Volume 44 | March 2021
Surgical Notes
First Lady Jill Biden Visits VCU Massey Cancer Center
Saïd Sebti, PhD, Massey Associate Director of Basic Research (left) with Massey surgeon-in-chief, and chair of the Division of Surgical Oncology Jose Trevino, MD (right) posing with NCI Director Norman Sharpless, and First Lady Jill Biden on a tour of the Goodwin Research Laboratory.

photo credit: Official White House Photo by Ana Isabel Martinez Chamorro
On February 24, First Lady Jill Biden visited VCU Massey Cancer Center and met with scientists, doctors, and community leaders. Among those who had the opportunity to meet with First Lady Biden was Surgery’s own Jose Trevino, MD, FACS, surgeon-in-chief at Massey, and chair of the Division of Surgical Oncology.

As the Walter J. Lawrence, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Oncology, Dr. Trevino is a physician-scientist studying pancreatic cancer focused on reducing the disease's disproportionate impact on Black Americans in the community. When asked about his research in cancer disparities, Dr. Trevino said, “the hope is that, in the future, we’re going to be able to take somebody’s tumor and be able to identify so many differences about it. (We’ll) be able to say, ‘This person has these differences, and therefore, they should be treated with this particular therapy,’ and then they’ll get to live longer and live healthier lives.”

First Lady Biden commented “The researchers and medical professionals here at Massey are pushing the science of medicine every day. But I’m just as grateful for the work [Massey does] for the art of medicine as well. Building trust and relationships. Empowering communities to bring their own talents to this fight.”

Read more about Jill Biden's visit in Massey News:

credit for each photo: Official White House Photo by Ana Isabel Martinez Chamorro
During a lab tour, First Lady Jill Biden stopped to look at cancer cells through a microscope with Massey researchers Drs. Trevino and Sebti.
Robert Winn, MD, Director of Massey Cancer Center and First lady Jill Biden, Ed.D
Pediatric Surgery Team Attains Prestigious Level 1 Verification
Congratulations to the pediatric surgery team at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) on receiving verification as a Level 1 Children's Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons Children's Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program (ACS CSV).

The ACS Children's Surgery Verification Program was created to "ensure pediatric surgical patients have access to high-quality care," and is endorsed by multiple specialty societies American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Surgical Association, and Society of Pediatric Anesthesiology.

“Wonderful news, and the product of a concerted team effort. Well done, all!” said Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH, Professor and Senior Vice President, VCU Health Sciences, and CEO, VCU Health System.

The Department of Surgery is extremely proud of the team's accomplishment and echo the same gratitude shared by David Lanning, MD, PhD, Co-Surgeon-in-Chief, CHoR when he announced the news, "Talk about a TEAM effort and an incredibly difficult lift!" Also congratulating the team was Dr. Dhindsa, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine when he noted, "Great news, congratulations to all who worked hard over the past four to five years to make this happen!"

To learn more about the ACS Children's Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program please visit the ACS website.
Center for Human Simulation & Patient Safety Receives ACS Reaccreditation
Congratulations to the team at VCU’s Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety on the center's reaccreditation as a Comprehensive Education Institute by the American College of Surgeons! Through the use of the ACS Accredited Education Institutes (AEI) Standards and Criteria, participating Institutes and Skills Centers ensure the delivery of the highest quality surgical education.

Dr. Patricia Lange, Assistant Director for Surgical Simulation at the Center said “A big shout-out has to go to our Surgical Simulation Administrator Susan Haynes, M.Ed, who spent tireless hours putting the data together and filling out the necessary forms, and to Dr. Cathy Grossman for her phenomenal leadership as the Director of the VCU Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety." Meet the Team

The goals of the ACS-AEI program are to promote patient safety through the use of simulation, develop new education and technologies, and identify and implement best practices in surgical education. In addition to externally validating the quality of work conducted at VCU, the accreditation offers the center participation in the AEI Consortium with other accredited institutions, as well as the opportunity to collaborate in areas of curriculum design, evaluation of educational outcomes and development of technologies for teaching.

The center, which is a collaboration between the VCU School of Medicine and VCU Health, conducts a diverse range of simulation-based training for students, residents, faculty and health system staff. The center has been providing simulation-based training at VCU since 2008.
DIRE Committee: Diversity, Inclusion, & Racial Equity
The Diversity, Inclusion, Racial Equity (DIRE) Committee was established in 2020 to discuss and address diversity, inclusion and racial equality as they relate to our employees, trainees, patients, and in the community. 

