St. George’s University School of Medicine Grad Assists NYC Rescue

barbara2As an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fellow with the New York City Fire Department, Dr. Paul Barbara, SGUSOM Class of 2004, has been an active participant in numerous rescue situations in his native New York.  So upon receipt of a Multiple Casualty Incident (MCI) on the afternoon of January 15th, he prepared for an emergency situation without full knowledge of the scope of the issue.  By the initial reports however, many patients were potentially hurt and would likely require immediate physician care.

Accompanied by the Chief Medical Officer of FDNY EMS, Paul arrived at a scene most notably marked by his vision of the tail of US Airways Flight 1549surfacing New York’s Hudson River. The Airbus A320 was forced to make an emergency landing moments after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport when a bird strike caused loss of engine power.

Dr. Barbara, who began his EMS training as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) during his years in college, was then assigned to MERV 1, a Major Emergency Response Vehicle (MERV) in the fleet of FDNY EMS.  While inside this large bus-like vehicle, he would be able to treat up to 15 people at once.  The MERV was used for treatment and stabilization of any distressed passengers immediately coming from the harsh elements.  The air temperatures that day dipped to 6 degrees, but more dangerous were the frigid water temperatures from which these flight victims were being rescued.

Paul expressed that the personal challenge in such a chaotic situation is to not let your instinct and training overshadow your responsibility to perform your task at hand.  Dr. Barbara explained that with so many city, state and federal organizations descending upon the scene, it was imperative that each individual focus on their specific responsibility.  In addition to caring for four of the flight victims, Dr. Barbara and other members of his team surveyed the local emergency departments via phone and personal visits to help the EMS system properly account for the 155 passengers and crew who were taken to various metropolitan hospitals.  “While I would like to have done more that day, I realized the value of my responsibility.  I am grateful that there were no casualties, and consider this a valuable training exercise which will better prepare me for any future incidents of such caliber.”

Dr. Barbara’s dedication to serving his community stems from an upbringing which instilled this type of commitment and responsibility.  Both his father and mother, Gerard and Joanne, led by example as they impressed upon their children the importance of giving back. Paul’s father was a 31-year veteran of the FDNY and was one of the city’s highest ranking and most decorated fire chiefs.

Paul explained that his father was a tremendous advocate for education, believing that learning was a life long process. It was not until his final years at SGU that Dr. Barbara saw the similarities that their career paths had taken. “I always thought our career decisions were divergent, but in fact, as I progress with my career, I see the many convergent aspects,” he said.  Dr. Barbara expressed that his father’s commitment to civil service may or may not have guided his choice to practice Emergency Medicine, but it has certainly guided his aspirations to service the public through the delivery of quality medical care.

Dr. Barbara feels fortunate to be involved with the FDNY EMS during such a critical time.  FDNY is involved in significant changes which are currently assisting hospitals to improve the quality of patient care and timeliness of their response, pushing New York City EMS to the forefront of the national emergency medical services community.

As an EMS Fellow, Dr. Paul Barbara typically spends four out of five days each week serving the FDNY as an Emergency Medical Services Medical Director at 9 Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, New York.  He is also an Attending Physician in Emergency Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.  After graduating from St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2004, he served as Chief Resident in Emergency Medicine at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.  Dr. Barbara also maintains an active role within the SGU community.  This includes being a member of the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development (OCG), the Clinical Department of Emergency Medicine, St. George’s University’s Alumni Admission Mentor Program (AAMP), and also by attending Information Sessions and assisting in recruitment efforts.   Dr. Barbara holds St. George’s University and its faculty and staff near to his heart, and is grateful for the integral role the institution played in his career pursuit.

Paul and his wife have a seven-month old baby daughter and reside in Garden City, New York.

