St. George’s University Grad’s Emergency Efforts Gain National Media Attention

Off-Duty Emergency Physician Saves Man’s Life at Little League Event in New York

paul barbara

Paul Barbara, MD SGU ’04, was standing at second base as a coach at his 4-year-old son’s Little League Opening Day ceremonies when it happened. A league official had collapsed in the nearby dugout during the invocation, prompting Dr. Barbara to do what he does every day as Assistant Director of Emergency Medical Services at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH): to take action in a chaotic scene.

Rushing to the Claudio Buono’s side, Dr. Barbara assessed the patient and began administering CPR. As more providers came to the scene, he began directing off-duty responders from the FDNY and NYPD, as well as several bystanders. After Mr. Buono’s heartbeat returned, Dr. Barbara choreographed his transport to SIUH Ocean Breeze, where he received state-of-the-art interventional cardiac care. With quick and decisive action, Mr. Buono’s life was saved.

The collective efforts received praise league officials and from Mr. Buono’s family. In a follow-up story in the Staten Island Advance, his daughter, Kelly, stated, “I cannot describe how grateful I am that they were there to save my father’s life. Thank God they were there – it’s a miracle.”

“I never saw a man work so fast and work so hard to save this guy’s life,” South Shore Little League president Paul Iorio said of Dr. Barbara. “It was unbelievable. Without that guy in the dugout, that doctor, he had no chance. He had no chance.”

In addition to his EM duties, Dr. Barbara has volunteered as a medical stand-by at out-of-hospital events for years, including the New York City Marathon and area concerts. These types of event management, in addition to his roles as an attending physician in a busy emergency department, afforded him the experience to handle what could have quickly become a tragedy. The impromptu team of responders at the Little League complex that afternoon were seamlessly integrated because of their common goal.

“We had a cohesive team of people who had never seen each other before, working together for the greater good,” Dr. Barbara said. “That’s very gratifying. It shows what laypeople can accomplish with teamwork and good protocols.”

Dr. Barbara called the chronology of events “serendipitous.” As the eventual 911 call prompted EMS system activation, a police officer whose vehicle contained an automated external defibrillator (AED) provided the device to the responders. The quick presence of the AED allowed off-duty FDNY members to employ it, and fortunately the patient had a rhythm that could be shocked. Additional ambulances arrived to continue care and management. The most critical choice that Dr. Barbara made was to propose transporting Mr. Buono transport to a facility that provides post-resuscitative interventional cardiac care. After receiving approval from an off-site FDNY physician, the paramedic crew had one goal: get him to the hospital for post-resuscitative care.

“We had to think outside the box,” Dr. Barbara said. “If we got him to the closest hospital, he would have gotten someone like me – an ED physician. He didn’t need someone like me anymore. He needed interventional cardiac care. That we were able to direct him to a hospital where he could treated by an interventional cardiologist, to me, is what saved his life. He has a normal life today because of the care he received in the hospital.”

Among those caring for Mr. Buono at SIUH was another SGU graduate, Thomas Vazzana, MD SGU ’86, his cardiologist. In addition, although those assisting Dr. Barbara that day were mostly strangers, one was not.

“As it’s happening, a guy comes up next to me, and it’s one of the nurses from the hospital who I work with two or three times a week. We play softball together,” Dr. Barbara said. “His presence allowed me to reorganize my mind, and so I was able to go into ‘command mode,’ calling out orders as if I was running the arrest in the hospital. Since it was me in crunch time, it was great to have a familiar face to help me coordinate the scene.”

His heroics gained local and national media attention, including appearances with Mr. Buono on the nationally syndicated Boomer and Carton radio show on CBS Sports Network as well as WFAN-AM 660 and WFAN-FM 98.7 in New York City. More than anything else, Dr. Barbara hopes that such an event encourages more organizations to have an AED on site at athletic events, and imagines that the life-saving moment may have a lasting impression on the young athletes who were on hand.

“This was Opening Day. There might have been 30 teams and about 750 people there,” Dr. Barbara said. “I think about how many boys or girls read or watched what happened and say ‘I want to be a doctor. I want to be a nurse. I want to be a cop or a fireman or a physician assistant.’ I think something like this is a seminal event in a young person’s career. Maybe they watch something that’s absolutely miraculous and they see that it’s a really good thing that these people do. That’s what’s the most rewarding part of this whole event.”

