Friday, May 18, 2018

Our Ship is Sound at Salus: Week of May 18th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

Good morning from a soggy Elkins Park! We’ve considered building an ark this week but we’ve been so busy preparing for commencement, the Lombardi classroom dedication and other events associated with the end of the year, there just hasn’t been the time. Inflatable rafts are becoming an option.

The good news is that our ship is sound and we’re not taking on any water – which is important since these last two days we’ve been hosting our third annual Residents Day continuing education event on campus. The event will culminate later this afternoon as we celebrate with the graduation of our Class of 2018 PCO Residents. These doctors, with the help of our clinical faculty, have worked extremely hard for the past year to reach this extremely important milestone in their professional careers. Please join me in congratulating all of them!  

Speaking of graduation, the University’s spring commencement ceremony will be at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts next Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. This will represent the largest residential graduating class in the history of our institution. It’s an exciting time for our graduates and their families and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all of them as well as thank them for choosing Salus to help launch their professional careers. We’re all extremely proud of all of you. 

As a reminder, we will be dedicating the Lombardi Classroom on Wednesday, May 23, at 4:30 p.m. on the third floor of the south wing of the Elkins Park campus. Everyone is invited. The portrait of Dr. Lombardi is absolutely awesome.   

Almost immediately following the Lombardi Classroom dedication on Wednesday, our Occupational Therapy (OT) students will be presenting their capstone projects in the Hafter Center. I encourage you all to attend as this represents a great deal of effort on the part of our graduating OT students and their faculty.

In an attempt to assist our new graduates in finding a professional home, we will be hosting a Transition to Practice event in the Hafter Center on Tuesday, May 22. Many providers and organizations looking for professionals will be there.

So, did you hear Laurel or Yanny on the latest craze to hit social media this week? Our own Lindsay Bondurant, PhD, CCC-A, Director of Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI), got in on the now viral Laurel or Yanny debate and was interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Check it out here

The Clarke's Listening Walk is this weekend at the Philadelphia Zoo for students of AuD and SLP. The walk event is designed to show the public that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can listen and talk. The event is presented by Clarke Schools for Hearing and speech to raise awareness and support for Clarke. 

On Monday, we will welcome our Board of Trustees on campus for their quarterly meeting. We look forward to sharing some of the great things that have been happening at Salus.

So, even though our students are on break this week, there’s a lot going on. As we approach the weekend, please be safe, have some fun and be sure to look out for one another. Next week is going to exciting – so rest up a bit and get ready for an event-filled time!


Friday, May 11, 2018

A Great Academic Year at Salus: Week of May 11th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board Members and Friends,

As the semester winds down, students are completing their last rounds of finals and we‘ll launch a new set of graduates in a couple of weeks. This caps off what has been another great academic year at Salus! 

Congratulations to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) Class of 2019 (and to Dr. Trego and the PCO faculty) for exceeding the national average pass rate on Part I of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam. – this is the first class to accomplish this in several years – and a special mention to our optometric scholars who achieved a 91% pass rate on the test. 

Construction on the first half of Lombardi Classroom is pretty much complete with furniture due to arrive late next week. We will be dedicating the classroom on Wednesday May 23 at 4:30 p.m. I hope many of you can attend this opportunity to celebrate the unbelievable career of Dr. Lorraine Lombardi. Those who had Lorraine for anatomy, remember her drawing with both hands while explaining the intricacies of neuroanatomy – well before there was PowerPoint.  While there won’t be a drawing demonstration, at least to the best of my knowledge, you will have the opportunity to thank Lorraine for all her years of service to PCO and now Salus.

Congratulations to Drs. Theresa Duda and Ramesh Sharma on the publication of their groundbreaking research on retinal physiology in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. This is an internationally peer-reviewed journal. This work speaks of the high quality of research that these fine scientists have accomplished at Salus.

The Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI), located in the north building on the Elkins Park campus, will be holding an Open House and tinnitus information session on Saturday May 19. It’s a great opportunity to see what goes on in the clinic in addition to learning more about tinnitus.

Brianna Brim, MOT, our academic fieldwork advisor and instructor in Occupational Therapy, has been selected as one of only 30 recipients of a highly coveted spot at the Clinical and Translational Research Course for PhD students at the NIH Clinical Center beginning the week of July 9. Congratulations! Find out more about this tremendous opportunity. 

