For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future. ~ John F. Kennedy
Since my message one year ago, our professional world, as well as society, has faced unprecedented changes. In our Division, we have celebrated our success and national recognition as a top-ranked program by US News and World Report (35th). Our great efforts at improving clinical productivity and customer service continued to provide patient and referring satisfaction and enhance faculty professional career satisfaction. Then, out of nowhere, we faced the fear and uncertainty of a virus that posed not only a dangerous threat to our most vulnerable patients but took the lives of health care providers as well. As we learned that endoscopy could aerosolize this indiscriminate killer, we had to develop strategies to care for our patients and ourselves, often with real concerns for adequate personal protective equipment. I am proud to share our team rose to the challenge. We developed strategies to prioritize care, protect our providers, and embrace telehealth. Many participated in non-specialty activities such as COVID clinic, backup for inpatient medicine, and supported each other as well as nursing, technical, and administrative teams across our practice. While we face the challenge to address the massive backlog demand for our services with fewer providers, we look to the future. My vision for an integrated Digestive Health Institute, which was developing momentum prior to the COVID crisis, remains an unwavering goal.
Our key missions including education and research faced incredible challenges as well. Neeral Shah and Anne Tuskey worked to retool the medical student GI training to an online platform midstream with great success. Andy Copland mentored a novel approach for QI fellow projects that was extremely well received. Fellowship training was reorganized with the support of national resources for online and group study.
Research has continued to flourish. In addition to ongoing work in our key focused area of interventional endoscopy and coagulation in liver disease, we are expanding collaborations with the cancer center with pancreatic and colon cancer initiatives. I am proud to share UVA is leading the way, entering the first patient in our national trial EA2185—a large multi-center study funded by NCI thru ECOG-ACRIN, designed to determine the natural history and outcomes of pancreatic cyst surveillance. As key members of the North American Alliance for the Study of Digestive Manifestations of COVID-19, UVA is playing a key role in the preparation of a manuscript reporting 2005 consecutive patients enrolled at 36 centers in the United States and Canada. This just highlights a few of many ongoing interesting research initiatives in our division with a full report on the pages to follow.
So as I look to the future, we face many challenges, and we will rise to meet them, as we keep moving forward with a laser focus on our important missions.
James M. Scheiman, MD