In the Department of Surgery, DIRE's goal is to develop and implement strategies to improve representation of underrepresented minorities (with an emphasis on African American) and creating an inclusive and equitable culture. As our nation continues to evolve and become more diverse, it is vital for health care institutions to meet the demand on bridging gaps in health disparity that has been proven to impact patients’ outcomes. Developing and maintaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of our society, and serves as the cornerstone of safe, effective, and equitable health care. 

Led by Dr. Kwame Asante Akuamoah-Boateng, Lead APP at the Division of Acute Care Surgical Services, DIRE has already made great strides by creating three taskforces: Recruitment & Retention, Community Outreach, and Organizational Systems.

To date, DIRE has completed the following initiatives:

Recruitment & Retention Taskforce:
The 1st "DIRE Residency Network Hour" was held February 8th and included 40 resident applicants in attendance. With participation from our surgical residents of minority backgrounds they shared DIRE's goal with the applicants and together began a dialogue around the Department of Surgery's mission and vision of diversity, inclusion, and racial equity. 

The Organizational Systems Taskforce:
Launched scheduled webinars with members of the committee to address unconscious bias and discuss what it looks like. Future sessions are currently being scheduled and all members of the department are encouraged to participate. In addition, the taskforce is choosing a slogan and through an email poll will welcome suggestions from DOS employees.

The Community Outreach Taskforce:
Currently working on ways to partner with the community through various outreach initiatives. In May will be starting the DOS DIRE Pathway to Discovery series, a startup initiative to connect the community and the DOS.  "Stay tuned because there's more to come — Join us for all this great work!"

Committees & Team Members:

Dr. Kwame A. Akuamoah-Boateng — Chair
Nancy Valencia-Rojas — Chair of Organizational Systems Taskforce
Brian Kaplan — Co chair, Organizational Systems Taskforce
Ashley Slaughter — Chair of Recruitment and Retention Taskforce
Jatori Robinson — Co-chair of Recruitment and Retention Taskforce
Charles Bagwell — Chair of Community Outreach Taskforce
Rachelle Hunley — Co-chair of Community Outreach Taskforce
Amelia Grover, MD
Ashley Matthew, MD
Caitlin Archambault
Carol Olson
Dannette Arezzi
James Braxton
Janaya Ogunware, ACNP
Kristin Hairston
Omar Raza, MD
Patricia Lange, MD
Rahul Anand, MD
Rebecca Zee, MD
Taylor Chisom, MD
Jessica Carey
Gladys Shanklin
Mckenzie Lee, MD
Yannis Reissis, MD
VCU News: A Day in the Life of a VCU Health Resident
VCU News recently sat down for an interview with future surgeon Ashley Matthew, MD, PhD, who shared her "perspective on training at VCU Health and living in Richmond."

Matthew is a PGY-1 in the Urology Residency Program and received her MD/PhD from University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"Dr. Matthew mentions the support of her department and peers in the training environment, the resources and commitment to safety at the health system and the ability to explore Richmond, a city that has 'Southern charm with that Northern flair,' as reasons she is glad she made VCU her top choice for residency match" – VCU News

Massey Cancer Center's 26th Annual Women & Wellness Event
Last month the VCU Massey Cancer Center hosted the 2021 Women & Wellness Webinar. The annual event is a free, interactive webinar that shares the current research and progress made in women’s cancer.

The panel of women physicians and researchers from Massey included Kandace McGuire, MD, professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology, and chief of breast surgery and surgical leader of the Breast Health Program at Massey Cancer Center.
VCU Program For Global Surgery Announcements
Monthly Seminar Series:
The Global Health Seminar was held on Monday, February 22 and the guest speaker was Aamer Syed, MD, ME, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine.

Dr. Syed trained in internal medicine as well as pulmonary and critical care medicine, and has conducted funded clinical trials on vitamin C in sepsis and acute lung injury in the U.S. and Rwanda. He is involved in sarcoidosis research and a member of the multi-disciplinary sarcoidosis clinic at VCU. He also collaborates with VCU School of Engineering to develop improved aerosol delivery devices.

Join VCU Program for Global Surgery and the Global Surgery Student Alliance at VCU each month for this zoom lecture series. The series was created to highlight the international work done by community physicians, medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty. We encourage anyone interested in global health to attend.
Global Surgery Fellow in London:
Congratulations to McKenzie Lee, MD, General Surgery PGY-2, on her acceptance to the Msc Public Health for Development program at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. As a global surgery fellow in the VCU Program for Global Surgery, Dr. Lee will begin her one-year Master's training in the Fall 2021.
VCU Health News: 5 Things to Know About Covid-19 Vaccine
Surgery Professor Paula Ferrada, MD, pitch-hits for VCU Health in this video diary explaining why everyone should get vaccinated. Link for video

"As medical director of the VCU Health Surgery and Trauma Intensive Care Unit, Dr. Paula Ferrada has extensive experience managing COVID-19 patients."

