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Published in Alumni Publications on July 31, 2013

News Digest

A quick look at Medical Center news

Concussion Test: New use for old device


UMMC’s Vestibular Laboratory is now able to administer concussion testing to young athletes and others using a piece of equipment originally designed for another, but related, use.

“Concussions are a hot topic,” said Dr. William Mustain, the lab’s director, “and this test will not only help determine if a concussion has occurred, but it can also provide objective data which can help answer the vital question: ‘When is it safe for the athlete to play again?’”

The lab can perform the test with the Computerized Dynamic Posturography (“balance testing”) device, already being used to evaluate people who complain of dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, etc., because of disease, trauma, aging or other conditions.

The test is based on the knowledge that the body maintains balance through touch, vision and inner ear balance. The muscles receive signals from those three systems; but for people with, say, vertigo, at least one of the systems is out of whack, said Dr. Ian Windmill, an audiologist and chief of the Division of Communicative Sciences.

Because a concussion affects either the brain functions or the inner ear, causing imbalance, posturography is helpful in ferreting out the injury. Research shows that, for exposing inner ear disorders, it’s more accurate than clinical exams.

And some other, conventional tests, including CT scans, aren’t always reliable, said Dr. Ed Manning, Ph.D., clinical psychologist/neuropsychology.

But it’s important to get young athletes and other concussion candidates to the lab and verify a baseline, said Mustain, a doctoral-level audiologist.

This information would disclose what normal balance is for each individual.

Dr. Denise Pouncey, a doctorate-level audiologist with an Au.D., demonstrated the test with her son Carson Pouncey, 11, of Brandon, who plays soccer.  

Harnessed within a rectangular frame resembling a gutted refrigerator, Carson clung to his equilibrium as he felt the walls around him move and the floor shift beneath him.

“Perfect,” said Pouncey, voicing the relief of a medical professional, but most of all, of a mom confirming that her child is well-balanced.

UMMC clinics share new digs on Lakeland

Beebe_Jordan3Two UMMC clinics have relocated to the Lakeland Medical Building in Jackson, moves their directors say herald expanded services and better patient care.

The Department of Family Medicine’s clinic – Lakeland Family Medicine Center – made its new home on the second floor, while the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences carved out new clinical space on the top floor of the four-story building located at 764 Lakeland Drive.

Compared to the family medicine clinic’s old home, there’s double the space for patient exams, X-ray procedures, medical student training and, literally, breathing.

The relocated clinic is on the same street as its former home; but for everyone involved, there’s been a welcome change of scenery.

“It’s been a joy to hear the reaction from patients who say to us, ‘You deserve it,’ and I say, ‘No, you deserve it – a nice, comfortable place to be seen,’” said Dr. Diane Beebe, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine.

The refurbished clinic debuted Jan. 14, across Lakeland from University Rehabilitation Center with 26 clinic employees, 16 residents and about 15 clinical faculty members.

The Lakeland Medical Building is also the site of the Department of Ophthalmology’s adult and pediatric clinics, which moved in about a year earlier, on the first and third floors.

In the spring, the new otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) space debuted with brightly colored paintings of cymbals crashing, horns blaring and drums beating – Magnolia Speech School students’ artwork in the pediatric ENT waiting area.

“Many of the students received hearing aids or cochlear implants through UMMC,” said Abby Covington, associate director of ambulatory operations for the department. “We gave them a theme of hearing, taste and smell and let them be creative.”

The renovated space – approximately 13,000 square feet – doubles the size of the clinic’s former core locations in Suite K of the University Physicians Pavilion and at Grant’s Ferry.

The best part of the move, according to most otolaryngology faculty and staff?

“We now have windows,” Dr. Randy Jordan said with a laugh. “It’s always nice to be able to look outside,” said Jordan, medical director and vice chairman of otolaryngology and communicative sciences.

“Along with more room – we still have easy access for our surgeons to go to the OR if needed – it provides direct, easy access for our patients.”

But pediatric ENT is only a portion of the clinic’s services, which also include general and subspecialized care for children and adults with otology, rhinology, allergy, laryngology, facial plastic surgery, sleep medicine, endocrine/thyroid, audiology and speech pathology challenges.

“The new clinic space allows us to accommodate growth in the practice and to consolidate almost all of our services at one location,” said Dr. Scott Stringer, professor and chairman of otolaryngology and communicative sciences.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact the family medicine clinic at (601) 984-6800. To reach the otolaryngology clinic, call (601) 984-5160.

Liver transplant, first in 22 years, heartens Jackson woman

Dr. Christopher Anderson visits with Karen Battle eight days after her transplant.
Dr. Christopher Anderson visits with Karen Battle eight days after her transplant.

