A President's Perspective – Jan. 2023

Dear MUSC family,

Happy 2023! It’s hard to believe we’re that we’re almost through the first month of the new year. I hope that you and your loved ones were able to enjoy the holiday season; as for the Cole household, we enjoyed celebrating Christmas with several days of organized family chaos – think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with a lot of dogs.

Traditionally, the new year brings resolutions, most related to health and wellness, continuing good practices previously adopted or to accomplishing some type of personal goal. We all know that most of these resolutions have a very short half-life and are found discarded off to the side of the road by the time we hit Valentines Day. It has been suggested that, aside from human nature, part of the problem is that most New Year’s resolutions are too big or vague. To combat this tendency, I have been told that we should focus on setting SMART goals for ourselves: SMART = Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely. With that in mind, I’ll share with you a SMART goal I’ve set for myself:

Dave Coles New Year’s SMART goal resolution is to: Support My wife And so Remain intact… wish me luck.

As we struggle with the yearly dilemma of challenging resolutions, I might suggest that perhaps a better approach would be to celebrate 2022 and turn forward to embrace the possibilities of the new year.

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." – Socrates

Yours in service,

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

Values in Action

For the seventh year, we are recognizing MUSC employees across the enterprise for their resilience, commitment and leadership with the President’s Values in Action Awards. The awards pay tribute to outstanding people who personify MUSC’s five values: Collaboration, Compassion, Innovation, Integrity, and Respect. All of our awardees in these categories received a recognition memento, a certificate and a $1,000 bonus in appreciation for all they do to live our MUSC values.

And for the third year now, we also honored an individual in a special Values in Action category - the Impact Award. The Impact Award is reserved for those situations in which an individual’s contributions to the institution and/or community they serve goes above and beyond, encompassing all of our MUSC values. This individual also received a special recognition memento and a certificate, along with – new to the program this year – a $5,000 bonus.

Please take a moment to watch this video highlighting the moments when we surprised the winners this year. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider nominating someone in your sphere during the 2023 cycle.

Read more about this year's honorees.

Leadership Update: Chief Communications and Marketing Officer

After a national search process, I’m pleased to share that Catherine (Cathie) Cannon has accepted the role of enterprise wide chief communications and marketing officer and will join the organization on Feb. 10.

Cathie comes to MUSC from the University of Connecticut, UConn Health system, where she served as the assistant vice president for health marketing, and with substantial experience developing strategic marketing plans, guiding communications work (internal/external), and translating insights into action through digital marketing and process improvement strategies. She offers MUSC a strong, collaborative mindset and understands the numerous demands and priorities that require communication efforts across the enterprise.

Cathie earned her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, and two certificates in leadership and business analytics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Please join me in welcoming Cathie to MUSC in the days ahead and whenever appropriate, please offer your support as she gets to know our complex and ever-evolving organization.

MUSC Health Black River Medical Center – we’re open!

As noted in a Jan. 17 press release, “Southern Florence and Williamsburg County residents took a giant leap forward in obtaining unrivaled health care services with the opening of MUSC Health Black River Medical Center in Cades, SC.”

With the help of incredible public-private partnerships and by actively listening to what these communities needed, this hospital replaces Williamsburg Regional Hospital in Kingstree and Lake City Community Hospital and is part of the MUSC Health-Florence Division. Our teams have worked diligently on this project since before the groundbreaking in January of 2021 so that the community could have an intentional transition to the new facility. The result is a rural hospital that is unparalleled in South Carolina, and, I might venture, a definitively innovative solution to the many and complex issues facing rural hospitals all over the nation.

I’m particularly proud of the hard work that our Florence division leadership and human resources teams conducted to ensure that approximately 90% of current employees and providers from Lake City and Williamsburg Regional hospitals are now employed at MUSC Health Black River Medical Center or other MUSC facilities in the Florence, Marion, or Charleston areas.

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating our centralized and division teams throughout the organization who brought us to this milestone moment!

Cut to the Chase

In my first post of 2023, I wanted to explore a bit further the significance of the MUSC Health Black River Medical Center in relation to our tripartite mission during this moment in time. To state it clearly, a community without health care is a community without a future.

Take a look at this blog post.

From Kathy

What an amazing new facility! I was able to participate in several wonderful events just before the new MUSC Health Black River Medical Center opened about a week and a half ago and I have to tell you, the excitement, enthusiasm and engagement of the team was palpable. This hospital is going to provide tremendous opportunities for these communities to receive world-class care where they live and work, and there’s just no beating that.

A special thank you goes out to Jay Hinesley, Florence Division CEO; Allen Abernathy, Black River executive director, and Costa Cockfield, chief nursing officer, for their leadership, talent and hospitality and a heartfelt congratulations to all who worked so hard on this project and who will serve these communities in the years to come.


Robot Olympics: Playing “serious” games can be an effective and engaging way to teach teamwork and other skills to robotic surgery teams.

Marijuana Microbiome: MUSC researchers and their collaborators will explore how cannabis smoking alters the bacterial communities in the mouth and how those changes affect the brain.

COVID Update: “The data is speaking. It's saying, we're probably at a point where it would make sense for people to take precautions for a short period of time.”

Having a Fit: In this month's "Trust Me, I Know a Doctor," Bryce tackles his new year's resolution: getting more exercise. He might have his work cut out for him.

Surgical Innovation: Schiller Surgical Innovation Center embraces AI to enhance decision-making and improve outcomes.

Safety Culture: J. Scott Broome, CEO of MUSC Health-Lancaster Division, was named the Drive to Zero Harm Leadership Award winner.

Academic Inventor: Anand Mehta, D.Phil., has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest distinction awarded to academic inventors.

Heart-Stopping Moment: Cardiologist talks about football player’s on-field collapse, including possible cause and what has to happen in a case like that to save a life.

Cancer & COVID: Although their immune systems have trouble producing antibodies on their own, a monoclonal antibody protected blood cancer patients from severe COVID.

Hearing in Autism: A multidisciplinary team of MUSC researchers uncovers hearing impairment in a novel preclinical model of autism.

Living with Loss: The average lung cancer patient is a 71-year-old man. Kelly Bulak was far from the average. Her parents are still grappling with her death from this disease.

New Insights from Cell Soup: Medical University of South Carolina researchers show how DNA is packed away when it needs to be turned off.

Stronger Together: MUSC researchers develop a new inhibitor and test its effects when used together with an existing anti-cancer therapy in neuroblastoma.

Clinical Trials: Clinical trials coordinator Alexandria Green falls in love with all of her patients. But she's formed a particularly strong bond with one in particular.