Updates from the Chair

The latest from Department of Medicine Chair Bob Harrington


March 19, 2021

Condemning Anti-Asian Hate and Reflecting on the Pandemic

"We stand – and grieve – with our Asian American family, friends, colleagues, and communities, and we will continue to do our part to dismantle racism and xenophobia"


March 19, 2021

Colleagues –

This week began with the horrifying news that eight people, including six Asian American women, had been murdered in Atlanta.

This crime is impossible to ignore. But it’s not new. This violence has a long history, and over the past year we’ve seen an alarming increase in assaults and harassment against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities.

We stand – and grieve – with our Asian American family, friends, colleagues, and communities, and we will continue to do our part to dismantle racism and xenophobia. We are all reeling from this tragedy. For those who may benefit from counseling or additional support, Stanford’s Asian American Activities Center has compiled a comprehensive list of resources.

One Year of COVID-19

This week also brings the one year anniversary of the coronavirus crisis. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the virus a pandemic. The announcement upended every aspect of our lives. States issued lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders. Schools emptied out. Businesses shuttered. Hospitals rushed to prepare triage centers and secure PPE. Advisory groups assembled. Employees moved from offices to computer screens.

This year has tested our resilience and challenged basic assumptions about work, care, and connection. It’s been a year of loss – of loved ones, human contact, and the comfortable rituals of daily life. But it’s also been a year of innovation, creation, and strength.

To mark this unusual anniversary, we asked some members of our DOM to share what has helped them during this past year and what they’re grateful for in their own lives. Some have been buoyed by more quality time with family; others have discovered the simple pleasure of meditation or free yoga videos. Here’s a selection of their responses:

Daily huddles have improved my connections. I appreciate getting to know my colleagues in a different way.

I have learned to really appreciate everything after this last year, and to stop worrying about small things and even big things that are out of my control.

Developing a daily exercise and meditation habit has helped me cope with everything over the last year.

I’m personally thankful for collaboration tools like Box, Slack, and Google Drive. These tools have been amazing and important for connection.

All the free Yoga videos on YouTube!

Eliminating the commute! My time can be used for work or for exercise or for caring for family.

I’ve learned to reach out to people if I sense they need a call or connection and I also learned how to reach out to trusted friends to share when I’m feeling a bit fragile.   

While last year has been a test, I see it as one of many challenges I will face over my lifetime. I have sought to increase my resilience by: increasing mental strength – contemplative practices (meditation), reading inspirational books (ex: Can’t Hurt Me and Grit);  increasing physical strength (I got back into running after nearly 30 years!); increasing my sense of joy and gratitude for each day, and following a mantra – be brave and be bold!

I’d also like to add my own response to the list: I’m grateful for all the faculty, staff, and trainees of our DOM community, who have shown incredible strength during a challenging year. Our staff has gone above and beyond in their efforts to support our mission. Our educators found new ways to teach and mentor. Our clinicians made swift treatment decisions while keeping up with new research that seemed to be published every few days about this new disease. Our trainees rushed to the frontlines to care for patients. And our basic and clinical scientific community developed countless COVID-19-related projects.

We’re not through this pandemic yet, but I see hopeful signs as we look to the months ahead. 

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do. And remember, be safe, be smart and most of all, be kind.

Bob Harrington

December 9, 2020

A Holiday Message

"Today I want to share this video which celebrates some of our brightest moments and highlights all the things that you, our community members, have accomplished"


December 9, 2020

Colleagues –

This holiday season comes at the end of a year like no other. But I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish together. When I look around, I see a community that is becoming even kinder and more united.

So today I want to share this video which celebrates some of our brightest moments and highlights all the things that you, our community members, have accomplished.

I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from each and every one of you this year. Thank you for your resilience and your deep commitment to our mission. I wish everyone a safe, joyous, and well-earned holiday break.