Honoring Dr. John Pryor

The St. George’s University community lost an exceptional member on Christmas Day when Dr. John Pryor was killed by enemy fire in Iraq while serving in the US Army Reserves as a combat surgeon. This was the second tour of duty for the 42 year old, who worked as a trauma surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, pediatrician Carmela Calvo, and their three young children. Dr. Pryor and Dr. Calvo attended St. George’s University from August 1990 through May 1992.

Dr. John Pryor and his family.

Dr. John Pryor and his family.

For Dr. Pryor, the experience of war was comparable to that of his position as an inner-city trauma surgeon, and he eloquently described the connections in an editorial published in The Washington Post titled “The War in West Philadelphia.” In it, he noted that in some ways Iraq was a calmer situation, as in war “soldiers die for freedom, for honor, for their country and for their buddies.” It was his dedication to these things that compelled Dr. Pryor to serve his country and provide soldiers with exceptional medical care in the most dire of situations.

John’s interest in pursuing a career in medicine started at an early age.  He became certified in CPR at the age of 14, joined the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Ambulance Corp. at 17, and became a NY State Emergency Medical Technician at 18. Upon completion of his undergraduate education in biochemistry at the University of NY at Binghamton and his preclinical studies St. George’s University, he went on to finish medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo and pursued a surgical career, becoming the chief resident in surgery at the University at Buffalo. He then completed a fellowship in trauma surgery at the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently became the Director of the Trauma Service.

Dr. Rebecca G. Smith attended St. George’s University with Dr. Pryor and later became his colleague at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Smith reflects on her association with Dr. Pryor:

I’ll never forget the first day I ran into John Pryor at the University of Penn… We hadn’t seen each other since the end of the second year of medical school in Grenada (1992). John quickly caught me up on his life and career since SGU. The highlights I recall included his marriage to Carmela Calvo, a classmate and friend from St. George’s University, and the birth of his three children. John summarized his and Carmela’s career paths since SGU. I wasn’t surprised that John chose a career in surgery since he had excelled in anatomy as a medical student. He even received recognition by our anatomy professors for his talent.

I would frequently run into John at UPenn, often at the coffee bar. Our conversations were less about his career and work at UPenn and more often about how Carmela and his children were doing – about his hopes to take his family back to Grenada to visit someday. They reminisced about their experiences at St. George’s University, where they first embarked on their successful careers in medicine. Of his time at SGU, Dr. Smith says:“it was John’s calm and caring demeanor that stood out and made him a shining star.”  

Dr. Smith relates a common patient at UPenn:

John consulted the symptom management team to help manage the pain of one of his patients. John thanked us for the recommendations, responding “whatever it takes to make her comfortable”.  My colleagues were impressed with his compassion and concern. Even in times of crisis, he was positive and reassuring.

Dr. Smith highlights Dr. John Pryor’s accomplishments and character, closing:

John’s commitment to his ideals and service to both the United States military troops in need of surgical treatment, as well as to the community of Philadelphia will be remembered, honored and modeled. He serves as an inspiration to those studying and or serving in the medical field today.  John’s calling to service exemplifies the true reason why most of us choose a career in medicine.  He didn’t give in to the pressure, but rose to the occasion to give of himself where he felt he was most needed.  His eyes always radiated pride when he spoke of Carmela and his children.  The medical community is now called to service to comfort John’s family in their time of loss, as well as thank John’s family for their unending support, encouragement and understanding that enabled John to become the dedicated and loyal person that he was.  John will always be remembered fondly by his classmates at St. George’s University.

The University community honors John and his family and extends their sincerest condolences to his family and friends. For more information, please visit and The Philadelphia Inquirer

(Dr. Smith currently serves as Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Chief of the Division of Cancer Rehabilitation.  Dr. Pryor was serving as Assistant Professor of Surgery and Director of The Trauma Program.)

Published on 12/30/08

St. George’ s University School of Medicine Grad Open Practice in Canada

The physician is setting up practice with Dr. Jim Dewar at the Medical Associates office at Charlotte Street and will see his first patients Jan. 26…..

