By Lisa Brown
Med schools would remain separate, safety-net hospital would stay in place
Boston Medical Center, Boston’s “safety-net hospital” and the primary teaching hospital for the BU School of Medicine, is discussing a strategic partnership, including a potential merger, with Tufts Medical Center, the primary teaching hospital for Tufts University Medical and Dental Schools.
Karen Antman, dean of the School of Medicine and provost of the Medical Campus, stressed that any partnership or merger would not include the medical schools, which are parts of their respective universities.
Robert A. Brown, president of Boston University, says it is imperative that any partnership or merger maintain Boston Medical Center (BMC) as a premier academic medical center and as a safety-net hospital, fulfilling the hospital’s mission to provide exceptional care to the city’s vulnerable populations, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. “BMC is a superb academic medical center and the city’s most important safety-net hospital,” Brown says. “If a partnership or merger can ensure that BMC continues to play both these roles in a stronger, sustainable way in the future, it is worth pursuing.”
Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center, echoed Brown’s commitment to continuing to provide first-rate medical care for all. Walsh says conversations to date suggest that a strategic partnership may strengthen the missions of both medical centers and that “an affiliation that secures a long, bright future of continuing to provide exceptional care without exception would be of great interest to us.”
She says a partnership with Tufts Medical Center could have great potential benefits, including new options to serve patients, greater financial resources, and a larger referral network to attract new patients and better payments from insurers.
“Tufts Medical Center is our neighbor,” says Walsh. “We know them, we respect them, we share a common geography and a commitment to providing high-quality care to all patients. We also share a mutual commitment to our academic missions of teaching and research.”
Over the last 20 years, changes in health care models have made hospital partnerships and mergers a virtual requirement for a sustainable health care business, particularly in the Boston area. In 1994, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s teaching hospitals teamed up to form Partners Health Care, which has since brought in several community hospitals around Boston. In a rival venture, Steward Health Care has, in the past few years, taken over 10 community hospitals as well at St. Elizabeth’s and Carney hospitals. Earlier this year, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center took control of Jordan Hospital in Plymouth and formed a joint venture with New England Baptist Hospital. Antman says many observers of Boston’s crowded health care arena consider a merger involving Boston Medical Center to be long overdue.
Similarly, changes in health care payments combined with cuts in research funding have hit academic medical centers particularly hard. An alliance between Tufts and BMC could produce efficiencies of scale, Antman says.
Walsh cautioned that while the two medical centers have much in common, “there is more work we need to do before we will know whether a partnership is the best option for our employees, and most importantly, our patients.”
A combination of the two medical centers could result in significant change for clinical faculty at both schools of medicine. Boston Medical Center currently has 724 physicians, including the clinical faculty at the BU School of Medicine, and Tufts Medical Center employs 500. BMC officials say any partnership involving the two hospitals would take years to accomplish, and that the medical center would continue to offer a full range of services.
“We do not underestimate the anxiety that this will create among our clinical faculty,” Brown says. “We also understand that the hospitals, and not the universities, control the outcome of any discussion. We will do all we can to provide support and advocacy on behalf of our clinical faculty during what will be a period of uncertainty.”
If the two hospitals merge, the two medical schools would remain separate, each with its own faculty, curriculum, and rotations, called clerkships. The merger would have no impact on the number of students enrolled at the BU Medical School or on the size of the medical sciences faculty who teach at the school. However, the consolidation may result in fewer hospital beds, which might reduce the number of clerkships and residency slots available to BU and Tufts Medical students in the consolidated hospital. Currently, 45 percent of BU medical students do their clerkships at BMC while 35 percent of Tufts medical students do theirs at Tufts Medical Center.
Antman says she does not foresee a shortage of clerkship opportunities for BU medical students. “We are affiliated with 20 other hospitals in the area,” she says, “and we have a program in place to identify even more clerkship and residency opportunities in Boston, and around the country.”
