sutures newsletter

PRODUCED BY AND FOR MEMBERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY September 2016 | Archived Issues

Flu Shot Clinics Scheduled

For the protection of patients, visitors and colleagues, all employees are asked to get their annual flu vaccinations by Oct. 14. The vaccinations are free and available to all medical staff members, employees and volunteers.

» Read more

Division of Thoracic Surgery Continues to Flourish

The division of Thoracic Surgery at Cedars-Sinai continues to grow and flourish. It is in the process of recruiting two more faculty surgeons, ideally one of whom will serve as surgical director of a new specialized lung transplant program.

» Read more

Two Minutes With …

Miguel Burch, MD

This question-and-answer feature will help you get to know some of the physicians in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Surgery. This month's installment features Miguel Burch, MD.



» Read more

Cedars-Sinai Launches Precision Health

Cedars-Sinai Precision Health made its debut this month, offering a compelling preview of a new world of medicine in which advanced data on an individual's genes, proteins and even digestive processes would drive personalized healthcare for patients.

» Read more

High Holidays Services Set for October

Senior Rabbi Jason Weiner, manager of Spiritual Care, will conduct services for the High Holidays at Cedars-Sinai. The services also will feature cantor Jordan Gorfinkel.

» Read more

Resident to Serve as White House Fellow

Cedars-Sinai resident neurosurgeon Lindsey Ross, MD, a member of the Neurological Surgery Residency Program, has won a coveted position as a 2016-17 White House Fellow. Ross will spend the next year in Washington working in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and participating in roundtable discussions with top government leaders, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

» Read more

Cedars-Sinai Earns Top Ranking for Patient Survivability

For the eighth consecutive year, Cedars-Sinai has earned the highest ranking from the federal government for patients surviving 30 days after hospitalization based on three common conditions: pneumonia, heart failure and acute myocardial infarction.

» Read more

Circle of Friends Honorees for August

The Circle of Friends program honored 135 people in August. Circle of Friends allows grateful patients to make a donation in honor of the physicians, nurses, caregivers and others who have made a difference during their time at Cedars-Sinai.

» Read more

CS-Link Tip: Managing Second Screens and Sidebars

cs-link logo

Whether your preference is to keep notes on a second monitor or to place them in the sidebar, CS-Link™ can accommodate either organizational route.

» Read more

Flu Shot Clinics Scheduled

Ashley Vo, PharmD, administrative director of the Transplant Immunotherapy Program at the Comprehensive Transplant Center, receives a flu shot from Wannitta Easterling, RN.

For the protection of patients, visitors and colleagues, all employees are asked to get their annual flu vaccinations by Oct. 14. The vaccinations are free and available to all medical staff members, employees and volunteers.

The schedule for vaccination clinics is as follows:

  • Thursday, Sept. 29, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Harvey Morse Conference Room 6
  • Friday, Sept. 30, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., PEC 2
  • Saturday, Oct. 1, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Employee Health Services
  • Monday, Oct. 3, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Cafeteria Conference Room A
  • Tuesday, Oct. 4, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Cafeteria Conference Room A
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Harvey Morse Conference Room 6
  • Thursday, Oct. 6, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Harvey Morse Conference Room 6
  • Friday, Oct. 7, 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Harvey Morse Conference Room 6
  • Saturday, Oct. 8, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Employee Health Services

Additional clinics are being scheduled. Weekly updates will be published in The Bridge and on the intranet homepage.

Once again, Cedars-Sinai will issue green badge buddies at the time of vaccination. The badge buddies must be worn visibly at all times beginning Nov. 1. Those who decline a vaccination will be issued orange badge buddies.

Staff working in all patient care areas, including the Medical Network, and those who have business at the main medical center are required to be vaccinated. Exceptions may be given for those with approved medical exemptions per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information about this flu season, please view the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF link below) or call Employee Health Services at 310-423-3322 or Hospital Epidemiology at 310-423-5574.

Flu Immunization Policy FAQ - September 2016 (PDF)

Division of Thoracic Surgery Continues to Flourish

Harmik J. Soukiasian, MD

The division of Thoracic Surgery at Cedars-Sinai continues to grow and flourish. Under the leadership of Harmik J. Soukiasian, MD, the department has obtained two new advanced practice providers: Evangeline Rodriguez, PA, and Crystal Presser, APRN.

The division is in the process of recruiting two more faculty surgeons, one of whom ideally will serve as surgical director of a new specialized lung transplant program.

