Infectious Disease Grad Addressing Ever-Changing COVID Conditions

Lorena Polo, MD '13, Infectious Disease Specialist at First Choice Health Centers, East Hartford, CT

Most patient visits start with obtaining a medical history, an all-important record of allergies, illnesses, and more that helps physicians formulate a diagnosis. With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping the United States and countries around the world, clues in these histories can not only help an individual but affect the treatment of much larger populations.

“Infectious disease physicians are very good diagnosticians,” said Lorena Polo, MD ’13, an ID physician at First Choice Health Centers, an outpatient facility in East Hartford, CT. “You have to take very good histories from the patient. You have to be a good listener. And then you take the bits and pieces of information, see where they might have been exposed, create a story, and come up with a diagnosis.”

She remembers her first COVID-positive patient well—a patient in their 20s—well after the disease emerged elsewhere. Since then, her practice has seen a steady flow of patients who present with COVID-19 symptoms—fever, cough, shortness of breath. While some are admitted at local hospitals, a vast majority are treated at home. Even if patients have mild or no symptoms, they still pose the threat of transmitting the disease to other community members.

“A very large number of patients are battling this illness or recovering from it at home,” she said. “Often on the news, they are only showing the mortality or high morbidity aspects of the disease. And while important, this has also created a sense of anxiety because patients don’t know what to expect. Being afraid is a natural human response to the unknown, and we want to prevent that by making sure our patients are well informed.”

With governmental regulations changing by the week or even the day, Dr. Polo and her colleagues have made a point to stay up to the minute themselves so they can safely care for their patients. The situation is changing so quickly that infectious disease fellowship books are being updated with COVID-19 information as it becomes available.

Infectious disease physicians are more than prepared for common afflictions such as influenza, pneumonia, staph infections, and more. With familiarity, the symptoms are easy to identify and the procedure to treat is spelled out. However, like past outbreaks of diseases such as SARS, MERS, and Ebola, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the healthcare community to come up with a treatment and a cure in a short period of time.

“We’ve trained for infections that may have been imported from other countries. We live in a society where there’s a lot of travel both domestically and internationally. We’re familiar with it because of the way that society has worked,” Dr. Polo said. “But no amount of fellowship training can prepare you for such a complex disease. It’s a very unique and challenging time.”

–Brett Mauser 

On the Front Lines of COVID-19: SGU Grad Shares Experiences Inside Psychiatric Hospital

Ryan Salahi, MD '04, ER Physician at San Diego Psychiatric Hospital

Ryan Salahi, MD ’04, lead ER physician and chief of medical staff for the San Diego Psychiatric Hospital, describes the strong connection with his team that has made caring for their patients, many of whom are now COVID-19 positive, a little easier.

“Finding a balance during these stressful times can be difficult, but I work with great colleagues, administrators, nurses, social workers, and other staff, and we’re like a family—which helps immensely. I’m grateful for them,” Dr. Salahi said.

While a number of patients having been diagnosed with COVID-19, the hospital faces unique challenges due to the nature of his patient cohorts: it’s difficult for many of them to follow instructions, such as social distancing; and they are not allowed to be given masks for fear of wearing them inappropriately or risk of hurting themselves.

To help staff, the hospital has implemented new protective measures, including: the building of entry COVID-19 screening tents; the creation of a decontamination room/ante-room in the entrance to its quarantine/isolation unit where all staff are required to don full PPE and remove properly to decontaminate upon exiting the unit; separating patients who are positive COVID-19 from those who are not; temporary suspension of family visitations; and other changes. In addition, the hospital is able to get direct access to prioritized testing and PPE distributions from San Diego County’s Emergency Operations Center, and other helpful resources.

Dr. Salahi and team have been using extra lengths to educate their patients about the coronavirus. “Interestingly, our psychiatric patients, while often times difficult and argumentative, were extremely open to learning about COVID-19 and we were able to successfully test 100 percent of our inpatients with no refusals,” he added.

Many St. George’s University graduates like Dr. Salahi are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, using their expertise to treat those who are critically ill, joining teams searching for short- and long-term solutions, and contributing in many other ways to help patients in need. SGU is sharing a number of these stories, with the hope that by hearing the experiences of others who are making a difference around the world, we can help reaffirm our students and doctors’ commitment to the medical profession.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be a doctor. As doctors, we care for sick people. It’s what we’re trained to do,” he said.

