Archive for the ‘Patients’ Category

A decade of success

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations

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Jialin Zheng, M.D., speaks at a gathering of Asia Pacific Rim Development Program colleagues during a recent visit to China by UNMC faculty and leadership. For Jialin Zheng, M.D., it’s all about friendships.

This week, Dr. Zheng will see the Asia Pacific Rim Development Program, the institutional collaboration he helped develop in 2004 between UNMC and universities in China, celebrate its 10th anniversary.

For a program timeline, click here.

“Time really flies,” said Dr. Zheng. “When you reach the 10-year mark, it gives you the opportunity to look back at what’s been achieved and look ahead to how you can achieve more.”

Program architects

Three people Dr. Zheng credits as being among the program’s architects offered their congratulations on the 10th anniversary:

“The partnership between UNMC and its sister universities in China is an excellent example of international cooperation at its best. From the first exploratory visit, UNMC has stood by its claim of always doing what it says it will do, and our friends in China have reciprocated in kind. I look forward to seeing what the next 10 years will bring.” – Thomas Rosenquist, Ph.D., former vice chancellor for research

“The strong ties that have developed over the years through these exchanges has been of mutual benefit for students, faculty, patient care and community engagement. In addition, it has fostered enduring friendships between and among institutions, and mutual respect and admiration between the peoples. Although cultures may be different and distances are great, our human needs are the same and overcome all obstacles to collaboration.” – Harold M. Maurer, M.D., chancellor emeritus

“I doubt any of us making our first visit to China in 2004 would have forecast the close relationships that have developed between UNMC faculty, staff and students and our Chinese counterparts. . . . Today, our relationship with China goes beyond education and includes research, clinical care and business relations. Nothing could be more satisfying than to have had the opportunity to witness the growing strength of these many relationships. I am confident that the next 10 years will deepen these relations, and the 20-year anniversary in 2024 will have even more to celebrate.” – Don Leuenbeger, vice chancellor, business & finance

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., said UNMC is committed to continuing to strengthen the collaboration. Dr. Gold said goals going forward will include a focus on joint education, particularly enhancing the new joint family medicine program and the soon-to-be-established physical therapy program.

“We also look forward to potentially advancing our collaborations in dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and public health, strengthening the global impact of our health professions programs,” Dr. Gold said.

Joint research in translational research program development will remain a focus as well, he said — promoting joint research proposal applications and facilitating technology development.

For information on the fifth annual APRDC Joint Research Symposium, to be held Thursday, click here.

In an era when it is increasingly important to be global thinkers, the collaboration has been and will continue to be very important to UNMC, said Dele Davies, M.D., vice chancellor of academic affairs.

“The full value of the economic, sociologic and other intangible benefits of these ties cannot be easily quantified and may not be totally evident until a much later date,” he said.

As Vice Chancellor of Research Jennifer Larsen, M.D., noted, decade-long relationships are not built overnight.

“The growth of our programs and interactions with multiple institutions and leaders in China are a testament to our commitment as well as our vision and desire for this relationship to grow,” she said.

The relationships are the key to the program’s success, Dr. Zheng agreed.

“If there’s one thing I value, it’s the friendships which have been built among the leaders, students and faculty of the Chinese institutions and the leaders, students and faculty of UNMC as a whole,” Dr. Zheng said.

Those friendships, he said, are the foundation of 10 years of achievement, as well as the foundation “for what we can achieve many years beyond.

“We have so many people who really provide support, from the leadership side, from the faculty perspective, from the student perspective,” he said. “This is truly a team effort.”

Book examines cutting-edge robotic surgery

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations

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From left, Nathan Bills, Ph.D., and Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D., have edited “Robotic Surgery for the General Surgeon.” It’s official — Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D., wrote the book on robotic surgery.

Dr. Oleynikov and his Center for Advanced Surgery Technology colleague, Nathan Bills, Ph.D., edited and contributed chapters to “Robotic Surgery for the General Surgeon,” a new textbook that was released earlier this year.

Dr. Oleynikov, director of CAST, said the book focuses on surgical applications of the DaVinci Surgical Robot, which Dr. Bills called the only FDA-approved robot for the general surgeon.

