NEW YORK – Celebrating ‘Transitions in Medicine’ was the theme of the 2015 Scholarship and Awards presentation of the Hellenic Medical Society of New York on December 3 at the Einhorn Auditorium of Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
The theme was double edged as the joy over achievements and promise of the gifted young scholarship recipients was tempered by concern over the future of the practice of medicine in America, a topic covered in excellent presentations by distinguished physician Dr. Jack Soterakis, VP Physician Clinical Services Quality Improvement, CHSLI and attorney Catherina Patsos, and a lively and fascinating Q &A moderated by HMS President Dr. George Liakeas.
The event’s traditional Continuing Medical Education portion featured a fascinating presentation by Dr. Stavros N. Stavropoulos, adjunct professor of clinical medicine at Columbia and Temple universities titled “The gastroenterologist as surgeon: The New Era pf Endoscopic Surgery.”
HMS Scholarship Chair Dr. Sotirios Stergiopoulos, who praised all the recipients for “giving us hope for the future” offered special praise, validated by his wife who is an assistant principal of English, for their essays.
He urged all the young honorees to talk to the HMS veterans. “Get to know them. This is your network…whatever you need, we are all here for you.”
The high school students were called up first and Eve Frangopoulos, Raphael Kirou and Nikolaos Kostaras were the Christ Bozes essay winners.
Research grants were awarded to Myra Trivellas of the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, who won the award sponsored by the Leonidas Lantsounis Research Fund, and the Stavros Hartofilis Research sponsored grant presented to Christos Ioannis Moutzakitis.
Medical scholarships were presented the following five students, Katrina Krough, who attends New York Medical College and won the Dr. Spyros and Vivian Mezitis Hellenic Fund; Anastasis Meletios of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine wm the Dr. Constantinos Vardopoulos Scholarship, Alexander Orfanos of the Geisel School of Medicine of Sartmonth won the scholarship sponsored by Dr. Anthony Vasilas, Andrew Sideras of the NYU School of Medicine won the Polyvios N. Coryllos Memorial Scholarship, and Andomachi of Tulane University School of Medicine was presented the HMS-NY Scholarship.
Dr. Soterakis preceded his presentation with a call for a moment of silence to honor the memory of their dear friend and noted colleague, Dr. Antoine C. Harovas, but he was also happy for the students, saying “we see they will have a bright future.”
Soterakis began by noting the well-known fact that the U.S. spends the most of any country – 18 percent of GDP – but added that American healthcare is not tops in the developed world in terms of quality.
Soterakis, given that he is now on the management side of the field, expressed his sympathy, as a practicing physician in the past, for today’s doctors and their feelings of being overwhelmed. He then gave an overview of how healthcare industry challenges, including both quality of care and skyrocketing costs have been addressed over the past three decades.
The dramatic shift from the “free for service” model to “value based care” guided by the “triple aim” goals of 1) population health 2) experience of care, and 3) per capita cost, and governed by reviews and ever-increasing paper (and computer) work) has many physicians feeling like “deer caught in the headlights” of oncoming industry and government demands.
His comprehensive presentation can only be summarized by key terms such as “accountability” and advice such as “physicians will have to become members of teams” and “pay attention and be active.”
He noted that government agencies want to get it right, for physicians and patients, and that they are reaching out for input and urged his colleagues to be involved in the healthcare redesign process.
Although most of what Dr. Soterakis discussed pertained to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement requirements, he noted that many insurers follow their leads.
After his presentation, Dr. Soterakis made a personal appeal for his colleagues to support the work of the Hellenic Relief Foundation, which provides food and medicine to the needy in Greece, and acknowledged the presence of one of its founders, past HMS president Nicholas Mezitis, whose brother, Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America president Spyros Mezitis was also present.
Patsos also offered a comprehensive and sympathetic presentation, sometimes in an “I’m just the messenger tone. She urged the doctors to “really pay attention to billing and coding errors” and make sure staff is properly trained in order to avoid penalties and other problems.
The Q & A addressed the question of what is driving the bureaucratization of medicine, and one sympathetic non-medical person to physicians decried the virtual “enslavement” of physicians.
While featured speakers and guests bemoaned the fact that the process is disrupting the vital doctor-patient relationship and the doctors’ ability to advise and guide, and while it was noted that the slack is being picked up people like physicians assistants, HMS Vice President Stella Lymberis told TNH “there is no substitute for hearing it from your doctor.
Stavropoulos spoke of the evolution of techniques for minimally invasive surgery, including the removal of tumors and other interventions.
In procedures that blur the lines between the work of surgeons and gastroenterologists, doctors gain access though the mouths and other orifices of patients, eliminating for scar-creating piercings of the abdomens and the need to remove large portions of organs like the stomach, esophagus, and colon.
Past HMS president Dr. George Dangas and Dr. Soterakis congratulated Stavropoulos on his pioneering work.