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Connecticut Governor's Newsletter December 2019

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Rebecca A. Andrews, MD, FACP, ACP Governor

Rebecca A. Andrews, MD, FACP, ACP Governor


From the Governor

“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of a leaf.”

—Rabindranath Tagore

Dear Colleagues,

We just had our annual meeting in October and members came from all over the state to share in the learning and networking. I am already looking forward to next year's meeting, October 16, 2020, which will sadly be my last annual meeting as Governor.

The holidays are around the corner. This has prompted me to reflect…particularly as I am in the second half of my time as Governor. The engagement of members has been much appreciated and watching the involvement spread across the state has been amazing to watch. Individuals in practice, employed by health systems, specialists in general internal medicine as well as subspecialties, and both in and out of the hospital have all provided feedback, ideas, and assistance in making our chapter better. Similarly, we, together, have nominated our colleagues for awards that has gained our little state some notoriety for the great medical care we provide.

I have spent some time reflecting on the opportunity I have had in the chapter and to improve medicine from a national influence. My children have interestingly become a driving force – missing me when I am gone for ACP travel, but highlighting the many changes in medicine…speaking out against gun violence, the “he-for-she” movement seeking to eradicate pay gaps by gender by partnering with all our colleagues, forcing the re-entry of the word physician to describe our role rather than simply a provider of services, and so much more.

I hope you relaxed for the holidays and my very best wishes for a happy and healthy 2020!



National Notoriety

Connecticut Chapter Award Winners

Dan Tobin, MD from Yale received Laureate Award from the Chapter. Dr. Tobin is a long-time member of the ACP Governor's Council serving on its Program Planning and Finance Committees. The Laureate Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed at the local level and recognizes Fellows and Masters of the College who have demonstrated by their example and conduct an abiding commitment to excellence in medical care, education or research, and in service to their community, the Chapter, and the American College of Physicians.

Marjorie Golden, MD from St. Raphael's Campus, Yale-New Haven Hospital received the George F. Thornton Teaching Award for a career of commitment to and outstanding work in medical education. A leader in infections disease, she is the recipient of numerous past teaching awards and has inspired countless medical students, residents and fellows as a research mentor and master clinician.

Michael Steinberg, MD of UConn and the John Dempsey Hospital received the 2019 CT Chapter's Volunteerism Award. Dr. Steinberg is one of the most frequent faculty volunteers at UConn's full-service clinic, South Park Inn and last year won the award as the faculty member who has had the greatest impact on the student-run clinic.

The Henry Gift Award honors a Connecticut internist, often in private or non-academic practice, who has distinguished him/herself by a lifetime of service to the care of patients and active participation in the local medical community. This year, there were two awardees. Paul Sirop, MD and Myra Skluth, MD. Dr. Sirop built the largest private practice in Waterbury, founded the St. Mary's Hospital CCU and finally transitioned to UConn health where he won several awards for humanism and medical education. Dr. Skluth took over her father's pioneering internal medicine practice in Norwalk and continued his legacy as the one of the first female internists in the Norwalk area. As the head of a thriving internal medicine private practice, she founded and led the first division of General Internal Medicine at Norwalk Hospital and later founded and directed Norwalk's first palliative care program. Dr. Skluth is the first female physician to receive the Henry Gift Award.

The Connecticut ACP Chapter established a new award this year, the Early Career Physician Teaching Award. This award recognizes an outstanding physician educator who is within 16 years of medical school graduation. The first recipient of this award was Stephen Holt, MD of Yale. Dr. Holt is the Associate Program Director for the Yale Primary Care Program and has been recognized repeatedly recognized by the students and residents for his innovative and effective approaches to medical education.

Not awarded every year, the Legislator of the Year Award this year was presented to Sean Scanlon, the CT State Representative from Branford and Guilford. Mr. Scanlon was recognized for his concern and proactive work in addressing the opioid crisis, an area of major concern for his constituents and for his ongoing efforts to communicate effectively with the medical community.



Annual Meeting Update

Naseema Merchant, MD, FHM, FCCP, FACP and Diana Sewell, MD, FACP

The annual meeting of the Connecticut Chapter of the ACP took place on October 25, 2019 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT. It was a prefect Friday morning with beautiful fall views of the Connecticut River and downtown Hartford through the large French windows of the Convention Center. Another great turn out with over 400 attendees and a packed agenda with many opportunities to learn and socialize with old colleagues and meet new ones. This year, there were 17 concurrent sessions offered during the meeting with opportunity to claim up to 6.5 CME credits and MOC points.

The day featured a wide variety of educational, networking and wellness sessions keeping in mind the educational needs of our diverse membership as well as feedback from past meeting attendees.

