Friday, July 21, 2017

Health Academy: Week of July 21st

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board of Trustees, and Friends, 

I’ve spent most of this past week attending Thomas Jefferson University's Population Health Academy.  During the week, we discussed methods and strategies in which health systems can positively impact the health of the communities we serve. We explored the key stakeholders in today’s U.S. healthcare system; discussing some of the complex interrelationships that influence population health, the economic impacts and concept of risk management as it applied to population health management, quality improvement, compliance, health informatics and how to best leverage all the data we collect and ways we could transition all these theories into an executable plan. This was an extremely timely program since the CityLife primary care clinic housed at The Eye Institute will begin to see patients this week with a key intent of this partnership being to impact the health of our local community as well as to provide the potential for student observation opportunities. I’m extremely excited about the prospects of where this new found knowledge will lead us!

Last evening, we celebrated the wonderful and impactful 23+ year career of Dr. Avi Gonen who retired at the end of last month. Dr. Gonen was responsible for helping to establish our international programs, specifically in optometry, first in Europe and Scandinavia and now in Asia. Through Avi’s work, the way optometry is practiced in Europe, Scandinavia and Singapore has been advanced to the point where their scope of practice has been expanded significantly. We wish Avi and his lovely spouse, Raya, the very best as they get ready to start their next adventure.

Last night on the other side of town our Contact Lens Club hosted the first-ever contact lens cocktail party workshop entitled “Color Me Chic” at our Chestnut Hill satellite facility. About 30 Salus students, faculty and staff learned about the different types of colored contact lenses available, which also included our students fitting one another.  We’d like to thank Johnson and Johnson and Alcon for donating the lenses for this fun exercise and well as Dr. Kriti Bhagat, the club’s faculty advisor, for helping to make this happen.

I’ll be participating in the N.J. State Triathlon tomorrow morning at Lake Mercer State Park, so please think of me as I swim, bike and run. This is my small way of actively supporting Salus’ wellness, population health initiatives and practicing what we preach!   Have a great weekend - stay hydrated and be safe.  


Friday, July 14, 2017

Rainy Philadelphia: Week of July 14th

Greetings from a very rainy and gray Philadelphia. While the University’s academic activity may be a bit slower than the rest of the school year, many of us have been actively engaged in planning and other related strategic activities to assure we continue to bolster all of our programs, market our brand, both academically and clinically, and look toward opportunities to increase our effectiveness in everything we do.

To this end, I routinely meet and talk with my counterparts at Arcadia University (Glenside, Pa.), the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine better known locally as PCOM as well as other local colleges and universities to explore where we might be able to assist each other. For those with undergraduate programs, we can provide conduits to professions they don’t offer or even in the case where they might, offer their students other alternatives for training. Just yesterday I visited La Salle University and talked with their president about ways we could work together. It’s remarkable how many colleges and universities in our local area don’t know all of the programs we offer and the increased potential to work together for the benefit of all involved. From my perspective, this is a great way to educate others about the Salus brand and market the wonderful programs we have - and potentially see where we can leverage programs in other institutions that may interest and benefit our students. So, while summers are pretty busy for some of us we also recognize the importance of our faculty and staff taking well-earned and much needed time off to recharge so they can come return with new ideas and a higher level of energy to bring our programs to an even higher level of excellence.

That being said, I would like to congratulate Dr. Kyomi Gregory, an assistant professor in the University’s College of Education and Rehabilitation Speech-Language Pathology program, on her recently published chapter in a new book entitled: How the Obama Presidency Changed the Political Landscape. While I suspect this may not have had much to do with Speech-Language Pathology, it does demonstrate Dr. Gregory's academic versatility, diversity and scope of knowledge. Congratulations!

Now that I’ve bragged about a faculty member, it’s time to brag about one of our students. Jamie (Roden) Pucci, from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry class of 2018 achieved the highest score on the National Board of Examiners in Optometry Part I Basic Science Examination and received the Dr. Norman E. Wallis Award for Excellence for her accomplishment. To put this in perspective, over 2,000 students from across the country took the exam this year and Jamie was #1 – congratulations!

Earlier this week, representatives from TD Bank and TD’s Charitable Foundation, presented a significant check in support of our “Looking Out for Kids” (LOFK) charity. A few days prior to that, we received another significant contribution from National Vision, Inc. in support of LOFK. Corporate sponsors like these two organizations allow us to go into local communities to provide necessary and definitive vision care to children who otherwise would never be able to afford or access these services. Every child we see who needs glasses receives two pairs - one for home and one for school, all free of charge to their families. This program and the care we provide changes lives. On that note, I’d like to remind everyone that our annual “Looking Out for Kids” charity fundraiser is on November 11th at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill (more info here). We’ve changed our venue and are hoping to really break some records when it comes to fundraising this year. Please help spread the word to your friends and colleagues and any potential corporate sponsors you think might be interested in providing help to children in need. And, buy a ticket to attend - it’s going to be a fun evening!

