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Published in Under the Rainbow on May 01, 2014

In the News

A kaleidoscope of significant news from Batson

Dr. Aaron Shirley receives award for diversity efforts

Dr. Aaron Shirley gives his acceptance speech after being presented with the Herbert W. Nickens Award.
Dr. Aaron Shirley gives his acceptance speech after being presented with the Herbert W. Nickens Award.

Dr. Aaron Shirley, one of the state’s civil rights icons, received the 2013 Herbert W. Nickens Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges in November.

Honored for his lifetime of service in support of diversity in medical education and the elimination of health disparities, Shirley received the award at the AAMC’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pa.   

Originally from Gluckstadt, Shirley completed medical school and an internship in Tennessee before entering private practice in Vicksburg. He set his sights on a pediatric residency out of state, but was invited to apply for a training slot at UMMC by then chair of pediatrics, Dr. Blair E. Batson. After much prayerful consideration, he accepted, becoming the first African-American resident — and the first black learner in any program — at UMMC in 1965. 

He went on to serve as a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics for more than 40 years. His career highlights in health care include co-founding the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, which became a model for federally-funded community health centers nationwide, and development of the Jackson Medical Mall in partnership with Jackson State University, Tougaloo College and UMMC. 

Herbert W. Nickens, for whom the award is named, was the founding vice president of the AAMC’s Diversity Policies and Programs unit. “His passionate leadership contributed greatly to focusing national attention on the need to support underrepresented minorities in medicine,” according to the AAMC.

Collaboration brings pediatric subspecialist to Tupelo

LilleyDr. Jessica Sparks Lilley, a pediatric endocrinologist on the faculty of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, has established a practice in Tupelo in affiliation with North Mississippi Medical Center. Lilley will provide care to children with diabetes and other endocrine conditions such as disorders related to growth and puberty.

Lilley’s arrival in Tupelo is part of an effort to provide more convenient access to subspecialty care in areas far removed from the state’s only children’s hospital. This summer, she will be joined by a pediatric cardiologist.

Lilley is from Belmont in Tishomingo County. She joined UMMC last July as an assistant professor, after completing a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

A Mississippi State University graduate, Lilley earned her MD at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pa.

Lilley said she had an awareness of childhood endocrine problems at a young age, having relatives with Type 1 diabetes.

“They had to drive long distances to see a pediatric endocrinologist,” Lilley said. “Witnessing that really stuck with me, and having the opportunity to partner with my home state’s only children’s hospital and the nation’s largest rural hospital was a dream come true.”

Dr. Lilley is currently seeing patients in the East Tower of North Mississippi Medical Center. Call toll-free (888) 815-2005 for an appointment or consultation.

 

Children’s staff receives achievement award for quality

Sue Weatter, third from left, executive director of the Arkansas Institute for Performance Excellence, presented the award to Giesecke and, from left, Terri Gillespie, Dr. Rick Barr, Dr. Jimmy Keeton, Shannon Wentz, Dr. Phyllis Bishop and Cindy Black.
Sue Weatter, third from left, executive director of the Arkansas Institute for Performance Excellence, presented the award to Giesecke and, from left, Terri Gillespie, Dr. Rick Barr, Dr. Jimmy Keeton, Shannon Wentz, Dr. Phyllis Bishop and Cindy Black.

Children's of Mississippi, the health system anchored by Batson Children’s Hospital, received a 2013 Achievement Award for Performance Excellence in December from an institution associated with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s only presidential award for performance excellence.  

Guy Giesecke, chief executive officer for Children’s, said the accomplishment was a team effort between the staff, the leadership and the physicians. 

“We all have a common goal, which is to improve the health of Mississippi’s children,” he said. “I’m very proud of the direction we’ve been going and this award confirms that so much of our hard work has paid off and verifies the high level of quality and service to our patients from an outside organization that looks at hospitals throughout the southeast.” 