In March, the University of Mississippi Medical Center successfully completed the state’s first liver transplant in 22 years, giving a Jackson mother a new chance at life.

Karen Battle received her new liver on March 4 and headed back home 10 days later, said Dr. Christopher Anderson, associate professor of transplant surgery and division chief of transplant and hepatobiliary surgery.

“They’ve given me my life back,” Battle said of the University Transplant team, the donor and donor’s family. “I’ve learned that you should celebrate every moment you have. If you’re holding back, waiting for something special, don’t. Live and enjoy it now.”

Battle, 36, was a victim of autoimmune hepatitis, a condition brought on in 2009 through no fault of her own; her immune system attacked her liver, causing cirrhosis.

Through the last four years, she fought the disease with the help of specialists from Nashville to New Orleans. But her condition worsened.

A specialist at Vanderbilt University put her in touch with Anderson, who had moved back to his native Mississippi from Washington University in St. Louis and restarted UMMC’s liver transplant program.

“It takes a team of specialists – a hepatologist, surgeons, anesthesiologists – institutional support, commitment from administration, nursing and support staff to make a transplant program work,” he said.

The physicians he hired included Dr. Brian Borg, associate professor of digestive diseases and the state’s only transplant hepatologist; and Dr. Mark Earl, assistant professor of transplant surgery.

At the end of January the United Network for Organ Sharing, the governing body for organ transplantation in the U.S., approved UMMC’s liver transplant program.

Battle’s condition worsened throughout February to the point that she was admitted to the Wallace Conerly Hospital for Critical Care on Feb. 27 and was put on UMMC’s liver transplant list.

Only days after Battle was admitted and listed, a suitable liver was available. Earl went to procure it.

At about 9:30 p.m. on March 4, transplant team members began prepping Battle to remove her severely damaged liver. Earl returned with the donated organ and the transplant continued, ending in the early morning hours of March 5.

Borg said the chances of Battle’s survival were very low if she had not received the organ.

The liver program marks the next-to-last step in building University Transplant’s complete abdominal transplant line. The team broke a UMMC record last year with 103 kidney transplants. Only pancreas transplantation remains, which may come later this year, Anderson said.

Anderson expects University Transplant will handle 10-15 liver transplants this year, he said.

By press time, the team had already completed nine transplants.

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Medical Center celebrates 50th anniversary of Hardy's surgical feat

Hardy, second from left, with his surgical team
Hardy, second from left, with his surgical team

When Dr. James D. Hardy and his surgical team became the first to successfully transplant a lung from one human to another on June 11, 1963, the achievement was overshadowed by what also occurred in Jackson on that fateful day – the murder of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers.

But the shock waves of what Hardy achieved can still be felt 50 years later.

“He was an excellent technician and could get things done,” said Dr. Richard Yelverton, a resident of Hardy’s from 1960-65, “and he took the step forward and did it.”

Dr. Marc Mitchell, James D. Hardy Professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery at UMMC, calls the lung transplant one of the “seminal events” in surgery.

“It’s actually more difficult to do a lung transplant than a heart transplant … .

“That the lung transplant was done less than eight years after the doors to the hospital opened, to accomplish that in such a short period of time in such a young medical center, makes the feat even more fascinating.”

Hardy was director of surgical research at the University of Tennessee at Memphis when Dr. David Pankratz, dean of the School of Medicine at the still-under-construction University of Mississippi Medical Center, recruited him to become chairman of surgery in 1953.

Within a year, Hardy began to concentrate on organ transplantation.

Over the years, Hardy became convinced that human-to-human organ transplants were not only possible, but entirely ethical.

“Many of the fundamental documents that govern human subject research had not been written,” said Dr. Ralph Didlake, professor of surgery, director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and a former resident of Hardy’s.

“At the time, Dr. Hardy was asking the right questions about the morality of these transplants.

“These questions helped establish the boundaries of what could be done.”

Those boundaries were pushed to their limits on April 15, 1963, when John Russell, 58, a prisoner at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, was admitted to University Hospital with a history of repeated bouts of pneumonia.

Squamous cell carcinoma in his left lung had rendered it all but useless, and his right lung had been weakened by emphysema. Russell also suffered from kidney disease.

Dr. Robert Marston, then-dean of the School of Medicine, had granted Hardy permission to do a human lung transplant under certain conditions. Hardy offered Russell the option of a transplant of his diseased left lung and he accepted.

On June 11, the transplant took place. But what attention came with the surgery was extremely short-lived.

Before the operation had concluded, Hardy received a call from the emergency room. He asked Dr. Martin Dalton, a senior thoracic surgery resident and member of his surgical team, to report to the ER.

