St. George’s University to Host Major International One Health One Medicine Symposium

Uniquely positioned to lead a discussion on collaborative, global health topics, St. George’s University is hosting a two-day One Health One Medicine Symposium on October 21 and 22. In addition to being a hub for international education across medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health, the University also holds the distinction of being a World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Environmental and Occupational Health. The speakers at the conference are pioneers and leaders in this field.

“One Health One Medicine is the convergence of human, animal, and ecosystem health, resulting in a joined-up approach between complementary sectors that, all too often, are practiced in a vacuum,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost for International Program Development at SGU. “Each of these practices are inextricably connected, and by learning from each other and pooling resources, great progress can be made for the benefit of human and animal kind.”

St. George’s University’s OHOM initiative is aimed to help facilitate the further development of opportunities locally and, in collaboration with international institutions, to address global health challenges affecting the health of people, animals, and the environment. The initiative has evolved for 10 years, most recently to include a series of SGU-sponsored OHOM conferences, open access courses, and workshops, culminating in the upcoming symposium.

Students and faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine host free wellness check-ups at a One Health One Medicine clinic in Grand Anse, Grenada.

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of SGU, is also a professor in the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine as well as a tropical disease specialist who has worked on one health issues around the world. He views Grenada as the ideal location to examine issues related to the One Health One Medicine philosophy.

“It is fitting that SGU, an international center of excellence for medical training, is hosting a major conference on the importance of a global approach to human, animal, and ecosystem health,” said Dr. Olds. “Our student body, both past and present, come from all corners of the globe, and by creating a space for these experiences and ideas to come together, we will continue to drive progress in all areas of medicine.”

Distinguished international experts speaking at the event include:

  • Guy Palmer, DVM, PhD – Regents Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, The Jan and Jack Creighton Endowed Chair & Senior Director of Global Health, Director of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University, USA
  • Fitzroy Henry, PhD – College of Health Sciences, University of Technology, Jamaica, West Indies
  • Sarah Cleaveland, BVSC, PhD, FRS – Professor of Comparative Epidemiology, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences, Glasgow University, Scotland, UK
  • Chulathida Chomchai, MD – Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Mahidol University International College, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Summon Chomchai – Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

A call for abstracts, to be considered by the symposium’s Scientific Advisory Committee, for oral and poster contributions to this symposium are now invited. More information and the template for the abstracts and poster presentations can be attained from Ms. Naomi Alexander.

To register for the symposium or to submit a research abstract for discussion, visit the One Health One Medicine webpage.

100 Wishes, 100 Flights, 100 Happy Kids

Is there anything better than taking a child facing his mortality and sweeping him into a moment of sheer joy and happiness?

Locally, at least 100 of the kids in the Make-A-Wish Foundation have dreamed of flying in a small plane, of feeling the wind on the wings, and the thrill of reaching new sights—snow, mountains, canyons, monkeys—that one would never see without this program and this plane.

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, a Professor at St. George’s University and a volunteer pilot for Make-A-Wish International, has granted 100 of these wishes, treating children to new experiences throughout the Caribbean and South America.

“Completing 100 flights is great, and granting 100 wishes makes me want to do even more,” said Dr. Bidaisee. “As long as I am able to and those wishes exist, I will continue to share the joys and passions of aviation, especially with those for whom time may not be on their side.”

A cancer survivor himself, Dr. Bidaisee is not a stranger to intimations of mortality. In July 2015, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His experience and recovery prompted him to ramp up his involvement in Make-A-Wish and consider how he could best serve cancer patients, especially children who are going through chemotherapy and treatment surgeries. Since February 2016—post-cancer—Dr. Bidaisee has completed more than 50 percent of his flights.

“My life-changing events triggered my interest in this program because they reminded me of the fragility of life—you can be here today and gone tomorrow,” he said. “I’ve found a purpose beyond my own personal interests, education, and career. I’ve found that it is always the best use of my time to do something for someone else, especially for those whose time is measured and precious.”

