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  • Memorial Primary Care logo on blue gradient bkgrd

    Memorial Healthcare System Offers Sickle Cell Patients 'Medical Home'

    Samantha Miller is one of an estimated 200,000 Americans that live with sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder where normally round red blood cells contort into a sickle shape and die, leaving a shortage of healthy cells and potentially blocking blood flow to the body’s organs. “You can be fine one moment and the next moment have pain all over your body. The pain feels as if an ice pick is constantly jabbing into your bones,” said Miller, who was diagnosed at just three weeks old.

    The pain results from tissues not getting enough oxygen and can immediately put patients into crisis. So, while medication, blood transfusions, and bone marrow transplants (in the most severe cases) can help manage symptoms, sickle cell patients require a more comprehensive approach to enable them to maintain their quality of life.

    That’s why Memorial has created a medical home for sickle cell patients that will soon be housed in a recently-renovated primary care location across the street from Memorial Regional Hospital’s emergency department in Hollywood.

    Facebook: Watch Dr. Todra Anderson-Rhodes discuss Memorial's Sickle Cell Task Force.

    “We’ve combined all the resources of our day hospital, primary care, hematology, and social services in one location to ensure we meet all the needs of our patients that battle sickle cell disease,” said Melida Akiti, vice president of the Ambulatory Program and Community Services at Memorial Primary Care.

    The medical home includes infusion suites, equipment, and furniture that will be utilized by patients coping with the effects of the disease. A $300,000 contribution from the nonprofit Memorial Foundation made it possible to relocate and expand the former day hospital.

    “It’s a game-changer to be able to provide our patients, community, advocates, and team with world-class education, medical care, lifestyle, and life care in one place,” said Jennifer Goldman, MD, chief of Memorial Primary Care. “We’re especially thankful for the generosity of donors and the vision of our foundation leadership that contributed to the new medical home for this disease.”

    A benefit to having the sickle cell day hospital within the primary care facility is an innovative addition to the patient’s electronic medical records that account for all the factors that can affect an individual’s disease and treatment. Called “social determinants of health,” these include having access to affordable, nutritious food, transportation, stable housing, the means to afford prescriptions, and more. These problems are now prominently noted alongside their disease diagnosis, ensuring clinicians and support staff are aware of the challenges a patient might be facing and know to connect them to whatever resources or assistance might be available.

    Additionally, Memorial Healthcare System has established a Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (HEDI) Council to address health inequities and identify innovative solutions to improving patient outcomes. The creation of a medical home to provide comprehensive care to sickle cell patients is a prime example of Memorial’s HEDI initiatives to innovate and advance health equity.

    Learn more about Memorial’s approach to treating sickle cell patients by visiting our Sickle Cell Disease page.

  • Dr. Geden Franck talking to referees on field at orange bowl classic

    Memorial Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Center to Oversee Medical Care on the Sidelines of the Orange Blossom Classic

    There will be a familiar sight on the sidelines of the Orange Blossom Classic at this year’s anticipated showdown between Jackson State University and Florida A&M University – doctors will be standing by.

    Memorial Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Center will have two of its elite physicians, Marvin Smith, MD, and Geden Franck, MD, serving as medical directors for FAMU’s football team during their visit in Miami Gardens for the Orange Blossom Classic. The Memorial physician team has been attending FAMUs football practices since the team arrived Thursday before the big game. Practices have been held at St. Thomas University. Dr. Smith and Dr. Franck will be on the sidelines to oversee all medical needs the players may have throughout the game.

    “We are highly skilled in managing and treating all kinds of athletic injuries, and having our medical team supporting the players on the sidelines creates a safer environment for all so that the athletes can truly focus on the game,” said Dr. Marvin Smith, vice chief, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Memorial Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Program. “We have a multi-disciplinary team to serve the sports medicine community with expertise from orthopedics and surgery to sports cardiology and rehabilitation, and we are happy to serve during the game and throughout the season.”

    About Memorial Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center

    Memorial Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Center is a fully-integrated, multi-disciplinary program based at Memorial Regional Hospital South consisting of specialists in orthopaedic surgery, primary care sports medicine and sports physiatry, sports cardiology, and sports medicine physical therapy. The program provides injury care, treatment for chronic musculoskeletal conditions, and routine checkups that include cardiac screening for athletes, performing artists, first responders, and other active adults. Specialists provide nonsurgical as well as advanced surgical care for injuries and conditions affecting bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The program also offers health and wellness care, including injury prevention strategies. To learn more about Broward County’s only comprehensive adult sports medicine program and the care provided by board-certified, fellowship-trained doctors, or to schedule an appointment, call 954-265-8326.