In addition to the popular annual sessions of resident posters, Doctors' Dilemma®, the Women in Medicine Networking breakfast, and SEP modules in Internal Medicine and Hospital Medicine, we additionally hosted 12 CME sessions offered in parallel. The meeting featured three tracks in the morning; one track for residents and medical students, a second track on predominantly outpatient-focused topics, a third track focused on hospital medicine-based topics.

The poster judging started at 7:00 AM, followed by the SEP module sessions and Women in Medicine Networking Breakfast. The SEP modules are always a very popular attraction and were well attended as anticipated. Another hugely successful event every year is our annual (5th) Women in Medicine Networking Breakfast attended by over 80 attending physicians, residents and medical students.

The breakout sessions started at 10:10 am. There were several excellent options to choose from: Doctors Dilemma was led by Drs. Ben Cherry and Rebecca Andrews while Dr. Dennis Lafreniere gave a talk on ENT for the internist. Drs. Scott Sussman and Naseema Merchant ran an interactive session on conducting QI with limited time and budget. Late morning sessions featured talks on obesity management by Dr. Wajahat Mehal, update on hospital medicine guidelines by Dr. Alfred Burger and tips on reading a scientific newspaper by Dr. Joseph Ross.

Lunch was a sit-down relaxing affair where attendees enjoyed a delicious lunch followed by dessert and coffee. During the first half of lunch, our chapter governor Dr. Rebecca Andrews, MD presented the chapter awards which included the legislator of the year award to state Representative Sean Scanlon as well as awards to the poster winners. Dr. Rob McLean, ACP President addressed the audience and shared important updates from the national ACP.

Post lunch sessions featured three parallel sessions on pharmaceutical perils delivered by Dr. Robert Nardino, vaccines in 2019 by Dr. David Banach and update on pulmonary embolism by Drs. Peter Marshall and Raymond Foley. During mid and late afternoon, two sessions were offered in parallel with a talk by Dr. Rebecca Andrews on health fads and stroke management by Dr. Joseph Schindler. The last sessions of the day featured a world wellness cafe, (a physician wellness session) by Drs. August Fortin and Seema D’Souza, and an update on hematuria by Dr. Brook Harnisch.

New this year was an incredible number of sessions offered for this kind of one day meeting. We had 17 events planned for the day and all but two were eligible for CME and MOC. We also launched for the first time the ACP CT app “yapp” featuring the entire program with locations, maps, speaker bios and ability to enter feedback for individual sessions.

The day concluded with the annual business meeting lead by our chapter governor, Dr. Rebecca Andrews.

Overall, it was another successful meeting with many great educational offerings, excellent attendance and extremely positive onsite feedback. Our annual meeting has steadily grown over the past few years with more sessions, more attendance, more networking opportunities and use of technology.

We would like to thank our wonderful planning committee for their hard work and dedication. Thank you to our speakers, moderators, facilitators, volunteers, helpers on the day of the meeting, exhibitors and everyone else who contributed to making this day a success.

We would also like to thank our administrative staff, Theresa Barrett, Kris Samara, and Leslie Bellini for all their time, hard work and dedication.



Resident and Fellow Members Council

By Marilyn Katz, MD, FACP

CT ACP Abstract Competition 2019 Winners

This year we had an outstanding abstract competition! We continued with last year's changes and instituted a pre-meeting peer review process and allowed medical students to present as first author. A total of 266 abstracts were submitted for consideration and 190 posters were invited to present at the meeting, representing 14 internal medicine residency programs and all three medical schools in the state of Connecticut.


Once again, we had a diverse group of volunteer judges for both the pre-meeting competition as well as the on-site poster presentations. We could not have done this without all of their help!

Dr. Olubusayo Aroye from St. Vincent's took first place in the Original Research category for her poster, “Every Patient Every Day: Identifying Communication Barriers and Improving Nurse-Medical Resident Collaboration.” Dr. Sina Kianoush from Yale Waterbury placed second for his poster, “Role of Thoracic Aortic Calcification for the Prediction of All-cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: The Coronary Artery,” and Dr. Rita Kuwahara placed third for her poster, “Hepatitis B and the Opioid Epidemic: Opportunities to Increase Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination and Testing within Primary Care.”


Dr. Olubusayo Aroye presenting her poster in the second and final round of the Original Research Competition.

Dr. Sharon Sukhedo from Norwalk took first place in the Clinical Vignette competition for her poster, “SAPHO syndrome (synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, and osteitis): A diagnostic pain in the neck.” Dr. Julia Kostka from St. Vincent's took second place for her poster, “Systemic Septic Emboli Arising From a Right-Sided Valvular Vegetation.” There was a tie for third place by Dr. Elizabeth Ferzacca from Yale Primary Care presenting, “All That Ulcerates Is Not IBD: A Case of LGV and Syphilis Proctitis,” and Dr. Naga Vaishnavi Gadela from UConn Categorical presenting, “Statin Induced Immune Mediated Necrotizing Myopathy, a Rare Clinical Entity.”


