News

Afghan girl is doing well after heart surgery at UNC

Afghan girl is doing well after heart surgery at UNC click to enlarge Michael R. Mill, M.D.

Maryam, an 8-year-old girl from Afghanistan, underwent heart surgery at UNC Hospitals on Tuesday, July 9, and came through it well, her surgeon, Michael R. Mill, M.D., said. (Update: Maryam went home from the hospital to her host family's home in Raeford on Tuesday, July 16.)

Dr. Mill corrected a narrowing of Maryam's aorta (a surgical procedure called resection of coarctation of the aorta) and closed a fetal blood vessel, the ductus arteriosus, that had not closed normally when Maryam was a newborn (that surgery is called division of a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)).

"The procedure went well and she is doing fine postop," Dr. Mill said.

The ductus arteriosus is a vessel that allows blood to go around a baby's lungs before birth; after birth, it usually closes. If it does not, blood flows abnormally from the aorta to the pulmonary artery. Elman Frantz, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at UNC, had planned to close the PDA in a catheter procedure on July 3. Dr. Frantz suspected the narrowing of the aorta after seeing results of an echocardiogram; he confirmed it during the catheter procedure. Narrowing makes it difficult for blood to flow through the aorta, the main artery that leads out of the heart. Surgery was necessary to fix the coarctation and if Dr. Frantz had closed the PDA, it would have made the surgery more difficult. So, both problems were fixed during surgery, Dr. Mill said.

Children often have high blood pressure before the operation because of the narrowing of the aorta and they need medication for a few days to weeks after surgery until the body adjusts to not having the aortic obstruction, Dr. Mill said.

The usual hospital stay after the surgery is five to seven days. "The blood pressure control is often what dictates how long the children need to stay in hospital," Dr. Mill said.

Maryam
Maryam before her surgery (UNC Health Care photo)

Maryam was flown to the United States in June to receive treatment for heart problems at North Carolina Children's Hospital. Rita Bigham, a retired teacher from Chapel Hill and a UNC Hospitals volunteer, and her husband, Eric, worked with Solace for the Children, a nonprofit group based in Mooresville, N.C., to arrange Maryam's trip and treatment. Solace for the Children brings children from Afghanistan and other war-torn countries to the United States to live with host families and receive medical care. Maryam’s care is being covered by the Rita and Eric Bigham Cardiology Special Project Fund, which the Bighams established with the Medical Foundation of North Carolina. Maryam has been staying since June 21 with a host family, Ashley Lewis and her family, in Raeford, and also has been paired with a "heart sister," Hannah Saye, 6, of Pinehurst, who had surgery for a heart defect when she was a newborn. Dr. Mill also did Hannah's surgery.

Dr. Mill, a pediatric cardiac surgeon, came to UNC in 1988 to be director of the UNC Heart and Heart-Lung Transplant programs. He performed both the first heart-lung transplant and the first pediatric heart-lung transplant in North Carolina.

Dr. Mill helped the American Board of Thoracic Surgery develop the requirements for the first specialty certification in congenital cardiac surgery and in 2009 became one of the first physicians to earn that certification. He was chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery from 2000 to 2011 and has been director of the UNC cardiothoracic surgery residency program since 1998.

Dr. Mill earned an M.D. at the University of Colorado and did his residency in General Surgery there. He completed a residency in Thoracic Surgery and a fellowship in Heart and Heart-Lung Transplantation, both at Stanford University, where he trained with pioneering heart surgeon Norman Shumway.

Contact: Margaret Alford Cloud, UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, mcloud@med.unc.edu

Lineberger Center spotlights nurse navigator Tammy Allred

Lineberger Center spotlights nurse navigator Tammy Allred click to enlarge Tammy Allred

Tammy Allred, RN, OCN, is thoracic oncology and sarcoma nurse navigator at UNC Hospitals, helping lung cancer and sarcoma patients and their families at all stages of diagnosis and treatment. She's a good person to have on your side.  UNC's Lineberger Cancer Center profiled Tammy in a recent article. Read it here.

