WD<40 to hold March financial planning event

Dr. George

Wichita Docs under 40 will hold its first social event of 2019 on Thursday, March 21, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Crestview Country Club. The social and educational gathering will feature Wichita surgeon Austin George, MD, who will be giving a presentation on investing and financial planning, particularly as it applied to physicians.

WD<40 March social gathering

WHEN: 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21
WHERE: Crestview Country Club
RSVP: By Monday, March 18.
E-mail Denise Phillips at or call her at(316) 683-7558.

MSSC leaders meet with members of Congress

ON THE HILL … Local physicians join the American Medical Association’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 11-13.

Patricia Wyatt-Harris, MD, and Rep. Roger Marshall

Michael Lievens, MD, Rep. Ron Estes, Katie Rosell, MD, and Wyatt-Harris.

Wyatt-Harris and Lievens with Sen. Jerry Moran.

MSSC and KMS members discuss policy with Rep. Steve Watkins.

The Wichita Quality Health Collaborative Committee meets

The Wichita Quality Health Collaborative (WQHC), a committee of Wichita health care providers who focus on safe surgical practices, reconvened after five years on Jan. 28 to review surgical “time-out” procedures and discuss any new concerns.

The last time the WQHC met, in 2014, was to announce a citywide collaboration to use newly standardized surgical time-out protocols for use in operating rooms and ambulatory facilities across Wichita as part of an initiative to make Wichita the safest place in the country to undergo surgery.

Led by chairman Randall Morgan, MD, and facilitated by Brian Swallow, director of surgical services at Wesley Healthcare, the meeting was attended by physicians and clinical providers from Ascension Via Christi, Cypress Surgery Center, Associates in Women’s Health and Wesley.

“One of the reasons we wanted to meet again was to evaluate where we are and see if our needs have changed,” said Swallow, who was part of the original citywide time-out initiative. “It’s been a few years and there have been changes in the OR, so let’s see if the citywide time-out is still pertinent to everybody and consistent with the rest of the city.”

The committee discussed several points about time-out procedures, including new additions to it, such as introductions and debriefings, which the group felt should be more formalized. Other points of discussion included training for residents on time-outs, procedures in place for documenting intentional placements of packs and sponges during surgery, emergency checklist protocols, and reviewing sharps reporting procedures.

The committee agreed to meet again after reviewing some of the action items discussed and decide whether any modifications would be appropriate to the established time-out protocol adopted citywide, and other relevant surgical safety issues.

“We want to make sure everyone is on the same page, and this is an opportunity for everyone to work together to accomplish that by working collaboratively,” Swallow said.

February President’s Message: Time visiting with legislators forges sense of gratefulness

by Michael Lievens, MD —

As I returned home from the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., this month, I was struck by one emotion: gratitude.

I am grateful to live in the United States, which seems to me to be the best nation on Earth, despite our problems. Our government often may be dysfunctional, but it really is representative. The people I met in Washington are working hard to make things better for all of us, even if the results we see, hear and read about don’t always meet our expectations.

I am grateful for the many bright, young congressional staff members who work long hours doing the often tedious, painstaking work of the Congress.

I am grateful to be in a profession that directly helps other human beings, on a daily basis. It is a constantly challenging profession in which we often can see the results of our efforts in the lives of those we serve. Very few professions can say that ñ especially government.

I am grateful the AMA is representing our profession, and that physicians have the opportunity to speak with our legislators in order to inform the decisions they make. I do believe they have an interest in our positions on issues. Each member we met seemed sincere ñ and in some cases extremely well informed ñ about issues important to doctors.

We heard a presentation by the Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services. He is very intelligent and well-versed on the issues. I liked much of what he had to say, with a few exceptions. He is a former executive of a pharmaceutical company and a former lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.

Secretary Azar spoke about the possibility (going forward) of some things needing prior authorization in Medicare, which we as a profession strongly oppose. We made sure to let our legislators know how prior authorization is eating up time and other resources that we can’t afford to be wasting.

Many things for which we are grateful come with great responsibility. In addition to the taxes we pay, we have a duty. We must care for our patients and work to make our health care facilities better.

For the benefit of our profession, and our patients, we have a duty to stay active and informed. We must communicate with our elected representatives in Washington, Topeka and locally on topics that impact patient care.

We heard directly from congressional staff about how they are constantly getting calls and visits from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, pushing their respective agendas. We also learned that emails from us, the doctors, are read and considered.