When Dalton arrived, he found an African-American man who had suffered a gunshot wound. Dalton attempted to stop the man’s bleeding and revive him, to no avail. After Dalton pronounced the time of death and went to notify the family, he learned the man he had been trying to save was Medgar Evers.

Russell, the lung transplant recipient, died 19 days after surgery – of his kidney disease, not the newly transplanted lung.

While preparing for the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s recognition of the 50th anniversary of Hardy’s lung transplant, Connie Machado, associate professor of academic information services, discovered many of the surviving 16 mm films of Hardy’s procedures acquired by the university’s library had deteriorated.

One was marked “Transplantation of Organs (Heart Out).” Last fall, Machado obtained a National Film Preservation Foundation grant to restore the 10-minute film at a cost of $5,200.

The restored film includes the coveted footage of Hardy’s initial lung transplant – in vivid color.

“We wouldn’t be doing transplants today if people like Dr. Hardy hadn’t had the courage to perform these procedures,” said Machado.

Much of the restored footage is included in an associated video news release from the Division of Public Affairs.

Within a year of his groundbreaking lung transplant, Hardy made even bigger news when he and his surgical team became the first to successfully transplant a donor heart – taken from a chimpanzee – into a human.

The attention paid to that first heart transplant quickly surpassed that of the first lung transplant. Yet it was clear that Hardy’s work had a profound impact on medical ethics, Didlake said.

“We can look back and say there is still a place for individuals who are willing to do bold things, who are willing to take risks and to advocate for treatments and theories in which they believe very strongly.”

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Match Day 2013

Fourth-year medical student Renaldo Williams announces his residency match to Vanderbilt in general surgery while an eager crowd of parents, student, spouses and families look on during the Medical Center’s Match Day 2013 ceremony March 15 at the downtown Marriott.
Fourth-year medical student Renaldo Williams announces his residency match to Vanderbilt in general surgery while an eager crowd of parents, student, spouses and families look on during the Medical Center’s Match Day 2013 ceremony March 15 at the downtown Marriott.

During Match Day 2013, more than 100 fourth-year medical students at UMMC, plus thousands more across the country, discovered where they will receive specialty training for the next few years.

A simultaneous, nationwide event, Match Day was held March 15. For UMMC’s School of Medicine, a crowd of families, friends, faculty and supporters gathered to hear students announce where they will receive residency training, which ranges from three to seven years depending on the specialty.

Of the 106 students who announced their matches during the ceremony in Jackson, 43 stayed at UMMC. Others matched as far away as New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Washington state.

During the scramble following Match Day, other students in the class found matches as well.

The newly-minted residents are training in 20 different specialties; 65 chose primary care areas, such as family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine and OB-GYN.

UMMC’s 57th commencement breaks record

School of Medicine graduate Caleb Dulaney with son, Cormack, 2.
School of Medicine graduate Caleb Dulaney with son, Cormack, 2.

A record number of graduates earned their degrees during the 57th commencement of the University of Mississippi Medical Center on May 24.

The total of 681 bested the previous high of 634, set in 2011. And as class sizes keep getting bigger in some programs, that record should continue to fall.

More graduates means more parents, spouses, aunts and uncles, children, grandchildren and friends. Within five years, the Mississippi Coliseum may not even hold them all.

Speaking to the graduates as he presided over the ceremony, University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones said, “You’ve reached your educational goal through hard work and determination. I suspect that you’ve done so with the support, and many times, sacrifice, of parents and spouses.”

Dr. Kimberly Simpson, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, was recognized as the first recipient of the Regions Bank TEACH Prize for outstanding accomplishment in education.

The six students who received top honors during the ceremony were:
Haley Routh Clark of Ridgeland, who received the Waller S. Leathers Award for the medical student with the highest academic average for four years;

Lacey Michelle Harris of Kiln, who received the Wallace V. Mann Award for the dental student with the highest academic average for four years;

Paul Thomas Munn of Mendenhall, who received the Christine L. Oglevee Memorial Award as the outstanding School of Nursing baccalaureate graduate;

Ottis Lee Brown Jr. of Flowood, who received the Dr. Virginia Stansel Tolbert Award for the highest academic average in the School of Health Related Professions; and

Daniel Forrest Lyons, who received the Charles Randall-Trustmark Award for outstanding research achievement.

Implant shoulders burden of QB’s recovery from surgery

Geissler demonstrates placement of the Lockdown.
Geissler demonstrates placement of the Lockdown.

A new medical device now being used at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is helping one Conerly Trophy-winning quarterback stay on track to continue his collegiate career.