Off-Duty ER Physician Saves Life at Little League Field 4/21/2015

While at his son’s Little League game, Paul Barbara, MD SGU ’04, sprung into action when a former league official collapsed in a nearby dugout.

St. George’s University Graduate Earns American Society of Neuroimaging Award for Research in Brain Mapping

lesley flynt

As a nuclear physician, Lesley Flynt, MD SGU ’11, examines the very fibers of the human body, down to cells, their nuclei and their elements. Her most recent research earned her one of the most prestigious awards in the neuroimaging realm.

At the American Society of Neuroimaging’s 38th Annual Meeting in Phoenix this January, the 2011 SGU graduate was honored with the 2015 Oldendorf Award, given each year for the best abstract from research in brain mapping. The award is named for medical pioneer and ASN founding member William Oldendorf, the renowned neurologist whose accomplishments included originating the technique of X-ray computed tomography.

“At first I assumed it was a mistake, but later when I realized it was really happening, I just felt so grateful that someone was paying attention to my work,” she said. “Winning the award has just made me want to work even harder.”

The ASN acknowledged Dr. Flynt’s retrospective study on approximately 100 patients with history of tremor, referred for brain imaging to differentiate between Essential Tremor and tremor due to a Parkinsonian Syndrome. The imaging agent DaTscan was used to visualize the integrity of the striatal dopaminergic neurons in their brains. Because those afflicted with Parkinson’s do not produce as much dopamine as those who do not have the disease, Dr. Flynt could examine the patients’ images and distinguish between Parkinson’s and another movement disorder, essential tremor (ET). By performing the study, she discovered that DaTscan would have changed the diagnosis for about three-quarters of the suspected Parkinsonism patients.

“It’s really a unique thing to be able to see physiologically what’s going on inside a person’s head,” Dr. Flynt said. “You can see what’s going on inside the cells, inside the nucleus.”

Dr. Flynt wasn’t born into the medical profession; her mother is a florist and her father an entrepreneur. Her interest in medicine really took off at California State University at Sacramento, from which she earned her Bachelor of Science in molecular biology in 2002.

“During college, I really got in to molecular biology, and it was just an avalanche from there,” she said. On her decision to go to medical school, she said, “I think being a doctor is the best thing a person can do with his or her life, and I wanted to do something meaningful with mine.”

Dr. Flynt went on to research molecular genetics at Harvard University for four years before enrolling in SGU’s January 2007 class. “I had seen the photos on the website, but when I got to Grenada, it was even more beautiful than I ever could have imagined,” she said. “To top it all off, the level of education that you receive is quite impressive.”

That education took place beyond the island’s boundaries. Dr. Flynt took part in the highly sought-after Prague and Thailand selectives, expanding her perspective and knowledge base in patient care. She went on to complete her clinical rotations at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Upon graduating, she did one year of a surgical residency at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia before beginning her stint at Beaumont.

In younger SGU residents with whom Dr. Flynt crosses paths, she sees personality traits similar to her own, the very traits she hopes to carry with her throughout her career.

“Whenever I work with residents from other schools, I don’t know what to expect. With an SGU graduate, I know the personality type that goes with that person,” she said. “I know they’re going to be hard-working, personable, and adventurous. They’re going to be up for something new and ready for a challenge.”

SGU Graduates Presides Over Largest-Ever Grand Rounds at SGU

Time-Honored Tradition Connects St. George’s University Alumni with More Than 200 Current Students

A time-honored event at many medical schools, Grand Rounds allow students to learn from practicing physicians, those who were in their audience’s shoes mere years prior. In March, the presentations carried extra meaning at St. George’s University as 16 graduates met with a record audience to shed light on what’s most important as they progress through medical school and what lay ahead.

grand rounds 1

Danielle Hirsch, a PGY-5 pediatric emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo, worked with the University’s Alumni Relations office to create the event. She and her fellow graduates had planned a five-year reunion in Grenada, and were delighted to have the opportunity to share their stories and advice with the doctors-to-be in True Blue.

