A message from the dean: Hope and inspiration as we move forward

Dear Alumni:

We are entering the 7th month of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and I am happy to say we have welcomed our 2026 class and successfully completed the first weeks of the fall 2020 semester at the UMKC School of Medicine. Students are in the dorms, meeting with their docents as usual, but classes look a little different this semester, with some classes online and in-person classes using venues to allow us to fill at 25% capacity.

I recently had the opportunity to stop while on Volker campus to meet with our Year 1 medical students, who were attending their anatomy class in Pierson Auditorium. Taught by one of our best, Dr. Tara Allen, this class is one of the most important for our first-year students. As a graduate of the SOM, I remembered my first classes on Volker campus, and emphasized to the students the importance of focusing on classwork and creating their support network. I was impressed by their grasp of the personal responsibility to wear their masks, socially distance and not gather in large groups—and this past week, a group of nine of them created COVID educational videos which we are launching across the campus.

We are just a few months away from having a COVID vaccine, and I hope that by spring 2021, we will have successfully immunized enough of the population to put a hold on SARS CoV-2 spread.

Confronting the crisis of the pandemic that amplifies the health inequities in our country also has accelerated our SOM work to advocate for social change in our country. The killing of George Floyd sparked the nation to confront systemic racism, and called on us all to begin the work of transforming our society. We will advocate for racial justice in our communities, are actively working toward racial equity in patient care, and made curricular changes by adding Professor Mikah Thompson from our School of Law to educate all of our students and faculty on the history of and manifestations of racism in our society. The dismantling of racism is a critical imperative and requires all of us to come together to promote the changes we need to ensure there is equality for all.

Seeing our newest students and my recent meetings with our more senior student leaders at the School of Medicine give me hope for our future.

As always, your continued support of our school is greatly appreciated.

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78
Dean, UMKC School of Medicine

14 COVID-19 Myths and Misconceptions

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, is an infectious disease expert. Also an alumna from the UMKC School of Medicine’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program, she served as one of six physicians statewide advising Missouri Governor Mike Parson about COVID-19, and was recently named senior advisor of public health in a five-member volunteer group on how Jackson County should spend its $122 million in CARES Act funding.

On numerous media appearances, Jackson has answered questions about evidence-based practices in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few examples she’s dispelled of legend and lore about COVID-19:

1. A chiropractor has been publicizing an IV vitamin C product as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Anything to that?

Jackson: While there is biologic plausibility based on the hypothesis that when an individual suffers a severe infection, vitamin C which is necessary for cellular and tissue function, is depleted, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of vitamin C in the management of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. There is no data to support its use as prophylaxis that would be given in a chiropractor’s office.

One study registered at clinicaltrials.gov, will investigate the use of IV vitamin C in SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia patients in China using a randomized control trial protocol. The randomized control trial using a standard control group receiving placebo vs. the treatment group excludes bias and allows the outcome variable to be clear. This is especially important for COVID-19 where we know many cases spontaneously improve. There have been two recently published studies that are “open label” (no control group) to study the use of vitamin C in non-SARS-CoV-2 infections where individuals suffered from shock and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Neither showed clear evidence of benefit.

What is interesting is that anti-vaxxers appear to be circulating information on social media to drive the unproven messaging around vitamin C. For treatment of disease, trust a well-trained healthcare professional who practices evidence-based medicine and has extensive clinical experience.

2. Does heat kill the coronavirus? For example, the sun? A hot bath? Drinking hot water?

Jackson: There is no evidence of a benefit to flushing the virus from your system by drinking hot water or taking a hot bath. Drinking water will keep one hydrated and that is recommended for all.

The concept that heat can affect the virus is one worth discussing. The virus that causes COVID-19 is an enveloped virus, and enveloped viruses do generally demonstrate sensitivity to temperature and therefore may be more likely to appear or disappear during certain seasons related to temperature.

Research on other enveloped viruses suggests that this oily outer coat makes the viruses more susceptible to heat than those that do not have one. In colder conditions, the oily coat hardens into a rubber-like state, much like fat from cooked meat will harden as it cools, to protect the virus for longer when it is outside the body.

Many viruses wax and wane in seasons. Influenza typically arrives with the colder winter months. So does norovirus and RSV. Measles cases drop during the summer in temperate climates, and increase when schools are in session.

But we have no information about how the virus that causes COVID-19 will change with the seasons.

