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June 25, 2010

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Message from Johnese Spisso

Photo of Johnese Spisso

UW Medicine implements key priorities of strategic plan

Dear Colleagues: 

I write to bring you up to date on the progress with the UW Medicine Strategic Planning initiative. We have proceeded rapidly in fiscal year 2010 with implementation of key priorities of the strategic plan adopted last summer. One of the major accomplishments has been our affiliation with Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, which has joined UW Medicine as our seventh entity. Our comprehensive health system now includes Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest. This expanded system positions us best to serve our region for primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary care.

Our strategic plan is focused on building key clinical programs through direct investment and the development of core systems and organizational capabilities that support those services required to meet our mission of improving health. Our strategic priorities and approaches are as follows:

Building key clinical programs will be accomplished by:

  • Investing in the development of new centers of excellence in eye, pain, vascular, diabetes/obesity and digestive disorders;
  • Expanding and supporting our market position in established programs of cardiac care, oncology, neurosciences, obstetrics/neonatology, musculoskeletal and transplantation;
  • Ensuring continued public and community support for our core services of trauma, burn, behavioral health, and care for vulnerable populations and the uninsured and underinsured.

Building core systems and organizational capabilities will be accomplished by:

  • Expanding UW Medicine’s ambulatory and secondary care capabilities;
  • Expanding strategic outreach and marketing throughout the WWAMI region to support volumes in tertiary care and expand reach for quaternary care using Airlift Northwest and 24/7 Transfer Center;
  • Consolidating patient access services (call center, transfer center) and expanding the scope to cover all UW Medicine clinical care entities;
  • Engaging in a system-wide initiative to enhance service, quality and safety;
  • Investing in priority information technology systems to support our patient care, quality and safety, administrative and financial activities.

Advancing UW Medicine’s educational and research programs through the planning and execution of appropriate strategic initiatives.

  • Focused development of services, centers and institutes that advance and expand core services of UW Medicine through the translation of research to the bedside;
  • Developing more robust training sites in ambulatory and secondary care settings and expanding teaching support space in new clinical buildings.

The actions we have taken to implement the strategic plan fall into three categories:

  • Investment in programs, facilities, and systems;
  • Organizational change;
  • Reallocation of resources/reduction in duplication.

The following table enumerates the specific actions we have taken to date in each of these three areas and shows how these actions intersect with specific strategic priorities:

Investment in programs, facilities and systems

Organizational change

Reallocation of resources/reduction in duplication

  • Formalized Northwest Hospital & Medical Center (NWH) affiliation with UW Medicine
  • Completed construction and opened the Maleng and Ninth & Jefferson buildings (NBJ) at HMC
  • Opened 3 new institutes:
    -Eye Institute at HMC
    -Vascular Center at HMC
    -Pain Relief Center at UWMC Roosevelt
  • Broke ground on the UWMC Inpatient Tower expansion for NICU and Oncology services
  • Added additional floors to shell expansion in the new UWMC Inpatient Tower
  • Updated the Airlift Northwest fleet with all new EC-135 helicopters; and implemented safety program additions, including night vision goggles and infrared flight tracking
  • Developed UW Medicine Radiation Oncology program for NWH
  • Initiated planning for the SCCA’s Proton Beam at NWH campus
  • Completed research development with Microsoft and acquired the Amalga IT system
  • Established and opened three new clinical care centers/institutes
  • Restructured/consolidated the call center functions for HMC and UWPN; UWMC is next
  • Expanded the 24/7 Transfer Center to accept patient interfacility transfers from region to HMC, UWMC and NWH
  • Integrated Human Resources and Organizational Development & Training teams to consolidate across the system and improve service at a reduced cost
  • Integrated Compliance teams to consolidate across the system to standardize and improve service
  • Integrated the Prosthetics & Orthotics services at UWMC and HMC to consolidate into one site for training, production and dispensing of devices
  • Completed organizational performance assessment of News, Community Relations & Marketing Department to best position UW Medicine for improvements in strategic marketing and outreach efforts
  • Initiated the UW Medicine “Patients First” service excellence engagement at HMC, UWMC, NWH, UWP, UWPN and ALNW with the Studer Group
  • Launched strategic outreach plan throughout WWAMI with ALNW and our physicians
  • Accelerating CPOE in the ORCA/Cerner project to meet the health reform “meaningful use” criteria
  • Reallocated use of beds and space in clinics between sites to improve service integration and patient service
  • Prioritized and expanded access at HMC and UWMC for UWPN patients
  • Prioritized 8th floor Oncology Unit ahead of 5th floor space completion in UWMC Inpatient Tower construction planning
  • Consolidated HMC’s OB/family planning services to UWMC Roosevelt
  • Closed WIC programs at HMC and UWMC Roosevelt as these are conveniently available in the community from dispensing agencies
  • Consolidated acute stroke care from UWMC and HMC to HMC as the JCAHO-accredited site and at NWH as the north-end portal
  • Consolidating neurosurgical cases to align benign tumors at HMC, malignant tumors at UWMC


As we have moved into the implementation phase, we have made several important changes to some elements of our strategic plan for the UW Medicine health system to best position us for national health reform and to enhance our ability to function in the future as an integrated health system. 