From outline to publication, the project took two years. Dr. Oleynikov created a list of chapters and he and Dr. Bills contacted national and international leaders in the field to contribute.

“It’s an interesting process, writing an academic textbook,” Dr. Oleynikov said. “Science is always moving, so many textbooks on new technology or new techniques become quickly out of date. My goal was to have this book be the foundation for anybody using surgical robotics for at least the next three to five years.”

The goal, he said, was to provide the general surgeon necessary information on performing robotic surgery procedures by getting contributors to lay out the science behind each procedure — hernia repair, gastric bypass, liver resection, etc. — with the established methods for using the technology.

“This is not just a how-to or a cookbook, but a book that looks at each particular application of the robot as it pertains to that surgeon’s practice,” Dr. Oleynikov said. “So while the robot may change a little bit as they come up with newer models, the disease process, the human body and the approach do not change. You still have to fix that hernia or cut out that cancer.”

The book captures a revolution in approaches to surgery.

“We’re moving from open and laparoscopic surgery now to robotic surgery, and how the robot is used — both properly and sometimes not so properly — is going to define the technology in many ways. So I’m hoping that this book, with chapters from some of the brightest and most inventive experts in the field today and likely into tomorrow, will guide those individuals who are starting to do this kind of surgery, use this type of technology.”

Drs. Oleynikov and Bills are pleased with the final product.

“The book distills the state of the art for every specific kind of surgery, with information from a world expert in that particular surgery,” Dr. Bills said.

College ranked in Top 10 for family medicine

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations

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Shelley Baldwin, administrator in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine, accepts the award on behalf of the department from AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D.

Shelley Baldwin, administrator in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine, accepts the award on behalf of the department from AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D. The UNMC College of Medicine recently received another accolade for its efforts in boosting the number of family physicians in Nebraska.

Rural recruiting

Some results from UNMC programs that focus on boosting numbers of health professionals in rural Nebraska:

•434 students have graduated from the UNMC Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) since 1990. Currently, 65 percent of the graduates practice in Nebraska. Of those practicing in Nebraska, 73 percent practice in a rural setting.

•172 college students are in the pipeline to attend UNMC through RHOP and the Kearney Health Opportunities Program (KHOP). •100 physician residents have graduated from the UNMC Rural Training Track program making it one of the largest and most successful rural training tracks in the country.

•285 high school students attended UNMC Rural Health Care Career Day last fall.

•419 eighth-grade students participated this spring in six regional competitions across Nebraska to qualify to attend the annual 8th Grade Health/Science Meet in June.

•680 high school and college students have participated in the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska’s (BHECN) Ambassador program since it started in 2012.

The College of Medicine recently received an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Top 10 Award for its consistent contributions to building the family physician workforce.

The award comes on the heels of U.S. News & World Report rankings, which earlier this year, recognized UNMC as ninth among rural medicine programs and sixth among primary care medical programs.

The AAFP award was presented during a recent conference of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Family physicians are qualified to treat most ailments and provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages — from newborns to seniors.

The award honors medical schools that, during a consecutive three-year period, graduated the greatest percentage of students who chose first-year family medicine residency positions.

“We are pleased to be honored by our peers. This award is a testament of the contributions by many at UNMC, by the full-time and volunteer faculty, the students who ultimately choose family medicine as a career and our health care partners across Nebraska,” said Michael Sitorius, M.D., chairman of the UNMC Department of Family Medicine. “The department has a long-standing commitment to training future family physicians and will continue our efforts to increase the family medicine workforce for all of Nebraska.”

At a time when the United States is facing a shortage of primary care physicians, filling the family physician workforce pipeline is vital to the health of Americans, said AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D.

Awardees employ several initiatives that support students who are interested in and most likely to become family physicians, including:

•student outreach,

•faculty involvement in medical school committees,

•admissions policies that target students from rural and medically underserved areas,

•clinical rotations that emphasize positive experiences in family medicine,

•strong, student-run family medicine interest groups and

•financial aid packages that minimize student debt.

Facility offers state-of-the-art clean space

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations

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The 20,000-square-foot Biologics Production Facility opened in 2010.