As most of you know, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) is preparing to celebrate our 100th anniversary next year. In preparation for that many activities are being planned, we’ve launched our centennial website which is now live. You can check it out here. You will also find a direct link on the Salus University homepage in the top right corner, and under the "News" tab.  We will be updating this website with weekly content leading up to our 100-year anniversary in 2019, and continue to add alumni features, throwback photos, faculty Q&As, etc. throughout 2019 to celebrate our anniversary.  If you have a Salus 100 Story you would like featured, please share it with us here

The Salus Transition to Practice and the Career & Resource Fair is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22nd. There is also a career fair that same day. Employers are excited to meet with faculty as well as students in order to share their message and job opportunities with a larger audience. Please stop by the Hafter Center on Tuesday, May 22, anytime between 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 

This weekend should be pretty nice and for those of you done with finals, I know you’ll have some extra time on your hands. Try to get some exercise, unwind and spend time with family and friends. Thanks for all you’ve done throughout the year to make Salus such as special place! 


Friday, May 4, 2018

Finals Are Upon Us: Week of May 4th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

I hope everyone has had a great week. We certainly did at Salus!

As finals are upon us, on Thursday, May 3, the Learning Resource Center hosted another pet therapy event to help students de-stress during finals week. These have been a huge success. Who doesn’t like to have a golden retriever sitting next to them helping them to relax?

In the College of Education and Rehabilitation, the Speech Language Institute (SLI) welcomed Erika Cardamone, MS,CCC-SLP as a new clinical educator this week. We’re extremely happy to have Erika as part of our Salus team!

Dr. Jingyun Wang, an associate professor in our Pediatric Vision Research Laboratory and a member of our Pennsylvania College of Optometry faculty, was elected as a committee member in the Eye Movements/Strabismus/Amblyopia/Neuro-ophthalmology (EY) section of Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) program committee on Monday. This is a great honor and responsibility, as this committee reviews all ARVO abstracts and organizes their scientific symposiums. Congratulations Jing!

Finally, we’ve begun construction on the renovation project in The Eye Institute that will add four exam rooms and an updated pediatric waiting room. So far, we’re on schedule for a mid-June completion date. This new area will enable our contact lens service as well as some of the other specialty clinics to schedule patients more efficiently during our busy clinic days.

For those of you running the Broad Street Run on Sunday, we wish you lots of luck. Tanis and I will miss the event this year as we’re riding in the New York City Five-Borough ride on the same day. Looking at the weather, we may all get a bit soggy! So, no matter what you’re doing this weekend, have some fun, stay safe and be respectful of one another.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Productive Time at Salus: Week of April 27th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

I hope everyone has had a productive week. We certainly have had one at Salus.

I spent the beginning of the week in our nation’s capital, along with 15 of our students and members of the Pennsylvania and American Optometric Associations. We were there to educate and seek support from legislators and their staffs on priorities that directly affect optometry.  Those priorities included continuing pressure on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to withdraw its unnecessary, burdensome contact lens paperwork proposal for optometrists to have patients sign a document stating they’ve received their contact lens prescriptions, gaining new supporters for the American Optometric Association and American Dental Association-backed legislation to end health and vision plan abuses, and pushing back against efforts to downgrade and privatize Veteran’s optometric care and deploy a pilot telehealth program that could prove deleterious to Veteran’s health. Our students helped to carry the day as we went from appointment to appointment going over each issue.  It was fun and educational, all at the same time. I’ve attached a photo of part of our group in front of the U.S. Capital – to prove we were there!

In our College of Education and Rehabilitation, the Speech Language Institute’s Aphasia Support Group, led by Alison Finkelstein was highlighted by the National Aphasia Association and the Transgender Voice Group, led by Judy Koza, was highlighted by the Philadelphia Gay News. These are national and local platforms providing lots of great exposure for our SLI!  Bob Serianni and his crew of clinical educators never cease to amaze us! 

Congratulations to Dr. Lauren Sponseller, Director of the Occupational Therapy program, who recently graduated from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Academic Leadership Institute.  She is now a "Certified Leader in Academia" through AOTA. 

Students from the Mastery Charter School visited the Elkins Park campus on 26 April. They toured the campus and clinical skill labs and participated in a mock eye exam demonstration with Q & As with Salus Optometry students.

On Saturday, 28 April Salus will be participating in the Franklin Institute’s Science Festival Carnival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. We will have a booth and activities with SLP (involving marshmallows), Optometry (involving low vision simulators) and Audiology (sound level meters). This is a free event that has dynamic demonstrations, engaging experiments, geeky games, and electrifying entertainment for the entire family.  The weather should be great, so I encourage you all to go out there to support our folks.

Back by popular demand, the Sports Vision Club SVC be hosting a Dodgeball Tournament with proceeds going to SOSH! The entry fee is $5.00 per player with snacks and Gatorade provided! There will be prizes for the winning team!  There are only 8 team spots available, so email to reserve your spot! At least 6 players are needed, with at least 3 female players per team.