We have made tremendous progress in implementing our strategic plan this past year.  I would like to thank the faculty, staff and leadership team members for your dedication and work together that has supported this success. I look forward to our work together in fiscal year 2011 to continue the key implementation priorities for UW Medicine health system. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. 

Best regards,

Johnese Spisso signature

Johnese Spisso
Vice President, Medical Affairs, UW &
COO, UW Medicine Health System



 UW faculty members awarded federal grants to increase patient safety, decrease medical liability

Thomas Gallagher

Two UW Medicine faculty members are recipients of federal grants to help Washington state improve patient safety and medical liability reforms.

Thomas Gallagher, UW associate professor of medicine and of bioethics and humanities, received a $2.9 million demonstration grant to create a statewide initiative involving communication training for health care workers and a collaboration between hospitals and a malpractice insurer to improve adverse event analysis, disclosure, and compensation. The goal of Gallagher’s demonstration project, Communication to Prevent and Respond to Medical Injuries: WA State Collaborative, is to enhance the culture of health care communication in order to improve patient safety and decrease medical malpractice liability.

Karen Domino, UW professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine, received a $295,837 planning grant to develop and implement patient-friendly shared decision-making tools and processes for patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery in the UW Medicine health system. Shared decision-making improves patient safety by enhancing patient understanding and empowering patients to actively participate in the care.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality awarded the grants to Gallagher, Domino and several other researchers across the country as part of the $25 million patient safety and medical liability initiative announced by President Obama last September. The initiative seeks to help states and health care systems test models that put patient safety first and work to reduce preventable injuries; foster better communication between doctors and patients; ensure that patients are compensated in a fair and timely manner for medical injuries, while reducing the incidence of frivolous lawsuits; and reduce liability premiums.

For more information, visit http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/liability.

Flexible approach improves treatment of anxiety disorders, study says

People with anxiety disorders showed a greater relief of symptoms and a better ability to function when their primary-care physicians used a flexible approach to treatment, according to a study led by Peter Roy-Byrne, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

The study looked at ways that primary-care practices could improve the provision of commonly used strategies for anxiety disorders, rather than testing new therapies. The researchers called the approach CALM, for Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management. The study looked at the four most common anxiety disorders: panic attacks, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.

The CALM intervention included real-time web-based outcomes monitoring to optimize treatment decisions. It also had a computer-assisted program to optimize the cognitive behavioral therapy provided by non-expert care managers. The care managers also assisted primary-care clinicians in promoting adherence and optimizing medications.

The randomized controlled effectiveness trial of CALM compared with usual care took place in 17 primary-care clinics in four American cities. Between June 2006 and April 2008, 1,004 patients, ages 18 to 75 years, were enrolled.

Patients who were given a choice of cognitive behavior therapy, medication, or both, along with computer-assisted treatment support, had a response rate of more than 63 percent. Patients treated with usual care had about a 45 percent response rate.

The flexible approach resulted in a remission rate at one year of more than 51 percent, compared to about 33 percent for usual care. The advantages of the flexible approach seemed to persist for at least a year.

The CALM model "fits primary-care clinician preferences for interventions that have the capacity to address a range of common mental disorders rather than just one," the researchers noted. "The clinical effectiveness across a range of patients and clinics suggest that the CALM treatment delivery model should be broadly applicable in primary care.”

The study was published in the May 19 Journal of the American Medical Association. Roy-Byrne is a researcher, teacher and psychiatrist at UW Medicine’s Harborview Center for Healthcare Improvement for Addictions, Mental Illness and Medically Vulnerable Populations (CHAMMP).



Clinical Care

  Ann Ramsay-Jenkins and Northwest Kidney Centers receive 2010 Volunteer Service Award

Ann Ramsay-JenkinsAnn Ramsay-Jenkins, a former three-term member of the UW Medicine Board and current chair of the UW Medicine Scholarship and Student Support Committee, and  Northwest Kidney Centers are the dual recipients of the third annual Ragen Volunteer Service Award.

Both were honored during the annual UW Medicine Board dinner held June 7 at the Rainier Club in downtown Seattle.