In his new role as chief of the division, Soukiasian has coordinated with physicians from multiple specialties, including thoracic surgery, pathology, radiation oncology, pulmonology, medical oncology and radiology, to institute a bimonthly tumor board. These conferences will begin in October and will feature presentations of complex clinical patient histories in an effort to provide the best care that Cedars-Sinai can offer.

The division has also recently established a new lung cancer support group. The team realized a need for more resources and social support for patients, whether newly diagnosed, actively undergoing treatment or a lung cancer survivor.

Under the direction of clinical nurse coordinator Crystal Presser and with help from case managers in the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, the support group will meet once a month. The meetings will provide a great opportunity for patients in all stages of treatment to share their experiences and gain educational insight to proper nutrition, financial aid resources, psychosocial coping mechanisms and alternative medicine therapies.

As Cedars-Sinai has widened its clinical influence throughout the region, Soukiasian has partnered with the Southern California Pulmonary Lung Center to identify and evaluate potential surgical candidates. He has started by seeing patients once a month at their center in Glendale for those who otherwise cannot make the drive to Cedars-Sinai. If the patient is deemed a candidate for surgery, they will then have it performed at the hospital.

In an effort to keep pace with the evolving technology in surgery, Soukiasian has begun implementing the use of the Da Vinci XI for thoracic cases. A few months ago, Soukiasian performed the first robotic-assisted VATS lobectomy at Cedars-Sinai, a surgery that is still traditionally performed around the country through a large open thoracotomy approach. The use of the Da Vinci robot allows the surgeon more degrees of articulation with the instruments than with the standard VATS approach, and therefore can be of an advantage in certain cases.

These initiatives, new and upcoming, mark the beginning of what looks to be an exciting era for the division.

For more information, visit the thoracic surgery program website or this story about surgical options for lung cancer patients.

Two Minutes With …

Miguel Burch, MD

This question-and-answer feature will help you get to know some of the physicians in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Surgery.

Miguel Burch, MD, bariatric surgeon

Where did you grow up?

I was born in La Paz, Bolivia, at 13,500 feet above sea level. My mother and I immigrated to the United States when I was at the tender age of 9 to a small community of Bolivians, outside of Washington, D.C., in Dale City, Virginia.

Why did you decided to specialize in general surgery?

When I was in medical school, I felt most drawn to surgery. I felt it was the perfect mix of action and knowledge. Surgeons seemed to always be a part of the really great things going on in a hospital. I distinctly remember seeing innumerable sunrises while rounding in the morning, watching my attendings save the lives of trauma victims and watching them compassionately deliver bad news to patients and their families. Surgeons were brilliant, calm and happy doers who knew how to have fun when not working. How do you say no to that?

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Watching patients get healthier and watching the maturating of a surgeon — from eager intern to smooth operator chief. Having both worlds co-exist helps you appreciate each more.

Outside the O.R., where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in the outdoors and in my family. My wife, Liv, and my son, Liam, put life in perspective and remind me that after a tough day, they are always happy to see me. The outdoors offers me a sense of awe — sometimes in the simple rhythm of the ocean and sometimes at the massive power of a mountain.

What's at the top of your bucket list?

That bucket list gets longer, not shorter, every year. Snowboarding Niseko in northern Japan has been a recent addition as has surfing the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, which I am doing this November.

Cedars-Sinai Launches Precision Health


Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD, co-director of Cedars-Sinai Precision Health, director of Basic Science Research in the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center and director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Institute, speaks at the launch of Precision Health.

Cedars-Sinai Precision Health made its debut this month, offering a compelling preview of a new world of medicine in which advanced data on an individual’s genes, proteins and even digestive processes would drive personalized healthcare for patients.

Before a standing-room-only audience of industry representatives, scientists, physicians and other Cedars-Sinai staff in Harvey Morse Auditorium, the launch featured inspirational speeches, plus a new video and posters illustrating new research projects on a range of human ills.

