Dr. Ferguson Co-Authors Rheumatology Guidelines

Congratulations to Dr. Polly Ferguson, Division Director of the Division of Rheumatology, for being co-author on some recent guidelines published for the American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation. The guidelines are below:

2019 American College of Rheumatollgy/Arthritis Foundation Guidelines for Treatment of Juvenile Idipathic Arthritis: Therapeutic Approaches for Non-Systemic Polyarthritis, Sacroiliitis, and Enthesitis.

2019 American College of Rheumatology/Arthritis Foundation Guideline for the Screening, Monitoring, and Treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis-Associated Uveitis.

Staff Spotlight – Vanessa Curtis, MD

Dr. Curtis is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes. She is also the Assistant Director for Medical Student Education and Director of Advanced Pediatric Courses.

My husband, Andy Peterson, is a Sports Medicine Physician at the University of Iowa. We both grew up in rural Wisconsin and met in college at Lawrence University. We have a spoiled dog named Wattson but no children.

I spend most of my time outside of the hospital riding my bike and doing Crossfit.

I grew up on a farm with beef cattle, sheep, goats, Shetland ponies, and lots of dogs and cats, so that was the most fun place I’ve ever lived! This year, I visited Ecuador and learned about plant medicine in the jungle and how to treat a sting ray injury by getting stung by one myself while surfing.

My favorite meal is a pile of local vegetables paired with beef from my family’s farm.

Fun fact: I am learning to ride a motorcycle and recently got my learners permit.

Staff Spotlight – John Heinemann, MHA, MPH

I support seven clinical divisions (Cardiology, Critical Care, DBP, Endocrinology, General Pediatrics, Nephrology, & Rheumatology); the Departmental education programs, and our Pediatric Prior Authorization Team. I have been in the role since May 2017. Prior to joining the Department, I worked in Clinical Operations in various healthcare systems across the U.S. In addition to my current role, I am also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Health Management & Policy in the UI College of Public Health. I am currently a team instructor for the Medical Practice Administration course offered to second- and third-year Masters in Health Administration students.

My wife and I have been married for almost 2 years. We just welcomed our first child, a baby girl, in January 2019. All of my free time is spent with my daughter! I have plenty of other hobbies (running, cycling, traveling, cooking) but they have taken a back seat at the moment (which I am definitely ok with).

My dream job would be space exploration. I am fascinated by the concept of all things space travel. If we ever open a healthcare facility in space or on the moon, mars, or some distant planet I will definitely put my name in the hat!

The favorite place we’ve ever visited is Iceland. My wife and I spent a week traveling across the country this past fall. It was absolutely stunning. We are outdoor enthusiasts and enjoyed the natural diversity the country has to offer.

My favorite meal is Sushi or poke – both of which are really hard to come by in Iowa City. When we lived in Southern California, we had go to places for both.

My favorite sports teams are the University of South Dakota Coyotes, Iowa Hawkeyes, Dallas Cowboys, and US Men’s and Women’s National Soccer teams.

My top 3 favorite movies (in no particular order) at the moment Top Gun, The Departed, The Dark Knight.

Fun fact: I was the New Year’s baby in my hometown. I was featured on the front page of the local newspaper and came home in a stocking with a wide arrange of random business gift certificates. This all happened on January 7th…

Staff Spotlight – Angelia Shea

Angie is administrative assistant in the Division of Rheumatology, and has been there almost 13 years.

I started in Pediatric Hem/Onc-Rheumatology was under that umbrella and Dr. Ferguson was the only provider in Rheumatology at that time.

I have 3 children ages, 33, 31 and 21. I have 2 granddaughters Ashlynn, age 6 and Ilyzza, age 5. I am the oldest of 3 children; my sister and her family live in Minneapolis; my brother and his family live in Cedar Rapids. My parents also live in Cedar Rapids about 10 blocks from my house.

What is free time? I love to see local live music as well as concerts. I attend my granddaughters activities. Reading is one thing I wish I had more time to do.

My dream job would be a stay-at-home grandma because who wouldn’t love to do that?!

Visiting Washington DC was the most fascinating place I’ve been! We spent 7 days there busy everyday and there is still more that I would love to go back and see.

Favorite book or movie? I love thrillers and mysteries but growing up I loved “The Little Prince” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which I read to my kids several times and hope to read to my granddaughters.

Fun fact: At age 3, I was the youngest patient to have open heart surgery at the University of Iowa Hospital.

Dr. Thoma Receives Grateful Patient Comment

Dr. Thoma in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology received the following patient comment last week. Well done, Dr. Thoma!

“I don’t know if I can say enough good things about her! We left our Pulmonologist in Des Moines after a few bad appointments. Therefore, we were hesitant about finding someone new and quite a distance away. We will continue our care as long as needed with her. She’s unbelievably amazing!”

Dr. Hirsch is Departing UI Health Care


Dear friends and colleagues,

It is with mixed feelings that I am writing to notify you that I will be stepping down as department chair on or about June 1. I have accepted the position of Chair of Pediatrics at UCSF and Physician-in-Chief of Benioff Children’s Hospitals. I will be working with Dean Jackson and Department leadership to ensure a smooth transition.

I look forward to sharing additional thoughts with all of you in the coming weeks about the Department and its future. In the meantime, I want you to know that the decision to leave this wonderful organization was a difficult one. But as I indicated at my recent State of the Department address, I believe that an organization must refresh its leadership on a regular basis in order to remain outstanding and that the time has come to pass on the baton. It has been my honor to shepherd the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics and the Stead Family Children’s Hospital these past seven years. I have never worked with more outstanding people than yourselves and I will miss all of you. I will retain many fond memories of my years at the University of Iowa and the times we shared together.


Dr. Fischer Appears on Iowa Public Radio About E-Cigarettes

Dr. Tony Fischer from the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology recently appeared on the Iowa Public Radio program River to River discussing the vaping and e-cigarette epidemic.

The U.S. Surgeon General says electronic cigarette use among young people is increasing at “epidemic proportions.” In Iowa, 2018 data shows that nine percent of high school students in the state used e-cigarettes. Nationally, there was a 78 percent rise in vaping among high school students from 2017 to 2018.

This episode of River to River focuses on the rising use of e-cigarettes or vaping among Iowa teens. Guests include:

  • Danielle Oswald-Thole, the Iowa Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc
  • Daisy Contreras, a reporter for WUIS in Springfield, IL
  • Michael Triplett, president of Triplett Enterprises Ltd.
  • Dr. Anthony Fischer, a pediatric pulmonologist at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Ted Bonebrake, an addiction specialist at UnityPoint Health in Cedar Falls

Dr. O’Brien Publishes in Behavior Analysis in Practice

Congratulations to Matt O’Brien, PhD in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics on his recent article published in Behavior Analysis in Practice.

The Promise of Accountable Care Organizations: “The Code,” Reimbursement, and an Ethical No-Win Situation for Behavior Analysts. March 2019,12(1),247-254.

Abstract: Clinical ethics, with its emphasis on the actions of clinicians, risks overlooking the ways in which broader health-care structures influence the behavior of health-care providers. Analysis of a factual case study demonstrates that status quo reimbursement practices may place behavior analysts in a position where, no matter how they act, they risk acting unethically. By contrast, the reimbursement model set by accountable care organizations (ACOs), part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), may offer a solution. However, making good on the promise of ACOs will require more resources than any individual behavior analyst possesses. In order to encourage institutional structures that facilitate ethical practice, behavior analysts’ professional organizations should engage in contemporary political discussions about the state of American health care.