How are our doctors helping during the COVID pandemic? Send us your story ideas. You can also share your story with us on social media by tagging SGU or using the hashtag #WeAreSGU and #SGUAlumni. 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

Ryan Salahi, MD '04, ER Physician at San Diego Psychiatric Hospital

First-Year IM Resident Shares How Coronavirus Pandemic Has Impacted His Training

Matt Heckroth, MD '19, IM resident

Matt Heckroth, MD ’19, a first-year internal medicine resident at University of Louisville, was interviewed by his hometown local paper, the Tallahassee Democrat, on what its like to be a resident during COVID-19 pandemic.

“The things I am sure I am going to see over the next couple of weeks and the next couple of months are going to be helpful,” Heckroth told the newspaper. “We are learning about this virus and about how it affects people.”

Dr. Heckroth had a nontraditional path to medicine. The aspiring gastroenterologist originally wanted to become a professional baseball player. He was a highly touted pitching prospect before suffering a shoulder injury that prevented him from playing past his sophomore year in college.

He credited his strong relationship with his orthopedic surgeon for helping him decide on medicine.

Former International Athlete Addressing COVID “Head-On” in Canada

Dan Devlin, family medicine resident, Kelowna General Hospital, BC

Aspiring physicians from Canada have long used St. George’s University School of Medicine as a springboard to a career in medicine, and for SGU graduate Daniel Devlin, MD ’19, his journey was no exception. Now a first-year family medicine resident at the Kelowna General Hospital, in rural British Columbia, Dr. Devlin serves one of the largest medical centers between Calgary and Vancouver, Canada.

Now more than ever with the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, physicians like Dr. Devlin are being called to the frontlines to help fight against the virus. His vacation plans along with him competing in his first-ever triathlon this spring and summer have all been put on hold with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“Everyone at our hospital—from housekeeping and maintenance to nurses and physicians—has all been working very hard to face this challenge head-on,” said Dr. Devlin. “Things like vacation plans are inconsequential when you look at the bigger picture. I feel like we all got into this job to help people in need, and we will continue to do that now and for the rest of our careers.”

His path back to Canada began when he enrolled in the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four- and Five-Year Program, for which students spend the first year of basic sciences in the United Kingdom. He called the program “a perfect fit.”

“Since I knew I was going to be a mature student, and didn’t want to waste any time in getting started, this program allowed me to begin in January, learn a new healthcare system, enjoy smaller class sizes and most importantly get the opportunity to secure a residency position back home in Canada,” he said.

However, before Dr. Devlin began his pursuit of a career in medicine, another career path opened up for him at age 15 when he joined his high school handball team. As a gifted athlete, he then progressed to the provincial level before eventually making it all the way to the Canadian national handball team in 2007.

“As an athlete on the national team, I got the opportunity to travel all throughout Europe and South America playing in international tournaments,” said Dr. Devlin. “I even met my fiancée, Kate, who was also a professional handball player with the Women’s Canadian team at the time.

The highlight of his career was his three trips to the Pan American Games—in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2007; Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011; and Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2015. He played one year professionally in France.

Although a successful athlete, Dr. Devlin always knew he would one day become a physician. At school, he excelled in the health sciences and could be seen after school soaking up information at the hospital where his mom worked as an x-ray technician. After graduating from university, he then became a nurse for nine years before entering medical school once things started to settle down in his athletic career.

“After reaching the pinnacle of my athletic career, it just seemed like the right time to retire and so, I decided to move on to pursue my childhood dream,” said Dr. Devlin. “After doing my research and checking out their information sessions, SGU was just the right call. In terms of timing, attending SGU worked out perfectly with my schedule—allowing me to play in my final Pan-Am Games during my summer break after my first semester.”

Today, Dr. Devlin is settling into his role as a first-year resident, splitting his time between practicing at the hospital and his family medicine clinic. He is also currently working on a quality improvement project analyzing the clinic to make sure it meets the national standard of guidelines set across Canada. The scholarly project would then strive to implement any changes or make improvements found in his research.

“As an international grad, I get asked by prospective students in information sessions all the time, ‘would I do it again’?” said Dr. Devlin. “And my answer would be ‘yes’ because my goal was to come back and be a physician in Canada, and SGU helped me to do that. It was my pathway to getting to where I wanted to be.”