I urge all of us to send at least one email a quarter to an elected official – federal, state, local, or all of the above – about a topic you find important. Or perhaps simply thank them for their work on a particular issue. Let them know we are watching, caring and voting. Let them know what we think is important and why.

I believe our profession is respected enough that most people, even members of Congress, will actually read a letter from a doctor ñ especially one in your own words, not a form letter. You can find the names and addresses of our elected officials in the publications section of the MSSC website at

Lastly, be grateful. If you are like me, you can always find things to gripe and complain about, especially when it comes to our government. But be grateful anyway. We really do have many reasons to be thankful.

MSSC board positions are up for election soon

Though it is still early in 2019, elections for next year’s MSSC board officers and membership seats will occur soon, with candidates announced in April and the election on May 7.

Positions include:

  • President elect
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Members (3)

“Serving on the board of directors is a great way to support MSSC, organized medicine and our community,” said Phillip Brownlee, executive director.

Serving on the board does not require a big time commitment. The board meets at noon the last Wednesday of each month. To be an officer of the board, you have to have been an active MSSC member for at least five years.

If you’re interested in running for a board officer position or member seat, please contact the MSSC by March 8. E-mail Denise Phillips at or call her at (316) 683-7558.

Physician Engagement

This month, we capture physicians and guests at the Feb. 19 MSSC membership meeting at Cargill’s new Protein HQ.

Cargill is the largest privately held company in the United States, employing more than 155,000 people in 70 countries. Its new $60 million, 188,000-square-foot headquarters at 825 E. Douglas opened in December and is home to 850 employees with space to grow. The MSSC held its Feb. 19 membership meeting at the facility’s Great Hall and Visitor Center. “Part of the role of the Medical Society is connecting us to each other,” said MSSC board president Michael Lievens, MD. “These events are meant to be more social than medical education, and we are fortunate to share in them together.” Fun fact: Cargill aimed to be responsibly constructed. The company used 700,000 pounds of recycled content in its construction and 460,000 pounds of recycled content in furniture and fixtures placed throughout the building.

Health sector among fastest growing in economy in Kansas

New data shows the health care sector is among the fastest growing in the economy, according to a study released last month by Kansas State University.

The entire health sector in Kansas employs more than 238,000 people and is the fourth largest aggregate employer in Kansas, researchers said.

The report, called “The Importance of the Health Care Sector to the Kansas Economy,” estimates the economic contribution associated with the health care sector to the State of Kansas. It was funded by the Kansas Hospital Association.

“Although the connections between health care services and local economic development are often overlooked, there are at least three important linkages to be recognized,” said investigator John Leatherman, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University, and director of the Office of Local Government, K-State Research and Extension. He said a strong health care system can:

  • Help attract and maintain business and industry growth
  • Attract and retain retirees
  • Create jobs in the local area.

“A vigorous and sustainable health care system is essential not only for the health and welfare of community residents, but to enhance economic opportunity as well,” Leatherman wrote.

The report ties in with an MSSC-sponsored economic study last year that shows health care second only to manufacturing when it comes to jobs and payroll.

Health care and related industries accounted for 15.6 percent of all employment in the Wichita statistical area, consisting of Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, Sumner and Kingman counties, according to the report prepared by the WSUCenter for Economic Development and Business Research.

Almost 43,600 people worked directly in health care and related industries in 2016, while more than 29,300 indirect jobs also came from health care. The total employment of nearly 73,000 contributed $2.8 billion in wages to the area’s economy. Those jobs paid an average annual wage of $41,998, up slightly from 2014.

News In Brief

New and noteworthy …

Docs share experiences with students

Doctors’ Day is March 30. The day was established to recognize physicians, their work, and their contributions to society and the community.

As in past years, MSSC is coordinating short physician-speaking engagements at local schools during that week. Doctors will share their experiences and love of medicine with students. This year, physicians are lined up to speak to 11 classes in six different area high schools, both public and private.

“Some physicians will talk about their journey in medical school and getting through residency; some will talk about their specialty,” said Phillip Brownlee, MSSC executive director. “It’s an opportunity to encourage young people to enter medicine and for physicians to share pride in their profession.”

