Vital Signs

July 2006

New CEO Sets Course for URMC

berkOn Monday, July 10, University President Joel Seligman announced the appointment of Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., as the new Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center.  On that morning, hundreds of faculty and staff from throughout the Medical Center filled the Sarah Flaum Atrium to capacity to hear the announcement and welcome their new CEO. 

The following are excerpts of the speech Berk gave that day, in which he discusses his vision for the Medical Center. A full transcript of the speech, along with detailed information on Berk, is available at

It is my great honor to accept the position as Senior Vice President and CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). For me this opportunity is the culmination of my 30-year career in medicine. My experience as a physician is inextricably linked to URMC as I was a medical student here from 1975-1981 in the Medical Scientist Training Program. Over the past eight years as Chief of Cardiology, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) and Chairman of Medicine, I have come to appreciate the excellence of URMC, and I am committed to leading us to greater success.

During the process of interviewing for this position, I asked myself why I wanted to take this job, and what skills and ideas I could uniquely bring to bear. After much reflection, I think I have answers. 

The "why" is the easy question to address and my answer should resonate with all URMC employees. We are all here because we want to make a difference to those people who need health care in our community. Each morning when I come to work I am inspired by Jackie Stevens, my administrative assistant in the CVRI. Jackie left her position at Kodak to seek a position at URMC because she felt a need to make a difference and to support an organization that had helped her family.

The "what" is the harder question to answer because the position as SVP/CEO requires so many different skills and abilities. However, I simplified the position to two major roles: leading a great health care delivery system and a major academic research enterprise. This duality is a role that I find comfortable having maintained my own duality of being a practicing M.D., Ph.D., a physician- scientist.  

…The University Rochester is an institution that encourages this duality and helps faculty succeed. As SVP/CEO, one of my duties is to ensure that both missions are performed at an excellent level. Specifically, my role is to make it possible for people to achieve their full potential to make a difference both clinically and scientifically.

…. Over the past year we have initiated a new strategic plan that will serve as the roadmap for the next 10 years. I emphasize a timeline that encompasses 10 years, as both President Seligman and I recognize that it will require a decade for many of the programs we initiate to achieve maturity.

…My goal with strategic planning in the next couple of months is to define some areas where we can be the BEST in the country going forward.  We don't want to be excellent; we want to be the best. Clearly, there are subspecialties that are core for us, such as cancer and cardiac, and we're going to continue to grow those.  But we're also going to look to identify those areas of medicine that will provide the most significant impact on research and health such as aging and geriatrics, tissue regeneration, obesity and metabolic disease.  So moving forward, I anticipate new programs in several areas.

…I have been given many opportunities by the University of Rochester and feel that this is my chance to contribute to its future. With the decline of local manufacturing businesses, the University will become a key source of economic growth for Rochester. As SVP/CEO I will encourage URMC to play a major role in reshaping and strengthening the local economy. The opportunity to carry out our strategic plan, working with President Seligman, is a rare opportunity that I look forward to with great anticipation.



Gynecology, Otolaryngology Programs Among Nation's Best

badgeGynecology and Otolaryngology programs at the Medical Center have ranked among the nation's best in U.S.News & World Report's America's Best Hospitals list for 2006. Of 5,189 hospitals and 16 specialties evaluated, the Medical Center's Gynecology program was ranked 43rd, and Otolaryngology, more commonly referred to as "Ear, Nose & Throat" or "ENT," ranked 45th best in the nation.

"While we believe all of our programs provide exceptional care for patients, it is especially rewarding for them to be recognized among the nation's best," said C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. "It is a tribute to our entire faculty and staff for their commitment and dedication to improving lives by providing the best possible care to our patients. We are fortunate to have many physicians and medical researchers in Rochester who are on the cutting edge of their respective specialties."

For the last 17 years, the magazine's America's Best Hospitals issue has used a variety of rigorous statistical and/or reputational measures to select the top 50 hospitals in a range of specialties.  The Medical Center's Gynecology program made the list previously, in 1999, while this is ENT's first appearance on the national list, acknowledging the department's faculty and the support it receives from the Medical Center and collaborating departments.


Levy Named Acting Chair of Medicine

levyAs Bradford C. Berk takes over the helm at the Medical Canter, Paul C. Levy, M.D., has been named acting chairman of the Department of Medicine, effective August 1.

For the past three years Levy has served as vice chairman of Medicine and has played an instrumental role in developing and implementing new programs within the department.  He has been successful in managing the expansion of clinical programs in both the inpatient and outpatient environment, with particular focus on the development of the Hospitalist Medicine Division.  He has also provided invaluable expertise to the department and the Medical Center community through his work in patient safety and regulatory compliance, serving as the medical director of the Medical Center's Compliance Program.