Tonight, the annual Salus Soirée will be held from 8 PM-12 AM at the Arts Ballroom in Center City.  It’s a great opportunity to dance the night away under the stars at the Arts Ballroom in Philadelphia! 

This morning we were treated to an extremely informative optometric Grand Rounds lecture from Dr. Doan Kwak, one of our newest faculty members, on the pre and post-operative management of refractive surgery. I think our practice will really benefit from Dr. Kwak’s recent experience working at a major refractive surgery center. 

Finally, we’re making progress on the Lombardi Classroom which will be dedicated on May 23. 

Have a great weekend. Be safe, be courteous to one another and have some fun!


Friday, April 20, 2018

Busy Spring: Week of April 20th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends:

Dr. Scharre and I just returned from a trip to Nashville, Tenn., where we honored the Osborne College of Audiology’s (OCA) newest Alumna of the Year, Dr. Angela Morris, AuD ’03, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). We were joined by Mr. Dennis Washington, our vice president for institutional advancement, and 72 alumni, students and faculty, which made it a wonderful event. Dr. Morris’ accomplishments are numerous and you can read a bit more about them on our website. Angela truly embodies the drive, compassion, excellence and professionalism that we have grown to expect from our Salus graduates.   

Salus OCA was also very well represented at AAA with presentations by Drs. Radhika Aravamudhan, PhD; Rebecca Blaha, AuD; Bre Myers, AuD; and Jonette Owen,AuD. Dr. Owen's poster received the Blue-Ribbon Excellence Award. We even had our first student poster presentation, by Monica Skarzynski ‘19AUD and Jamie Lantz ‘19AUD, selected for presentation at the Academy Research Conference. Congratulations to everyone who made this such as successful and memorable meeting! 

Last Friday we hosted the annual PCO Quiz Bowl on campus. As usual, the event was exciting, educational and fun. This year’s winner was Annie Govan ‘20PCO. Annie will go on to represent Salus/PCO at Optometry’s Meeting next year in St. Louis, Mo. Last year’s PCO Quiz Bowl winner, Celeste Gomez ‘19PCO, will compete against contestants from 23 other schools at the Essilor Optometry Student Bowl on Thursday, June 21, during Optometry’s Meeting at the American Optometric Association Congress in Denver, Colo. Here’s a link for more information.

On Saturday, April 14, students from our Physician Assistant program participated in the PA Olympics, held at Bamboo Gardens in Vincetown, N.J. Students competed against seven other schools in games of tug-of-war, dodgeball, a speculum egg race, and trivia – all in the name of charity.The game day events mark the end of fundraising for this year’s charity and is a day of fun and celebration for all of the PA students involved. This year, the students raised money for the Miracle League - North Hampton, a baseball league for children with mental and physical handicaps, in Churchville, Pa. A record 600 students participated in the games on Saturday. A check was given to the Miracle League - North Hampton for the total amount raised of $24,500 which will go toward a playground for special needs children next to their specialized baseball field. Well done!

We just posted a wonderful story on our website about how our staff at the Pennsylvania Ear Institute has had a life-changing influence on an 11-year old young lady. Read more. 

A historical note – The Eye Institute (TEI) celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. Opened in 1978 (my class was the first class to practice there),TEI has been a model for every other optometry program in the country to emulate. Read more about TEI’s history.

Next week is going to be a busy week around here, starting on Sunday. On Sunday, April 22, we will be hosting the annual Joseph Toland Excellence in Education optometric CE event on campus. The event will feature Drs. Rigoberto Arteaga, Alissa Coyne, OD, FAAO; Pinakin Davey, Bisant Libib, OD,FAAO; Tracy Offerdahl, BSc,PharmD; and our residents who will be presenting Grand Rounds cases. The CE will cover the ocular manifestation of ocular disease, lasers, glaucoma, and pharmacology cases. This is always a great event to catch up on the latest in treatment options and technology.

On Monday, April 23, I will speak at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (across the street from the EP campus) at 11:30 a.m. about my experiences as the senior military medical representative while serving at the United States Pacific Command Surgeon during Operation Tomodachi, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. You are all invited to attend.

On April 24, our Blindness and Low Vision Studies will be hosting an Alumni and Friends reception at the annual meeting of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation at The Central Best Western Atrium in Harrisburg, PA at 5:30 p.m. All of our alumni and friends are invited to attend.