That place is Kelowna, where he and his colleagues are working hard—and together—to address the ongoing pandemic.

“We will get through this at some point, and we have definitely felt the love and support from the city of Kelowna as we work to keep everyone safe and healthy,” he said.

–Ray-Donna Peters

SOM Alumni Association Advances the Art of Medicine at Annual CME

Designed to provide physicians with an overview of changes in the diagnosis, treatment and management plans in today’s changing health care environment, this year’s School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) continuing medical education conference was especially beneficial in light of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic—as physicians are turned to in order to provide valuable, high-quality care in communities around the world, for individuals who desperately need it.

“The benefits of our alumni returning to campus to attend the CME conference is that they experience the momentum of the University while connecting with the energy and accomplishments of our current students—the future physicians who will follow in their footsteps,” said Robert Alig, vice president of alumni affairs at St. George’s University. “With the increasing number of people being impacted by the coronavirus, it will be St. George’s University students and graduates who will be called on to assist in the fight against the virus.”

Titled “The Art of Medicine,” the four-day conference was held once again in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). It featured prominent SOM alumni and faculty presenters such as:

    • Hematology and medical oncology specialist Shannon O’Connor, MD ’05, whose topics included, “Unlocking the Mystery of Hereditary Cancer Genetics” and “Five Things to Know About – Hematologic Disease in Older People”
    • Paul Mathew, MD ’05, currently an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and expert in headache medicine discussed “Headache: It’s All in Your Head…Or is it?” – accurately classifying headaches and formulating effective treatment plans and interventions
    • Pulmonary and critical care expert Nirav Shah, MD ’02, who discussed the highly relevant topics of “Decoding the Alphabet Soup of Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)” and “ARDS: Where are we now?” – defining acute respiratory disease syndrome, how the definition has changed over the last few years and the treatment strategies to help improve outcomes.

In attendance at these presentations were two familiar faces among the SOM alumni, Jack Davidoff, MD ’88, and his wife Tracey Davidoff neé Quail, MD ’90. They were returning for the fourth time in a row to attend the CME conference in Grenada since earning their medical degrees at St. George’s University three decades ago. After attending the first CME in 2017, held as part of SGU’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the couple was so impressed with the advances made by the University, they felt compelled to return and to keep returning year after year with no plans of stopping. The Davidoffs’ love for the Grenadian people and the country that allowed them to receive their medical education has inspired them to plan a next trip to provide clinical services to the Grenadian community in the near future.

“We received an excellent education at SGU and were able to get invaluable hands-on experience,” said Dr. Tracey Davidoff, vice president of the College of Urgent Care Medicine. “I would do it all over again because SGU made me into the physician I am today, and I have no regrets.”

“We had outstanding instructors and professors, some of whom were the actual authors of the medical textbooks we were currently using,” commented Dr. Jack Davidoff, an emergency medicine physician and president of the Air Medical Physicians Association. “During my time here, I got the opportunity to gain real-life experience and it has made me a much better doctor today. Every day that I go to work, I use the knowledge and skills that I learned at SGU.”

The fourth annual SOMAA CME grew in participation since last year, with 74 attendees, 32 of whom were SGU alumni, as well as 17 Grenadian physicians who practice locally. Additionally, their time in Grenada wasn’t only about lectures and education. The SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities to experience a taste of culture and hospitality on the island many called home during their studies. The group enjoyed a sightseeing tour of Grenada’s natural beauty; lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation; a shopping tour of Grenada’s capital, St. George’s; and a catamaran sunset cruise, which included snorkeling and a visit to the Underwater Sculpture Park and Hog Island.

“This CME doesn’t just give us, practicing physicians an opportunity to earn 16 continuing medical education credits and a chance to learn new innovations and advances in our respective fields,” stated SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83. “It also enables our alumni to come back and visit and see the progress the University has made, interact with the students, and have a great time. This level of camaraderie is not found anywhere else.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

From Orphaned Alpacas to Puppy Care: Knoxville Veterinarian Dishes on What It’s Like to Own a Vet Clinic

Leah Wulforst, DVM '05

As a companion animal veterinarian in Knoxville, TN, Leah Wulforst, DVM ’05, has seen her fair share of emotional pet owners who have been forced to make tough decisions about their pet’s health. And it’s her responsibility to assist in coming to the right conclusion.