Next week, I’ll be off-campus attending the Population Health Academy at Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Population Health. I’m really excited to hear insights into where they believe the American healthcare system might be headed in addition to learning about the latest population health techniques as they pertain to our clinical populations. It should be an interesting five days.

Hopefully the rain will stop soon and we end up with a nice weekend. Please be safe and have some fun. Summer is really trucking along!


Friday, July 7, 2017

A Short (Yet Busy) Week at Salus: Week of July 7th

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

I hope you all had an enjoyable Fourth of July and had the opportunity to spend some time with friends and relatives - as well as to reflect upon all the great freedoms we enjoy thanks to the forethought of our Founding Fathers and those that sacrificed much to maintain their ideals. This year’s holiday leaves us with a pretty short week, which I have to admit, has been nice!

I’d like to congratulate our Blindness and Low Vision Studies Alumnus of the Year, Elizabeth O’Donnell.  We celebrated her achievements at a reception at the Hafter Student Center last evening. Despite the threatening rain, over 60 people were in attendance. In addition to honoring Ms. O’Donnell, we also had the opportunity to honor Dr. Audrey Smith with the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award. As I mentioned at last night’s gathering, the biggest benefactor of the achievements of both of these unbelievably accomplished professionals have been the clients, patients and students they have helped over their many years of service. On behalf of the entire University community, I again, want to congratulate both Betsy and Audrey on their achievements. It’s individuals like them that help to put Salus on the map!

This week we also welcomed our newest Optometry Accelerated Scholars students to campus. They didn’t waste any time getting to business as they’ve already spent time in our new Clinical Procedures Lab and on the new Virtual Reality Simulation Lab. It’s great to see new faces on campus. Many more will be showing up in the next few weeks as we prepare for Orientation Week, which commences the second week of August.  All of our classes are filled, so once again, we will be welcoming our largest incoming class to date. 

Speaking of new faces around campus, these next few weeks we’ll be hosting optometry students from Qassim University on campus. These students will be participating in lectures, clinical training and learning how we practice optometry in the U.S.  Please join me in welcoming them to campus. 

The Eye Institute’s new parking lot is open and ready for cars. If you have a chance to visit the Oak Lane Campus I think you all will be very impressed by how nice the building looks and the accessibility of the parking.  

It looks like it’s going to be a nice weekend so if you’re out and about, please remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and don’t overdo it - but have fun!  Enjoy these summer weekends because before we know it, it will be fall!


Friday, June 30, 2017

Busy Summer at Salus: Week of June 30th

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

It’s amazing how quickly summer is upon us.  It wasn’t too long ago that we were complaining how cold it was in the morning. Well, this morning it felt a bit different and this weekend promises to remind everyone that summer has arrived in the northeast, with temperatures predicted to hit 90 degrees throughout the weekend. Not allowing the weather to slow us down, activities at Salus remain high.  Many of our programs meet and work throughout the summer months, which help create a vibrant, energetic campus environment throughout the year.  

This week we hosted several prospective students who are exploring whether or not they want to pursue audiology as a career. During their visit to campus these prospective students were exposed to our clinical facilities, classrooms and had the opportunity to meet and talk with both current students and faculty. They left here with a pretty good sense of the profession but also of the Salus community.   

Later today we will pause and briefly celebrate the careers of three of our colleagues who are preparing to retire from Salus and begin their next adventures. Dr. Larry McClure, Dr. Charles Wormington and Mr. Alex Anderson, who together have a combined service of almost 80 years working at the University. They will be heading off to do more great things with their lives - we wish them well!

For those of you who have been on campus these past few weeks, you probably noticed several students being led around stairwells, hallways and parking lots with their eyes covered using white canes to ensure they didn’t bump into walls or other obstacles. These folks have been part of our Department of Blind and Low Vision Studies immersive Orientation and Mobility training program. We conduct these types of classes every summer for individuals who will ultimately work with visually disabled people. I can’t think of a better way to understand how your patient feels than to experience what they are going through personally. Thanks to Dr. Perla and her staff for ensuring this unique program remains one of the top in the country. 

Finally, work at The Eye Institute is pretty much complete. The new parking lot will be open next week, if weather  permits lines can be painted this weekend.  The landscaping so far looks fantastic, with more to come, which will include trees, grass and picnic tables.  Both the outside of the building looks fantastic and so does the new signage.  