“It was a heartwarming and rewarding experience to give back to the school and community who molded me into the physician I am today,” said Purvi Parikh, MD SGU ’08, a private and faculty allergist/immunologist at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill and NYU Langone Medical Center. “I hope to offer the same mentorship for these students that I have received from previous SGU alums.”

“We all had an excellent experience being a part of Grand Rounds and speaking with the current students,” said Dr. Shane Svoboda, MD SGU ’10, a PGY-4 general surgery resident at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. “We have been in their position and can empathize with the uncertainty they are feeling. We enjoyed being able to help the future classes and having most of the answers to their questions.”

grand rounds 2

After their introductions, alumni gave a brief overview of what students can expect when they complete their basic science years in Grenada and the important considerations they must make through clinical rotations and approaching residency. A brief question-and-answer session with the audience gave way to small group discussions based on subspecialty, during which graduates answered questions ranging from how they secured their residency positions to the timing of rotations and ideal letters of recommendation.

“We tried to emphasize that they needed to be actively researching what to do next and get paperwork done early,” said Dr. Svoboda, who is amidst a one-year research fellowship in colorectal surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Students need to pay attention to timelines and deadlines so they don’t miss out on opportunities.”

The graduates currently practice in a variety of fields, from primary care to sub-specialty medicine. Among them were Ansar Vance, a vascular and interventional radiology resident at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware; Robert Pivec, an orthopedic surgery resident at SUNY Downstate Medical Center; and Maya Lin, an emergency medicine attending physician and ultrasound fellow at North Shore University Hospital on Long Island. They were joined by Drs. Hirsch, Parikh, Svoboda, Shimal Sanghvi, Andrew Persits, Rachit Patel, Priya Patel, Aditi Kapil, Ravi Alluri, Idrees Danishpajooh, Anita Narasimhan, Kamyar Nader, and Rahul Patel.

“It’s very important for us to give back to SGU,” said Dr. Persits, MD SGU ’10, a first-year cardiology fellow at North Shore LIJ in Manhasset, NY. “For many of us, SGU was the only school that gave us a chance to chase a lifelong dream. I felt proud standing up there as an alumnus that has been able to live out his dream.”

The record Grand Rounds also drew a record audience. According to Rona McIntyre in SGU’s Alumni Relations Office, more than 200 students attended the event. It was only the latest installment of Grand Rounds, which the University hosts regularly with visiting professors and alumni visiting the island on personal time. The next edition is scheduled for late March when SGU welcomes back a group from the 2012 graduating class.

From the Charter Foundation Program to His Top-Choice Residency

St. George’s University 2015 Grad Excited to Begin Surgery Residency at UCLA This Summer

brian beckord

Brian Beckord hadn’t stepped foot in a classroom in some time. He’d earned his undergraduate degree from the University of San Diego and begun a career in biotechnology, specializing in molecular diagnostics.

However, he followed his heart and decided to pursue a career in medicine. When given the opportunity to enroll at St. George’s University School of Medicine, he jumped at it and never looked back.

“I knew shortly after arriving at SGU that I had made the right decision,” Mr. Beckord said. “I found myself in an outstanding academic environment with incredible support. I knew at that point I had the resources I needed to succeed, now it was time to prove myself.”

His dream of becoming a doctor will come to fruition this June at commencement in New York City. He will then advance to his first-choice residency, a categorical general surgery position at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California.

“The moment I matched at Harbor-UCLA was undoubtedly the happiest moment of my life,” Mr. Beckord said. “All the hard work, discipline, and persistence had paid off.”

Mr. Beckord came to SGU in January 2011 as part of the University’s Charter Foundation Program which he called “a wonderful opportunity to get back into the flow,” having been away from an academic setting for nearly three years. In addition, he dove right into his studies and fully utilized SGU’s award-winning Department of Educational Services, which promotes academic development through a variety of programs, courses, workshops, and individual sessions.

“DES was instrumental in pushing me to improve my study skills, it allowed me to take my academic performance to the next level,” Mr. Beckord said. “I tried study techniques I never even knew existed – some worked, some didn’t – but in the end I found out which of them worked best for me. My friends and I worked very, very hard in the library and in the classroom. We were focused solely on our primary goal, which was to do the best we possibly could in medical school, to prove ourselves, and that we did.”