One memorable case involved a young dog named Lexi, who was brought to Dr. Wulforst showing symptoms of a fever, decreased appetite, and discomfort in its left eye. Despite medication, Lexi’s health worsened and within 48 hours she developed glaucoma. A urine test revealed that she had blastomycosis, a type of fungal infection dogs can get from inhaling spores from the ground.

After a heartfelt discussion with the pet’s owners, Lexi’s left eye was removed, and when similar symptoms emerged in her right eye, it had to be removed as well. Lexi continued the fight against blastomycosis with the help of medication for almost a year. The owners were aware that removal of her eyes was only the first step to treatment, and there was no guarantee that she could clear the infection, but they decided to move forward, step by step.

While Lexi had a poor prognosis then and her condition required expensive medication, today she is vibrant, happy, and free of infection.

“At some point, all owners of a pet are going to have to make a difficult decision regarding the pet’s well-being,” Dr. Wulforst said. “As veterinarians, we hope that we can make these decisions easier.”

Today, Dr. Wulforst is the owner of Riverside Veterinary Clinic in Knoxville, making a name for herself in the close-knit community. Dr. Wulforst made Knoxville News Sentinel’s 40 under 40 Class of 2017; she also was featured in People magazine and a local news story when her office took in an orphaned alpaca.

She treats a variety of household pets and the occasional backyard animal including goats, chickens, and pheasants, setting aside a portion of her day for any surgical appointments or emergencies. Dr. Wulforst also works closely with several local cat and dog rescue groups.

“What I love about being a vet is seeing the client’s face when the pet gets better, how relieved they are, and how appreciative they are,” she said. “It’s that look on their face that I really enjoy.”

She added: “I also enjoy the challenge of it. [Veterinary medicine] is always evolving and I am always learning. From research to disease processes, we’re finding out so much more information from genetic testing and cancer testing. As long as you keep reading and researching, you are always going to improve.”

Dr. Wulforst opened her clinic in 2017 after she realized she wanted to set her own protocols for her patients and dictate their quality of care.

“I want to make sure I keep striving to do what’s best for the client and for the patient,” she said. “Clients want definitive answers, but sometimes that takes a lot of money or is just not possible. I want to be able to have all options placed in front of them and help them decide what’s going to work for them and their budget, and what will be the best care for their pet.”

ARE VACCINES ALWAYS THE ANSWER?

One example is household pets don’t always need annual vaccines. Some can be given every few years, based on individual exposure levels, which should be discussed with the client, she said.

“It’s very important as a puppy, for example, to get baseline vaccines that can protect them against diseases such as parvo,” she said. “But the other thing we know is that some vaccines last a lot longer than we think—in fact anything we inject into our body, like extended release antibiotics, can stimulate the immune system or create injection-site sarcomas. So, it’s important to get baseline protections and from there many times we can check titers, specifically for distemper, parvo, and even rabies, depending on state laws.”

Dr. Wulforst is also optimistic about using certain alternative medicine in vet practice, including supplements that help joint support, turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and for mild pain relief, cold laser therapy to stimulate blood circulation and help arthritis, and even specific probiotics to reduce anxiety and other behavioral disorders in pets. “I do feel there has to be evidence-based research to show proof on how it works and that it’s safe,” she said.

TO KNOXVILLE AND BACK AGAIN

After graduating SGU, Dr. Wulforst moved to the Knoxville area with her husband to start her professional career in nearby Seymour, TN. Yet in 2007, they relocated to Long Island, NY (where Dr. Wulforst grew up) to be closer to family. Seeking a slower-paced lifestyle, the couple returned to Knoxville in 2013 with their son, where she worked briefly for an area veterinarian before striking out on her own.

Dr. Wulforst hasn’t forgotten how her SGU roots helped her become the vet she is today. She was among one of the early graduating classes of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, which opened in 1999.

“I loved the change in scenery and since it was a [relatively] new program I felt like there was a lot more flexibility,” she said, referencing the program’s adaptability to course topics and tracks.

Additionally, she is very thankful for the direct mentorship and individual attention she received from faculty and hands-on learning while in Grenada. “I definitely felt the hands-on experience I got at St. George’s was so much more than I have seen from some of the students coming out of the universities in the US,” she said.

