Support UM at Miami Marlins College Colors Night

College Colors NightThe Miami Marlins invite alumni, students, faculty, staff, and fans from universities across Florida to celebrate their school during College Colors Night at Marlins Park on Friday, August 21 at 7:10 p.m. The University of Miami will participate in this special themed game night, with proceeds from UM ticket sales benefiting the UM Alumni Association.

Help ensure that UM has the highest game attendance of all participating schools, including Florida State, the University of Florida, and the University of Central Florida. Colleges with the most tickets sold by Friday, August 14 will be eligible to participate in several fan experiences during the game.

Buy your game tickets today and share with family, friends, and colleagues. The VIP Special Event Package includes a game ticket, T-shirt, VIP pregame party, and post-game fireworks. To purchase tickets, visit http://miami.marlins.mlb.com/mia/ticketing/college_colors.jsp.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/830940350359842/


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Rudy Fernandez Elected to United Way Board

Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez, the University’s vice president for government and community relations, has been elected to the executive committee of the United Way of Miami-Dade, where he joins other community and corporate leaders charged with advancing the organization’s mission of building community by helping people care for one another.

Also elected to the executive committee during the United Way’s June 30 annual meeting was Carolos A. Migoya, president and CEO of the Jackson Health System.

Fernandez, who joined the University in 2007, previously served as special assistant to the president in the George W. Bush White House and held senior positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign, and the Republican National Committee. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the University of Miami.

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Patient Satisfaction Soars at UMH’s Emergency Department

Special to UM News


From left are UMH CEO David Zambrana, COO Kymberlee J. Manni, and Todd Haner, director of the Emergency Department.

MIAMI, Fla. (July 28, 2015)—Following a dramatic four-month rise in patient-satisfaction scores, the Emergency Department at University of Miami Hospital stands as a textbook example of what is possible when top management makes a true commitment to change and the entire staff responds to the personal satisfaction that comes from improved performance.

The satisfaction measures that UMH administrators track closely in the monthly Press Ganey Emergency Department Report are those comparing UMH with approximately 230 peer hospitals across the U.S. The response they value most is “likelihood of recommending.” In April, UMH was ranked in the bottom quarter, with a score in the 24th percentile; the current score is in the 96th percentile.

“Improvement this substantial in such a short time is a remarkable achievement,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine and CEO of UHealth. “It demonstrates what can happen when leadership and staff are given the opportunity to think of new ways to focus on the most important element in medicine — the patient. I am very proud of what they have accomplished.”

Many other measurements, ranging from arrival to release, mirrored that level of improvement. The changes behind the improved numbers, however, took much longer than four months to implement.

“I have worked here for seven years, and throughout all of that time the Emergency Department has struggled,” said Kymberlee J. Manni, Ph.D., UMH’s Chief Operating Officer. “A little more than a year ago, top management committed to a $3.9 million makeover, and for the past 12 months, my team has been on a mission to improve the department. During that time, we have re-engaged the Director, revamped the entire staff, changed our lab test procedures and completed a major renovation of the entire space.”

“The Emergency Department has been one of our areas of focus for some time,” said David Zambrana, D.N.P., M.B.A., CEO of UMH. “It is where, because of its function, we have our least-planned patient encounters. If we can provide superior care in what is often a patient’s greatest time of need, we will build a reputation that produces strong, lasting relationships with the entire community.”

“The commitment at the top empowered me to finally do what needed to be done,” said the department’s Director, Todd Haner, D.N.P., M.B.A., a highly experienced administrator who was brought to Miami in 2012 from a community hospital in Naples, Fla., to turn things around. “We really needed to shake the place up and start again. It begins with the right team; it’s easy to have people with the right skills but not the right fit. The people working here now are here for the right reasons.”

It didn’t take long, in fact, for the department’s 105 staffers to see that management’s commitment to change was real. New physicians with emergency department expertise were contracted from TeamHealth, an outsourcing organization, to work under the direction of David M. Lang, D.O., Medical Director of the department. The 32-bed facility was split into two zones, each run by a team of three nurses and two technicians. A laboratory technician was added to the department to verify orders before they are sent to the lab and track them to make sure they come back as quickly as possible.

