The Department of Surgery:
Growth and Scholarship
In 2009, the Department of Surgery continued growing its faculty and clinical activity. Recent faculty additions include Dr. Andre Dick in Transplant Surgery, Dr. Ray Tse in Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery, Dr. Sam Browd in Neurosurgery, Dr. Jeff Friedrich in both Plastic and Hand Surgery, and Drs. Jeff Avansino and Patrick Javid in General and Thoracic Surgery.
The additional clinicians, combined with the enhanced efficiencies gained through our Continuous Performance Improvement (CPI) efforts, enabled us to increase the volume of surgery 13% from 2007 to 2008, and an additional 8.6% from 2008 to 2009.
Surgical clinic volumes have also grown dramatically, with new patient visits increasing by 50.4% over the past two years. We’ve also expanded our regional outreach clinics and now have a regular presence in many surgical specialties in cities throughout Alaska, Montana and Washington.
Our surgical programs in Neurosurgery, Urology and Cardiac Surgery received recognition as national leaders from U.S. News & World Report. Dr. Martin Koyle received a particularly distinguished honor: He is one of only two Americans named a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2009.
The standardized evidence-based protocols for perioperative management we developed have nearly eliminated surgical site infections (SSI) in two of our most vulnerable populations of patients, thanks to strong leadership from Dr. Gordon Cohen, chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dr. Jeff Ojemann, acting chief of Neurosurgery, and neurosurgeon Dr. Sam Browd. Similar strategies are being adopted to help eliminate catheter-associated bloodstream infections (CA-BSI) in surgical patients, many of whom are high-risk patients. This multidisciplinary activity has already resulted in a significant improvement in safety and cost reductions related to care of our complex patients.
Research and Scholarship
In 2009, our surgical faculty published nearly 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Extramural funding has also increased: Dr. Henry Ou of Otolaryngology and Dr. Margarett Shnorhavorian of Urology both received K-awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Ou is studying the ototoxic effects of therapeutic drugs, and Shnorhavorian’s research focuses on fertility preservation for children receiving chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
Dr. Tom Lendvay of Urology received a competitive grant from the Department of Defense to study the value of robotic simulation in “warming up” surgeons before performing an actual surgery. Dr. Jeff Ojemann obtained National Science Foundation and NIH grants (RO1) focusing on cortical brain electrical signaling. Dr. Sam Browd received a Coulter grant for developing novel treatments of hydrocephalus and is local PI for the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network. Ojemann and Browd were also appointed to the editorial boards of national journals.
Dr. Richard Grady of Urology continues to spend time travelling to developing nations to teach surgeons there about complex corrective bladder surgery. His trips have included India and Mozambique.
The Craniofacial team, which includes Drs. Richard Hopper, Joe Gruss and Craig Birgfeld, has travelled to West Africa and has hosted West African surgeons in Seattle to teach them about the multidisciplinary team approach used here for complex craniofacial patients.
Dr. Gordon Cohen has travelled to Ukraine to help the cardiac surgeons there establish a complex congenital heart surgery program.
Robert Sawin, M.D.