Newly Funded Precision Health Studies

Eight faculty members were announced Sept. 16 as recipients of Cedars-Sinai Precision Health funding for their research projects:

  • Janine Bilsborough, PhD
    "A Precision Medicine Approach to the Validation of TNFSF8"
  • Suzanne Devkota, PhD
    "Application of Novel High-Throughput Microculture Technology to Identify Functional Microbiome Predictors of Patient Response to Chemoradiation Therapy"
  • Wei Gao, PhD
    "Personalized Prediction of Childhood Outcomes Based on Neonatal Variables"
  • Simon Gayther, PhD
    "Personalized Genomics to Identify Novel Therapeutic Targets for Chemoresistant Ovarian Cancer”
  • Hyung L. Kim, MD
    "PET­MRI to Identify Prostate Cancers for HIFU"
  • Beatrice Knudsen, MD, PhD
    "Quantitative Pathology Imaging and Computer Vision to Predict Response to Radiation Therapy and Cis-Platinum in Patients with Bladder, Lung, Rectal and Head and Neck Cancers"
  • Brennan Spiegel, MD
    "Early Prediction of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events Using Remote Monitoring With Biosensors, Biomarkers and Patient-Reported Outcomes: Initial Feasibility and Validation Testing"
  • Wei Yang, PhD
    "A Centralized Proteomic Library That Enables Cost-Effective and Deep Proteomic Comparison of Human Biospecimens"

The program is a partnership among scientists, clinicians and industry. Its stated purpose is "to drive the development of the newest technology and best research, coupled to the finest clinical practice, to rapidly deliver precise and personalized healthcare solutions."

Cedars-Sinai Precision Health is “really going to fundamentally change the way that we practice medicine," Dermot McGovern, MD, PhD, FRCP (LON), the program's director, says in a video that was played at the launch and posted on the new Cedars-Sinai Precision Health website.

Instead of grouping patients by disease, "we're going to think about people as individuals, based on more a molecular profile," to enhance prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, says McGovern, who also is professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and director of Translational Medicine at the F. Widjaja Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute.

To advance the program's goals, Cedars-Sinai announced it will fund eight new studies by its scientists on cancer, heart disease, childhood development and other subjects. The projects were culled from 39 submissions.

"All these projects were just amazing," said Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD, co-director of Cedars-Sinai Precision Health, director of Basic Science Research in the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center and director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Institute. "It was very difficult to choose."

Also at the launch event, two invited medical leaders surveyed the road ahead for precision health, also known as precision medicine, and the potential roadblocks.

Rob Knight, PhD, professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science and Engineering at University of California, San Diego, focused on the microbiome, the ever-changing community of microorganisms that live in association with the human body. Numbering in the trillions, the microorganisms' cells actually outnumber the body's human cells. They are believed to be key drivers of human health.

Knight sees a future in which, by blowing on a bathroom mirror, people might generate readouts of their individual disease states, based on their microbiome at the moment. They then could take appropriate action. Although much work remains to make that vision a reality, Knight is assembling the data because "where there is data, there is hope."

Lon Cardon, senior vice president of alternative discovery and development at GlaxoSmithKline, a global healthcare company based in Britain, outlined obstacles to translating discoveries into effective drug therapies. About half the time, promising pharmaceuticals fail to work in late-stage clinical trials, after extensive investment, he said.

Early successes have been achieved in using genetic data to create better drugs for cancer and certain rare diseases. But genetics thwarts easy analysis and clinical application, Cardon said. He called for private-public collaboration to move forward.

"No single entity has all the skills to fully exploit the big data information for the next generation of medicines," Cardon said. "It's going to be the partnerships that make that happen."

Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, closed the session by describing how his team uses a patient's own stem cells to grow tissues in the lab. Using this "organ on a chip," scientists can test potential drug therapies.

The ultimate goal? "We want to generate the right treatment for the right patient at the right time," Svendsen said.

High Holidays Services Set for October

Senior Rabbi Jason Weiner, manager of Spiritual Care, will conduct services for the High Holidays at Cedars-Sinai. The services also will feature cantor Jordan Gorfinkel.

  • Rosh Hashanah — Monday, Oct. 3, from 10 a.m.-noon in Harvey Morse Auditorium
  • Kol Nidre — Thursday, Oct. 11, from 6:30-8 p.m. in Harvey Morse Auditorium
  • Yom Kippur — Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Harvey Morse Auditorium

The services will be available for viewing on channel 50 of the inpatient TV system.

If you have questions, please contact Bridgitte Rodguez at bridgitte.rodguez@cshs.org or 323-866-8750.

Resident to Serve as White House Fellow

Cedars-Sinai resident neurosurgeon Lindsey Ross, MD, a member of the Neurological Surgery Residency Program, has won a coveted position as a 2016-17 White House Fellow.

