Dec 182013
 

Forty-nine physicians from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University have been chosen by their peers for inclusion in the 2014 “Best Doctors in America” list.

The annual list is compiled by Best Doctors Inc., a Boston-based group that surveys more than 45,000 physicians across the United States who previously have been included in the listing asking whom they would choose to treat themselves or their families.

Approximately 5 percent of the physicians who practice in the United States make the annual list. A partial list of the state’s best doctors is in the December issue of “Business North Carolina” magazine. The full list is online at http://www.businessnc.com/special-reports-publications/special-report/north-carolina-s-best-doctors/?back=special.

The ECU physicians on the list are Dr. William A. Burke, dermatology; Drs. Jon Firnhaber, Susan Keen, Greg W. Knapp, Lars C. Larsen, Tae Joon Lee, Gary I. Levine, Kenneth Steinweg and Ricky Watson, family medicine; Drs. Paul P. Cook and Keith M. Ramsey, infectious diseases; Dr. Nathan Brinn, pediatrics and internal medicine; Drs. Mary Jane Barchman and Paul Bolin, nephrology; Drs. Raymond Dombroski and Edward R. Newton, obstetrics and gynecology; Drs. David Hannon and Charlie J. Sang Jr., pediatric cardiology; Dr. Glenn Harris, pediatric diabetologist; and Dr. William E. Novotny and Ronald M. Perkin, pediatric critical care; Dr. Susan Boutilier, pediatric neurology and sleep medicine; and Dr. John Gibbs, neurology.

Also listed are Dr. Michael Reichel, pediatric developmental and behavioral problems; Dr. David N. Collier, pediatric obesity; Dr. Daniel P. Moore, physical medicine and rehabilitation; Dr. Elaine Cabinum-Foeller, pediatric abuse; Dr. Diana J. Antonacci, John Diamond and Kaye L. McGinty, child and adolescent psychiatry; Dr. Scott S. MacGilvray, neonatal medicine; Drs. Lorraine Basnight, Karin Marie Hillenbrand, Thomas G. Irons, Suzanne Lazorick, Dale A. Newton, John Olsson, Kathleen V. Previll and Charles Willson, general pediatrics; Drs. Robert A. Shaw, Yash Kataria and Mark Bowling, pulmonary medicine; Drs. Robert Harland and Eric Toschlog, surgery; Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, surgical oncology; Dr. Danielle Walsh, pediatric surgery; Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., cardiothoracic surgery; Dr. Eleanor Harris, radiation oncology; and Dr. Charles S. Powell, vascular surgery.

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Dec 032013
 

Three people have died in North Carolina after testing positive for the flu, the first of the season in our state. Even though it’s December, there’s still time to take steps to prevent the illness before it arrives. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.

Flu season can last as late as May so getting vaccinated now could still be beneficial. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, employers and even in some schools.

While public health officials say the number of flu cases has been low so far, individuals most at-risk are children under age 2, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or immune system problems.

Good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu. A new study reported in The Lancet confirms the benefits of starting flu antivirals even beyond two days after illness starts.

In addition to getting the flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer six good health habits to follow:

1. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

If you haven’t done it, now’s the time to get your flu shot. Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu.

National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 8-14. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov.

Nov 142013
 

Sometimes, the simple stuff works best.

This is true when it comes to the valuable practice of churches, nonprofits and community groups hosting health screenings. The advice? Keep it simple. Stick to the straightforward medical tests that change behaviors, and avoid more complicated screenings that lead to additional invasive procedures.

It’s common practice for churches and other community groups to host health screenings. These events help raise awareness for common health issues and often provide basic screenings at little to no cost. This type of community action is built around the promotion of good health habits. But, as recent news stories have covered, some advanced screenings should be left to doctors.

In some cases, tests are offered by for-profit companies and come with an advertising pitch for additional services. Doctors warn patients and community groups to always consider the source with these sorts of tests. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians maintains a list of tests to avoid. One potential problem is test  results showing things that – though abnormal – are completely benign. When an incorrect diagnosis is delivered, patients are then subjected to more invasive tests that can be more harmful. It takes the eye of a trained physician to tell the difference.

Dr. Jason Foltz, clinic director of family medicine at ECU, says people at community events should seek tests that focus on improved outcomes – tests such as blood pressure, Body Mass Index, glucose and cholesterol screenings. Proponents of these community screening events say that while doctors can preach to patients about the need to exercise or quit smoking, it sometimes takes the reality check of a positive test result to motivate a person to make a change.

