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Board Excellence Award Winners Recognized for Going Above and Beyond

Monday, June 5, 2023

The UR Medicine Quality Institute and the URMC Board last night honored the winners of the 2023 Board Excellence Awards, recognizing them for the exceptional care provided each day to our patients and the outstanding efforts of our fellow co-workers.

Board Quality Committee Chair Anne Francis, MD, led the annual awards ceremony at an in-person event at Monroe Golf Club. Honored were nine individuals, eight teams and four Dr. Robert Joynt Kindness Award winners. “It is a privilege to honor the commitment and dedication of these individuals and teams and thank them for their service to our patients and the community,” Francis said.

Individual Excellence Awards

  • Cindy Annechino, NP, Pediatrics

  • Keith Bullis, Educational Media Specialist, Eastman Dental

  • Nurhan Calisir, Info Analyst, HIV Clinic

  • Nicole Grodis, Administrator, Time Management, Nursing Practice/Administration

  • Stephanie Havens, RN, OB/GYN

  • Stephanie Monroe, Lead Phlebotomist, Phlebotomy

  • Paritosh (Tosh) Prasad, MD, Surgery

  • Marjorie Roberts, AA, Thoracic Surgery

  • Holly Wass, Admin Asst., Financial Case Management & Financial Counseling

Team Excellence Awards 

  • 6-3600, Med-Surg Inpatient

  • Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, Psychiatry

  • Defibrillator Implementation Team, Nursing, Engineering, Learning and Development, APP, Faculty, Pediatrics

  • G-1600, Emergency Medicine

  • PCN Digital Health, Primary Care

  • Age-Friendly Health System Workgroup, UR Aging Institute

  • WCC6, Wilmot Cancer Center

  • Enterprise Nursing Informatics Team, Nursing

  • Medical Center Flood Response Team, Facilities, Environmental Services

Dr. Robert Joynt Kindness Awards 

  • Christine Buanga, Support, EVS

  • Jeremiah Moore, PharmD, BCOP, Oral Oncology

  • Amy Niertit, M.D., Emergency Medicine

  • Lisa Wahlers, CRNA, DNP, Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine

Individual Excellence Awards

Cindy Annechino, NP, Pediatrics Department, has been with the Golisano Children’s Hospital Pediatric Practice since 2007 so when she became the nurse manager for outpatient pediatrics in 2021, she was already beloved as a practicing NP by her colleagues and families she had known for years. Cindy is integral to our success in caring for 13,000 mostly urban, often complex, pediatric patients. She wears many hats in her role, providing oversight and leadership to the practice. Her colleagues believe she is somehow omniscient because she knows who needs what help and in what way at all times of the day. Extremely supportive of the clinical staff, Cindy checks in with them throughout the day to see what is going well and what things need troubleshooting. In everything she does, Cindy goes above and beyond her job description to increase the safety and quality of the care we provide.

Keith Bullis, educational media specialist at Eastman Dental, demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to all staff, faculty, and residents at Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH), the university community, and to the general public. Keith is an expert in all matters related to audio/visual needs for teaching and institutional social events. He has always been extremely supportive and helpful to everyone at EIOH who turn to him with a range of requests from producing videotapes of lectures, accommodating guest speakers AV needs, and coordinating all the AV for any EIOH or CE events (including recording, editing, and finishing for use by staff on the web and in presentations). He often performs above and beyond and recently offered his expertise to train all staff on the proper use of AV equipment. Keith is known to be an exceptional co-worker, always cheerful and extraordinary in everything he does. His quick wit, attention to detail, and loyalty to the university have endeared him to his colleagues. He is a true champion for higher education with a tireless commitment to serving our organization.

Nurhan Calisir, info analyst at the HIV Clinic, is an exceptionally bright, talented, and efficient individual who has an intuitive sense of what needs to be done. She is so good at what she does that she gets asked to do tasks well beyond her job description. She consistently goes well beyond “the extra mile” by volunteering to help others. Her work greatly facilitates our research, presentations, and publications. She meticulously reviews her work and ensures we have accurate data. One example was her work collecting data about no-show rate in ID and HIV clinic. This data collection formed the basis for a publication in a peer reviewed journal about using telemedicine as a tool to decrease the no-show rate in HIV clinic. She has readily offered to help anyone with Redcap and has personally written 2 Redcap surveys, then greatly facilitated the project along, also helping trainees. This directly led to two abstracts that we presented at national meetings. The list of her achievements goes on because her work and dedication greatly enhances care for our patients.

Nicole Grodis, administrator for Time Management, Nursing Practice/Administration demonstrates service excellence and her passion for her work has resulted in positive outcomes on nurse staffing and retention. She joined the University 27 years ago and is currently responsible for overseeing the payroll for over 6,000 nursing employees: the largest group of employees at the medical center. The pandemic brought massive challenges to the health care industry, and in particular nursing; so, ensuring that incentive programs were developed and implemented to address staffing needs was a critical focus for Nursing Practice. Under Nicole’s leadership, her team never hesitated to jump in and communicate the various additional staffing incentive programs to all staff, and worked diligently with timekeepers to ensure that staff were receiving appropriate pay for the programs they enrolled in.  Nicole’s efforts made it possible to provide adequate nurse staffing to care for all of the patients throughout the various clinical settings. She follows problems through, encourages customer feedback, goes above and beyond in her role, and her efforts add extraordinary value to the medical center.

Stephanie Havens, RN, OB/GYN, is the embodiment of Excellence within the UR community. She has gone above and beyond for the OB/GYN Department as the Perinatal Safety Nurse and OB/Gyn department Quality Assurance Coordinator and does so with kindness and a warm smile. Stephanie has been the ultimate productive and supportive team player through a challenging year where she not only did her own job, but the work of two, and made them both a success, without a missing a single beat! She is also a wonderful role model for excellent bedside patient care. Stephanie is here early and stays late to meet the needs of the clinical staff who are working off shifts. She has led the efforts to coordinate policies and safety initiatives with our regional affiliates to assure optimal obstetric outcomes at all affiliated hospitals.  Another way that she has specifically impacted Labor & Delivery is that she hosted 32 interdisciplinary simulations with an overall participation of 99% from our team. This is an incredible accomplishment for such a large staff and such a testament to her dedication to safety, quality care and her willingness to go above and beyond in supporting our teams.

