Feb. 19, 2009

Fred Sanfilippo
Fred Sanfilippo,

State of the WHSC

Thanks to those of you who were able to attend the annual State of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center address on Feb. 18—whether you joined us in person on the Druid Hills campus or by simulcast from our satellite locations at Emory University Hospital Midtown and Grady.

fred_sanfilippo_videoIf you were unable to participate, we've posted a video of the event online. Please take a moment to watch it and to let me know what you think—not only of the address itself but also of the initiatives under way to weather the current economic climate and to emerge a stronger organization as a result.

The key to moving through this complex period is keeping focused on our mission and vision, making sure our use of resources is aligned with our goals, and ensuring we have a constructive culture that inspires faculty/staff engagement, leading to greater patient, student, and community satisfaction, and ultimately a stronger WHSC.

We are uniquely positioned to succeed in these efforts because we have an extraordinary team of talented and committed people who are mission-oriented and collegial and who can make it happen. Despite the current environment, we are fortunate to be here in the WHSC. We owe it to others who are less fortunate, and to those who depend on our success, to reach our goals.

Again, thanks for all you do to help us transform health and healing … together.

in this issue  

State of the WHSC

Staying ready for Joint Commission

Telling the news

WLA fellows for 2009

WHSC's first CMO

A home away


Past issues

Email Forward

Contact us


amy_nallyAmy Nally

Staying ready for Joint Commission

With their hospitals last surveyed more than 18 months ago, leaders at Emory University Hospital, EUH Midtown, and Wesley Woods Hospital knew that they were "vulnerable" to unannounced visits from the Joint Commission, the national organization that sets health care performance standards for the nation's 15,000 plus health care organizations.

Sure enough, on January 13, the Joint Commission survey team showed up unannounced at Wesley Woods. The physician and nurse surveyors began reviewing care received by individual patients selected at random, looking for compliance with commission standards and with requirements in key areas, while a life safety specialist (building engineer) checked out the physical environment. The intense scrutiny lasted almost five days.

Surveys are serious business, says Amy Nally, director of accreditation support services for Emory's hospitals. Failure jeopardizes accreditation and thus reimbursement by government, managed care, and private insurance carriers. No Emory hospital has ever failed, but continually changing rules and regulations make compliance a moving target.

This year is particularly challenging, says Nally. The Joint Commission routinely updates its standards and guidelines twice a year. In addition, effective early last month, the commission combined its standards with the slightly different regulations of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, resulting in new and expanded compliance requirements, patient safety goals, and survey scoring methods.

Wesley Woods' readiness demonstrated that Emory's year-round preparation for these visits is on track. In addition to ongoing staff educational programs, annual self-assessments, and a bimonthly newsletter, Nally's office oversees monthly "tracer-rounds," in which members of a specially trained volunteer cadre of 200 hospital staff members, mostly nurses, conduct practice patient care review sessions and environment rounds.

The question is never whether the hospital is providing good health care but how precisely that care complies with commission standards and required practices. It's like an aviation checklist in which every health care team member has specific duties that must be done within a specific time frame. For example, commission guidelines require that patients under medical restraint—perhaps to avoid dislodgment of a feeding tube—be assessed, released, and exercised every two hours and that the restraint order be renewed or discontinued every 24 hours. Failure to comply with these practices is unacceptable. So is running a few minutes behind.

If some current practice fails to meet Joint Commission requirements, Nally works with clinicians, administrators, and staff to ensure that it becomes compliant—before the real surveyors knock on the door.

Nally's biggest satisfaction, working with clinicians on Joint Commission issues, often presents her biggest challenge—helping others deal effectively with change. Not surprisingly, many health care practitioners sometimes think that proposed Joint Commission-related changes are unnecessary.

They usually are needed, says Nally, and not just because they represent the path to licensing, accreditation, and reimbursement. After having worked at 11 health care institutions (at Emory for the past four years), the former intensive care/hospital infection control RN believes that in general Joint Commission standards really do help improve patient care practices, just as similar standardized requirements have increased airline safety.

After the January survey, Wesley Woods was given 45 days to complete action aimed at enhancing current compliance with several Joint Commission standards. The next survey at Emory University Hospital will occur before mid-July. EUH Midtown is expected to be vulnerable through December. "But thanks to our ongoing preparations, we are always ready," says Nally.



jeff_molterJeff Molter

Bio stats:
• AVP, WHSC Communications, 2006- present
• Director, News Office, Duke University Medical Center and Health System, 2000-2006
• Director, Science News,
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990-2000
• Director, Communications, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1983-1989
• 2008, Woodruff Leadership Academy
• BA, Indiana University (journalism)









Telling the good, explaining the not so good

One in a series of profiles of people in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center

Jeff Molter grew up planning to be a journalist. But after his first taste of working with medical and scientific professionals in public relations several years ago, he knew he'd never be satisfied looking in from the outside. As associate vice president for health sciences communications at Emory, he has the job he aspired to have.