He obtained his medical degree from Ohio State University, and completed an internal medicine residency at Strong Memorial Hospital, where he also served as Chief Resident in Internal Medicine.  He also completed a pulmonary critical care fellowship here.  Levy is a past president of the New York State Thoracic Society.

A national search for the chair of the Department of Medicine will begin shortly.  Jeffrey Peters, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery, will head the search committee.




Second Graders Inject Inspiration to Orthopaedic Unit

A kind message from a young heart is always an occasion to smile. A heart-felt show of affection from a class of students is reason for rejoice.  That is what Nurse Manager Heidi Mix, R.N.,was thinking when she approached art teacher Joyce Wahl for help with her idea for brightening up the Orthopedics Unit on 5-3400. Today, a series of artwork created by young children now grace the walls of the bustling unit.

Mix and her co-workers have continually been on the hunt to discover new ways to make the 5-3400 unit a more inviting and welcoming environment.

"We're almost always at capacity, and are terribly short on space – we didn't even have a family room or waiting area for families. We wanted to freshen up our environment in a way that would improve our patient care, and also add a bit of 'sunshine' into our space," she explained.

Several ideas emerged from a staff retreat that were pursued, including converting a storage space into a family room and introducing recreational pet therapy to patients. And the last idea was to liven up the space.

Mix didn't need to go far for this last idea.  Her husband is superintendent of Pembroke Central Schools, and suggested she connect with a student art group to create some artwork for the walls. An initial conversation with art teacher Wahl got the ball rolling, and soon eight second grade students from the Pembroke Elementary School art club literally began to put paint to paper.

Working under the theme of "kids making a difference," the children sought to recreate renditions of famous artists' works depicting love, comfort, nursing, happiness and the seasons.  The art club, which includes students Danielle Arnold, Emma Schoenecker, Madison Neurohr, Amy Ball, Brandon Delelys, Nicole Doktor, Jessica Striegel and Janelle Damian, met once a week for 30 minutes during school and worked to complete each piece one at a time.  Some of the artists that the kids focused on included Terry Winters, Keith Haring and Pierre Renoir.

Three of the five poster-sized works are already up on the unit.  From a pastel drawing featuring a series of hearts to an abstract painting of trees on a hill, it is evident the amount of effort and emotion the children put into their work. With at least two more works coming soon, the new arrivals have already made a difference.
"They have really warmed up the unit and provide a nice focus for all of us – patients and staff alike," Barb Gillis. R.N., said.

Once the pieces are finished, a field trip is planned so the children can visit the unit and talk to some of the patients they have been able to help on their way to recovery.  If you get a chance, please stop by 5-3400 and see the pictures on display as they come in over the next few months.




Closer look: Recruiting a diverse staff


Judie Myers-Gell

By Judie Myers-Gell

Judie Myers-Gell, a multicultural recruitment specialist, talks about ongoing efforts at the University to make diversity an important component of the recruitment process. In her role as part of the Human Resources team, Myers-Gell assists departments in diversifying their candidate pool and has been working for the past six months to develop strong relationships in the employment community, both inside and outside the immediate Rochester area. Her work helps managers gain access to well-qualified candidates with diverse backgrounds. 

A cornerstone to the University's diversity and inclusion efforts for staff is to focus on staff recruitment of Professional, Administrative and Supervisory (PAS) positions at pay grade 50 and above. It is important to recognize that progress toward the development of an inclusive workforce begins at the grassroots level.  By assuring PAS candidate pools fully reflect the diversity of the broader community, we can be assured that the benefits of a diverse workforce will be realized by the University at every level.

Over the past few years, the University has made strides to create a more inclusive workplace environment that welcomes, encourages, and supports all members of the community, especially those for whom greater inclusion remains an unrealized goal. 

I, along with Stan Byrd, manager of multicultural affairs and inclusion, are working with the administration to continue to embed issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the institution. Stan also works directly with units and departments to provide coaching and support to staff/managers on issues related to diversity and inclusiveness, in addition to recruitment and retention efforts. 

Development of candidate pools inclusive of well-qualified diverse candidates is crucial to creating a welcoming environment. As you contemplate your department's next PAS Grade 50 and above vacancy, please contact me. I can provide you with expert assistance in developing your candidate pool.  

This is an exciting time for the University. The staff and resources of the Office of Human Resources stand ready to support each department's diversity and inclusion goals.   

Dean's Newsletter Discusses Cost Transparency

Click here to read more about recent media reports on cost comparisons between local hospitals


Faculty Spotlight

Media Clips


Mary Gail Mercurio's comments on skin care were carried in the Shreveport Times (July 19).

Steve Goldman spoke with the New York Times (July 19), NPR (July 19), and the Times of London (July 19) about the ramifications of President Bush's veto of the stem cell funding bill.