Yet being a business owner is not without its challenges. While she plans on adding another full-time veterinarian as well as a part-time vet in the next few months to accommodate her growing caseload, finding employees who are a good fit with her philosophy is the hardest part of a running a business.

“A lot of this was a learning process,” which includes being closed on the weekends, she said. “My goal is to have a good work-life balance for myself and my staff.”

–Laurie Chartorynsky

 

SGU Vet Students Secure Highly Specialized Postgrad Positions in 2020

Vet students at St. George's University

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine students and graduates took the next step in their careers as aspiring veterinarians, matching into highly competitive postgraduate positions throughout the United States and Canada. Early 2020 reports confirm that DVM students secured 25 internships and 11 first-year residencies, with more results likely to come in throughout the spring.

This summer, SVM alums will begin postgraduate training in a variety of clinical specialty areas such as orthopedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, immunology, diagnostic imaging, and pathology, matching into positions at veterinary hospitals such as the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, and the University of California, San Diego, as well as veterinary centers in Alberta and Saskatoon, in Canada.

“We congratulate our students who are on to the next chapter in their careers in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Throughout their basic science and clinical years, they endured a rigorous course load and absorbed a wealth of information. We are pleased that the curriculum has adequately prepared them to meet the highest of practicing standards and are delighted that their efforts have been rewarded.”

After graduating, students may obtain an internship, a one-year clinical training program used to prepare a veterinarian for high-quality service in practice, or even a residency, which is a two- to three-year program. Students must receive a passing grade on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in order to achieve certification by any of the veterinary medical specialty boards. The 360 multiple-choice-question test is required for licensure to practice veterinary medicine in both the US and Canada. St. George’s University’s veterinary medical students posted a 95 percent pass rate on the exam in 2017-2018 according to the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA).

“We couldn’t be prouder of our students. They’ve made it through a very strenuous program with great drive and determination,” praised Dr. Anne Corrigan, associate dean of academics in the SVM. “At St. George’s, we believe it’s important that our students have a strong foundation of knowledge, hands-on clinical skills, and confidence when they set off for their careers as veterinarians. As faculty, we believe that we have provided our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in advanced training programs. We have the utmost respect for our students and are proud to call them our colleagues.”

Adding to its many accomplishments, St. George’s University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program recently received full accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the organization that sets the standards of veterinary care in the United Kingdom, through 2024. The School of Veterinary Medicine is now one of the few schools in the world accredited by both the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE) in the US and Canada, as well as the RCVS in the UK.

SGU’s DVM graduates are now fully eligible to seek licensure in the US and Canada without further steps other than successfully passing the NAVLE. DVM graduates who have also completed the Global Veterinary Health Track will also be eligible to register as members of the RCVS and practice in the UK without further examination.

Now in its 21st year, the School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated nearly 1,700 students who have gone on to practice in 49 states in the United States and 16 other countries around the world. The School also maintains partnerships with 31 universities and clinical facilities in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where fourth-year students spend a year of clinical training at an affiliated veterinary school.

–Ray-Donna Peters

Intensivist “Dr. House” Grooms Aspiring Doctors for Future Success

Pierre Kory, critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, WI

Pierre Kory, MD ’02, a critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, WI, the academic medical center for the University of Wisconsin, is living his dream. Each day brings a new challenge, and a new opportunity to make an impact on his patients’ lives.

“What I love about my specialty is that every day is a little different and I have a wide footprint,” Dr. Kory said.

His expertise is relied on throughout the UW network. As a critical care and lung disease specialist, Dr. Kory serves as the medical director for the Trauma and Life Support Center—the main medical-surgical intensive care unit at UW—and also as the critical care service chief of the hospital’s medical intensivist service, where he sees patients who are often in critical condition due to severe, acute respiratory illnesses.

Dr. Kory also works in the University hospital’s outpatient pulmonary medicine clinic, where he diagnoses patients with acute and chronic symptoms and also manages many chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), and bronchiectasis. He attends the inpatient pulmonary consultation service, consulting with and managing patients with a variety of acute lung injuries, and also performs bronchoscopic and pleural procedures in UW’s bronchoscopy suite.

The breadth of cases in which he is involved speaks volumes about the importance of pulmonary health.