For one thing, pandemic viruses often don’t follow the same seasonal patterns seen in more normal outbreaks. Spanish flu, for example, peaked in the summer, while the typical seasonal flu peaks occur during the winter.

Even if COVID-19 does show some seasonal variability, it likely will persist to some degree and not totally disappear in the summer. A dip in cases will bring benefits, however. If it decreases in the summer, it is likely to re-emerge again in the fall. But there will be fewer susceptible individuals at that point, too, so potentially fewer cases-depending on how much of the population remains susceptible after the first wave.

3. If there has been a day of rain followed by sunshine, is playground equipment safe from COVID-19?

4. Jackson: As the weather warms, people will want to be outdoors and I’ve seen more people in our community outdoor walking and running in neighborhoods and in areas of parks and trails. It’s important to be outside to keep healthy, physically and mentally. And I especially like that I’ve seen families outside with their kids, who need to be active especially since they have no school and can’t be out with friends.

CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been emphasizing that to control the COVID-19 epidemic, we must “flatten the curve” — that is, reduce the amount of transmission of the virus. We know that one proven way to accomplish this is by physical distancing — keeping six feet or more from other individuals and taking precautions to wash hands, refrain from being in enclosed spaces with other people, disinfect surfaces and other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

But do not take the kids to public playgrounds–you’ll find that all are cordoned off so that equipment can’t be accessed. Not only would open play areas encourage the kind of close contact we are trying to limit, but also, contaminated surfaces have been found to have detectable virus–including plastic and stainless steel. The duration that virus could exist on wood is not clearly known. There is no good evidence that following rain and with a day of sunshine, the playground is safe. There is no present guidance from CDC on how best to manage these spaces, including recommended cleaning and disinfection for outdoor equipment to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

Bottom line: Avoid the playground (and play dates) for kids while you are social distancing unless it is the playground in your own backyard for your family.

4. Should you consider deliberately exposing yourself to inoculate yourself?

Jackson: In the past, some parents participated in “chickenpox parties” to intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to a child with chickenpox in hopes that they would get the disease. CDC strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events because serious complications and even death can follow infection and one cannot predict how severe the disease will be.

Now the same bad idea has emerged related to COVID-19. On March 24, it was announced that an individual in Kentucky tested positive for the novel coronavirus after they attended a “coronavirus party” for people in their 20s.

Young people are less at risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but they may still require hospitalization for serious symptoms. And even someone who only contracts a mild case of the disease can spread it to vulnerable people.

We need to wait for the vaccine–and until then continue social distancing.

5. Can livestock pass COVID-19 on through our food supply?

Jackson: There are some food products that can be contaminated and pose a risk for transmission to humans–like E coli, norovirus and hepatitis A. That is why there is emphasis on food preparation safety in general.

The bacteria and viruses that are transmitted by food products are those that cause gastrointestinal infection. SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus and there is no known foodborne risk for transmission.

There is no evidence that livestock or any other food product in the U.S. is a vector for transmission of the virus, and there is no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging to be associated with disease transmission.

There is no risk of food product recalls, and the U.S. food supply is safe.

6. Will drinking lots of water wash the virus down to your stomach where it will be killed by stomach acid? What about drinking bleach? Can you ward off the virus by eating food with higher PH level?

Jackson: Washing the virus down the esophagus will not reduce the risk of coronavirus and the virus is resistant to the diluted acid in the stomach

Gargling with water or with an antiseptic solution, compared to doing neither, did reduce reports of respiratory symptoms in a study from Japan. However, the findings don’t necessarily apply to COVID-19 – and it’s dangerous to assume that they do.

The main risk is from breathing in tiny droplets containing thousands of viral particles after an infected person coughs or sneezes within 6 feet from you.

The overwhelming evidence suggests that the best approach remains avoiding unnecessary social contact and washing your hands. So, put down the water and pick up the soap instead.

Drinking bleach is not a cure and is dangerous–it can result in vomiting, diarrhea and liver failure. Some bleach-based cleaners, however, are helpful for keeping surfaces virus-free.

7. Pets cannot spread the coronavirus, can they?

Jackson: This virus is thought to have jumped from animals to humans, but there is no evidence that it is spreading among pets or from cats and dogs to their owners. Cats have been infected, both at the zoo and in homes-but there is no evidence that cat to human transmission is a significant concern. There was one instance in Hong Kong where a dog tested positive, but the dog was well, and it was thought contaminated by secretions from the infected pet owner.

