November 05, 2020
MUSC Psychiatry Chair Update

Thomas W. Uhde, M.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Institute of Psychiatry
Did you know SC opioid deaths have
increased for the fifth year in a row?
While South Carolina is still on the lookout for the potential of another wave of COVID-19 cases, the opioid epidemic is still a looming threat.

The year 2019 marks the fifth year in a row that South Carolina has seen an increase in its opioid-involved overdose deaths. Between 2018 and 2019, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported an increase in opioid related deaths by seven percent from 816 to 876.

Health experts say this ongoing increase in deaths in recent years has been expected.

“We’re still seeing right now the very front end of what we’ve seen coming for a long time," said Joshua Smith, the clinical director of the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The big worry now among experts involves the COVID-19 pandemic. Most addiction services have had to readjust to be done remotely.

Many addiction patients went from seeing providers in-person to having virtual sessions. Smith and his colleagues at MUSC see maintaining accountability during treatment as a new hurdle. The act of routinely showing up to a treatment appointment or drug screening was one way patients could hold themselves accountable, Smith said.

“People with addictions treatment need that accountability," he said.

The American Hospital Association has appointed Dr. Kathleen Brady a member of the Behavioral Health Services Council for a three-year term beginning January 1, 2021. The Behavioral Health Services Council plays an important role of actively advising the AHA on advocacy positions, public policy issues and behavioral health member service strategies. Congratulations to Dr. Brady on this honor!
Dr. Leilani Lee is a forensic psychiatrist who has expertise in providing mental health treatment in Corrections. She has a faculty appointment in the forensic section of the Community and Public Safety Psychiatry Division (CPSPD) of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Within the CPSPD, she serves as the Administrative Director of Correctional Medication Management Clinics.

Dr. Lee has been appointed as an Alternate Reviewer to the IRB for Human Research. She will represent concerns of prisoners as a vulnerable population in research. Congratulations, Dr. Lee!
Catalyst Article: Politics plus pandemic equals stress. Got 20 minutes? Here's what might help.

Psychologist Chris Sege says the pandemic and politics have caused a shift in some of his patients’ chief concerns. “Whereas in the past, people might come in with specific issues related to family or something they're going through personally, or maybe they're trying to deal with depression or panic attacks, now a lot of those issues are being put on hold to talk about how to manage everything that's going on in the world.”

They have plenty of company. A survey by the American Psychological Association found almost 70% called the presidential election a significant source of stress, compared to 52% in 2016. Another study linked increases in stress and depression to the coronavirus pandemic.

That doesn’t surprise Sege, an instructor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. “I think people are stressed out in general about how we move forward, how we get back to kind of a healthy, happy nation that we maybe used to be. People are definitely very concerned about that now, more so than I've been aware of in the past.”

He has some advice to help people manage that stress.

Catalyst Article: Woman's difficult final days inspire trial testing CBD and THC as end-of-life treatment

Libby Soffar, 89, was suffering from terminal blood cancer when she began receiving hospice care to try to help her transition from life to death as comfortably as possible. “We had someone with her all the time, but the only thing they could do to try to help her feel better was to give her more morphine,” Soffar's daughter, Ellen Steinberg said.

Family friends Olga Brawman-Mintzer and her husband, Jacobo Mintzer, medical doctors who also conduct research at the Medical University of South Carolina, saw what was happening.

“We were visiting Libby pretty much daily throughout the process of the end of life,” Brawman-Mintzer said. “We saw the extreme degree of suffering she was experiencing. The medications she received are used, with very good intentions, to help with symptoms that people experience at the end of life — primarily pain, agitation and a lack of sleep. The current clinical practice is to use medications such as the antipsychotic haloperidol, morphine and benzodiazepines.

“But the side effects associated with these medications are often quite severe. They can cause significant constipation, confusion, itching and really distressing neurological side effects like muscle spasms, tremors, incredible restlessness. Toward the end of her life, Libby begged to die because she was so uncomfortable.”

There had to be a better way, they all thought, as they said goodbye to Soffar. Then, something clicked for Brawman-Mintzer. She remembered that when she was in medical school in Israel, doctors used cannabis to ease cancer patients’ suffering. “They were calmer, they were not anxious. They slept better. The pain was improved, and the suffering overall was improved. And that's how our thinking process started.”