Mr. Beckord earned high marks throughout his Basic Science years and during clinical core rotations, and was inducted into the prestigious Arnold P. Gold Foundation Fold Humanism Honor Society. He recorded a 268 on his USMLE 1, and a 273 on his USMLE 2, placing him in the top 1 percent of all test-taker scores nationwide.

“I didn’t take any board prep courses; I just relied on discipline, the education provided by SGU, good study habits, and a lot of practice questions,” Mr. Beckord said.

Outside of class, he was elected President of the Iota Epsilon Alpha Honor Society, and as part of the organization helped raise more than $12,000 to purchase an i-STAT blood analyzer system for the Grenada General Hospital. Thanks to fellow classmate and recent alumnus, Cholene Espinoza, MD, Beckord gained an interest in practicing medicine in underserved communities, having spent time with Dr. Espinoza in South Sudan providing medical care and collecting diagnostic data on the local population.

In his free time, Mr. Beckord and his friends enjoyed a range of activities – spearfishing, snorkeling, hiking, SCUBA diving, sailing and more.

“These are things you simply can’t get in other places and, when utilized in moderation, I have found that it enhanced my ability to clear my head, re-focus, and learn when I went back in the classroom,” Mr. Beckord said.

After having completed all of his third-year clinical rotations at Hackensack University Medical Center, he completed fourth-year surgical rotations at San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton, California, Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, a sub-internship in endocrine surgery at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and a pediatric surgery rotation at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. Following his residency at Harbor-UCLA, he is interested in pursuing fellowship training in trauma or vascular surgery.

He largely credits St. George’s University for having paved the way to his dream career. Of his journey, Mr. Beckord remarked, “I feel as though I worked hard and pushed myself to be the best I could be, so it’s a wonderful feeling to have been rewarded like this.”

Arnold, MD SGU ’10, Joins Medical Staff 4/8/2015

The 2013 Buffalo OB/GYN Society Award for Clinical Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ryan Arnold MD SGU ’10, was named to the medical staff at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

St. George’s University Medical Grads Shine on Match Day

800 – and Still Counting – SGU Students and Graduates Obtain Residency Spots in U.S.

Match Day 2015 proved once again that the St. George’s University graduates continue to enter U.S. medicine in large numbers. At this date, 800 have received first-year training spots in U.S. residencies – many in their top choice. Most graduates were matched through the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP), but many choose to sign into residencies outside of the Match.

match day

“Match Day 2015 demonstrates once again that the pipeline from St. George’s University to medicine in the United States is alive and well,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University. “We are very proud of our students’ remarkable achievements as they embark on their careers in medicine.”

St. George’s University alumni will report to residency programs in the following specialties: anesthesiology, child neurology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/anesthesiology, internal medicine/neurology, internal medicine/pediatrics, internal medicine/psychology, neurology, obstetrics & gynecology, orthopedic surgery, pathology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, and surgery.

Residencies were secured in 41 states as well as the District of Columbia. In addition, 16 students matched through the Canadian Resident Matching Service earlier in the month.

Sean Maratto, MD SGU ’15, matched with his first-choice residency, a diagnostic radiology position at Pennsylvania Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He will first complete a preliminary year in surgery at Abbington Medical Center in Abbington, PA. Mr. Maratto’s affinity for radiology was bred in SGU’s anatomy lab, and although it is a highly competitive field, he felt confident heading into Match Week. “When I found out I earned my number one choice, it felt as if all the hard work I put in for the last four years paid off,” he said. “Medical school is an arduous task, but it makes the endpoint that much more gratifying.”

Jonathan Polak, MD SGU ’15, is looking forward to the next step in his career at Vidant Medical Center, an affiliate of East Carolina University. Mr. Polak will join the VMC internal medicine residency program this summer, and hopes to specialize in infectious disease upon its completion. “Now that I’m finished with med school, I can honestly say that I’ve received the most training that I can get at the student level, and I feel ready for my residency program,” he said. “What’s great about SGU is the global exposure you get. There were occasions where I sat at the table during lunch and was the only American at the table. I was able to learn about many different cultures just by eating lunch and asking my classmates questions. While being on the island, you get to see life through the eyes of another culture, their priorities and their concerns.”