Robert Davis was quoted by (July 18) about dietary supplements and erectile dysfunction.

Susan Fisher discussed on the Today Show (July 15) an alleged link between hair dyes and lymphoma, and spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (July 15) about the increasing incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The British Medical Journal (July 15) quoted Thomas McInerny about the cost of the new HPV vaccine.

Thomas O'Connor spoke with Time Magazine (July 10) about the strong emotional bonds among siblings.

A story on depression and Parkinson's disease featuring comments from expert Irene Richard appeared in the CBC News (July 10).

The Associated Press (July 9) quoted Jonathan Klein in a story about a same-sex couple seeking to adopt a child.

U.S. News & World Report (July 9) quoted Kathleen King about the health advantages of getting care close to home.

Science News (July 7) quoted Shanna Swan about the health effects of agricultural pesticides.

Nature (July 6) mentioned the University's cox-2 research as part of a story on a patent fight over another class of drugs.

Research by Sireesha Reddy showing that gabapentin cools hot flashes as well as estrogen was covered by WebMD (July 5), and Health Day (July 7).

Steve Lamberti spoke about his research showing that patients who take clozapine have higher rates of metabolic syndrome with the BBC (July 1), and Reuters (July 11).

Comments by pediatrician Cynthia Rand were included in a Baltimore Sun (June 30) story about parents' reaction to a new cervical cancer vaccine.

Research by Michel Koo on the promise of cranberries to fight cavities was covered by WebMD (June 28).

JAMA (June 27) highlighted research on rare diseases headed by Robert Griggs.

Scientific American (June 26) mentioned work by Craig Jordan and Monica Guzman in a report on stem cells and cancer.

The Associated Press (June 26) dispersed comments by Allan Schwartz about college students and psychiatric medications.

James Aquavella's work restoring the sight of a seven-week-old infant by implanting a plastic cornea was covered by the British Medical Journal (June 24).

Paul Frame discussed the popularity and effectiveness of home health tests with Health Day (June 22).

John Treanor's comments on an early case of bird flu in China were carried on  (June 21) and (June 22).

Comments by Colleen Clements on ADHD were carried in a column that ran in the Winnipeg Free Press (June 21).

WebMD spoke with Michael Yurcheshen about the link between sleep violence and anti-depressants (June 20).

Reuters Health (June 16) covered new research by Gary Lyman on neutropenia.

Gunter Oberdoerster spoke with Nature (June 16), and Science (June 15) about the possibility that nanoparticles in skin cream may affect brain cells.

WebMD (June 15) interviewed Lisa Opanashuk about links between Parkinson's disease and pesticides.

Karen Mustian's work on exercise and cancer was covered by UPI (June 7).

Mike King's research capturing stem cells from the bloodstream was covered by Scientific American (June 6).

Jack G. Caton Jr., D.D.S., professor in the Department of Dentistry and chair of the Division of Periodontology, received the Jarvie-Burkhart Award, the highest honor given by the New York State Dental Association to recognize outstanding service to mankind through dentistry. Caton is an international leader in periodontal education and research. His research and writing in the areas of periodontal wound healing, periodontal diagnosis, and chemotherapeutics for periodontal disease management are cited worldwide and are recognized as having contributed significantly to the development of periodontal therapy.

William J. Hal, M.D., was elected to the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) Board of Directors. Currently the Paul Fine Professor of Medicine, Oncology and Pediatrics, and director of the Center for Healthy Aging based at Highland Hospital, Hall is the first geriatric specialist to be named to the AARP Board of Directors. He was one of eight from a pool of 600 candidates recently named to the AARP's governing body which approves all policies, programs, activities and services for the Association's 36 million members. Hall will serve a six-year term on the board.

Deborah King, Ph.D., director of Training in Clinical Psychology and associate professor of Psychiatry, was honored with the 2006 Distinguished Clinical Mentorship Award by the Society of Clinical Geropsychology, a section of the American Psychological Association's Society of Clinical Psychology. The award recognized King's work in helping to train and prepare psychologists to meet the mental health needs of underserved elders.

Mardy Sandler, L.M.S.W., was named the first "Supporting the Safety Net" award recipient by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans' (ACAP), for her work directing the Medical Center's Baby Love Program.  Members of the Monroe Plan, an ACAP member, nominated Sandler and Baby Love for its efforts in helping to dramatically improve birth outcomes for its Medicaid members.



Press Room Home | Search | RSS News Feeds RSS News Feed

© Copyright University of Rochester Medical Center, 2006. Disclaimer.
For questions or suggestions concerning the content of these pages, contact the URMC Webmaster.

Last updated: 06/23/2009 10:07 PM