With more than 870,000 patient visits last year and more than 4,500 full-time staff, Boston Medical Center is the largest safety-net hospital in New England. Approximately 70 percent of BMC patient visits come from come from people who rely on government payers such as Medicaid, the Health Safety Net, and Medicare for their coverage.
Boston Medical Center struggled with changes to the health care business for years and only recently, under the leadership of CEO Kate Walsh, has it approached financial stability. In 2012, the hospital reversed three years of losses and posted a small but meaningful financial gain. At the same time, Moody’s Investor Service and Standard & Poor’s bumped up their ratings of the hospital from negative to stable.
“Kate Walsh’s excellent track record as our hospital leader gives us added assurance that any change is likely to be in the best interests of the hospital, the underserved, and those medical students and clinical faculty associated with the facility in the future,” Brown says.
Antman says she sees hope in successful mergers such as the 1998 partnership of New York Hospital and the Presbyterian Hospital, which created the 2,500-bed New York Presbyterian Hospital. That hospital, which has two distinct medical centers, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center, serves as the primary teaching hospital for Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Weill Cornell Medical College.
“In these initial discussions we are all looking forward to finding a new way to educate medical students in Massachusetts,” says Antman. “There is no reason we can’t work with our partners to create a better educational experience for our students.”
This BU Today story was written by Art Jahnke.
The BU Advocacy Training Program presents December Advocacy Grand Rounds, Leadership in Healthcare: A Conversation with Former Governor Michael Dukakis.
Governor Dukakis, Massachusetts’ longest serving governor and former Democratic Presidential candidate, has lectured extensively on healthcare policy and reform. Come hear about the changing landscape of healthcare in the US.
Where: BUSM Instructional Building, L-303
When: Thursday, Dec. 4, 5-6 p.m.
Dinner will be served. Sponsored by the BUSM Alumni Association
New online program now open for registration
Many medical students dream of being able to teach one day, but the intensive rigors of their curriculum leave them little time to acquire the skills that would prepare them to do so. The same is often true for doctors and nurses who have developed areas of expertise and are interested in teaching, but lack the requisite teaching background.
Gail March (CFA’73) has witnessed this firsthand as a School of Medicine assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development. For the past decade, March has run a faculty development program at MED. But she realized she wasn’t reaching everyone, particularly busy health care providers who have dedicated their professional lives to caring for patients and suddenly find themselves asked to teach. That led March to propose and create a new program, the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program through a Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) seed grant for online innovation in higher education.
The program’s first course, Teaching and Learning, will provide health care professionals with a foundation in students’ learning styles, give them tools to design an interactive course, and teach them how to evaluate students. Registration is open now through December 15. Sessions begin January 15 and run through March 30.
“It’s a very new concept,” says March. The program is designed for health care providers of all stripes—including doctors, nurses, chiropractors, and dentists—who are preparing to enter the classroom as instructors. March says the pilot program is also ideal for health care providers already teaching who want to enhance their skills. “We wanted to introduce some new ideas in medical teaching because there have been so many advances in medical technology,” says March.
“There is growing demand for nontraditional professional development programs,” says Chris Dellarocas, director of the DLI. “Such programs are typically short, highly targeted, and do not culminate in traditional degrees, but rather in micro-credentials, such as certificates and badges. Beyond the merits of its excellent content, the MED badge program is especially interesting because it is Boston University’s first experiment with badges.”
Registrants complete up to 10 online sessions to receive the badge level that corresponds with the number of sessions they complete: competent (5 sessions), exemplary (7 sessions), or master (10 sessions). Single sessions are also an option for those not looking to earn a badge.
Each session features a video with tips from MED’s leading faculty—such as Anna Hohler, associate professor of neurology; Robert C. Lowe, associate professor of medicine; and Wayne LaMorte, professor of surgery and School of Public Health professor of epidemiology—on topics such as facilitating small-group learning, developing interactive lectures and presentations, designing multiple-choice assessments, and identifying the neurological basis for the adult learner. Participants will have a week to complete each session, which can be accessed 24/7. Those electing to take all 10 sessions will be given 12 weeks to complete the program.
