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.

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VCU Health celebrates new one-of-a-kind outpatient facility


In the lobby of the new VCU Health Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Wellness Center on Tuesday night, more than 150 guests cheered as VCU leadership officially cut the ribbon for the new outpatient facility.

The N.O.W. Center, located just outside the Short Pump Town Center in Henrico County, focuses on human movement. The vision for the center is to restore motion and help patients with orthopedic and neuroscience illness not only survive, but thrive and optimize their personal potential. The new five-story building is 111,000 square feet with more than 80 exam rooms. It offers a unique model of care that is regionally focused and represents the future of interprofessional care delivery. The center is led by a trio of medical directors, Kevin Hoover, M.D., William Jiranek, M.D., and Bruce Mathern, M.D.

“The VCU Health Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Wellness Center is a new facility that brings together the physicians, staff and support services needed to optimize the ability of patients to move,” Hoover said. “The quality of the patient experience is at the center of our care model and drives our effort to shorten the time from initial patient contact to definitive management. By leveraging our tremendous depth of expertise, the commitment of our staff and advanced technology, we will measurably improve the quality of their care.”

Much like the popular children’s song, “Dry Bones,” where the “hip bone is connected to the back bone,” the care team at the N.O.W. Center are also connected to one another. The interdisciplinary model offers many subspecialties in one location. The care is coordinated so patients can get everything they need in one day without having to set foot outside the building.

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Local middle schoolers provide new name for Hume-Lee’s robotic surgical system

Shriya Chemudupati is instructed how to use HARPER by Yolonda Brown, specialty team manager for robotics.

Shriya Chemudupati is instructed how to use HARPER by Yolonda Brown, specialty team manager for robotics.

The robotic system used by the Virginia Commonwealth University Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center to perform kidney removals for living donors has a new name. The $2 million state-of-the-art transplantation instrument is now known as HARPER.

Two 12-year-olds, an aspiring surgeon and scientist, offered the name when entering a robot-naming contest sponsored by Hume-Lee. HARPER is also an acronym for Helpful Awesome Resourceful Protective Engineered Robot. The contest, which garnered more than 700 entries from throughout the Richmond area, was designed to familiarize young people with organ transplantation, as well as highlight the use of STEM fields in the operating room. The system was formerly known by its more technical name, the da Vinci Surgical System.

The winners, Haasita Akkala and Shriya Chemudupati, entered the contest as a pair and both attend Richmond’s George Henry Moody Middle School. They learned about the contest through a booth VCU Health had at the Metro Richmond STEM Fair that was hosted by the MathScience Innovation Center.

In coming up with a name, the pair said they wanted to be welcoming.

“We wanted people to think HARPER is their best friend,” Chemudupati said.

“We wanted to make it child friendly. We heard it could also be used for children so we wanted to not make it (the name) scary,” Akkala said.

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A fresh perspective: Device helps paralyzed patients operate laptop with their eyes

Shannon Mitchell tests the mobile cart designed by VCU Health medical and IT team.

Shannon Mitchell tests the mobile cart designed by VCU Health medical and IT team.

The movement of limbs comes so fluidly and effortlessly for many of us that it is easy to take for granted. But those who work in the VCU Health Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation know from firsthand observation that the independence that comes with mobility is a gift. That is why a VCU Health rehabilitation specialist and a technology expert teamed up to create an innovative device that gives patients with tetraplegia the ability to use a laptop with just their eyes.

Tetraplegia indicates paralysis of all four limbs or of the entire body below the neck. To accommodate patients with tetraplegia, the VCU team designed a mobile cart with an extendable arm that holds a laptop. The wheels of the device slide under a patient’s bed, and the arm extends and positions the laptop above a patient’s hospital bed. Placed just above the laptop’s keyboard is a Tobii, a thin, eye-gazer device that uses infrared technology to perform the same function as a computer’s mouse. The patient uses their eyes to select mouse functions and perform keyboard stokes.

The device allows patients to experience the normalcy of communicating via computer and it has the ability to assist people with decreased upper extremity and hand function, such as those with spinal cord injury, stroke, ALS, MS, brain injury and burn injuries, and will be available to all VCU Health patients in need. VCU Health team members said the project was fulfilling on many different levels.

“Seeing our idea become a real thing that could help increase the quality of lives, and receiving the support and enthusiasm from everyone involved who helped make this unique and simple solution a reality, was rewarding,” said John Watson, the IT technician at VCU Health who helped create the cart that holds the laptop.