The 20,000-square-foot Biologics Production Facility opened in 2010. The nondescript brick building on the corner of 42nd and Emile streets is a “clean building,” and it has numerous features and checks and balances in order to make and keep it that way.

It has few crevices in which particles might settle. Its air flows one way, through filter after filter after filter. There are air locks and pressure differentials. The people who work in it sometimes wear gowns and gloves or “bunny suits.”

Equipment, environment and quality are monitored by computer.

Phyllis Warkentin, M.D., the site’s medical director, a professor of hematology and oncology, had dreamed of the possibility of a building like this for a long, long time.

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The facility features an in-house United States Pharmacopeia (USP) purified water system for cleaning and terminal sterilization. 

This is the Biologics Production Facility (BPF) at UNMC.

The closest comparable facility is likely the Mayo Clinic. The med center’s 20,000 square-foot facility opened in 2010.

“When it comes to translational research, bench top to bedside,” Dr. Warkentin said, “what we do is somewhere in the middle.”

They store, change and make things. Things like stem cell products, cellular vaccines and gene therapies, tissue therapies, regenerative medicine therapies and nanomedicine.

“The facility strategically equips us to keep up with the rapid expansion of personalized and regenerative medicine,” said operations manager Charlie Branson.

The blood stem cells collected in The Lied Transplant Center (and other places around the country), for example, are processed, frozen and stored here.

Or, the team at BPF can also make more advanced products, products that need to be manipulated, processed, incubated, stored, cultured, transfected, and more.

They can, for example, take a pancreas that isn’t working as it should, and isolate the good stuff — taking out the cells that make insulin, pancreatic islets, and give them back to the patient.

They can select out a certain subpopulation of cells, mix them together with another to make a better product. Using standardized procedures, they can turn individual patients’ blood and marrow cells into personalized vaccines.

The conditions need to be cleaner than an operating room, and are. But the system of quality is “clean” too. Quality isn’t checked at the end, rather, built into everything.

The entire operation is under the auspices of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).

“I believe that the successful operation of the BPF to date will play an important role in providing a full spectrum of therapeutics to our patients with the advent of the new Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” Branson said.

James Armitage, M.D., receives national recognition

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Sandra Swain, M.D., past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), at right, presents James Armitage, M.D., with the Special Achievement Award. (Photo courtesy of ASCO.)

Sandra Swain, M.D., past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), at right, presents James Armitage, M.D., with the Special Achievement Award. (Photo courtesy of ASCO.) James Armitage, M.D., has received the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Special Recognition Award for major accomplishments in the fields of oncology and hematology, as well as his many years of ASCO service.

The award, presented May 30, honors individuals for major contributions in areas of clinical oncology, cancer research, clinical trials, reimbursement, and patient advocacy activities, who have given long-term service to ASCO and to clinical oncology.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” said Dr. Armitage, Joe Shapiro Professor of Internal Medicine in the UNMC Division of Oncology/Hematology. “My association with ASCO over the last 35 years has been a rewarding part of my career. ASCO has never wavered from its commitment to cancer patients in getting patients the best possible treatment and care.”

Dr. Armitage is globally recognized as a leading expert on non-Hodgkin lymphoma and played a critical role in advancing bone marrow transplantation.

Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., UNMC chancellor, said the award is a tremendous honor for Dr. Armitage and great recognition for UNMC.

“He is an internationally recognized leader in cancer care. UNMC is proud to have him as a longstanding member of our faculty and in a leadership role in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.”

Lynell W. Klassen, M.D., Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and chair of UNMC’s Department of Internal Medicine, said Dr. Armitage joins a prestigious group of recipients.

“Dr. Armitage is internationally acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts in the treatment of lymphoma. He established, at UNMC, the lymphoma program that grew into a world-renowned program. The award reflects the dedication, expertise and passion Dr. Armitage has for helping patients.

“With Jim receiving ASCO’s Special Recognition Award and with Julie Vose beginning her term as ASCO president, UNMC’s Division of Oncology/Hematology was recognized nationally at the world’s largest oncology meeting,” Dr. Klassen said.

Julie Vose, M.D., said Dr. Armitage has helped shape the progress of treatment and research in lymphoma and has been a key leader in ASCO.

