Hospitalist Serves as “Gatekeeper” for Patient Care at Premier Medical Centers

Philip Manners, MD ’11, calls hospitalists the “gatekeepers to the hospital,” and as an attending physician at three acclaimed hospitals in the United States, he’s in a unique position to assess and implement the strengths of each department in each location.

“It’s like you’re a project manager for the patient. You really have to know how each hospital department works,” said Dr. Manners, who splits his time between UCLA Health, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins Medicine. “You have to look at the entire picture and view the patient as a whole. A sub-specialist can provide invaluable input very specific to their field of practice, but it’s up to the hospitalist to collect and assess all the available information, problem-solve conflicting recommendations, and unify the plan. Then the hospitalist can implement a cohesive plan that ultimately provides the most benefit to the patient.”

And in addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Manners is on faculty at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is a major in the US Army Reserve.

The native Brit shared how he juggles his responsibilities and how his role emphasizes adaptability and communication, no matter where he’s seeing patients.

SGU: What about being a hospitalist have you enjoyed most?

Dr. Manners: I like helping sicker patients. That’s not to say that I like people to be sicker, but I like taking care of people with a higher acuity that require more complex management and a higher level of care. The challenges are greater, but that’s what makes it more rewarding when you have a successful outcome and make a positive difference to a patient’s life.

Even though I trained in full-spectrum family medicine, I find the inpatient side more satisfying. You can really see the difference you make unfold in front of you. It affords you more time with the patient, whereas in primary care, there’s always a battle of time and not having enough of it. With hospital medicine, you have more breathing room to really get your teeth into the patient’s problems.

 

“Being able to see the difference between the three hospitals is also intriguing. In a lot of ways, the job is fundamentally the same. The medicine is the same. But the systems and processes can vary widely.”

SGU: What kind of person is best fit for a hospitalist role?

Dr. Manners: To be a hospitalist, you have to be comfortable with patients who do have that higher acuity. If they’re sick enough to be in the hospital, there’s usually a complicated mix of problems and comorbidities. Also, you must be able to adapt to situations that can change quickly. One minute you can be dealing with a patient who is stable and ready for discharge, and the next you can be walking into a rapid response or a code. There are two ends of the spectrum there. Emergency medicine is similar to this, but the main difference with hospital medicine is you get follow the patient’s journey and see the progress they make. If you like the higher acuity, and the continuity of care, then hospital medicine is probably a better fit for you.

SGU: You were at Massachusetts General Hospital when the COVID-19 pandemic began. What was your role there?

Dr. Manners: I was in the middle of my disaster medicine fellowship at that time so, on the one hand, it was great because I could practice what I was training for, but on the other, the reality of a global pandemic was terrifying. Most hospitals have a small set of rooms that can accommodate airborne isolation, and we started off using those. We were implementing similar isolation procedures like we did for SARS and MERS. With COVID though, it soon became apparent that the isolation rooms were going to run out quickly, as did the PPE.

It’s a huge undertaking to upend a hospital’s entire standard operating procedures. The hospital incident command system kicked in and we essentially had to rewrite how the hospital was going to function. The hospitalists were at the forefront of this because we were the ones who were getting the COVID patients. We ended up converting entire medical and surgical floors into COVID-only floors, and oncology rooms were converted to make COVID ICU rooms. It was fascinating to see it evolve and to be on the front line of that. It was something that you read about, and try to prepare for, but hope you never have to actually experience.

SGU: You work at three locations on two coasts in the US. How is that experience unique?

Dr. Manners: One reason that I like working in large academic medical institutions is that you have access to a large range of sub-specialty care and resources—things that are on the cutting edge of medicine. I’m humbled to be learning from leaders in their respective fields. Being able to see the difference between the three hospitals is also intriguing. In a lot of ways, the job is fundamentally the same. The medicine is the same. But the systems and processes can vary widely. By identifying the things that work well—and don’t work well—at each hospital, I can use that information to refine and improve the care I give.

SGU: How was your experience as an SGU student?

Dr. Manners: I absolutely loved my time on the island. One major benefit of going to Grenada is that medical school became your whole world. You live and breathe SGU. Your classmates become your family. You forge close friendships by going through it together, and I don’t think you would develop those types of bonds and relationships in a US or UK medical school setting.

And then in clinicals, we had the opportunity to experience a large variety of clinical settings, in a range of geographical locations, where we had different resources, different patient populations, and learned different ways to practice medicine. It enabled me to become a very adaptable and open-minded physician.

I always tell people that medical school was the best experience of my life. I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat.

