October 30th, 2017
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The week’s top stories
Medica Names New Chief Medical Officer
John Mach, Jr., MD, has been named Medica’s new chief medical officer. He steps into the role on Nov. 6, succeeding Alan Spiro, who held the position since July 5, 2016.
Mach has more than 31 years of medical experience. Most recently, he served as chief medical officer for Evolent Health in Arlington, VA. Before that, he served as the president of complex care management at Univita Health Inc., based in Miramar, FL. He has also served as chief medical officer at several organizations, including UnitedHealth Group, where he also served as chairman and chief executive officer of its Evercare division. He earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he also completed a residency in internal medicine.
“Dr. Mach is a highly respected physician who is also an accomplished health care executive with extensive clinical and business expertise,” said John Naylor, president and CEO of Medica. “He has a passion for driving large-scale clinical, quality, and cost improvements for a wide range of populations. I have great confidence in his ability to bring continuous improvement to the clinical care provided to our members as well as the service delivery provided at the site of care.”
Minnesota Joins International HIV Treatment as Prevention Campaign
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has joined an international HIV prevention campaign called Undetectable = Untransmittable, also known as U=U.
The campaign is a growing community of HIV advocates, activists, researchers, and nearly 400 community partners from 60 countries that are uniting to clarify and disseminate the revolutionary but largely unknown fact that people living with HIV on effective treatment do not sexually transmit HIV. It was launched in 2016 by a group of people living with HIV who created a consensus statement with global experts to clear up confusion about the science of U=U.
The scientific consensus says that people living with HIV who take antiretroviral therapy daily and are able to get and keep undetectably low levels of HIV in their blood effectively have no risk of transmitting HIV to their sex partners. The concept is also known as treatment as prevention. People living with HIV need to take their medications daily as prescribed and receive regular viral load screening from their health care provider to ensure it remains undetectable.
“In addition to supporting HIV treatment as prevention, we must continue to support consistent and correct condom use, regular HIV screening, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent sexual transmission of HIV,” said Kristen Ehresmann, infectious disease director at MDH. “One or more of these methods may be appropriate depending on individual circumstances, and only condoms also protect against other STDs and pregnancy.”
Minnesota is the third state health department to participate in the campaign, joining the New York Department of Health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health endorse the science behind the campaign.
MDH is currently developing a campaign to educate people about the benefits of HIV treatment as prevention, with the idea that public awareness can decrease HIV stigma, improve the quality and length of life for people living with HIV and their partners, and provide additional incentive for people living with HIV to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. Minnesota’s rate of people known to be living with HIV who are virally suppressed was 63 percent in 2016, compared to a national rate of 49 percent in 2014. The United Nations has set a goal of reaching 90 percent by 2020.
Mankato Installs Two New Drug Disposal Boxes
Blue Earth County has purchased two drug drop box units for disposal of unwanted, unused, and expired medications with a $2,000 grant from Mayo Clinic Health System.
The county has had one drop box in service since December 2011. The additional boxes, located at the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office in Mankato, will make the free, anonymous service easier to access and allow the county to safely dispose of more medications.
“Before we were able to purchase and install the two additional drug collection boxes with the help of Mayo Clinic Health System, the box would fill up quickly and need to be emptied at least once a week,” said Jean Lundquist, senior waste and recycling specialist with Blue Earth County. “With the additional drop boxes, we’re able to collect more medications and keep them out of our drinking water and out of the hands of those who would abuse them.”
“Finding an appropriate place to discard medications can be difficult, so this program is extremely beneficial to our community,” said Laura Bowman, regional director of strategic partnerships and community relations at Mayo Clinic Health System. “Ultimately, our goal as an organization is to contribute to improving health and wellness in the communities we serve. And funding these two new drop boxes was a great way to collaborate with Blue Earth County to keep our residents safe and healthy.”
U of M Names New Dean of Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School has named Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, as its new dean, effective Oct. 23. He replaces Brooks Jackson, MD, MBA, who held the position for three years. Tolar has also been named interim vice president for health sciences, a position that Jackson also previously held, while the University determines next steps for the structure of the health sciences program.
Jackson has taken the position of vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa.
Tolar, originally from the Czech Republic, has been with the University of Minnesota for 25 years. Most recently, he served as executive vice dean of the medical school and director of the Stem Cell Institute for a year. He also has a clinical practice through the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
Tolar completed medical school at Charles University in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and began studying at the University of Minnesota in 1992, where he completed his PhD in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and genetics.
Minneapolis Heart Institute Expands Mobile App for Cardiac Care
The Minneapolis Heart Institute has released an expanded version of its free resource mobile app for emergency cardiovascular care that includes non-emergency protocols, due to the unexpected and widespread popularity of the app.
It was originally developed by physicians to assist in treating patients as quickly as possible and was created for the 100 or so first responders at the more than 40 community hospitals throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin that Minneapolis Heart Institute partners with on emergency cardiovascular care. The app has now been downloaded more than 3,000 times in seven countries.
The new version of the app includes an additional 16 non-emergency protocols to help physicians with the complex arena of blood-thinning medications, including managing bleeding, changing between different blood thinners, treating blood clots in the lung, and considerations related to preparedness for heart procedures. It also includes guides for determining which cardiac test is best to most accurately and efficiently diagnose patients and which cholesterol medication is best for each patient, as well as the ability to talk immediately to a cardiologist or schedule
News in brief
CentraCare Adds Perinatology Services for High-Risk Pregnancies
CentraCare–Monticello Birth Center is partnering with St. Cloud Hospital to provide perinatology services for women with high-risk pregnancies in
Expectant mothers can now receive perinatology services, including first trimester ultrasounds, fetal echocardiograms, non-invasive prenatal testing, genetic counseling, and one-on-one telehealth consults with a perinatologist from St. Cloud Hospital to determine if further testing is necessary.
“Partnering with St. Cloud Hospital to offer perinatology services in Monticello demonstrates CentraCare’s investment in health care in our community,” said Tim Olson, MD, OB/GYN at Stellis Health–Monticello Clinic and medical director at CentraCare Health–Monticello Birth Center. “We have always been proud of the care we offer to moms and babies, and now we are enhancing that care to support healthier births for moms with high-risk pregnancies.”
U of M School of Nursing Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion
The University of Minnesota School of Nursing has received the 2017 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The award recognizes medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing, and allied health schools across the U.S. that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is one of seven schools of nursing to receive the award this year.
The award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, as well as best practices for both; continued leadership support for diversity; and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.
“We take a holistic approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”
Physician Recognized for Commitment to Cancer Clinical Trial Research
Patrick Flynn, MD, director of research for Minnesota Oncology, has received the 2017 Harry Hynes Award from the Metro-Minnesota chapter of the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), a National Cancer Institute (NCI) supported network that brings cancer prevention clinical trials and cancer care delivery research to people in their communities.
The award recognizes local community researchers who embody the attributes of the leadership and commitment demonstrated by Harry Hynes, MD, an Irish native who came to Kansas in 1960 and became a pioneer in developing one of the nation’s first Clinical Community Oncology Programs in 1983.
Flynn’s career as an NCI community researcher began when he joined Minnesota Oncology in 1985. NCORP describes him as a visionary investigator educated in the Midwest who built a practice with more than 140 researchers and 50 research staff. He began the discussion about insurance coverage years ago and successfully engaged insurers in his community to support clinical trials.
Flynn specializes in autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation; hematology, including bleeding and clotting disorders; and research on colorectal cancer. He also serves as medical director for autologous bone marrow and stem cell transplants at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and is a principal investigator for the NCI grant-funded Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium. He earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota
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