The state-level award, presented by the Alliance for Performance Excellence, represents the required first step toward attaining a coveted Baldrige Award.  

Shannon Wentz, director of quality and coordinated care, helmed the lengthy application process that began in the spring. The effort included an extensive written report that examined seven strategic areas within the organization including leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, workforce focus, operations focus and results, and measurement, analysis and knowledge management.  

“It really made us flesh out every area of the organization,” she said. “We really had to look deep into our processes.” 

Sue Weatter, executive director of the Arkansas Institute for Performance Excellence, presented the award and noted that many organizations would like to have earned the honor.   

“The fact that you accomplished it in such a small amount of time is truly amazing,” Weatter said.   

Wentz and Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, remarked that everyone was pleasantly surprised to attain the “Achievement” level of the award, which is the second highest level. There are four levels with the highest level being the Governor’s Award. 

“We just thought the process would make us a better organization,” Barr said. “We knew we’d find out things about ourselves that we’re doing well and we’d also find areas of improvement and we did.” 

Wentz said when she was hired a year ago, she knew there was great work going on within the organization, but also saw a need for recognition of that work from outside authorities. 

“This is a validation of the work we all do every day,” she said. 

Division of Pediatric Endocrinology joins international effort to prevent Type 1 diabetes

The Division of Pediatric Endocrinology is now part of Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, an international network of researchers led by the National dixitInstitutes of Health (NIH) that is exploring ways to prevent and delay type 1 diabetes.  

As a member of TrialNet, the division offers screening for relatives of people with type 1 diabetes to determine their risk of developing the disease. TrialNet screening, which consists of a blood test, identifies specific risks for developing type 1 diabetes up to 10 years before symptoms appear.  

Screening is available at no charge to people who are age 45 and under and have a parent, sibling or child with type 1 diabetes; or age 20 and under and have a niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, grandparent, half-sibling or cousin with type 1 diabetes. 

“This screening is extremely important for families with a history of type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Naznin Dixit, principal investigator and professor and chief of pediatric endocrinology. “It offers a better understanding of the development of type 1 diabetes and helps discover innovative ways of preventing and delaying type 1 diabetes.”   

Those identified as having an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes may be eligible to enroll in clinical studies that test methods of preventing and delaying the disease. If diabetes can be delayed – even for a few years – then those at risk may be able to postpone the difficulties of trying to control glucose levels and the potential development of complications.  

For people identified as already being in the early stages of type 1 diabetes, TrialNet offers intervention studies that are testing ways to slow down the disease’s progression. 

It is estimated that as many as three million Americans have type 1 diabetes. TrialNet is asking everyone who has a family member with type 1 diabetes to get involved in this research by getting screened.  

For more information about type 1 diabetes screening and research studies offered at UMMC, please call (601) 815-9172 or e-mail ped-clinicalresearch@umc.edu.

New pediatric specialists added to faculty

Children’s of Mississippi added the following specialists to the staff recently to meet the growing needs of our patients. For more information about our services or to make an appointment, please visit www.ummchealth.com/children.

Claire Gilliam, M.D.            General Pediatrics 

Carrie Freeman, M.D.          Critical Care 

Sajani Tipnis, M.D.             Neonatology 

Neelesh Tipnis, M.D.           Gastroenterology 

Nourelhoda Farah, M.D.      General Pediatrics 

Melissa Rhodes, M.D.         Hematology-Oncology 

Eric Dec, M.D.                    Genetics 

Pediatrician selected for Q Award

Dr. William Cleland, chief medical officer, left, presents Dr. Benji Dillard, division chief of pediatric emergency medicine, with the Q Award.
Dr. William Cleland, chief medical officer, left, presents Dr. Benji Dillard, division chief of pediatric emergency medicine, with the Q Award.

Dr. Benjamin C. Dillard, division chief of pediatric emergency medicine, received the Q Award from chief medical officer Dr. William Cleland in January. 