– Brett Mauser

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Residency success 101: How to ace your application, interview, and first day on the job

With residency application season in full swing, it’s both an exciting and nervous time for medical students. There’s so much to do to plan your next step, and all that has to get done while finishing up medical school.

Three St. George’s University graduates who, as residency directors at their respective hospitals, know the ins and outs of the entire process. They shared some helpful tips on how students can stand out—from their application all the way through their residency years.

The panel:

  • Dorian Alexander, MD ’10, residency director, Department of Critical Care Emergency Medicine, Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • Amber Billet, MD ’12, residency director, Department of Emergency Medicine, WellSpan Health, York, PA
  • Panagiota Korenis, MD ’08, residency director, Department of Psychiatry, BronxCare Health System, Bronx, NY

St. George’s University: What is the most important thing that students should know or do during the application process?

Dr. Korenis: Time management is critical. If you get your CV or personal statement done early on, it will save you a lot of headaches during the summertime when you’re very busy studying for your Step 2 exam or trying to get letters of recommendation sorted out.

Students also need to find letters of recommendation writers during their rotations. Faculty, especially teaching faculty, are very used to having students ask them for LORs, so don’t be shy during your rotations when they know you the best and you’re doing your best work with them. If you wait until the last minute or after some time passes, that can sometimes lead to less descriptive letters.

Dr. Billet: Metrics often drive the application process. By the sheer volume of applications that they get, a lot of program directors will just simply filter applicants out by a numeric score. We don’t do that—I have three assistant program directors and we look at every single application without applying any filters. But a lot of program directors do it just for the sake of time. So first and foremost, to really stand out, you have to maintain an exceptional GPA during your preclinical years, and secondly, score above average on the USMLE Step 1.

Dr. Alexander: Represent yourself on paper in such a way that programs are interested in pulling out your application from the hundreds or thousands of applications they receive. That prioritization starts well before the application season. It starts with preparation for your boards. You must have competitive board exam scores for specialty for which you’re applying. That doesn’t mean in the 280s or 290s, but I recommend that you score 240 or above to stand out. You must also emphasize your letters of recommendation, which helps us know who you are as a student based on the eyes on the ground in your electives or core rotations.

SGU: What’s your best tip for acing residency interviews?

Dr. Alexander: The interview is probably the largest weighted factor of the entire application process because it really helps us identify who you are and where you want to go in this specialty. Seeing that you’ve taken the time to learn who you are going to be caring for and learning from over the course of your residency, that is a really good impression to make. It lets us know that the person is serious about us because they care about what we care about.

Dr. Korenis: You’re interviewing for a job, so you’ve got to do your homework. It’s critical that you look at the program’s website and see what their mission statement is, do a PubMed search on the faculty you’ll be interviewing with to see if they’ve published papers, and go into each interview with questions. Also, with virtual interviews, you really need to do your best to ensure that you have good lighting, a good background, and that you have a camera-ready presence. Videotape yourself ahead of time and have a colleague or a friend look it over to see how you’re doing.

Dr. Billet: In addition to being prepared, I like to see an applicant who has demonstrated resilience. The personal statement gives us a glimpse into who the person is. Every applicant has a different background personally, academically, and professionally. Those who have overcome challenges show a quality of resilience that oftentimes in residency is essential.

“Every applicant has a different background personally, academically, and professionally. Those who have overcome challenges shows a quality of resilience that oftentimes in residency is essential.”

SGU: What qualities are you looking for in a residency candidate?

Dr. Billet: The residents who will excel in our program or any program are the ones who are self-motivated and driven to push themselves to their highest potential, and have demonstrated that.

Dr. Alexander: We want people who have qualities of excellent work, are hardworking, and demonstrate consistency. Residency is not a sprint. To have that sustainable consistency of excellent work, it takes effort. Understanding that effort and identifying individuals who are willing to put in that effort is extremely important.

Dr. Korenis: Curiosity, flexibility, and the understanding that residency is like an apprenticeship that’s going to involve a lot of individual learning. You’re getting a lot of experiential training and you also have to have the aptitude to study while you work. For us, it’s critical to see a paper trail that shows genuine interest in the field and program that you’re applying as well as a paper trail of scholarly activity.

SGU: What should a new resident do on day one?

Dr. Alexander: Everyone thinks that on the first day on the job, you need to have all the answers and see a lot of patients. That’s not what we expect from you. All we expect is enthusiasm, someone who’s willing to learn, who’s interested in getting to know the environment that they’re working in, and loves what they’re doing. We want people who will engross themselves into this environment system and make it their home.

Dr. Korenis: Nobody in any program is expecting you to know how to be an internist, a psychiatrist, or a surgeon on your first day. Our job is to help you on this journey. Just do your best to get to work early to get a lay of the land, to eat breakfast, and to calm some of your nerves. Also, take time during that day to communicate with a loved one or a friend to check in and give yourself a little bit of a break.