Registrants receive their digital badges once they’ve completed the requisite number of sessions. March says they can use Mozilla’s Open Badge infrastructure to create a “backpack” to store their new accolades. Or, if they prefer, they can attach them to their electronic portfolio, CV, or social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Each badge is embedded with the professional’s name and the sessions he or she completed. “No one else can claim it,” March assures. “It’s your badge.” For those who prefer recognition the old-fashioned way, physical badges and pins can be requested at registration.
March has already heard from health care professionals interested in taking the sessions from as far away as India, Armenia, and Russia. She says the program is designed to be of use to fellows, residents, medical students, physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists, and many other health care professionals—especially considering that the sessions count toward required continuing medical education credits.
Registrants who teach at MED can take the sessions for free, while those affiliated with BU or the Boston Medical Center will receive a 50 percent discount. All other students will pay a fee of anywhere from $60 to $450, depending on whether they are taking a single session or acquiring a master-level badge, or something in between. March says she chose this pay structure because she wants students to be committed to the program and not drop out, which can occur in free massive open online courses. All profits from the program will go toward funding additional courses.
If all goes well, March envisions running the course again in the summer. She also plans to launch three more courses—Curriculum Design, Academic Leadership, and Medical Education Research—covering skills, she says, that medical students and professionals want to learn, but often don’t have time to pursue in traditional classes.
Visit this site for more information about the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program.
Institutions and schools outside of Boston University registering more than 10 people can email firstname.lastname@example.org for discounts.
This BU Today story was written by Leslie Friday.
Boston Magazine has released its annual Top Docs issue.
Sixty-two BUSM faculty and BMC physicians from 29 specialties are listed as “tops” in their respective fields, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, assistant professor of medicine and director of infection control at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) at Boston University is featured on the cover with a story about her recent work caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.
In addition, Dr. Thea James, associate professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at BUSM, was featured in a story titled “A Day in the Medical Life,” which tracked personal health stats of five health care workers in 24 hours.
Domenic Ciraulo, MD
Allergy and Immunology
Helen Hollingsworth, MD
Tania Phillips, MD
Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Alan Farwell, MD
Michael Holick, PhD, MD
Stephanie Lee, MD, PhD
James Rosenzweig, MD
Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Robert Blatman, MD
Aviva Lee-Parritz, MD
David Salant, MD
Carlos Kase, MD
Pediatric Infectious Disease
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Susan Bergman, MD
Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journals Science, Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling has named five members of the Boston University Medical Campus (BUMC) community AAAS Fellows.
They are: BU School of Medicine (BUSM) faculty David Michael Center, MD; Ronald B. Corley, PhD; Katya Ravid, Ph.D; and David J. Salant, MD; and Josée Dupuis, PhD, from BU School of Public Health (SPH).
The AAAS selects members whose work has helped to advance science and its applications. Now in its 140th year, 401 applicants will be awarded the title of fellow at the annual Fellows Forum in San Jose, Calif., in February.
David Center, MD, Associate Provost for Translational Research, Director of BUMC Translational Research Institute and Chief of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC) was elected as a fellow under the Section on Medical Sciences for his contributions to the field of Immunology, particularly for the discovery of the first human (IL-16) and virus-derived (HIV-1 gp120) lymphocyte chemotactic factors.
Ronald Corley, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, and Director at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, was elected as a fellow under the Section on Medical Sciences for his contributions to the field of immunology, particularly in elucidating innate functions of antibodies and B cells and their roles in accelerating adaptive immunity.
Josée Dupuis, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair of Biostatistics, was elected as a fellow under the Section on Biological Sciences for her contributions to the field of statistical genetics, leading to the discovery and improved understanding of the genetic basis for common diseases.
Katya Ravid, DSc, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry, and Founding Director of the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, was elected as a fellow under the Section on Medical Sciences for pursuing interdisciplinary research, and outstandingly combining the fields of hematology and vascular biology, leading to the discovery of transcriptional and cell cycle signatures that govern polyploidy during megakaryocyte/platelet development.