The CDC suggests letting family members without symptoms take on pet care and recommends that people with symptoms should avoid close contact such as “petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.”

When you care for your pets, wash your hands before and after handling and feeding.

8. Does ibuprofen make COVID-19 symptoms worse?

Jackson: I first heard of the ibuprofen alert after a report from the French health minister, Olivier Veran, identified that it could be a factor in worsening the infection based on anecdotal reports from physicians treating patients in that country. Then there was a letter that was published in the British medical journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine where it was hypothesized that ibuprofen could make it easier for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, to enter cells. The theory is that ibuprofen could increase the levels of ACE2, which is a protein that the coronavirus uses to enter cells and might therefore increase the risk of serious infection. However, there is no evidence that ibuprofen raises ACE2 levels.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says more research is needed, but right now, there is “no evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of serious complications or of acquiring the virus that causes COVID-19.”

There are reasons in general to avoid ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because they are known to have gastrointestinal, kidney and cardiovascular side effects, which may be especially dangerous in very ill or elderly patients or in those with preexisting conditions.

9. Does putting petroleum jelly in your nose prevent the virus from getting into pores? Will rinsing your nose with saline prevent the virus?

Jackson: In the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, it’s natural that we’re looking for ways to stay healthy. Washing your hands and practicing social distancing are two proven pieces of advice that are more important than ever.

A dry nose can make one more vulnerable to viruses and certainly is an irritant for those who suffer allergies. A water-based product can help. Using saline or saltwater nose rinses will not prevent the virus, but in certain people with asthma for instance, who also have nasal and sinus symptoms, a saltwater nasal wash, or nasal irrigation, can help reduce nasal symptoms that can aggravate asthma.

According to National Jewish Health, a nasal wash:

  • Cleans mucus from the nose, so medication can be more effective
  • Cleans allergens and irritants from the nose, reducing their impact
  • Cleans bacteria and viruses from the nose, decreasing infections
  • Decreases swelling in the nose and increases airflow

But do not use tap water for the nasal wash. Do not use well water. Only use distilled or sterilized water for nasal rinses. And follow the CDC water preparation guidelines for proper preparation.

Avoid petroleum jelly in the nose–it can be inhaled and cause lung injury called lipid pneumonia. Don’t use antibiotic ointment either–that type of ointment does not fight viruses.

10. Can kids die from COVID-19?

Jackson: While children have been generally spared from COVID-19, pediatric cases requiring intensive care have occurred within our state and there are rare child deaths. The burden of disease is far less for children than influenza though.

A new syndrome, recently described, called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). MIS-C is an inflammatory response with organ dysfunction, thought to be triggered by prior exposure to SARS CoV-2. On May 14, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control issued a health advisory, to alert providers to this condition, which has now been identified in at least 19 different states and Washington DC. Parents should report to their pediatric provider if their child develops fevers especially associated with a rash. While the prognosis is good, children have suffered shock and required intensive care–the syndrome is extremely rare and we are still learning more about it.

11. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, does that mean you don’t have the virus?

Jackson: It is true that those with serious lung disease of many types, such as emphysema, may not be able to hold their breath for 10 seconds.

Many respiratory viral infections make it difficult to hold your breath because the airway is irritated. The inability to do so does not identify those who have COVID-19.

This false claim was first attributed to someone at Stanford University Medicine–and the spokesperson at Stanford denies it came from them, and on March 12, they posted on social media that this was misinformation.

The only way to know if one is infected by SARS-CoV-2 is by testing secretions obtained by a swab placed in the nose/throat and having the specimen tested in a laboratory.

12. Is cupping a treatment for COVID-19?

Jackson: Cupping is a process whereby the skin is bruised using a suction cup over the skin, and is used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments. It is being studied in a Chinese population convalescing from COVID-19, but there is no evidence that it is beneficial at this point.

13. Is proning a treatment for COVID-19?


Jackson:
There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 and we currently rely on supportive intensive care including oxygen, IV fluids andmechanical ventilation. Of specific therapies targeting SARS-CoV-2, none have been adequately studied, but there are some encouraging reports. Prone positioning of those with respiratory failure, meaning having the patient on a ventilator lay face down, was shown in a small study to result in better lung function with better oxygen levels and this treatment is being incorporated into care now.