Reciting some of his most memorable flights, Dr. Bidaisee shared the story of a 13-year-old boy with a brain tumor whose wish was to fly. The boy had never been inside an aircraft before and didn’t care where they went; he just wanted to experience flying. Another wish Dr. Bidaisee was able to grant was that of an elderly woman with ovarian cancer who had never traveled outside of her homeland, Trinidad, but wanted to see snow. He flew her to Merida in Venezuela in the mountain peaks, which was the closest place in South America to find snow. She was able to feel, walk, and play in the snow, which until then she had only seen on television.

Unfortunately, many of those people on Dr. Bidaisee’s Make-A-Wish flights have since passed away. In fact, for some it was literally their last wish. One of the losses that hit him the hardest was a 4-year-old boy with leukemia whose wish was to see a waterfall in the Amazon. Dr. Bidaisee flew the boy to the Kaieteur waterfall in Guyana—the closest he could find that resembled an Amazonian waterfall. Three weeks after that magical experience, the boy passed away after going through another cycle of chemotherapy.

“It’s hard, but at the same time, I really appreciate the fact that I was able to share that experience with him and to make his wish come true,” said Dr. Bidaisee. “And that probably matters more than anything. My own passion for aviation pales in comparison to my experiences with these kids in Make-A-Wish. I feel very privileged and honored to give them these experiences.”

As a global network, on average Make-A-Wish® grants a wish, every 34 minutes to a child suffering with serious health issues. These wishes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are heartfelt or jaw-dropping—others funny or tear-jerkers.

“Make-A-Wish is actually the best purpose that I feel in my own life right now,” extolled Dr. Bidaisee. “It’s extremely fulfilling in life to match your passion with something that truly makes a difference and serves a greater purpose.”

St. George’s University Welcomes Charles Furey as Consultant in Canada

Charles Furey

Before embarking on a long career in government, Charles Furey served as a high school English and history teacher in his native Newfoundland. Thirty years later, he will help guide Canadian students toward their career goals once more, this time with St. George’s University.

In August, SGU welcomed Mr. Furey as a consultant to Canada. He adds to an experienced staff that also includes Sandra Banner, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Resident Matching Service, who joined St. George’s University in April.

“Any new challenge is always exciting, and I’m really happy about working with Sandra, who has done an outstanding job,” he said.

At SGU, Mr. Furey will concentrate on three areas in his new position: recruitment, hospital electives, and government relations. He comes from a political family—his older brother, George, is the Speaker of the Senate in Canada. Charles Furey spent 15 years in government himself, winning five consecutive elections in Newfoundland and Labrador’s House of Assembly. He held such positions as Chief Electoral Officer; Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Recreation; Minister of Mines and Energy; and Minister of Industry, Trade, and Technology.

For 10 years, Mr. Furey was an independent consultant on advisory services, government relations, and strategy planning for a wide array of clients.

“SGU has such a great history, and I want to get into the hallways of power and explain what we’re doing to satisfy the demand for physicians, particularly in rural areas,” Mr. Furey said. “There’s a high demand that Canada can’t fill right now, and we have a great pool of students who can help.”

Mr. Furey’s career has returned to the education realm, which is where it began. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Education from St. Francis Xavier University and taught in Conche and Stephenville Crossing before turning his sights to politics. Recently, he learned about the medical landscape when his wife, Vanessa, now a neurologist at the University of Ottawa, pursued and obtained a Doctor of Medicine.

Mr. Furey also hopes to set up elective opportunities that will enhance the chances for Canadian students to receive clinical training in their home country. More than 180 SGU graduates are currently practicing in Canada, and Mr. Furey had the pleasure of meeting four of them at a recent information session in Toronto.

“I was absolutely floored by the quality of these graduates,” he remarked. “They were well-spoken, sharp on their feet, and transparent, and had all obtained fantastic residencies. They really lit up the room.”

Mr. Furey said he welcomes the opportunity to meet with more alumni, clinical students, and prospective students at upcoming SGU events, including in Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto, and Ottawa this fall.

“I look forward to opening the toolbox and seeing what we can do for students,” Mr. Furey said. “We’re providing exceptional teaching, and I want to tell the story about the many great Canadians who chose a different path.”

SGU Dean of Basic Sciences Elected President of American Association of Clinical Anatomists

As a medical student at the University of Warsaw, Marios Loukas joined the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in 1997. Since then, the Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at St. George’s University has been committed to teaching and studying anatomy, calling it the “foundation knowledge” for all physicians, as well as the foundation for his own career in medicine, academia, and research.