Stephanie Monroe, lead phlebotomist, Phlebotomy, Strong West is skilled, organized, detail-oriented, supportive, and compassionate towards patients and visitors. The Lab Patient Service Center sees about 200 patients per day, which can be high pressure and stressful when trying to get everyone’s blood drawn in a timely and efficient manner day after day. However, Stephanie does this work each day with a smile and with compassion towards patients that creates a quality experience in a very busy clinical setting. Stephanie treats every patient like a family member; she is kind and empathetic to their needs. Patients will often request and will even wait to be seen by Stephanie so she can draw their blood. She works closely with her leaders, her teammates, and with main lobby Volunteers to make sure everyone is working together, communicating, being productive, taking care of our patients, and taking care of each other. She’s always looking for ways to improve efficiency or make the patient experience better.

Paritosh (Tosh) Prasad, MD, Surgery, coordinated the new Highly Infectious Disease Unit (HIDU) during the COVID pandemic. Dr. Prasad developed innovative ways to staff the HIDU with varying ICU teams consisting of intensivist attendings, ICU APPs, ICU nursing staff, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and other supporting staff through the various waves of the pandemic. His leadership was fundamental in fostering smooth transitions for COVID ICU patients in a dynamic environment. His calm and kind demeanor conveyed confidence and peace and helped alleviate fear. He is approachable, compassionate, and dedicated to our patients, families, and staff and was a spokesperson on local and national media during the pandemic representing the University as a leading expert in the care and management of COVID patients. As part of the hospital leadership team, Dr. Prasad helped facilitate frequent Zoom updates, open forums discussing current numbers and practices and played an instrumental role in the vaccine campaign for faculty and staff, fostering open communication. The University of Rochester is extremely fortunate to have his expertise and steadfast leadership, especially during such unprecedented times.

Marjorie Roberts, AA, Thoracic Surgery always comes to work with a smile on her face and stays until the work is done. Responsible, reliable, efficient, dependable, caring, and easy going are just a few adjectives to describe Marge.  She is phenomenal at whatever she does whether it being organizing a course for medical students, a lecture for residents or an orientation for fellows.  For knowledge of how different software works, Marge is the person to turn to because she has used them. If you need to know the name of someone’s administrative assistant, Marge knows. Marge is one of the few people in this institution involved in the education of students, nurses, APPs, residents, fellows, and faculty. She knows both the medical school and hospital inside and out. Whether it be a course or lecture, Marge is in the background making sure everything runs on time and that there are no issues. Marge will be retiring in August of this year, but she has made a lasting significant impact on those she has worked with throughout her years at URMC.

Holly Wass, Admin Asst., Financial Case Management & Financial Counseling demonstrates excellence daily in everything she does. Holly has many administrative leadership responsibilities supporting the several departments. She is the “right hand” administrative operations partner to FCM and FC and demonstrates leadership every day in managing administrative operations for the Care Management Suite. In addition to operations, Holly has a key role in processing timely critical paperwork in support of hospital revenue for the Medicaid process. Over the years, Holly’s position has expanded, and she graciously keeps assuming more responsibility with additional volume. Holly has a wealth of knowledge and can provide insight and context on various issues and she is a team player,  friendly and approachable, always willing to help, and the epitome of what excellence is. She has a wonderful calm demeanor which helps us all in times of stress.

Team Excellence Awards

6-3600, Med-Surg Inpatient team has consistently gone above and beyond to care for our patients. They were the first non-ICU unit to move to an all COVID patient unit which helped to improve the care of non-ICU patients with COVID. This unit has been the epitome of flexibility, going from all COVID then a mixed model and now to an ALC/acute patient unit. The team of 6-3600 devised a new staffing model to incorporate LPNs for ALC patients to address the census crisis as well as morale and staffing challenges. They developed a new program around medications to make nursing time more efficient as well as decrease unnecessary cost to the patient and the hospital. Other projects that are being worked on in this unit include: addition of a trainer to move patients daily with the overall goal of transitioning some ALC patients who are awaiting rehab to a home plan, collaboration with the pharmacist to update patients’ vaccinations (flu, COVID, pneumonia) to hopefully decrease nosocomial infections as well as ensuring SNF requirements are met as well as work on delirium reduction and tech/nurse efficiency by reducing unnecessary blood draws, changing times of blood draws so as to not interrupt sleep, and change in vital signs to improve sleep. All of this is in process in addition to providing a unique program of inpatient adult eating disorder care which is not done on any other adult unit.

Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, Psychiatry is an intensive outpatient psychiatric program that provides psycho-education groups, individual therapy, psychopharmacology, and discharge planning for patients who are experiencing acute psychiatric symptoms, with the intention of rapidly stabilizing their symptoms so that they can prevent the need for psychiatric hospitalization, or to step down from psychiatric hospitalization. The Adult Partial Hospitalization Program is a resilient, dynamic team of skilled individuals including Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatrist, Social Workers, Mental Health Counselors, Credentialed Substance Abuse Counselor, Registered Nurses, and Support Staff. This team, despite challenges of the past several years, has significantly demonstrated the desire to improve the well-being of patients and the community through innovative, compassionate, patient- and family-centered care. As of July of 2022, the team has taken an innovative approach to delivering care to individuals in the Rochester community, as well as throughout the Finger lakes Region, becoming the first ambulatory clinic at Strong to use technology to deliver hybrid-model group therapy to participants. This team is an exemplary model of professionalism, and its resolve and unwavering commitment to excellence is inspiring. Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, Psychiatry Team Members: 

