Friday, September 15, 2017

Grateful to Be On Our Way Home: Week of September 15th

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

World Congress of Optometry 2017,
 Hyderabad India
I am writing this while en route back from the World Congress of Optometry that was held in Hyderabad, India this past week.  Salus was well represented by Drs. Melissa Vitek and Satya Verma, both of whom presented posters and lectures to the over 1,200 participants from all over the world.  It was especially gratifying to reconnect with Salus PCO graduates from our international and MPH programs that are either in key leadership positions in the organization or were presenting lectures and posters.  We also had the opportunity to discuss our new Clinical Procedures and Virtual Reality labs and hold several meetings with prospective national organizations who were interested in our International Clinical Optometry and Advanced Placement programs.  It was an extremely interesting, productive, and busy week and we’ll all be very glad to be back at Salus next week!

Students from Qassim University
Keeping with an international theme, we’ve had the opportunity to host eight students from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia on campus over the past couple of months.  This is part of an ongoing agreement we have with Qassim to provide lectures, seminars and controlled patient care experiences for students who are completing a one-year internship after graduating from Qassim. While at Salus, these students received additional training in several optometric areas to include low vision, binocular vision, glaucoma, and posterior and anterior segment. 

Zhu Lin (Julia) 
I am very pleased to share that Zhi Lin (known to us as Julia), who is a graduate of the Salus Advanced Placement Doctor of Optometry program (APOD), made history by publishing the first primary eye care and clinical procedures manual in Chinese. The textbook entitled, "Eye Health Management,” includes comprehensive information about how to conduct comprehensive primary care eye exams for both children and adults with a focus on the clinical aspects of optometry.  I was honored to receive a copy of the book and it’s quite impressive.  Please join me in congratulating Julia on her accomplishment.

Travel grant recipients 
Moving closer to home, thanks to the efforts of our Alumni Association, twice a year travel grants are awarded to a select group of students from each program in an effort to help advance their professional and humanitarian goals throughout their education. Students are given the opportunity to use the funds to attend program specific national or regional conferences and participate in a variety of health screenings during humanitarian trips. The latest group of travel grant recipients used their funding for activities from February through the end of July 2017.  This is a great opportunity for these students to expand their knowledge base as well as spread the good word about Salus.

Whenever I return from these long trips, even to countries like India, where everyone was so friendly and helpful, I have a renewed appreciation for all we have in the United States, often taken for granted.  After experiencing the traffic and what I would term “exciting” driving conditions in India, seeing their mass transportation system with people hanging out of city buses during rush hour, I will certainly look at SEPTA and the Schuylkill Expressway in a much different light!  Even with everything that’s swirling around us, we are extremely lucky to be in the U.S.  Please take a moment to reflect on that as you approach this weekend.  Also, please keep those recovering from both Hurricane Harvey and Irma in your thoughts and prayers.  While not prominent in the news anymore, the victims still have a long ways to go before their lives return to normal.
It’s looking like it should be a pretty nice weekend around Philadelphia so I encourage folks to get out and enjoy the nice weather and all the wonderful things we have around us.  

Have a great weekend and be safe!


Friday, September 8, 2017

Greetings from India: Week of September 8th

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

Dinner with representatives
from Al Salama Optometry College
I’m writing this abridged update from southwestern India where Dr. Melissa Vitek and I are representing Salus at Al Salama Optometry College in Kannur, India and the World Council of Optometry meeting in Hyderabad – the capital of Southern India - early next week. Dr. Vitek and I have been meeting with representatives from Al Salama to discuss how we can help them elevate the practice of optometry in India. We will also be lecturing to about 150 students and faculty of the college tomorrow about how Salus has influenced the practice of optometry both in the U.S. as well as worldwide. Additionally, we’ll be visiting their eye hospital to determine if it meets our criteria for potential externship opportunities in the future. Nonetheless, we’re excited about the potential collaboration that will stem from this visit.

Closer to home, the fourth annual Salus Scoop was a huge success last week. The event, which showcases most of our professional and social organizations for students, gives new and current students a chance to see what’s available at Salus during an evening filled with informative and fun activities. It looked like everyone, especially Dr. Trego, who spent some quality time in the dunk tank, had a great time!

I can’t write a Weekly Update without a reminder about the “Looking Out for Kids” charity fundraiser on November 11, 2017! Tickets are available now so please mark your calendars!

Finally, another major hurricane is bearing down on the southern part of the U.S., this time with Florida in the crosshairs. We know we have many students, alumni and colleagues from this part of the country and we will be reaching out to ensure everyone is safe. In the meantime, as the storm approaches, please keep everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma in your thoughts and prayers.