Other therapies which are being examined include the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug which was shown to inhibit virus in a small study when paired with an antibiotic called azithromycin. We now know that there is no data to support its efficacy and individuals accessing chloroquine products and suffering life-threatening toxicity.

There are a couple broad-spectrum antiviral agents (one used in Ebola called remdesivir) that are being studied. Remdesivir is an intravenous drug used for those with serious COVID who require hospitalization and treated patients have shown a shortened course of disease.

Drugs that modify an inflammatory over-response seen in COVID-19 appear promising. These agents inhibit IL-6, an immune modifier, and are also being studied in severe cases of COVID-19.

14. Even though COVID is here to stay, at least for the next six months to a year, is it okay for me to go out into the community now? Can I go to the doctor for my routine care?

Jackson: We have successfully flattened the curve here in Kansas City, but COVID is continuing to circulate. The chance that you’ll be exposed to SARS CoV-2, is related to three factors:

  • what activity you are involved in
  • your proximity to others
  • the duration of exposure

Risk is greatest for indoor exposure where individuals are in close quarters with a large group of people. After a choir practice that took place in Washington on March 17, 2020, among 122 choir members, 87% of the group became infected from one infected member–it appears the act of singing amplified the spread of the virus. In contrast, if one is outdoors for a limited time, and can socially distance from others, the risk is very low.

In terms of going back to your doctor for routine appointments, every provider in our community is prepared to care for patients even while the virus is still circulating. It is especially important that infants and children visit their pediatrician and get their immunizations on time. Many pediatricians are asking parents to call on arrival to the office, and the provider will text when the office is ready to place the patient directly into an examination room. We don’t want a measles outbreak in our community while we’re still tackling COVID!

Alumni Physicians Help Chiefs, Blues to Championships

Michael Monaco, left, with the Vince Lombardi trophy and Matt Matava holding the Stanley Cup.

School of Medicine classmates celebrated their teams’ super seasons

What a difference a few months can make.

In February, team physician Michael Monaco (B.A. ’84, M.D. ’87) was holding the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl trophy. Now, he has a new granddaughter he hasn’t held yet, to keep her from any possible coronavirus exposure.

And last June, orthopedic surgeon Matt Matava (B.A. ’86, M.D. ’87) was tending to the St. Louis Blues as they won their first-ever National Hockey League championship. Now, he’s slowly reviving his regular surgery practice and wondering whether the rest of the hockey season will be canceled.

Both savor the camaraderie and association with elite athletes that make being a team physician special, and the particular joy of being part of a championship. But they also confront the challenges and uncertainties, personal and professional, that the pandemic has put front and center for everyone.

The peak

They didn’t complete the big touchdown pass or make the winning slap shot, but Monaco and Matava did their part to make their teams champions in the past year.

In February, Monaco was the senior physician on the sidelines with the Kansas City Chiefs when they won the team’s second NFL championship, 50 years after their first.

“I have been with the team 26 years,” Monaco said. “When I realized we were going to win the Super Bowl, I got a little teary-eyed.”

It was much the same feeling for Matava the previous June, when the Blues took the Stanley Cup.

“In 23 years with the Blues, my most memorable experience was being in Boston for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals,” Matava said. “I got to hold the Stanley Cup overhead on the ice and drink champagne out of the cup in the locker room during the player celebration.”

Getting to the top, though, took years of effort, starting at the School of Medicine.

Matt Matava in his office with the Stanley Cup.
Matt Matava in his office with the Stanley Cup.
The long climb

Matava played basketball for UMKC while he was in medical school, and he wanted to be a surgeon. That focus turned to orthopedic surgery for athletic injuries when a torn ACL (a knee ligament) knocked him off the basketball court. He experienced first-hand the important process of recovering from a serious injury.

“Though I wasn’t drawn to internal medicine, my docent was Marjorie Sirridge, an excellent internist,” Matava said. “She taught us the importance of being thorough in the evaluation of patients … of sitting down when speaking with patients to let them know that you are taking time specifically for them. Doctors in general and surgeons in particular have a reputation for paying more attention to lab tests and imaging studies than to the patient themselves. No one should underestimate the importance of the physical exam.”

When he returned to his native St. Louis after a sports medicine fellowship in Cincinnati, it didn’t take long to find work with sports teams to go along with a private practice. He became a team physician for Washington University, a job he still holds along with being a professor of orthopedic surgery. He also worked for the St. Louis Rams for 16 years, until the franchise moved back to Los Angeles. That’s in addition to serving the Blues, a position he’s held since 1997.