Since opening in 1977, St. George’s University has graduated more than 12,000 physicians who have gone on to practice in all 50 states and more than 50 countries worldwide. According to published information, SGU has placed more doctors in first-year postgraduate positions than any medical school in the last four years combined.

For a complete list of residency appointments, visit the SGU website.

Levchuck, MD SGU ’89, Provides Life-Saving Heart Surgery 3/12/15

Through the Gift of Life program, SGU graduate Sean Levchuck conducted life-saving heart surgery for a young Jamaican girl.

A Pathway from Nigeria to a Medical Education in True Blue

St. George’s University Creates Joint Program with Westerfield College in Nigeria

The pathway to becoming a physician has a new route for students at Westerfield College (WC) in Nigeria. Thanks to a new development program established by Westerfield and St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies, WC students can earn a Doctor of Medicine degree.

Westerfield students’ placement into the seven, six, five or four year Doctor of medicine program will be based on their prior academic success at home. Following completion of the basic sciences in Grenada they complete the final two years at SGU within the University’s network of more than 70 clinical hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Grenada.

In August, six students enrolled at SGU, representing the first class of WC grads to come to True Blue as part of the program. Michael Donsumu, the college’s managing director, visited his students and the campus on Family Weekend in September, and we are happy to say the students have flourished academically. More WC students will join SGU in 2015,

“This is an exciting new development for St. George’s University,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor at St. George’s University. “We are proud to open a pathway for Westerfield students to obtain a high-caliber medical education here in Grenada. We are confident that they will be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to make an impact on health care at home or anywhere in the world they choose to practice.”

Established in January 2011, Westerfield College is a sixth-form institution of further education located in the coastal city of Lagos along the Gulf of Guinea. Westerfield provides international pathway programs to universities worldwide, including the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Students interested in the joint program with SGU must submit an application that, if approved, will allow them to enter the program. Current WC students who wish to apply to St. George’s University will be given fast-track consideration during the traditional application process at SGU.

St. George’s University is a center of international education, drawing students and faculty from over 140 countries to the island of Grenada. The University has contributed over 14,000 physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals who are studying across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities.

St. George’s University and King’s College Announce Seven-Year Medical and Veterinary Education Partnerships

St. George’s University and King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA, have announced an articulation agreement to provide international options to students interested in medical or veterinary careers.

kings college

Qualified King’s students may begin their programs in medicine or veterinary medicine at St. George’s University after completing three years in the undergraduate college and after meeting all admission requirements to St. George’s.

“We are proud to welcome King’s College students to our University community,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor at St. George’s University. “We look forward to a long relationship with a school with such proud academic and ethical traditions.”

“The agreement with St. George’s University allows interested King’s students a unique opportunity to finish their bachelor’s degree studies at an international medical school,” said Dr. Fevzi Akinci, associate dean of the William McGowan School of Business at King’s and director and professor of the master’s program in health care administration. “The students will then be exposed to one of the finest international medical educational facilities for their professional studies and have a wealth of international options for their clinical rotations.”

In addition to this new partnership, St. George’s maintains partnerships in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada with the Niagara Christian Community of Schools, Regis College, City Colleges of Chicago, Malcolm X College, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)/Albert Dorman Honors College, St. Michael’s Medical Center, Caldwell University, Franklin Pierce University, St. Thomas University, University of the Sciences, Drexel University, Monmouth University, Widener University, Northumbria University, Abbey DLD Group of Colleges and University of the West of England. The University has similar partnerships with Mahidol University International College, Thailand and schools in Bermuda, Grenada, Hong Kong, Guyana, and Uganda.

About St. George’s University
St. George’s University is a center of international education, drawing students and faculty from 140 countries to the island of Grenada, in the West Indies, to its programs in medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, science, and business. St. George’s is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The University’s over 14,000 graduates include physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities and repeatedly recognized as the best in the region. For more information, visit

About King’s College
Founded in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1946 by the Congregation of Holy Cross from the University of Notre Dame, King’s College offer 40 majors in Business, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, Education, Sciences and Allied Health programs, seven pre-professional programs and 11 concentrations to 2700 undergraduate and graduate students. For 19 straight years, King’s College has been ranked in the top tier of U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Colleges in the United States. King’s is also recognized as among the best master’s degree granting institutions in the country in a national ranking by Washington Monthly magazine.