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The Lennar Foundation Medical Center Opens to First Patients

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 5, 2016)—The first patients — nearly 150 of them — walked through the front door of The Lennar Foundation Medical Center last week, entering a spectacular new facility and a spectacular new world of health care.

The many months of preparation and the extraordinary support of The Lennar Foundation began paying off as the University of Miami Health System opened this model for future health care delivery — a conveniently located facility where patients are treated as individuals with a superior patient experience and transformational medical care.

Coral Gables campus faculty and staff, students, and residents from throughout south Miami-Dade County will find a wide range of the most advanced services — from Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the University of Miami Health System Sports Medicine Institute, and many other academic medical specialties — under one roof.

“Today in Coral Gables, we show the world what the most convenient, compassionate, comprehensive care looks like — and will look like across the region, as we extend our vision in the coming months and years,” said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., senior vice president for health affairs and chief executive officer of the University of Miami Health System.

“Physicians and staff will enjoy an unmatched work experience, in an unmatched setting, as they treat patients and advance translational research in ways only an academic medical center can,” said Ben Riestra, chief administrative officer at The Lennar Foundation Medical Center.

Hundreds of community leaders, University of Miami trustees and administrators, donors and other dignitaries helped dedicate The Lennar Foundation Medical Center on the Coral Gables campus on November 18, ushering in a new world of health care imagined and realized by the University of Miami Health System.

“This is a monumental day for the University of Miami,” Altschuler told those who had gathered for the event. “It is truly a transformational moment in the history of the University of Miami Health System, and it’s also the start of a new vision for health care in South Florida. This is a facility, this is a concept, that really thinks about the patient first.”

In this new vision for health care, the patient experience is transformed into a journey of being well.

“We will know you personally, care for you individually, and guide you uniquely,” Riestra says in a video Altschuler showed guests at the event. “This is not just about a new building. More important, it’s a new destination, a new experience, a new way of being well.”

The building was made possible by a $50 million gift from The Lennar Foundation. More information about the Lennar Center can be found here.

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Lennar Foundation Medical Center to Offer Winning Approach to Sports Medicine

Special to UM News

Kaplan sports medicine

Lee Kaplan, director of the Sports Medicine Institute, can’t wait to have all patient-centered services in one place.

The University of Miami Health System Sports Medicine Institute will bring all of its advanced specialists and the full range of diagnosis and treatment to The Lennar Foundation Medical Center when it opens in December. UM athletes, weekend warriors, professional athletes, and everyone else with an injury will be seen in the spectacular new center on the Coral Gables campus.

What sets this sports medicine institute—and all of the Lennar center—apart will be its multidisciplinary approach, a new clinical delivery model that can truly be supported only by an academic medical system, said Ben Riestra, chief administrative officer of the Lennar center.

Lee Kaplan, M.D., professor and director of the Sports Medicine Institute, can’t wait. “The ability to have everything in one place, focused on the total patient experience, from coming in, to physical therapy, to all the radiologic tests and procedures, and to have surgery right there is unique,” Kaplan said.

Experts in shoulders, knees, feet and ankles, hips, concussions, and neurology will treat patients at Lennar. Sports cardiology, sports psychology, kinesiology, and sports nutrition also will be integrated into the care. Having everything in the same building brings significant benefits, including in safety and outcomes, Riestra said.

“It isn’t just a new building but a lot of new philosophies about the interdisciplinary nature of what we do,” Kaplan said. A close relationship with the Coral Gables campus will bring in students and researchers in biomedical engineering, kinesiology, athletics, and other areas—in addition to research Kaplan is already doing with stem cells and regenerative medicine. “Engineering students, for example, can come in and see equipment I’m putting in that they have been working on or researching.”

For patients, “the opportunity to see people with the same injury you have, participating in the same activities as you do, throughout treatment, therapy and/or surgery, and then getting back to sports and activities, will provide the mentorship and peer momentum critical for our new philosophical approach to health care,” Kaplan said.

A huge plus will be the center’s proximity to all the student athletic teams.

“We’re basically going to be on the football field and the basketball court, and to be right there for our student-athletes will be a dramatic improvement,” Kaplan said. “If they get injured they will see experts at a state-of-the-art facility right on their campus—they can go from the field to my office to an MRI to surgery if needed and to physical therapy, which is dynamite. For parents and grandparents to know that their kids are being cared for that way is very powerful.”

But it’s not just athletes who will benefit.

“Because we will be right there for the regular student body, they can be treated exactly as we treat the Marlins and our own student-athletes,” Kaplan said.

An innovative new feature of sports medicine at Lennar will be EXOS Performance, a highly specialized system that has been designed to help everyone lead healthier lives. This will be EXOS’s first South Florida location, and its first at an academic health center.

“Our situation is that we take very good care of people when they’re injured, but we need to start working on them before they get injured,” Kaplan said. “EXOS is going to take us to another continuum. We will do a lot of prevention programs, work-related and executive medicine programs to get you to your best performance.

“When you layer on proper nutrition, proper exercise, proper stretching, and proper advanced active recovery, you can really get to your maximum performance.”