Watson worked with Shannon Mitchell, a recreation therapist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, to design the cart. They also collaborated with Jerry Langford, a senior systems administrator for the VCU Health parasurgical unit who served as a liaison with the manufacturer, to bring the project to fruition.

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VCU Health receives 2016 Vista Award for renovation, expansion of emergency department

The VCU Advanced Trauma Resuscitation Room is uniquely designed to handle mass trauma events such as those caused by natural disasters, large-scale accidents and terrorist attacks. Photos courtesy of University Relations.

The VCU Advanced Trauma Resuscitation Room is uniquely designed to handle mass trauma events such as those caused by natural disasters, large-scale accidents and terrorist attacks. Photos courtesy of University Relations.

The American Society of Healthcare Engineering, a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association, announced that VCU Health has won a 2016 Vista Award for the execution and completion of its renovated, 67,000-square-foot Department of Emergency Medicine.

VCU Health was one of only three hospital teams given the award for either construction, renovation or infrastructure projects that exemplify collaboration in creating optimal health care environments. ASHE said each winning team exemplified outstanding teamwork in all stages of their respective health care projects, from planning to the final reveal.

The VCU Health renovation was executed in four phases and included a new advanced trauma resuscitation room and a state-of-the-art renovation of the pediatric emergency room, the triage area and radiology services. The emergency department is on the ground floor of VCU Medical Center in downtown Richmond. More than 98,000 patients are treated there each year, including more than 4,000 trauma patients.

VCU Health officials said the award is a reflection of stellar departmental collaboration, among other attributes.

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Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU celebrates new outpatient Children’s Pavilion


Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday celebrated a new standard of pediatric outpatient care with the ribbon-cutting for its new Children’s Pavilion.

The pavilion, located on Broad Street between 10th and 11th streets, is the largest, most advanced outpatient facility dedicated to children in the region. The culmination of more than five years of planning and preparation, the new pediatric facility marks a milestone in advancing children’s health care and meets the growing need for coordinated outpatient services.

“VCU’s $200 million investment in the new outpatient Children’s Pavilion is an important contribution to the health of Virginia’s families,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “The connection between healthy children, a healthy workforce and a healthy economy cannot be overstated. As we work to build a new Virginia economy, it is essential that we make the strategic investments necessary to ensure that all of our citizens have access to high-quality medical services.”

With 90 percent of pediatric care occurring on an outpatient basis, ease of access is not just convenient, it’s critical. In addition to leading-edge clinical care, the building also features collaborative spaces to enhance the research and teaching pillars on which CHoR was built.

“The Children’s Pavilion is a landmark facility for Virginia Commonwealth University and for Central Virginia,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “It is part of the recognition that ours is a nationally premier medical center that’s on par with the best in the country. But most importantly, it is a place that makes a profound difference in the lives of children and their families.”

The 15-story, 640,000-square-foot facility opens to children and families on March 21, bringing together nearly all pediatric outpatient services under one roof. Designed to provide families the most advanced and coordinated care possible, the pavilion houses radiology, same-day surgery, lab testing, dialysis, infusions and more in an environment custom-made for kids. Clinical levels are divided into pods to increase collaboration and efficiency of care while making navigation through the building as easy as possible for patients and families.

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Take an interactive tour of the Children’s Pavilion at

VCU Medical Center recognized as Magnet-designated hospital for third time

VCU Health employees celebrate the recent Magnet designation for VCU Medical Center.

VCU Health employees celebrate the recent Magnet designation for VCU Medical Center.

Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center has been recognized as a Magnet-designated hospital for the third time by the American Nurses Credentialing Center after demonstrating excellence in patient care in four areas of focus throughout the hospital.

Representatives from nursing, medical staff, hospital administration and members of VCU Health received notification of the re-designation from the ANCC, the nation’s largest and leading nursing credentialing organization within the American Nurses Association, on Jan. 21. VCU Medical Center first earned the designation in 2006 and again in 2011.

“To be recognized as a Magnet® hospital three times in a row, particularly since the standards have become increasingly more challenging, means that the bar is rising, our performance is improving and we are continuing to look at how we can better serve our community, our team and most of all our patients,” said Deborah Zimmermann, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at VCU Health.