“I am grateful to Dr. Lang for his commitment to improving the patient experience,” said Steven Falcone, M.D., M.B.A., Executive Dean for Clinical Affairs and CEO of the UHealth Clinical Practice.

The nurses’ station was torn out and rebuilt. A new clinical area with five new bays was added. Several parking spaces were eliminated, and a new reception area was built in their place. New curtains and paint lightened and brightened the whole department.

One of the biggest morale boosters was new uniforms. Staffers had a say in choosing the color of the new scrubs, which also had the hospital logo embroidered on them.

“The rest of the departments began seeing our uniforms, and they wanted embroidery, too,” said Haner. “Now there’s a spirit of competition within the hospital, and our people are proud of how good they look.”

The last frontier, he said, was the patient experience.

“We renovated not just the look but also the operation of every place that has a patient touch point,” said Haner. “For example, we added a greeter at the front desk. Instead of treating you like a number, they get up and engage you in a conversation. And we don’t call that area the ‘waiting area.’ We don’t want patients to spend much time there. We call it the ‘reception area.’”

Patients don’t leave, either, without an exit interview and a business card.

“We want their last memory to be that they were treated well,” said Haner. “If they have any issues, we try to resolve them on the spot; if that isn’t possible, we will follow up later with a phone call.”

UMH’s Emergency Department is a busy place, treating approximately 120 patients each day. As all of the changes took effect, staffers could feel the improvement and their spirits soared. Haner spurred that morale shift with a tracking board that he updates every day. The staff knows how long it takes a patient to see a physician and how long it takes a patient to be discharged, and it keeps them engaged.

“It means a lot to me when they come to me and say, ‘What’s our score today?’” said Haner. “Our people know that today’s health care consumers are savvy. How we treat them determines if they are going to come back. In today’s market, we have to go the extra mile.”

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Fertile Corals Discovered in Deeper Waters off U.S. Virgin Islands

Special to UM News

Researchers find reproductive refuge for threatened coral species

Diverse and vibrant deep coral reefs of the Grammanik Bank, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands The dominant corals are boulder star corals (Orbicella franksi).  The two groupers are yellowfin groupers (Mycteroperca venenosa).

The dominant corals in the diverse and vibrant deep coral reefs of the Grammanik Bank off the coast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands are boulder star corals (Orbicella franksi). Photo by Tyler B. Smith

MIAMI, Fla. (July 27, 2015) — Researchers have discovered a threatened coral species that lives in deeper waters off the U.S. Virgin Islands is more fertile than its shallow-water counterparts. The new study showed that mountainous star corals (Orbicella faveolata) located at nearly 140 feet (43 meters) deep may produce one trillion more eggs per square kilometer (247 acres) than those on shallow reefs. The findings from scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the University of the Virgin Islands have important implications for the future of coral reefs worldwide.

Caribbean coral reefs have declined 50 percent in the past 50 years, according to the 2014 Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs report. In 2005, coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands were severely impacted by high temperatures and disease.

“Coastal pollution, storms, and warm water can stress a coral out, which is why we’re looking at what’s going on in deeper offshore habitats,” said Daniel Holstein, a Rosenstiel School alumnus and current postdoctorate researcher at the University of the Virgin Islands. “These deeper habitats tend to be cooler and less strenuous for corals—and thus, coral spawning may be more spectacular.”

Mountainous star corals reproduce by broadcast spawning, releasing their eggs and sperm in the water during a highly synchronized event. The researchers used remote cameras at a field site off the island of St. Thomas and laboratory observations during broadcast spawning events to show that the mesophotic corals, which live in deeper reef waters typically between 30 to 150 meters (98 to 492 feet), released their eggs in near synchrony with shallow-water corals.

