VCU Health named to 2016 Most Wired list

000000001VCU Health has been named among the Most Wired health care organizations in the country for 2016. The results of the 18th annual Health Care’s Most Wired survey, released today by the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum, indicate technology is improving the efficiency of care delivery and creating a new dynamic in patient interactions.

According to the survey, Most Wired organizations are using technology to build patient engagement with the individual’s lifestyle in mind, which includes electronic access to their care team. This past year VCU Health continued its focus on patient portal expansion and real-time visibility of clinic notes, which is called OpenNotes.

“VCU continues to expand upon its robust patient portal,” said Colin Banas, M.D., chief medical information officer, VCU Health System. “Within the last year we opened up our clinic notes to allow patients to read the notes their physician writes instantaneously. This is a powerful step forward in patient engagement, transparency and improving patient outcomes. The response from our patient community is overwhelmingly positive, and we’re just getting started.”

Most Wired organizations, including VCU Health, are utilizing population health management tools and partnering with other health care providers to share critical clinical information used in analyzing interventions aimed at key patient groups, such as those with diabetes. To get patients the right care, health care organizations are using predictive modeling to eliminate preventable problems. While VCU Health continues to build out new technology capabilities, it also continues to strengthen cybersecurity to ensure health data is secure.

Read more.

VCU School of Nursing receives grant to increase nurses in community-based clinics

Tamara Zurakowski, Ph.D.

Tamara Zurakowski, Ph.D.

A roughly $800,000 grant will allow the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing to implement a program to increase the number of nurses in community-based clinical sites that provide care to underserved populations.

The two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration will increase nursing students’ clinical experience in primary care and community-based settings with the goal of encouraging them to seek community-based positions when they graduate.

Tamara Zurakowski, Ph.D., clinical associate professor in the VCU Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems, received the grant for her project “Primary care Options to Maximize Opportunities to Transform Education in Nursing (PrOMOTE-Nursing).” The project aims to address the lack of community-based nurses who are prepared to meet the health care needs of the underserved.

“Nearly one-third of nurses working in a community-based setting do not have a bachelor’s degree,” Zurakowski said. “There is a tremendous need for more highly qualified nurses in these locations.”

PROMOTE-Nursing expands on the VCU School of Nursing’s current service-learning model that requires students to complete four hours per week of clinical service during their senior community health clinical course. Through partnerships with innovative community-based primary care settings and population-focused programs, the project will provide an additional eight hours per week of clinical experience for students interested in community-based care.

Read more.

VCU alumnus is youngest ever to serve on Danville City Council

Lee Vogler, fourth from left, was sworn in to a second term on Danville's City Council on Friday.

Lee Vogler, fourth from left, was sworn in to a second term on Danville’s City Council on Friday.

At the age of 24, Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus Lee Vogler (B.A.’10/H&S) became the youngest person in history to be elected to Danville’s City Council.

Vogler, who graduated in 2010 and won his first election to City Council in 2012, was inspired to run for office in his hometown while studying political science at VCU.

“Like many young people growing up, I always thought the grass was greener on the other side and couldn’t wait to get away from my hometown,” he said. “It was during my time away from home, at VCU, that I began to see Danville in a different light. I realized that there were many great things Danville had to offer, but we weren’t quite reaching our full potential.”

During his time in Richmond, Vogler saw how old warehouses in Shockoe Bottom were being put to new use, whereas Danville’s old tobacco warehouses were sitting vacant.

“So, while I was still at VCU, I began thinking of moving back home after graduating and getting involved in the community,” he said.

In 2010, to generate new ideas about helping Danville grow, Vogler formed a group called Moving Danville Forward. He also began attending City Council meetings and, soon enough, was being encouraged to run for a seat himself.

“Our city had just come through a tough decade at the beginning of the 21st century and was really looking for a fresh face and new ideas,” he said. “I really wanted to make a difference in my hometown and felt the best way I could achieve this was by running for City Council.”

Vogler won his first election on May 1, 2012. He was re-elected to a second term this spring, receiving the highest number of votes out of 11 at-large candidates who were seeking the council’s five seats. Vogler received 12.3 percent of all ballots cast.

Read more.