David Salant, MD, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, BUSM and Chief of the Section of Nephrology at BMC, was elected as a fellow under the Section on Medical Sciences for his contributions to the field of immunological kidney diseases, particularly for discovering that the anti-phospholipase A2 receptor is the major autoantigen in human membranous nephropathy.
Submitted by Amanda Macone, MD.
Thea James, MD, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at BU School of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2014 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award, which recognizes health care providers who demonstrate extraordinary compassion in caring for patients and families.
One of the region’s most prestigious honors, recipients are chosen based on how well they embody the characteristics of compassionate care, including effective communication, emotional support, mutual trust and respect, involving patients and families in health care decisions, and treating patients as people, not just illnesses.
James is an attending physician in Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) Emergency Department and Director of BMC’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP). She also cofounded Unified for Global Healing, an organization that seeks to improve health outcomes across the globe.
“Dr. James interacts with patients in a truly authentic and compassionate manner. She sees the person behind each injury and searches for that person’s story. Her sensitivity, communications skills, optimism and kindness have deeply impacted the lives of her patients and families. We’re so pleased to honor her and our extraordinary finalists,” said Schwartz Center Executive Director Julie Rosen when presenting James with the award.
This past September, two Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) students volunteered their time and talent treating Honduran residents in a very small, remote town called Gracias. During the week of Sept. 13–20, Stephanie Leung DMD 15 and Thomas Mosley DMD 15 participated in an externship under the guidance of Medical, Eye, and Dental International Care Organization (MEDICO), a nonprofit humanitarian service organization based in Austin, Texas, that has provided comprehensive health care in Central America since 1990. Its mission is to deliver medical, eye, and dental care and educational services to people in developing countries who have little or no access to health care.
Prior to their arrival in Gracias, Leung and Mosley admitted that they didn’t know what to expect and what oral-related challenges they would see in such a remote location. Since Honduras has a population of 8 million, with 65 percent of the population at or below poverty and a physician density of 57 physicians per 1,000 people, they felt it was safe to assume they would be exposed to somewhat complex cases.
Their assumptions were confirmed on the first day the makeshift dental treatment center opened, when patients began lining up to be seen in the early morning hours. Working under the supervision of and alongside MEDICO’s President, Dr. Robert Gurmankin and GSDM alum, Jahan Monirian DMD 13, Leung and Mosley hit the ground running providing amalgams, cleanings, composites, and a large number of tooth extractions.
Extensive tooth decay was common among the patients. Dental floss is very hard to come by in the region and the students noted that the majority of patients had already undergone multiple tooth extractions in the past and many specifically requested more due to continuing pain. At the end of the week, the team had seen a total of 364 patients. They performed 204 extractions, 112 composites, 143 cleanings, and 55 amalgam restorations (mainly in the back teeth).
When asked how the trip to Honduras contributed to their education, Mosley said, “A lot more practice.” He continued, “There were a limited number of providers and an unlimited number of patients waiting to be seen. The volume of hands-on patient contact each day was eye-opening.”
Leung added, “As GSDM students, work integrity is paramount. Due to the high volume of patients we saw in Honduras, we learned to think fast and work efficiently, while providing excellent dental care.”
Dean Hutter commended Leung and Mosley, “I appreciate and applaud their enthusiasm and willingness to volunteer for this elective externship to Honduras,” he said. He continued, “I am very proud of all of our students who commit to serving those in need.”’
A BU School of Public Health and School of Medicine researcher will lead a $3 million study aimed at addressing racial and economic disparities in the early identification and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among young children.
The five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health will allow a team led by Emily Feinberg, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH and associate professor of pediatrics at BUSM, to test an intervention at three urban primary care centers: Boston Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Yale University. Feinberg and her collaborators from the national Developmental and Behavioral Research Network – Dr. Amanda Bennett of the Children’s Hospital and Carol Weitzman of Yale — will target low-income and minority children, who are most likely to experience delays in ASD diagnosis and service provision.
