Vital Signs

December 2006

Staying Ahead of the Compliance Curve

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Fred Holderle, director of the Compliance Office, speaks at the 8th annual Health Care Compliance Conference.

Ask Fred Holderle what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he’s certain that the job title "Compliance Officer" did not appear on his list. It couldn’t, because this job title wasn’t even around as recently as 10 years ago.

But over the past decade, as state and federal governments have intensified monitoring efforts to root out incorrect and/or fraudulent billing practices by health care providers, Holderle found himself heading up an effort that takes on increasing importance throughout the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"Our institution has high quality and ethical standards to guide all faculty and staff in their actions, no matter what their job is," Holderle said, who serves as the Compliance Officer for URMC and Strong Health. "We all need to be vigilant in ensuring that what we do – whether it’s training residents, providing patient care, or billing for services – meets our standards and established guidelines."

The Compliance Office plays a key role in making sure this is happening throughout the Medical Center by offering proactive assistance with department initiatives such as developing documentation templates, implementing a new service, or evaluating the billing parameters for new equipment. In addition, staff members can help determine the potential impact of mistakes identified by employees.

Quick Facts About Compliance

• Call the Integrity Hotline (756-8888) to confidentially and/or anonymously report issues or concerns.
• Visit the Compliance website for general information on support services available.
• Speak with someone about general issues or questions by calling the information line (275-1609).

Do the Right Thing!

• Know your area well, so you can avoid mistakes – and spot them if they do occur!
• Use the Integrity Hotline (756-8888) to report any issues or concerns.
• Arrange for a personal meeting with the Compliance Officer by calling 275-1609.

A Code of Conduct was established to help faculty and staff understand some of the specific laws that regulate their actions. Education programs – including orientation, one-on-one education, group sessions and the recent Health Care Compliance Conference (see sidebar) – are routinely offered to keep employees abreast of the current billing and coding guidelines from state/local governments and insurers. In addition, the Compliance Office completes regular, periodic audits to identify risk areas.

Another key component to the compliance program is the Integrity Hotline (756-8888), a resource that allows employees to confidentially and/or anonymously report suspected violations directly to the Compliance Office. Faculty and staff are encouraged to call the hotline with any issues or concerns.

"It’s important that everyone recognize compliance issues are not the purview of this one department. The opposite is true – compliance is the job of every single person and every single department," Holderle said. "We need everyone to understand their role in compliance and how they can easily connect with us if there is a concern."

Paul Levy, M.D., who in addition to serving as acting chair of the Department of Medicine, is the compliance program’s Medical Director. He said that on any given day billing mistakes do happen and that the office can help research errors and identify any needed corrections.

"There are volumes upon volumes of federal and state rules and regulations that make coding and billing extremely complicated," Levy said. "We understand mistakes can be made, and want to do all we can to help employees stay ahead of the curve and proactively correct mistakes before they become large issues."

Levy added that in today’s environment, where state and federal governments are actively investigating billing irregularities, it makes a big difference when an institution comes forward and self-reports errors. "We sincerely believe we need to be transparent in our business operations. If we find problems, we need to correct them. Our hope is that government agencies will view our ‘get it right’ attitude favorably, minimizing our risks of being subject to the large fines and penalties that can result from documentation or billing mistakes."

Health Care Compliance Conference

More than 220 employees from health care institutions across upstate New York traveled to the University of Rochester Medical Center in late October to learn about the increasingly complicated field of compliance.

The popularity of this 8th annual Health Care Compliance Conference, which is the only of its kind in western New York, underscores the growing commitment among health care organizations to develop effective internal compliance programs that remain current with state and federal regulations.

Attendees came from across the upstate area including Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany as well as many of the southern tier counties along the Pennsylvania border. The conference highlighted practical approaches toward managing risks and served as a forum for government speakers to provide insight into their upcoming initiatives.


Berk Embraces Future Opportunities

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Board of Trustees Chairman G. Robert Witmer Jr. ’59 (right) presents a medallion to Bradford Berk (left) during the Investiture Ceremony.

The Medical Center's "Medical School for an Evening" on Nov. 7 was punctuated with the formal installation of Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., as the University's Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the Medical Center and Strong Health.

Berk assumed the role on Aug. 1, following a national search. In the months since, he has been leading a comprehensive strategic planning process that charts the Medical Center's course for the next five to 10 years.

"As he nears his 100th day as Chief Executive Officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Brad has already demonstrated that he is the right person to lead URMC to a new level of clinical and research achievement," University President Joel Seligman noted. "He has an inspiring balance of scientific prowess, leadership talent, and care for the health of patients and the more than 13,000 individuals who work at URMC. He is and will be a great leader."

Chief of Cardiology Mark Taubman, M.D., traced Berk's career as a leading cardiac scientist during the event. Berk's work has focused on characterizing the molecular signals that determine a person's cardiovascular health – why, for instance, a person might have a stroke or heart attack, or why he or she may be prone to high blood pressure. Berk has made "perhaps the most substantial contribution in the world to scientists' understanding of these signals," Taubman said.