The clock is always running

But for all the excitement of being part of sports, being a team physician also means hard work, long hours and performing under intense pressure.

“Hockey season involves up to three games a week from October to April for the regular season and into June for a deep run in the playoffs,” Matava said. “When I finish my regular clinical duties, I head to the games.” Add in his 25 years serving Washington University’s sports teams — along with football games each fall weekend during the years he was with the Rams — and Matava has spent a lot of time in locker rooms and away from his family.

“In 23 years with the Blues, my most memorable experience was being in Boston for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.”–Matt Matava

“But the most challenging aspect of being a team physician or surgeon,” Matava said, “is having to ‘bat 1,000′ in the care of every player, considering the scrutiny of the public, media, team administration, agents and other team members.”

In Monaco’s situation, being the Chiefs’ head medical team physician is a year-round job. “From the end of July when training camp begins until the exit exams after our last game, two days after the Super Bowl this past season, there are daily issues: medication changes, illness evaluations, exams for new players acquired.” He’s also involved in the preparation for the NFL Combine each February, a weeklong showcase for possible pros coming out of the colleges, and the NFL draft in April.

“I also have a full-time internal medicine concierge practice with my partner of more than 20 years,” Monaco said. “He’s been very supportive, which makes doing both possible.”

Monaco with internal medicine and Matava with orthopedic surgery exemplify the two main types of medicine for sports teams. And they both will tell you it’s about a lot more than operations to mend broken bones or reconstruct damaged joints.

According to Monaco, his medical team handles various types of injuries, such as chest and abdominal problems. In a given week, they might take care of more players than the surgical and rehab staff, keeping players hydrated and managing their electrolytes if there’s a bug going around. Quickly isolating a player with the flu, for instance, can protect the rest of the team.

“I have been with the team 26 years, when I realized we were going to win the Super Bowl, I got a little teary-eyed.”–Michael Monaco

Working and waiting

When the NHL season was suspended, Matava noted, “the team was in first place and expecting the return of Vladimir Tarasenko, our star goal scorer, whose shoulder I fixed earlier in the year.”

Now, he said, he can see the players if they are injured or require rehabilitation, but the training facility, practice rink and weight room have been off-limits across the league. Whether the season resumes or is canceled remains up in the air.

For several weeks at his other practices, Matava said, “Washington University and Barnes Hospital were on a strict lock-down with all non-emergency surgeries and procedures cancelled to treat COVID-19 patients. The most COVID patients we have had at our hospital was 95. We are now allowed to return to 50 percent of our normal duties.”

Michale Monaco with UMKC medical students.
Monaco, far right, with students from the UMKC School of Medicine.

For Monaco, coping with the pandemic has meant focusing on safety for his staff and patients, and for Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kansas, where he is on the Medical Executive Committee. Precautions have worked to reduce the pandemic’s effects, but they can’t be eliminated.

“After my first positive COVID-19 in the office, I have been doing all testings outside in the parking lot using personal protective equipment,” he said. “I am doing this to protect my staff, others in the office and all those who come into our medical building.”

One picture in particular, of a tent attached to the hospital, haunts Monaco: “Family members of COVID-19 patients cannot be allowed in the hospital, but we placed a tent next to the window of one dying patient in the intensive care unit to allow the family to be with and grieve for their loved one.”

Personally, Monaco said, precautions have meant he has yet to hold his third granddaughter, born just a few days before the pandemic was declared. And his son, Nicholas Monaco, a 2017 graduate of the six-year medical program at UMKC, is serving his internal medicine residency in Georgia, where the incidence of coronavirus cases is high.

“I would say this virus has had a definite impact on my life professionally and personally, like so many other health care workers,” Monaco said.

Monaco also is in touch with other Chiefs physicians, and infectious disease specialists across the country, as the team moves toward possibly reopening some facilities. Resuming sports would provide a great emotional outlet for fans, he said, but there’s no telling when that might be possible safely.

“Unfortunately, I do not see it going away soon,” he said. “I can only hope we come up with more and improved testing to give us the data that we need to make better decisions, better treatment protocols to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this virus, and eventually a vaccine to once and for all give the global community enough herd immunity so we can get back to work and life again.”