Named for Brooks G. Ragen, who has served UW Medicine for many years in numerous volunteer capacities, the award recognizes extraordinary volunteer leadership, a passion for medicine, and a commitment to UW Medicine through the length and breadth of services given by a volunteer, faculty or staff member.

This year’s award recognizes Ramsay-Jenkins’s work as a dedicated and enthusiastic UW Medicine volunteer leader who served on the UW Medicine Board for three terms from July 1996 to June 2006. She chaired the board from 2004 to 2006, served as vice chair from 2001-2004, and succeeded Brooks Ragen as chair of the UW Medicine Scholarship and Student Support Committee. She is co-founder, vice president and treasurer of the College Success Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes philanthropy and scholarship aid for economically disadvantaged young people. Ramsay-Jenkins also served two terms as a member of Washington's Higher Education Coordinating Board, chaired the United Way of King County Board, the Seattle Repertory Theatre Board of Trustees, and was founding chair of the Seattle Repertory Theatre Foundation.

The 2010 Ragen Volunteer Service Award also acknowledges the strong and longstanding partnership of Northwest Kidney Centers (NKC) and UW Medicine since the Centers’ founding in 1962. Together, the two institutions have achieved many major advances in the treatment of kidney failure, and continue to collaborate through the Kidney Research Institute on cutting-edge clinical and translational research. NKC was honored for extraordinary leadership and the impact its advocacy has had on UW Medicine's mission to improve the health of the public.

The nonprofit Northwest Kidney Centers provides the majority of dialysis care in King and Clallam counties and educates the public about kidney health. In addition to its collaborative work with UW Medicine through the Kidney Research Institute, NKC’s staff of 550 people delivers more than 200,000 treatments per year in 14 dialysis centers and 11 hospitals. It also maintains one of the country’s largest training and support programs for people who want to give themselves dialysis at home. Its mission – to promote health, independence and quality of life for people with kidney disease – and its continuing collaborative partnership with UW Medicine remain vital today.

UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center have been recognized for their outstanding environmental programs by Practice Greenhealth. The organization announced the 2010 Environmental Excellence Award winners at an award ceremony held in conjunction with the international CleanMed Conference in Baltimore last month.

 UW Radiology and Cardinal Health partner on molecular imaging

The UW Department of Radiology and Cardinal Health announced June 7 a new collaboration to advance the use of molecular imaging in clinical investigations and trials.

Molecular imaging is one of the fastest-growing areas in biotechnology, where specialized radiopharmaceuticals, or Positron Emission Tomography (PET) “imaging agents,” are injected into the body to detect and trace abnormal cellular functions that are associated with health issues such as heart disease, neurology disorders and cancer. These imaging agents, visible using sophisticated imaging scanners, make it easier for physicians to non-invasively diagnose disease at the earliest stages of onset. The agents can also improve physicians’ ability to track the efficacy of patient treatment plans.

Through this collaboration, the UW’s Department of Radiology will relocate a portion of its on-campus molecular tracer laboratories into Cardinal Health’s nuclear pharmacy facility located in downtown Seattle. The UW laboratories that are making the move include one led by John Grierson, UW research scientist. He developed the PET agent F-18 fluorothymidine (FLT), which is now distributed nationally through Cardinal Health for use in a wide array of clinical trials.

Cardinal Health manufactures PET imaging agents with an on-site cyclotron and then compounds those agents into patient-specific doses in its nuclear pharmacy. UW’s Department of Radiology will also have access to Cardinal Health’s cyclotron, radiopharmaceutical products and research support services, to aid in the efficient operation of its research facility.

“Consistent with the cycle of innovation, we look forward to collaboratively working with Cardinal Health to develop new uses for molecular imaging tracers – and the clinical applications of tomorrow,” said Norman J. Beauchamp, Jr., UW professor of radiology and chair of the Department of Radiology.

“Cardinal Health’s nuclear pharmacy expertise and its commitment to supporting the growth of molecular imaging through clinical investigations make it an outstanding partner to help us work toward our ultimate, shared goal: to lessen the impact of devastating conditions including cancer, neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease,” said Beauchamp.



Education and Training

 Dedra Buchwald honored for excellence in mentoring women, minority faculty

Dedra BuchwaldDedra Buchwald, UW professor of medicine, has been selected to receive this year’s UW Medicine Award for Excellence in Mentoring Women and Minority Faculty.

Buchwald has been a dedicated mentor over the past 20 years. She has served as advisor and supervisor for numerous medical students, and master’s and doctoral candidates in a variety of fields from epidemiology to nutrition. She has also mentored more than 50 junior faculty investigators and clinician/educators.