  • Colin Barnicle

  • Katie Blakely

  • Rebecca Canfield

  • Adam Cake

  • Jenny Cole

  • Sue DiGiovanni

  • Randi (Rose Mary) DeBellis

  • Daniel Horn,

  • Michael Kerxhall,

  • Michelle LaRussa-Trott

  • Susan Mason

  • Amber Oritz

  • Amy Pardo

  • Colleen Platt

  • Jillian Poepsel

  • Meaghan Quinn

  • Karen Schuster

  • Brenda Swartz

  • Carmela Taylor

  • Kelly Zodl

  • Ryan Walters

  • Christine MacDonald

  • Heather Burchell

  • Heather Kaltenbach

  • Gregory Truelove

Defibrillator Implementation Team, Nursing, Engineering, Learning and Development, APP, Faculty, Pediatrics is a remarkable group that was tasked with the project of replacing all the defibrillators in the medical center to assure the latest technology was in place.  This was a massive undertaking with a great deal of potential risk that was carried out very successfully because of the hard work and dedication of the team. Defibrillators are a key piece of equipment that are used in nearly every clinical and procedural area throughout the medical center including many offsite locations such as surgical centers and provider offices. Because of this it was essential that the defibrillator replacement was carried out in a way that assured that the correct training was completed, the correct disposable pads were in place, and that all members of the team felt comfortable with the new machine. The new defibrillators are helping us deliver medicine of the highest order to all of our patients. Defibrillator Implementation Team:

  • Kate Valcin

  • David Kaufman

  • Eileen McMullen

  • Laurie Athans

  • Sarah Lesniak

  • Kellie Murphy

  • Paula Cordello

  • John Vay

  • Benjamin Dengler

G-1600, Emergency Medicine team led by Nurse Manager Patti Hogue moved their care team from a 20 bed unit to G-1600 and took the unit census from 20 to 35+ patients that would otherwise be boarding in the adult ED, often in hallways, chairs, and the waiting room.  The team enthusiastically agreed to support this hospital initiative, recognizing the critical need to help offset the capacity crisis throughout the hospital. Since implementing an emergency medicine non-traditional approach to the unit, G-1600 provides improved privacy, safety, and a more therapeutic environment for patients to rest and heal. Allowing admitted patients to move out of the Emergency Department is critical for our community to maintain access to critical emergency resources. The expansion of G1600 has also allowed the Emergency Department to see more patients. The team works cooperatively with the rest of ED Staff to move patients to G1600. The unit typically maintains a census of 35 patients, but their goal is to go up to 45. They continue to explore creative solutions both with space and staffing.

PCN Digital Health, Primary Care team is the perfect combination of Meliora and Medicine of the Highest Order. Launched in September of 2022, following a rapid design phase, On Demand Video Visits represent a sea change in how UR Medicine provides primary care. This pivot propels UR Medicine Primary Care from its traditional brick-and-mortar, weekday 9-5 operational model to one that provides tremendous flexibility. It enables UR Medicine to meet patient demands for fast, convenient, and affordable care whenever patients want it.  It’s an experienced team with clinical depth where hard work, creativity, and dynamics drive extraordinary results. Collectively, the team members have provided over 4,000 visits since September. More than 75% of the time, patients are seen within 15 minutes. And patient satisfaction data reveal that patients are delighted. Ninety-two percent of patients rate their experience a 9 or 10 (scale 0-10). Patients frequently comment on their visit using words like great, excellent, useful, friendly, easy, convenient, attentive, thorough, and informative to summarize their experience. This praise establishes our patients' high regard for the PCN Digital Health team. PCN Digital Health, Primary Care Team:

  • Marque-Ann Mattle, PA

  • Monica Ranaletta, DO

  • Poonam Bhatt, NP

  • Mallory Eberly, NP

  • Douglas Fien, NP

  •  Amy Mueller, NP

  • Carla Scheiber, NP

  • Jason Macartney

  •  Eileen Maguire

  • Patrice Smith

  • Gabriella Hermann

Age-Friendly Health System Workgroup, UR Aging Institute, is spearheading URMC’s ongoing Age Friendly Health System (AFHS) transformation, a nationwide movement to improve the health care of older adults. AFHS focuses on what matters to older adults receiving care, improving health outcomes, and optimizing value for all.  An AFHS follows the 4 Ms Framework, ensuring that every medical encounter addresses mobility; mentation; medications; and what matters to each older person, aligning care to their specific health outcome goals & care preferences, including end-of-life care. As one of the largest health systems in Upstate New York, URMC is playing a key role in advancing the AFHS initiative and serving as a model for health systems in our region and nation. Both Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital have achieved the highest AHFS designation from the IHI, “Level 2: Committed to Care Excellence” and several other care sites and affiliates are joining our AHFS efforts. The AFHS Workgroup is spearheading URMC’s ongoing AFHS transformation. The success of the AFHS Workgroup showcases URMC’s commitment to Geriatrics & Aging and the care of older adults. The AFHS Workgroup remains committed to promote and disseminate the AFHS initiative to ensure all URMC health professionals of all disciplines have the skill set to provide 4Ms care to our older patients. Age-Friendly Health System Workgroup, UR Aging Institute Team: 

Representatives from medical and dental faculty, nurses, social workers, administrative staff at Strong Memorial Hospital, Highland Hospital, Jones Memorial Hospital, Noyes Memorial Hospital, Eastman Institute of Oral Health (EIOH), and Departments of Medicine (Geriatrics & Hospital Medicine Divisions), Surgery, Anesthesiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Public Health Sciences.

