Friday, March 30, 2018

A Special Salus Weekly Update: Week of March 30th

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

This weekend, as our Jewish colleagues begin the observance of Passover, and as our Christian colleagues celebrate Easter it’s important that we take a moment with our family and friends to be thankful for all the gifts we have both in being able to care for others as well as having others care for us.

These holidays remind us that our life here on Earth and our work at Salus provide a means of being able to care for and give onto others. They are also a reminder of how we should treat each other with kindness and respect.

In this spirit of thankfulness and caring, Tanis and I wish you and your families a peaceful and blessed Easter and Passover. Have a great weekend.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Springtime Snow: Week of March 23rd

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

Well, we survived Nor’easter number four with only one and a half days lost. The good news is that we never lost power and the snow is already starting to melt. What a way to bring in Spring!

Even with only a four-day week, it’s been busy around here. As a result of the storm the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) Part I Exam was delayed for a day. While I’m sure that doesn’t sound like much, for the students who were ready to take the exam, it can be distracting when it gets delayed. I'm confident the delay didn't affect our students, since they were so well prepared AND so head and shoulders above everyone else!

I had the opportunity to spend the first part of the week attending the 18th Annual Population Health Colloquium sponsored by Thomas Jefferson School of Population Health. The event was kicked off by Dr. David Schulkin, Secretary of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). He discussed some of the recent challenges the VA has had concerning access to care in certain regions as well as some of their successes which includes a significant reduction in Hepatitis C cases among veterans, noting more than 60% of veterans known to have Hepatitis C have been cured. He also discussed veteran suicide rates which was rather sobering. While suicide rates for male veterans have decreased over the past few years, suicide rates for female veterans have increased. After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 2.5 times higher among female veterans when compared to U.S. non-veteran adult women. Dr. Schulkin said that effectively addressing this has become his number one priority, noting that if a veteran gains access to VA mental health assets the incidence of suicide declines dramatically. Something for us all to be aware of, especially if we are caring for veterans in any of our clinics or have friends or family who have served.

Another interesting discussion I attended addressed data and data transparency between electronic medical records (EMRs) and users. Tommy Thompson and Michael Leavitt, both former Secretaries of Health and Human Services and state governors discussed the importance of being able to share big data between health systems and providers. They contended that data transparency will help to drive quality up and fraudulent claims down. Noting that most EMR firms tend to be extremely protective of their data for proprietary reasons. Both of these leaders are pushing hard to facilitate a more seamless exchange of information that will benefit patients and drive down costs. This is also something we need to be watching closely because any rules affecting the collection and portability of patient data can affect how we practice and communicate with our colleagues.

Last Friday, Salus faculty participated in the rescheduled Development Day which included a very insightful lecture and discussion by Salome Heyward, Esq. on the Role of Faculty in the Accommodation Process. Both the lecture and discussion were extremely thought provoking and provided some great guidance and suggestions in how best to handle student accommodations in both the academic and clinical settings. The didactic portion of the program was followed by a reception where scholarly accomplishments of several faculty members were acknowledged. As I said during the program, we are so blessed to have such a talented and motivated faculty, which was quite evident by the pages of scholarly work that this group produced in the period of a year! Well done! 

This Sunday we will be hosting our annual optometric continuing education event, Dynamic Duos with lectures presented by optometrists sharing the podium with various healthcare professionals. More info can be found at

Dining with Diabetes, a series designed to help diabetics better manage their nutritional needs will begin again next week at The Eye Institute. This follows classes that were provided in November and December last year. This is a great way to get the community involved in The Eye Institute as well as the CityLife Clinic located on the second floor of the building.

This morning several of us attended Grand Rounds at The Eye Institute where Dr. Erin Kenny presented a lecture on The Past, Present and Future of Retinal Implants. It was fascinating to see the progress that has been made in helping patients who have been blind to see shapes and contrast using small devices implanted in their retinas. While there is still much more progress that needs to occur, these devices, with the aid of orientation and mobility and vision training, can be real life changers for those patients who are able to adapt to the technology. Much more to come on this front over the next few years, I’m sure!

In our College of Education and Rehabilitation, Bob Serianni, Patricia Mayro and other individuals from the Speech-Language Department will be representing Salus this weekend in Pittsburgh at the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association Convention. Always great to have our staff out and about!

Next week Mr. John Gaal and I will be headed to Chicago for the annual Congress of the American College of Healthcare Executives. I’m hoping to learn more about some of the topics that were discussed at the Population Health Colloquium as it pertains to data exchange as well as any changes that might be coming down the pike in Medicare and Medicaid. With so many things potentially changing in healthcare it’s always educational for me to attend these meetings where we will hear the different views directly from some of the movers and shakers in healthcare on topics that directly affect how we practice the professions we train here at Salus.

It looks like it’s going to be a nice weekend. No Nor’easters on the horizon! Get out and enjoy the snow while it lasts and take some time to spend with your family and friends. Be safe and have fun!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Busy Friday on Campus: Week of March 16th

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

Good morning from a sunny Elkins Park! No snow, no rain but a little wind and LOTS of potholes!  It’s been another busy week here at Salus so let me tell you some of the things that are going on:

Dr. Erin Kenny and TEI social worker, Jinnie Scott, were interviewed yesterday on WDAS about their work in Low Vision at our Feinbloom Center. It’s always great to be able to get the word out to the public about all the great things that we can offer Low Vision patients at pretty much any stage of their disease. Thanks to Dr. Kenny and Ms. Scott for waving the Salus flag!