In his inaugural address, Berk borrowed a phrase from Martin Luther King, Jr., when speaking of the importance of embracing future opportunities with "the fierce urgency of now." Citing the shift from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy and the awesome potential of new technology, Berk said, "…never before in the history of this institution has the convergence of opportunities been greater."

Berk also gave an update on the creation of the Medical Center's strategic plan that he said is "designed to guide us through a landscape where intellect, innovation, and creativity are cultivated and where the spirit of exploration, discovery and risk-taking leads the way."

The evening began with Seligman presenting the Eastman Medal to URMC Board chair Robert Hurlbut. The Medal recognizes individuals who, through their outstanding achievement and dedicated service, embody the high ideals for which the University stands. Hurlbut has been a long-time member of the Board of Trustees and the URMC Board. In bestowing the Medal on Hurlbut, Seligman cited his "sage advice, loyalty, and willingness to help strengthen a great University and a great medical center."

The community education event drew more than 400 "students" to learn about aging, cancer, cardiac care, ophthalmology, and orthopaedics. James P. Wilmot Cancer Center scientist Craig T. Jordan, Ph.D., gave the opening lecture on the application of stem cell science in cancer research.



Medical Center Campus Goes Smoke FREE

white coatA new era began on Thursday, Nov. 16 at the University of Rochester Medical Center as the entire campus and select off-site locations became Smoke FREE – inside and out. This means that all faculty, staff, patients and visitors who wish to smoke must do so outside of the established Smoke FREE perimeter.

As a leading health care organization, it is inconsistent with our missions to allow anyone to smoke – or be exposed to smoke – while at our facilities. In making this move, the Medical Center joins several other organizations in our region including Highland Hospital, Rochester General Hospital and Newark Wayne in its effort to create a healthier environment for faculty, staff and patients.

Brochures with the new perimeter map are available at main access points to the Medical Center. In addition, information on the program, including details on smoking cessation programs available free of charge to faculty and staff, is available on the Medical Center intranet or at (click on Smoke FREE icon).

Michael Miracle

"My brother's named Michael - he's autistic, and has come a long way. It's a miracle!"

Steven Campione Jr., 9


Golisano Hospital Family Expands

Two new cartoon characters officially joined the Golisano Children’s Hospital family in November, headed by matron mascot Sandy Strong.

"Anna Wellagain" and "Michael Miracle" were selected by a team of hospital faculty and staff, who pored over more than 600 suggestions submitted by local kids in response to a naming contest. Children were invited to suggest names in hopes of leaving their mark on the region’s only children’s hospital. The names came from two local children:

Anna Wellagain

"It gives hope and meaning to why we go to the hospital."

Olivia Spence, 4

Olivia Spence, 4, of Fairport, brainstormed the name "Anna Wellagain". She says it gives hope and meaning to "why we go to the hospital." Steven Campione, Jr., 9, of East Rochester, created "Michael Miracle", a tribute to his brother, "whose name is Michael, is autistic, and has really come a long way." Stephen says his brother’s progress is nothing short of a miracle.

Both won a prize package consisting of an iPod nano, a one-year family membership to Strong – National Museum of Play, and a doll of the named friend sewn by local artist Shanna Murray.

Sandy Strong was originally designed by area artist John Kuchera in the ‘70s. Although she has evolved since – much like renderings of Mickey Mouse have – she, along with her friends, still stand for state-of-the-art healthcare and a symbol of children’s wellness for Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region on whole.

For more information on Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong or the naming contest, visit



Music on My Mindwhite coat

More than 200 faculty, staff and students stopped by the Flaum Atrium on Tuesday, Nov. 14 to partake in the inaugural concert of the Music on My Mind series. With the goal of infusing music into the life of University of Rochester Medical Center employees, the Department of Neurosurgery launched the musical series, and plans to offer the free concert series throughout the year for faculty, staff and students.

"Music on My Mind is the collective brainchild of many in our academic and clinical communities who have yearned to infuse music into the daily life and culture of our institution," said Webster Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. "With the extraordinary musical resources available in the broad University of Rochester community, it is only natural that such an initiative has sprung to life, fostering an informal, collegial interchange between members of the entire University community.

Subsequent concerts will feature a full orchestra with piano concerto, string, brass, guitar performers, and will embrace a wide spectrum of offerings including classical, romantic, contemporary, jazz and folk music. All will be held at 4:30 p.m. to accommodate as many as faculty and staff possible. The next concert is scheduled for Wednesday Dec. 6 in the atrium. For more information, call the Department of Neurosurgery at 275-8344.



Faculty Spotlight

Media Clips


Ruth Lawrence spoke with WebMD (Nov. 17) about research showing that breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes.

Work by Carol Miller-Graziano, Paul Bankey and colleagues on the role of the immune system in determining how a patient reacts to severe injury was covered in an Associated Press article that ran in the USA Today (Nov. 14), and CBS News (Nov. 14).