Dr. Billet: Greet everybody with a smile and introduce yourself to everyone on the staff. In our department, there are nurses, nursing techs, patient care advocates, social workers, physical therapists, and many others. The residents who do are true team players and go out of their way to establish those strong working relationships early.

SGU: From your perspective, what makes a good resident?

Dr. Billet: The residents who are most successful are those who aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. Asking for help and recognizing when you need help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. The other thing is communication. Residency can be a roller coaster. It is extremely rewarding but also very challenging. That’s why communication with your attendings, your residency leadership team, and even your friends and family, to help support you and get you through this process is very important.

Dr. Korenis: A good resident is a team player, someone who is highly ethical and professional, and shows up every day with a positive attitude. A good resident doesn’t cut corners, they do their job thoroughly, and take their time to get to know their patients. And lastly, in times of stress, they rise to action and come up with solutions for their unique situation.

Dr. Alexander: A good resident is a person you want to work with every day. They care for their patients, they have a strong work ethic, they have a good drive, they are teachable, and they make a positive impact in the clinical environment. There are also the intangibles. Is this person nice? Is this person funny? Is this person caring? Is this someone who, when it’s three am, someone I could sit down with and have a conversation. Is this person someone who I want to have by my side when things go awry? Those are the intangibles that are all-encompassing of a person’s character, worth, and personality.

– Brett Mauser

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Vet Cardiologist Inspired to Strengthen Animal and Human Bond

During a typical day at the office, Amanda LaRose, DVM ’15, a cardiology resident at The Animal Medical Center in New York City, sees an array of different animals. While she mainly treats dogs and cats, technology within the field of vet cardiology has allowed Dr. LaRose to diagnose and care for other small animals, including ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, and even a tegu, that may have heart conditions.

“Growing up as a horseback rider helped me realize how valuable the human animal bond is to a person’s health and mental stability,” Dr. LaRose said. “I wanted to become a vet to enhance that bond through general wellness and client education.”

Dr. LaRose shared what it means to be a vet cardiologist, why she chose the specialty, and her advice to School of Veterinary Medicine students.

SGU: Why did you choose to specialize in cardiology?

Dr. LaRose: It is the one specialty where you can be a jack of all trades. I not only get to diagnose a disease through echocardiograms but I can manage it with medications or potentially fix it with minimally invasive surgery (if it’s a congenital lesion). I also enjoy the long-term follow-up care that’s required with many patients and being able to provide adequate education for their owners. Finally, through our services we’re able to provide quality time for our terminally ill patients. I can’t begin to explain the feeling of being able to give an owner more time with their pet and provide those last days or weeks to come to terms with their pet’s condition.

I also became a specialist to continue to educate owners, referring veterinarians, post-grads, and students. I don’t think there’s anything more important than understanding and setting expectations when it comes to certain diseases and being able to provide support for the referral veterinary community and future veterinarians.

 

“As human medicine advances, so does vet med. I’m excited about the prospects of minimally invasive medical devices and investigative new drugs that could potentially help our patients, especially those where treatments are quite limited.”

 

SGU: As a vet cardiology resident, how long is the program and what are you learning?

Dr. LaRose: I started my third year in July and will complete the residency July 2022. As part of the residency program and becoming a specialist, we are required to be well versed in the basic anatomy, physiology, and sciences of the cardiovascular system and how they can be used to diagnose and manage cardiomyopathy in domestic animals.

Some of the procedures and activities we do include:

  • Diagnosis and management of various acquired cardiomyopathies, arrhythmias, and congenital diseases of the heart
  • Diagnosis often occurs through various imaging modalities, the most common of which is echocardiography, but we also become more proficient in reading chest x-rays, CT scans, and angiography studies.
  • A requirement of the program is also to learn minimally invasive management and treatment of congenital diseases such as transvenous closure of patent ductus arteriosus and balloon valvuloplasty for the treatment of pulmonic stenosis.

SGU: What gets you up in the morning when it comes to your job?

Dr. LaRose: The unknown of the day. What congenital case will we see? What animal we save today? What cool cardiomyopathy might we come across? What will today’s teaching point be?

SGU: What new technology or procedures are there that excites you when it comes to the specialty?

Dr. LaRose: As human medicine advances, so does vet med. I’m excited about the prospects of minimally invasive medical devices and investigative new drugs that could potentially help our patients, especially those where treatments are quite limited, as in our feline patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

SGU: Why did you choose SGU?