Welland Tribune

St. George’s University School of Medicine Grad/Faculty Dr. Jennifer Rooney Now Published in Japanese

Dr. Jennifer Rooney, Assistant Professor at St. George’s University School of Medicine and SOM Class of 1999 graduate, received a terrific surprise in the mail last week when global education publishing house McGraw-Hill Medical forwarded a second edition of her USMLE Step 2 CS Checklist translated and printed in Japanese.

“This was an unexpected and exciting surprise,” said Dr. Rooney, whose original publication of this user-friendly preparatory book was first published by McGraw-Hill Medical in 2004 with a print run of 5,000 copies. Since then, a second edition was reprinted in 2007, and is now being distributed in Asia.

Dr. Rooney, originally from Scotland, explained that her decision to write the book occurred when the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), a three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States and its territories, became mandatory for students from the United States in 2005. Prior to this, it was a requirement for foreign medical students only.

The USMLE Step 2 CS Checklist is a small, easy-to-carry, checklist format book designed for self-testing on the elements which appear on the USMLE Step 2 CS. The Step 2 assesses whether a student can apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of proper patient care under supervision and includes emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention.
Rooney Book CoverDr. Rooney’s book focuses on several critical components which include patient-centered skills such as taking a complete health history, physical examination and write up. Also included in the book are 55 Clinical Cases which begin with a particular scenario, then provide a checklist for every item the student should consider regarding patient care, diagnosis and follow up.Dr. Rooney is pleased by the response to her book, which has been sold at the SGU on-campus bookstore, and looks forward to the USMLE Step 2 CS helping an increasingly broad group of medical students in years to come.

After her Residency in Family Practice at Albany Medical Center in New York, Dr. Rooney returned to St. George’s University in 2002 as a Clinical Tutor in the Pathology, Histology and Clinical Skills Departments, respectively. Dr. Rooney is now an Assistant Professor and Course Coordinator for Term 5 and 6 students in the Clinical Skills Department. Dr. Rooney‘s husband, Eric Williams, is also an integral member of the SGU community, serving the University as Supervisor of the Mail Department. They have two boys, ages two and three.

St. George’ s University School of Medicine Grad Solves Dangerous Fruit Mystery

By Lisa Sanders, M.D.

Dr. Jafer Jeelani attributes patient’s unusual and deadly symptoms to unripened ackee fruit….

The New York Times

Dr. David Reindl, Class of ’92, Arrives at Samaritan Medical Center

Dr. David Reindl, who arrived at SMC in early June, received his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies….

NY, United States

Dr. Emily Iker, School of Medicine ’81, Selected President of the American Society of Lymphology (ASL)

eimly iker president aslDr. Emily Iker-d’Harnoncourt was recently named President of the American Society of Lymphology (ASL), a nationally recognized non-profit organization founded in 1996. In this position, her primary focus will be to educate key members of the healthcare profession on the importance of early diagnosis of lymphatic disorders and to establish uniformed guidelines for treatment, training, information and insurance regulations.

Dr. Iker is well versed in the field of lymphology, specializing in lymphedema – a chronic condition commonly seen in cancer patients, which results in extreme swelling of the limbs.  As Director and Founder of the Lymphedema Center in Santa Monica, CA, Dr. Iker has focused on the diagnosis, management and treatment of lymphatic disorders for over 15 years.  She is certified by Professor A. Leduc, PhD, a world renowned leader in the research and treatment of lymphedema. Dr. Iker is a member of many Lymphological Societies, including ISL and GEL, as well as both Slovak and Czech Lymphological Societies where she was awarded the Honorary Membership of the Lymphological Association of J.E. Purkyne, in 1999.