Anesthesia residents honor Dr. Stansfield with a teaching award

Anesthesia residents honor Dr. Stansfield with a teaching award click to enlarge William E. Stansfield, M.D.

Congratulations to William E. Stansfield, M.D., who received the "Physician Teacher of the Year" award from residents in the UNC Department of Anesthesiology at a resident graduation dinner on June 22, 2013.  Dr. Stansfield is a cardiac surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Kiser presents abstract at ISMICS in Prague

Dr. Kiser presents abstract at ISMICS in Prague click to enlarge Andy C. Kiser, MD

Andy C. Kiser, MD, chief of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, presented an abstract, "Evaluation of integrated bipolar and unipolar epicardial ablation," at the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (ISMICS) meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, on June 13, 2013. Co-authors on the abstract were Hayden Pappas, MD, Kelly Garner, RN, Anil Gehi, MD, and Paul Mounsey, MD.

Read the abstract here.

Dr. Sheridan is editor of article on thoracotomy on eMedicine site

Brett Sheridan, MD, was chief editor of an article, "Emergency bedside thoracotomy," on eMedicine from WebMD (Medscape). The article is available here.

Dr. Sheridan is a cardiac surgeon at UNC and is associate professor of surgery in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He is director of Mechanical Circulatory Support and Cardiac Transplantation at UNC Hospitals. He has been chief editor of Cardiology Journal on eMedicine.com since 2007.

Dr. Joseph and Dr. Kiser publish chapters on cardiac surgery

Mark Joseph, MD, a fellow in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Andy C. Kiser, MD, a professor of surgery and chief of the division, are authors of two chapters in the recently published TSRA Clinical Scenarios in Cardiothoracic Surgery. Their chapters are "Cardiac Trauma" and "Management of the Porcelain Aorta."

The TRSA Clinical Scenarios are published by the Thoracic Surgery Residents Association, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Chicago. They are available here.

EMS World features Dr. Egan's lung transplant research

An article in EMS World, an online publication for EMS workers, features the lung transplant research of Thomas M. Egan, M.D., of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Egan has studied the use of lungs for transplant from people who have died outside the hospital of sudden cardiac arrest.  In a recent project, Dr. Egan worked with Wake County, NC, Emergency Medical Services to identify and help expedite the transport of cardiac arrest victims whose lungs could be evaluated by Dr. Egan's research team. Dr. Egan gave training to Wake County EMS crews on criteria for potential lung donors.

Read the article here.

Dr. Haithcock honored as "Friend of Nursing" at UNC Hospitals

Dr. Haithcock honored as "Friend of Nursing" at UNC Hospitals click to enlarge Benjamin E. Haithcock, M.D.

Benjamin Haithcock, M.D., was honored May 10 as a "Friend of Nursing" at UNC Hospitals in a ceremony marking the 2013 Nursing Staff Recognition Week.

Dr. Haithcock is a thoracic surgeon and is surgical director of UNC Hospitals' Lung Transplant Program and a physician in the UNC Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program, which treats patients with lung cancer and other chest cancers. He is assistant professor of surgery in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and has a joint appointment as assistant professor of anesthesiology at UNC.

At the ceremony, Dr. Haithcock was praised as "an exceptional surgeon providing excellent patient care."

"He serves as an outstanding role model for physicians and nurses, is always respectful of his colleagues and is a nurse advocate," his award citation stated. "The nursing staff’s relationship with Dr. Haithcock is the ideal physician-nurse alliance, exemplified by his willingness to collaborate and plan the care of his patients with all members of the interprofessional team."

Dr. Haithcock joined the UNC faculty in July 2007 after completing his cardiothoracic surgery residency at UNC. He received his M.D. from Michigan State University in 1998 and completed a General Surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit in 2004.  He earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Michigan.

His clinical interests include thoracic oncology, including cancer of the lung and esophagus; heart and lung transplantation; end-stage lung disease; and minimally-invasive thoracic surgery.

At UNC, Dr. Haithcock is an active researcher and teacher. He has served as a member of UNC Hospitals’ Ethics Committee. He has been an investigator in a Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) trial of lobectomy vs. sublobar resection for small peripheral non-small cell lung cancer. He also has been a co-investigator with Thomas M. Egan, MD, on several lung transplant studies, including an NIH grant for study of ex-vivo (outside the body) perfusion and ventilation of lungs to assess transplant suitability.