Dr. LaRose: SGU provided an opportunity for me to gain an education in veterinary medicine and offered a unique life experience. The thought of moving to another country was daunting; however, all of the students and graduates that I had spoken with were happy with their experience and education.

SGU: What was the best part of your SGU experience?

Dr. LaRose: The people and the island by far. As a student, I truly took advantage of what SGU and the island had to offer. This included participating in things like world vets, wet labs, school clubs, and class fundraisers (even if I was just attending). I also really tried to enjoy the island by taking advantage of the tourism and local events. I loved that after a rough test or midterms, we could go to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world to unwind. I was even fortunate enough to spend one Easter weekend sailing the Tobago Cays. It was an incredible experience that I would highly recommend to every student. There was always something new to experience.

SGU: If you had to give SVM students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dr. LaRose: Take advantage of everything the island and the school have to offer. Get close with your classmates and enjoy your time as a student. The veterinary community is small—make friends, meet people, and keep a positive attitude. These attributes will help you go far!

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

 

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SGU alumni rally around Grenada amid COVID pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic put Grenada back on its heels, St. George’s University alumni put their best foot forward, bringing hope to their one-time home and setting the country on a promising path.

In the span of mere weeks, more than 200 School of Medicine alumni have volunteered their medical services, helped to procure all-important supplies, and contributed more than $70,000 through its newly created Grenada Medical Assistance GoFundMe page.

The Grenada COVID Crisis Group (GCCG), led by SGU graduates Michele Friday, MD ’88, Dwight Matthias, MD ’92, and Lisa Radix, MD ’97, has spearheaded the campaign—facilitating in-person and online patient care and crowdsourcing both funds and supplies that will help healthcare workers on the ground treat those who have contracted the virus. In addition, they aspire to educate the Grenadian community about the benefits of adhering to health protocols and, above all else, they support the COVID-19 vaccine in the population to flatten the curve, lessen the effects of recurring COVID infections, and lessen the burden of long COVID syndrome in recovering patients.

While addressing COVID-19, Dr. Friday hopes that the support received in recent weeks is the start of a long-term healthcare solution in Grenada.

“This pandemic has given us an opportunity to impact the healthcare of our fellowmen and families on the island and has imparted in us the vision to continue with the existing momentum to grow a stellar medical environment in Grenada,” said Dr. Friday, an interventional cardiologist based in Kentucky. “We hope that this medical ideal that we are striving towards, is something that each and every one of our Grenada-trained doctors—who have been educated at SGU, live in Grenada, or who work off island but are Grenadian in heart—would be proud of.”

Raised in Richmond Hill, St. George’s, Dr. Friday is one of more than 60 Grenada-born physicians who have rallied to support their home country. Three grads—Philip Bonaparte, MD ’89, Molara Alexis, MD ’05, and Carina David, MD ’16—arrived on island last week to begin working with local doctors, nurses, and staff.

VIDEO: Dr. Alexis and Dr. David speak about COVID-19 vaccines in Grenada

“I felt that it was important to help in a meaningful way, with the reduction in the workforce as some members contacted COVID-19, the likely possibility of fatigue due to an increased volume of work related to the surge, and the opportunity to provide moral support to frontline workers,” said Dr. Alexis. “As an infectious disease physician, I was keen to share any knowledge and experience with my colleagues in Grenada and to continue to educate the general population regarding the importance of vaccination.”

They’ll also work on building up the telemedicine infrastructure so that hundreds of SGU graduates can provide personal care from afar. The network of volunteers spans a variety of specialties, including infectious disease, pulmonology, pediatrics, cardiology, and emergency medicine.

Supplies in demand

The wide alumni network has procured hospital supplies that specifically address needs in Grenada General Hospital and other clinics. These supplies—which began arriving in late September—include much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) and oxygenation equipment, as well as pharmaceutical support such as monoclonal antibodies, antibiotics, and steroids.

The GCCG GoFundMe page has secured donations from more than 400 alumni and friends of SGU. These funds will be used to secure additional medications, supplies, and equipment to be sent to Grenada. GCCG is working closely with the Ministry of Health to monitor existing supply levels and secure fortifications as needed.

“You feel like you’re connected to a bigger thing that’s about to surround Grenada with all the love and help they can think of providing,” said Dr. Radix, a nephrologist who was born and raised in St. George and attended Anglican High School. “It’s great to be part of a group that has such an innate love for Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique.”

 

“As an infectious disease physician, I was keen to share any knowledge and experience with my colleagues in Grenada and to continue to educate the general population regarding the importance of vaccination.”