Ross will spend the next year in Washington working in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and participating in roundtable discussions with top government leaders, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

"I feel so grateful for this opportunity. I know I will learn a great deal about healthcare, leadership and policymaking next year, which I hope to bring back to Cedars-Sinai and the greater Los Angeles community that we serve," Ross said.

The White House Fellows Program was founded in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to offer leaders firsthand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. Graduates include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and CNN medical correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, MD.

"Ross is one of the best students I have ever had," said Julia Y. Ljubimova, MD, PhD, director of the Nanomedicine Research Center in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery. "I have no doubt that she will make an exceptional addition to the group of intellectual elite individuals selected to the White House Fellows Program and help to improve the fabric of the healthcare industry in the U.S."

As a first-year medical school student at UCLA, Ross was a Denzel and Pauletta Washington Family Gifted Scholar at Cedars-Sinai in 2008. She worked in the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute laboratories of Ljubimova. In this role, she assisted with research on developing an innovative delivery system that uses a combination of tiny drugs that pass through the blood-brain barrier to target hard-to-reach cancers.

Ross started her neurosurgical residency at Cedars-Sinai in 2012. Her education in neurosurgery has included rotations in trauma surgery, neurocritical care and subspecialty areas of neurology. In addition to her residency, Ross serves on the Cedars-Sinai medical education and house staff committees, where she has worked on quality improvement projects related to patient care.

Ross said the knowledge and lessons gained from her time at Cedars-Sinai have well prepared her for working in the White House Fellows Program. As a resident, Ross said she has learned how to communicate sensitive information to patients, maintain emotional poise and control, and utilize critical thinking in stressful situations. She also has acquired a host of other essential abilities to be an effective neurosurgeon and leader.

"Many of the skills you build as a physician are also essential to be an effective leader," said Ross. "You learn to listen to your patients, synthesize subjective and objective information and, as a surgeon, have an unrelenting focus on the task at hand because someone's life depends on it."

Cedars-Sinai Earns Top Ranking for Patient Survivability

For the eighth consecutive year, Cedars-Sinai has earned the highest ranking from the federal government for patients surviving 30 days after hospitalization based on three conditions: pneumonia, heart failure and acute myocardial infarction.

Cedars-Sinai was "Better than the National Rate" for the three conditions, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Cedars-Sinai is one of only four hospitals nationwide to earn the distinction since the agency began publicly reporting the measures in 2008.

Cedars-Sinai has earned the same ranking for its mortality rate after stroke since the agency began reporting that measure three years ago.

The rankings are significant because they indicate consistent and reliable delivery of high-quality care across a wide variety of patients.

To accurately compare performance among hospitals, the mortality measures adjust for patient characteristics based on varying degrees of illness. These factors include age, gender and comorbidities present on admission. The 30-day window is considered a helpful gauge because most mortalities that occur within this time frame are believed to reflect the quality of care provided during hospitalization.

Circle of Friends Honorees for August

The Circle of Friends program honored 135 people in August.

Circle of Friends allows grateful patients to make a donation in honor of the physicians, nurses, caregivers and others who have made a difference during their time at Cedars-Sinai. When a gift is made, the person being honored receives a custom lapel pin and a letter of acknowledgement.

Click here for more information about the program and for a list of past honorees.