Dr. Iker is board certified by the American Boards of Holistic Medicine and is a staff member of Santa Monica – UCLA Medical Center.  She is not only the Director of the Lymphedema Center but a patient as well.  “Because I have the experience in lymphology as a hands-on MD for over a decade, and I am very active nationally and internationally as a teacher, lecturer and treating physician, I was selected for the position of President of the ASL.” She continued, “With early diagnosis and the uniformed guidelines for treatment we will see less complicated cases and better care for the lymphedema patients.”

Published on 3/1/08

School of Medicine Grad Shares Real-Life “CSI” Experiences

Dr. Julia de la Garza-Jordan, SOM ’00, is a medical examiner in New York City, one of the high profile posts in the country.

A 1991 graduate of Columbia University, Dr. de la Garza-Jordan recently addressed the Columbia University Club of Southwest Florida in Naples, FL. Dr. de la Garza-Jordan attracted the largest group of Columbia alumni ever to attend this event.

The lecture titled “A Day in the Life of a Medical Examiner” drew upon her varied and often “made-for-the-movies” experiences. The presentation addressed the many complexities of her career beginning with the cases themselves. Dr. de la Garza-Jordan explained that there is no shortage of challenges and unexpected elements including the detectives, fussy undertakers, forensic photographers and resistant families, making each day different from the next.

Clearly, her most compelling case is the recovery effort at the site of the New York Twin Towers. Dr. de la Garza credits her many colleagues from the Medical Examiner Office including Michelle Slone, also a SGUSOM graduate, for their tireless efforts in identifying the victims of this historic tragedy. She shared her first-hand perspective of the devastation and the remarkable collaboration within the various City of New York offices – an effort which continues to this day.

Dr. de la Garza points out an interesting fact about the 30 employed ME’s in the Medical Examiner Office of the City of New York: Only three are women, and each is a graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine. She is proud to be in such good company, and over the years has received praise from many experts in her field for the education and life experience provided by SGU.

Dr. Julia de la Garza-Jordan completed an anatomical and clinical pathology residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida, and completed an Immunopathology Fellowship (transplant pathology) at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami. She also completed a Forensic Pathology Fellowship at Miami-Dade Medical Examiner in Florida.

Dr. de la Garza-Jordan resides in New York City with her husband Dr. Robert L. Jordan, SGUSOM’s Department Co-Chair of Anatomical Sciences and the University’s Associate Dean of Enrolment Planning for Admissions.

John Beshai, MD, St. George’s University ’96, Presents Landmark Clinical Trial at AHA Annual Meeting

john beshaiJohn Beshai, a 1996 SGUSOM graduate, presented a late-breaking clinical trial to an audience of peers and mentors at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA) on November 6th in Orlando, FL.  Dr. Beshai is an expert in cardiac electrophysiology, an area of medicine focused on the treatment of heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).  A respected scientist and the Director of Pacemaker and Defibrillator Services at the University of Chicago, he served as the National Principal Investigator and Steering Committee Chairman for the RETHINQ clinical trial.

For the RETHINQ trial, 172 heart failure patients were randomly selected to participate from August 2005 through January 2007.   One group of 87 patients received treatment with Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices while the remaining control group was untreated. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices are surgically implanted and deliver electrical impulses to both ventricles at the same time, making both chambers contract simultaneously thereby improving pumping efficiency.

While current guidelines support the use of CRT in patients with moderate to severe heart failure and a prolonged QRS duration, this study aimed to see if the device could benefit patients outside these recommended parameters.  Patients with a narrow QRS complex and evidence of mechanical dyssynchrony as demonstrated on echocardiography were included in the trial.  The results showed that those treated with CRT demonstrated no significant improvement in exercise capacity as measured by peak oxygen consumption. Some symptoms did improve, but quality-of-life scores, results of the six-minute hall walk test and echocardiographic parameters of left ventricular reverse remodeling did not improve significantly.

“There was no significant difference in the change in peak oxygen consumption between the treatment group and the control group during cardiopulmonary testing,” reported Dr. John Beshai.  “Further research is necessary,” he said.   These results were significant, as CRT may not benefit about a quarter of the country’s estimated 500,000 heart failure patients.