I hope everyone has a safe and restful weekend.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day History: Week of September 1st

It’s hard to believe it’s already the 1st of September and summer has pretty much passed us by. With the change in seasons comes an increased sense of energy and excitement on campus as students and faculty really dive into their programs. Some of our students are beginning externships, while others are returning to campus after experiencing what life is like in the “real world.” I remember when I was a student and felt this same level of excitement as I began my externships and then returned to campus after they were completed.

As I write this note, thousands of people in southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana are beginning the long road to recovery from Hurricane Harvey.  I know we have several students who are from that area who we have reached out to, as well as others, particularly our colleagues at the University of Houston College of Optometry.  Luckily, everyone we’ve talked to are okay.  The recovery from this storm will take years, with many of our colleagues affected.  Please join me in keeping all those folks in the Houston and surrounding areas in your thoughts and prayers.

Last week we held our bi-annual Faculty Development Day. Attendees took part in three sessions to enhance their presentation and relationship building skills, and to learn more about advancement opportunities within the University. The day culminated with a ribbon cutting ceremony for our latest renovation projects. Thanks to Drs. Lorraine Lombardi, Brooke Kruemmling and Janice Scharre for making this all happen. 

From now through October 9, the University’s D’Arrigo Family Gallery is showcasing artwork from three Philadelphia area mixed-media artists, Tom Herbert, Blanche Levitt Torphy and Elynne Rosenfeld.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit the gallery in the Hafter Center, I hope you can find the time soon as it will be well worth the visit!

The official invitations are out for our “Looking Out for Kids” charity fundraiser. This will be the eleventh year for the event, and it will be a special one.  As a reminder, we will be honoring Shelly Yanoff, the former Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth as the 2017 Lighthouse Award recipient.  The event will be on November 11 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill.  I’m hoping for record attendance at this year’s event!  A special shout out to National Vision, Inc. who was generous enough to be our major corporate sponsor.    

As this weekend is Labor Day weekend, I thought a little history lesson might be in order:  According to the Department of Labor, the first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City.  Its origins stem from the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers.  It became a federal holiday in 1894. It was originally intended that the day would be filled with a street parade to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations. After the parade, a festival was to be held to entertain local workers and their families. It is surmised that one of the reasons for choosing to celebrate this on the first Monday in September, and not on May 1, which is common in the rest of the world, was to add a holiday in the long gap between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Today, Labor Day represents the unofficial end of summer.

So, as we prepare to reflect and remember those in southeast Texas and also to enjoy the last weekend in summer, please take some time to reflect on all the good things we have around us and the wonderful opportunities we all enjoy in being associated with professions that have the opportunity to give back to others.  Have a safe and restful weekend! 


Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcome New Students: Week of August 18th

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

I’d like to again welcome all of our new students to Salus. I know I speak for all of our faculty and staff when I tell you how excited we all are to have you here and to help you begin your professional careers. As I mentioned to you at Orientation and again at the White Coat ceremony, this week began your transition from being an undergraduate student to becoming a healthcare professional; the standards by which you’ll be measured from this day forward are different from what you’ve become accustomed to in undergraduate school. We know you’re up for the challenge and are really eager to get you started on your journeys. To our returning students, welcome back! We hope you spent some time to recharge and reflect on all the great stuff you’ve learned and now are back, ready to charge full-speed ahead. 

For those of you who had the opportunity to attend the White Coat Ceremony, I want to congratulate you on receiving your white coat. I want to remind you of the symbolism of the coat that represents your transition to becoming a caring, competent healthcare professional. Vice Admiral Faison’s speech was right on target and his words of wisdom will serve all of us well as we begin this academic year. I’ll bet everyone will remember the admiral asking us to pull up a photo of someone we loved on our smartphones, but more importantly showing us how this relates to viewing your future patients as individuals with respect and dignity, similar to the way we view those we care for on a daily basis.
I want to welcome back our Student Optometric Service to Humanity group form Haiti. I understand they broke the record for number of patients seen on a single day. Well done – it’s good to have everyone home, safe and sound!

I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this week’s awful events in Charlottesville, VA. Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their lives or were injured due to the violence that occurred. It is important to remember the strength of our country is derived from our diversity, inclusiveness and the many contributions made by people of many different races, religions, national origin, sexual orientation and political beliefs. To be clear, at Salus we do not tolerate racism, extremism, bigotry or hatred in any form in our institution. It is against all of our values and everything we stand for. 