Soffar’s experience will help change that. Mintzer and Brawman-Mintzer and are getting ready to launch a large national study in her name: Life’s end Benefits of CannaBidiol and TetrahYdrocannabinol, or more simply, the LiBBY trial.


Researcher: Mark George, M.D.
PRO Number: pro00101270

The purpose of the research is to test out a new form of treatment where we stimulate a nerve in your ear. This is called transcutaneous (through the skin) auricular (ear) vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) which means that you will receive stimulation through the ear. The taVNS device looks like an ear bud you would use with your smart phone or computer. We are investigating whether or not taVNS can treat neurologic symptoms of COVID-19 which are termed NEUROCOVID. Some symptoms you may experience are new onset anxiety, depression, vertigo, loss of smell, headaches, fatigue, irritability, etc. This study is entirely online and all assessments will be completed virtually.

Recruitment Contact
Sarah Huffman
Effective November 2, 2020, federal rules will require the immediate release of patient health information to MyChart as outlined below.

To be compliant with the updated regulations, we are required to allow patients immediate electronic access to their medical information, within the confines of state and federal regulation, such as HIPAA. This applies to both Ambulatory and Inpatient patient information.

The goal of the regulation is to allow patients the right of access to their chart while supporting patient privacy and security. The list of required data elements to be shared with patients will increase over time. The current list of required information to be shared is here.

Please see the calendar below for a list of diversity & inclusion offerings from the Office of Training and Intercultural Education.
Please join the MUSC Psychiatry Team in this year’s Out of the Darkness South Carolina Experience on Sunday, November 8th, 2020 from 2:00pm-3:00pm. 

While the event will not be in-person this year to allow participants to remain safe and social distance, the Charleston Area Suicide Prevention Walk, benefitting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), will be hosting a virtual experience via Zoom. Register today to join the MUSC Psychiatry Team and then login on 11/08/2020 while you walk your neighborhood to bring awareness to suicide prevention! 

The MUSC Psychiatry Team has already raised $1,035 towards our fundraising goal and is currently the #1 Fundraising Team for this year’s event. 

Questions? Please contact Meg Wallace at [email protected] 

Psychiatry Administration

ICCE Chief (UNIV, Full-Time): The Chief of the Mental Health Integrated Center for Clinical Excellence reports to the Chief Physician Executive of MUSC Health and works in close collaboration with other MUSC Health leaders including the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer. As Vice Chair, this position also reports to the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The ICCE Chief is expected to provide at least 75 percent administrative time in the role devoted to strategic leadership and administrative activities.

Addiction Sciences Division

Open Rank/Assistant Professor (UNIV, Full-Time): The successful applicant for this position will have either an MD or a PhD degree and will be expected to have an established and independent research program that will interface with the multidisciplinary NIAAA P50 Charleston Alcohol Research Center at MUSC. 

Open Rank/Professor (UNIV, Full-Time): The successful applicant for this position will have either an MD or a PhD degree and will be expected to have an established and independent research program that will interface with the multidisciplinary NIAAA P50 Charleston Alcohol Research Center at MUSC.

Psychiatry Hospitalist Division

Open Rank - Psychiatry (UNIV, Full-Time): Candidate must be a psychiatrist with the ability to hold an unrestricted license to practice in South Carolina. The candidate must be board-eligible or board-certified if having completed residency training greater than five years ago. Candidate will be a member of the Psychiatry Hospitalist Division and provide inpatient care on a general adult psychiatry unit and provide coverage across other inpatient areas as needed. Candidate will provide care as a Consult Liaison, and have research coverage. *Note: This position is coded under an ECT identifier through Human Resources; however, it is not ECT for doctors. This position is for the Psychiatry Hospitalist Division.


Addiction Sciences Division

Program Assistant (UNIV, Full-Time): The candidate will serve as the primary assistant on a federally-funded randomized controlled trial among U.S. military Veterans with PTSD and alcohol use disorder. The candidate will assist the study team in the recruitment of research participants, weekly appointment reminders, the collection of psychological research data, preparing weekly reports, maintaining research supplies, data entry and organizational tasks for studies being conducted in the Department of Psychiatry/Addiction Sciences Division, and performing other duties as assigned. The candidate will work on research studies which focus on the study of and development of interventions for PTSD and Addiction.