The RETHINQ results presented by Dr. Beshai were simultaneously published online by the New England Journal of Medicine. They are expected to be published in the December 13 print issue of the publication.

This trial was funded by St. Jude Medical Center, makers of the CRT device.
For a video presentation of Dr. Beshai’s clinical trial please see….

Published 11/26/2007

Taught in Grenada, Now Teaching at Yale: A Proud St. George’s Graduate

Dr. Peter Barrett’s dream of becoming a doctor was triggered by The Making of a Surgeon, a book he read when he was ten years old. He discovered that he was fascinated by the idea of treating people to make them better, and that he was in particular drawn to surgery, because it offered immediate results. He found his life’s calling at St. George’s University in Grenada, and now teaches young people, with their own dreams, at Yale, where he is assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery and medical director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Intensive Care Unit (CT SICU).

In 1981, he enrolled in St. George’s University’s School of Medicine during the school’s early years. “The University was a work in progress,” Dr. Barrett recalled. “I followed several of my college classmates who had enrolled there. Everyone was very talented; and worked hard every day — they clearly wanted to be in medicine. It was a very positive experience.”

After graduating in 1985, Dr. Barrett completed a residency in general surgery at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey, and a second residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. He followed with a fellowship in cardiopulmonary transplantation at Yale University, and also attained a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Barrett worked in private practice in adult cardiothoracic surgery in Pennsylvania, and, subsequently, in Michigan. It was while he was in Michigan that Yale recruited him to return to Connecticut to work in the CT SICU.

For these past four years, Dr. Barrett has cared for patients in the department of surgery, and taught others how to do the same. He teaches cardiothoracic surgical procedures to residents and medical students, and specializes in thoracic oncology, lung cancer, esophageal surgery, left ventricular assist devices, and surgery for the failing ventricle. Dr. Barrett is responsible for the organization, implementation, and supervision of preoperative and postoperative care in the CT SICU, which is one of the busiest cardiothoracic surgery units in the country.

Dr. Barrett is enthusiastic about what he is doing. “I like taking care of heart patients and being by their bedside,” he said. “I also enjoy teaching. There is no substitute for experience, and I want to pass that on to others.”

He lauds the education he received at St. George’s as the right stepping-stone to his future. “I’m proud I attended the University. It’s truly an international university, with all those people coming together, from Eastern Europe and the States and Africa,” said Dr. Barrett. “Let’s face it, medical school is a rigorous ordeal. And at other schools, learning about other cultures and other lands is not something you are normally exposed to. It’s wonderful.”

Thirty Years of Growth

When Dr. Barrett began studying at St. George’s, it was a small, independent school of medicine. In the intervening years, the institution has grown to a full university, adding schools of veterinary medicine, and the arts and sciences, as well as offering advanced degrees in allied health sciences and public health. Like Dr. Barrett and his medical colleagues, newer graduates are excelling at qualifying examinations, with scores that surpass those from US schools. They enhance health care wherever they practice, Dr. Barrett recognizes. “The university has produced wonderful physicians and embraced the world’s communities, providing opportunity and scholarships,” he said. “They’ve done great things.”

The physical footprint of St. George’s has grown correspondingly, into a two-level university-city of 42 acres, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The university has forged alliances and affiliations with over 70 top clinical teaching centers and universities across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Its enduring commitment to academic excellence and student success, and its innovative approach to education is hailed by scholars and scientists, and embodied in its rallying cry: “Think Beyond.”

Fifty-Five Hundred Grads Practicing…Everywhere

Like Dr. Barrett, who now guides students at one of the top universities in the United States, graduates from St. George’s University School of Medicine are remaking the face of medicine across the world, excelling in their respective fields, and practicing with commitment and expertise. For more information on how to join them, visit

Published on 04/28/2006