Finally, on Monday classes begin for our new students in earnest. I want to wish everyone a successful start to this academic year.  We’re here to help you succeed and are expecting great things from you!

I’ll be “off the grid” starting tomorrow, visiting our daughter who is serving in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. I’ll have fairly limited connectivity, so I won’t have a “Weekly Update” next Friday.  I hope you have a great weekend!  Be safe and have fun.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Getting Ready for Orientation: Week of August 11th

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

Greetings from a sunny and unusually mild Elkins Park! We’ve been pretty lucky this summer so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather remains nice, at least through next week when we welcome our largest entering class for Orientation, culminating with our White Coat Ceremony on Thursday. Pretty exciting stuff!

Earlier this week, I had the absolute pleasure of hosting Dr. Hank Brown, the interim president of Arcadia University. We had the opportunity to discuss the breadth of collaboration our two universities have been engaged in as well as potential for additional areas to explore. For those of you who are not aware, we have an agreement with Arcadia that guarantees a certain number of seats for qualified students in our Occupational Therapy and Optometry programs. Similar agreements are being finalized for both Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Students have to meet our academic criteria prior to being enrolled at Salus. This, along with other areas of cooperation, really takes advantage of our proximity to Arcadia as well as their excellent undergraduate programs.  

We just learned that Rosemary Connors, from Philadelphia’s NBC 10, will be our celebrity co-host for this year’s “Looking Out for Kids” charity fundraiser event. Remember, it’s November 11th at the Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill. Please put this on your calendars!

Also a reminder about next week’s White Coat Ceremony, which will be held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, August 17 at 2 p.m. - this is the first time we’re holding the event in the city and this venue. Hopefully, many of you will be able to attend.  Vice Admiral Forrest Faison, the Navy Surgeon General, will be our guest speaker, and I know he’ll have a great message for our new “white coaters.”

Finally, I wanted to share an experience I recently had with a local healthcare provider. I was referred by my dentist to see another dentist for a second opinion. When I called for the initial appointment, I was greeted with, “Hello, welcome to our office. What type of dental insurance to you have?” After all that, they informed me I would receive an email from them with “further instructions.”  I did receive the email that evening with a term-paper worth of questions to fill out that I was “instructed” to bring with me for my initial appointment. Today, I received both a text and phone call “requiring” me to show up 15 minutes early for my appointment which is sometime next week.  

I’m sharing this with you because, in my opinion, it’s a great example of how NOT to treat a patient, and I hope our students especially take note.  If we are to be truly patient-centered healthcare providers, then a high degree of both empathy and respect needs to be shown every patient we see. In the interactions I had with the dentist's office I felt they were not respectful of me or my time, but rather was both demanding and dispassionate. Requiring a patient to be in the office early is very convenient for the office but doesn’t take into account a patients schedule. Additionally, there are many nicer ways to say that. I think I would not have had such a negative reaction to this if they would asked me to “Please see if I could get to the office 15 minutes early to complete any additional paperwork, etc.” as opposed to “requiring” me to be there.  So, if I arrive 10 minutes early as opposed to 15 or I arrive at my appointed time are they not going to see me?  I sure hope not, but that the impression I have. Never did I hear a “please” or “thank you” during any of my interactions.  

So, the lesson I want to pass on is this: while we need our patients to provide necessary information to us so we can provide optimum care and yes, also be reimbursed, and we would like to remain on schedule, there are ways to do this that projects respect and empathy. My expectation and hope is that we treat all of our patients with that respect and empathy so they leave our clinics feeling special and well cared for.  

On that note - here’s wishing everyone a great weekend.  Please be safe and come back next week energized to welcome our new students!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer is Flying By: Week of August 4th

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

I can’t believe it’s August already! This summer is flying by. Orientation begins in just two short weeks when we will, once again, welcome our largest incoming class. It’s an exciting time as we’ve made some changes to include moving our traditional White Coat Ceremony from October to the end of Orientation Week. Not only have we changed the date, but we’ve changed the venue to reflect the stature of the event as well as the size. This year’s White Coat ceremony will be held in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at 2 p.m. on August 17. This year's guest speaker is Vice Admiral Forrest Faison, Surgeon General of the Navy, who I know will have a great message for our new students. I’m hoping many of you can join us for this important occasion.

The Osborne College of Audiology has been conducting Summer Workshops in which many attendees are international students who are advancing their education through our AuD Online Bridge Program. We provide this very unique program because in some countries a master’s degree is the highest level of education required to practice as an audiologist, but the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree allows interested providers to deepen their clinical skillset and expand their scope of practice. 