At the AACA annual meeting in Minneapolis last month, the organization’s members elected Dr. Loukas as its 18th president, 20 years since his entry into the AACA. In his new role, Dr. Loukas hopes to expand the visibility of anatomists across the scientific community, improve faculty development, and increase student membership. In addition, he aims to create a clinical anatomists certificate program that recognizes individuals’ excellence and dedication in the field of clinical anatomy.

“In anatomy, you not only learn what makes up the human body, but you learn the clinical application behind every bone, organ, nerve, artery, and more,” said Dr. Loukas.

Through his affiliation with the AACA, he met Drs. Peter Abrahams, Vishnu Rao, and Robert Jordan, who invited him to join SGU as an Associate Professor of Anatomy in 2005. Dr. Loukas has ascended to his current roles within the Department, and also serves as the University’s Dean of Basic Sciences and Research.

While the study of anatomy dates back thousands of years, Dr. Loukas said the most contemporary method of studying human anatomy is imaging—specifically ultrasound—for which the human body “comes to life.” Beginning in 2011, SGU integrated ultrasound education in its curriculum, with training sessions complementing relevant material taught in lectures, wet labs, and small-group discussion sessions. An additional outcome of such integration is availability of research opportunities for students and faculty. This year, five SGU medical students presented ultrasound research at the AACA meeting, including second-year student Jenna Kroeker, who was recognized for the best clinical anatomy poster presentation among 120 submissions.

Faculty Members Present at International Medical Illustration Conference

Two faculty members in St. George’s University’s Department of Anatomical Sciences, Wes Price and Xochitl Vinaja, delivered a full-day digital sculpting course to professional scientific artists at the 72nd Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) Conference held in Austin, TX, on July 23.

The workshop covered the basics of sculpting anatomical models in virtual digital clay using the software ZBrush. Once these models are created on the computer, an illustrator can use them to teach complex scientific concepts in a variety of ways, from turning them into book illustrations to creating a 3D print.

More than 20 medical and scientific artists from all over North America were in attendance, including illustrators for the Mayo Clinic, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Smithsonian Institution, and Scientific American.

In addition, Dr. Marios Loukas, the Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences, presented a plenary session titled “Common Anatomical Mistakes in Cardiac Anatomy” to the AMI, emphasizing the need for illustrators to draw directly from the source—the human body—in order to avoid mistakes and misconceptions.

SGU faculty members Xochitl Vinaja, Quade Paul and Wes Price organized a day-long digital sculpting course.

Department of Anatomical Sciences faculty attending the meeting included Jessica Holland, Marios Loukas, Xochitl Vinaja, and Katie Yost.

St. George’s University Graduate Elected President of New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians

A primary care physician in the state for more than 30 years, Peter Carrazzone, MD SGU ’83, has been named President of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians (NJAFP), and will represent the membership and its best interests during his term of office.

Dr. Carrazzone practices family medicine with Vanguard Medical Group in North Haledon, NJ. He is also the Medical Director for the John Victor Machuga Diabetic Center at St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital.

“I can promise this board will be focused and work tirelessly to improve the Academy and the landscape for family physicians in this state,” he said during his acceptance speech at the NJAFP’s Annual Scientific Assembly in Atlantic City on June 27.

Peter Carrazzone, MD SGU ’83

The NJAFP, the largest primary care medical specialty society in the state, is comprised of more than 2,000 physicians statewide, and is a leader in health care practice transformation and advocacy. Dr. Carrazzone has chaired the Academy’s Government Affairs Committee for the past three years, and as President, pledged to represent all NJAFP members, from the debt-ridden family medicine resident, to the family physician working in academic medicine, to the solo and large group family physicians and more.

Dr. Carrazzone said he has two primary focuses for his tenure as president – addressing family medicine resident debt and loan forgiveness, and a thorough review of the state’s family practice bylaws. He said that New Jersey has been dubbed a “primary care desert,” with family physicians leaving the state to pursue higher-paying opportunities elsewhere. As a result, New Jersey has the second-highest cost of care per patient in the United States, yet ranks 49th according to quality-of-care metrics.

