our most committed colleagues.

Dr. Keith Amos, assistant professor of surgery, and outstanding surgical oncologist, died very unexpectedly while in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a visiting scholar. He was one of our best and brightest young physician leaders, with a special passion for treating breast diseases and for eliminating health disparities.

Dr. George Sheldon, who chaired the UNC Department of Surgery from 1984 to 2001, died after an illness at UNC Hospitals. He was an internationally renowned leader in medicine and surgery, having served as president or chair of practically every surgical society in the country, and as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will each look for ways to remember and celebrate the work of Keith Amos and George Sheldon.

But today as I remember them both – I am struck by the remarkable gift we have in medicine – to make a difference in the lives of others – and in each of their cases, in the lives of many others.

George and Keith were very different people in many ways, and they were at very different places in their careers – one near the end his, the other in the most productive period of his.

But they both were passionate surgeons, dedicated to serving others.

We will miss them very, very much.

Health care: a desire to help others

Completing a marathon is an incredible accomplishment. And, completing the Boston Marathon is an even greater achievement. That is what makes the events that unfolded at the finish line yesterday even more tragic. It is difficult to comprehend something so terrible, but I am heartened by the outpouring of support.

Runners found the strength to continue running from the finish line to the nearest hospital to give blood. Spectators rushed over barricades to help the injured. And, first responders jumped into action.

I am thankful for the medical and emergency personnel, the medical staff at local hospitals, law enforcement and the everyday citizens who answered the call for help. An inspiring desire to aid others was evident during yesterday’s event, and it was a great reminder of why we do what we do each day – to help others. My thoughts and prayers go out to the runners, the families and the city.