Dr. Matthias, who was raised in Belmont, St. George’s, added: “My colleagues, Dr. Friday and Dr. Radix, clearly epitomize the SGU alumni and have illuminated the spirit of Grenada national anthem—’we pledge ourselves… heads, hearts, and hands in unity…  As one people, one family.’ I’m so appreciative of the fellow alumni who have extended helping hands and made generous donations.”

Graduate contributions are part of a larger effort from the entire SGU community to provide care, spread information, and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Working with the Government of Grenada, SGU faculty members have stepped up to volunteer in the Government’s most recent initiative—hosting mobile testing and vaccination clinics throughout the island. Students have also mobilized in response to the call for help, volunteering at testing and vaccination sites hosted by the Ministry of Health.

– Brett Mauser

 

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Dr. Carina David

In focus: COVID-19 vaccines and the Delta variant

Dr. Purvi Parikh

Like medicine, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has shown to evolve over time, and it’s up to doctors like St. George’s University graduate Purvi Parikh, MD ’08, an allergist, immunologist, and vaccine researcher at New York University Langone Health, to guess where it’s going next.

Transmission of the Delta variant has contributed to a rising number of new coronavirus cases in recent weeks, including more than 100,000 cases each day in the United States this month according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Parikh explained what has made the Delta variant so difficult to contain, and how widespread vaccination would contribute to the health of everyone.

St. George’s University: We have seen a rise in the Delta variant in the US and worldwide. What makes it such a threat?

Dr. Purvi Parikh: The Delta variant is much more contagious than original strains of virus, even as contagious as chicken pox. Also, it is far more virulent—1,000 times more virus is found in people’s lungs with the Delta variant compared to previous forms of virus, and thus it can be more dangerous.

SGU: How does a virus mutate and why does the Delta variant present a different challenge than its predecessors?

Dr. Parikh: This is a normal part of viral life cycles. Viruses mutate when they pass from host to host and need to find new ways to survive as our immune systems become used to them. If a virus cannot replicate, it cannot mutate, thus it is much more likely to mutate in unvaccinated hosts rather than vaccinated. However, the challenge is that these mutations are making the virus more contagious and virulent and posing risks. Currently, our numbers of those in hospital and dying are quite high with Delta variant, and the majority of them are unvaccinated.

SGU: Are the symptoms different from earlier variants of COVID-19?

Dr. Parikh: Symptoms are similar; however, by sheer numbers of hospital and ICU admissions, it appears more severe. It is unfortunate because we are in worse shape in some areas of country compared to a year ago despite having the vaccine.

SGU: Do you expect there to be other variants in the future?

Dr. Parikh: If vaccination rates do not improve, yes. The Lambda variant, which is also very contagious and severe, is spreading through south America already.

SGU: How important is it for people to get vaccinated? How does the Delta variant affect the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated?

Dr. Parikh: Extremely important. If you are vaccinated, you have a significantly lower chance of hospitalization and death. Over 95 percent of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, and 99.5 percent of deaths are unvaccinated per the CDC.

 

“The Delta variant is much more contagious than original strains of virus, even as contagious as chicken pox. “

SGU: How are infectious disease and immunology specialists like yourself working to combat the Delta variant? 

Dr. Parikh: I am an immunologist and allergist—like Dr. Anthony Fauci—and I’m currently working on multiple COVID vaccine trials. I am involved with the initial trials with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi, which will be ongoing for next two years, and I’m also working on a booster study with Pfizer given the new variants. I also have a study with the NIH studying the vaccine in new moms and their babies (Momivax). These moms received the vaccine while pregnant. All of these studies are looking into Delta variant given it is the most common strain now.

SGU: What is the most exciting part about your job?

Dr. Parikh: I was attracted to the field for many reasons, but I saw immunology as the future for treatments in virtually every specialty. My father is an allergist and immunologist, and even between when he trained and I did, things have changed immensely. Our understanding of the immune system and its importance is so different.

I took care of a patient with a primary immune deficiency in residency, and I was so impressed at how important an immune system is not only in infections but in cancers and autoimmune conditions. I also realized how important immunology is in a pandemic as I helped with H1N1 vaccine trials when I was an internal medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic. That was also the first time I came to know Dr. Fauci was an immunologist.

On the flip side of the field, allergies and asthma are also immune conditions on the rise, and being the doctor to effectively diagnose, manage and treat these disorders is so rewarding. Further, I enjoy building lifelong relationships with my patients and being able to treat both children and adults.

SGU: How did SGU set you up to be successful in your career?

Dr. Parikh: SGU gave me the opportunity to be a physician and embark on one of the most rewarding, humbling, and noble professions. Without being a physician, I would not be able to restore health and advocate for the health of others—both passions of mine. And as an investigator on the COVID vaccine trials, I would not have been able to step up when needed to help the world move one step closer to ending the worst pandemic we have seen in 100 years.