The Lockdown Acromioclavicular Device, billed as the most effective solution for acromioclavicular joint (ACJ) reconstructions, promises to keep other athletes with certain shoulder separations on the playing field as well.

Designed by Prof. Angus Wallace and Dr. Lars Neumann of Nottingham University Hospital, NHS Trust, United Kingdom, the apparatus, which was approved for use in the United States in the summer of 2011, helps individuals with acute or chronic shoulder separations heal and prevents ACJ surgery failure.

Dr. William B. Geissler, professor of orthopedic surgery, employed it for the first time Jan. 8 on Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, who had injured his right throwing shoulder twice in a Rebels contest on Sept. 22 and again five weeks later.

“It was amazing that he took the hits he took and was still able to throw the ball as well as he did,” said Geissler, who covers the Ole Miss football team as chief of the sports medicine and shoulder programs at UMMC.

“He had some rehabilitation during the season and it was something we were hoping he’d be able to play with,” Geissler said. “But particularly toward the end of the season it became apparent a surgical operation would have to be done if he wanted to continue to play at that elite level.”

Wallace’s surgery had to be delayed until after the 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 5 in Birmingham, Ala.

Three days later, Geissler implanted the Lockdown, which wrapped around the scapula and on top of the clavicle, to help secure the clavicle and put the separation back together again. He then reconstructed ligaments to reattach from the scapula to the clavicle so Wallace’s body could grow within the shoulder to make its own ligaments.

The surgery prevented Wallace from participating in his team’s spring practices and its annual spring game, but he fully expects to take the field in the fall.

“I thought the treatment from the Medical Center was really good,” Wallace said. “Obviously, you’re a little nervous with your shoulder getting worked on, but they got me in and out very quick. I’ll be 100 percent: I’m 100 percent confident I’ll be back.”

Geissler, who’s reconstructed shoulder separations for about 25 years using various techniques, said he has “no reservations” about using the Lockdown in athletes in the future.

Officials tout new SOM in groundbreaking

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, other dignitaries and students heralded the arrival of a new, multi-million dollar School of Medicine at UMMC during the Jan. 7 symbolic groundbreaking.

“Future students will know they graduated from one of the truly great institutions in the nation,” said medical student Bradley Deere, president of the School of Medicine Class of 2014 and president-elect of the Associated Student Body.

“It’s humbling to know that where we stand now is the future School of Medicine.”

Where they stood was in a chilly corner of the Verner S. Holmes Learning Resource Center parking lot in the shadow of the library where Deere has studied for his medical degree.

UMMC officials expect the lot to be transformed into a 151,000-square-foot facility that would replace the cramped quarters characteristic of the current School of Medicine, which has no dedicated building. The estimated cost of the new school is now around $70 million-plus.

In his remarks, the governor described such a building as a tangible approach to saving lives by reducing the state’s immense shortage of primary care physicians.

“Mississippi is the most medically underserved state,” Bryant said. “We don’t have enough doctors, so people are dying.

“Today we say . . . help is on the way. More doctors are coming.”

They will, it is hoped, emerge one day from the sparkling, modern corridors of the first home for UMMC medical students built since 1955, when the current School of Medicine opened as part of the Medical Center complex on State Street.

“We can ill afford not to build this medical school,” Bryant said. “The old one and I are about the same age, which should bring you some concern.”

With more space and updated technology, Bryant said, the School of Medicine would be able to expand its first-year class size from 135 students to more than 160, and ultimately improve the health of those living in one of the country’s least-healthy states.

Envisioned by Jackson-based CDFL Architects & Engineers, the building that would rise just south of the Norman C. Nelson Student Union would be similar in size to the Ole Miss law school in Oxford. Already, roadwork linked to the site is underway near Lakeland Drive, which it would face.

On Oct. 26, Bryant announced a $10 million award in federal Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBGF) toward the medical-school cause.

Bestowed through the Mississippi Development Authority, those funds were added to the $4.5 million appropriated by legislators in 2011 for architectural and engineering groundwork. In April of this year, lawmakers approved $31 million in funding to help build the new school, leaving about half the total unfunded for now. Officials say the remainder is forthcoming.

“The legislature has been our friend for a very long time,” said Dr. James Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

During the January ceremony, State Rep. Philip Gunn, Speaker of the House, spoke for his fellow lawmakers: “On behalf of the legislature, we pledge to do everything we can to support this new medical school.”

Other speakers or dignitaries present included 3rd District U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper of Pearl; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, associate vice chancellor for health affairs and vice dean of the School of Medicine; Lynn Fitch, state treasurer; Dr. Hank Bounds, commissioner for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning; Blake Wilson, president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council; and then-Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. of Jackson.

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