For information on vaccinations — Visit: Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA, 8am–8pm. Language translation available, TTY users dial 7-1-1.
Dr. Trevino Guest Speaker at VCU Pathology Grand Rounds
Jose G. Trevino, MD, FACS, Chair, Division of Surgical Oncology was the guest speaker for the Department of Pathology Grand Rounds on Monday, February 22

Dr. Trevino's lecture was on "Diversity in Healthcare: A Surgeon's Approach in Addressing Pancreatic Cancer in Health Disparities"
Dr. Ferrada Elected to Journal of Surgery Editorial Board
Congratulations to Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS, FCCM, Professor of Surgery and Medical Director, STICU at VCU Health on her recent election to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Surgery.

"For 66 years, Surgery has published practical, authoritative information about procedures, clinical advances, and major trends shaping general surgery. Each issue features original scientific contributions and clinical reports. Peer-reviewed articles cover topics in oncology, trauma, gastrointestinal, vascular, and transplantation surgery. The journal also publishes papers from the meetings of its sponsoring societies, the Society of University Surgeons, the Central Surgical Association, and the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons."
General Surgery Residency Program Announcements
ABSITE® Test Results:

Please join the department and Dr. Anand, Director, General Surgery Residency Program in congratulating Nina Wickramaratne, MD, PGY-4 for the high score on this year's ABSITE®.

The annual in-service exam conducted by the American Board of Surgery is designed to measure the progress attained by residents in their knowledge of applied science and management of clinical problems related to surgery.
New Categorical PGY-3s:

Congratulations to General Surgery Program residents Chonn Cadiz,MD and Hannah Gassie, MD on your advancement from PGY-2/Preliminary residents to Categorical PGY-3s next year. Great work!
Chonn Cadiz, MD
General Surgery Residency Program;
Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University of Chicago
Hannah Gassie, MD
General Surgery Residency Program;
St. Louis University School of Medicine
Surgery Staff Spotlight: Dannette Arezzi
Meet Dannette Arezzi, Division Supervisor for Acute Care Surgical Services. Dannette joined the department 14 months ago and her responsibilities at ACSS is office management and being the administrative liaison between the attending-faculty surgeons, her administrative staff, and the health system. She also provides administrative support to division faculty Dr. Paula Ferrada, Dr. Jill Peysha, Dr. Alan Rossi, and Dr. James Whelan, and is the ‘go-to’ support person for the division’s Advanced Practice Providers.

Dannette is committed to building morale among her coworkers and is focused on increasing her team’s engagement with and connection to the Division. Her dedication to her staff is shared in her email signature: “Just like the Lotus…we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world.” Unknown

When we asked Dannette to describe the most satisfying part of her day she said “seeing the team come together with new ideas and initiatives, then implementing them with positive results.” As a balance, she also offered the most frustrating part of her job – “knowing how to fix a problem but having to first convince others it can be done.”

A self-avowed bookworm, Dannette relaxes away from work by reading up on books about metaphysics and emotional intelligence. When she’s not having fun cooking with her family, Dannette enjoys crocheting and knitting.
VCU & VCU Health Annual Service Awards
In last month's feature we congratulated Surgery faculty and staff, however we inadvertently left off our colleague Dr. Shravan Renapurkar* who is also recognized for his 5 years of service at VCU. We regret the error.

Congratulations again to ALL our faculty and staff for their years of dedicated service to VCU and the VCU community.
Akuamoah-Boateng, Kwame
Borchers, Christopher (Todd)
Davis, Lindsey
Dean, Annette
Dixon, Kirsty
Evans, Timothy
Fung, Racquel
Hayden, Heather
Jackson, Tiana