Our Speech-Language Pathology Department co-hosted a special continuing education workshop with The Hanen Centre, a Canadian-based charitable organization, entitled, “It Takes Two to Talk – The Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Language Delay.” The three-day program focused on the role parents play in their child’s early language intervention and how speech-language pathologists can facilitate parents’ involvement.

As a reminder, the CityLife clinic is now open at The Eye Institute (TEI) and is continuing to enroll new patients. If you have a chance to stop by TEI, check out their new site as well as how nice the whole building now looks. I know you’ll be able to find a parking space as we’ve added 70 new spaces to our lot.

For those of you who are walking around the Elkins Park campus, you’ll notice some minor construction going on in the West building. This is secondary to a water leak we experienced a couple of weeks ago. To that end, we anticipate the work will be completed within the next couple of weeks allowing us to open up areas that have been closed since the incident occurred. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Finally, it looks like it’s going to be another nice weekend.  I encourage you all to get out and enjoy the sunshine (with sunscreen, of course) and have some fun.  Please be safe and stay hydrated.  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Audiology Summer Workshops & Much More: Week of July 28

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

It’s been another busy week at the University. The optometry Class of 2020 is back on campus, our audiology Summer Workshops have been in full swing and the clinics have remained busy with pre-school examinations and more routine work.

The CityLife primary care clinic at The Eye Institute saw their first patients last Monday with a more formal grand opening even planned for later next month. As I’ve mentioned in previous notes, having access to primary care services will greatly aid our patients with chronic conditions that can also impact vision such as diabetes, hypertension and thyroid disease. Not only will community members now easily access the necessary healthcare providers they may require in one location, but our students will also benefit from their exposure to these patient care experiences. Enrollment is open to pretty much anyone and I would strongly encourage any of our employees or students who are looking for a primary care manager to check CityLife out.

A couple of weeks ago I told you about a book chapter that Dr. Kyomi Gregory, an instructor in our Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) program, wrote entitled, “How the Obama Presidency Changed the Political Landscape.” I commented that her chapter “may not have much to do with Speech-Language Pathology.” Well, I was wrong. Just the other day, Dr. Gregory pointed out to me that her chapter actually discussed President Obama’s dialect and the manner in which he said things – topics directly related to SLP! Pretty impressive stuff from a very impressive member of our faculty.

This week ends the first full week that Dr. Melissa Trego has officially been at the helm as the Dean of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. We are all so thrilled to have Dr. Trego as part of our leadership team and we all wish her the very best as she continues to build on the great legacy PCO has.  Her innovative and progressive approach to optometric education will serve our students and our institution well for years to come!

While I’m talking about PCO, I want to congratulate Drs. Mike Rebar and Andy Gurwood on their publication that discusses glaucoma medications in this month’s Review of Optometry journal.  Our faculty are always on the cutting edge and this article speaks to their expertise and high regard they are held by the profession (and all of us!).  Nice work!

Last evening, I had the pleasure to help honor this year’s Osborne College of Audiology Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Sherman Lord, AuD class of 2009.  Dr. Lord is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, Board Certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology (PAA) and the Acoustical Society of America. He has had the unique situation of not only being at the forefront of the latest developments in hearing and balance technologies but also as a teacher and technical consultant to the end users. A strong advocate and promoter of the Osborne College of Audiology, he is an adjunct faculty and College Advisory Board member. He has also served on the board of the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association as treasurer, and as president of the PAA and the National Association of Special Equipment Distributors. He has been the leading advocate for audiology issues in Pennsylvania and was instrumental in several successful legislative issues for state licensure. His honors have included 2010 Leadership Award from the Audiology Foundation of America, 2012 Audiology Advocate of the Year Award from the American Academy of Audiology, and the 2016 George S. Osborne Honors Award from the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology.  Congratulations Dr. Lord!

This morning Dr. Carlo Pelino gave a wonderful lecture on choroidal melanoma that was really world-class (actually all of our folk's lectures are world class!).  It was great to see so many students and faculty and even some alumni at the Grand Rounds. I even got to spend some time with one of my classmates! We need to continue to spread the word about these lectures as we do offer free COPE approved CE credits for each one.  Check your emails for upcoming lectures.

Finally, in the event anyone was interested, I did survive the triathlon last weekend, finishing in the top 3rd of the field of over 1300 and in top 3rd of my age group which had over 40 people in it.  So I didn’t embarrass us too much!  For those of in or near New Jersey, the event was at Lake Mercer County Park – which is just beautiful. It would be a great place for a fun family outing!

Have a great weekend and please stay dry and safe if you’re going out and about tonight or tomorrow.