“For our patients, for our families, for the specialty of family medicine, this is the time we must be advocates,” he said. “This is the time we need to communicate to our legislators. This is the time our collective voice needs to be heard. This is the time to promote value and quality. This is the time to promote a stronger primary care infrastructure to insurances and our government. This is the time to cure a broken health care system. This is the time for family medicine.”

Upon graduating from SGU, Dr. Carrazzone completed his residency in family practice at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson. In addition to his longstanding tenure with Vanguard, he has taught at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

Dr. Carrazzone came to St. George’s University in 1979, and has used the experience as a foundation for his career in medicine. Although he has yet to return to Grenada since his basic science studies, he routinely guides his alma mater’s clinical students who rotate through St. Joseph’s. “It’s a strong academic program,” he said. “The students are bright and motivated, and I don’t see much of a difference between them and students coming from US schools.”

St. George’s University Medical Student Steps in to Save Man’s Life During In-Flight Emergency

St. George’s University medical student Moshe Karp. Photo Credit: Luvnish Karnani.

What was a life-saving moment for one JetBlue passenger was a life-changing moment for St. George’s University third-year medical student Moshe Karp.

On June 22, Mr. Karp had completed his basic science studies and was headed to New York City for his clinical rotations. About an hour into the flight, he learned that a passenger had wandered into the rear of the cabin. Mr. Karp, an NYC paramedic for 11 years, found the 59-year-old male to be cool, pale, and sweating heavily, with agonal respirations and no pulse. With the assistance of another passenger, Mr. Karp immediately brought the patient to the floor and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and assisted ventilation.

CPR continued for approximately eight minutes, after which time the patient became “alert and oriented” and began to produce a “nice, strong pulse.” He then sat up and informed Mr. Karp that his glucometer was with his belongings. The man’s blood sugar registered at 331 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or highly hyperglycemic.

“Without a pulse, he wasn’t producing enough pump to provide enough blood pressure to maintain his vital organs,” Mr. Karp said. “Good compressions assisted that, his body compensated, and he ultimately came back.”

The flight made an emergency landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to allow emergency responders to tend to the man’s health.

“We caught him at the right time,” Mr. Karp said. “Saving a life, even as a paramedic, doesn’t come around that often, especially when someone goes into cardiac arrest. It’s very unusual to be within the window of opportunity to bring someone back to full responsiveness. To be able to help is very rewarding.”

Before continuing on to New York, Mr. Karp learned that his patient lived two blocks from his family’s first home in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood that he later visited many times as a paramedic. In addition, the man was a native Grenadian, while Mr. Karp’s father was born and raised in Barbados.

“We talked a lot about our similarities,” Mr. Karp said. “It was a very interesting connection. There’s a good chance we had crossed paths at some point.”

That they crossed paths—perhaps again—on the flight not only saved one man’s life but it rerouted Mr. Karp’s career path. He had hesitations about emergency medicine, citing the hectic lifestyle that comes with it.

“I was uncertain until this moment, but this experience definitely solidified it for me,” he said. “I had thought about going into family medicine because you develop closer relationships with patients, but I think I thrive in emergency medicine. I do love that type of environment, and this taught me this is maybe where I’m needed most.”

Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy Draws Rave Reviews

For the past year and a half, 17-year-old Marco Turner mulled the idea of becoming a veterinarian. Originally from the Bahamas, he had volunteered in a veterinarian’s office, where he helped nurse the community’s pets back to health, and then began researching opportunities that would help further his career in veterinary medicine.

Enter the St. George’s University Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy, which has welcomed nearly 900 aspiring physicians and veterinarians to Grenada to receive an insider’s view of their future careers since 2002. In the program’s 15-year history, 46 Academy graduates have gone on to enroll in the School of Medicine or Veterinary Medicine.

“This experience so far has been great,” said Mr. Turner. “Today, we had a suture clinic where we learned how to do three different kinds of suture patterns. While working at a vet’s office, I would see these sutures done, and I always wished that I could do it myself. Now I have the chance.

“This has been a valuable opportunity for my own learning and development that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in a med or vet program.”

This summer, 74 students hailing from the United States, Canada, Trinidad, Bahamas, Bermuda, United Kingdom, and Puerto Rico successfully balanced a challenging academic program with extracurricular activities such as hiking, sailing, and snorkeling. Both the med and vet students engaged in courses that combined didactic lectures, small-group problem solving sessions, practical lab work in state-of-the-art facilities, and hands-on training through simulated and real-life situations.