“Dr. Armitage is a pioneer in hematology/oncology, a special teacher and mentor to all of us at UNMC for the last several decades, and he has built the foundation for our future at UNMC,” said Dr. Vose, Neumann M. and Mildred E. Harris Professorial Chair and chief of the division of oncology/hematology.

(Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations, contributed to this story.)

Meet Dr. Armitage

James Armitage, M.D., developed and directed the bone marrow transplant programs at the University of Iowa and later at UNMC, where he also served as vice chair of internal medicine, chief of the section of oncology and hematology, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, and dean of the College of Medicine.
The bone marrow transplant program at UNMC was one of the first to focus on autologous transplantation -— a process that involves storing a patient’s bone marrow stem cells so that the cells can be reintroduced after chemotherapy. The process helps patients tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy while reducing rates of complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, that often result when a patient receives donor bone marrow.
Dr. Armitage’s contributions span well beyond his work at UNMC and the University of Iowa. He has held many leadership roles at ASCO and other hematology and oncology associations, including ASCO president and president of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.
He contributed to ASCO in many other capacities, including serving multiple terms on the board of directors and chairing the Cancer Education Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the Hematology-Oncology Task Force. Dr. Armitage is presently a member of the Journal of Clinical Oncology editorial board and is editor of The ASCO Post.

Intercampus effort may impact cancer treatment

by Charlie Litton, UNeMed

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Surinder Batra, Ph.D., professor and chairman of UNMC’s Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Surinder Batra, Ph.D., professor and chairman of UNMC’s Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology A $250,000 grant from the Nebraska Research Initiative will use complex computer simulations to identify top drug candidates that could lead to the next generation of pancreatic and ovarian cancer treatments. Researchers and resources from three university campuses are involved in the project.

Surinder Batra, Ph.D., professor and chairman of UNMC’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is now on the verge of proving the potential of a molecule he originally discovered more than a decade ago — a gene called pancreatic differentiation factor 2, or PD2. New funding will use supercomputer simulations that researchers hope will demonstrate the potential power of PD2 against cancer.

PD2 is involved in the growth of stem cells, but becomes a problem if it gives cancer cells the same set of growth instructions. Cancer cells that express high levels of PD2 act like stem cells, growing tumors that can resist most forms of treatment.

“It has a lot of potential, this molecule,” said Dr. Batra, a two-time UNMC Distinguished Scientist and the 2012 Scientist Laureate. “It is in many cancers, not only pancreatic stem cells.”

Nick Palermo, a computer expert with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will try unlocking PD2’s power with the supercomputer at the Peter Kiewit Institute’s Holland Computing Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Palermo will build a computer model of PD2 and then simulate its interaction with millions of other known molecules. Renowned UNMC drug development researcher and College of Pharmacy professor Jonathan Vennerstrom, Ph.D., also will collaborate on the project.

“In general, the strength of the university is when people from different disciplines can work together,” said James Linder, M.D., interim president of the University of Nebraska.

Grant funding for the PD2 project will also increase the supercomputer’s “horsepower” — an improvement that will benefit future projects. UNeMed, the technology transfer office at UNMC, already has received interest from drug discovery companies that want to collaborate on other new drugs using the same process.

“If this project works,” said Joe Runge, UNeMed’s director of business development, “then we can take discoveries about diseases and translate them to medicines — all within the university system.”

Even if the perfect fit to PD2 doesn’t appear to exist naturally, Palermo can combine elements of the best matches to custom-build potential candidates.

“I think this is a matter of time and effort,” Palermo said, “and we will get it done.”

‘Space flight’ has UNMC’s Simorov walking on air

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations

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Anton Simorov, M.D., gives a thumbs up in a weightless state.

Anton Simorov, M.D., gives a thumbs up in a weightless state. UNMC made history last week when a UNMC surgery fellow and three University of Nebraska-Lincoln students dressed in flight suits boarded a 727 jet modified for zero-gravity experiments with NASA.

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Anton Simorov, M.D., practices surgical techniques with the mini surgical robot. 

For more than 10 years, inventors at UNMC and UNL have spent countless hours building, testing, perfecting and patenting miniature surgical robots.