WCC6, Wilmot Cancer Center Team remain focused on patient safety, quality, and outcomes despite a nearly 40% loss of staff during the pandemic. Teamwork and resiliency are apparent daily in this team that support and care for each other as well as their patients and families. Discharge coordinators, social worker, charge nurses, preceptors, secretary, APP team and leadership work together collaboratively through each challenge with dedication. In 2022, the team successfully performed 171 transplants and 38 CART infusions, an increase of ten from the previous year. By the end of 2022, the unit was back to a 91 percent occupancy. HCAPS scores, patient safety, quality, and outcomes were maintained. This core group of WCC6 staff is the epitome of excellence, accountability, teamwork, and dedication.

Enterprise Nursing Informatics Team has been at the forefront of leading current and future workflow analysis at URMC. They facilitate system-wide interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration by providing structure for shared decision-making across the organization. Nursing informatics optimize technology while ensuring data integrity and workflow supports with system-level reporting. Their mission is to improve quality of care by integrating new digital tools while maximizing efficiencies and provider wellness. The nursing informatics team has been integral to so many important initiatives at URMC, particularly over this past year. They have led and participated in enterprise level initiatives including HEART, Better Flow and Clinical Mobility. The HEART program, Health Equity and Anti-Racism Technology Program, is one specific example of what they have helped achieve. It optimizes the electronic health record as a tool for staff to identify and address health inequities among the diverse population. There has been a solid increase in quarterly screening of social determinants of health through the HEART program enabling our providers to offer additional services to address the disparities This stellar nursing team is focused on excellence in care. Enterprise Nursing Informatics Team, Nursing: 

  • Rosemary Ventura

  • Shawna Abdul

  • Sarah Carpino

  • Tasha Heme

  • Michelle Hopwood

  • Dawnn Walters

  • Laurie McFetridge

  • Rachel Steffen

  • Mary Lynn Siegel

  • Wendy Hurley

  • Wendy Cellini

Medical Center Flood Response Team, Facilities, Environmental Services sprang into action on December 26 when a utility alert was called by Public Safety and notified Facilities that there was a significant flood in progress in the 5000 tower of the Medical Center caused by a burst pipe in a secluded fourth-floor stairwell above the clinical research entrance on Crittenden. The Facilities on-call crew and Environmental Services (EVS) quickly became the Flood Response Team. Given the holiday, this wing housing faculty and staff offices and clinical research programs, was not occupied so the water pipe break went undetected worsening the damage that the water caused. That week between Christmas and New Year’s—when most employees look forward to spending time away with family—these dedicated individuals were hard at work. While no one anticipated this disruption during a holiday week in bitter cold conditions, this team stepped up when it was needed most. The flood impacted a number of different areas at SMH and SMD. It involved nearly 200 EVS staff and hundreds of work hours.  Thanks to their swift response, patient care was not impacted, and the vast majority of clinical research space was not affected.

Dr. Robert Joynt Kindness Awards

Christine Buanga, Environmental Services, is a dedicated, compassionate staff member who does her best to make children and parents feel they are cared for in a clean, safe, healing environment at the Golisano Children’s Hospital. During the most recent Joint Commission Survey the lead Surveyor asked Christine about her job responsibilities and her response left the Surveyor speechless and in tears. Christine not only explained the technical and infection prevention aspects of the cleaning process; but Christine also embodied compassion, kindness, and dedication during the survey. The surveyor was clearly moved by Christine’s compassion. The Nursing Team in the Children’s Hospital are grateful to have Christine on their team. They describe her as a joy to work with and she always has a smile. She is known for checking in with nursing and families to see if they need anything.

Jeremiah Moore, PharmD, BCOP, Oral Oncology, is the clinical pharmacist coordinator for the oral oncology pharmacy program for the specialty pharmacy at Wilmot Cancer Institute (WCI). Jeremiah meets with patients starting oral chemotherapy medication at the WCI who are often overwhelmed with their diagnosis and anxious about starting a medication that has the reputation of having bad side effects. He takes his time with each patient to ensure they know how to take their medication, what to expect, when to call if they are experiencing side effects or have questions. He calls his patients shortly after they are scheduled to begin their treatment and checks in with them on a regular basis while on treatment. Many patients write positive comments about their interaction with Jeremiah, and he also gets multiple strong stars from patients. Patients even bring him baked goods and gifts out of appreciation. One patient donated a significant amount of money in her will to the WCI due to the wonderful experience she had with Jeremiah and our pharmacy.

Amy Niertit, MD, Emergency Medicine, is one of the most intelligent, genuine, and compassionate members of the Emergency Medicine family. Dr. Niertit consistently and tirelessly treats each and every patient with respect and patience despite ongoing challenges of seeing patients in hallways, chairs, the waiting room, or other available space. She goes out of her way to help ease the concerns and worries of our patients when they come to us on what is often one of the worst days they’ve known. She sits with patients, hugs patients, holds their hands and offers them her own strength to lean on. She has an innate ability to make whoever she is speaking with feel like nothing else matters and normalize whatever feelings or frustrations they may be facing. Dr. Niertit has been a consistent source of reliable strength for her fellow team members and a mentor to residents, APPs, and fellow faculty members. As an institution we rely on leadership and mentorship and there are some that naturally “pave the way.” Dr. Amy Niertit is one of the most powerful examples of strong female leadership who personifies both grace and grit.

Lisa Wahlers, CRNA, DNP, Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine is a highly qualified and respected certified nurse anesthetist at URMC. She is a CNRA leader at Golisano Childrens Hospital and cares for the most critically ill pediatric patients, including involvement in the pediatric cardiac surgery program. She is highly involved in the education of student CRNAs, and she goes on at least two mission trips per year, volunteering her time and traveling globally to help children in poorer countries that don’t have access to health care. She is an exemplary clinician and a role model for our department and an asset to the Rochester pediatric community.

Burnout: The New Pandemic

Thursday, June 1, 2023

 Michael Privitera, MD recently published a blog for the American Hospital Association discussing the new pandemic of burnout, particularly in healthcare, and steps hospital leadership can take to grow a culture in which every worker has access to ways to decrease stress. The infographics (left) are an adapted version by Elisa Arespacochaga and team of a 2022 publication by Dr. Privitera mentioned in the article. 

