September 11, 2017

Upcoming Events

·         Sept. 20 - Grand Rounds: Joe Carcillo, MD

·         Oct. 4 - Grand Rounds: Hernando Gomez, MD

·         Oct. 18 - Grand Rounds: Andrew Shaw, MD

·         Oct. 19 - 7th Annual AKI Symposium

·         Oct. 31 - Ake and Inger Grenvik Lectureship: Monty Mythen, MBBS, MD

·         Nov. 1 - Grand Rounds: Monty Mythen, MBBS, MD

·         Nov. 17-18 - APAKI Pittsburgh, two-day symposium

New Faces

Aimee Skrtich joined us mid-August as the Clinical Project Director for the ICU Service Center. Aimee will be rolling out quality improvement initiatives and undertaking strategic planning and project management for the ICU Service Center. For the last five years, she was the Unit Director of the Mercy Adult Medical ICU. You can find Aimee in room 637 of Scaife Hall. She holds a BSN from Waynesburg University, and MSN and DNP from the University of Pittsburgh.

Pediatric intensivist Sarah Rubin, MD, joined us as Assistant Professor and Attending Physician. Her research focuses on early recognition and prevention of childhood critical illness, and informatics applications for improving clinical outcomes. Previously, she was an assistant professor at the Keck School of Medicine the University of Southern California.  She received her medical degree from The Chicago Medical School, and BA from the University of Virginia.

We’re pleased to welcome a cohort of some of our most successful fellows to our faculty ranks. Six pediatric intensivists joined the team at Children’s. Kendra Woods, MD, is a full-time Instructor and Catherine Gretchen, MD, and Wonshill Koh, MD, are a full-time Clinical Instructors. Jessica Wallisch, MD, and Idris Evans, MD, joined as casual Clinical Instructors; they are also T32 post-doctoral scholars in the Safar Center. Rounding out the pediatric intensivist ranks is Chris Horvat MD, MHA, who is an Assistant Professor and Pediatric Intensivist.

Also from our fellowship program are Alexander Preus, MD, who is a full-time Clinical Assistant Professor based at Mercy ICU, and Raj Padmanabhan, MD, who is a full-time Clinical Instructor working at Presby ICU.  Raj is also undertaking the one-year ECMO training program. Joshua Keegan, MD, joined us on August 15 as a Clinical Assistant Professor providing clinical services in our recently-acquired Altoona ICU.

Joining our faculty ranks from the University of Virginia, where he completed a neurocritical care fellowship, is Firas Abdulmajeed, MD. He is a full-time Assistant Professor providing clinical services at Mercy ICU. Firas completed his MBChB at the University of Baghdad College of Medicine and his internal medicine internship and residency training at Canton Medical Education Foundation in Ohio.

A 2014 graduate of the CCM Anesthesiology Fellowship Program, Mary Przybysz, MD, returns as an Assistant Professor after three years in Charlotte, NC, where she was a Critical Care Associate at Carolina Medical Center. She will provide clinical services at Mercy ICU.

So Long!

Renee Anderko first worked for CRISMA as a student worker two-and-half years ago, then was employed as a laboratory technician. She has begun a new phase in her academic career doing a PhD in Infectious Disease in Microbiology at the Graduate School of Public Health. Her last day was September 25.

CCM by the Numbers*

144 Staff members

80 Faculty members

33 APPs

30 Adult fellows

16 Pediatric fellows

5 Vice Chairs

4 Research centers

4 Adult Fellowship programs

2 Pediatric Fellowship programs

2 Clinical divisions

1 Department of Critical Care Medicine

*Staffing numbers are approximate

Easy Professional Development

Want to create a more compelling PowerPoint, need insight on how to manage a large project, or simply want to improve your photography skills? These topics and so much more are available to employees with Pitt credentials at Go to the Online Tech Training icon on the right sidebar of your MyPitt portal.