Telling the good news: Molter's No. 1 responsibility is to communicate Emory's health sciences and health care accomplishments and their relevance to the public, patients, employees, and others locally and around the world. His communications team promotes this news through (1) interaction with web, print, social, and broadcast media and (2) publications, including research and employee e-newsletters (like this one) and magazines like Emory Health. His staff also use multimedia technologies, including podcasts like "Sound Science," video news releases, and audio slide shows, all available on a recently revamped website,

Explaining bad news. Every institution has occasional bad news: medical errors, research accidents, or other unfortunate occurrences. Molter’s job is to counsel leadership and, sometimes, the individual(s) involved and to explain to media, employees, and the public what happened, what the institution is going to do about it, and how it will move forward. Molter says he came to Emory well prepared, in part because of previous experiences in which he handled communications related to the dismissal of a renowned medical journal editor and an organ transplant mismatch resulting in a young girl’s death.

Managing issues. Molter arrived at Emory in the midst of Grady Hospital’s financial turmoil. He assisted Emory leadership in dealing with this complicated matter in the media and continues to do so today. Molter works with his team to create crisis communication plans in preparation for any catastrophic events involving Emory, all made with the hope that they will never be used.

Molter advises WHSC leaders, faculty, and employees how to engage with reporters and the public (pet peeve: when spokespersons forget to mention their Emory affiliation). He thinks about what WHSC will need in communications five years hence as health care and news media continue to change. He also works with marketing and strategic planning to ensure that opportunities and challenges alike are handled to Emory's best advantage.

Outside of work, Molter plays pick-up softball and shoots hoops. A city boy whose idea of a walk used to be the distance between home and restaurant, he now regularly hikes in the North Carolina mountains with his "other half," Meg Scarlett. But his thoughts never stray far from what is happening at Emory and who needs to know about it.



tawanda_austin2009 WLA fellow Tawanda Austin


stuart_zolaPresenter Stuart Zola


WLA fellows named for 2009

In January, 23 fellows from throughout the WHSC began their inaugural session in the 2009 class of the Woodruff Leadership Academy (WLA). This semester-long program of monthly seminar sessions and leadership exercises includes individual team projects related to WHSC goals and needs.

WLA presenters include President Wagner and other WHSC and university leaders, several local CEOs, the president of the Woodruff Foundation, and faculty from Goizueta Business School, among others, with topics ranging from finances, government affairs, and strategic thinking to conflict negotiation, collaboration and influence, fund-raising, and quality initiatives.

One of this year's "leadership in action" presenters is Stuart Zola, director of Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He developed his WLA talk, "Leadership Is in the Cards," at a local chapter of Vistage, a CEO leadership group that meets monthly to discuss problem-solving. In his presentation, Zola uses an ordinary deck of cards to illustrate how card handling and card tricks can be used as metaphors for fundamentals of leadership that can be applied across the board to a host of management issues.

Now in its seventh year, WLA has 143 alumni. For a complete list of names/titles of members of the current class as well as those in previous sessions, please see web site.



una_newmanUna Newman


WHSC names first chief marketing officer

Una Newman, who has led Emory Healthcare marketing for 13 years, became the WHSC's first chief marketing officer on Feb. 1. In this role, she reports to EVPHA and WHSC CEO Fred Sanfilippo, who says that this move addresses a long-overdue need to integrate marketing as a business function in the WHSC's total mission.

Newman will continue in her role as CMO for Emory Healthcare, reporting to EHC CEO John Fox.

"Marketing as a discipline has distinct strengths in audience research, market analysis, brand management, and advertising that we need to bring to bear on our full array of opportunities and challenges," says Sanfilippo. "Our goal is to bring about a close working synthesis of marketing, strategic planning, and health sciences communications, using all available tools of communication and outreach in a coordinated way." Read more.



Home away from home for transplant patients

In the living room, heart transplant recipient Chester Howard listens to his son strum a guitar. Across the hall in one of three kitchens, a woman stirs goulash on the stove. Downstairs in a kid's room, two little girls watch a cartoon, snuggled in pint-sized chairs with teddy bears. And on the upper floors, others relax, read books, or send emails to friends back home.

mason_guest_houseIt is a typical night in the Mason Guest House, a private retreat located on Emory’s Clairmont campus that offers affordable lodging for transplant patients and their families.

"We wanted our house to have the intimacy of a home," says Jennie Perryman, director of policy and outcomes management at the Emory Transplant Center. "We wanted our guests to feel far enough away from the hospital to be comfortable but close enough to feel secure."

The Mason Guest House opened in October 1995 with support from the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust. Emory donated the land, and the trust donated $1.625 million in the initial gift and a $600,000 endowment for maintenance.

While planning the house, Perryman and other members of the design team visited accommodations for transplant and cancer patients and families at Hopkins, Duke, Hope Lodge in Baltimore, and Family Inn in Boston to see what worked and what didn't. They drew up a wish list based on what they learned and met with focus groups at Emory for feedback.

