May 21 - 25, 2012

Taking on Alzheimer’s (Editorial)
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
The National Institutes of Health is taking direct aim at one of the biggest health problems in the world, Alzheimer’s disease. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins last week announced a multi-pronged effort to prevent the disease from occurring in people who are vulnerable to it and to halt and even reverse its effects in those whose minds are already affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s an ambitious agenda, but one well worth undertaking. Collins, a renowned genetic scientist who received his M.D. degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1977, says genetic and biological research has advanced to an “exceptional moment” at which major progress is possible against an affliction that is ultra-costly, in every sense, to care for.

Sharpless appointed Wellcome Distinguished Professor
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Dr. Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, professor of medicine and genetics and associate director for translational research at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been appointed the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research.

UNC Physicians named first Sanders Clinician Scholars
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Dr. Paul Chelminski, MD, MPH, and Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, have been announced as the first two Sanders Clinician Scholars. Their appointments are effective July 1. In the role, they will develop educational efforts to enhance supportive direct personal contact to the daily care of patients, and to teach others to do the same, according to a news release.

William Friday’s condition upgraded
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
UNC President Emeritus William Friday’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious on Saturday, a UNC Hospitals spokeswoman said. Friday, 91, had been hospitalized for several days in critical condition. He improved after receiving a permanent pacemaker on Thursday.
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Childhood food allergies Q&A: Exploring the facts and myths
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
In recognition of Food Allergy Awareness Week, internationally renowned pediatric food allergy expert, Dr. Wesley Burks, chief physician of N.C. Children’s Hospital, sat down for an insightful interview exploring the facts and myths of childhood food allergies. ...Wesley Burks, MD, is the chair of UNC Department of Pediatrics, physician-in-chief of N.C. Children's Hospital. He is an internationally-renowned expert in pediatric allergy.

Visible Life
Slate Magazine
..."I bet a lot of politicians have never stepped into an IVF clinic," said Dr. Silvia Ramos, senior embryologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, when I asked her about the personhood debate Gingrich was referencing. Born in Brazil, Dr. Ramos speaks with an accent that becomes more pronounced when she gets excited, and nearly everything about her work—from treating and interacting with patients to performing research on mouse ovaries and embryos—excites her.

Rex, WakeMed reach deal; Wake County to get mental hospital
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Legislators announced Tuesday a cease-fire between Wake County’s two largest hospitals, WakeMed Hospital and Rex, owned by the University of North Carolina Health Care. Tuesday’s agreement brings a civil end to an unseemly public battle between the cross-town rivals, and also halts WakeMed’s effort to buy Rex from UNC.
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WakeMed, UNC announce new working relationship
WTVD-TV (ABC/Raleigh)
Merger talks between WakeMed and UNC Health Care are officially dead. Instead, two of the Triangle's largest hospital systems are forming a new partnership. The deal includes a new $30 million facility UNC will build for mental health. It will be a psychiatric hospital intended to take some of the strain off WakeMed.
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UNC Health to build psychiatric facility in Wake
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
UNC Health Care and WakeMed buried the hatchet Tuesday, announcing a $40 million collaborative effort to improve mental health care in Wake County. Under the agreement, UNC Health Care pledged $30 million to develop and operate a 28-bed, inpatient psychiatric facility in Wake County to address crisis and emergency demand, which has increased since the closure of Dorothea Dix Hospital.

Good prognosis (Editorial)
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Unseemly, some called it, as two great medical institutions scrapped for months and months over doctors, turf, money and mission. Costly was another word that came into it, as WakeMed and UNC Health Care kept lobbyists and public relations people well-employed, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars making their case to legislators and the public. But for the citizens of Wake County and North Carolina (both institutions have long reaches through the state) the entire episode, now settled by General Assembly leaders with what appears to be a suitable compromise, was unsettling.

Kenan-Flagler has doctors in the house
Financial Times
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has become the latest US university to launch an accelerated programme for those who want to study medicine, through its medical school, and business, through its Kenan-Flagler business school. ...James Dean, dean of Kenan-Flagler, said the collaboration was part of a larger partnership to train healthcare professionals. “This unparalleled program - fusing the assets of top business and medical schools - will prepare leaders in science to continue to drive innovation in human health while they master tools to transform healthcare to reflect higher standards of affordability.”

U.S. liver transplants declining
HealthDay News
...The researchers found that the total number of donors who have at least one organ recovered for transplant has stopped increasing over the past few years, despite an increasing proportion of organs donated after cardiac death. "Cardiac death donation is negatively impacting the overall number of liver transplants that we can do," study leader Dr. Eric Orman, a gastroenterology fellow at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, said in a meeting news release.

UNC launches MD/MBA program
The Triangle Business Journal
Doctors interested in opening their own private practices can now enroll in a program focused on business and patient care. Starting this fall, UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine and the Kenan-Flagler Business School will team up to offer medical students a dual-degree in medicine with a master’s of business administration.

UNC leaders applaud WakeMed deal
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
UNC leaders said Wednesday that the deal struck this week between WakeMed and UNC Health Care to improve mental health care in Wake County is a “win-win” for both organizations. As part of the deal, the two healthcare organizations agreed to end their feud over patient care in Wake County and announced that UNC Health Care will build and operate a $30 million, 28-bed inpatient psychiatric facility in Wake County to address crisis and emergency demand, which has increased since the closure of Dorothea Dix Hospital.
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Judge’s recommendation complicates hospitals’ expansion plans in Wake
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Local hospitals may see their Wake County expansion plans delayed further as a result of an administrative judge’s recent filing. Administrative Law Judge Beecher R. Gray found that last year the state improperly analyzed three hospital systems’ proposals to build new hospitals or expand existing ones in Wake County.

UNC Health foresees declining income
The Triangle Business Journal
After three straight years of increased operating income and margins that grew to double digits, the University of North Carolina Health Care System projects declines for the current year and next year.

UNC's Friday released from hospital, family says
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
University of North Carolina President Emeritus William Friday is recovering at home, a week after surgery to implant a pacemaker, his family said Thursday. The family extended thanks to well-wishers, and asked that calls and visits to the 91-year-old be limited as he faces "an extended period of rehabilitation toward a full recovery."
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