“The Magnet® Commission specifically recognized the comprehensive approach in the prevention of unique pathogens, the expertise and innovation in the prevention of hospital-acquired conditions, the organizational dedication to education and the ability to drive improvements in clinical outcomes because of an empowered team,” she said.

Magnet® designation recognizes excellence in 45 rigorous standards that touch all aspects of nursing, from professional practice, organizational planning, leadership, innovation, patient outcomes and nursing research. The VCU Medical Center received a score of excellent in all of these standards.

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VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center introduces procedure to help chronic pancreatitis patients

Marlon Levy, M.D.

Marlon Levy, M.D.

The Virginia Commonwealth University Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center is now offering a procedure that can provide relief from debilitating, chronic and painful pancreatitis while allowing patients to maintain good blood-sugar management.

Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that persists and worsens over time. It often develops in people between the ages of 30 and 40 and can be caused by many different conditions, including genetic (inherited) causes, gallstones and long-term alcohol use. Other causes include certain auto-immune conditions and cystic fibrosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. Removal of the pancreas is sometimes a patient’s best hope for relief, but in doing so the body’s ability to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar is also removed.

The Hume-Lee Transplant Center now offers a treatment called total pancreatectomy with islet cell auto-transplantation that involves removing a patient’s diseased pancreas, extracting its islet cell clusters (cells that produce insulin) and placing them inside the patient’s own liver, which then begins to produce insulin. This procedure also allows the patient to avoid being placed on the transplant waiting list and having to take anti-rejection medications for the remainder of their life.

The surgery takes around 10 hours and includes a hospital stay of eight to 10 days. The long-term results, however, far outweigh the laboriousness of the procedure, providers said.

“Total pancreatectomy with islet auto-transplantation offers dramatic improvement in quality of life and freedom from debilitating pain, while preserving good blood-sugar control. It’s a breakthrough in the treatment of an otherwise very painful, intractable disease,” said Marlon Levy, M.D., chair of the Division of Transplant Surgery and director of the VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center.

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VCU Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety earns national accreditation


The Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety was recently designated as a Comprehensive Accredited Education Institute by the American College of Surgeons.

The center, which is a collaboration between the VCU School of Medicine and VCU Health, conducts a diverse range of simulation-based training for students, residents, faculty and health system staff. Learners at the center practice procedural skills such as airway management, lumbar punctures and central line insertion in addition to integrative skills such as neonatal resuscitation and interprofessional team simulations. The center has been providing simulation-based training at VCU since 2008.

“Simulation-based education provides a different kind of learning than traditional lecture-based medical education,” said Ellen Brock, M.D. (M.P.H.’97/M), professor of obstetrics and gynecology and medical director of the center. “It is very experiential. It allows you to put thoughts into practice with feedback, which is a powerful way of learning.”

The overall goals of the ACS-AEI program are to promote patient safety through the use of simulation, develop new education and technologies, and identify and implement best practices in surgical education. In addition to externally validating the quality of work conducted at VCU, the accreditation offers the center participation in the AEI Consortium with other accredited institutions, as well as the opportunity to collaborate in areas of curriculum design, evaluation of educational outcomes and development of technologies for teaching.

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Longtime VCU benefactor makes $16M Gift to VCU’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research

C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright

C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright

Virginia Commonwealth University announced today that longtime benefactor C. Kenneth Wright has made a $16 million gift to name the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research at VCU.

The gift, from Wright and the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Foundation, is the fifth-largest single gift in the history of the university. The gift will establish six C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chairs in Clinical and Translational Research and the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Physician-Scientist Scholars program, named for Wright and his late wife, Dianne.

“The center is improving the lives of patients at VCU Health,” Wright said.  “I am excited about helping to put the very best faculty and students in the laboratories and clinics so new discoveries can be made and new treatments can be developed. I am very grateful for the excellent care Dianne received at VCU Health, and I know that she would be very pleased about this gift and the impact it will have across VCU.”

The endowed chairs, established with $12 million of the gift, will enable the university to recruit distinguished clinical and translational researchers from around the country. Initially, faculty whose research is focused in the Pauley Heart Center and the Massey Cancer Center will be awarded the chairs, which will be held for five years. The chairs can then be renewed or shifted to other areas of excellence in the health sciences.

The additional $4 million will launch the physician-scientist scholars program, which will help VCU prepare the best and brightest students for careers in clinical and translational research, providing tuition and stipends for M.D.-Ph.D. candidates in the VCU School of Medicine.

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