The Los Angeles Times (Nov. 12) covered Benedict DiGiovanni’s work on a new stretch to relieve plantar fasciitis.

Lynne Maquat spoke with Nature (Nov. 10) about targeting RNA to stop disease.

Research by Stephen Cook on the growing problem of abdominal obesity in teens was covered by Newsday (Nov. 7), and WebMD (Nov. 7).

Carrie Dykes spoke with WebMD (Nov. 7) about new approaches to treating HIV.

Newsday (Nov. 7) interviewed John Treanor about the genetics of bird flu.

Allen Boyd was quoted by ABC News (Nov. 7) about an experimental technique to use gel to alleviate knee pain.

Robert Marquis’ work showing that antacids fight the bacteria linked with gum disease was carried by UPI (Nov. 3).

New research by Harold Smith and Joseph Wedekind on the molecular defenses that enable a few people to fight off HIV was covered by Reuters, whose story also was picked up by Scientific American (Nov. 2).

The Kaiser Network (Nov. 1) spoke with Jonathan Klein about providing health care to low-income teens.

Chemistry World (Oct. 31) covered research by Ben Miller on new molecules especially adept at recognizing sugar molecules.

Ruth Lawrence discussed breastfeeding, and devices to help new mothers, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Oct. 31).

Work by Vivian Lewis showing that eating fruits and vegetables boosts fertility was covered by MSNBC (Oct. 23) and the London Daily Mail (Oct. 24).

Steve Goldman’s work using stem cells to treat Parkinson’s disease in mice was covered by the Washington Post (Oct. 22). A few days later, the flap over stem cells involving Michael J. Fox and Rush Limbaugh resulted in some additional coverage by Investor’s Business Daily (Oct. 25) and other publications.

The University’s cox-2 lawsuit was recounted by several media outlets, including the Salt Lake Tribune (Oct. 22), in stories about a similar lawsuit recently brought by researchers at Brigham Young University.

John Treanor was quoted in an Associated Press (Oct. 18) story carried around the world about the possibility that a vaccine might offer protection against several types of bird flu. His work against bird flu was also cited by Federal officials in an article carried in ABC News (Oct. 23).

Gary Myers discussed the benefits of eating fish and the risk of methylmercury with UPI (Oct. 20).

The sublicensing of the University’s technology to treat hot flashes was covered by MSN Money (Oct. 18).

Director of Trauma Services Mark Gestring, M.D., was honored by the World Council of Churches with its Peacemaker Award. Churches, along with ecumenical and interfaith organizations, were invited to nominate people in their community who exemplified creative and courageous peace and justice-making efforts. Gestring was recognized for his role in bringing together community organizations to proactively provide a range of specialized support services to teens who suffer from injuries resulting from violent crimes.

Judith Baumhauer, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Foot and Ankle Surgery in the Department of Orthopaedics, was selected as a director of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. One of the few females to ever serve on the 20-member board, in her role Baumhauer will help to establish educational standards for orthopaedic residents nationwide, and direct and provide oversight for the intensive credentialing process and continuing education of orthopaedic surgeons.

An international leader in lymphoma research and Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, Richard I. Fisher, M.D., received the Davey Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to cancer research. Fisher was recognized for his tremendous contributions to improvements in how doctors treat indolent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He published a study that shows new and existing therapies have improved survival by 70 percent for what was once considered an incurable disease. The Davey Memorial Award was established in 1997 by the Wilmot Cancer Center and is its highest scientific honor presented at the annual scientific symposium.

Margaret-Ann Carno, Ph.D., M.B.A., R.N.C., C.C.R.N., an assistant clinical professor of nursing and pediatrics at the School of Nursing, has passed the American Board of Sleep Medicine examination. Carno’s achievement is unique because only a handful of nurses nationally have earned the certification. Most of the more than 3,000 diplomates are medical doctors or psychologists with doctorates.

Aruna Kode, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow, and Lindsay Burwell, a graduate student, won Young Investigator Awards at the recent annual meeting of the Society of Free Radical Biology and Medicine in Denver. Burwell works in the laboratory of Paul S. Brookes, assistant professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Physiology, investigating the role of mitochondrial free radicals in cardiac disease. Kode works with Irfan Rahman, assistant professor of Environmental Medicine, investigating how cigarette smoke causes lung inflammation.

Four residents and chief residents received the 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics Resident Section Anne E. Dyson Child Advocacy Award, an honor given to residents who design and implement exceptional projects to improve the lives of children. Recipients Philip Meaker, M.D., M.P.H., Jennifer Linebarger, M.D., Sara Horstmann, M.D., and Kristi Cowell, M.D., are in the middle of their second year partnering with Pinnacle School (No. 35) and the Greater Rochester YMCA to implement Coping Power, an after-school program that has proven especially effective in teaching social competence and coping skills to high-risk 5th graders.




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Last updated: 02/28/2013 4:24 PM