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Archive for August, 2015

UTMC prepares for increased meningococcal vaccine requests

Dr. Deepa Mukundan is expecting to see an uptick in requests for the meningococcal vaccine because of a new law in Ohio that requires the shot for schoolchildren.

The requirement won’t go into effect until the 2016-17 school year, but The University of Toledo Rocket Pediatrics pediatrician who specializes in infectious diseases recommends not waiting until then because meningitis is a deadly disease that parents need to take seriously.

Dr. Deepa Mukundan

Dr. Deepa Mukundan

“By the time the patient is diagnosed, it is usually too late,” Mukundan said. “If the patient does recover, the lasting effects are devastating. The patient could have brain damage, hearing loss or limb loss.”

Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law in July. Parents who object to vaccines can opt out.

“I don’t recommend opting out because early diagnosis is nearly impossible with this disease,” Mukundan said. “While bacterial meningitis, the most serious form, can affect young children, it mostly festers in college dormitories as students share drinks, food and affection. You can hardly imagine the angst of a family who loses a kid who just moved away to college.”

Mukundan said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccination to all students at ages 11 or 12, with a booster at 16. The Ohio Department of Health is likely to follow the same guidelines in response to the new law.

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite sponsored the bill after losing his niece to bacterial meningitis, and Mukundan worked with him to advocate for the bill’s passage.

“Meningitis can quickly strike young victims and result in multiple amputations or death within hours,” Hite said. “Sadly, my family learned that the best treatment for meningitis is often prevention.”

Mukundan explained bacterial meningitis leads to the inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It’s difficult to diagnose and sometimes patients don’t even seek treatment because the symptoms of headache, fever and nausea mimic the common cold and flu.

About 74 percent of children nationwide have received at least one dose of the meningococcal vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Ohio, the vaccination rates will likely be much lower because only 69 percent of children are completely immunized by age 3. Mukundan said this percentage needs to be higher.

“The benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks and most people do understand it if they are properly educated about this life-saving preventative measure,” she said.

Media Coverage
FOX Toledo, NBC 24 and WTOL 11 (Sept. 1, 2015)
13 ABC (Sept. 2, 2015)

UT economist available to discuss stock market fluctuations

Recent stock market fluctuations have investors across the globe nervous, but a University of Toledo economist says there is no need to worry.

All eyes are on China, the world’s second-largest economy, with concerns that a sharp slowdown could hurt economic growth across the globe. Between June 2014 and June 2015 China’s Shanghai Composite index increased by 150 percent, which is proving to be an unsustainable boom.

“The Chinese stock market was a bubble that was due to burst,” said Dr. Gbenga Ajilore, associate professor of economics at UT.

U.S. stock markets took a drastic drop in early trading Monday morning, with the Dow falling more than 1,000 points. By midday the Dow was only down 180 points, about 1.1 percent. This morning, the market jumped more than 350 points.

“The best thing people can do is ignore the stock market this week,” Ajilore said. “The U.S. stock market has been steadily increasing for the past three years and it was due for a correction. The issues with China, however, will persist for some time.”

To schedule an interview with Ajilore, contact Aimee Portala at 419.530.4279 or

ProMedica and The University of Toledo Reach Academic Affiliation Agreement

Pair to establish academic medical center with national standing to attract more students, physicians and researchers to northwest Ohio

ProMedica and The University of Toledo (UT) College of Medicine have finalized an Academic Affiliation Agreement that will enable the two organizations to develop one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. The academic and clinical medical model will recruit medical students, physicians and researchers to northwest Ohio and benefit our communities for generations to come.

A signing ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. at the Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Toledo.

“Our goal is to establish one of the nation’s premier academic medical programs that will attract and retain the best caregivers and specialists,” said Randy Oostra, ProMedica president and chief executive officer. “This agreement lays the foundation for our long-term vision to create healthy individuals and healthy communities for generations to come.”

“As we look out at the next half century, this affiliation positions both organizations to be national leaders in health-care education and medical research,” said UT President Sharon Gaber.

The focus of the agreement is on academics and research as well as:

•  Offering a broader range of educational and training opportunities for future physicians and medical professionals;

•  Attracting and retaining a greater percentage of physicians and other medical specialists;

•  Increasing clinical training capacity that will be comparable to other major academic centers;

•  Creating new jobs and driving community revitalization, economic and business development opportunities;

•  Enhancing research and innovation opportunities.