– Brett Mauser

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SOMAA Charity Drive Aids Thousands Affected by St. Vincent Volcano Eruption

SGU alumni contributed more than $20,000 to relief efforts in St. Vincent.

Drawing on the generous contributions made by the St. George’s University alumni community, the School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) held a successful charity drive this spring to help those affected by the La Soufriere volcano eruption on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“On behalf of the SOMAA, we are so thankful to our devoted alumni for helping us raise more than $20,000 for this worthy cause,” said Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83, president of the SOMAA. “SGU has had a rich history with the people of St. Vincent. As the volcano erupted again this spring, we felt it crucial that we do our part as an organization to support the island during its time of need, and we could not have done it without your participation.”

More than 20,000 people were displaced when La Soufriere erupted in April. While many have since returned home, more than 2,000 people still live in shelters, with hundreds of homes needed to be rebuilt according to Dr. Rosalind Ambrose, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Medical Association and a 1983 graduate of the SGU’s School of Medicine.

SOMAA gifted the money to the SVG Medical Association, which encompasses medical professionals—many of whom are SGU graduates—who live on the island. The association initiates a number of community service and public health outreach events for the people of the island and plans to use the money to help people replace lost household objects.

SGU donated 8,000+ meals to St. Vincent in early 2021.

“We are ever grateful to the heartwarming efforts by SGU’s Alumni Association and the alumni community to assist St. Vincent right now,” Dr. Ambrose said. “A number of evacuees from the ‘Red Zone’ have lost everything, and the government is relocating them entirely. The donation will be used to help these families replace everyday items in their homes and help them regain a sense of normalcy.”

Seismologists are still monitoring the volcano and are not yet in the position to say whether it has returned to a “sleep state” because it is still giving off ongoing steam and gas emissions and causing minor earthquakes, Dr. Ambrose said, adding that the recent tropical storm/hurricane produced several lahars that further damaged villages near the volcano.

For more than 25 years, School of Medicine medical students completed a semester of their basic sciences on the island. When the last eruption happened in 1979, students who were there studying and working jumped in to help the island, even as medical students. Years later, they helped to donate more than 8,000 meals to those affected by the volcanic eruption.

“We will continue to help the people of St. Vincent in any way we can and we thank our alumni for their support,” Dr. Bonanno said.

The SOMAA continues to accept donations of any size for those affected by the volcano. To contribute, please send monetary donations to: https://www.sgusomaa.org/donations/

– Laurie Chartorynsky

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What does research have to do with treating ER patients? Everything

For Nicholas D. Caputo, MD ’08, the associate chief of emergency medicine at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx, investigating diseases like COVID-19 to learn more about their origins and health effects has allowed his team to more effectively care for critically ill patients that come through the busy hospital’s emergency room.

Dr. Caputo, along with colleagues, have published multiple articles in various medical journals and based on their experiences and patient encounters within the ER, including several related to findings about the COVID-19 disease.

For instance, in the spring of 2020, the team published the first study on awake self-proning for COVID-positive patients as a means to stave off intubation, according to Dr. Caputo. The study was published in Academic Emergency Medicine (the official publication of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine) and cited in The New York Times.

Earlier this year, his team published the only reported outcomes data for the New York City public hospital system in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which had some “gut-wrenching findings in regard to inequities and disparities in COVID outcomes,” he said.

Sharing the correlation between research and emergency medicine, and specifically how it helps him approach his job every day, were among the topics that Dr. Caputo spoke with SGU News about in a recent interview.

SGU: How do you apply findings from your research to your role as an EM doctor?

Dr. Caputo: Research allows me to go into each shift with a different perspective. On the one hand, it allows me to deliver care to patients with the mindset of treating their individual situation based on what we know from previous research findings. On the other hand, it also allows me to take those patient interactions and formulate hypotheses about broader issues that other ER doctors may encounter and ultimately help advance the emergency medicine specialty.

 

“A good scientist always keeps an open mind in the pursuit of truth. Keeping an open mind allows one to critically think outside-the-box which may lead to a better solution to treatment—and a positive outcome for the patient.”

 

SGU: What lessons have you learned from the global health crisis that can be applied to ongoing patient care?

Dr. Caputo: The most important lesson I learned is that a good scientist always keeps an open mind in the pursuit of truth. Keeping an open mind allows one to critically think outside the box, which may lead to a better solution to treatment—and a positive outcome for the patient.

SGU: What appeals to you about emergency medicine?

Dr. Caputo: The biggest appeal to me in emergency medicine is that on any given shift—no matter where you are working—you have the potential to see anything across the spectrum of medical pathology. That’s the great thing about emergency medicine—we truly see it all.