She is a longtime advocate for community-based health research and for the health care of American Indian and Alaska Native people, women and Gulf War veterans. Buchwald has been awarded numerous grants to investigate health care for underserved populations, particularly Native communities. She was recently awarded a $10.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the new Center for Native Population and Health Disparities at the UW.

Buchwald is director of the Partnerships for Native Health and the Center for Clinical and Epidemiological Research. She also heads the Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Harborview Medical Center and the UW Twin Registry. She is a former director of the Refugee Clinic at Harborview. 

 Leah Haseley receives 2010 Paul B. Beeson Award

Leah HaseleyLeah A. Haseley, clinical assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology, received the Paul B. Beeson Award for 2010. She was chosen by the medicine residents in recognition of outstanding clinical teaching and for exemplifying scholarliness, humility, compassion and integrity. The award commemorates Dr. Beeson, a Distinguished Physician at the Seattle VA in the 1970s who was celebrated for his teaching skills.

Haseley is an attending physician at Harborview Medical Center and cares for dialysis patients at several community clinics. For the past 10 years she has taught and supervised medical students, residents and fellows on medicine and nephrology services at Harborview. She also lectures for physician assistants and continuing medical education and directs the Nephrology Fellow Mentoring Program. Haseley is a four-time recipient of her division’s Teacher of the Year Award, as well as having received the Harborview Cares Award. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. Hasely was praised by residents for her compassion, personal skills, and great value as a role model.

 Gregory Lipski, inspirational alumnus-patient, dies

Gregory Lipski, 42, UW School of Medicine alumnus, died May 31 after a long battle with leukemia.

When Lipski was in his second year of medical school he was diagnosed with acute lypmphoblastic leukemia, a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

Despite tremendous odds, a bone marrow transplant and post-transplant complications, he persevered and continued his medical studies. He graduated from the UW School of Medicine in 2008 and started residency in anesthesiology at the UW. His residency was cut short when his leukemia returned later that year. He received a second bone marrow transplant in 2009 and later developed complications.

Throughout his illness Lipski maintained contact with medical students through e-mails in which he spoke candidly about his illness and treatment. He wanted doctors in training to understand and value the patient’s experience and perspective.

Lipski was a graduate of Bethel High School in Spanaway, Wash. and attended the UW on a Navy ROTC scholarship. He graduated in 1989 with a degree in electrical engineering. He served five years as a submarine officer in the Navy and earned a master’s degree in engineering at the UW. From 1996 to 2003, Lipski worked in the UW Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and provided technical support to a group that built the first unmanned aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  When he was in his mid-30s Lipski decided to become a doctor.

Lipski is survived by his wife Erin Currin, a UW internal medicine resident, his parents Bernard and Masako Lipski, a brother Curtis Lipski, and sister Vickie Lipski.

Donations may be made to UW Foundation, with a note to direct the gift to the UW Medicine alumni Association Endowed Scholarship in memory of Greg Lipski. The address: UW Medicine Advancement, Attn: Donna Caliri, 815 Mercer St., C-5, Box 358045, Seattle, WA 98109.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday Evenings at the Genome public lecture series, July 7-28

To share the cutting-edge advances in genome sciences with the public, the Department of Genome Sciences hosts a Wednesday Evenings at the Genome public lecture series each summer. The series is designed for a general audience with no background knowledge in genetics or other biological subjects and provides opportunities to chat with presenters:

July 7:   How your diet affects your DNA by John Stamatoyannopoulos, UW assistant professor of genome sciences
July 14:  Making an impact on malaria: What can a geneticist do?  by Carol Sibley, UW professor of genome sciences
July 21:  Watching evolution in action by Maitreya Dunham, UW assistant professor of genome sciences 
July 28:  Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosome Adam: who do your genes come from? by Joe Felsenstein, UW professor
of genome sciences and biology

Presentations begin at 7 p.m., W.H. Foege Building Auditorium (S-060), followed by refreshments at 8 p.m. Contact Carlene Cross at crossc2@uw.edu or 206.221.5374 for more information.

Workshop on survival skills for the research years, July 15-16

Everything you need to know to thrive in academics! 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, July 15, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, July 16, South Lake Union, Room C123 A/B. This free two-day course covers grant writing, scientific writing, oral presentation, job negotiations and other topics. The course is open to fellows and junior faculty from all departments. The workshop is presented by the UW Department of Medicine. Lynn Schnapp, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and Tom Hawn, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, are the instructors. For more information and to register, click here.


In the June 11, 2010 issue of Online News, the Message from Paul Ramsey erroneously listed Andrew Luks as an assistant professor of surgery. He is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. 

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