As we approach what for some will be a long Fourth of July weekend, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment or two to reflect on what this holiday represents - the founding of our great nation, the freedoms and principles under which we were established and those who have sacrificed much to ensure we all continue to enjoy those freedoms we very much take for granted today.  Be safe, have fun, come back recharged and ready to take on new challenges next week.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Optometry's Meeting: Week of June 23rd

Students, Faculty, Staff, Residents, Alumni, Board of Trustees, and Friends,

Greetings from a nice and sunny Elkins Park! Last week kind of got away from me as I was down in Washington DC attending “Optometry’s Meeting” along with many of our faculty and students.

While in DC, I had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion addressing optometric services at the VA. The roundtable, which was held at the Capital building, was hosted by Senator John Boozman from Arkansas, who also happens to be an optometris. It was also attended by Congresswoman Julia Brownley from California; Dr. Chris Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association; Dr. Chris Wroten, from the American Optometric Association’s Federal Relations Committee; representatives from the Blinded Veteran’s Association (VA) as well as other Veteran Services Organizations (VSOs) that have very much appreciated and supported optometric services the VA has offered over the years.

During the course of the discussion, I had the opportunity to point out there are over 900 optometrists currently working within the VA medical system, noting that the VA is the largest clinical training ground from optometrists. There are approximately 1,500 optometric interns rotating in VA facilities annually and over 170 post-graduate VA optometry resident positions available for clinical training. I also stated there are three VA Optometric Research Fellowship Program sites that are training the next generation of optometric eye and vision care researchers. Most participants didn’t realize that of the 900 clinically privileged optometrists in the Veterans Health Administration, about 60 percent have faculty appointments at a school or college of optometry and are actively involved in the clinical training and education of future eye doctors.  Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas was in the room and commented on the importance that the VA brings to optometric clinical training. He also cited the need to have highly trained ODs in his rural districts.  It proved to be a very informative and worthwhile session, which garnered a great deal of support from both legislators who participated as well as from the VSO’s in the room.

A high point of this year’s Alumni and Friends Reception was honoring our 2017 Pennsylvania College of Optometry Albert Fitch Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Chris Quinn.  Dr. Dennis Lyons, the chair of our Alumni Board of Directors eloquently described Dr. Quinn’s many contributions to New Jersey optometry and the profession as a whole.  You can read more about Dr. Quinn’s numerous accomplishments hereCongratulations Chris on this award and being installed in as this year’s AOA president!  You’ve made us all very proud!  We also had the opportunity to celebrate five-year reunions for classes graduating in the “2s” and "7s”.  It really was a fun event!

In our College of Education and Rehabilitation, the Blindness and Low Vision Studies program received a $75,000 grant from the Northeast Pennsylvania Lions Service Foundation to help further assist those in need of low vision and blinds services. Congratulations to Dr. Fabiana Perla and her team for making this happen!

For those of you headed over to The Eye Institute, you will see progress on the new parking lot as well as progress on the outside of the building with new windows installed along the wall nearest the Community College. Work should be finishing up within the next week or so with a “grand opening” for the new CityLife primary care clinic just a few weeks away.  

As you begin your week, enjoy the nice weather as I understand it’s going to get hot in a few days!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Virtual Reality Arrives on Campus: Week of June 16th

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

While we have many students and faculty on campus, others are on break, clinical rotations or in the case of staff, taking well-earned vacations.  The Elkins Park campus seem a bit quieter and less hectic than during other times of the year, while our clinical facilities appear to be as busy as ever, which is good!

This week marks a transitional week for us as our virtual reality simulation lab was finally unboxed and set up on the second floor of our south building as part of the new Clinical Procedures Lab.  I had the opportunity to be one of the first to “road test” our new teaching tool.  All I can say is, “WOW!”  After adjusting the binocular indirect ophthalmoscope, I held up the condensing lens to the model and a “real” person with a “real” eye appeared before me.  Now, I’m not going to tell you that I got a perfect image right off the bat, after all, it’s been a while since I’ve done this, but with some coaching from Dr. Scharre and our VR Magic rep, I was able to get a pretty good view of a retina with a peripheral hole as well as some other things.  The fidelity of this new teaching tool was remarkable.  It’s going to change the way we both teach and learn - I’m certain of that.  This new lab will also help to set us apart from other programs in the country.

I had the opportunity to attend a Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce panel discussion that focused on what they termed the future of higher education’s delivery model.  During the event, I had the opportunity to hear from: Dr. Steve Spinelli, president of Philadelphia University, but after July 1st, he will be the Chancellor of the combined Jefferson-Philadelphia University; Dr. Steve Klasko, CEO of Jefferson University and Health System; Dr. Joyce Russell, Dean of the Villanova School of Business; Grace Suh, Director of Education Programs at IBM; and Elizabeth Russell from Grant Thornton.  

