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Rochester Taps Mayo Physician to Head Emergency Medicine Department

Monday, October 20, 2008

A rising star in the field of emergency medicine has been selected to take over the helm of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Latha G. Stead, M.D., currently chair of the Division of Emergency Medicine Research at the Mayo Medical School in Minnesota, will become Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine effective January 1, 2009.

In making the announcement, School of Medicine and Dentistry Dean David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., noted that Stead’s impressive credentials, combined with her successful track record of problem solving, will pay dividends for both the Emergency Medicine department and Strong Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED).

Stead replaces Sandra Schneider, M.D., who chaired the department for 14 years before stepping down in September 2007 to devote time to her expanding responsibilities at several national emergency medicine organizations. Since September, the department has been led by interim chair Gregory Conners, M.D, M.B.A., who will continue in that capacity until Stead’s arrival.

“In a very short time, Dr. Stead has established herself as a gifted clinician, a tireless advocate for emergency medicine education, and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to creating solutions for pressing problems,” Guzick said. “We are truly fortunate to have attracted such a top talent here. I know she will bring her tremendous energy and passion to the foundational work of the inaugural chair, Dr. Schneider, and the innovative contributions of Dr. Conners, to develop a nationally eminent department.”

In her new position, Stead will draw on her clinical experiences at Mayo to help manage operations at Strong Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department, the state’s busiest ED outside of the New York City metropolitan area, logging more than 95,000 patients annually. While at Mayo, Stead successfully developed several new critical pathways to streamline care for patients needing rapid assessment and treatment for conditions like stroke and heart attacks, as well as established new systems to more efficiently deliver quality care to ED patients across all service lines. This latter program was instrumental in decreasing the length-of-stay among Mayo’s ED patients.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Stead will join our organization,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Her national recognition in the field of emergency medicine is extraordinary and a testament to her skills as a physician, educator, mentor, and leader. I am confident that she will continue to build on her accomplishments, and all of us here at the Medical Center – from patients to faculty to students – will benefit.” “In many ways, the ED serves as the front door to Strong Memorial Hospital. It’s vital that the department has a leader who can collaborate with faculty and staff throughout the Medical Center to make the ED experience the very best it can be,” said Strong Memorial Hospital President Steven I. Goldstein. “After meeting with Dr. Stead, and reviewing the fine work she has accomplished at Mayo, I am confident she is the leader we need to move our department forward.”

In addition to her responsibilities as Chief of Service for the ED at Strong, Stead will be charged with further developing the research and educational missions of the department, a task she is well prepared for. She founded the Division of Emergency Medicine Research, and under her leadership, its academic productivity soared; so did its research fellowship program, which at eight fellows, is currently one of the largest in the country.

She also developed several successful new programs aimed at attracting students to the field of emergency medicine. These include the Emergency Medicine Research Associate Program, in which undergraduate students work on a clinical research project, and two additional programs aimed at promoting the clinical and research opportunities available in emergency medicine to 3rd year Mayo Clinic College of Medicine students.

Stead also maintains an active teaching schedule with both medical students and residents at Mayo – work that has twice earned her an Excellence in Teaching Recognition Award by the Mayo Medical School, as well as scores of other national awards including the National Faculty Teaching Award from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Outstanding Peer Reviewer award from Academic Emergency Medicine, and the Mentorship Award and Academic Excellence Award from the Emergency Medicine Residents Association. Stead plans to continue teaching here at the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

On the research front, Stead’s work focuses on exploring translational science that can have immediate impact on patient care. She currently directs the Translational Research Initiative within Mayo’s ED. This program brings together a core group of research fellows and faculty who continuously analyze the basic processes that directly impact delivery of care in the ED as a way to improve patient outcomes. Stead’s personal research interests include stroke, heart rate variability, and loss of consciousness; her grants have primarily explored clinical strategies to advance care for patients with these ailments while in an ED setting.

“We conducted an exhaustive national search and had many qualified candidates step forward,” said Walter Pegoli, M.D., professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, who chaired the national search committee (see below for complete membership list). “But it was clear early on that there was something special about Dr. Stead. Her clinical credentials are impeccable, and she is well respected both nationally and by her colleagues at Mayo. She has the right personality and experience to chair our Emergency Medicine Department.”

Stead’s connection to Rochester dates back to her undergraduate studies, when she majored in biochemistry in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She attended Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons and Ponce Medical School in Puerto Rico, interned at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and completed her training through the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Jacobi-Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program. She is also completing a Biomedical Sciences Degree in Clinical Research from the Mayo Graduate School.

She is a member of, and holds leadership positions in, several national professional organizations including the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the American Heart Association, the American Medical Student Association, the Emergency Medicine Residents Association, and the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. She is a scientific reviewer for several journals, and most recently founded the International Journal of Emergency Medicine, for which she serves as co-editor-in-chief. A frequent speaker at national and international medical conferences, Stead has published more than 200 scientific abstracts and manuscripts, is senior editor of the highly popular “First Aid” textbook series (6 volumes) and is co-author of the textbook “Abdominal Emergencies.”

Her work recently earned her a spot as one of the “Heroes in Emergency Medicine,” a list complied by ACEP to honor its 40th anniversary. Other honors include the Mayo Clinic Excellence in Leadership Award, and charter membership in the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities.

Stead has also focused her attention beyond her medical and academic career. Last year, she founded the Rochester Arts & Sciences Academy in Rochester, Minnesota, a private university preparatory school aimed at preparing the next generation of highly educated global leaders. “I am delighted to be joining the University of Rochester Medical Center, an organization with a track record of excellence in patient care, research, and education,” Stead said. “The Department of Emergency Medicine has all of the elements necessary for success, and I look forward to partnering with the outstanding faculty to take this department to the next level.”

The Emergency Department Chair Search was led by Walter Pegoli, M.D., professor of Surgery; surgeon-in-chief, Golisano Children’s Hospital. Other committee members included Cindy Becker, vice president and chief operating officer, Highland Hospital; Lauren Bruckner, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Pediatrics, Hematology/ Oncology Division; Linda Chaudron, M.D., associate professor, Psychiatry; Erdal Erturk, M.D., professor, Urology; David Foster, M.D., M.P.H., professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology; Mark Gestring, M.D., associate professor of Surgery, Emergency Medicine, and Pediatrics; John Gorczyca, M.D., associate Professor, Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation; Paul Levy, M.D., Ralph Prince Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Medicine; Stewart Lustik, M.D., MBA, associate professor, Anesthesiology; Kathy Parrinello, R.N., Ph.D., chief operating officer, Strong Memorial Hospital; Richard Pomerantz, M.D., professor of Medicine, Cardiology Division; David Rempe, M.D., Ph.D.; assistant professor of Neurology; Rabih Salloum, M.D., associate professor of Surgery, Colorectal Division.  

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