Patel chosen to lead section of American College of Radiology

Patel, Amy
Amy Patel, M.D. ’11

Amy Patel, M.D. ’11, was elected chair of the American College of Radiology’s Young and Early Career Professional Section at this year’s ACR Annual Meeting.

The section comprises more than 6,000 young U.S. radiologists, defined as 8 years or less out of training or under the age of 40. Patel, recognized nationally for her use of social media among radiologists, is the section’s first chair from Missouri.

Patel is medical director of women’s imaging at Liberty Hospital and a clinical assistant professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. In 2018, she addressed the Radiological Society of North America’s Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting on her use of social media to mentor and connect young radiologists. She also is active in the fight against breast cancer, in raising awareness and in raising money for research and better treatment.

Take Wing winner driven by passion to serve

Dana Thompson, M.D., M.S., M.B.A ’91, was just a child when she began to realize what it meant to be a physician.

Her maternal grandfather, throughout most of his career as a general practitioner in Mississippi, was the only black physician in a nearly 100-mile radius. Thompson watched him and learned about commitment to patients and community. She saw the endless drive for excellence and the longing to provide patient care where it was sorely needed.

Her father, in the midst of the Civil Rights Era, was among the first black physicians to enter the integrated obstetrics/gynecology residency program at Kansas City General Hospital. As she grew older, Thompson accompanied her father to the hospital, and during her high school years she worked in his Kansas City, Kansas, practice. She was even one of the early graduates of the UMKC School of Medicine’s Summer Scholars pipeline program for area high school students.

Now, Thompson is a third-generation African-American physician who embodies those same family characteristics, the drive for excellence and a thirst to assure access to medical care for those in need. Those traits also made her a natural for the School of Medicine’s 2020 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award winner.

Thompson delivered this year’s Take Wing lecture online to a School of Medicine audience on May 19.

Thompson serves as the Lauren D. Holinger Chair of Pediatric Otolaryngology at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and a professor of otolaryngology head and neck surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Working in Chicago, where the population is diverse and ranges across socioeconomic backgrounds, Thompson is on a personal mission to educate others about the unintended consequences of bias in health care delivery.

“At this point in my career, I think that’s what I’m most passionate about,” Thompson said.

After graduating from the School of Medicine, she completed her residency in otorhinolaryngology head and neck surgery at the Mayo Clinic. She followed that with a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where she trained under the pioneer of pediatric airway surgery, Dr. Robin Cotton.

Throughout a 23-year career in academic medicine, Thompson has become a leader in pediatric airway and swallowing disorders. Her landmark research in laryngomalacia made her a world authority and transformed the medical and surgical management of the condition, the most common cause of infant stridor, a high-pitched wheezing caused by disrupted airflow.

Thompson spent most of her career at the Mayo Clinic, where she became the inaugural chair of the division of pediatric otolaryngology.

“What an opportunity that was – at age 32, to build a program from scratch and create a service line at a world-class organization,” she said.

The experience also helped her understand that she wanted to have the same sort of impact in an urban setting at a major academic children’s hospital. So, when the opportunity arose to lead the division of otolaryngology at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Thompson made the move.

Now a surgeon and administrator, she also serves as vice chair of the Department of Surgery and executive director for the hospital’s ambulatory practice.

Much of her work in the operating room involves highly specialized, complex, high-risk surgeries on children with obstructions in the upper airway. With the onslaught of the coronavirus, the procedure is of particular high risk for transmission of the virus to health care workers. As a result, Thompson has been busy helping the hospital and her surgical teams adjust to new, safer ways to provide such patient care.

“We’re taking different processes in the operating room in terms of protecting our team with personal protection equipment, while assuring a safe environment to deliver care to children in need,” she said. “We’ve even changed some minor details of how we ordinarily do surgeries to prevent virus aerosolization during surgery. It’s rapidly changing and evolving. We’re going to have a whole new way of doing things.”

School of Medicine celebrates Class of 2020

Erica Sherry, 2020 graduate of the master of science of anesthesia program, is hooded by her husband in the School of Medicine’s virtual commencement ceremony.

Graduation had a slightly different look and feel because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the excitement and joy was the same. The UMKC School of Medicine honored 145 members of the Class of 2020 on May 18 with an online commencement ceremony.

School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., joined Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., and Dana Thompson, M.D., ’91, the E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award recipient, in applauding the graduates.