Dr. Feins receives alumni award from University of Vermont

Douglas Losordo, M.D., from left, Halleh Akbarnia, M.D., Jack Murray, M.D., Edward Havranek, M.D., Joyce Dobbertin, M.D., Richard Feins, M.D., Omar Khan, M.D.Richard H. Feins, M.D., professor of surgery in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is one of three 2013 winners of the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

The award, recognizing outstanding scientific or academic achievement, was presented May 31, 2013, during the medical school's alumni reunion.

(In the photo above, University of Vermont College of Medicine alumni award winners are, left to right: Douglas Losordo, M.D., Halleh Akbarnia, M.D., Jack Murray, M.D., Edward Havranek, M.D., Joyce Dobbertin, M.D., Richard Feins, M.D., Omar Khan, M.D.)

Dr. Feins, a 1973 graduate of the University of Vermont medical school, trained in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., where he served on the faculty until 2005. He then joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a thoracic surgeon and professor of surgery.

Feins2
Betsy Sussman, M.D., left, Richard Feins, M.D., Dean Rick Morin, M.D. Reunion 2013.

Dr. Feins, center, with Betsy Sussman, M.D., a radiologist at the University of Vermont medical school, and Rick Morin, M.D., dean of the school.

 

Dr. Feins has been a national leader in education of future thoracic surgeons and in simulation-based training for surgery residents. He is principal investigator of a three-year grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Improved patient safety by simulator based training in cardiac surgery) that is studying whether use of surgery simulators improves training of cardiothoracic surgery residents and leads to better patient safety. Seven other institutions (Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic, University of Rochester, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Washington) are participating in the study along with UNC. The study is now in its third year.

Dr. Feins has served as a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and as its chair from 2007 to 2009. He also has served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Joint Council for Surgical Education, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, and the General Thoracic Surgery Club.

He is co-director of the national Cardiothoracic Surgery Resident Boot Camp, held in Chapel Hill each summer to train incoming cardiothoracic surgery residents.

Five abstracts from division are presented at ISHLT

Poster 1Faculty, resident physicians and staff of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery are authors on five abstracts that were presented in poster sessions at the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation meeting, April 24-26, 2013, in Montréal.

Four faculty members, Thomas Egan, Andy Kiser, Brett Sheridan and William Stansfield, two residents, Staci Beamer and Kristen Sell, and Egan lab members John Blackwell and Lolita Forrest are among the authors. Boming Dong, former research associate in the Egan lab, and William Simmons, former research coordinator for the Egan lab, are also authors.

Four of the posters are on display in the lobby on the third floor of Burnett-Womack Building.

The abstracts:

Egan TM, Dong B, Tikunov A, Semelka C, Kuan P-F, Macdonald J. Metabolomic profile of rat lung tissue after death: Effect of delayed post-mortem O2-ventilation.

Poster 2Egan TM, Dong B, Tikunov A, Semelka C, Blackwell J, Simmons W, Kuan P-F, Macdonald J. Effect of ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) on metabolomics profile of human lungs.

Venkataraman A, Blackwell J, Simmons W, Beamer S, Forrest L, Randell S, Egan T. Beware cold agglutinins in organ donors: Ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) of lungs from a Category 1 non-heart-beating donor (NHBD) with a cold agglutinin.

Sell KA, Sheridan BC, Kiser AC, Bowen A, Katz JN, Stansfield WE. Heartmate II inflow cannula position on chest x-ray predicts inotrope dependence.

Alhosaini H, Katz JN, Jensen BC, Stansfield W, Sheridan BC, Chang PP. A novel link between G6PD deficiency and hemolysis events in patients supported with continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices.

Poster 3Poster 4

Lecture by Dr. Cox on May 1 is cancelled

Lecture by Dr. Cox on May 1 is cancelled click to enlarge James L. Cox, M.D.