Substantially, all of UT’s medical students, residents and fellows will be placed at ProMedica facilities. The agreement includes a commitment by ProMedica to support the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, including teaching, research, and as well as the college’s facilities.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to enrich the quality of medical education and expand our clinical training capacity in Toledo and northwest Ohio,” said Dr. Lee Hammerling, ProMedica chief medical officer. “We’re very excited about the future.”

According to a recent report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the nation will face a shortage of between 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025, including primary and specialty care. At the same time, the demand for physicians continues to intensify as a result of the nation’s growing and aging population.

The partnership will be governed by an Academic Affiliation Operating Group (AAOG), which will serve to develop and implement an academic and programmatic plan for the affiliation. The AAOC will be comprised of six members with equal representation from both parties. A first key action by the AAOG will be the development of a transition plan, which is anticipated to begin implementation in July 2016.

The dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Dr. Christopher Cooper, will chair the AAOG.

“The outcomes of this agreement will be truly transformational,” said Cooper, who also serves as UT’s executive vice president for clinical affairs. “For too long, we have educated students that have traveled to other parts of the country to practice medicine. Thanks to UT’s and ProMedica’s affiliation, not only will we retain far greater numbers of the health-care providers we educate, but I have no doubt students, residents and clinical faculty will be drawn to northwest Ohio and what we have created together.”

For more information about ProMedica, visit For more information about UT, visit

The University of Toledo
The University of Toledo, established in 1872, is a diverse, student-centered public metropolitan research university. The University is home to more than 20,000 students across 16 colleges and six Ohio campuses offering more than 150 doctoral, professional, graduate and undergraduate programs. UT is just one of 20 public U.S. universities that offer programs in the following seven professional fields: business, education, engineering, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Nearly 350 student-athletes comprise 15 Division 1 Rocket athletic teams. For more information, visit

ProMedica is a mission-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization serving northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The 13-hospital system has more than 17,000 employees, 2,300 physicians with privileges, and more than 800 healthcare providers employed by ProMedica Physicians. Additionally, it offers a health plan, Paramount, which serves 320,000 members including more than 225,000 members in the statewide Medicaid plan. Driven by its Mission to improve your health and well-being, ProMedica offers a full range of diagnostic, medical and surgical specialties in areas such as emergency medicine and trauma, behavioral health, heart and vascular, oncology, orthopaedics, neurology, and women’s and children’s services. The health system has been nationally recognized for its advocacy programs and efforts to raise awareness about hunger as a health issue. For more information about ProMedica, please visit

Media Coverage
The Blade (Aug. 24, 2015)
The Blade (Aug. 25, 2015)
13 ABC (Aug. 25, 2015)
WTOL 11, 13 ABC and NBC 24 (Aug. 25, 2015)
The Blade (Aug. 26, 2015)
WTOL 11 (Aug. 26, 2015)
The Independent Collegian (Aug. 26, 2015)
The Blade (Aug. 27, 2015)
WTOL 11, 13 ABC and FOX Toledo (Aug. 27, 2015)
The Washington Times (Aug. 30, 2015)
WKYC (Aug. 30, 2015)
Whiz News (Aug. 30, 2015)
The Advertiser-Tribune (Aug. 31, 2015)
The Blade (Sept. 4, 2015)

Board of Trustees Special Meeting Aug. 24

Monday, Aug. 24, 2015
Driscoll Alumni Center, Board Room
2:00 p.m.
Meeting purpose: College of Medicine Academic Affiliation Agreement with ProMedica Health System

Any questions may be directed to the University Communications Office by calling (419) 530-7832 or via email at

UT prepares students for 15-16 academic year

The University of Toledo is welcoming new and returning student residents to campus for the 2015-16 academic year.

New students began moving in to on-campus residence halls on Monday and returning students will join them on campus this weekend. Click here for a move in schedule.

*** Photo Opportunity ***
UT President Sharon Gaber will be helping residents of Parks Tower move in from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday, Aug. 20.

First Weeks events, organized by the Division of Student Affairs, also are scheduled to help new and returning students have fun, meet new friends and learn all about UT before classes start on Monday, Aug. 24.