On Wednesday, April 25, in support of our Veterans Readiness Initiative, Salus students and faculty will participate in a multi-disciplinary health screening at the annual Veteran’s Expo held at College Hall, Montgomery County Community College in Bluebell, Pa., from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

On Thursday, April 26, I’m invited to discuss my views on leadership to the officers of U.S. Naval Hospital, Naples, Italy via WebEx. The discussion is scheduled for 9 a.m. and I will be doing this from the Salus board room (W400). Please come if you’re interested. 

Also on Thursday, the admissions office will host students from the Hardy Williams Mastery Charter High School STEM program on our Elkins Park campus for most of the morning. So, when you see these students walking around campus be sure to say hi.

On that note, I’ll conclude, wishing everyone a safe and fun weekend! 


Friday, April 13, 2018

A Sunny Friday the 13th: Week of April 13th

Happy Friday the 13th and greetings from a sunny and warmer Elkins Park! I think Spring has finally come – at least for part of this weekend.

On Wednesday, Salus hosted the 10th annual intercollegiate Occupational Therapy night organized by occupational therapy (OT) student representatives from each of the local Philadelphia OT and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) programs.  The event's speaker, Stephen Kern, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, and OT faculty member at Thomas Jefferson University, spoke about his work embedding OT services within the Philadelphia non-profit organization Nationalities Service Center (NSC), a refugee and community integration center meeting the needs of newly arriving refugees, victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied children.  There were over 125 OT/COTA students at this very successful event.

As most of you know, I like to walk around the campus every day to see what’s going on. I am often struck with all the creativity and energy that is generated by our students and faculty, no matter where I am.  I was thrilled to see a combined SLP and OT class discussing education and language, which is exactly what our interprofessional educational initiatives are designed to facilitate.  I always feel a sense of pride and humility when I walk through the Learning Resource Center, Virtual Reality and Clinical Procedures labs knowing that we helped to bring these venues to campus and to see our students and faculty interacting at a level that surpasses most other institutions.  The creativity and energy generated by our faculty and students is amazing and greatly appreciated!  

One of my favorite stops is generally new construction projects we’re doing.  Seeing the progress from day to day is fun.  Our new Lombardi classroom is progressing nicely with a dedication ceremony planned for graduation week.  The new state-of-the-art classroom will enable us to bring large numbers together without having to set up the gymnasium at the Hafter Center, as well as provide a much more conducive learning environment.  I can’t wait to see it all done!

If you haven’t been over to the Hafter Center lately, I strongly encourage you to go and check out the latest ArtSisters exhibition, in the D’Arrigo Family Gallery, that focuses on colors.  There are some really beautiful and colorful works on display that will just cheer you up the moment you see them.  They’re all for sale in the event you wanted to take one home. The exhibit runs through August 26th.

I want to wish all of our Thai students and alumni สวัสดีปีใหม่ (sà-wàt-dee bpee mài) or Happy New Year.  I had the opportunity to celebrate the Thai New Year with our international students last evening and it was just a wonderful event.  Thanks to Dr. Vitek, Natalie Standig, and all of our international students for arranging this.

Tonight is the annual AOSA Quiz Bowl in the Hafter Center.  This is a wonderful event that selects who will be representing PCO in Essilor's Quiz Bowl which is held at Optometry’s Meeting in June, this year in Denver, Co. If you have some time, I encourage you to attend – it starts at 5:30 p.m. – it’s always a great deal of fun!

It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful weekend, so try to get out and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather on Saturday before the rain and cooler weather returns. 

Be safe, be respectful of each other and have fun.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Great Work at Salus Continues: Week of April 6th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

According to the calendar spring started last month, so why are we forecasted to get an inch or more of snow this weekend??!! April is supposed to be full of perfect days to go out and enjoy the great outdoors! I guess we can all hope for a warm-up soon. 

Even with unseasonable weather swirling about around us, the great work our students, faculty and staff are all doing continues at Salus.

Please join me in congratulating our newest PhD’s:
  • Robert Andersson whose topic was: Justifying the Need for Mandated Comprehensive Eye Care in Nursing Homes 
  • Richard Hom whose topic was: Food Insecurity and Vision Impairment among Adults in the United States
  • Mashael Namaeh whose topic was: A Normative Study of Objective Measures of Disparity Vergence in Children 9 to 17 years old 
  • Lauren Sponseller whose topic was: Exploring Occupational Therapy's Role with Mothers Who Breastfeed

All four successfully defended their dissertations recently. We’re so proud of all of these fine professionals!