Program Coordinator I (UNIV, Full-Time): The candidate will provide technical and professional research services in the Addiction Sciences Division of MUSC. This position is for an employee who is capable of performing the full range of professional duties in their assigned program area. The applicant will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day aspects of a federally-funded randomized controlled trial among U.S. military Veterans with PTSD and alcohol use disorder. The applicant will assist with all aspects of the trial, including participant recruitment, clinical interviews, data collection and management, data quality control, dissemination of findings, and performing other duties as assigned.

Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Division

Social Worker (MUSCP, Full-Time): This position is for a licensed independent social worker (LISW-CP) who will be working in a team environment in the Outpatient Clinic of the Child and Adolescent Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services at the Medical University of South Carolina. Specific responsibilities include interviewing clients and or families; developing and discussing proposed treatment plans with the client and detailing the recommendations and the reasoning for them; monitoring and documenting the progress of clients, and making service treatment plan adjustments as necessary.

Mental Health Disparities and Diversity Program

Program Coordinator I (UNIV, Part-Time): This Program Coordinator provides coordination services for the Tele-mental health Outreach Program (TOP) to include assessment of referrals and assignment of, monitoring of data, completion of progress reports, consultation with schools and other sites regarding telehealth equipment, and other administrative duties.

Psychiatry Hospitalist Division

Advanced Practice Provider (APP - NP/PA) (MUSCP, Part-Time): Part-time (20 hours per week) APRN/PA working in the Emergency Department in a collaborative role with the ED providers to assist in the triage and management of psychiatric patients who present to the MUSC ED, under the supervision/collaboration of a psychiatrist. Will work as part of a multidisciplinary team and work with a team of ED based psychiatrists as part of the Mental Health ICCE, within the Department of Psychiatry. Currently eligible or licensed as an Advanced Practice Nurse in the state of SC or Licensed (or certification eligible) as a Physician Assistant by the National Board of Medical Examiners or the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Requires certification in Basic Life Support.
All MUHA and MUSCP employees as well as clinical providers (physicians, residents, fellows, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, etc.) are required to have flu shots or have completed the declination by December 14. Please remember that, if you receive your flu shot outside of the MUSC system, you will need to upload documentation to the system. For additional information on where to receive the shot or upload documentation, please see the link below.

This is an important reminder to the research community of the requirements to follow the latest University Directives for MUSC Faculty, Staff and Students for Staying Safe (some information updated as of 9/16). To clarify, these directives supersede recommendations issued to research teams in May 2020 for the incremental reactivation of research, including wearing masks indoors even when social distancing is possible. These requirements can be reviewed via the link above. We also urge you to review MUSC’s Academic Plans for Fall 2020.
Please join Microsoft Learning Consultant Andrea on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. to learn how to use Microsoft Teams. Click the link here to join. 

Can’t join at that time? All the materials and recordings will be available to access any time after the session if you are unable to attend. 

Please visit for additional self-help information.  
Among its myriad impacts, COVID-19, compelled organizations worldwide, our enterprise included, to pivot almost entirely to remote meetings and events. As a result, MUSC senior leadership asked Information Solutions (IS) to recommend a meetings and events solution for the entire enterprise. After thorough evaluation, including surveys and interviews with stakeholders, IS recommended that MUSC adopt Microsoft Teams as the single enterprise platform for remote business connectivity. The MUSC senior leadership team concurred with the IS recommendation, noting that Microsoft Teams will simplify the remote meeting experience, reduce the complexity of using multiple systems and focus our supportive resources.

Over the next few months, multiple enhancements will be made to MS Teams, including call-in functionality that will make it our premier solution for meetings and events. IS professionals will work with MUSC team members to increase your comfort level with MS Teams as it replaces Skype and WebEx as the enterprise solution in December. More information and education will follow. Please visit to get started. 

Currently, MS Teams is available on your computer, tablet or smartphone. IS will roll out the new enhancements to you automatically as they become available.