But the robots that fit inside the abdomen were developed for NASA to close medical gaps in space — something a flight surgeon could use in an emergency.

The next frontier for testing would have to be space – at least a simulation of space.

Anton Simorov, M.D., UNMC surgery fellow, and UNL engineering students Kearney Lackas, Walter Bircher and Tom Frederick took off from Johnson Space Center in Houston on a parabolic flight operated by Zero Gravity Corporation.

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From left to right: UNL engineering graduate students Walter Bircher, Kearney Lackas and Thomas Frederick and UNMC surgical fellow, Anton Simorov, M.D. 

The flight created a weightless environment to test the robots.

Dr. Simorov practiced surgical techniques during 80 separate 20- to 30-second weightless periods, while engineering students monitored equipment.

“We accomplished our experiment goals. We collected a lot of data which will take several weeks to process and analyze,” Dr. Simorov said. “We learned a lot to further our experiments. It was a great, unforgettable experience.”

The flight was the result of a 2013 visit by a NASA team to learn about university research with potential applications in space, said Marsha Morien, executive director of the UNMC Center for Advanced Surgical Technology. “The NASA visitors saw the project and said it was ready for flight testing. Getting this flight is amazing. It’s highly competitive.”

On the other hand…

Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D., co-inventor of the mini-surgical robots, explained why he wasn’t on the test flight. “Every part of me wanted to be launched into an airplane that flies as high as 34,000 feet and then plummets to earth in an uncontrolled fall and is referred to by the people who fly it as the ‘vomit comet.’ I just couldn’t get away — I’m just too busy,” he joked.  Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D., a co-inventor of the robots, said the flight was a big step.

“We’re very excited. We’ve always felt it was a good idea to take a surgical platform, miniaturize it and use it in places you can’t have a hospital,” said Dr. Oleynikov, director of the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery and the Center for Advanced Surgical Technology at UNMC. “It’s a natural extension of that concept to use it in space, on the battlefield and in other remote areas.”

Shane Farritor, Ph.D., UNL professor of mechanical and materials engineering and the robots’ co-inventor, said the flight moved the research forward. “It was a great learning experience for the students who successfully deployed a complex field system and operated it in a unique environment. We have more to do, but I really like where we are.”

National Strategic Research Institute reports impressive progress

by Melissa Lee, University of Nebraska

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Ken Bayles, Ph.D., is one of the UNMC researchers taking part in the National Strategic Research Institute collaboration.

Ken Bayles, Ph.D., is one of the UNMC researchers taking part in the National Strategic Research Institute collaboration.  •New, more effective vaccines for anthrax and ricin. •Improved information systems that would allow national leaders to make better and faster decisions during security crises or natural disasters. •Stronger assessment tools to allow for timely, thorough responses to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.

These are the goals of just a few of the projects undertaken since the establishment of the University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) in the fall of 2012. The institute, a collaboration between NU and the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), has highlighted numerous accomplishments in its first annual report, available now on the NSRI website.

Key among those: Faculty from across the university, including UNMC, have attracted more than $9 million in contract funding to pursue 22 different projects related to the chief mission of the National Strategic Research Institute to support research for combating weapons of mass destruction.

“We launched the National Strategic Research Institute a year and a half ago with the goal of leveraging the talents and expertise of our faculty for the benefit of our partners at USSTRATCOM and the Department of Defense. I’m pleased that at this early stage, we are doing that very effectively,” said University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken. “NSRI has engaged a range of diverse faculty who are committed to supporting our men and women in uniform and improving national security. Because of their work, and the leadership and commitment of our founding executive director, Bob Hinson, the NSRI is off to an incredible start.”

The National Strategic Research Institute is the newest of 13 University-Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs) across the United States. NSRI focuses on five core areas of expertise demonstrated by NU faculty: nuclear detection and forensics; detection of chemical and biological weapons; passive medical defense against weapons of mass destruction; consequence management; and space, cyber and telecommunications law.