    About the Orange Blossom Classic

    Founded in 1933 by the son of Florida A&M University’s president, J.R.E. Lee Jr., the Orange Blossom Classic quickly became the post-season’s must-see game. The inaugural Orange Blossom Classic welcomed 2,000 fans to the “blacks-only” ballpark in Jacksonville, Florida, where FAMU beat Howard 9-0 and successfully established the foundation of HBCU classics. From 1933 -1978, the Orange Blossom Classic reigned supreme as the post-season’s premier HBCU classic event. After a 43-year hiatus, the Orange Blossom Classic made its return to Miami Gardens in 2021.

  • jonathan roberts in office mcvi logo

    Memorial's Transition to an Academic Medical Center Benefits Physicians and Patients

    Longtime South Floridians may remember Memorial Healthcare System (MHS) as a collection of community hospitals that provided quality care to regional audiences. Its cardiac program exemplified the patient and family-centered approach the system and its specialists took when offering clinical services. And while that’s still true at the core, it’s now just the foundation upon which an academic medical center has been built.

    When Memorial received initial institutional accreditation to start a Graduate Medical Education (GME) program in 2015, it took a quantum leap forward as a healthcare provider. Becoming a teaching hospital system enabled it to not only draw from a deeper pool of physicians pursuing residency or fellowship training in what is now 15 specialties, but also positioned MHS to participate in leading-edge research trials that would provide patients access to treatment and care protocols not yet available elsewhere.

    That value proposition is what the Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute is known for today. With a cardiovascular disease fellowship that enrolled its first class of physicians in 2021 and ongoing research that includes participation in Harmony, Freedom, and TAVR UNLOAD trials, to name just a few, we’re able to offer patients from anywhere a level of care that has traditionally only been available at major university centers.

    ‘TAVR’ (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement) is the most recent example of how Memorial’s ascension as an academic and research leader benefits our patients with congestive heart failure and aortic valve stenosis. Currently, only patients with severe aortic valve stenosis qualify for TAVR, while those with moderate aortic stenosis and congestive heart failure receive medical therapy and are observed on guideline directed medical treatment until their condition worsens and a valve replacement meets current guidelines (i.e. severe aortic stenosis). The “unloading” of the left ventricle (the heart’s pumping chamber) by putting in a new aortic valve is currently only indicated in those with severe aortic stenosis.

    The current randomized trial we’re participating in, called TAVR UNLOAD, will randomize patients with moderate, not severe, aortic stenosis to continued medical therapy in 50% versus TAVR in the other 50%. Randomized trials have clearly shown that patients with severe aortic stenosis benefit from aortic valve replacement, with the procedure significantly prolonging their lives.

    Will patients with only moderate aortic stenosis receive a benefit with aortic valve replacement above medical therapy? We currently don’t know the answer, but trials such as TAVR UNLOAD will shed light on whether performing the procedure in patients with only moderate aortic stenosis and heart failure symptoms will enable individuals to feel better, stay out of the hospital, and live longer as a result of earlier TAVR.

    In nearly all cases, patients with moderate aortic stenosis are not eligible for TAVR, but with the Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute involved in this important clinical trial, we’ll be able to offer our patients with moderate aortic stenosis an option not previously available to them. TAVR is an amazing procedure, with most patients going home the day following aortic valve replacement. This in stark contrast to when replacing an aortic valve required open-heart surgery that involved a weeklong hospital stay and six-week recovery period.

    This potential advancement is made possible by research and clinical trials being conducted at academic centers that have the infrastructure, patient volume, and experienced clinicians we have at Memorial, one of the largest public healthcare systems in the U.S. With a combined inpatient bed census of more than 1,000 at Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West, and more than 160,000 emergency department visits at those hospitals annually, fellowship training in our GME program enables doctors to experience all aspects of primary, tertiary, and quaternary cardiovascular care, ensuring graduates will be able to expertly diagnose, treat, and properly refer out almost all problems seen in cardiovascular medicine today.

    This is also a significant benefit to our patient population, who not only have access to leading-edge research and trials, but also highly-trained physicians with expertise in subspecialties that are part of Memorial Healthcare System during fellowship training and may elect to stay after the program is completed.