The Q Award is presented quarterly by UMMC’s Quality Administration to a Medical Center physician who promotes quality and improves patient safety.  

Dillard was nominated for the award by Jennifer Stephen, clinical director of pediatric emergency and lab services, who wrote that Dillard emphasizes quality in many aspects of his role at the Medical Center. 

According to Stephen, “Benji has accepted committees, councils and task force appointments to supplement pediatric knowledge and emphasis,” but she said the greatest demonstration of his quality service lies in “the teaching of students and residents in the pediatric ER.” 

Pediatric journal selects Barr for editorship

Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chairman of Pediatrics, was recently barrnamed assistant editor for Child Health with the Southern Medical Journal. 

His editorship began January 1, 2014. 

A monthly electronic publication of the Southern Medical Association, the journal has a multi and interdisciplinary focus that covers a broad range of topics relevant to physicians and other health-care specialists in all relevant aspects of the profession.  

Batson adds valet parking service

Terrence Stamps, left, and Addie Porter wait to help the next patient family at the new valet parking stand outside Batson.
Terrence Stamps, left, and Addie Porter wait to help the next patient family at the new valet parking stand outside Batson.

Batson Children’s Hospital began offering valet parking in November. It is free for same-day surgery patients and $7 for all others. The service is available Monday-Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  

Gandhi Award goes to pediatric cardiologist

Dr. Avichal Aggarwal, second from right, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology, receives the 2013 Mahatma Gandhi Award from The Honorable Baroness Sandip Verma, from left, junior minister of Energy and Climate Change in the United Kingdom, Dr. S. Z. Ansari  and Gauhar Nawab, chairman of Euro Group Hotel International Ltd.
Dr. Avichal Aggarwal, second from right, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology, receives the 2013 Mahatma Gandhi Award from The Honorable Baroness Sandip Verma, from left, junior minister of Energy and Climate Change in the United Kingdom, Dr. S. Z. Ansari and Gauhar Nawab, chairman of Euro Group Hotel International Ltd.

Dr. Avichal Aggarwal, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology, received the 2013 Mahatma Gandhi Award from the government of India and the Non-Resident Indians Welfare Society of India on Oct. 4, the 144th birthday of Mahatma Ghandi. 

The Honorable Baroness Sandip Verma, junior minister of Energy and Climate Change in the United Kingdom, presented the award to Aggarwal in the presence of international dignitaries during a function of the Global Achievers Conclave at the House of Lords in London, England. 

Aggarwal said it was a “humbling experience to be considered and eventually chosen as a recipient of such a prestigious award.” 

“To attain such recognition in my field is a vision I could certainly never imagine.” 

The award recognizes people of Indian origin for their significant contributions in their respective fields in the country of their residence and in the service of wider global community. 

Aggarwal, one of only 30 recipients worldwide, was instrumental in reviving the pediatric heart transplant program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He serves as medical director of the program. 

“My goal is to continue working tirelessly toward serving children who are born with heart defects,” he said.

Dodge-Khatami joins Children’s Heart Center

Dr. Ali Dodge-Khatami has joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center as dodge_khatami2professor of surgery in the division of pediatric and congenital heart surgery.

Dodge-Khatami previously was professor of cardiovascular surgery, chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and head of the Congenital Heart Program at the University of Hamburg School of Medicine in Hamburg, Germany.

“We are thrilled to recruit a senior world class pediatric and congenital heart surgeon to Mississippi,” said Dr. Jorge Salazar, chief of congenital heart surgery and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center. “His presence will greatly strengthen our program and ensure its long term success.”

Dodge-Khatami completed premedical studies in the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Neuchatel in Neuchatel, Switzerland, in 1986. He earned a Swiss Federal Diploma of Medicine at the University of Geneva Medical School in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1991 and completed a residency in general surgery at Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève in Geneva from 1991-93. From 1993-96, he did a cardiovascular surgery residency at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland. He completed a cardiovascular-thoracic surgery fellowship at RUSH-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, Ill., from 1996-98 and a pediatric cardiovascular-thoracic fellowship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Ill., from 1998-99.