Anyone who needs assistance with meetings or other requirements, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].
Applications now being accepted:
“Career Development Program: Promotion & Tenure”

March 12, 2021 - Open to ALL FACULTY

Applications are now being accepted for a half-day Career Development Program (CDP) entirely focused on promotion and tenure. This program will be held virtually on Friday, March 12th, 2021 from approximately 8:30am - 1:00 pm for faculty who are planning to submit their promotion or tenure application in the next two years. The program is open to both women and men faculty in all ranks and tracks (tenure and non-tenure track) and is sponsored by ARROW (Advancement, Recruitment, and Retention of Women). Early and mid-career faculty are highly encouraged to apply.

The goal of the 2021 program is to provide faculty with personalized feedback on key elements of their drafted promotion OR tenure package. Morning sessions will include a panel discussion focused on solutions and advice for achieving promotion or tenure during COVID. Small group college-specific breakout sessions will follow, in which college-specific criteria will be discussed and attendees will receive personalized feedback on their drafted promotion or tenure materials. To participate, you will be required to submit an updated CV and drafted personal statement six weeks prior to the program for review by a faculty mentor.

If you are interested in attending this program, please complete the application ( by Monday, November 9, 2020.

Space is limited and faculty will be selected based on their CDP application. Your division director, chair, or dean must agree that you will be released from all duties to attend the program. If you have already participated in the 2019 half-day CDP promotion program, you are not eligible for the 2021 program. Attendees will be selected and notified by December 7, 2021. Please contact Rachel Simmons at [email protected] with any questions about the application or program.
SCTR and the College of Medicine announce an RFA for the COM Clinician Scientist K12 program, which provides mentored, protected research experiences to enhance the development and retention of early career physician scientist investigators. The goal of the program is to increase clinical and translational research capacity through the training of junior faculty to help drive research independence. This funding opportunity is open to junior faculty in the College of Medicine who hold an MD, DO, or MD/PhD (or foreign equivalent) and requires 40% full-time professional effort.

Application Deadline: November 30, 2020 @ 5:00 PM

Funding opportunity announcement:

A call for applications for the SCORE Career Enhancement Core Scholar Program has been issued. Interested junior faculty members should submit their application no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, December 4th. Interested candidates who plan on applying should provide a Letter of Intent no later than Monday, November 2nd. Please direct this and any questions regarding this career development award or the application process to Amanda Wagner, at [email protected].

The full RFA including an application link can be found at:
2020-2021 GRAND ROUNDS
The following resource provides MUSC Health lab and testing options pertaining to COVID-19. Included on this page is information regarding drive-thru and “pop-up” mobile COVID testing locations, antibody or serology tests, drive-in lab and nurse visits, and original/classic lab testing.

In addition to updates provided by MUSC Enterprise, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences will also provide updates through our employee intranet, The Horseshoe. Updates will be provided regularly as new information becomes available. For your convenience, direct links are provided below.


Given the COVID-19 pandemic and until further notice, all volunteers and observers are barred from participation in departmental and MH-ICCE based activities. If there are circumstances wherein this policy causes a significant and critical issue, it should be brought to my attention for consideration of a written waiver (on an individual basis) of this policy. Thank you.

Thomas W. Uhde, M.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Due to the activity of COVID-19 within the hospital and community, all employees, residents, fellows and students within all MUSC entities are directed to begin daily self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. This applies regardless of whether you have been working remotely on a full-time or intermittent basis. You need to continue daily self-monitoring, even if symptoms are not present.

NAMI Connection and NAMI Family Support Offered Online 

Social distancing does not mean that you have to go through difficult times alone. NAMI is here to help! We are offering NAMI Family Support and NAMI Connection online. 
NAMI Connection Support is offered every Monday at 6PM until further notice.

NAMI Family Support Group is offered the 2nd and 4th Thursdays
of the month at 6PM until further notice.

By clicking HERE you can sign up to receive the meeting login information or you can email us at [email protected] or call/text 843-284-3091. 
If you would like to submit content to include in next week's
Chair Update, please submit to Dr. Jamie Fisher
by 12:00 pm on Monday. Thank you.