These tests can also serve as guideposts for patients working on managing an existing condition. Just last week, the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU hosted the 12th annual Winning with Diabetes conference. At this event, guests received blood pressure, vascular and kidney screenings.

In most cases, tests such as these are only the first steps in establishing a plan for better health, Foltz says. If anything alarming comes up during one of these simple screenings, you should visit your doctor so he or she can get you started on a program to correct the issue.

Follow ECU Health Sciences on Twitter to learn about future health screenings.

Nov 122013
 

In 1972, farmland covered the Pitt County countryside where the ECU health sciences campus is today.

It’s hard to imaclass1972_5x7gine the changes that have been made since the first medical school students entered ECU that same year.

Those 20 students knew they had to succeed their first year in Greenville, after which they would transfer to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was the first step toward ECU having its own medical school.

The program helped fulfill the vision of Dr. Leo Jenkins, president of what was then East Carolina College, to build a medical school on campus. The first class was honored Nov. 8-9 by the ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation during ECU’s homecoming.

In 1965, a year after Jenkins began his campaign for a medical school, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized East Carolina to establish a school and provided planning funds for its development.

The first ECU medical faculty members started work in 1970, under the leadership of Dr. Wallace Wooles, a pharmacologist and the first dean. The following year, the General Assembly appropriated operating funds to allow enrollment in the one-year program.

In 1972, those first 20 students arrived, followed by two more classes of 20 each, all North Carolinians, in 1973 and 1974.

The thinking in Greenville, Raleigh and at the UNC General Administration offices in Chapel Hill was that ECU would grow to a two-year program, with expansion to a full four-year program later.

But in late 1974, plans changed. The next year, upon recommendation of the UNC Board of Governors, the General Assembly appropriated $43 million for initial construction of facilities and implementation of a four-year medical school at ECU. The charter class of 28 students enrolled in 1977. The school received full accreditation in February 1981, and the first class graduated that spring.

Today, the Brody School of Medicine at ECU enrolls 80 students with each class.

And the farmland has been replaced by a bustling health sciences campus made up of the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the Laupus Health Sciences Library, the East Carolina Heart Institute, ECU Family Medicine and many other clinics taking care of patients.

“It is just fascinating to be here at a time when the school has clearly come into its own, and the earliest graduates are displaying all of the high qualities of the profession, in leadership and service, that were imagined so many years ago,” said Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the medical school.

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Dr. Evelyn McNeill, left, an original ECU medical faculty member, talks with Dr. James Parsons, a member of the first one-year medical class, during a gathering Nov. 8 at the Brody Medical Sciences Building. (Photo by Doug Boyd)

 

 

 

Nov 012013
 

In the United States, nearly 26 million children and adults have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. And the American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

North Carolina exceeds the national average in the prevalence of diabetes, and East Carolina University scientists are recognized as international leaders in the study of metabolic diseases.

Research at the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute encompasses several fields including bariatric surgery, insulin signaling, glucose transport, bioenergetics, exercise physiology, pediatric healthy weight programs, polyunsaturated fatty acids, cardiac arrhythmia, and many other areas.

The core research philosophy of the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute is an integrative, interdisciplinary approach. Major discoveries by ECU researchers include: type 2 diabetes, previously thought to be incurable, can be reversed within several weeks to months after bariatric surgery; and, insulin resistance in muscle, a precondition that leads to diabetes, is caused by elevated production of hydrogen peroxide produced by mitochondria.

But the research goes hand in hand with preventative care. Now in its 12th year, the annual Winning with Diabetes Conference is a one-day community program for people with diabetes, friends, families and health care providers that feature speakers, screenings and demonstrations.

It will be held 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

The morning will feature speakers on neuropathy, kidney disease and effective self-management, while the afternoon will offer screenings and cooking demonstrations. One of the featured speakers is Dr. Robert Tanenberg, medical director of the diabetes and obesity institute and professor of medicine at ECU, and medical director of Vidant Medical Center’s inpatient diabetes program. 

Those attending will get:

•          Expert advice from doctors, nurses and nutritionists

•          Foot, blood pressure, kidney and vascular screenings

•          Cooking demonstrations        

Spots are filling fast. Register by calling Kristen Brooks at 252-847-8265. Fee is $25 per person and $20 for each additional person. The program is made possible by the ECU Brody School of Medicine, the ECU College of Nursing, Vidant Medical Center and the Pitt County Health Department.

American Diabetes Month is observed each November by the American Diabetes Association to bring attention to diabetes and those impacted by the disease.