“Lungs are the most common organ that fails in the ICU and in the context of many diseases,” Dr. Kory said. “During my clinicals and in my training, I thought that the pulmonary critical care physicians were hands down the best doctors in the hospital. They were the most widely skilled, and the most knowledgeable and experienced in all facets of disease and all levels of severity to the extent that no other doctor came close. I wanted to be like them.”

USING THE MODERN STETHOSCOPE

Dr. Kory is a recognized expert in critical care ultrasonography, a tool he considers “the modern stethoscope.” He is the senior editor of the award-winning e-textbook titled, “Point of Care Ultrasound,” the first comprehensive textbook on all point-of-care ultrasound applications for health care providers. Now in its second edition, the textbook was selected for the British Medical Association’s 2015 President’s Choice award for medical textbooks. He is also a former director of the advanced courses on critical care ultrasonography sponsored by the American College of Chest Physicians.

“In my opinion, the best doctors are by definition the best diagnosticians because no treatment works unless you get the diagnosis right,” Dr. Kory said. “Good doctors listen hard to what patients are saying and are meticulous and thoughtful in their consideration and evaluation of the causes of any problem being presented to them.”

He added: “When I have really sick patients, it’s really important to assess compromised organs and try to figure out why someone is deteriorating or dying in front of me. With modern technology, we have immediate access to compact and mobile machines that produce high-quality ultrasound images of critical internal organs. This allows us to identify life-threatening abnormalities in seconds at the bedside.”

A REAL-LIFE DR. HOUSE

Dr. Kory’s favorite aspect of his career is teaching both aspiring and junior physicians. UW Health is considered a teaching hospital and Dr. Kory can often be seen with medical students, residents, and fellows in the ICU as he sees patients. He has won multiple department and hospital teaching awards.

“I love the enthusiasm of young doctors,” he said. “I consider everything a teaching moment, and I try to share my experiences accumulated over years spent in a multitude of clinical situations and emergencies. As I round on service, there are usually eight to 10 people following me of varying disciplines and seniority. I am like ‘Dr. House’ followed by a large group of ducklings.”

 

“The best doctors are by definition the best diagnosticians because no treatment works unless you get the diagnosis right.”

Pierry Kory, MD

 

Dr. Anthony Saleh, a 1985 SGU graduate, is the program director of pulmonary/critical care fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He oversaw Dr. Kory during clinical rotations and keeps in contact with him to this day.

“Dr. Kory is brilliant, he has an incredible mind, and he is passionate.” Dr. Saleh said. “He really cares about his patients and about those he is educating, and he does everything at the highest level. Take those things—that’s plenty—but what he’s done for ICU sonography, he has literally become the go-to person probably in the country on critical care sonography.”

Added Dr. Saleh: “Pulmonary/critical care is an all-encompassing specialty. Dr. Kory is able to assimilate vast amounts of data and integrate it into patient care. ICU physicians have to communicate with multiple subspecialists, and Dr. Kory seamlessly does this, relentlessly pursuing optimal patient outcomes.”

MATCHMAKING THROUGH SGU

Since his days at St. George’s University, Dr. Kory reflected on the opportunity he received through the school, noting that his greatest achievement was meeting his wife, fellow graduate Dr. Amy Malik, while both were at Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York City—he in his clinical rotations while she was a resident.

“We were the same age, despite her being ahead of me in her training, and we just hit it off,” he said. “The most courageous act I have ever done was asking out a third-year medical resident while I was a fourth-year medical student.”

While Dr. Kory was born and raised in New York City, Dr. Malik is from Wisconsin. And while both doctors are pulmonary and critical care specialists, Dr. Malik focuses more on pulmonary disease where she is an expert in diagnosing and managing patients with interstitial lung disease. They married in 2003 and have three daughters together—Ella, Eve, and Violet. After both completed their residencies, fellowships, and junior faculty careers at hospitals in New York City, they moved their family to Madison, WI, when both were recruited by the University of Wisconsin.

“It’s great to be married to another doctor in the same challenging specialty,” Dr. Kory said. “We both know what we go through; we get to share a lot of our experiences each day; and because we intimately know what each other does, it becomes a stimulating conversation with the person whom you love most. We get to go home to each other and share our successes, our failures, and our challenges, and it’s nice to be able to do that.”