Funding Congratulations

wallace_400_2016_0David Wallace, MD was awarded an R03 grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study the causes and effects of hospital-level changes on ICU bed supply. His project runs through the end of July 2019.

The Center for Critical Care Nephrology kellum_400_2016_0begins a new research project thanks to a two-year grant from Astute Medical awarded to John Kellum, MD.  Priyanka Priyanka, BAMS, MPH, Edvin Music, MSIS, MBA, and Michele Elder, RN, BSN, will also work on the project, which aims to determine the patient outcomes and costs associated with alternative decisions for the initiation of renal replacement therapy for acute kidney injury.

Jeremy Kahn, MD was awarded a $1.5 million, four-year grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. He will be evaluating the impact of New York's state-wide sepsis regulations to determine their effects on sepsis quality and costs. Results from the project will help other states design sepsis policies in ways that lead to optimal patient outcomes.

Hats Off

In early September, Ann Thompson, MD, MHCPM, was honored as an Inspirational Physician by the American Medical Association’s Women Physicians Section, which recognizes physicians who have offered their time, wisdom and support to advance women with careers in medicine. In nominating Ann, Lori Shutter, MD, said Ann “excels at identifying leadership opportunities for women in medicine … and has broken barriers in critical care medicine to allow the advancement of hundreds of women in the field.”

cid:image007.png@01D32262.639A43B0Congratulations to Nicole ‘Cole’ Steffy, Senior Professional Staff Nurse, for her recent UPMC ACES award. Cole is, “One of our nursing stars at Magee ICU,” says Ragi Murugan. She is a role model for professionalism, a patient advocate, and a champion for staff education. We’re thrilled to have you on our team, Cole.

Jake Corbin, CRNC, Family Nurse Practitioner at Magee ICU received The DAISY Award, a national award to honor the super-human work nurses do for patients and families every day. Jake was nominated by the eight-year-old daughter of one of his critically-ill patients, who had not been told about her health situation prior to being flown here from another hospital. In nominating Jake, she said, “Jacob has the I Care About the Patients and he explains every thing to you And if you have questions he will take the time to tell you and explain the question to you very thourally. He is an excelent nurse. I would recomend him to another patient and family member. I like Jacob as my moms nurse [sic].”

New Peds Neurocritical Care Track

Our pediatric critical care fellows now have the opportunity to gain crucial neurocritical care expertise with the launch of the new Pediatric Neurocritical Care Fellowship track. Graduates are eligible to sit for the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties Neurocritical Care board exam. The two-year program is completed during the PGY-5 and -6 of Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship or may be started in PGY-6 for fellows also completing a T32 Fellowship. Deadline to apply is December 15, 2017. Contact Site Director Dennis Simon, MD for further information.

3 Questions for Aimee Skrtich

What excites you about the ICU Service Center? 

A:  The thing that excites me the most is the impact we can make across all of the ICUs in the UPMC system. By standardizing care, through research and evidenced-based practice, we ensure that patients get the same treatment at UPMC Altoona as they would at UPMC Shadyside or any other of our ICUs. That’s huge.


What project are you working on at the moment?  

A:  The most prominent project is the ABCDEF care bundle kick-off on October 2. The event will help clinicians understand how to use all elements of the bundle so that adult ICU patients have improved pain management, and experience less delirium and reduced long-term consequences of an ICU stay. I’m working with Chris in the Communications Office on a video for the kick off. The video will show a doctor rounding with a live patient and explain to clinicians the ideal way to use the ABCDEF bundle, and how it works with the new M page. 


Can you tell us something that’s made you proud?

A:  I have won two Pitt Cameo of Caring awards. The first is the Donate Life Award, which is given in collaboration with the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, for my dedication to the organ donation process. The other was the Advanced Practice Nurse in Management Award that I won in 2017 for my work at UPMC Mercy.


Aimee Skrtich, DNP, RN, CCRN, NE-BC, is the Clinical Project Director for the ICU Service Center.

