University Hospitals Urology Institute is on the Move

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As group grows and builds LGBTQ+ and men’s health programs, it gains greater national recognition

Innovations in Urology | Fall 2020

Two years into a major renewal, University Hospitals Urology Institute continues to develop an energized, team-focused workplace and build a deep bench of innovative clinical and research expertise, says Lee Ponsky, MD, FACS, Chair of the Department of Urology at UH Cleveland Medical Center and Director of University Hospitals Urology Institute.

Lee Ponsky, MD Lee Ponsky, MD

Over the past two years, the Urology Institute added 27 new providers, many of whom bring a global healthcare perspective, and this year will add a fourth resident to handle the increasing volume in the department.

“We are evolving our divisions so we now have representation, innovation and research exploration across all key areas, including oncology, male reproduction and sexual medicine, female urology, endourology and pediatric urology,” Dr. Ponsky says. “And, in 2021, the Urology Institute will launch its new female sexual medicine division.

The Urology Institute is recruiting faculty who are on the leading edge — forward-thinking and academically minded leaders in their respective areas — and who bring the latest innovative technologies and procedures, says Dr. Ponsky, who is also a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

“All UH regional hospitals have on-the-ground urologic representation, so we can see more patients near where they live and want to be seen. Additionally, with the expansion of our telehealth services, we are reaching people in the evenings and on weekends, when it’s more convenient for patients.”

GROUNDED IN RESEARCH AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

It is the Institute’s priority to create a culture where clinical and academic medicine thrive, an approach referred to internally as parallel paths, Dr. Ponsky says.  To this end, UH is investing in infrastructure to facilitate academic excellence.

“It can be challenging for academically minded providers to find the time and capacity to be  engaged academically,” he explains. “So we’ve created this parallel path model. We’ve hired people to support research, including a director of clinical research, a research manager and a database manager. By creating a centralized infrastructure, our providers can bring us their research ideas and together we work to turn them into grants, research papers and published articles.

This approach is working. Dr. Ponsky says the department has almost doubled its number of published studies and substantially grown the number of grants submitted and funded (See Advancing Research in the UH Urology Institute, Innovations in Urology Fall 2020).

BUILDING PROGRAMS FOR TODAY’S SOCIETY

Under the leadership of Shubham Gupta, MD, FACS, who leads Gender and Sexual Diversity Services, UH offers a dedicated team focused on individualized lifespan care for LGBTQ+ patients. UH is also on track to be a top tier medical institution in gender affirming surgery.

“In July, we performed the first of several planned female to male gender affirmation surgery [phalloplasty] in a five-state area,” Dr. Ponsky says. “Whether it's primary care or other healthcare management, LGBTQ+ patients are reaching out and we’re excited to be offering these services. They are very needed and are not in all communities.”

In addition to providing integrated, comprehensive LGBTQ+ medical care across a patient’s lifespan, UH is exploring creating a flagship gender services clinic to provide a welcoming and affirming space for all who identify as LGBTQ+ (and their allies). UH is also working to reduce discrimination and health disparities in this population.

Holistic men’s health also is a priority. Thanks to a generous donation from Sandy and Sally Cutler, UH has established the Cutler Center for Men’s Comprehensive Care, which will redefine men’s wellbeing and sense of belonging through comprehensive, life-long care and support.

“We recognize that there is a gender gap for men receiving healthcare,” Dr. Ponsky explains. “In fact, in 14 of the 15 leading causes of death, men die more often than women. We’re excited to take this on and to take significant steps to address and encourage social and healthcare changes that improve men’s overall health.”

The Cutler Center will have its flagship location in the newly expanded University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, in the same building as UH’s new sports medicine complex. This is a multidisciplinary, systemwide effort to bring together primary care and specialists in urology, cardiology; mental, digestive and integrative health; orthopedics and other key services to motivate men to receive comprehensive care throughout their lives.

“We want to address all aspects of men’s healthcare, and the good news is that men are asking for it,” Dr. Ponsky says.

NATIONAL RECOGNITION

In 2020, U.S. News & World Report recognized the UH Urology Department as one of the most improved urology departments in the country. In fact, UH moved up in rankings from #50 in 2018 to #26 in 2019 and 2020. Dr. Ponsky hopes this trajectory will continue.

For more information about any of these programs, or to discuss an individual patient’s needs, call Dr. Ponsky at 216-844-3009.

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