The celebration included video clips of graduates being hooded by family and friends at home as each name was read following a congratulatory message from each individual’s docent and program director.

“It’s been inspiring to see the resilience and determined efforts of our students, faculty and staff,” Jackson said. “But our success has not been surprising because the School of Medicine has always taken a different approach.”

This class will be part of a team of health care providers involved in developing and implementing new diagnostics, therapies and vaccines going forward, she said.

“You will continue to be the heart of the health care system as we traverse the next days, weeks and years of this pandemic,” Jackson said. “Be proud and celebrate this day. We are honored to have been a part of this success.”

In her recorded message, Thompson talked about the values of learning, diversity, integrity, accountability, respect and collaboration that the school has imparted upon its more than 4,000 graduates.

“As health care professionals, all of you are also leaders,” Thompson said. “Each one of you will lead teams, policies, processes and procedures that will change health care education, research and delivery. These values have shaped each one of you for success as you start your careers at this time of unprecedented change in medicine. As the world changes, so must we. You will be called upon to shape and change the future of medicine.”

Dean of Students Honors Recipients

Fourteen School of Medicine students are among those nominated as Dean of Students Honors Recipients. Students are nominated by faculty and staff for their commitment to academic success while actively participating in leadership and service to the community and our university outside of the classroom.

The students are Priyesha Bijlan, Morgan Dresvyannikov, Elsa George, Thomas Haferkamp, Chizitam Ibezim, Anusha Kodidhi, Christopher Kurian, Rmaah Memon, Anthony Oyekan, Nicole Rogers, Subhjit Sekhon, Mehr-Zahra Shah, Saumya Singh, Garima Thakkar.

Nominators and students recorded videos reflecting on this semester’s honors.

School of Medicine 2020 Senior Awards

Master of Science in Anesthesia

Sadie Laddusaw | Student Ambassador Award

 Doctor of Medicine

Priyesha Bijlani | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Emily Boschert | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation; Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduates

Tim Brotherton | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence

Shelby Chesbro | Dean of Students Honor Recipient; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation

Jordan Dhuse | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Morgan Dresvyannikov | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Karen Figenshau | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation

Elizabeth George | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Keerthi Gondi | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Award; Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduates

Thomas Haferkamp | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Chizitam Ibezim | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Robert Johnson | J. Michael de Ungria, M.D., Humanitarian Award

Anusha Kodidhi | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Christopher Kurian | Dean of Students Honor Recipient; UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Senior Partner

Robert Link | Pat. D. Do, M.D., Matching Scholarship in Orthopedics

Cynthia Liu | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation

Neil Maitra | ACP Senior Student Book Award; Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award

Rmaah Memon | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Daniel O’Toole | Bette Hamilton, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology; Lee Langley Award; Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education; Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence; Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Microbiology; Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pathology

Anthony Oyekan | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Nikita Rafie | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation

Zachary Randall | Dean of Students Honor Recipient; James F. Stanford, M.D., Patient Advocate Scholarship; UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Medical Education

Marcella Riley | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Nicole Rogers | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Landon Rohowetz | Dean of Students Honor Recipient; Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Award for Research; Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education; Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduates; Ratilal S. Shah Medical Scholarship Fund

Subhjit Sekhon | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Mehr Zahra Shah | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Saumya Singh | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Shane Storm | Laura L. Backus, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pediatrics

Garima Thakkar | Dean of Students Honor Recipient

Krishna Trivedi | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation

Mayor appoints faculty, alumni to Kansas City Health Commission

From left: Erica Carney, Joseph Lighter, Austin Strassle

Three members of the UMKC community with expertise in emergency medicine and public health have been appointed by Mayor Quinton Lucas to the Kansas City Health Commission.

Erica Carney, M.D., was appointed co-chair of the commission, which provides oversight for the city’s Community Health Improvement Plan and fosters collaborative community efforts in the wider metropolitan area. Lucas said Carney’s work had been instrumental in the city’s response to COVID-19 and collaboration with area health providers.

Carney is a graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program, an assistant professor in emergency medicine, an emergency care physician at Truman Medical Centers and the medical director of emergency medical services for the City of Kansas City.

“I was fortunate enough to complete my emergency medicine residency at UMKC, where I served as one of the emergency medicine chiefs,” Carney said. “I found my love for emergency medical services after responding to the Joplin tornado.”