Dr. Elizabeth Ferzacca presenting in the third and final round of the Clinical Vignette competition.

Congratulations to all of the presenters on your outstanding work and dedication to the practice of internal medicine! We hope to see many submissions to the national competition in April 2020!

CT ACP Doctor's Dilemma Finals 2019

After a fantastic preliminary competition in September of this year, Bridgeport, Griffin, St. Vincent's and UConn Categorical competed in the Doctor's Dilemma Finals! Dr. Rosemarie Fischer, Dr. Eric Mazur and Dr. Rob McLean resumed their roles as expert judges, while Dr. Rebecca Andrews served as moderator and Dr. Benjamin Cherry tracked the board.


St. Vincent's Team preparing for the final question.


UConn Categorical's team during Doctor's Dilemma

Congratulations to Bridgeport who will move on to the national competition in Los Angeles in April 2020!


Bridgeport's Doctor's Dilemma Team: Pictured from left to right, Drs. John-Ross Clarke, Freddy Duarte Lau, Tony Roy, and Gini Jeyashanmuguraja.

For all of you who were intrigued by the questions and would be interested in writing questions for next year's competition, please contact Dr. Benjamin Cherry () for information on how to get started!



Health Care Public Policy and Advocacy Committee

By Benjamin Cherry MD

We welcome your participation and input on the above matters and others that may concern you or your elected representatives. Please email HPPC chair Dr. Ben Cherry at if you are interested in getting involved!



Diversity Committee Update

Naseema Merchant, MD, FHM, FCCP, FACP and Diana Sewell, MD, FACP

The Diversity Committee organized its final event of 2019 with the fifth annual Women in Medicine Networking Breakfast at the chapter meeting. It followed the first round of poster presentations. This year, the event was scheduled to run for 90 minutes which provided ample time for small group discussions and large group sharing.

Attendance grows every year and this year we were pleased to again welcome over 80 participants to the breakfast. Attendees from diverse backgrounds had the opportunity to gather, enjoy breakfast, network and discuss topics of their choice in an invigorating discussion. We had a great representation from attending physicians, residents and medical students. Many important and diverse issues faced by women physicians and medical trainees every day were brought up with active participation from everyone. Dr. Naseema Merchant, chair of the Diversity Committee addressed the audience and shared the mission and events sponsored by the committee during 2019. The large “table share” was moderated by Drs. Diana Sewell, Cindy McNamara and Jaclyn Cox. Feedback for the event was hugely positive and there was enthusiastic support for future similar events in different parts of the state. Participants in their free comments indicated that it was great to hear everyone's stories. They found small group discussions to be helpful, encouraging, informative, and loved the multiple different career level discussions at their tables.

The detailed feedback is as follows: Out of over eighty attendees, fifty-six completed the paper evaluation. Most participants reported that the session met its objective of networking, that the format and the physical set up of the session was designed to meet its objective, and that the small table discussions provided everyone a better understanding of the challenges faced by women in the field of medicine. The participants also reported that they would like to see this event organized every year at the chapter's annual meeting and that they are likely to attend events sponsored by the chapter outside of the annual meeting if the topics align with interests of women members. Most participants preferred New Haven for a meeting location followed by Hartford and Middletown which was similar to the responses received last year. Approximately 50% of the respondents were interested in being more involved in the chapter in helping to plan networking events, advocate for women's interests, create a network of new female residents, participate in policy and QI efforts, and serve on the committee as a volunteer and/or annual breakfast facilitator.

The committee plans to partner again with the early career physicians and organize a visa event in spring and a picnic in late summer 2020. In addition, the committee would like to plan additional events catering to the female membership to address some of the topics of interest suggested at this breakfast. The committee will also reach out to the membership as well as attendees of the networking breakfast to solicit involvement in various chapter activities. We welcome and appreciate ideas on events that can be organized to fit the diverse needs of our wider membership. If you are interested in being a part of the chapter's Diversity committee, please reach out to one of us.

For those women attendees who indicated their interest in being more involved, stay tuned. We will be reaching out shortly.



2019 Chapter Excellence Award


I am pleased to announce that our chapter is in receipt of the 2019 Chapter Excellence Award at the GOLD level! In order to achieve the Chapter Excellence Award, chapters must meet all basic criteria and ten optional criteria. Criteria include such activities as formulating an effective Governor's Council and committees, communicating frequently with membership, providing educational opportunities, recruiting and advancing members and celebrating membership through local awards. I would like to extend a special thanks to those chapter members and staff who assisted in these endeavors! For their hard work and dedication, we received this award.

Any ideas or comments can be sent to the Governor's Council via the following ways:, responding to these newsletters, or our Facebook page Moving forward, we will have more information regarding phone access.

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.


Rebecca Andrews, MD, FACP