Among those who benefit from this will be patients who have had surgery and want to get to the highest recovery level possible.

“EXOS will be that cog that will continue the wheel and get them to the next place,” Kaplan said. “They will help us translate our work with athletes to the active South Florida community.”

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Zika Forum Addresses Research, Clinical Care, Public Health Challenges

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Zika Forum Addresses Research, Clinical Care, Public Health Challenges

By Richard Westlund
Special to UM News

zikaUniversity of Miami President Julio Frenk called on Congress to approve emergency federal funding for Zika research, treatment, and monitoring at a Zika forum hosted by UM Thursday. “We need to weigh the cost of inaction with the modest price tag of this proposal,” Frenk said, referring to a deadlock in Washington over allocating $1.1 billion to $1.9 billion to address this immediate public health threat.

“The cost of caring for children born with serious health challenges, as well as the failure to develop new treatments and the loss of our collective sense of security from government inaction, is many times higher than the dollars being discussed in Congress,” Frenk said at the panel discussion presented by the Miller School of Medicine and UHealth – the University of Miami Health System at the Lois Pope LIFE Center.

Laurence B. Gardner, interim dean of the Miller School, welcomed faculty, staff, students, public officials and many members of the media to the Zika forum, which included presentations by Miller School experts on the front lines of research, infectious disease, obstetrics and pediatric care, prevention, and the spread of vector-borne disease.

Questions from attendees ranged from the University’s leading-edge laboratory research on potential Zika vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tools to the latest clinical advice for pregnant women and the importance of aerial spraying in Miami Beach to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the virus.

‘’We take this threat very seriously,” Frenk said, noting growth of the University of Miami Zika Global Network, which focuses on research, discovery, education, and care. “We are collaborating locally, nationally, and internationally to deal with this global threat.”

Research priorities

From a research perspective, the most pressing priority is development of a simple, inexpensive diagnostic tool for the Zika virus, followed by development of a vaccine and treatment both pre- and post-infection, said David Watkins, vice chair of research in the Department of Pathology. “There is a DNA-based vaccine that has protected monkeys against Zika that should be going into human trials in November,” he said. “Other vaccines are also being developed, and there is great hope on this front.”

Mario Stevenson, professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and director of the Institute of AIDS and Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the Miller School’s longstanding collaboration with infectious disease researchers in Brazil provided a “heads up” on the serious nature of Zika. “That has helped us respond more quickly to this threat and leverage the research infrastructure in place here,” he said.

Frenk also emphasized that point, noting the importance of being ready for the next pandemic. “From AIDS to Zika, we face an entire alphabet of viruses,” he said. “Investing in our capacity for fundamental scientific research lets us retool our capabilities to meet new threats.”

Clinical care

Currently there are 80 pregnant women in Florida with confirmed exposure to the Zika virus, said Christine L. Curry, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, who consults with the state Department of Health. “While Gov. Rick Scott has said all pregnant women have the right to be tested, the lack of resources has affected our ability to conduct tests and provide timely results,” she said.

As a clinician, Curry says her patients have a long series of questions about Zika, including the risks of microcephaly, a birth defect in which the infant’s head is smaller than normal, as well as vision, hearing and potential developmental delays. “It is very difficult to quantify those risks, because new data keeps emerging,” she said. “As we learn more about Zika, we are finding that some infants may look normal at birth, but fail to meet developmental milestones in their first year.”

Later in the forum, when asked about exposure to insecticides to repel or kill mosquitoes, Curry came down firmly on the side of protection.  Staying indoors, wearing long sleeved tops and pants and using repellents are important steps in reducing the risk of mosquito bites, she said.

In pediatrics, one of the clinical challenges is early diagnosis of children carrying the Zika virus, according to Ivan A. Gonzalez, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and specialist in pediatric infectious diseases. “Knowing an infant or child has been exposed to Zika could help physicians develop clinical protocols,” he said. “We also need to monitor these children closely to learn more about the long-term outcomes.”

The public health challenge

As Florida faces the Zika threat, there is much that can be learned from other countries where tropical diseases are endemic, said several panelists.  Mosquito control has been shown to be effective in many regions, and should be a priority for Wynwood, Miami Beach and all of Miami-Dade County, said John Beier, professor of public health sciences and chief of the Division of Environment and Public Health.

“We are all at risk in South Florida, especially with so many visitors moving through our neighborhoods,” Beier said. “We need to invest in mosquito control, because it’s essential to our quality of life here.”

Paola N. Lichtenberger, assistant professor of clinical medicine and director of the Tropical Disease Program, noted that there are significant differences between Zika and dengue, Ebola, and yellow fever. “This is the first time we have seen a tropical virus associated with microcephaly, and the first time we have seen sexual transmission of the virus,” she said. “In some ways, we are starting from zero. But we need to know how this virus behaves in order to develop vaccines and treatments.”