Yesterday, a team of students and faculty were at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) participating in our Veteran’s Readiness Initiative. The event, which included optometry, audiology, speech-language pathology and for the first time, PA students and faculty provided multisensory screenings to veterans and, at the request of CCP, non-veterans with the goal of identifying and removing any potential barriers to reintegration and educational success. The program is designed to identify symptoms that could be associated with post-concussive injuries and were exposed to conditions that might have caused either mild or moderate Traumatic Brain Injury. 

Congratulations to Mr. Bob Serianni - we've just learned that Bob has been nominated as the next president of the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association!  He will serve a three-year term: President Elect in 2019, President in 2020, and Past President in 2021. So, Salus will be at the forefront of SLP in the Commonwealth in the coming years!!!  

Speaking of SLP, last night, the Speech-Language Pathology class of 2018 presented their capstone presentations to the University community. All of our SLP student presenters as well as the entire SLP faculty, most who served as mentors to each student group as they completed their projects, need to be commended for the quality, creativity and academic rigor that went into each endeavor. All the presentations were exceptional. Congratulations to all of you!

On Saturday, optometry, audiology and SLP students and faculty will be participating in the Montgomery County Wellness Expo from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Montgomery County Community College MCCC. Students and staff will be providing vision, hearing and speech screenings for local residents and MCCC students, faculty and staff. This is a great opportunity to assist the local community as well as to generate necessary referrals to our Salus clinical facilities.

On Tuesday, 10 April, we will be celebrating National Library Week in our Learning Resource Center. There will be a reception at 12 p.m. with light refreshments - you are all invited to attend!

I wanted to conclude this week’s update with a discussion that I believe we all need to be paying close attention to. Wednesday evening Brian Zuckerman, John Gaal and I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion that included Dr. David Nash, founding dean of the School of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University and Melissa Weiler Gerber, the president and CEO of Access Matters (, a Philadelphia nonprofit formerly called the Family Planning Council that helps to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health assets. Dr. Nash is a physician who also holds an MBA, is a nationally recognized expert on health economics and practice and holds an honorary degree from Salus, in addition to all his other accomplishments. Ms. Gerber is a nationally recognized advocate for Women’s health and was formally head of Women’s Way.  

The discussion ranged from the future of the Affordable Care Act to equitable access to care for minorities and the poor in our city. Dr. Nash noted that the U.S. spends more money than any other country for healthcare yet our outcomes don’t even rise to the top ten as compared to other industrialized nations. He drilled down further and when comparing fetal mortality rates in Ghana to Philadelphia, our city looked more like a third-world country than Ghana. It’s a sad commentary on how Philadelphia’s unprivileged, which represents almost one-fourth of the city’s population have access to prenatal care but more importantly, are subject to the social determinant of health. Dr. Nash pointed out that only 15% of health outcomes are related to direct access to a health system. That means 85% of one’s health is directly related to other things such as safe housing and local food markets, access to educational, economic, and job opportunities, access to healthcare services, quality education and job training, availability of community-based resources in support of community living and opportunities for recreational and leisure-time activities and transportation options, to name a few. These are the social determinants of health.

Ms. Gerber added that there appears to be a “war on the poor” where programs that have historically educated and cared for women, such as Planned Parenthood and others are at risk due to budget cuts and political pressures to discontinue them. She stressed how important it was for underprivileged women to have access to these types of support services to assure people receive adequate healthcare and health guidance. Ms. Gerber also highlighted the positive impact Medicaid has had on this population in enabling people to obtain necessary sexual and reproductive healthcare services.  

Finally, Dr. Nash pointed out that only 3% of Americans currently practice what has been defined as a “healthy lifestyle” which includes daily exercise, no smoking, eating fruits and vegetables, using a seatbelt when driving and having a normal body mass index. That’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of health in America and a major, contributing factor in why our healthcare costs are so high.  

You may be asking yourself why I’ve spent so much time on this. I don’t believe there is any topic more vital to raising the awareness and improving the overall health of our community and the nation than these issues. It’s also embedded in our Salus mission to be part of the solution. At Salus, we do a great job of teaching how to and ultimately provide high quality care for all of our patients and clients. It is also incumbent upon us to be very cognizant of all those other things – those social determinants - that directly affect most of our patient and clients. We need to be asking them about their diets – are they getting three meals a day, do they have adequate housing, do they have access to other healthcare providers, etc.? If we find they are not, we can potentially have a great impact on their lives by connecting them with appropriate social and other services that can hopefully assist.  

I apologize for the length of this update but felt it was important to share some commentary of my insightful evening. I hope you all take some time to reflect on those, as well as on how lucky we all are to be in a position to help move this in the right direction.  

Have a great weekend, take some time to spend with friends and family and stay safe!