All children between birth and age 2 will be screened as part of routine practice, and some of those with a confirmed risk for ASD will be assisted by “family navigators” to access high-quality ASD services. Patient “navigation” is a lay-delivered case management approach that focuses on overcoming logistical hurdles to care – such as transportation, language barriers or insurance complexities.
Emerging evidence shows that ASD can be reliably diagnosed by age 2, and that early screening and intervention can improve outcomes. However, service delivery changes that support early identification and linkage to services “have not kept pace with advances in diagnosis and treatment,” Feinberg said.
“Barriers are heightened for low-income and minority children with ASD, and contribute to disparities in age of diagnosis, timeliness of service provision, and access to quality services,” Feinberg said. “Feasible, culturally appropriate interventions are needed to reduce these disparities and to improve the developmental outcomes of children with ASD.”
ASD symptoms emerge in early childhood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data regarding ASD prevalence, released in March 2014, estimates that about 1 in 68 children are identified with ASD. The central features of ASD are deficits in social communication and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
The grant to Feinberg’s team was one of five grants recently awarded by the NIMH for research into ASD early detection and treatment.
Despite increasing numbers of people of all ages identified with ASD, “access to effective services remains inconsistent, at best,” NIMH Director Dr. Thomas Insel said in announcing the grants. “Parents are often left to navigate what is available as best they can, and worry for the future as their affected children grow into adulthood . . .
“This research is aimed at testing care strategies, adaptable across communities, in which identification of need and engagement in optimal interventions and services will be standard for all ages.”
The BU-led study seeks to screen at least 80 percent of all young children across the three primary care sites, shorten the time to diagnosis, and increase engagement in evidence-based treatments. The research team also will examine key barriers to care and gauge caregiver stress.
Feinberg has led previous research on ASD, including a study published earlier this year in JAMA Pediatrics that found that a brief, problem-solving intervention helped to reduced stress and depressive symptoms in mothers of children who had recently been diagnosed with ASD.
Submitted by: Lisa Chedekel
U.S. News released its latest rankings tool, Best Global Universities, today and Boston University is listed 37.
The new rankings offer the most comprehensive assessment of research universities worldwide as well as by region and country. As an interesting comparison, U.S. News ranks BUSM 32nd, BUSPH 11th and BU 42nd in the U.S. on its list of Best U.S. Graduate Schools and National Universities, respectively. Thus both BUSM and BU are ranked higher globally (30th and 37th respectively), than they are ranked in the U.S. (32nd and 42nd).
As per the table below, the U.S. News Global rankings lists BUSM 20th in the US compared to 32nd in the U.S. in the U.S. News National rankings.
U.S. rank in Global rankings
U.S. rank in Natl rankings
The rankings also feature the top 100 global universities in 21 subject areas, including fields such as economics and business, engineering, computer science and clinical medicine. In these subject areas, BU ranks in the following 10 categories:
- #25 in social sciences/public health
- #30 in clinical medicine
- #30 in physics
- #33 in molecular biology/genetics
- #45 in psychiatry/psychology
- #46 in neuroscience and behavior
- #54 in biology and biochemistry
- #55 in economics and business
- #55 in immunology
- #76 in environment/energy
For a complete list of the rankings, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/best-global-universities
As a result of the ongoing BMC construction project there are significant changes to vehicular and pedestrian traffic patterns on Albany Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Please follow the appropriate walking paths http://www.bumc.bu.edu/2014/10/02/bmc-construction-update/. If you have questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com or call 638-4144.
- The sidewalk on the north side of Albany Street is closed from the Shapiro driveway to the Dowling building, and the crosswalk from Menino Pavilion to the Power Plant has been removed. This means pedestrians need to walk on the Power Plant side of Albany Street. Please do not walk in the street.
- There is no pedestrian access from Menino Pavilion/Dowling to Albany Street. Please enter and exit these buildings through the main hospital entrance on Harrison Avenue.
Tips for Getting Around Campus
- Utilize designated walking paths;
- Give yourself extra time when driving into work;
- Allow extra time when crossing the campus;
- Pay extra attention to pedestrian crossings as some have changed.