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PRODUCED BY AND FOR MEMBERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY January 2013 | Archived Issues

Leon Morgenstern, MD: 1919-2012

Leon Morgenstern, MD, a beloved colleague and the founding director of surgery for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, died Dec. 23 at his home in Malibu at age 93. A surgeon, scholar, humanist, medical researcher and prolific author, he remained active after his retirement and was working in his Cedars-Sinai office as recently as Dec. 21.

Cedars-Sinai is planning a memorial in his honor.


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An eventful six months for Department of Surgery

Message from the chair

The first half of fiscal year and academic year 2013 was particularly noteworthy for the Department of Surgery.

Operative volumes at our main ORs and our outpatient facility surged, with greater than 4 percent increases in case volumes and hours from 2012. The complexity of cases continued to be strong led by the remarkable clinical volume of our world-leading heart transplant service and the strong performance of other service lines to include thoracic surgery, spine surgery, joint replacement and minimally invasive advances in virtually every discipline. For the first time, we performed more than 200 kidney transplants. Indeed, Cedars-Sinai continues to lead all California academic medical centers in virtually every measure of surgical volume and outcomes.

Our post-graduate education programs demonstrated sustained excellence. More than 700 applications were received for our largest residency program (general surgery), representing applications from nearly one-third of all medical students applying across the country. A new program in orthopedic surgery attracted four superb young people. This program joined the urology and cardiothoracic educational programs established in the last several years. Residents and fellows in all fields distinguished themselves with a large number of presentations and awards at national surgical meetings including specialty specific sessions as well as the annual American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress.

Research activities continued at a high level. The Department currently enjoys research funding of nearly $ 10 million and a standing among the top 25 surgery departments in NIH funding. This ranking doesn't include the $4.5 million in other federal funds from the Department of Defense for our "OR of the Future" human factors project. Michael Freeman has been appointed Vice-Chair for Research and is working very closely with Hyung Kim and Ken Catchpole and the research administrative office led by Jesse Null. A record number of external grants have been submitted in the first six months of this year.

The next six months will see many other welcome changes to include the opening of the Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion. This spectacular building will house one large procedural floor (with a second under development) as well as extensive laboratories and outpatient clinics.

Also opening this spring will be the new home for surgical research activities at 825 San Vicente. This unique collaborative space, designed by a nationally recognized architecture firm, will offer top of the line conference and creative space along with a state-of-the-art research simulation space.

With all of these unambiguously positive changes will come a number of bracing challenges to both our academic and clinical enterprises. Our practitioners and hospital will be impacted by continued downward pressure on reimbursement. This is not limited to government payors and includes virtually every private insurer. The still-unresolved fiscal perturbations in Washington leave long-term graduate medical education financing and the NIH budgets both unsettled.

Cedars-Sinai and the Department are currently actively engaged in many process improvements focused on reducing our per unit costs while safeguarding both efficiency and safety. As emphasized by our CEO Tom Priselac, we need to be as passionate about "value" as we are about providing the best outcomes for the patients in our care. The strong current financial position of our institution, coupled with the resolve of all of us to maintain our leadership role, are powerful indicators that Cedars-Sinai can adapt to any challenge. I am optimistic that the talents of our staff and physicians will insure that our Department will continue to be a prominent driver of these efforts.

Bruce L. Gewertz, MD
Surgeon-in-Chief
H and S Nichols Endowed Chair
Vice-President, Interventional Services
Vice-Dean, Academic Affairs
Cedars-Sinai Health System