Events include:

Thursday, Aug. 20
– Bonfire, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., the Flatlands. The Resident Student Association and the National Resident Halls Honorary will provide paint for the spirit rock and s’mores. WXUT and Blue Crew will provide the entertainment.

Friday, Aug. 21
– Commuter Welcome Reception, 2 to 4 p.m., Student Union Ingman Room. First-year and transfer commuter students are welcome to stop by for free ice cream before the New Student Convocation.

– New Student Convocation, 4 to 5 p.m., Savage Arena. UT President Sharon Gaber and faculty and staff members will welcome new students. The event is followed by a barbecue and a foam party.

Sunday, Aug. 23
– Carnival, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Memorial Field House. Students can ride a Ferris wheel, play carnival games, enjoy free food and music.

Click here for information about additional events planned to help students kick off the new year.

Media Coverage
WTOL 11 (Aug. 19, 2015)
NBC 24 (Aug. 20, 2015)
FOX Toledo and 13 ABC (Aug. 21, 2015)
The Blade (Aug. 21, 2015)
NBC 24 (Aug. 25, 2015)

Start of school year signals stress in students

Back to school can mean back to stress for some students, according to a psychiatrist at The University of Toledo Medical Center.

The school year — as opposed to summer vacation — is ripe for stress and anxiety, said Dr. Theodor Rais, director of the child and adolescent psychiatry division at UTMC.


Dr. Theodor Rais

Parents need to try to continually communicate with their students, even those in college, if they want to stay on top of mental health issues that might arise during the school year, Rais said.

Students in high school are more likely to be bullied or worried about getting good grades, he said, while college students, especially first-year students, are adjusting to a new environment and being away from home for the first time.

Rais, who said his office sees an uptick in patients September through May, recommends giving your student advance notice before a visit to check in, that way you aren’t surprising them. Incorporating food into the conversation is also a tactic that works with many young people. It’s hard to turn down a free meal, he said.

Listening to your student is most important. Just let them talk, Rais said. Too often parents try to inject their opinions before hearing what their child has to say.

Parents should be concerned if their students are suddenly getting involved in high-risk behaviors like drinking or drugs.

“You have to be in tune with your child,” Rais said. “The golden principle is that you need to talk to your child. Most of the problems happen when the channels of communication get interrupted.”

Changes in eating or sleeping patterns also should be taken seriously.

“If you see something that is wrong, do not take any chances,” Rais said. “Even if you have the least degree of suspicion, you need to take your child in for an assessment.”

College can be particularly stressful because of the “imposter syndrome,” Rais said. Students at Ivy League schools, for instance, might think that they don’t belong feeling like they are there by luck and won’t be able to make it academically and socially, he said.

“My best advice is preserving the communication, which is made easier these days with texting, Skype and email,” Rais said. “Even though your students are striving for independence, they still need a family.”

To schedule an interview, contact Brandi Barhite at 419.383.5376 or

Media Coverage
WTOL 11 and FOX Toledo (Sept. 1, 2015)
The Independent Collegian (Sept. 2, 2015)

Funding to help create jobs in community health field

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences is pleased to announce a program that will add 35 community health workers to the region to connect patients with resources to help them obtain the care they need.

UT, through its Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program, received $458,000 from the Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program (MEDTAPP) Healthcare Access Initiative (HCA) to provide scholarship stipends to allow community members to receive the appropriate training to become a community health worker.

Kathy Vasquez

Kathy Vasquez

“Community health workers are entry-level health practitioners who serve as a liaison between individuals and health care providers,” said grant administrator Kathy Vasquez, director of the UT and Ohio Statewide Area Health Education Center programs and UT’s associate vice president for government relations. “Community health workers go by many titles that include care coordinator, navigator or advocate. No matter what they are called, though, they are vital employees who connect individuals and families to health insurance, health information, food, housing, and transportation, so that those things do not keep them from obtaining the care they need.”

The AHEC Partnership for Community Health Workers program is a collaboration among UT’s AHEC program, the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio/Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, Mercy College of Ohio, North Central State College and Care Coordination Systems.

HCA is funded by MEDTAPP through the Ohio Department of Medicaid and administered by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC). The MEDTAPP HCA supports the development, training and retention of health care practitioners to serve Ohio’s Medicaid population using emerging health care delivery models and evidenced-based practices.