Alina Hudak, deputy mayor of Miami-Dade County, also addressed the Zika public health challenge facing the region. “We need to educate the community about the importance of taking individual precautions, controlling mosquitoes, and breaking the cycle of transmission,” she said. “Our efforts in Wynwood have dramatically reduced mosquito counts, and we are hopeful that aerial and truck spraying in Miami Beach will have the same results.”

Concluding the session, Frenk and several panelists emphasized the importance of a collaborative approach to combating Zika. “It’s not just what the city, county, or state can do to fight mosquitoes,” Lichtenberger said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to prevent a generation of children growing up with birth defects from this virus. Learn about Zika, pay attention to what’s happening here, and take action to protect our community.”

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Not All Superheroes Wear Capes


Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

By Charisse Lopez-Mason
Special to UM News

SuperheroesLisandra Afanador walked into the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute more than 11 years ago gripping her small son’s hand as tightly as she would at the edge of a cliff. Her head was spinning, and her heart was heavy with emotion. She was sad, hopeful, anxious, and afraid.

“My son suffered from everything,” she said. Then 9, Adriel Afanador was visiting Bascom Palmer to treat glaucoma and cataracts, among other diseases. He was small for his age, and hyperactive. “I was so afraid of how he would handle this,” Afanador recalled.

Soon after her first visit, Afanador met Vanessa Bello, manager of patient access at Bascom Palmer. “I knew she was special; she is someone you don’t forget.”

Twice a week for many years, Bello became Afanador’s confidant—putting her mind at ease during visits to Bascom Palmer with her son, helping them navigate through a very difficult situation, every step along the way. More than 1,100 visits, hand-holdings, and hide-and-seek games later for her son, Afanador speaks fondly about her experience at Bascom. “Vanessa was so warm and nice to my son throughout the years,” she said.

The Afanadors are one of countless families who have stories about their experiences at UHealth—the University of Miami Health System, and many involve one of the more than 500 on-site patient access representatives who serve thousands of patients each day.

Day in and day out, these representatives serve patients on the front lines, before they receive specialized care, and create a first impression that leaves a long-lasting impact.

On-site patient access representatives are hard to miss. Along with their bright smiles, they wear bright orange scarves or neckties dotted with the U.

“I can’t believe how popular the scarves have become,” says Enery Samlut, executive director of health system access. “We knew we wanted something that represented that we are all part of the U team.”

John Perez, senior patient access representative at Bascom Palmer for the past 18 years, knows the stories of each of his patients, who know him by name, or by his voice. “One of my patients was badly scarred in a fire,” he says of the woman he’s been greeting and helping several days a week for the past six years. “She knows I’m here by the sound of my voice,” Perez says.

But visiting a physician is not all smiles and friendly conversation. Wait times can be a challenge for both patients and staff, but patient access teams still strive to make sure the patient comes first. According to Perez, a lot of his job is ensuring that the patients are always kept informed and comfortable. “I try to make a connection with them to ensure that they have a good experience,” he says.

An integral part of providing that positive experience is integrating programs to help teams provide the best service they can despite roadblocks.

“The patient experience is the sum of all interactions but it all begins with a good first impression,” says Armando Carvajal, manager of IT and training operations, who subsequently implemented a new-hire orientation program for the on-site patient access team called Impressions. The five-hour course has one simple objective: to inspire and equip all front line, on-site patient access associates with the necessary skills to effectively and efficiently handle all types of customer interactions while providing a memorable and exceptional patient experience.

Patient Access Representatives make up one of the largest enrollments in the University’s Essentials of Leadership program, which provides foundational training and coaching for University leaders, and are active in the University’s culture transformation, being trained on the new leadership traits, behaviors, and service standards.

“We train and track metrics around service and performance,” said Salmut. “But it takes special people to do this work. It comes from the heart.”

Now 20, Adriel Afanador still visits Bascom Palmer, though not as frequently. Life hasn’t been easy for the Afanadors, but they are still grateful for the people at UM who helped ease their long journey. “Everyone, all the people there, are awesome,” Afanador said.


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UHealth Wireless Network to Be Restricted on December 21; Users May Switch to SecureCanes

SecureCanes1As part of the University of Miami’s effort to improve wireless connectivity, the UHealth wireless network at the Miller School of Medicine campus will be restricted to those with an account on the medical domain starting Monday, December 21. Faculty, staff, and students who cannot access the UHealth wireless network after this change are kindly asked to use the SecureCanes wireless network. SecureCanes provides encryption for wireless communications, making it safer to use wireless devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

To access the SecureCanes network, you are required to enter your CaneID and password. You will be asked only once to join this network and enter your credentials, but if you change or reset your password you will need to reconnect with your updated credentials.

For instructions on how to connect to the SecureCanes wireless network see SecureCanes Documentation.

Once you have successfully connected to the SecureCanes wireless network, please follow the instructions on how to remove the UHealth profile from your device(s). By removing the UHealth profile from you device(s), you will prevent your computer and/or device(s) from attempting to connect to both wireless networks.

If you have any questions or have trouble connecting to the SecureCanes wireless network, please contact the UMIT Service Desk at 305-243-5999 or [email protected].



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