SGU: What responsibilities do you have as associate chief of emergency medicine?

Dr. Caputo: In this position, I help coordinate the daily operations of the emergency department, and oversee the quality review process, performance improvement, and research, among other necessary roles to help ensure the department runs smoothly so we can deliver the highest quality of care, safely to our community.

SGU: You are also an Army Reservist—how does your medical background help you when you are called up for service?

Dr. Caputo: My working in a Level 1 Trauma Center in one of the busiest single-site emergency departments in the country has provided me the experience I need to treat our soldiers on the battlefield who have similar if not even more devastating traumatic injuries. That’s one of the things I am most grateful for in working where I work.

SGU: How did SGU help prepare you for your current hospital role?

Dr. Caputo: SGU gave me the drive to want to do more—to stand out by showing up early, leaving late, and doing research on my own time in order to better myself.

SGU: What was the moment that you realized you’d made the right decision to come to SGU?

Dr. Caputo: When I matched in the specialty I wanted at the place I wanted for residency and where I still work today.

SGU: What if you hadn’t said yes to SGU?

Dr. Caputo: I don’t really want to think about that!

– Laurie Chartorynsky

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Thai alum cites “fast-paced nature” as major appeal to emergency medicine

Although Natcha Rummaneethorn, MD ’20, will continue her career amid the hustle and bustle of New York City, her passion for medicine began during medical mission trips to the rural villages outside of her native Bangkok, Thailand. While the two areas look almost nothing alike, she said there are similarities when it comes to healthcare.

“Ever since those mission trips, I’ve wanted to work in underserved areas where people need the most help and don’t have adequate healthcare access,” said Dr. Rummaneethorn, who is a first-year emergency medicine resident at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan.

Dr. Rummaneethorn shared what she looks forward to most in her residency and how prepared she feels for the next step in her career.

SGU: What led you to go into medicine?

Dr. Rummaneethorn: My father is a dermatologist, and my mom is an ICU nurse. They influenced me to go into medicine to a certain point, but what really drove me was a medical mission in Thailand through my church. We provided medical care and supplies to rural areas in Thailand, such as villages in the mountains or hills where there’s difficult access to healthcare and hospitals. They are without basic equipment and simple medications like aspirin or ibuprofen that we have commonly, and for them, it’s two to three hours to the nearest hospital.

SGU: Why did you choose to enter emergency medicine?

Dr. Rummaneethorn: I enjoy the fast-paced nature of an emergency department. In general, I try to do things as efficiently as possible, and I like that kind of nature in emergency medicine. Also, there’s always something new for you to see, and we have to have at least basic knowledge for every specialty because we receive patients with a wide array of problems. I’m looking forward to practicing in New York City because of the diverse patient population and the level of training I’ll obtain to handle the most severe situations.

SGU: How would you describe your time at SGU?

Dr. Rummaneethorn: My academic experience at SGU was great due to the rigorous curriculum as well as a number of excellent faculties that provided superb education, such as the biochemistry and pharmacology professors in particular. Also, being on the island of Grenada, the location gave me numerous opportunities to have hands-on experiences with local Grenadians. These experiences allowed me to grow my clinical knowledge and skills as an aspiring physician. On top of that, I had a chance to learn about the Caribbean culture, enabling me to be equipped for taking care of my patients who are of diverse backgrounds during my clinical rotations in Brooklyn.

SGU: How often did you come across an SGU grad during your clinical rotations?

Dr. Rummaneethorn: One of the major benefits of SGU is its large alumni network. If utilized appropriately and effectively, this will turn into a very useful tool in preparing for a residency application. During my clinical rotations, I was extremely surprised at how many attendings I met who turned out to be SGU alumni. They were ready to help me as well as other SGU students rotating with them.

SGU: What advice would you have for a Thai student who was entering medical school?

Dr. Rummaneethorn: Students should also reach out for help early. I prepared myself for my residency application from day one. In my first semester, I attended a lecture with Dr. [John] Madden, who’s an SGU grad and former emergency physician, about emergency medicine, and from there I tried to attend all the seminars that I could. I feel like they really paid off because each helped prepare me for the application process.

– Brett Mauser

 

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SASAA President Receives Commonwealth Award for Inspirational Voluntary Service

Tamika Gilbert, BSc ’11

Tamika Gilbert, BSc ’11, received recognition by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the 183rd Commonwealth Points of Light awardee.

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting so many throughout the world, Tamika Gilbert, BSc ’11, is doing her part to help aid the lives of those hit hardest in the Grenadian community—and being internationally recognized for her efforts.