Dr. James L. Cox will be unable to present Surgery Grand Rounds on May 1; his travel has recently been limited and he will not be able to come to Chapel Hill.

The UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery hopes to reschedule Dr. Cox's visit at a later date.

Dr. Cox, a cardiac surgeon and emeritus chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University, is best known for developing the Maze Procedure to treat atrial fibrillation.

UNC Health Care completes merger with High Point Regional

UNC Health Care and High Point Regional Health System have completed a merger. Read more here. The UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery is affiliating with a cardiac surgery practice in High Point; more information will be available later.

Rex Healthcare to move ahead with new heart hospital in Raleigh

Rex Healthcare, owned by UNC Health Care, will move forward with building a new heart and stroke hospital in Raleigh. Read more here.

Dr. Kiser and Dr. Mounsey present McAllister Lecture

Dr. Kiser and Dr. Mounsey present McAllister Lecture click to enlarge Dr. Kiser speaks about the Convergent Procedure

Andy Kiser, M.D., and Paul Mounsey, M.D., gave the 2013 McAllister Heart Lecture on Feb. 12 at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. The lecture series, about innovations in heart care, is supported by an endowment created by Hugh A. McAllister, M.D., a distinguished cardiac pathologist and UNC medical school alumnus.  Dr. McAllister's endowment supports the McAllister Heart Institute and cardiovascular research at UNC.

The title of the talk by Dr. Kiser and Dr. Mounsey was "The Convergent Procedure Collaborative: A Successful Collaboration of Cardiac Surgery and Electrophysiology."  Dr. Kiser and Dr. Mounsey offer the Convergent Procedure at UNC - it combines the skills of a surgeon and a cardiologist/electrophysiologist to treat atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias. A question and answer session followed the talks.  More than 100 people attended, including Dr. McAllister.

Drs. Feins, Haithcock and Mill named to U.S. News' "Top Doctors" list

Three physicians from the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery were named to U.S. News and World Report's "Top Doctors" list in 2012.

Richard H. Feins, Michael R. Mill and Benjamin E. Haithcock were named to the list. The physicians in the "Top Doctors" list are considered to be among the top 10% of doctors in their regions. Dr. Feins and Dr. Mill were also listed as among the top 1% in the nation in their specialties.

The list is based on ratings of doctors by Castle Connolly Medical, Ltd., publisher of "America's Top Doctors." Castle Connolly bases its ratings on nominations submitted by doctors and reviewed by a physician-led research team.

Drs. Egan, Feins and Mill are on the "Best Doctors" list for 2012-2013

Three physicians from the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery are included in the most recent update of The Best Doctors in America® database.

The doctors are Thomas M. Egan, Richard H. Feins, and Michael R. Mill. Dr. Egan and Dr. Feins are thoracic surgeons. Dr. Mill is a cardiac surgeon who specializes in congenital cardiac surgery; he is listed under both Thoracic Surgery and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery in the Best Doctors database.

About 5 percent of physicians in the United States are included in the Best Doctors database; the doctors on the list are chosen through a peer review process.

Project TICKER finds ways to improve clinical care of pediatric cardiac patients at UNC

 

Project TICKER (Teamwork to Improve Cardiac Kids' End Results) has been underway at N.C. Children's Hospital for two years - it uses teamwork training and integrated clinical pathways (ICPs) to decrease unnecessary variations in clinical care. Clinical pathways have been shown to decrease length of stay in the hospital and lead to better outcomes, especially for surgical populations such as pediatric congenital heart surgery patients.

The project, funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (award number R18 HS019638) recently received a no-cost extension to continue many of its activities. The principal investigator is Tina Schade Willis, MD; Michael R. Mill, MD, and Karla Brown, RN, MSN, PNP, of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, are investigators on the project.

Look at Project TICKER's quality and safety toolkit here.

Read Project TICKER's November 2012 newsletter here and read more about the project here.

Tammy Allred, RN, wins UNC oncology nursing excellence award

Tammy Allred, RN, wins UNC oncology nursing excellence award click to enlarge Tammy Allred, RN, with her award. (Lineberger Center photo)

Tammy Allred, nurse navigator for UNC's lung cancer patients, received a 2012 Oncology Nursing Excellence Award on Nov. 12 at UNC's Lineberger Cancer Research Center. The award is given "in recognition of unwavering compassion and caring for the patients of UNC Cancer Care."