Scholarship stipends, with commitment to serve Ohio’s Medicaid population, are available and will cover the full cost of the program being conducted by North Central State College. Partial coverage (up to $3,000) for those attending the program through Mercy College of Ohio in Toledo is also available.

Mercy College started a class on Aug. 15. North Central State College will offer a class at the Mansfield campus in August and another class at the UT Health Science Campus in early 2016.

The certification program will include classroom, laboratory, and clinical components designed to prepare students for work in many health care settings, including an ambulatory care center, a senior outreach program and a pregnancy center.

Coursework in the program entails medical terminology, cultural diversity, basic life support and first aid and community health specific topics such as advocacy, referral processes, documentation and skills to complete home visits. Practical experiences in community health settings also are part of the program.

Graduates of the program will receive assistance finding a job upon successful completion of the program and certification by the Ohio Board of Nursing. Employers also could be eligible for funds to assist with the cost of creating new community health worker positions and employing workers to fill those positions.

The Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB partners with organizations that hire community health workers. The HUB is focused on finding people at risk for poor health and identifying and reducing barriers to care by addressing social issues and measuring the results.

“Through the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, nonprofit organizations that hire community health workers can secure sustainable sources of funding for their care coordination program focused on addressing the social determinants of health,” said Jan Ruma, director of the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB and vice president of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.

According to national employment data, community health jobs are supposed to increase 21.8 percent through 2020. Annual salaries vary greatly based on the type of employer but average approximately $37,000.

“Community health workers are expected to be in demand in our area in the coming months and years,” said Cheri Nutter, dean of Innovative and Transitional Education at Mercy. “This certification program is helping Ohio create employees for the growing Medicaid population, and Mercy is glad to be partnering with The University of Toledo.”

Media Contacts:
Brandi Barhite                                    Chris Demko                                           Cheryl Nutter
The University of Toledo                      Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB                 Mercy College of Ohio
419.383.5376                                    419.842.0800                                         419.251.1519                               

Celebrity Wait Night to raise money for cardiology endowment

UT Health cardiologist Dr. Christopher Cooper will be collecting tips, not giving them, when he works as a celebrity waiter on Monday, Aug. 24.

Cullop at Wait Night

Women’s Basketball Coach Tricia Cullop talked to customers at last year’s Celebrity Wait Night at Loma Linda.

Dr. Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will be among the celebrity wait staff raising money for the college’s Mundt Cardiology Endowment Fund from 5:30-9 p.m. at Loma Linda, 10400 Airport Highway, Swanton.

The University of Toledo Medical Center and the Mundt family are hosting “From the Heart,” which is the fifth annual celebrity wait event.

“It is an event we have been doing for five years. It has been very popular from the first year on and we have been very successful,” said Al Mundt, whose family owns Loma Linda.

Mundt had a heart transplant in 1998 at the former Medical College of Ohio.

“My heart was giving out; it was working only 12 percent,” he said. “I have had this new heart for 17 years and it has been going very well.”

Established in 2008, the endowment supports new and innovative programs such as the Left Ventricle Assist Device that will one day make heart transplantation again available in Toledo.

“All the tips raised by the celebrity waiters will go toward the fund,” said Laura Robinson, senior major gifts officer. “Every year, we are fortunate enough to raise $30,000 to $40,000 for this incredibly worthy cause. In addition, the patrons truly enjoy seeing their doctors and other UT staff as waiters. ”

Wait staff will include UT Women’s Basketball Coach Tricia Cullop and UT’s Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk. UTMC cardiologists Dr. Mark Bonnell, Dr. Mark Burket, Dr. Jeffrey Hammersley, Dr. Samer Khouri, Dr. George Moukarbel and Dr. Thomas Schwann will serve as celebrity waiters as well.

The evening will feature a raffle with a grand prize of $5,000. Tickets, which are $10 each, can be purchased at either Loma Linda or Ventura restaurants, or through Robinson or Felicia Guerrero.

Cooper hopes that the community comes out for a good cause — and a good meal.

“I love the food at Loma Linda’s, and my favorite is shrimp tacos,” he said.

For more information about the event and raffle tickets, contact Robinson at 419.383.6645 or

Lecture will highlight cutting-edge cancer-fighting technology

The University of Toledo Medical Center is the only hospital in town offering an innovative non-invasive radiosurgery treatment option using the latest technology for patients battling cancer.

