Dr. Johns

September 2006

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It is that time of the year again when students fill the classrooms, the walkways, the green spaces, and breathe youth and vigor into our campus.  Although I should never need to be reminded, I am nonetheless reminded each fall of why we exist as an academic health center, and that is to teach and train. 

I applaud our WHSC Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, and I heartily welcome the 3,200+ students across the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.  


photo of Dr. FoegeIt is with great pleasure that I share Dr. William H. (Bill) Foege’s significant honor as the recipient of the 2007 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind. Established in 1997 by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Board of Directors and awarded annually, this award honors those individuals whose outstanding humanitarian efforts and achievements have improved the health of humanity. Dr. Foege, a Presidential Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus in the Hubert Department of Global Health at our Rollins School of Public Health, has championed many issues over his long career and the impact of his work in the areas of child survival and development, injury prevention, and public health leadership, particularly in developing countries, has made astounding and lasting change in the lives of many.  Congratulations to Bill as he joins the ranks of a distinguished group of previous recipients that includes Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, and General Colin Powell, among others.

Dr. Foege is the recipient of many awards, holds honorary degrees from numerous institutions, and was named a Fellow of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1997.  He is the author of more than 125 professional publications.   We are extremely proud that he is a faculty member at Emory.



Emory University Hospital deserves congratulations for its recent certification from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) as a primary stroke center, one of a select number in the State of Georgia. The JCAHO certification recognizes the Emory MBNA Stroke Center for its rapid response in diagnosis and treatment, and efforts to foster better outcomes. Emory clinicians and staff have helped hospitals across the state improve stroke care through the Paul Coverdell Stroke Registry, created in 2001. The registry tracks stroke and available treatment across Georgia and was instrumental in data collection and quality improvement for the JCAHO certification. JCAHO will soon begin its certification process for comprehensive stroke centers, and Emory will apply for that designation as well.

Radiation Oncology in The Emory Clinic has received the inaugural 2006 Outpatient Excellence Award for Oncology Centers from Outpatient Care Technology magazine and is featured in the August/September issue. The award took into account factors such as customer service, financial performance, innovation, operational efficiency, strategic vision, and teamwork. The magazine’s editor, Rick Barlow, said that Radiation Oncology “represented the pioneering and innovative spirit required of a trend-setter, blending human knowledge and teamwork with mechanical support to treat and heal patients physically, mentally, and emotionally.” Of the four finalists for the award, Emory’s group was the one, he said, that “clearly demonstrated the depth and experience we were looking to showcase to our readers.”

Finally, the entire Emory Clinic is one of six recipients nationwide of the Press Ganey Success Story Award and the only medical practice group among the winners. Press Ganey is a national firm that gathers survey data to help facilities like ours improve services provided to patients throughout the organization, from front-line staff to clinicians. The Clinic focused its efforts on improving survey scores in one priority area: information about waits and delays in all of its varied 66 locations in metro Atlanta and around the state and region. The patient relations team will be recognized for its success in improving patient scores and will give a presentation at the national Press Ganey meeting in November. My heartfelt congratulations to all for this recognition and, more important, for helping us serve our patients better.

These awards are varied components of the overall quality and safety initiatives we strongly support within Emory Healthcare and across the entire Woodruff Health Sciences Center.


photo Dr. Nathan Spell
Dr. Richard GitomerDr. Penny Castellano

Speaking of quality as a defining point of our culture both in Emory Healthcare and throughout the WHSC, I am pleased to share several recent quality leadership appointments in Emory Healthcare. (From top to bottom) Nathan Spell, MD, has been named chief quality officer for Emory University Hospital; Richard Gitomer, MD, was appointed chief quality officer at Emory Crawford Long Hospital; and Penny Castellano, MD, was appointed the chief quality officer at The Emory Clinic. Both Spell and Gitomer are former Fellows of the Woodruff Leadership Academy (WLA), from the 2006 and 2003 classes, respectively.

The three chief quality officers will report to William Bornstein, MD, PhD, who serves as the CQO for Emory Healthcare and is the chief medical officer for Emory Hospitals. The chief quality officers will work with physicians and hospital staff to help the organization measure, assess, and improve the quality of care we deliver.

Recent chief medical officer appointments include Ira Horowitz, MD, for Emory University Hospital, and James Steinberg, MD, for Emory Crawford Long Hospital. The chief medical officers provide administrative leadership in areas such as credentialing, accreditation, regulatory activities and budgeting. They work directly with the chief quality officers on quality improvement.



Image for TelemedicineThrough a partnership with the State of Georgia, Georgia’s Commissioner of Insurance John Oxendine, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, and with the support of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, Emory has become an active participant in the Georgia Telemedicine Program’s telemedicine initiative.  The concept behind the initiative is for all Georgians to be within 30 miles of a hospital or other presentation site linking patients to one of four sites where they can receive consultations from specialists.  Through Emory’s Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression at Wesley Woods, Geriatric Psychiatry is the first specialty at Emory to participate in the telemedicine initiative.  A very special thank you goes out to Dr. William M. McDonald (left), J. B. Fuqua Chair for Late-Life Depression, Eve Heemann Byrd (right), Associate Director of the Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression, Administrative Assistant DeAngelia Igodan, and the rest of the physicians and staff at the Fuqua Center for their hard work in making this happen.  Plans are currently underway to expand Emory’s involvement in the telemedicine initiative in the very near future.