Carney said her areas of interest included improving survival rates for out-of-hospital heart attack patients from lower socioeconomic ZIP codes, improving health care for people who need and use the system the most, and improving public safety, including response to disasters and special situations such as COVID-19.

“The best defense to the unknown is a united front in the name of public protection, and I truly feel that our region is leading the way,” Carney said.

The mayor also appointed to the commission Joseph Lightner, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor and director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, and Austin Strassle, a housing stabilization specialist at Truman who earned his bachelor’s degree in urban studies/affairs from UMKC in 2016.

Lightner has helped launch the School of Nursing’s undergraduate public health degree and worked to involve undergraduates in innovative research bringing fitness and nutrition programs to area schools. In his research and outreach, Lightner has collaborated with community groups and institutions including Kansas City schools and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Health Department.

Strassle, who also has a master’s in city/urban, community and regional planning from the University of Kansas, has worked for three and a half years at Truman as a mental health caseworker. He also was the leader of a successful community campaign to get the Kansas City Council to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors by licensed medical practitioners.

The mayor, in making his appointments, said it was important to have “experts in outreach to at-risk communities” on the commission, along with “medical professionals with specialties in trauma, infectious disease treatment, pediatric and prenatal care; supporters for survivors of domestic violence; advocates for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; educators; long-time community health reformers; and more.”

 

Norbash, Blinder lead alumni winners

Alexander Norbash
Alexander Norbash

Kevin Blinder
Kevin Blinder

Alexander Norbash, M.D. ’86, is the UMKC Alumnus of the Year, the top award given each year. Norbash is an interventional neuroradiologist, a highly technical specialty that addresses life-and-death matters with techniques requiring high precision and composure. At the University of California San Diego he is chair and professor of the Department of Radiology, associate vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and adjunct professor of neurosurgery. Norbash has been instrumental in inventing and implementing new technologies which are less invasive and more effective for treating strokes and brain aneurysms.

The UMKC Alumni Awards each year also honor a graduate from each professional school and major departments. This year’s UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award goes to Kevin J. Blinder, M.D. ’85. As an ophthalmologist, Blinder is a leading specialist in vitreoretinal diseases — which affect the back of the eye and fluid around it. Blinder is a partner at the Retina Institute in St. Louis and a professor of ophthalmology at Washington University, where he has trained countless residents and fellows in retina education.

Look for more about these distinguished School of Medicine alumni in the next issue of UMKC Medicine.

School of Medicine’s 2020 humanities magazine available online

The 2020 issue the UMKC School of Medicine publication, Human Factor, is now available online. Human Factor celebrates the connection between art, humanities and the practice of medicine.

The publication showcases the creativity, imagination and talent of our students, alumni, residents, faculty and staff. All of the printed words and images featured in this publication make the important link between an appreciation of art and compassionate patient care — illustrating the significant role of medical humanities.

This year’s issue features poetry, short stories, photos, drawings and and other original artwork including the cover image created by fifth-year medical student Rachana Kombathula.

Watch for a call for submissions to the 2021 edition of the Human Factor early next next fall.

Beloved administrator Marilyn McGuyre remembered

This cutout of Marilyn McGuyre promoted the bowling tournament that raised money for the scholarship fund started in her honor.

Marilyn McGuyre, loved across four decades by the students she served at the School of Medicine, died Jan. 9 in Kansas City at the age of 73.

McGuyre was an early pillar of the school, joining the administration in June 1971, two months before the first class of students arrived. Before she retired in 2010, she served as the school’s assistant director, then as director of student affairs and finally as career counselor. McGuyre was deeply committed to the nearly 2,800 students who graduated as physicians during her tenure, and she stayed in touch with many alumni after she helped them graduate and match with their residencies.

McGuyre also was known for her wit and keen interest in current events, making her a favorite with colleagues as well.

McGuyre was born Jan. 18, 1946, in Kansas City and graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy high school. At UMKC, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in public administration.

Marilyn McGuyre

Plans are being made for an appropriate celebration of her life. Details should be available soon.

In 1994, to recognize her service and advocacy of the school, the Marilyn McGuyre Scholarship Fund was established by the school’s Alumni Board. For several years, an annual bowling tournament, in which teams of students and their docents competed, contributed to the fund. Now, in her memory, contributions can be made to the fund, payable to the UMKC Foundation, 5115 Oak St., Administration Center Room 2020, KCMO 64108. Or contribute online here.