During a week when many are returning to Iowa City, I think about the many ways we may impact those who do not live here. It might be as simple as introducing ourselves to them, letting them know who we are and what we can do. In this spirit, I am pleased to introduce to you a publication that we will distribute to every corner of the nation very soon. Foundations & Innovations aims to showcase at a high level, division by division, our achievements as a department over the last year. We believe that, although this is just a snapshot of the tremendous range of activities that go on in Internal Medicine, I hope that this will represent another vehicle, that any member can use to convey to anyone—whether he or she is a prospective resident, fellow, faculty member, or research collaborator— that Iowa is where breakthrough work occurs. I hope you will read and share it. (You can also download it here as a PDF.) Thanks to Trevor Jackson and Shawn Roach for producing this document, and to the Departmental leadership for their contributions.
Reaching people who live outside Johnson County and Iowa City means providing care in new ways. This space has often discussed the ways in which telemedicine is becoming more and more routine, from TelePrEP to our Virtual Hospitalists. But as beneficial and cost-saving as digital solutions are, it is hard to imagine person-to-person contact ever being completely replaced. And, because those who need our help cannot always travel to see us, we must go to them. We are still gathering the data for 2016-17, but the two graphics below show just how far we went in 2015-16. These remarkable numbers will only continue to increase, and we will share the current data, as well as ongoing efforts to enhance our outreach services, in the future. It is clear that Internal Medicine, for a number of reasons, comprises the bulk of this outreach effort. Whether it is a geriatrics clinic in Oelwein; cardiology clinics in Des Moines, Dubuque, Ottumwa; or GI/Hepatology clinics in the Quad Cities and Clive—all of these indicate our commitment to building real relationships with community members for whom the expense of distance represents too great a burden, but who should not be denied access to our exceptional clinicians.
One clinic that does not appear in the above graphics is a clinic based in the Quad Cities that provides oncology care, which joined the UIHC in February of this year. I encourage you to read this month’s member profile, Spotlight, featuring Dr. Shobha Chitneni, one of two providers in that clinic. She and Dr. Mario Sy have built a strong practice, and I have been pleased with how their activities have synergized with our ongoing cancer care programs. Our department will continue to explore other opportunities similar to this in addition to identifying communities that will benefit from increased availability and access to internal medicine specialty care. For example, the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine has plans to offer electrophysiology services in new areas as well as an expansion of its successful Pulmonary Hypertension Program, a multi-disciplinary service that incorporates novel therapies and disease management. Meanwhile, in the last year, each of our six Pulmonary clinics, from Keosauqua to Vinton, have seen increases between 35% and 80% in new patient visits.
Finally, it is always gratifying to see members of our department in the national news. Dr. Terry Wahls was recently interviewed for a feature on ABC’s Good Morning America for her work with nutrition and multiple sclerosis. Emeritus Professor Dr. Pat Burns was also interviewed for an NBC Nightly News piece on a community of retired physicians volunteering to provide free medical care in North Carolina. Although we do not have quite as much control over this kind of outreach, our hard work will always be noticed by the people whose lives we change. They will remain the ones who matter the most.