Mind Matters Podcast with Dr. George Nasra - Creating Community-Based Continuum of Care: A Primary Care Perspective

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Mind Matters: A Behavioral Health Podcast
Creating Community-Based Continuum of Care: A Primary Care Perspective

Dr. George Nasra joins Dr. Mena Mirhom to discuss the siloed nature of the U.S. healthcare system and the opportunity to achieve behavioral health integration by taking a population health perspective.

Read More: Mind Matters Podcast with Dr. George Nasra - Creating Community-Based Continuum of Care: A Primary Care Perspective

Help Support Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Through the Strong Stroll

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The 27th Annual Stroll for Strong Kids & 5k Race will take place on Sunday, June 4th at Genesee Valley Park, and our Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness has a walking team! There are many ways you can support the team in raising money for our child and adolescent outpatient services, partial hospitalization service, and inpatient service.  

  • Register for the walk and join our team here. If you wish to donate, please do so AFTER registering. This will guarantee your donation goes to support our programs. 
  • We are teaming up with Special Touch Bakery to sell pies starting May 15 through May 31 with delivery on June 16. Click here to order. 
  • We are partnering with Upstate Bottle Return for a bottle and can drive.  People can drop off their recyclables starting May 30 through June 3 throughout Rochester. Stay tuned to the Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Facebook page for a list of locations coming soon!

Confidential and convenient mental health resources for University employees

Monday, May 22, 2023

Well-U offers expert mental health support to all University employees. Virtual or in-person appointments are available at UR Medicine EAP and Behavioral Health Partners. Call (585) 276-9110 for UR Medicine EAP or (585) 276-6900 for Behavioral Health Partners if you are enrolled in the University’s health plan.

Read More: Confidential and convenient mental health resources for University employees

Why You Need to Have This Dreaded Conversation with Your Doctor

Monday, May 15, 2023

When to Start the Hospice Care Conversation

Both doctors and patients tend to avoid subjects like hospice care and palliative care, and that’s a problem says University of Rochester Medical Center researcher Marsha Wittink, MD. Wittink co-authored a recent article describing how unfounded optimism about the effectiveness of medical treatment and physicians' own emotions can delay such conversations.

Read More: Why You Need to Have This Dreaded Conversation with Your Doctor

Handling Heartache: How to Cope with Grief on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Friday, May 12, 2023

For those who experience grief, anxiety, depression, or feelings of loss on certain holidays, Serina Tetenov, Ph.D., LCSW-R, assistant professor of Psychiatry and clinical director of Adult Mental Health and Wellness at the University of Rochester Medical Center, offers advice and resources.

Read More: Handling Heartache: How to Cope with Grief on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Deanna Sams Named Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Inpatient

Thursday, May 11, 2023

It is with great enthusiasm that we share that Deanna Sams, PhD has been named to the position of Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Inpatient. This new position is part of the restructuring of our Child and Adolescent Division leadership in order to effectively manage the expanded services and address the current youth mental health crisis. Dr. Sams has been a critical leader in our programming and operations, as well as education, on 49000 in recent years, and has been the lead in developing the Rapid Stabilization Pathway which has dramatically impacted how we provide inpatient care as well as our length of stay, overall census, and impacted patients boarding in CPEP. Having Dr. Sams join our inpatient leadership team which also includes Mani Kurien, medical director, and Lara Walker, nurse manager, will help us be prepared to succeed in current and future endeavors. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Sams on this new role! 

What You Need to Know about the New Parkinson’s Biomarker

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Irene Richard, MD, a professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), was involved in the development and planning of the PPMI study in her role as senior medical advisor to MJFF, a position she held from 2008-2011.  Richard continued her work with the organization as a member of the scientific advisory committee and was the principal investigator for the Rochester site of the PPMI study, overseeing the enrollment, evaluations, and follow up the initial cohort of study participants.

Read More: What You Need to Know about the New Parkinson’s Biomarker

Sign up for the NAMI Rochester Walk and Join our Team!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

people walking together

Lace-up your sneakers and get ready to walk, run, or roll with the UR Medicine Mental Health & Wellness team!

You’re invited to join the Mental Health & Wellness team for the 11th Annual NAMI Walk 5K. The NAMI Walk brings together people of all ages to raise awareness and funds for the National Alliance for Mental Health.

Date: Saturday, May 20, 2023
Time: Pickup opens at 9am
Walk Kickoff at 10am
Location: The Village Gate in Rochester

The NAMI Walk is open to everyone, so grab your friends, family, and coworkers and join us for a day of fun and fundraising! Stay for the Community Celebration with vendors, music, food, and drink after the walk.  All funds raised at the NAMI Walk will go to supporting the local Rochester chapter of NAMI and its programs to provide support, education, and advocacy to individuals and families of all cultural backgrounds living with mental illness.

Help us to meet our goal for the NAMI walk!

You can donate to NAMI through our  UR Medicine Mental Health & Wellness Team team fundraiser! 

Read More: Sign up for the NAMI Rochester Walk and Join our Team!

Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

April 26th is Administrative Professionals’ Day! We would like to take this opportunity to thank our administrators for their hard work and support to our Department’s mission and keep the our operations running as smoothly as possible.

In our clinical areas, you build and maintain schedules; register patients, answer phones, field refill and other clinical requests, assist with arranging transportation, manage referrals, and help with completing forms and paperwork. In our Research areas, you coordinate studies, subjects enrollment, assist with logistics and manage deadlines for grant submissions, assist with ensuring our research meets rigorous standards. In our Education areas, you provide support for residency and fellowship programs, medical students, and other trainees, balance complex schedules, assist with ensuring our programs meet accreditation standards and give a helping hand wherever needed. In addition to the mission areas, we also have central administrative support staff who provide support to department leaders with scheduling meetings and coordination of various functions in the department as well across the medical center. 
The above mentions are just some of the great work you do every day to support our Educators, Researchers, Clinicians and Leaders. We are honored to work with such an amazing group of administrative professionals, and I wish our future together will be even brighter as we overcome challenges and celebrate successes together.