Our annual alumni awards have been announced and I wanted to share that information with everyone. They are as follows:

  • Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year: David R. McPhillips, OD ’85
  • Audiology Alumna of the Year: Angela M. Morris, AuD ’03
  • Blindness and Low Vision Studies Alumna of the Year: Sister Lisa Ann Lettiere, IHM, MEd ’00, TVI, COMS
  • Physician Assistant Alumna of the Year: Jennifer M. Heibel, MMS '15
  • Distinguished Service Award: Lorraine Lombardi, PhD
  • Special Recognition Award: Susan C. Oleszewski, OD ’76, MA, FAAO

Congratulations to all those who have been recognized by their peers.

Speaking of awards, Dr. Tom Lewis, Salus President Emeritus, was honored by the Review of Optometry as he received the 2018 Career Achievement Award while attending the Southeastern Educational Congress of Optometry (SECO) in Atlanta, Ga. a couple of weeks ago. Congratulations Tom on this a well-deserved honor!

A reminder that today the Research Department will be hosting Research Symposium 11, featuring Andrea Tyszka, MS, OTR/L, SIPT and Fern Silverman, EdD, OTR/L. The title of today’s presentation is Community-based action research: Using evidence to support wellbeing for families with children who have sensory processing needs. The symposium is held from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the board room. Everyone is 
welcome to attend. 

The Speech-Language Institute have been regularly conducting brain injury screenings at TEI and “Raise Your Voice”, a newly created support group, will provide members of the transgender community the opportunity to practice techniques related to voice and other gender-specific communication skills on Saturday, March 17 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Speech-Language Institute. 

For the next couple of weeks, seven students from Finland, Sweden and Germany will be on campus to participate in a special posterior segment class. Please join me in welcoming these professionals to campus.

Today we will be holding a University Development Day in S300 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., followed by a light reception in the CafĂ©. This was previously scheduled a couple of weeks ago but had to be rescheduled due to the snow storm. The topic for the day will be the ADA & the Accommodation Process at Salus, presented by Salome Heyward, Esq. who is an expert in the Americans with Disabilities Act, more commonly known as the ADA.  

Finally, many of us will be headed up to New York tomorrow to participate in Vision Expo East. We will be hosting an Alumni and Friends reception at the event which will be held from 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. in the Javits Center, Room 1E13. If you’re at the meeting, please stop by and join us for some updates and refreshments. 

I hope everyone has a nice weekend and gets a chance to get outside and enjoy what looks like will be some nice weather.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Travels to Japan and China: Week of March 9th

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

Greetings on a cold, yet bright Philadelphia Friday! I hope everyone enjoyed the rare snow day we had earlier in the week. No one would guess we’re in March!

You didn’t see a “Weekly Update” from me last week as we were traveling in Japan and China.  As many of you know, Google and thus Gmail, does not work in China, hence my lack of update last week. So let me tell you a little bit about our trip.  

Drs. Scharre, Vitek and I had the opportunity to do an externship visit at our site at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan.  This is a very special place for me as I actually helped to facilitate this externship site when I was there in the early 2000’s as the commanding officer of the faculty. My team had the privilege of doing the majority of the design work for the new Naval Hospital that I had the opportunity to open when I was the Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy in 2013. The hospital our externs practice in today is only 5 years old and a state-of-the art facility. While there, we had the opportunity to meet with our current extern, Kathryn Ordonez (Class of 2018) who really appeared to be enjoying her experience over there. In addition to seeing lots of patients she was enjoying the Okinawan culture and staying in shape by biking to work every day!  

The next phase in our travels was to Shanghai, China where we held a reception to recognize many of our Chinese alumni as well as introduce prospective students to the University.  The event was extremely well attended.  It was fun to see alumni and also to meet some of the new students who will be coming our way next year. An added bonus was that the weather in Shanghai was uncharacteristically warm - 75 degrees and sunny. Running in shorts and a tee shirt in March is always a good thing!

As always, it’s good to be home. One of the first things I noticed was that we’re making great progress on what will be the new Lorraine Lombardi classroom on the 3rd floor.  Demolition on one side is complete and the framing has commenced. It’s always great to see new infrastructure that will be used to support our academic activities. This classroom will seat over 300+ people allowing us to really leverage interprofessional education at Salus.

The next stop of the Lombardi Farewell CE tour is in Pittsburgh on March 11th. The Western Pennsylvania Optometric Association will be hosting the event which I’m certain will be a great success, as all the others have been.  

As part of our outreach to local political officials, today we will be hosting State Senator Sharif Street and Representative Isabella Fitzgerald at The Eye Institute to show them what we do for the local community as well as to explain all the great clinical education experiences our students receive at TEI.  As the PA legislature looks at expanding optometric scope of practice, it’s important for them to understand the high quality education all of our optometrists receive at Salus.

So, this weekend looks like it will be cold, but no snow!  I encourage you all to get out and enjoy the good, albeit, cold weather.