Image of Heilpern
Image of Kellermann

Another former WLA Fellow, Katherine Heilpern, MD (class of 2004), vice-chair for academic affairs in the medical school’s department of emergency medicine, is stepping in to serve as interim chair of the department over the next year as Arthur Kellermann, MD, chair of the department, goes to Washington, D.C., to serve a health policy fellowship sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Dr. Kellermann is one of seven health professionals with a wide range of academic and community-based experience selected to take part in the program this year. Established by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1973, the health policy fellowship program is administered by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


photo of Dr. KoplanAt 1:00 p.m. EDT on September 13, authors of a new Institute of Medicine report, “Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?” will discuss their findings at a one-hour media briefing at the National Academies Building in Washington, D.C. You can watch a live webcast of the briefing and submit questions using an email form at Jeff Koplan, MD, Emory’s Vice President for Academic Health Affairs, chaired this committee and will share the podium with Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist with  RTI International in Washington, D.C.; Marshall Kreuter, visiting professor at the Public Health Institute at Georgia State University; Eduardo Sanchez, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services; and Toni Yancey, director of health services at the school of public health at UCLA. Their report examines the progress made by obesity-prevention initiatives in the United States over the past two years and outlines next steps for evaluating policies and programs that support obesity-prevention goals. This report builds on the IOM’s 2005 report “Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance,” which recommended ways that families, schools, industry, the media, communities, and government could work together to address rising rates of obesity in children.


Each year when the academic calendar gets underway, there is always restored energy and a number of exciting events happening across our campus.   A few upcoming highlights include:

  • Military Observations during a Public Health System Emergency will be the topic when Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore, Commanding General, First United States Army, speaks on September 13 at 6:30 p.m. (reception begins at 6:00 p.m.) as part of the Triangle Lecture Series. General Honore, a Louisiana native, led the Department of Defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. For location and registration information, visit
  • The WHSC is an organizing sponsor of the American International Medical Summit on Biotherapeutics and Medical Designs (AIMS on BioDesign) to be held September 18-20 at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta. The summit will offer educational sessions to facilitate invention, patenting, and early-stage development of medical devices and will provide invaluable networking opportunities to support growing collaborations among industry, investors, and academic institutions. I will personally moderate a President's Round Table that includes Emory University President James Wagner, University of Georgia President Michael Adams, Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough, and Medical College of Georgia President Daniel W. Rahn. The event is chaired by cardiothoracic surgeon Omar Lattouf (director of the Emory Center for Device Innovation) and co-chaired by cardiothoracic surgeon Robert Guyton. Detailed information and registration is available at
  • The Times of Our Lives: Physiologic Variability in Critical Illness and Recovery will be Dr. Timothy Buchman’s topic when he speaks at the upcoming Physics Colloquium on September 29 at 4 p.m. (refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m.). Dr. Buchman, of the department of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, specializes in surgical critical care including trauma and burn care with a special interest in sepsis and multiple organ failure. For location and further information, visit
  • David Leach, MD, executive director of ACGME, will speak on The Formation of Resident Physicians: A Journey to Authenticity, on October 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the WHSCAB auditorium. All are invited to attend. 



We are proud to be one of two universities selected by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to serve as initial institutions for conducting a “Medical Research Festival” aimed at highlighting the relationship between our nation’s medical schools, teaching hospitals, other professional schools, and the National Institutes of Health. We have opted to incorporate the Medical Research Festival event into a University-wide Research Appreciation Day consisting of numerous events in recognition of the significant accomplishments by Emory’s researchers to move research from the bench to the bedside.  Be sure to mark your calendars for this event on Wednesday, December 6.   The day will be capped off with a Future Makers Lecture by Johns Hopkins University President William R. Brody. More information on this special day will be shared in the coming months.



I was recently asked where I thought great ideas originate. While they may often arise from focused think tanks or in reaction to works performed previously in the past, I have to say that I believe many great ideas begin with unbridled utilization of the imagination. Psychologists have spent significant time researching the imagination and the process of how our minds develop ideas and concepts from what is often a mental simulation.  All the great research work being what it is, I simply contend that we often develop our best ideas while relaxing, reflecting, and imagining what could be, what might be, what ought to be. 

I challenge each of you to find a time and place to allow your imagination to think what could be, and from those images develop some plans to support what may very well be the best ideas you have ever created.

I thank each and every employee and supporter of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center for your efforts in creating ideas, developing ideas, and moving those ideas to reality.


Michael M.E. Johns, MD
CEO, Woodruff Health Sciences Center