In April 2020, driven by her two passions—voluntary service and entrepreneurship—Ms. Gilbert created The Art of Giving (TAG), a charitable foundation encouraging donations of relief items to help vulnerable families following the coronavirus outbreak. Her humanitarianism did not go unnoticed—Ms.  Gilbert recently received recognition by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the 183rd Commonwealth Points of Light awardee.

“I am both grateful and humbled to receive recognition for something that comes so naturally to me,” said Ms. Gilbert, who is the president of St. George’s University’s School of Arts and Sciences Alumni Association (SASAA). “What started as a simple response to a mother’s cry for help during the lockdown period, has now grown into the TAG foundation—giving help wherever and whenever it can, which to me is the true essence of The Art of Giving.”

 

I have always wanted to make a difference in the world. The current health crisis presented an opportunity for me to do so.

 

The Commonwealth Points of Light awards were established during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in 2018. The award recognizes inspirational volunteers across the 54 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond.

“I have always wanted to make a difference in the world,” shared Ms. Gilbert. “I remember visiting the Kennedy and Richmond Hill children’s homes as a child. The extreme need that existed in these places has remained etched in my heart and mind since that day. I knew then that I wanted to do more to help people—the current health crisis presented an opportunity for me to do so.”

So far, over 200 families in Grenada have been supported by the foundation. In addition, the foundation has distributed emergency supplies to people affected by the recent volcanic eruption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

TAG’s newest initiatives will include helping future students enroll at the New Life Organization (NEWLO) in Palmiste, Grenada to pursue technical and vocational education and training, as well as supporting women on the island, who lack access to proper feminine hygiene products, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic.

“TAG on its own cannot help everyone—but everyone can help someone,” stated Ms. Gilbert. “As such, the foundation has adopted a targeted approach to giving aid—we don’t do mass distribution. We speak to recipients individually to ascertain their exact need. We have helped with food hampers for individuals and families, assisted with minor medical bills such as, purchasing medication and glasses, and we’ve held clothing drives. We are willing to do whatever we can to help improve the lives of people in need. In essence, TAG’s message is to spread the joy of giving by providing an avenue to do so.”

 

– Ray-Donna Peters

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SAS and SGS grads encouraged to “profoundly impact the world”

On June 12, students from 44 countries came together with family, friends, and well-wishers for their last virtual meetup and to celebrate their academic achievements at the annual School of Arts and Sciences/School of Graduate Studies commencement ceremony.  

Over 420 graduates were encouraged to achieve outside the box as they start their new journey into the workplace around the world.  Degrees were conferred to the SAS and SGS Class of 2021, as well as the SAS Class of 2020, which could not hold its ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a profound keynote address, Dessima Williams, ambassador for Grenada and permanent representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013, challenged SGU’s newest alumni to live a life of service and to commit to doing something special and impactful.  

“Go from SGU into the world and help to transform everything that you can—make it better,” said Ambassador Williams. “You are graduating, so you must have gotten some good marks. Go now and make good marks on the world.” 

Jonathan Silwanes, BSc ’20, class speaker for the SAS Class of 2020, added that success is not only about achieving your goals, but about being triumphant when faced with hardships. 

 

As we embark on our respective paths, there will be harder challenges to come, but as long as you persevere, you will be an unstoppable force.

 

“As we celebrate our successes together today, I challenge all my fellow graduates to appreciate the journey you’ve been through, applaud yourselves for your accomplishments, and remember the adversity you’ve overcome to reach this point,” he said. “Continue to believe in yourself amidst the challenges that await you in the future. Continue your quest to your dreams and continue to succeed every day.” 

Namratha Guruvaiah Sridhara, BSc ’20, class speaker for the School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2021, shared a short story that alluded to the importance of turning one’s struggles into positive learning outcomes.  

“Standing here today, our perseverance and willpower to endure has proven to be stronger than any obstacle. Hence, I urge you all to remember this time, not just as a period of difficulty, but look at it as a way to see what you have achieved and what you have overcome. As we embark on our respective paths, there will be harder challenges to come, but as long as you persevere, you will be an unstoppable force.” 

Samantha Antoine-Purcell, MEd ’21, class speaker for the School of Graduate Studies, thanked her predecessors for paving the way and implored her fellow classmates to think beyond the assignments and projects and step into alumni roles to pay it forward. 

“Today, our graduation is not just the end of the journey,” she said. “Indeed, it is the beginning of our commitment to learning and growing, our commitment to leading lives of purpose and intent. It is our commitment to embracing that which we are—the embodiment of phenomenal thought and action. We have a responsibility to use our collective experiences to profoundly impact our world and positively do so as change agents.”

– Istra Bell

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