“The establishment of the NSRI at the University of Nebraska has created a significant opportunity for the university faculty and researchers to contribute directly to the combating weapons of mass destruction research and technology requirements of our defense partners and other federal agencies,” said Robert Hinson, a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General and executive director of NSRI. “The established core competencies reflect a very real mission area concern of USSTRATCOM and other federal agencies with assigned roles and responsibilities for addressing significant national security requirements for combating weapons of mass destruction.”

Dr. Oleynikov receives IDEA award

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations

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Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D.

Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D. UNMC’s Dmitry Oleynikov, M.D., and his collaborator Shane Farritor, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received the University of Nebraska’s Innovation, Development and Engagement (IDEA) Award Wednesday.

Dr. Oleynikov, the Joseph and Richard Still Endowed Professor of Surgery, director of the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery, and director of the Center for Advanced Surgical Technology at UNMC, is one of UNMC’s most internationally recognized scientists.


Watch a video about Drs. Oleynikov and Farritor.

“I am motivated in my clinical research to create new discoveries and solve new problems in surgery. I have always felt that progress could not be had without learning from our history and improving our future,” Dr. Oleynikov said.

In collaboration with Dr. Farritor, Dr. Oleynikov has led a team that combines the experience of surgical practice with the exceptional problem-solving skills of the engineering profession.

The results have been a radical departure from existing surgical technology: the surgical robotic device they have developed is miniature, mobile, remotely controlled and fits entirely inside the abdominal cavity.

The Oleynikov and Farritor partnership has resulted in multiple patents and technology commercialization and is widely recognized as a model for cross-campus collaboration. It is for extending their academic expertise beyond the boundaries of the university in ways that have enriched the broader community that they were jointly acknowledged.

“My life’s goal is to transform surgery to be safer, more patient friendly and to improve the outcomes from surgical operations that we perform today,” Dr. Oleynikov said. “I innovate not because I want to but because I am presented with patient need and I feel I have to do something to help solve these surgical problems.”

The Nebraska Medical Center expands to 24/7 trauma care

by Taylor Wilson, The Nebraska Medical Center

 

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The Nebraska Medical Center is expanding its trauma services, preparing to operate its trauma center 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

“This is the right thing to do for everyone who lives here,” said P.J. Schenarts, M.D., professor of surgery in the UNMC College of Medicine and trauma medical director at The Nebraska Medical Center. “Although the trauma system we’ve used for the last 20 years is functional, we think we have an obligation to provide something more.”

Did you know…? 

Traumatic injury is the number one killer of Nebraskans under the age of 44 and a leading cause of death in older citizens. In Douglas County alone, more people die from trauma-related accidents than stroke. However, research shows that treatment at a Level 1 trauma center reduces the risk of death by 25 percent.  

Since 1993, The Nebraska Medical Center has worked cooperatively with Alegent Creighton Health Creighton University Medical Center in a combined trauma system. The joint program results in two part-time trauma centers that can’t be recognized by the American College of Surgeons – the national accrediting body that is the gold standard for trauma centers in the U.S.

Last year, external, independent reviewers noted that while the current system met patient needs, it could be optimized even further, suggesting that the center “could function independently” and “this option should be explored vigorously.”

“The Nebraska Medical Center has been evaluating the possibility of becoming a Level 1 trauma center for several years now,” said Rosanna Morris, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer of The Nebraska Medical Center. “We have the resources and infrastructure in place to establish a dedicated trauma program. The timing is right.”

Health care reform was another factor in the decision to expand trauma services. “Nationally, there has been a constant push for health care systems to operate more efficiently,” said Morris. “This is just one of the ways we can do that. The many specialty services that we provide at The Nebraska Medical Center are also available to our trauma patients and will now be there for them every day of the week, around the clock.”

“The patients are our number one priority,” Dr. Schenarts said. “We provide specialty care in areas like vascular surgery, neurosurgery, pediatric trauma, ophthalmology and burn care every day as it is. It’s the right thing to do to provide access to that care for everyone in the region, regardless of what day of the week it is.”

A certification process will be performed by the American College of Surgeons in order for The Nebraska Medical Center to achieve official Level 1 trauma center verification status. Notice has been given to officials at Alegent Creighton Health Creighton University Medical Center of the plan to opt out of the current system Aug. 1, 2014.

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