He served as senior registrar at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London, U.K. from 1999-2000 before becoming a staff surgeon at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands from 2000-03. During that time, he was also a cardiothoracic surgeon committed to congenital cardiac surgery at Wilhelmina Children's Hospital in Utrecht, Netherlands. In 2003, Dodge-Khatami earned a doctorate from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, based on his research on tracheal reconstruction and healing. He then became a staff pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at University Children's Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland from 2003-08.

The highlight of his career thus far, he says, has been traveling the world on humanitarian missions with International Children’s Heart Foundation to build congenital heart surgery programs in developing countries.

He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, the Association of European Paediatric Cardiologists, the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery and the American Society of Echocardiography.

His plans for research with the Children’s Heart Center include applying results to develop a new operation for babies born with only one ventricle.

“You never stop learning in this job,” he said. “There’s always room for improving and kind of molding things together so that it’s even better.”

Children’s launches patient satisfaction effort

In a continual quest to improve patient satisfaction, Children’s of Mississippi recently embarked on a campaign aimed at both patients and employees.  

The campaign, called “I Care for Kids,” is meant to spark motivation and inspiration in the hearts and minds of Children’s employees by focusing on the important work they do in Batson Children’s Hospital and the various pediatric clinics.  

“This campaign is an acknowledgment that our staff is our greatest strength,” said Shannon Wentz, administrator for quality and ancillary services for Children’s of Mississippi. “We realize employee happiness equals patient happiness.” 

The campaign was born out of leadership’s desire to create a mission and vision statement specific to Children’s. They surveyed the staff, asking why they come to work each day and used those answers to formulate the statements.  A recurrent theme emerged, according to Terri Gillespie, chief nursing officer of Children’s. 

“I walk through the halls daily and the passion of the staff is palpable,” Gillespie said. “It is written on every staff member’s face, in every patient interaction they have. Now it is time to share the theme that is common to all of us – we care for kids.”     

The campaign recognizes and praises individual staff members at every level of the organization, from housekeepers to surgeons. Components of the campaign that focus on the staff’s hard work include personalized pins for staff and an intranet page featuring videos (links below) of various staff members who have been singled out for providing exceptional service, as well as a short article on the Children’s Champion Award winner – a staff member nominated by fellow Children’s staff members. 

Patients and families can get involved by sharing ideas, compliments or concerns about their hospital stay.  A dedicated phone line has been established and comment cards will be available at various places throughout the hospital and clinics.

New Orleans gallery donation livens up Batson, Wiser hallway

Joely Henderson, child life specialist, and patient Aiden Johnson tour the Gitter Gallery artwork.
Joely Henderson, child life specialist, and patient Aiden Johnson tour the Gitter Gallery artwork.

The New Orleans-based Gitter Gallery recently donated a collection of American folk art to Batson Children’s Hospital.

The collection of 30 pieces found a home on the first-floor hallway leading to Batson and Wiser Hospitals and was unveiled at a special reception. 

Hospital staff, patients and others passing through the hallway marveled at the vibrancy of the works and remarked at how the art had livened up a once-bland hallway.

“We work very hard to create a child-friendly atmosphere in Batson Children’s Hospital and this addition is an incredible step in that direction,” said Terri Gillespie, Children’s of Mississippi chief nursing officer.

Gillespie said there is evidence that art has positive benefits in a health-care setting, including reducing patients’ stress and anxiety.

Doug Gitter, who owns Gitter Gallery with his wife, Cathy, said these benefits were the motivation for the donation. 

“I believe that art helps heal and if, for a moment in time, it can help take the child away from the injury, adversity or illness that brought them here in the first place, then it will have accomplished not only the artists’ mission, but my mission as well,” Gitter said.

The Gitters have made similar donations to children’s hospitals and other health-care facilities throughout the country.