Thank you again for all the hard work you do everyday! 

Celebrating Our Psychologists and Psychologists-in-Training

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Did you know that psychologists work in many different locations across the URMC system? 
We have psychologists and psychology trainees across our Department of Psychiatry, which includes our child, adult, and older adult inpatient units and outpatient clinics, partial hospitalization programs, Deaf Wellness Center, HEAL, Family Therapy, and Lazos Fuertes. We also have clinicians in a variety of specialty clinics, including: Dentistry, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics (Craniofacial, Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Endocrinology, Feeding Clinic, Gastroenterology, Hematology & Oncology, Nephrology, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, Sleep Medicine, and Transplant), Neurology (child & adult), Neurosurgery, Ob/Gyn and Women’s Health, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Surgery, Transplant, and at Wilmot Cancer Center. We also have psychology colleagues in highly competitive and productive research roles, across several primary care clinics (child and adult), embedded into a variety of school systems across the region, in our Employee Assistance Programs, at the College Counseling Center on River Campus, and in the VA system. 
We have students, interns, and postdoctoral fellows, drawing top candidates from across the US to each. In addition, we have psychologists across our UR leadership, including our President Sarah Mangelsdorf. 

April 23rd-29th marks Psychology Week, a celebration of psychologists and psychologists-in-training as well as the field's contributions to improving lives. In addition, the United Nations will be streaming their 16th Annual Psychology Day presentation on the 27th starting at 11AM. Our department will be celebrating the week prior, April 16th - 22nd. Join us in thanking a psychologist or psychologist-in-training in your life on Twitter on April 20th, 5th annual URMC Psychology Day with the hashtags #PsychologyDay2023, #PsychologyDayURMC2023, and #PsychDayUN2023.

Tanya Tran Receives Alfred Bader Fellowship

Friday, April 14, 2023

We're excited to share that Tanya Tran, PhD, postdoc in our INTERCEPT Program, has recently been awarded the Queens University Alfred Bader Fellowship award. This fellowship supports one year of study and research, or to pursue an endeavor which contributes to the advancement of knowledge, contributes to society, or allows creative expression. Dr. Tran will be researching therapy outcomes in high risk for psychosis patients, using a CBT-type intervention that she has been developing. Congratulations to Dr. Tran on this accomplishment!


The tragedy of Black youth suicide - AAMC Viewpoints by Arielle Sheftall

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Black children ages 5 to 12 are twice as likely to die by suicide as their White peers, and Black teen suicides are growing at shocking rates. What’s going on, and what can be done to help save young Black lives? 
AAMC Viewpoints by Arielle Sheftall, PhD

Read More: The tragedy of Black youth suicide - AAMC Viewpoints by Arielle Sheftall

Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art Extended Deadline

Monday, April 10, 2023

Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art: Healing Within Extended Submission Deadline April 30th, 2023

Read More: Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art Extended Deadline

Celebrating Ms. Donna and Her Years of Service

Friday, April 7, 2023

Ms. Donna and group of staff

Ms. Donna, as she is lovingly referred to by Chestnut staff, retired this month after years of service with the Department of Psychiatry. Ms. Donna worked for Eastman Kodak for over 35 years before finally joining the Department of Psychiatry as a patient access specialist in 2016.

She was initially hired by the Rapid Access team and once our Chestnut Street facility opened she moved over to help support their services. She has eagerly provided coverage at many of our outpatient sites including; Strong Ties, Older Adults and Memory Care, the Employee Assistance Program and the even Medicine Service.

"I love meeting and learning from people who work in other areas of the department," she would often say. Congratulations on your retirement Ms. Donna, your bright smile and cheerful disposition will be miss by all of us, but specially by our patients! Thank you.

Quality Institute Announces URMFG Healthcare Innovation Awards Winners

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The UR Medicine Quality Institute, in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group (URMFG), is pleased to have selected three new projects as recipients of the URMFG Healthcare Innovation Award in the amount of $100,000 each, over a two-year period, beginning March 1. The annual awards support the development of innovative approaches to health care delivery that drive value through improved efficiency and quality and foster outcomes research. 

Congratulations to Department of Psychiatry URMFG Healthcare Innovation Awards Winners Elaine Rigney, MD & Marsha Wittink, MD, MBE, for their project below. 
Marsh WittinkElaine Rigney

Elaine Rigney, MD, senior instructor of Psychiatry and Medicine, and Marsha Wittink, MD, MBE, associate professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine: Reducing Hospital Readmissions for Patients with Severe Mental Illnesses (SMI) 
URMC’s division of Medicine in Psychiatry aims to improve the quality of care for SMI patients, thereby reducing health disparities and healthcare costs. This project aims to support this mission by incorporating a point-of-care tool to help identify patients’ priorities related to discharge and expand existing transitional care management services. The goal is to use a patient-centered approach to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and improve engagement in primary care.

Read more on the URMC Intranet (VPN Login)

Read More: Quality Institute Announces URMFG Healthcare Innovation Awards Winners

Myra Mathis speaks to WXXI about the over-the-counter availability of Narcan

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Myra Mathis, MD, medical director for Strong Recovery, spoke to WXXI (March 30) about the FDA's decision to approve non-prescription sales of the emergency opioid overdose nasal spray Narcan. Over-the-counter availability of Narcan should be in addition to free programs currently available, Mathis said. "Let's not limit the spaces where Narcan has already been made available just because it is now available over the counter."