Dr. Krishna Reddy

Dr. Krishna Reddy

Dr. Krishna Reddy, a radiation oncologist at UTMC, will discuss this cutting-edge technology at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20 in the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

The free, public lecture is part of the Tie One On Awareness Lecture Series hosted by the Dana Cancer Center.

Reddy will discuss the “Edge” radiosurgery system, which can destroy tumors — smaller than half a centimeter — with high doses of focused radiation beams.

The new system, unveiled one year ago, is one of only five medical centers in the world to have the advanced technology.

Reddy said the high-dose radiation can target difficult-to-reach tumors, such as those in the brain, with better precision with radiation treatments that are 15 minutes, compared to one hour for other types of radiation therapy.

“The goal is to deliver a radiation dose that is high enough to kill the cancer while limiting exposure to surrounding healthy organs,” he said. “At the lecture, we will talk about situations where patients can benefit from this treatment.

“This is definitely something we take a lot of pride in offering at UTMC,” he said.

Unfortunately, patients don’t always receive information about these options because doctors are just learning about the high-tech possibility, he said.

“We are excited to spread the word to doctors and those people who could benefit from it,” Reddy said.

The Tie One On Cancer Awareness Lecture Series continues this fall. Upcoming Thursday lectures will be:

  • Sept 17 — Dr. Samay Jain, UT assistant professor and chief of the Division of Urologic Oncology, will discuss prostate cancer.
  • Oct. 15 — Dr. Iman Mohamed, UT professor and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, will discuss lymphedema.

Each person who attends the lecture will be entered into a drawing for tickets to an upcoming sporting event or a gift certificate for spa services. To reserve a spot, email

Media Coverage
The Blade (Aug. 17, 2015)
The Independent Collegian (Sept. 2, 2015)

Children’s eye health is highlighted during August

A local pediatric optometrist wants to make sure that your back-to-school lists include more than notebooks, markers and glue.

A successful school year begins with good vision by having a comprehensive eye exam, which is one reason that August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, said Dr. Nahrain Shasteen who is on staff with Vision Associates, which serves as The University of Toledo’s Department of Ophthalmology.

“If your child has never had a comprehensive eye exam, it is a good idea to schedule one to make sure everything is developing well,” Shasteen said. “Blurred vision can make it difficult to see the board in school. Eye coordination, eye focusing or visual perception problems can also impact learning.”

The American Optometric Association actually recommends that a child have his or her eyes examined at 6 months of age because vision development is rapid within the first year of life, Shasteen said. If normal, the next exam should be at 3 years old and then every year once a child is in kindergarten.

Dr. Nahrain Shasteen

Dr. Nahrain Shasteen

The importance of early detection was recently popularized with a YouTube video that showed 10-month-old Piper seeing clearly for the first time with her new eyeglasses.

“She was a patient of the InfantSee® Program, which I participate in,” Shasteen said. “Doctors participating in the American Optometric Association’s InfantSee® program provide no-cost eye examinations to infants between 6 and 12 months of age.”

Shasteen said children with vision problems can’t often communicate the issue. They might not know what normal vision looks like or they want to please their parents so, when quizzed, they indicate they can see something far away.

Signs that a child might be struggling to see include red eyes, tearing eyes or squinting. More subtle clues are tilting or turning of the head, covering an eye, having difficulty paying attention in class, loss of place when reading or avoiding reading all together. Some children with vision problems have difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination and playing sports.

Shasteen said even if a child has good vision, the health of the eye needs to be protected. She recommends wearing sports goggles, which is not often emphasized in a school setting, and for parents to set a good example by wearing protective gear when mowing the lawn or working on home improvement projects. Sunglasses should be worn outside to prevent damage from ultraviolet light.

“Children learn best by what their parents are doing,” she said.

While it’s a myth that carrots will improve eyesight, Shasteen said an overall healthy diet is good for eye health because it prevents diabetes and other diseases that affect eyesight.

“As for video games, they are OK in moderation,” she said. “We actually found that video games used in vision therapy have a positive impact in improving lazy eye and other vision disorders.”

To schedule an interview, contact Brandi Barhite at 419.383.5376 or

Media Coverage
FOX Toledo (Aug. 14, 2015)
WTOL 11 (Aug. 14, 2015)