A President's Perspective – February 2023

By now, I hope you’ve heard the exciting news about our impending agreement with the Regional Medical Center (tRMC) in Orangeburg to begin a new relationship in which MUSC Health would assume oversight of all tRMC hospital operations and associated ambulatory practices.

After appropriate due diligence, and with the overwhelming support of county officials and state legislators, trustees voted unanimously earlier this month to finalize a long-term lease and operations agreement.

MUSC was invited by the state legislature and elected officials of Orangeburg and Calhoun counties to consider new approaches, following the establishment of Proviso 23.6 of the South Carolina General Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2022-2023, which states that “the Medical University of South Carolina and the Medical University Hospital Authority shall partner with the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg for research and improved access to care in rural and underserved communities experiencing chronic disease.”

Why are we moving forward with this Regional Medical Center agreement? Briefly, it is the right thing to do, and, we are the right organization to do it. Without this partnership and agreement, tRMC is at risk. Together, however, we can build on each organization’s strengths and ensure continued high-quality local care and access to the best that MUSC can offer for the greater Orangeburg region.

We’re very close to the finalization of this agreement, and there has been an incredible amount of work taking place in a very short amount of time to make this transition happen as smoothly as possible. I am extremely proud of our MUSC family members across the enterprise who, once again, have been given a complex set of factors and challenges and have swiftly risen to the occasion to follow through on our belief that the best care is local and with high connectivity to the care, research and education that only MUSC can provide, to those we serve.

In the days ahead, please join me in welcoming our Orangeburg area colleagues and team members into the MUSC fold and celebrating another health care win for the citizens of our state.

Yours in service,

David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, President, MUSC

Values in Action

On March 30 at noon, previous winners of the President’s Values in Action Awards will be celebrated when we unveil a special monument in their honor, in the green space behind the Colbert Education Center and Library, near the Drug Discovery Building, on the Charleston campus. Going forward, future award winners will also be recognized as part of this permanent tribute to the outstanding people who go above and beyond in personifying MUSC’s five values: collaboration, compassion, innovation, integrity and respect.

This event is open for any member of the MUSC family to attend, and I hope to see many of you there in support of all of the awardees who have been recognized since 2016. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about this recognition and rewards program and meet individuals from myriad areas of the enterprise.

And just in case you missed it – please take a moment to watch this video highlighting the moments when we surprised the 2022 winners this past November. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider nominating someone in your sphere during the 2023 cycle.

Research Spotlight

For many of us in health care, we’ve heard some version (and varying attributions) of the “River Story,” which essentially highlights the need to address the root cause of a health issue. The most significant part of the story arrives at its end, when the reader or listener realizes that until the individuals who are constantly rescuing people from the river, despite continuous advancements in their tools and processes, get upstream to figure out why people are jumping in, the people in need of rescue will just keep coming, with no end in sight.

The innovative research I want to highlight today reminds me of this parable, as explained by the author of a recent MUSC news piece:

“Behavior can be thought of as a car moving through an intersection after stopping at a traffic light. For the car to move forward, the brake must be released, and the gas pedal must be pressed. In the past, addiction research has largely focused on the gas pedal, identifying brain regions and circuits that promote reward-seeking behavior in hazardous contexts. However, this approach fails to address a major component of addiction – the inability to stop risky behavior from happening in the first place.

Researchers at MUSC recognized the importance of identifying these behavior-braking circuits and wanted to know why they were faulty in addiction.”

Read more

Giving with Purpose

The totals are in, and LOWVELO22 riders raised more than $427,000! LOWVELO is an annual fundraising ride that rallies the community around one cause – funding lifesaving cancer research at Hollings Cancer Center.

On Nov. 5, a record 891 cyclists rode in the 2022 event – including 328 MUSC researchers, physicians, faculty and staff members and students. Thank you for going above and beyond to change what’s possible in cancer care.

Every rider-raised dollar goes directly to cancer research at Hollings. Fundraising events like LOWVELO make it possible to fund pilot projects that help our researchers to apply for larger grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Money raised through LOWVELO has already supported groundbreaking research projects at Hollings, like making CAR-T-cell therapy safer and more effective.

Learn more about LOWVELO's impact.

From Kathy

At the end of January, Dave and I were honored to participate in the first MUSC “all alumni” awards banquet to recognize some of our remarkable alumni. It was a wonderful evening, and I was so pleased to take part in the event. Near or far, I consider the MUSC family part of my family, and as Dave said at the event, we are so very grateful for the vision, leadership and commitment that these individuals demonstrate every day.

You might be wondering why I called it the first – traditionally, individual alumni award ceremonies have been held annually by each college, and while these events will continue at the college level, part of being OneMUSC is celebrating together, across the university and all of its disciplines, whenever possible. I can’t wait to see how this event grows as we continue to celebrate our amazing alumni.

The 11 men and women who were honored promote a standard of professionalism, compassion and expertise that our students can aspire to as well as the impact of an MUSC education. What a treat to be in the presence of such impactful and influential people!

In Case You Missed It

Carter's Longevity: As the nation prepares to say goodbye to Jimmy Carter, an MUSC aging expert talks about longevity – and why she’s worried about today’s younger people.

Warning Strokes: American Heart Association tells doctors to treat TIAs as emergencies. MUSC Health expert explains what the transient attacks mean in terms of major stroke risk.

Mannogram: This month in "Trust Me, I Know a Doctor," Bryce gets a mammogram and writes about the experience. Click at your own peril.

Earthquake Impact: Thriving community of Turkish faculty and students at MUSC is grateful for support in aftermath of earthquake.

Cancer Research: MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is investing in its scientists' research, providing pilot grants to help projects to get started.

From Coat to Coat: From the operating room to the board room, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the life of MUSC President David Cole.

Fetter Collaboration: A Stand Up 2 Cancer grant will help to ensure that Fetter Health Care patients at risk of lung cancer get the screenings they need.

Stone Center: People in pain from kidney stones are getting fast relief through a special center at MUSC Health. “It definitely has been a godsend,” says one patient.

Research and Clinical: Katherine Chetta, M.D., and Mindy Engevik, Ph.D., are working together on necrotizing enterocolitis.

Obesity Medications: Medications that can help people to lose remarkable amounts of weight have a clear upside – but that’s not the whole story.