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UH Neurological Institute Update | Summer 2021

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Expanding programs and partnerships

UH Neurology & Neurosurgery | Summer 2021

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, University Hospitals Neurological Institute and other departments are getting back to the basics. Our faculty and staff have resumed daily operations while embracing the “new normal” in delivering medical care for our patients. So far, this year also brings a renewed focus on growth and updating our programs to better serve our patient communities.

Increasing Access for Patients

UH Neurological Institute continues to add and expand neurological services for patients, whether it’s by its building strategic partnerships with other neurological providers or streamlining patients’ pathways to care.

Our health system is proud to deliver award-winning stroke care through our advanced primary stroke center at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, which earned Stroke Gold Plus and Target Award recognition from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association in 2020. To build on that care, we’re exploring partnerships with other regional hospitals to expand our telestroke program — giving more patients access to our Comprehensive Stroke Center and advanced treatment options.

Another exciting development is University Hospitals’ merger with Lake Health in April, which will bring 11 medical centers on Cleveland’s East Side under the UH umbrella. We look forward to beginning the integration effort and providing greater access to neurological care in those communities. When completed, the merger will also bring more than 3,000 caregivers and 600 physicians to our health system.

On Cleveland’s West Side, our new spine center of excellence at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center is also giving patients access to the latest spine care treatments, surgical techniques and technologies closer to home. Creating the center of excellence involved designing new, streamlined care pathways for patients with common spine conditions such as back and neck pain, so they can more easily access conservative medical care before considering surgery.

Teamwork Saves Lives

Driving successful patient outcomes often requires seamless coordination of multiple teams, as demonstrated recently when our clinicians provided time-critical stroke treatment for one patient.

The patient arrived at UH Ahuja on Feb. 12, after their coworkers recognized stroke symptoms and called emergency services. Macedonia EMS dispatched the patient to the Ahuja Emergency Department, transmitting information en route. That responsive communication allowed the Ahuja ED team, led by Jessica Goldstein, MD, and stroke coordinator Heather Dickinson, BSN, RN, SCRN, to prepare for the patient’s arrival and quickly begin tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

Because the neurologic exam suggested a major artery blockage, team members performed additional brain scans and activated the UH Ahuja Stroke Thrombectomy Team, so that neurosurgeon Yin Hu, MD, could travel to meet the patient quickly. Dr. Hu then performed the stroke intervention thrombectomy procedure that saved the patient from a major stroke and paralysis. The tremendous success of this procedure was the result of effective communication and a coordinated team effort.

Celebrating Successes & New Recruits

UH Neurological Institute continues to lead in recognition of our employees, as shown by multiple awards:

  • Tiffany Hodges, MD, was recommended by UH Leadership to receive the 2021 YWCA Women of Achievement Award. Established in 1977, the award is considered one the of most prestigious honors for women in Cleveland, honoring those who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities, as well as excellence, accomplishments and commitment to their careers and communities. Women chosen to receive this award are role models and mentors. They have played significant roles in helping other women achieve their goals. The award recipients also exemplify the YWCA Mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. Learn more about Dr. Hodges’ dynamic career in our latest “Physician Highlight” feature.
  • Kelly Montgomery, BSN, RN, SCRN, received the 2021 Excellence in Clinical Patient Care Award from the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN). This national award will be presented at the AANN’s Annual Educational Meeting in April in San Antonio, Texas, as well as virtually.
  • Martha Sajatovic, MD, was selected to receive The American College of Psychiatrists’ 2022 Geriatric Research Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to research in geriatric psychiatry.

We also celebrate our clinicians who have been recognized for their exemplary service through promotions and appointments. Two of our physicians were promoted in academic promotions at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Brian Appleby, MD, has been promoted to Professor of Neurology, and Aasef Shaikh, MD, PhD, has been promoted to Associate Professor of Neurology. Promotion to senior ranks at the School of Medicine — including the positions of Associate Professor and Professor — requires evidence of regional, national and/or international recognition in research, education or service, including clinical service.

Brian D. Rothstein, MD, MS, was appointed to Chief Medical Officer for UH Ventures, where he will serve as the chief clinical advisor connecting UH Ventures to the clinical enterprise of our entire health system. We congratulate Dr. Rothstein on his new role, which will help translate the needs of healthcare to our partners in the business realm to advance patient care. Congratulations also to Lois Hengenius, Academic Program Administrator for the UH Neurological Institute, who was re-elected for another two-year term as Treasurer of the Association of Resident Administrators in Neurological Surgery (ARANS).

In March 2021, our institute also added a new neurologist to our talented team, Luisa Londono, MD.

Research Updates

UH Neurological Institute research continues to be on the cutting edge of unlocking treatments and disorders of the brain. In 2021, neurosurgeon Olindi Wijesekera, MD, was the first UH applicant to receive the prestigious R-25 Neurosurgery Clinician-Scientist Training grant, sponsored by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Dr. Wijesekera’s project, “Enzyme-Responsive Nanomedicine for Targeted Fibrinolysis in Stroke,” proposes to develop and evaluate a novel, nanomedicine-based intravenous targeted therapeutic approach for efficacious fibrinolysis in acute ischemic stroke. She will have mentors in the UH Department of Neurological Surgery and Case Western Reserve University’s Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience.

Upcoming Events

Our neurologists and neurosurgeons are always seeking out opportunities to promote education in the latest surgical techniques. In fall 2021, UH Neurological Institute will be hosting two expansive courses focused on the treatment of complex skull base disorders, taught by our institute faculty members. Both courses will draw neurosurgeons nationwide to learn about the latest treatments of neurosurgical skull base lesions.

The courses, “Surgery of the Craniovertebral Junction” and the “Congress of Neurological Surgeons Fellow’s Course in Skull Base Surgery,” will be held at the School of Medicine in September.

To refer a patient to UH Neurological Institute or contact one of our experts, call 440-827-5088.

NICHOLAS C. BAMBAKIDIS, MD, FAHA, FAANS
Director and Vice President, UH Neurological Institute
Professor of Neurological Surgery
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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