Bob Harrington

 

October 22, 2020

Diversity and Inclusion Roles

"In January, during our first Diversity and Inclusion week, we announced two new initiatives intended to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our department"


November 13, 2020

Colleagues –

In January, during our first Diversity and Inclusion week, we announced two new initiatives intended to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our department. The first was the Diversity Chair Investigator Awards program, which provides early career faculty investigators funding for diversity and disparity research. The second was the creation of two new leadership positions, associate chair – diversity and inclusion, and associate chair – women in medicine.

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to our two new associate chairs for diversity and inclusion: Wendy Caceres, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine (primary care and population health, and Tamara Dunn, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine (hematology).  

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We began our internal search for only one associate chair in this area, but quickly realized it wasn’t enough. Given our size, the breadth of our initiatives, and our desire to focus on the department’s Black community, we made the decision to appoint two people.

Wendy and Tamara are uniquely suited to these roles. They co-chair the Diversity and Inclusion Committee alongside Vinicio de Jesus Perez, MD, associate professor of medicine (pulmonary, allergy, and critical care), and have been instrumental in reshaping the DOM’s priorities and culture. They are also emerging as trusted sources of advice and counsel for me and Cathy as we think about how best to advance the department’s goals in this mission critical area.

As associate chairs, they will represent the DOM institutionally, and will help us develop strategies and metrics that move us closer to our diversity and inclusion goals. They will also continue to contribute to our educational mission: Wendy will retain her role as associate program director of our residency program, and Tamara will continue as program director of hematology fellowship. Their deep commitment to education is one important reason why they are so well suited to these new leadership roles. We need to increase our diversity training pipeline if we are to increase the diversity of our faculty.

I hope to have information on the appointment of an associate chair for women in medicine very soon.  

I also have one more exciting leadership announcement to share. In order to fulfill his new role of Associate Chair – Fellowship Programs, Glenn Chertow, MD, will step down as nephrology chief on February 1, 2021. He will be ably replaced by Tara Chang, MD, MS, an associate professor of medicine (nephrology) who has been a long time member of the department and who has developed her own nationally-respected clinical research program which focuses on studying cardiovascular disease in chronic kidney disease patients.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking these talented faculty members for taking on these important leadership roles.

Bob Harrington

 

 

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November 11, 2020

Celebrating Veteran's Day

"There are more than nineteen million military veterans in the United States. They are our colleagues, family members, and friends. They are our leaders and teachers. And they make our communities better"


November 11, 2020

Colleagues –

There are more than nineteen million military veterans in the United States. They are our colleagues, family members, and friends. They are our leaders and teachers. And they make our Stanford community better.

This Veteran’s Day follows a divisive presidential race, which has been a source of stress and anxiety for all of us across the country. Let’s look to veterans to remind us of our highest shared values: a commitment to service, freedom, progress, each other, and a higher purpose.

Paul Heidenreich, MD, chief of medicine at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, has an update on the various ways we’re improving and expanding care for our former service members:

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The VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) treats patients across all of North-Central California. In 2019, we cared for 125,374 unique veterans. Much like the rest of Stanford, we at the VA have continued to add and implement new programs and initiatives to improve and expand health care during a challenging year. 

Expanding the Scope of Care

One challenge for many veterans is physical access to care. We’ve worked on expanding care coverage in various ways.

First, geographically.  Primary care and mental health care have been co-located at several of our sites to promote primary care and mental health integration.  And we’ve also focused on improving local access to care with the recent groundbreaking of new clinic space at our Stockton Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.

We’ve also implemented and continue to expand our state-of-the-art Mobile Medical Units, vans which provide outreach to homeless veterans and others unable to travel or conduct phone or video visits.  

Second, technologically.  Our Community Care Integration team has implemented a new system which helps provide veterans with more information about local community providers by displaying a map of community providers in the Tri-West network along with their current wait times. Innovations like these allow veterans to find community care closer to home.

We also continue to expand telehealth, as well as partnerships with community providers to improve access. And we’ve increased the number of video visits while also using encrypted video to ensure privacy and security, allowing veterans to see and talk to their health care team from anywhere and everywhere.  

