Department Spotlight: Emergency Medicine

Our department is committed to outstanding emergency care, exceptional education and leading-edge research.

By: Steven “Andy” Godwin, M.D., FACEP

The department of emergency medicine features a diverse group of 39 faculty members, 45 residents, six pediatric EM fellows and outstanding support staff who strive daily to meet our mission of excellence in patient care, education and research.

Our department has a broad range of interests, with nationally recognized experts in adult and pediatric emergency medicine, critical care medicine, emergency ultrasound, toxicology, prehospital and disaster medicine, pediatric bariatric medicine, wellness, occupational medicine, simulation education and international medicine. We recently expanded our departmental operations to accommodate expansion of emergency and critical care at UF Health North.

Patient care
Our downtown campus continues to provide outstanding emergency and trauma care for our diverse population of patients, led by medical director Ashley Norse, M.D., and our nursing partners. Despite the challenges of an inner-city facility, our department has been successful in significantly improving multiple hospital metrics such as wait times and length of stay.

Emergency Department monthly volumes at UF Health North continue to rise.

Emergency Department monthly volumes at UF Health North continue to rise.

North campus Emergency Department monthly volumes continue to rise, with a projected annual volume now of around 43,000 patients per year — a 5 percent increase over fiscal year 2017. There has been a 43 percent increase in average admissions from July 2016 until the inpatient tower opened in May, versus the time since its opening through October. The average has gone from 394 admissions per month to 564. Also, admission volumes have gone from 12.9 to 18.5 percent, with 85 percent of admitted patients now staying there.

We are proud of the opening of the north campus’ intensive care unit, led by medical director LaMont Smith, M.D., in collaboration with Shane Hester, D.O., from general surgery and Joseph Shiber, M.D., and Beranton Whisenant, M.D., from the critical care division. They have been instrumental in the ICU’s early success. This service is rapidly growing and works closely with nursing, pharmacy and other ancillary services.

Our department remains committed to providing education across all levels of health care. In the past year, 10 faculty members were recognized as exemplary teachers. The education division — led by David Caro, M.D.; Todd Wylie, M.D.; Jay Khadpe, M.D.; and Melissa Parsons, M.D. — continues to produce highly sought-after residency and fellowship graduates. Petra Duran-Gehring, M.D., and Andrew Shannon, M.D., M.P.H., direct departmental ultrasound training and quality assurance, and are planning and recruiting for the first EM ultrasound fellow.

The department continues to provide leadership and education in the prehospital and disaster field. Carolina Pereira, M.D., UF Health Jacksonville’s disaster medical officer, provided outstanding leadership during the hurricanes over the last two years. Faculty members also serve as deputy medical directors for TraumaOne Flight Services, provide ongoing EMS education and outreach to Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, and are part of the statewide EMS leadership.

Emergency medicine research has been highly successful under the direction of Phyllis Hendry, M.D., and Colleen Kalynych, Ed.D. The departmental portfolio includes federally funded studies, industry clinical trials and private foundation funding.

PAMIGrant funding for the past two years has exceeded $3 million. Highlights include our nationally recognized Pain Assessment and Management Initiative, led by Hendry and Sophia Sheikh, M.D. Now in its fourth year of funding, PAMI provides patient-safety and educational advances regarding pain in adults and children.

Faheem Guirgis, M.D., continues his outstanding sepsis research in the second year of his K23 award. The department recently completed a three-year grant in collaboration with Gainesville emergency medicine on ED-to-home interventions. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, funded the initiative. The department also became the second site in the country to participate in the Longitudinal Assessment of Post-traumatic Syndromes project, also known as AURORA. This $30 million study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, seeks to achieve breakthroughs in understanding post-traumatic stress, post-concussive symptoms, depression and pain.

In addition, UF Health Jacksonville was the only Florida hospital selected as one of 89 nationally to participate in the Pathways for Improving Pediatric Asthma Care study, a national improvement collaborative for children treated in the ED or hospitalized with asthma. Jennifer Fishe, M.D., associate medical director of pediatric emergency medicine, will lead the study locally.

Awards and recognition
Department faculty members have received a number of noteworthy awards and accolades. Kelly Gray-Eurom, M.D., M.M.M., was awarded the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Council Prestigious Meritorious Service Award. Elizabeth DeVos, M.D., M.P.H., was the College of Medicine nominee for the UF Junior Faculty International Educator of the Year award as part of the university’s International Week celebration. Also, Ashley Norse, M.D., was recently elected vice speaker of the Florida Medical Association.

Remembering Robert L. Wears, M.D., M.S., Ph.D.


Robert L. Wears, M.D., M.S., Ph.D

We would like to pay tribute to our dear friend, colleague and mentor, Robert Wears, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., who passed away earlier this year at age 70. He was a true scholar and leader in academic emergency medicine and was recognized internationally as an innovative mind and trailblazer in patient safety and human factors.

He touched all of our lives and careers as the ultimate mentor and SCOG (super cool old guy), as the residents called him. He has left a lasting footprint on our department and the practice of medicine nationally and internationally. He will never be forgotten.