  • Shirley B. Abatay, RN
  • Daniel C. Allison, MD
  • Glemma D. Avoungnassou
  • Esther Baik, MD
  • Tessie M. Baltazar
  • Lorelei W. Bangate, CHAA
  • Charito A. Bernal, RN
  • Anton J. Bilchik, MD
  • Vanessa Booker Johnson
  • Earl W. Brien, MD
  • Tara A. Brooke, RN
  • Christiane Michele J. Burnison, MD
  • Diane Calingacion, RN
  • Celeste Campbell, RN
  • Maria S. Carabeo
  • Jeffrey F. Caren, MD
  • Brendan J. Carroll, MD
  • Ilana Cass, MD
  • George Chaux, MD
  • Erica Cohen, MD
  • Jason M. Cuellar, MD
  • Adriane De Gala, RN
  • Jan M. Decker, RN
  • Donna L. Dooley Aiello, RN
  • Cheryl L. Dunnett, MD
  • Melissa Ray Edrosa, RN
  • Yaron Elad, MD
  • Noliza V. Escarza
  • Shahrooz Eshaghian, MD
  • Fardad Esmailian, MD
  • Richard Essner, MD
  • Shahida Farooqi, MD
  • Jack F. Felmann
  • David E. Fermelia, MD
  • Marshal P. Fichman, MD
  • Hilary Figueroa, RN
  • Phillip R. Fleshner, MD
  • Charles A. Forscher, MD
  • Stephen J. Freedland, MD
  • Rajinder Gandhi, RN
  • Eli S. Gang, MD
  • Elayne K. Garber, MD
  • Katherine L. Gin
  • Michelle C. Goode, RN
  • Jeffrey S. Goodman, MD
  • Martin N. Gordon, MD
  • Amanda Ruth O. Goyena, RN
  • Abe Green, MD
  • Leland M. Green, MD
  • Olga Grigorian, RN
  • Zenaida P. Guerrero, RN
  • Michele A. Hamilton, MD
  • April K. Hannie
  • Andrew E. Hendifar, MD
  • Damaris Herrarte
  • Yocheved Herrmann Blanton
  • David M. Hoffman, MD
  • Grace Indiongco, LVN
  • J. Patrick Johnson, MD
  • Stanley C. Jordan, MD
  • Kyung J. Jun
  • Marshall L. Kadner, MD
  • Elaine S. Kamil, MD
  • Saibal Kar, MD
  • Olivier A. Kassimo, RN
  • Robert Klapper, MD
  • Jon A. Kobashigawa, MD
  • Lowell R. Korman, MD
  • Michael A. Kropf, MD
  • David A. Kulber, MD
  • Brenda E. Laabs, RN
  • Artak Labadzhyan, MD
  • Hilary Beth Lachoff, RN
  • Ellis C. Lai, MD
  • Lorna Layaoen, RN
  • Caroline Lee, MD
  • Armida Leister, LVN
  • Phillip L. Levine, MD
  • Simon K. Lo, MD
  • Shirley R. Macaraeg, RN
  • Leila Ferreras Mallare, RN
  • Adam N. Mamelak, MD
  • William J. Mandel, MD
  • Daniel R. Margulies, MD
  • Maya M. Mathew, MD
  • Philomena McAndrew, MD
  • Brian P. Mekelburg, MD
  • Gil Y. Melmed, MD, MS
  • Stewart Middler, MD, PhD
  • Miriam Mishayev, RN
  • Alain Mita, MD
  • Jody S. Natan
  • Nicholas N. Nissen, MD
  • Liat Nosrati
  • Chioma Onodugo, RN
  • Glenn M. Panayioto, RN
  • Bindi Patel, PA
  • Edward H. Phillips, MD
  • Dechu P. Puliyanda, MD
  • Rajeev K. Rao, MD
  • Jeffrey Rapp, MD
  • Erin L. Reeve, MD
  • Luisa S. Revilla
  • Maria Wilma C. Reyes
  • Laurie L. Rissien
  • Barry E. Rosenbloom, MD
  • Teresa Rowen, RN
  • Lawrence T. Roxas, RN
  • Paula Rubin, BS
  • Howard M. Sandler, MD, MS
  • Gregory P. Sarna, MD
  • Scott Serden, MD
  • Prediman K. Shah, MD
  • Bahman Shamloo, MD
  • Michael David Share, MD
  • John L. Sherman, MD
  • Allan W. Silberman, MD, PhD
  • Jason Snibbe, MD
  • Andrew Ira Spitzer, MD
  • Jerrold H. Steiner, MD
  • Victoria M. Tamburrino, BSN, RN
  • Tram T. Tran, MD
  • Alfredo Trento, MD
  • Richard Tuli, MD, PhD
  • Ellen Tuttle
  • Angela Velleca, BSN, RN, CCTC
  • Gregoria Vicente
  • Willis Wagner, MD
  • Jamie Watkins, RN
  • Ashley J. Weiner Beller, RN
  • Tammi B. Weinstein Wise
  • America White, RN
  • Isa Wright, BSN, RN
  • Patrick M. Yaffee, MD
  • John S. Yu, MD

CS-Link Tip: Managing Second Screens and Sidebars

Whether your CS-Link™ preference is to keep notes on a second monitor or to place them in the sidebar, the software can accommodate either organizational route.

On the Notes tab, click the little triangle just to the right of the word. There will be options to move your note to the left panel or to "float your note" to the second monitor.

If you opt for the second monitor, you may find if you move to a laptop or one screen elsewhere the floated note covers your screen. To put it back in the sidebar, click the triangle again and move the note back to the sidebar.