–Laurie Chartorynsky

SGU Welcomes Back Familiar Faces at Beyond Spice Family Weekend

SGU Family Weekend - January 2020

When Alex Gantz found out her husband, Benjamin, was accepted to St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, she was thrilled. Even though she was pregnant with their youngest child at the time and would be leaving their New Hampshire home for the move to Grenada, she was still excited about joining her husband on his new journey to becoming a veterinarian.

“Like most of us in the veterinary medical profession, I wanted to become a vet since I was a child,” shared Mr. Gantz, a Term 3 SVM student. “Then life happened. I got married and had two kids. But as I got older and wiser, I decided to go for it. Now I’m in my second year in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. I’m thankful to SGU for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream.”

This year the couple was joined once again by his parents, who made SGU’s Beyond Spice Family Weekend their family getaway for the second year in a row.

“At first, it took a little getting used to a new country and culture,” said Ms. Gantz. “But now we love it here and so do Ben’s parents. They’ve had so much fun on the sea excursion and at the sunset barbecue that they just keep coming back. For them, family vacation means SGU’s Family Weekend.”

The Gantz family weren’t the only repeat visitors this year. The University also welcomed much of its alumni, coming back and bringing with them many additions to the incoming class. Francis Rienzo, MD ’88, and his brother, Peter Rienzo, MD ’85, returned to coat their children, Emily and Jake Rienzo, at the Spring 2020 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, as did Abayomi Odubela, MD ’83, who also shared in that honor by coating his daughter, Ibironke. Altogether, this spring’s incoming SOM and SVM class welcomed backed five SGU graduates, including members of the Class of 1983, 1985, and 1988 to join in the special privilege of coating their children.

Now celebrating its 12th year since the inception of Family Weekend, SGU continually looks forward to opening its doors to host students’ families who’ve come to visit the country and campus that their students now call home. The bi-annual festivities include guided campus tours; the historical sightseeing tour of Fort Frederick, the famous Grand Etang Lake, and the 30-foot Annandale Waterfalls; and lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation, among other activities.

“Family Weekend serves as more than an occasion to bring families together; it is a chance to celebrate the University’s growth and success by now welcoming the children of our graduates to continue their legacy,” stated Colin Dowe, associate dean of admissions. “Additionally, our goal is to also provide an atmosphere where our visitors can explore all that the University and Grenada have to offer and be converted into lifelong visitors to our beautiful tri-island state.”

Family Weekend Fall 2020 is set for August 26- 30. Learn more about the festivities by visiting the Family Weekend webpage or by emailing familyweekend@sgu.edu.

–Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Awards Nine Students with Prestigious Scholarships

St. George's University 2020 CityDoctors scholarship recipientsSt. George’s University announced that it has awarded nine incoming students with CityDoctors scholarships. The winners hail from several cities and towns, including Bronx, Brooklyn, and Monmouth County in New Jersey.

“This program gives medical students from New York and New Jersey the unique opportunity to return home after graduation and serve their communities,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “We’re thrilled to welcome the 2020 recipients to our campus community.”

Created in 2012, CityDoctors Scholarships are awarded cooperatively by St. George’s University and several partner hospitals in New York and New Jersey to applicants who wish to start their studies in the January term.

Students chosen for a NYC Health + Hospitals CityDoctors Scholarship must commit to working in one of the system’s 11 public hospitals following graduation. Those who receive a CityDoctors Scholarship from Jersey Shore University Medical Center or HackensackUMC need not commit to working in those hospitals.

To be eligible for a NYC Health + Hospitals CityDoctors scholarship, students must have maintained a permanent residence within the five boroughs of New York City for five or more years, graduated from high school or college in New York City, or have other ties to NYC Health + Hospitals.

Residents of Monmouth County, Ocean County, or Bergen County, as well as students with some connection to JSUMC or HackensackUMC, are eligible for the CityDoctors Scholarships from St. George’s New Jersey hospital partners.

In 2019, more than 375 St. George’s University graduates entered residency programs in New York and New Jersey. St. George’s is the second-largest provider of practicing doctors to the U.S. healthcare system.

“New York and New Jersey need more highly skilled physicians to meet the needs of their residents,” Dr. Olds said. “We have no doubt that this class of CityDoctors scholarship winners will emerge as leaders in the practice of medicine.”