“The reefs that produce more larvae are more likely to be successful in seeding the reefs with their offspring,” said Claire Paris, associate professor of ocean sciences at the Rosenstiel School and co-author of the study. “Protecting these potent reproductive deep refuges could represent the key to the survival of coral reefs for future generations.”

Mesophotic coral ecosystems are buffered from environmental disturbances by their depth and distance from shore. These deeper coral reef ecosystems may offer reproductive refuge to neighboring shallow-water coral reefs that are in decline, according to the research team.

“These deep reefs offer a glimmer of hope,” said Tyler Smith, research associate professor at the University of the Virgin Islands. “They may be an incredible resource for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and for the entire Caribbean, if they can supply consistent sources of coral larvae.”

The study, titled “Fertile fathoms: Deep reproductive refugia for threatened shallow corals,” was published in the July 21 issue of Nature Publishing Group’s journal Scientific Reports. In addition to Holstein, Smith, and Paris, the coauthors include Joanna Gyory of Tulane University. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation – Virgin Islands Experimental Program ROA #0814417 and the Black Coral Penalty Fund ROA #260225. Additional funding was provided by Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) subcontract to Paris from Exeter University:  “Climate change and habitat fragmentation in coral reef ecosystems”  and NSF OCE-0928423 to Paris and historical work funded by the Paris Lab. The study and a supplementary video may be accessed at www.nature.com/articles/srep12407.

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Abrupt Climate Change May Have Rocked Cradle of Civilization

Special to UM News

UM Rosenstiel researchers uncover the effects of climate on human societies 


Professor Ali Pourmand (right) and Ph.D. candidate Arash Sharifi inspect the physical properties of a meter-long sediment core collected from northwest Iran that recorded the environmental conditions in the region  for the past 2,000 years.

MIAMI, Fla. (July 28,2015)—New research reveals that some of the earliest civilizations in the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent may have been affected by abrupt climate change. The findings show that, while socio-economic factors have long been considered to have shaped ancient human societies in this region, the influence of abrupt climate change should not be underestimated.

A team of international scientists led by researchers from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that during the first half of the last interglacial period, known as the Holocene epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago and continues today, the Middle East most likely experienced wetter conditions compared to the latter 6,000 years, when conditions were drier and dustier.

“Evidence for wet early Holocene was previously found in the eastern Mediterranean Sea region, north and east African lakes, and cave deposits from southwest Asia, and is attributed to higher solar insolation during this period,” said Ali Pourmand, assistant professor of marine geosciences at the Rosenstiel School, who supervised the project. “Our study, however, is the first of its kind from the interior of west Asia and unique in its resolution and multi-proxy approach.”

The Fertile Crescent, a region in west Asia that extends from Iran and the Arabian Peninsula to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and northern Egypt, is one of the most climatically dynamic regions in the world and is widely considered the birthplace of early human civilizations.

“The high-resolution nature of this record afforded us the rare opportunity to examine the influence of abrupt climate change on early human societies,” said Arash Sharifi, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Marine Geosciences and lead author of the study. “We see that transitions in several major civilizations across this region, as evidenced by the available historical and archeological records, coincided with episodes of high atmospheric dust; higher fluxes of dust are attributed to drier conditions across the region over the last 5,000 years.”

The researchers investigated climate variability and changes in paleoenvironmental conditions during the last 13,000 years based on a high-resolution (sub-decadal to centennial) peat record from Neor Lake in northwest Iran. Abrupt climate changes occur in the span of years to decades.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study, “Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization?” will be published in the September 1 issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, and is currently available online.

In addition to Sharifi and Pourmand, the study coauthors include Larry C. Peterson and Peter K. Swart, of the Rosenstiel School; Elizabeth A. Canuel and Erin Ferer-Tyler, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary; Bernhard Aichner and Sarah J. Feakins, of the University of Southern California; Touraj Daryaee, of the University of California, Irvine; Morteza Djamali, of the institut méditerranéen de biodiversité et d’ecologie, France; and Abdolmajid Naderi Beni and Hamid A.K. Lahijani, of the Iranian National Institute of Oceanography and Atmospheric Science.

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