This year’s class included Charlize Espinoza, who had undoubtedly been regaled with stories of SGU by her aunt, Cholene Espinoza, MD SGU ’15, now a PGY-3 OB/GYN resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. When asked in kindergarten what she wanted to be when she grew up, Charlize replied “a doctor.” A decade later, that answer still hasn’t changed.

“I jumped at the chance to attend the Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy because I really wanted the opportunity to plan out my future and get a glimpse of what attending medical school would be like,” Ms. Espinoza said. “However, as someone who suffers from anxiety attacks, I thought this might not be right for me—being in a different country, living in dorms, and being away from my parents. But since being here, I haven’t had any anxiety issues. Instead, I’m really enjoying this experience, and everyone has been so warm and welcoming. It’s been a very intensive program so far but the lectures are very interesting and the doctors are very accessible. The Academy is a great place to test the waters and get ready for medical school.”

In 2017, four Academy alumni—Kristen Sellar, DVM; Abigail Maynard, DVM; Lisa Dyke, MD; and Virginia Vazzana, MD—earned their degrees at commencement in New York City. Dr. Vazzana, daughter of SGU alumnus Thomas Vazzana, MD SGU ’85, attended the Med-Vet Summer Leadership Academy in 2010 after it received rave reviews from her older sister, who had attended three years earlier. She accepted a seat at SGU’s School of Medicine, where she met and married her classmate Hamfreth Shaul Rahming, MD SGU ’17. Dr. Vazzana began her pediatric residency at The Dwaine and Cynthia Willet Children’s Hospital of Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia, this month.

“The Academy was truly the first experience that I had of what medical school and becoming a physician is really like,” stated Dr. Vazzana. “I still remember the first time I worked on a human cadaver, the first time I wore a white coat and shadowed doctors to see real patients, the first time I learned to use an ultrasound machine, and so much more. These things all happened at the Academy. For me, being exposed to these opportunities really was a perfect way to confirm what I wanted to do with my future and is a huge reason I became a doctor.”

Banner: Addressing Canada’s Rural Doctor Shortage

Sandra Banner

An opinion piece by Sandra Banner, former director of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) and currently a consultant at St. George’s University, appeared in the Vancouver Sun on Sunday, June 25.

In it, Ms. Banner explained how medical schools such as SGU address the rural doctor shortage in Canada, citing a Canadian Institute of Health Information report that states that fewer than half of residents can secure same-day or next-day appointments with their family doctors.

“Canada’s leaders must act to reverse these shortages,” Ms. Banner wrote. “Doing so will require an aggressive effort by medical schools and governments to encourage more young people to consider careers in family medicine—careers that have an outsized impact on the health of Canadians.”

St. George’s University has graduated more than 1,300 Canadian doctors, more than 70 percent of which have entered a career in primary care. Read the entire opinion piece by visiting the Vancouver Sun website.

St. George’s University Honored by Chicago’s Norwegian American Hospital

Daniel Ricciardi, MD SGU ’81, Dean of Clinical Studies (left) and Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, accepted the Power of Community Award from Jose R. Sanchez, President and Chief Executive Officer, Norwegian American Hospital.

CHICAGO — On June 22, St. George’s University received Norwegian American Hospital’s Power of Community Award for its leadership in the quest to provide quality care to patients across Chicago.

“We are privileged to receive this honor from our friends at Norwegian American Hospital,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “We have made educating the primary care workforce of the future our mission, and we are grateful that Norwegian American Hospital supports that mission.”

Power of Community Award recipients are selected for their dedication to the community served by Norwegian American Hospital and their efforts to provide great medical care in the area. This is the third year the award was presented.

The award ceremony coincided with the inauguration of Norwegian American Hospital’s newly-accredited Family Residency Training Program, which will begin training medical graduates on July 1. The program was developed to address the shortage of primary care physicians in Illinois. There are less than 13,000 primary care doctors available to serve Illinois’s population of nearly 13 million.

“The shortage of primary care physicians is one of the chief public health challenges our state faces,” said Jose Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian American Hospital. “Together with St. George’s University, we look forward to doing our part to help solve it.”