Month in Review – August 2015

Here is a summary of what has occupied the Chairman’s office in August:


Riad Rahhal and I met to discuss the Education Program. We also held meetings to review the proposal for expansion of the Residency Program by two residents per year as we prepare for the move into the new hospital next year. This proposal for expansion is driven by a number of factors, including a work force analysis indicating a shortage of pediatricians in Iowa, our ability to provide an outstanding education experience to more trainees, and the increasing census in the Children’s Hospital.

I held a number of Chairman’s Rounds with the residents. Chairman’s Rounds are held most Tuesdays at 12:15 pm in Zellweger Conference Room. The residents present a patient currently in the hospital who represents either a diagnostic or a management challenge (or sometimes both). I want to make a plea to faculty and fellows to attend these interesting discussions even if you were not involved in the care of the patient because it enriches the discussion and adds to the educational experience of the residents and students.


August was a very busy month for leadership recruitment:

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics: I am pleased to report that Lane Strathearn, MD, PhD has accepted the position of Division Director of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and the Physician Director of the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD). Dr. Strathearn is one of only a handful of NIH-funded developmental pediatricians in the nation. He is internationally-known for his studies on the effect of maternal stress and adversity on mother-infant bonding. He brings a research and academic perspective to the division that will elevate it to national prominence. Dr. Strathearn will be arriving from Baylor in September.

Pediatric Critical Care Medicine: Three finalists for the Division Director of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine were here for their second visits. We are currently finalizing the recruitment of our final candidate.

General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: A finalist for the Division Director of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine was here for a second visit.

Infectious Diseases: Four candidates for Division Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases visited our Department. Each of them gave a Frontiers in Pediatric Research Seminar.

In other recruitment news:

A faculty candidate for the Program in Pediatric Research was here for his 3rd visit. We are working on a recruitment offer.

A faculty candidate for genetics was here for a first visit.

I spoke this month with a faculty candidate about a position in our Adolescent Medicine Program which is one of the programs I would like to see expand in the coming year. A second faculty candidate for adolescent medicine was here for a second interview.

We are recruiting 3 hospitalists for next year. This month we interviewed one of the candidates.

Finally, we interviewed a faculty candidate for Director of Cardiac Imaging.


I held a meeting with Polly Ferguson, Alex Bassuk, and Donna Friel to review our Department’s NIH K12 grant. This grant provides support to 3 junior faculty on the research track who have not yet received their own NIH grant. We will be developing a more proactive approach to the career development of our Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP) fellows to position them to qualify for K12 support.


I held monthly meetings with each Division Director and each Vice Chair to review their programs. I also held a monthly meeting with Anita Moonjely, the General Pediatric Clinic Medical Director at Iowa River Landing (IRL).


I meet annually with each member of the faculty. This week I met with Liuska Pesce, Resmiye Oral, Alvaro Serrano Russi, Lori Christiensen, and Robert Roghair to hear about their activities.

Eighteen new faculty are arriving this summer. This week I met with the following to welcome them to the Department: Patrick McCarthy is a new Clinical Assistant Professor in our Hospitalist Program. He arrived from Madison where he completed residency training. Pat has an interest in medical education and hopes to complete a Masters in Medical Education during the next few years. Luis Ochoa is a new Clinical Assistant Professor in Cardiology. Luis was a cardiology fellow here before leaving last year for Duke University where he completed a year of specialized training in cardiac electrophysiology (EP). He will be joining Ian Law in our EP program. Princy Ghera is a new Clinical Assistant Professor in Pulmonology. She completed her training at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. In addition to providing clinical services in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic (PSC) Princy will hold a weekly pulmonary clinic in Waterloo. Cody Tigges is a new Clinical Assistant Professor in Critical Care. He arrives from the University of Tennessee, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis following completion of fellowship training. Cody has an interest in medical education. He is also interested in expanding outreach in our Critical Care program to support communities around Iowa.

A reception was held by the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) for newly promoted professors. Pam Trapane was honored for her recent promotion.

The CCOM Executive Committee responsible for appointments and promotions held an introductory meeting. Mike Tansey and I have been appointed as new members of this committee for a 3 year term.