The Tudor-style Mason Guest House echoes what they learned. There are three floors, including 15 bedrooms with private bath, one bedroom suite, a computer room, an exercise room, and a laundry. Guests are served a continental breakfast, and they can bring in their own food and cook in one of three kitchens for the dinner meal. With a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere, the home offers rooms for families to gather and socialize around a grand piano or television or, as Perryman says, "places to just be."

The price for a night's stay is $35 for standard rooms and $80 for a two-bedroom suite.

The majority of guests, 60%, are Georgians, says Willy Skipper, who manages day-to-day operations of the house. The average length of stay in 2008 was 11 days.

Backed by a team of guest services coordinators, Skipper makes sure that guests have what they need when they need it. Last year, the staff got a 99% approval rating from guests.

"If there is a one-liner for what we want to create," says Perryman, "it is a home away from home." For more information, visit the web site.





• New joint PhD program with Peking University

The Emory-Georgia Tech Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) has joined forces with Peking University to offer a joint PhD program, a collaboration that has been in the works for the past five years. Students can apply through the BME department either in Atlanta or Peking and will have advisers at both campuses. Primary classes and research will take place on the home campus, but students will spend at least a year in the co-adviser's lab on the secondary campus. The new relationship will offer students and faculty opportunities for learning how to conduct research and business in a global environment. Read more.



todd_shererTodd Sherer, director of tech transfer


• Emory ranks 16th in tech transfer

A new report from the Association of University Technology Managers ranks Emory 16th among universities in revenue received from commercialization of research discoveries. In fiscal year 2007, the year of the most recent report, Emory received nearly $17.7 million in licensing revenue.

In FY 2007, the Office of Technology Transfer transacted 40 new licensing deals (a record high) and launched six new start-up companies. In FY 2008, Emory transacted an additional 24 licensing deals and launched three new companies. Also in 2008, Emory received more than $19 million in licensing revenue from drugs, diagnostics, devices, and consumer products.

Emory’s product pipeline includes more than 50 products in all stages of development and regulatory approval, with 27 having reached the marketplace and 12 more in human clinical trials. Over the past decade, more than 170 patents have been executed on Emory technologies, and Emory has launched 46 start-up companies with help from Emtech Bio, a biotech incubator developed with Georgia Tech. Read more.





• Recycling benefits more than environment

In 2008, hospitals in Emory Healthcare recycled almost 2 million pounds of paper, a 20% increase over 2007. But recycling efforts benefited more than just the environment. Throughout 2008, Emory Healthcare also collected more than 43 tons of surplus medical supplies and equipment for MedShare International, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta that collects such supplies and delivers them to developing countries. Last year, 6000 pounds of these supplies from Emory Healthcare were shipped to the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. The Nigerian doctor at left delivered the baby using gloves from MedShare (photo by Eben Armstrong at MedShare).

If you and your family would like to volunteer at MedShare along with others from Emory Healthcare this Saturday, Feb. 21, 9-12, please contact Katie Cofrancesco, 770-323-5858, ext. 205,



gregory_robertsonGregory Robertson


• Emory Johns Creek opens cath lab

Emory Johns Creek Hospital (EJCH) opened its cardiac catheterization lab on-site at the hospital this month after several months of construction. The lab, which is directed by Emory faculty member Greg Robertson, previously was located off-site in a standalone facility.

The lab is expected to enhance growth of EJCH, which posted record admissions in December and had a growth rate of 58% over 2007 in admissions, surgeries, ER visits, outpatient visits, and births. EJCH is a joint venture with Emory Healthcare and Hospital Corporation of America. Read more.



• Ortho-related calls increase following promotion

Following print and radio advertising beginning in January for the Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, call volume for that month to Emory HealthConnection from patients requesting an orthopaedic or spine physician increased almost 25% (an additional 114 callers). Typically, 65% of such calls convert into an appointment.

Further volume increases are anticipated following the Feb. 17 airing of a WSB-TV special, "Atlanta's High-Tech Hospital," highlighting treatment and research at this facility, and additional advertising planned over the next few months.



• Hospitals earn highest-level chest pain accreditation

Emory University Hospital and EUH Midtown earned the highest- designated chest pain center accreditation by the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC).

Hospitals accredited by the SCPC have been shown to perform better in heart attack core measures established by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, compared with nonaccredited hospitals, according to a national study led by Emory's Michael Ross (emergency medicine), whose findings were first reported in the July 2008 issue of American Journal of Cardiology. Read more.



• Neurosciences event honors DeLong

On Friday, April 17, Emory's Neurosciences Initiative is hosting a symposium, "Basal Ganglia: Function, Movement Disorders, and Treatment Options," which honors the accomplishments of neurologist Mahlon DeLong, a pioneer in treatment of movement disorders. For more information about registration and CME credits, see website.



• Register for ING Marathon

March 18 is the deadline to register for this year's ING Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon on March 29. Emory is a sponsor again this year, and all Emory employees and immediate family members can register at a discount. To register, go to the website. On the "Complete Form" step, select "Emory Team" from the menu. No team password is required, so please leave the password line blank. Questions? Please contact Lindsye Mitchell,