Read More: Myra Mathis speaks to WXXI about the over-the-counter availability of Narcan

Register Now for the 11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference, April 28th

Friday, March 24, 2023

Strong Recovery Presents: Transformation in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: Exploring Systemic Trends
Friday April 28, 2023, 9:00am to 3:30pm  

The Department of Psychiatry Strong Recovery is thrilled to announce that our annual Joseph Ryan Conference is returning in person after four years due to challenges from the pandemic. We have an incredible lineup of speakers and invite all professionals in the field of substance use/ addiction treatment to learn about how the substance use disorder treatment field has transformed over the years. To register, please contact Stacey Ciotti

Read More: Register Now for the 11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference, April 28th

Alzheimer’s Association finds growing caregiver burden in New York, Dr. Carol Podgorski weighs in

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

URMC Department of Psychiatry faculty Dr. Carol Podgorski, PhD weighs in on the growing burden on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in New York.

Read More: Alzheimer’s Association finds growing caregiver burden in New York, Dr. Carol Podgorski weighs in

Study: More research is needed surrounding age exposure to social media

Monday, March 13, 2023

Dr. Anthony Psani, PhD discusses a new study with WROC channel 8 on how social media affects teen mental health. 

Read More: Study: More research is needed surrounding age exposure to social media

Bridge Art Gallery Announces New Call for Art

Friday, March 10, 2023

call for art Our Bridge Art Gallery is now accepting artwork submissions for their next call for art, Healing Within. These past few years have seen significant national turmoil and a growing mental health crisis. We ask artists to respond to the theme Healing Within while considering topics such as healing, community, and togetherness.

To submit artwork, complete the online form here or send an email to the Bridge Art Gallery.  


SafeSide Prevention online workshop for service providers in rural communities

Friday, March 3, 2023

The UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence is partnering with SafeSide Prevention to offer a free, half-day workshop for healthcare providers in rural communities to provide them with a systematic framework for suicide prevention. The interactive training includes a special focus on youth, substance use, and Indigenous communities. 
Find the schedule of workshops and register here.

Read More: SafeSide Prevention online workshop for service providers in rural communities

11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference

Monday, February 27, 2023

We are excited to share that our Strong Recovery Program's 11th Annual Joseph Ryan Conference is back in person on April 28th at the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/University & Medical Center!

If you are someone working in substance use/ addiction treatment, we invite you to learn about how the substance use disorder treatment field has transformed over the years. CASAC, LMHC & Social Work CEUs are available.

To register, contact Stacey Ciotti. 

A Message from Department of Psychiatry Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity

Friday, February 3, 2023

Violence in our country during the past 30 days have set off a whirlwind of emotions in all of us, but especially in the AAPI, Latino and Black communities.

Beginning on January 21 a mass shooting in Monterey Park claimed the lives of 11 victims at a dance studio on Lunar New Year. Two days later, a mass shooting in Half Moon Bay California took the lives of 7 Latino and Asian farmworkers in a senseless spree of violence that has swept through our nation. Just yesterday, 29 year-old Tyre Nichols, was laid to rest in Memphis, TN after having been senselessly beaten to death by police without evidence of a crime.

We stand together with all the victims of this past month, their family, loved ones and with all whose lives have been affected by these tragedies. 

The Department of Psychiatry and the University of Rochester stands against all forms of hatred and racism, in solidarity with those working tirelessly for a more compassionate world, and in steadfast resolve to Live Our Values Everywhere. We invite you to join the University of Rochester in the #LivetheSix initiative to embark on a sweeping movement to address racism and hate. Read more about #LivetheSix here.

If you are in need of any support please do not hesitate to reach out to the following resources:

Carol Podgorski Named Associate Chair of Faculty Affairs

Thursday, February 2, 2023

We would like to share that that Carol Podgorski, PhD, MPH, MS has been named Associate Chair of Faculty Affairs as of February 1st. In this role, she will oversee our faculty appointment, promotion and tenure processes and foster faculty career development among other responsibilities. Those who has worked with Carol would agree that It is hard to think of anyone more qualified than her for this important leadership role anywhere. 

Carol received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester (UR) followed by her MPH and, in 1990, her PhD in sociology. Initially appointed as an Associate in the Departments of Psychiatry and then Medicine, she worked with Drs. Pierre Tarriot and Anton Porsteinsson to develop the Program in Neurobehavioral Therapeutics (now the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Education and Research [AD-CARE] Program) and with Dr. Bill Hall to design and direct the Center of Lifetime Wellness at Monroe Community Hospital. Because she also wanted to provide direct care to the patients and families these organizations served, Carol completed her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2005. She was initially named Assistant Professor of Nursing and Medicine, then joined our department for her primary appointment in 2006. She was promoted to her current rank of Professor of Psychiatry last year. 

Carol’s previous and current administrative responsibilities include as Director of URMC’s Memory Care Program, Associate Director of the URMC Office for Aging Research and Health Services (OARHS), Director of the Finger Lakes Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease (FLCEAD), Co-Director of our department’s Family Therapy Training Program, and discipline leader for Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs).
Those who has worked with Carol would agree that It is hard to think of anyone more qualified than her for this important leadership role anywhere. 

Please, join me in congratulating her new leadership in Department of Psychiatry.


Mark Nickels Named Interim Director of Inpatient Psychiatric CL Services

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

It is with great pleasure that we also share that Mark Nickels, MD has been named the interim Director of our Inpatient Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison (CL) Services

Dr. Nickels completed his residency in Psychiatry at URMC and was Chief Resident between 1985-1986. He joined URMC as faculty in 1986 as has since progressed to be appointed Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in 2013. Dr. Nickels has had multiple leadership roles over the years including serving as the Director of the Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Service at Strong Hospital from 1996-1999, Director of Transplant Psychiatry since 2006, Director of CL Psychiatry fellowship from 2017-2020, Associate Director of Psychiatry Residency from 2020-2021 and now Director of Psychiatry Residency since 2021.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Nickels on his new appointment and thanking him for all he continues to do for our department and for our patients.