Seipel retires after four magical decades in the School of the Arts

Joseph H. Seipel came to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1974 with a one-year contract to teach in the Department of Sculpture. More than 40 years later, he is retiring as dean of the School of the Arts. In that time, he says, the School of the Arts has become part of his DNA. Even more so, Seipel has become part of the school’s DNA.

“I’m leaving with absolutely great memories of a spectacular 42-year career and I couldn’t have asked for a better life,” said Seipel, who retires today. “The colleagues and friends that I have are lifelong and what an experience this has been. It’s been great.”

Under Seipel’s leadership, the school rose from No. 4 to No. 2 overall among arts programs in the U.S. News & World Report list of America’s Best Graduate Schools and maintained its No. 1 position as the top public program.

“Even when this was Richmond Professional Institute, this was a hell of a good art school and VCU has had a good art school all along,” Seipel said. “If I did anything to assist in that, it’s because those rankings are actually based on reputation and I have a big mouth. I never had a question about our quality, ever. … It’s just been making sure people know about it. And then we worked really hard on recruiting the best graduate students we could.”

Read more.

Presidential fund champions innovative faculty research projects

Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D.

Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D.

Cancer treatment is a lot to manage at any age, but young people who are still developing an understanding of their illness may not know how to talk about what is happening in their body. Often they are dealing with intense treatments with multiple side effects — hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite, pain and distress.

Parents are involved in helping young children with symptom management and also communicating with the doctor. However, as the patient reaches adolescence and then young adulthood, management of care begins to shift into the patient’s hands, and they must learn to prioritize their symptoms and concerns and to communicate with the doctor.

Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D., is a registered nurse and an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. Ameringer wants to empower adolescent and young adult patients to take control of their treatment through a symptom assessment tool.

Ameringer recently received a $25,000 award from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund that will allow her to complete a pilot study for the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool she helped design. C-SCAT is an iPad app for patients that allows them to draw a picture of their symptom experience before they meet with their doctor. The intent is to allow both patient and provider to communicate better about what is happening in the treatment.

Ameringer’s grant was one of more than 20 projects to receive funding this year through the PeRQ Fund. Funding totals more than $930,000, including matching funds from faculty departments and schools.

Read more.

VCU Police wins Governor’s Transportation Safety Award for third time

From left: Gov. Terry McAuliffe, VCU Police Capt. Sean Ingram, VCU Police Capt. Howard “Mike” O’Berry and Commissioner Richard Holcomb, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

From left: Gov. Terry McAuliffe, VCU Police Capt. Sean Ingram, VCU Police Capt. Howard “Mike” O’Berry and Commissioner Richard Holcomb, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe honored the VCU Police Department this week for its continued progress in promoting safe and sober driving practices in and around Virginia Commonwealth University.

A dozen individuals and agencies were recognized Monday at the governor’s mansion for a variety of traffic safety achievements across the commonwealth.

VCU Police won a Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the law enforcement category for programs and enforcement efforts completed in 2015. The department won the same award in 2013 and 2015.

VCU Police Capt. Howard “Mike” O’Berry and Capt. Sean Ingram, who oversee operations and patrol, respectively, accepted the award on behalf of VCU’s 92 sworn officers who implemented initiatives and enforce traffic laws year round.

“Each year we look for new ways to educate the community about safe driving and we really went all-out in 2015,” O’Berry said after the ceremony. “It’s an honor to receive the award and a testament to our partnerships in Richmond that help us reach a broader audience of drivers.”

In 2015, VCU Police launched RVA Buzzkill, a multimedia campaign to educate college students in the greater Richmond area about the long-term consequences of underage alcohol consumption.

VCU Police partnered with the Richmond Police Department as well as police departments at the University of Richmond, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and Virginia Union University to send a clear message to college-aged residents: Serve under 21 and the party’s over.

“RVA Buzzkill brought police agencies together to address similar, alcohol-related problems and to be proactive about educating younger city residents,” O’Berry said. “Students don’t always realize the financial and professional costs associated with impaired driving and our goal was to communicate those in as many ways as we could.”

Read more.

Faculty, staff and retiree giving campaign raises $138,000

Men's basketball coach Will Wade.

Men’s basketball coach Will Wade.

Faculty, staff and retirees donated more than $138,000 to Virginia Commonwealth University during a six-week employee giving campaign this spring, the university announced Friday.

The campaign, which ran April 4, 2016, to May 15, 2016, encouraged VCU and VCU Health employees — and retirees — to make individual donations to the university.