Kansas Healthcare Ethics Conference

The 6th annual Kansas Healthcare Ethics Conference will take place on March 27 at the WSU Hughes Metroplex ñ Room 180. The theme revolves around “Conversations in Ethics: Diverse, Difficult, Rewarding.” The conference cost is $80 if registration is postmarked on or before March 15, and $90 if after that date. Lunch is provided.

The Medical Society of Sedgwick County is accredited by the Kansas Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians. MSSC designated this live activity for a maximum of 7.5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. The Wichita Medical Research & Education Foundation has a limited number of student scholarships available. Please call (316) 686-7172 for scholarship information.

More information and registration is available online at

George J. Farha Medical Library offers medical information resource

The George J. Farha Medical Library at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita is offering on-site access to UpToDate, an online medical information resource, thanks to the generous support of the Earl L. Mills Educational Trust.

UpToDate provides information and answers to patient care, diagnosis, and treatment questions at point of care.

The information is written by a recognized faculty of experts who synthesize the best available medical evidence with best practices to provide practical recommendations that clinicians can trust.

For more information, call the Farha Medical Library at (316) 293-2629.

Odds of dying accidentally from an opioid overdose now beat car crashes

The National Safety Council is reporting that for the first time in U.S. history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash.

The odds of dying accidentally from an opioid overdose have risen to one in 96, eclipsing the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash (one in 103), according to the council’s “Injury Facts” analysis – a resource for data around unintentional, preventable injuries, commonly known as accidents released last month.

Though the nation’s opioid problem is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl, the overdose crisis has been less severe in Kansas than many other states. A recent study by United Health Foundation ranked Kansas as having the seventh lowest rate of drug death per capita. The NSC analysis also shows that falls – the third leading cause of preventable death behind drug overdose and motor vehicle crashes – are more likely to kill someone than ever before. The lifetime odds of dying from an accidental fall are one in 114 – a change from one in 119 just a year ago.

Apply for Nell scholarships

The Zola N. and Lawrence R. Nell Educational Trust Scholarship Program is accepting scholarship applications through March 15, 2019, for grant funds to assist students studying at the post-baccalaureate level to become a physician or physician assistant. Applicants must have graduated from a Sedgwick County high school. For an application, contact Deanne Newland at MSSC at (316) 683-7557. Applications and official transcripts are due by March 15 to: Commerce Trust Company, ATTN: Brian Adams, PO Box 637, Wichita, KS 67201-0637. Each application should provide an address and phone number for communications between March and June.

Kansas in 27th place for 2018 America’s Health Rankings

A new report by United Health Foundation ranked Kansas as having the 27th best overall health outcomes. Strengths included low drug death rate, low prevalence of low birthweight, and low prevalence of frequent mental distress. Challenges included high prevalence of physical inactivity, low per capita public health funding, and low meningococcal immunization coverage among adolescents.

In Remembrance

MSSC extends its condolences to the family of Dr. Meek.

Joseph Chester Meek, MD, a leader in medical education and organized medicine, and the namesake of the MSSC Dr. Joe Meek Young Physician Leadership Award, died Jan. 30. He was 87.

Dr. Meek graduated from the University of Kansas Medical School with honors. While there, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society. He served his medical internship at San Diego County Hospital and his residency and fellowships at KU Medical School and Scripps Clinic La Jolla. Dr. Meek was board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology and had an active endocrinology practice specializing in thyroid disease.

Dr. Meek served the country as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy as a NASA Astronaut Recovery Team doctor. Highly involved in medical teaching, Dr. Meek was a professor and chair of the KUMC department of internal medicine, vice chancellor to Academic Affairs, department chair of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, as well as dean.

The Dr. Joe Meek Young Physician Leadership Award is an annual award to recognize and encourage emerging physician leaders in Wichita and Sedgwick County by financially supporting their participation in local, state and national leadership activities.

The award is named to honor Dr. Meek because of his leadership promoting organized medicine in Wichita and in Kansas. Dr. Meek was the fourth dean of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita and received the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Medallion in 2010. He served as MSSC president in 1996 and president of the Kansas Medical Society in 2000-01. Dr. Meek also represented Kansas physicians as a delegate to the American Medical Association for 20 years.

As one way to honor Dr. Meek and his lifetime of service, the Meek family recommended contributions to the leadership award fund. Tax-deductible donations can been sent to the Dr. Joe Meek Young Leadership Award, Medical Society of Sedgwick County, 1102 S. Hillside, Wichita, KS 67211.