Addiction Psychiatry Leadership Changes

Thursday, January 19, 2023

We are thrilled to share a few changes to the leadership of our Addiction Psychiatry and Strong Recovery services.

As of December, Itza Morales, MSB, CASAC and Julie Achtyl, MS, LMHC, CASAC have been promoted to Co-Directors of Operations for Addiction Psychiatry. They will work in collaboration with Dr. Myra Mathis to continue advancing Addiction Psychiatry’s mission. 

Itza will oversee the OTP clinic, SUD-PC program and Access services. She is also assuming the role of Program Sponsor for Opioid Treatment Programs which includes being point of contact with the State Opioid Treatment Authority and federal regulatory agencies and ensuring compliance with OTP specific licensing rules.

Julie will oversee our Adolescent/Young Adult clinic, the Adult CD clinic and CCBHC Outreach services. She is also assuming the role of CASAC Discipline Chief which includes oversight of counselor education and training programs. 

To support the new leadership structure and management of each of its services, Strong Recovery will add a Clinical Coordinator for the OTP clinic to manage day-to-day operations of that clinic. And a Clinical Coordinator for the Adult CD clinic to manage day-to-day operations of that clinic.

Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Itza and Julie to their new and exciting roles!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week

Thursday, January 12, 2023

In partnership with the URMC Department of Neurology, the URMC Department of Psychiatry presents this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week, "Past, Present and Future: Rochester’s Civil Rights Journey Towards an Equitable Future." 

This year’s Department of Psychiatry MLK Week will be dedicated to the memory of Rev. Dr. John S. Walker, a beloved member of the department and a staunch advocate of civil rights and equitable health care. This year's daily events include: 

January 16th
Please view the documentary film below, July 1964, for the discussion with the director, Carvin Eison, on July 17th.
Read About the Documentary

January 17th
Discussion of July 1964 with filmmaker and producer Carvin Eison and a preview of his new film, Redlining
12 PM - 1 PM, Hybrid Event: Room 2-6424 Auditorium & Zoom Webinar

January 18th
MLK Jr. Grand Rounds: Panel on the present and future of Rochester in our journey towards civil rights and an equitable future
12 PM - 1 PM, Hybrid Event: Room Class of '62 Auditorium & Zoom Webinar

January 19th
Tribute to Rev. Dr. John S. Walker and his words on “Black Classical Music” and mental health

12 PM - 1 PM, Zoom Webinar Only

January 20th
Rochester’s MLK Choir Performance and readings of MLK Letters from Birmingham jail
12 PM - 1 PM, Hybrid Event: Room Class of '62 Auditorium & Zoom Webinar

Read More: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week

Remembering Rev. John S. Walker

Thursday, January 5, 2023

John Walker It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of Rev. Dr. John Walker, Adjunct Associate Professor in our Department of Psychiatry as well as the leader of our Clergy Mental Health Collaborative which brought together faith leaders in Rochester to address issues critical to the community.

 Rev. Walker had been a wonderful source of wisdom and knowledge and taught countless members of our community about the importance of diversity, mental health, and equity. He had provided gentle mentorship, guidance, and intimate knowledge of the community generously and selflessly in order to make us all better. He was a strong social justice advocate whose kindness, wisdom, and mentorship will be etched in the memories of many of us in the Department. 

 Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those in our community for whom this loss weighs heavily. He was a man with incomparable qualities. While he will be sorely missed, the lessons he has taught us will not be forgotten. With his guidance, “we must keep on going.” 
Reverend John S. Walker 
Reverend John Walker was born in Columbus, Ohio. He joined the United States Army during the Korean War. After his service, he attended Morris College in South Carolina, where he graduated at the top of his class. Called to ministry, he subsequently enrolled at the Colgate Divinity School in Rochester and graduated in 1969. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at Syracuse University and became a visiting lecturer in Rochester. 
In 1973, Rev. Walker became the director of the Baden Street Settlement Counseling Center, and in 1978, became the director of the Seventh Step Foundation. He also worked with FIGHT (Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today) and the Marcus Garvey Black Solidarity Committee and wrote for Communique, a black-run Rochester newspaper. In 1989, he became the pastor of Christian Friendship Baptist Church and established several successful outreach ministries such as the one at the Henrietta Corrections Facility. Also, he founded the Adolescent Pregnancy Program, the Rochester Anti-Apartheid Program, the Palestinian Resettlement Committee, the Malawian Hunger Project, the Swaziland Hunger Project, and the Freedom and Justice Program of South Africa. In addition, he taught history and political science at Monroe Community College for many years prior to retirement. 
Dr. Walker was also an expert on Jazz, or, as he called it, “Black Classical Music.” He wrote music articles for the Ohio Sentinel between 1960 and 1963 and hosted a local radio program called “Black Classical Music” for 28 years between 1981-2009. As a jazz commentator, he used his African name, Talik Abdul Bashir, and often played full recordings of obscure jazz musicians while detailing their histories for each set. He broadened our musical knowledge and enjoyment of “Black Classical” musicians for many of us.  
In 2013, he became co-seminar director for the Rochester Program of Research and Innovation in Disparities Education (PRIDE) which brought together faculty leaders from the URMC Clinical Psychology Training Program and community leaders from faith-based and community-based organizations and health and human service agencies in Rochester, NY.  Subsequently, he became the leader of the Clergy Mental Health Collaborative (CMHC), which meets monthly as a collaborative team of clergy members from diverse faith groups in the Rochester community working together to address issues critical to the community, particularly regarding the overall health of poor communities. 
In 2019, he became an essential member of the leadership team for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Community (DICE). He had provided gentle mentorship, guidance, and intimate knowledge of the community generously and selflessly in order to make us all better. He was a strong social justice advocate whose kindness, wisdom, and mentorship will be etched in the memories of many of us in the Department.