“I think it went well,” said Thomas C. Burke (B.S.’79/E;M.P.A.’95/H&S), executive director of the VCU Foundation. “We had excellent work from our leadership and internal committees, which really laid the groundwork for a successful effort.”

Employees and retirees made donations — via payroll deduction or as one-time gifts — to scholarships and programs across the university. In total, 171 donors made gifts via payroll deduction during the six-week campaign to the fund of their choice. As of May 15, 1,450 faculty, staff and retirees have donated $1.37 million to the university this fiscal year.

Participation was the goal, Burke said in April when the campaign launched.

“It shows our family supports efforts at VCU,” he said. “It demonstrates the type of internal support we have.”

Donor participation was widespread, covering administrative and academic offices. The School of Nursing had nearly 90 percent participation, Burke said. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics had 100 percent participation during the campaign, unlocking a $25,000 challenge gift from the Ram Athletic Fund advisory board.

Read more.

Nearly $1M grant expands pro bono mental health services to underserved populations in Richmond

Liz Sadock (right), a clinical psychology doctoral student, speaks with nurse practitioner Mary Simmons at Health Brigade, formerly the Fan Free Clinic.

Liz Sadock (right), a clinical psychology doctoral student, speaks with nurse practitioner Mary Simmons at Health Brigade, formerly the Fan Free Clinic.

Virginia Commonwealth University professor has received a nearly $1 million grant to expand a program that provides training to doctoral students studying clinical and counseling psychology and embeds them in Richmond-area primary care clinics to provide pro bono mental and behavioral health services to underserved populations.

The three-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will expand the VCU Primary Care Psychology Training Network to more than double its capacity and provide more than 15,000 sessions of pro bono services during the next three years.

The program currently trains VCU doctoral students in integrated behavioral health care and embeds them at Health Brigade, formerly named the Fan Free Clinic; the VCU Medical Center Internal Medicine Resident Clinic; the Virginia Coordinated Care Complex Care Clinic; and the Daily Planet.

As part of the new grant, the program will expand to the safety net pediatric clinic at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the Hayes E. Willis Family Medicine Clinic at VCU and the Southside Community Health Center of the Daily Planet, which serves Latino adults.

This grant, along with the pilot projects funded by the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation and the Virginia Health Care Foundation, will allow the project to place trainees and faculty supervisors in VCU’s doctoral program in the clinics in Richmond that provide safety net health services to children and Latino families.

Read more.

New research indicates that believing in a just world can lead to poor health for black Americans

Research on the link between racial discrimination and poor health outcomes is not new. However, until now, there has been little exploration around that link — the why, how, who and when.

Nao Hagiwara, Ph.D.

Nao Hagiwara, Ph.D.

Researchers in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences explored the “why” in a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine in December. They surveyed 130 black Americans and found evidence that a just world belief — the belief that we live in a world in which people get what they deserve and deserve what they get — has a negative impact on the health of black Americans.

We talked to VCU researcher Nao Hagiwara, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, about the findings and its implications for the health care of black Americans.

Read more.

Record-breaking 11 VCU scholars receive Fulbright awards

Left to right are Maya Chesley, Erin Coggins, Ellen Korcovelos, Charlie Perris, Levester Williams, Lynn Secondo, Dylan Halpern and Vanessa Diaz. Photo by Pat Kane/University Public Affairs

Left to right are Maya Chesley, Erin Coggins, Ellen Korcovelos, Charlie Perris, Levester Williams, Lynn Secondo, Dylan Halpern and Vanessa Diaz. Photo by Pat Kane/University Public Affairs

A record 11 Virginia Commonwealth University scholars have received U.S. Fulbright Student Program awards for the 2016-2017 academic year. This represents the largest group of recipients from VCU in a single year accepted to this nationally competitive program.

Four recipients have been awarded English Teaching Assistant grants and seven have been awarded research grants. Three recipients graduated in May, seven are recent alumni and one is a current student.

VCU has the largest number of Fulbright awards for 2016-2017 announced to date by a Virginia college or university.

“We’re proud of this record-setting class of 11 Fulbright scholars,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Arriving from diverse personal backgrounds and with wide-ranging research interests, they truly represent the best VCU has to share with the world.”

Read more.