Allred also was recognized by the Lungevity Foundation as best healthcare provider for the month of November.  The Lungevity Foundation funds scientific research to find lung cancer early and treat it more effectively; the foundation also provides support for those affected by the disease.

Allred is known to her colleagues as a hard-working and very caring nurse who always goes the extra mile for her patients and their families. She regularly makes presentations about lung cancer care and treatment to national and regional oncology organizations and she is very active with the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership.

For the UNC Oncology Nursing Excellence Award, one nominator wrote: “Tammy gives her all in whatever she does. She is the type of nurse and person you want to care for you when you are sick.”

Another nominator wrote: “She dedicates many volunteer hours to the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership that works to educate and de-stigmatize lung cancer and also support research in lung cancer.“

Winners of the Nursing Excellence Awards receive a $1500 stipend for professional education activities. The Oncology Nursing Excellence Award is presented in memory of Charmayne S. Gray, an outstanding oncology nurse who died in an auto accident in 2002.

Read more here.

Thoracic surgeons from the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery - Dr. Benjamin Haithcock, Dr. Nirmal Veeramachaneni, and Dr. Richard Feins - are part of the UNC team that cares for patients who have lung cancer or other chest cancers.

UNC Hospitals receives national recognition from American College of Surgeons

This recognition program commends a select group of hospitals for excellent performance in five areas of care of surgical patients.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) has recognized UNC Hospitals as one of 28 ACS NSQIP participating hospitals in the United States that have achieved exemplary outcomes for surgical patient care.  As a participant in ACS NSQIP, the hospital is required to track the outcomes of inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures and collect data that directs patient safety and the quality of surgical care improvements.

The ACS NSQIP recognition program commends a select group of hospitals for achieving exemplary outcome performances related to patient management in five clinical areas:  DVT (deep vein thrombosis, thrombophlebitis and pulmonary embolism); cardiac incidents (cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction); Respiratory (Pneumonia); SSI (surgical site infections-superficial and deep incisional and organ-space SSIs); or urinary tract infection.  The 28 hospitals commended achieved the distinction of attaining exemplary results in two or more of the five areas listed above.  Risk-adjusted data from the July 2012 ACS NSQIP Semiannual Report were used to determine which hospitals demonstrated exemplary outcomes.       

ACS NSQIP is the only nationally validated quality improvement program that measures and enhances the care of surgical patients. The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient.

Read more here in a story by Tom Hughes of UNC Health Care.

Shamelah Williams will sing in "Promise Idol" competition at NC Children's Hospital

Shamelah Williams, medical support assistant in the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, has been selected as a semi-finalist in the UNC Hospitals and School of Medicine's "Promise Idol."

Ms. Williams, who will sing at the Idol event, is new-patient coordinator for thoracic (lung and chest) surgery patients at UNC.

Williams into Semi-Finals of Promise Idol

Shamelah Williams

The Promise Idol is an annual affair that offers UNC Health Care and School of Medicine employees, volunteers and residents a chance to take the stage and share their talents. The competition will be held during the 2012 N.C. Children's Promise Radio/Telethon on Thursday, Nov. 15, in the lobby of N.C. Children's Hospital. The annual radio/telethon raises funds for the Children's Hospital.

The grand prize will be a $100 gift card to the Streets at Southpoint in Durham and the title of Promise Idol.

 

Williams into Semi-Finals of Promise Idol

Shamelah Williams

The Promise Idol is an annual affair that offers UNC Health Care and School of Medicine employees, volunteers and residents a chance to take the stage and share their talents. The competition will be held during the 2012 N.C. Children's Promise Radio/Telethon on Thursday, Nov. 15, in the lobby of N.C. Children's Hospital. The annual radio/telethon raises funds for the Children's Hospital.

The grand prize will be a $100 gift card to the Streets at Southpoint in Durham and the title of Promise Idol.