Jovel, Pedro
Larson, Robert
Levy, Marlon
Mahnken, Christine
Quader, Mohammed
Renapurkar, Shravan*
Rocha Campos, Guilherme
Rossi, Alan
Yeh, Thomas
Albuquerque, Francisco
Anand, Rahul
Ferrada, Paula
Mangino, Tyler
Patterson, Demetria
Pope, Mary
Brunson, Melani
Capps, Lisa
Grover, Amelia
Mangino, Martin
Strayhorne, Joyce
Cotterell, Adrian
Edmondson, John
Kasirajan, Vigneshwar
Lucas, Valentina
McCafferty, Shaun
Miller, John
Morris, Joseph
Monthly Wellness Note: March 2021
Heart hands as a group of diverse people hands connected together shaped as a love symbol expressing the feeling of being happy and togetherness.
Tuesday, March 9th – 11 am
Eat Smart for your Heart
(Presented by VCU HR and VCU Health Dietary)
Learn how to implement a heart healthy lifestyle. With a VCU Registered Dietitian, participants will be educated on decreasing salt intake, fats and cholesterol, how to include more plant-based meals and more! Register: Talent@VCU
Wednesday, March 10th – 11 am
Metabolism Makeover
(Presented by VCU HR & CommonHealth)
Ever wondered why it seems one person can eat anything they want and not gain a pound, while another person's every indulgence shows up on the scale. Register: Talent@VCU
Thursday, March 11th – 11:15 am
Core Exercises with Jasmine
(Presented by VCU HR and VCU Recreational Sports)
Strength starts with the core. This class will help you build a more stable, powerful abdomen and lower back to improve fitness, straighten posture and provide a foundation for an active daily life. Register: Talent@VCU
Monday, March 15th – 12:15 pm
Bodyweight Strength with Jess
(Presented by VCU HR and VCU Recreational Sports)
Strengthen all of the major muscle groups in your body by participating in this Bodyweight Strength fitness class! With a focus on utilizing your bodyweight with high repetitions, participants will be guided through a series of exercises targeting the chest, back, arms, legs, glutes, and core. Register: Talent@VCU

Wednesday, March 17th – 2 pm
Managing Fear and Anxiety around COVID-19
(Presented by VCU HR and Anthem EAP)
Fears and anxieties are made up of thoughts that are based upon either personal experiences or beliefs of the world today. In this class, we will learn how to talk through our thoughts to realize that our fears and anxieties are manageable and controllable to get you through these challenging times. Register: Talent@VCU
Thursday, March 18th – 12 pm
Manage your checking account with confidence
(Presented by VCU HR, VCUHS HR, and Virginia Credit Union)
Learn helpful tips on how to manage your checking account. Topics include: expense tracking, online services, ATM rebates and how to avoid ATM fees. Register: Talent@VCU
Wednesday, March 24th – 11 am
Eating Healthy on a Budget
(Presented by VCU HR and VCU School of Business)
Eating healthy is important, especially during these times where we are all trying to stay well. In this informative session we will learn that you can still eat healthy on a budget.
Register: Talent@VCU
Friday, March 26th – 12 pm
Deep Stretch with Jess
(Presented by VCU HR and VCU Recreational Sports)
A slower 30-minute practice focused on active stretching of muscles and opening of connective tissue. Release built up tension, prevent injury, increase blood flow to muscles, and increase long-term flexibility. Register: Talent@VCU
Monday, March 29th – 10 am to 10:30 am
Money Mondays with Bill
(Presented by VCU HR and Fidelity)
Join Bill Giesen for this quick and educational session Register: Talent@VCU
Tuesday, March 30th – 12 pm
Ergonomics working from home
(Presented by VCU HR and Risk Management)
Helpful tips from Barbara Back, safety specialist, to make working from home more comfortable and less stressful on the body. Register: Talent@VCU
Wednesday March 31st – 3 pm
Estate Planning
(Presented by VCU HR and TIAA)
Create a lasting legacy with an effective estate plan. An estate plan can help improve your overall financial well-being. In this webinar you will learn which documents you should have and how to minimize taxes and streamline your estate. Register: Talent@VCU
Upcoming Events
Stepping Stones to Excellence Wound Care

Join VCU Health Continuing Education on March 26 for a virtual event, "Stepping Stones to Excellence in Wound Care." This conference serves to provide nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, and allied health professionals with the necessary strategies to enhance their practice and optimize patient care in treating wounds and skin disorders. To Register and learn more

Among the faculty speakers at the conference are Dr. Michael Feldman from the Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and Medical Director of the VCU Health Evans-Haynes Burn Center, and Dr. Stacy Street, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Acute Care Surgical Services and Director of Wound Care.
Call for Abstracts: XXXIV Panamerican Congress

The Panamerican Trauma Society (PTS) encourages all health care personnel interested in trauma care to present an abstract. The abstract should describe original research in trauma care, critical care, injury prevention, or burn care. Learn more
Research Open Forum
Monthly, 2nd Mondays
4:00 - 5:00 PM

All are encouraged to attend!
Have a story to tell? Contact cathy.nelson@vcuhealth.org
Department of Surgery | Virginia Commonwealth University | (804)828-7874 | surgweb@vcu.edu