Blood Sampling on Everest

setwidth500-76044-prof-michael-m241894Don’t miss Monty Mythen’s talk on “Human Tolerance of Hypoxia – Lessons from Everest.”  He took part in the Caudwell Xtreme Everest project during which eight physicians reached the summit and sampled arterial blood at a mere 400 meters below the peak on their descent. Dr. Mythen is the Smiths Medical Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care at University College London, and will deliver the Ake and Inger Grenvik Lectureship on October 31.

CCM Innovation Grants Program

Two different CCM Innovation Grants provide our faculty with funding for new, innovative research projects that will foster successful extramural funding applications. The Traditional Award funds a pilot study or small feasibility project; deadline to apply is April 1st each year. The Supplemental Award, as its name suggests, will supplement an external award; it has a rolling deadline. For information on both Innovation Grants, check out the Innovation Grant Program webpage. For further questions, contact Innovation Grant Program director, Ragi Murugan.

Shuttle to/from Children's

For 15 minutes you get to read, snooze or admire the view without bothering about parking when you arrive. Catch the shuttle to Children’s from outside the main doors of Scaife Hall and a quarter hour later you’ll arrive at the main entrance of Children’s. The return shuttle leaves from the same spot at Children’s. Be sure to hop off at WPIC on O’Hara Street. The latest shuttle schedule is available on the UPMC intranet or you can download the App.

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Publications, Editorials & News Coverage

Congratulations to Idris Evans, MD on his first-author paper in JAMA Pediatrics on the epidemiology of sepsis among adolescents at western Pennsylvania community hospitals.

The August issue of Lancet Neurology ran an editorial first-authored by Ruchi Jha, MD, in which she discusses two traumatic brain injury papers.

A clinical trial project conducted by Brad Molyneaux, MD, PhD, about treatment for malignant cerebral infarction was discussed by his co-investigator, Christopher Streib, MD, MS, whose Q&A interview “Clarity Around Craniotomy” ran in the August 3 issue of Medscape.

Ericka Fink, MD, MS, talked about the PANGEA study (Prevalence of Acute Critical Neurological Disease in Children: A Global Epidemiological Assessment) with Margaret Parker, MD, MCCM, for the iCritical Care podcast series. The conversation aired on August 3.

A week later, Chris Seymour participated in the same iCritical Care podcast series with Todd Fraser, MD, discussing sepsis treatment. It aired on August 10.

Scott Gunn, MD, is the fourth author on a randomized clinical trial published August 22 in JAMA on the effect of Ganciclovir on critically ill adults with cytomegaloviarus-seropositive. MACRO coordinated the enrollment of the Pitt patients. Perhaps you didn’t know that Scott was the founding director of MACRO before handing over the reins to David Huang, MD, MPH, in 2010.

Know Your Conditions?

upmc_1_h_rgb_tag1They happen every day with random regularity, but how many staff members actually know what the condition announcements mean? Here’s a brief rundown on the Rapid Response conditions.


Condition A – Initiated for a pulseless or non-breathing patient.

Condition C – Called for a variety of respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological or other body system problems. It is used to prevent a crisis, or to prevent the crisis from escalating. 

Condition H – Called by a patient or family member wanting emergency assistance relating to management of care and associated concerns.

Condition L – Activated when a disoriented or medically unstable patient has left the unit without authorization. A comprehensive, systematic search for the patient immediately follows.

Condition M – A behavioral alert called for patients or visitors demonstrating behavior that could pose a potential threat to themselves, patients, staff, or visitors. 

Did You Know?

· There are nearly 200 Condition A and B announcements made at Presby every month

· The Rapid Response Team is made up of CCM physicians and APPs

· Ragi Murugan is the Director of the Rapid Response Team

Heart-felt thanks—times 200—to all members of the Rapid Response Team.

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© 2017 University of Pittsburgh Department of Critical Care Medicine, 3550 Terrace Street, 6th Floor Scaife Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213