The discussion, which was moderated by Trish Wellenbach, President and CEO of the Please Touch Museum, described a truly progressive model for graduate medical education Jefferson is currently evolving, which focuses on choosing the right student to go into medicine. It is not based on the traditional MCAT exam or performance in subjects like organic chemistry or microbiology, but rather on their ability to observe and communicate with their patients. Clearly, there are minimums standards  students still have to meet, but their goal is to educate providers who can not only embrace the information and technology that's ubiquitous in medicine today, but also have the ability to connect and communicate with their patients effectively. This clearly resonated with me as that is our goal at Salus. While we haven’t yet discussed eliminating some of the historic entrance requirements, we do pay a great deal of attention of prospective student’s ability to assimilate and process information and also how they can communicate with others.  It was a fascinating discussion, especially hearing how the experts from industry perceived this new type of model.  IBM is now interviewing candidates who may not necessary have terminal degrees, but rather they have skill sets that are germane to today’s tech sector and can also communicate effectively.  It’s an interesting concept that likely will get a great deal of attention in the near future.

Last week we also had the opportunity to participate in the annual meeting of the Northeast Association of Advisors for Health Professions, which was held in Philadelphia this year.  With over 300 undergraduate advisors attending the meeting, we had the opportunity to showcase all of our program offerings and provided a tour of Salus.  Kudos to Admissions Director Monica Maisto and her staff for providing a great overview of Salus and tours of the campus to these advisors.  

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Patrick O’Connor McManamon OD ’17 for receiving the 2017 Johnson & Johnson Vision Award of Excellence in Contact Lens Patient Care.  Dr. O’Connor McManamon will be commencing his residency in contact lens practice at The Eye Institute next month.

So far it looks like it might be a rainy weekend here so if you do go out, please try to stay dry and be careful.

To all you fathers out there, I wish you all a Happy Father’s Day! Have some fun and enjoy!

Don’t forget - Looking Out For Kids – November 11th!


Friday, June 9, 2017

First View of the New Clinical Procedures Lab: Week of June 9th

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

Finally, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining! While we always can use the rain, it’s really nice to look out the window and see our beautiful pond lined with students eating their lunch and just enjoying the serenity of the campus.  

This week started out with a bang. We hosted our Alumni Association board meeting at a hotel near Citizens Bank Park last Sunday. It started with a wonderful brunch followed by a business meeting and a very informative presentation from Ryan Hollister, the University's coordinator of Career Services and Enrollment, on the importance of employing social media in one’s practice, and doing it correctly.  He also described the new and improved Bennett Career Services Center and what the University offers to graduating students as well as alumni from all of our programs. It was extremely informative and well received. After all the “official” stuff, about 70 of us headed over to the ballpark to watch the Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants. This was a great way to end the day! 

This week we also celebrated students and faculty using our new Clinical Procedures Lab for the first time.  It was wonderful to see both groups taking advantage of the new facility as well as "Exercising" some of the great technology and equipment that's been installed there. I happened to walk through while Dr. Jeff Nyman was lecturing about gonioscopy in one corner to about eight students, displaying normal PowerPoint slides on one screen and diagrams and photos on another. While this was going on, in another section of the lab an additional faculty member was working with a student to hone their 90D fundus exam skills. It was great to overhear that particular student say how clear the image was through the brand new slit lamp!

Construction on the parking lot at The Eye Institute (TEI) is moving forward in earnest. While it’s a bit inconvenient right now, when this is completed we will have an additional 70 parking spaces and some really nice landscaping on the Spencer Street side of the building that faculty, staff, students and patients can all enjoy.  

The CityLife Neighborhood Clinics at TEI will have  a soft opening later this month with a more formal grand opening scheduled for July. We are so excited to embed a  primary care facility in The Eye Institute as well as to our East Oak Lane neighborhood. 

Earlier this week the University's President’s Council bid farewell to Dr. Larry McClure who served as our director of Institutional Research and Strategic Planning as well as our director of Financial Aid for over 40 years.  Rumor has it he started when he was just 16 years old :-). Larry will retire at the end of this month and transition to having fun and relaxing a bit. We all wish Larry the very best as he gets ready to start his new adventures.  

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone to save the 11th of November for our annual "Looking Out For Kids" charity fundraiser dinner. This year we’ll be having the event at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, located in Chestnut Hill.  I know it’s going to be a very special evening as we honor Shelly Yanoff with our Lighthouse Award.  Ms. Yanoff is the former Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY).  PCCY works to improve the lives of our region’s children by developing initiatives and advocating for quality healthcare, child care, public education and family stability.  We’re very excited about having Ms. Yanoff join us for the event. To learn more about Looking Out For Kids, visit our website. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Stay safe and have some fun!