Looking to the Future

We’re aware, however, that the importance of veteran care extends beyond health care to their future lives and livelihoods. To that end, we’re partnering with the Department of Defense, Veterans Benefits Administration, and VA Central Office to pilot the DoD SkillBridge Program, which trains active duty service members to become Intermediate Care Technicians. In these roles, they can leverage their expertise to become an integral part of VA medical centers’ medical teams even after their terms of service have ended. 

In addition, we’re investing in new technologies to aid Veteran health care in the future.  Our Clinical Informatics Section, led by Chief Medical Informatics Officer Thomas Osborne, MD, is driving multiple modernization and innovation programs.  As a result of extensive work, VAPAHCS was recently established as one of the first 5G hospitals in the world. We’re also bringing other advanced tools to enhance veteran care, including augmented reality, virtual reality, sensor technology, cloud technology, and artificial intelligence.

And finally, a word on diversity. Among other initiatives, our Women’s Health group has focused on implementing program changes to meet gender disparity, including a partnership with the Office of Public Affairs to send flu vaccination information to female Veterans and outreach to women veterans without assigned Women’s Health Primary Care Providers.

It has been a difficult year for many, and the VAPACHS is no exception. But our expansive vision for the future and our current projects leave us both proud and hopeful. 

Thank you, Paul, for your leadership and for all of this important work. Our veterans care for us, and, as a community, we need to remain committed to making sure they get the care they need.

And to all veterans: thank you for your service.

Stay safe, Happy Veteran’s Day.

Bob Harrington

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October 22, 2020

Our Broad Reach

As I wrote this week’s note, I found myself reflecting on the various ways that our faculty, staff, and trainees engage with – and impact – local, national, and global communities. It’s clear that our work here in the department has never been more important"


October 22, 2020

Colleagues –

On Wednesday morning, I received the good news that three of our faculty members, Steven Goodman, MD, MHS, PhD, associate dean for clinical and translational research and professor of medicine (primary care and population health) and epidemiology; Hannah Valantine, MD, MRCP, MBBS, professor of medicine (cardiovascular medicine); and Laurence Baker, PhD, professor of medicine (primary care and outcomes research) and Bing Professor of Human Biology, were elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in health and medicine.

It was a welcome moment of happiness and a cause for virtual celebration, as colleagues took to email and Twitter to express their enthusiasm and congratulations.

It was also a good reminder of the broad impact that our community has on national conversations around health, medicine, and science. Academy members address critical, complex public health challenges and make recommendations that inform policy decisions. We need innovative, influential, and compassionate leaders like Steve, Hannah, and Loren, and I am thrilled that they will have the opportunity to envision and shape the future of medicine.

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I also learned that Dean Felsher, MD, PhD, professor of medicine (oncology) and pathology, received the National Cancer Institute’s 2020 Outstanding Investigator Award, which recognizes accomplished leaders in cancer research. Dean will use this multi-year grant to further his investigation of oncogenes, specifically focusing on the MYC oncogene pathway. Please join me in congratulating Dean! This award is a testament to his record and will enable him to make even greater research contributions.

And finally, I want to direct you to a recording of our recent All Staff Townhall by Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor. Abraham’s presentation acknowledged the sacrifice of health care workers, and explored our current crisis through the lens of storytelling, touching on archetypal texts like Camus’ The Plague, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera, and even the movie Jaws. “We are living through the story of our lives – the story of the cell, of our own personal risk, of our families, of our futures, and our worries about our communities and our country,” he said, “and the heroes and heroines of this story are all of you.”

As I wrote this week’s note, I found myself reflecting on the various ways that our faculty, staff, and trainees engage with – and impact – local, national, and global communities. It’s clear that our work here in the department has never been more important. Thank you for helping us fulfill our missions of delivering exceptional care, producing innovative research, and training tomorrow’s leaders, especially at this critical time. Many thanks to each and every one of you.  Your work, sacrifices, and contributions are noted and appreciated.

Stay safe, be well.

Bob Harrington

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June 3, 2020

A Message to our Community

"We can't go back to business as usual"

2020 Updates