Clinical Programs

Child Health Specialty Clinics (CHSC): A series of meetings were held to transition the leadership of the CHSC following the recent departure of Deb Waldron to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau in Rockville, MD. CHSC houses Iowa’s Title V program. Rami Boutros will serve as Interim Director and Tom Scholz will be Associate Director. A search for a permanent director will begin shortly.

PSC: I had a series of meetings with Rami Boutros and Scott Turner to discuss the status of our specialty clinics at IRL. Because of the tremendous growth in our outpatient specialty clinics these past few years, we have outgrown our space in the PSC and the hospital recently approved a plan to move approximately 10,000 visits per year to IRL. It has been challenging to hire enough MA’s to staff these IRL clinics which has delayed their start. We discussed alternative staffing options that could allow us to move forward with opening these clinics. We also held a monthly routine meeting to discuss PSC workflow improvement as well as a monthly routine meeting to discuss PSC scheduling improvement. Scheduling is showing progress. Nine new schedulers have now been hired and are in training for deployment in the coming weeks to assist divisions with their needs. In addition, a process has been initiated to identify and correct scheduling errors.

Neurology: We held a series of discussions this month on our Epilepsy Program, its potential growth based on unmet need in the state of Iowa, and the possible recruitment of an additional pediatric epileptologist. Cheryl Hodgson met with Charuta Joshi, Mike Ciliberto, and Matt Howard to inform Cheryl about the exciting pediatric epilepsy initiatives and programs that exist here so that Cheryl can help promote and advertise these programs.

Cardiology: The IC3 committee met to discuss the Children’s Heart Program. This committee brings together the leadership of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Cardiology, and Cardiothoracic Surgery with department and hospital leadership with the goal of advancing the program and addressing the needs of the program. Among other things, we discussed the upcoming heart program retreat. In addition, a number of leadership meetings were held on the Pediatric Heart Surgery Program and its needs.

Satellite Clinics: We held a monthly Children’s Hospital satellite meeting to discuss our 3 current and planned satellites in Bettendorf, Waterloo, and Cedar Rapids. Construction has begun on the expanded new space we are leasing at our Lincoln Road satellite in Bettendorf and it is due to be completed by the end of this calendar year which will allow us to add new providers and services. A lease for an expanded Waterloo satellite is still under negotiation, as are discussions for a location for a Cedar Rapids satellite. We also discussed the possibility of opening a 4th satellite in Dubuque.

Genetics: The Division of Medical Genetics is housed in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics and provides genetic services to the entire health system. Discussions were held with hospital leadership on the growing role of genetic counselors in the genomic era and the best model for providing this service across the institution.

Other: Keri Harris and Chad Fye presented to our administrative leadership a draft of an improved and more informative way to report clinical activity at each of our clinic sites. We hope to role out this improved report to faculty on a monthly basis in the near future.

Pediatric Associates held its monthly board meeting.

Children’s Hospital

The Children’s Hospital Executive Oversight Committee met to discuss progress of the new hospital. Routine Transition Activation Planning (TAP) meetings continue in preparation for the move to the new hospital next year.

In my role as Physician-in-Chief of the Children’s Hospital I met with Terri Brennan, the UIHC Chief Medical Officer, to discuss common issues and initiatives.

Jodi and I hosted the annual Children’s Hospital Council summer social at our home to thank the Council members for all they do to support the pediatric program.


In order to better support the needs of a growing and more complex department, we are in the process of reorganizing our administration. We have created an Administration Leadership Committee that will meet weekly to discuss key department priorities. Members of the committee include myself, Melissa Whisler (Clinical Department Administrator – CDA), Kim Fuhrmeister (Associate CDA), Robin Marshall (Director of Finance), Stefanie Perkl (Director of Human Resources), Donna Friel (Research Support Manager), Paul McCray (Executive Vice Chair), and Vicky Curtis (Committee Secretary). This committee held its first meeting this month. I will be sharing with the entire Department an overview of our strategic priorities on October 2 at the annual State of the Department Grand Rounds.

Final thoughts:

I hope everyone has had a great summer and enjoyed time with family and friends. School has started and there is a hint of fall in the air. In September we will be starting a new year of Grand Rounds, as well as Division Director and Vice Chair meetings. I look forward to another successful and rewarding year for our Department.


Raphael Hirsch, MD

Chair, Stead Family Department of Pediatrics

Published by

Scott Fedler

Admin Services Specialist, Pediatrics Academic Administration

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