Dear Colleagues-Friends:

It was a tremendous honor to host Governor Ralph Northam, M.D., on the MCV Campus yesterday. In our collective fight against the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across the nation, Governor Northam has prioritized talking with medical students and has embarked on a speaking tour of Virginia’s medical schools. What a privileged opportunity for all of Virginia’s medical students.

There’s nothing like a personal story to make an impression. And so we are especially grateful to the Governor for bringing Mr. Ryan Hall from Alleghany County to meet us and tell us his own story of addiction and recovery. His story was poignant and powerful, adding patient experience to the Governor’s remarks about addictions in practice and in policy.

The Grand Rounds presentation, delivered to a packed auditorium, will have long-lasting impact. With standing room only in the McGlothlin Medical Education Center’s Learning Theater, additional audience members joined us from the facility’s overflow spaces and even via online broadcast from more than half a dozen states including New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida.

What a remarkable thing it is to have a Governor who is a physician! A pediatric neurologist, he’s well familiar with the Grand Rounds format and delivered a stellar presentation. We were so impressed with the breadth of his knowledge on this topic, as well as his compassion and empathy for those battling addiction. Combined with Mr. Hall’s candid recounting of his experiences, it was a compelling message. Our audience thanked them with a standing ovation.

To expand the impact of the Governor’s Grand Rounds, we are pleased to share these links with you:

• Video of the Grand Rounds presentation
 Photo gallery of the presentation
• Coverage of the presentation via the VCU News Centerand MCV Foundation
 WRIC TV-8 spoke with Gerry Moeller, M.D., division chair for addiction psychiatry
 WTVR TV-6 interviewed second-year medical student Carrie Shadowen

We were especially proud to host this Grand Rounds because of our strong work in the field of addiction that has helped to shape an innovative and comprehensive approach to combating this national crisis. It is a strategic focus for our university, which is ranked ninth in the country in funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Projects range from basic research and brain imaging to a clinical trial assessing preventive treatment for patients recovering from opioid overdose. We are also proud to be collaborating with other healthcare providers and research intensive universities in Virginia to address this problem.

Our commitment includes training as well, and we have just secured initial accreditation from the ACGME of our one-year addiction medicine fellowship. The fellowship, which is the first ACGME-accredited addiction fellowship in Virginia, focuses clinically on addiction medicine across all levels of care, outpatient to inpatient, on all substances and includes an emphasis on prevention and on pain.

In addition to our pain management services, last year, with the support of the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), we opened the “MOTIVATE” Clinic dedicated to the assessment and care of individuals with substance abuse problems. We are also privileged to assist DMAS in documenting the success of new substance abuse services across the Commonwealth.

Please join us in increasing your and our communities’ awareness of the epidemic. You may be interested in learning more about the online course Safe Opiate Prescribing that’s been developed by VCU’s Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care to serve as a resource for all licensed prescribers in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the fight against opiate abuse and addiction.

With us at the Governor’s Grand Rounds were members of the VCU and VCU Health boards as well as Virginia Delegate Chris Peace. We were also joined by VCU VP and VCU Health CEO Marsha Rappley, M.D., and VCU President Mike Rao, Ph.D., who began the afternoon’s presentation by thanking the Governor for his leadership at a time when our state faces a number of important health care challenges.

Our sincerest thanks to all the many people who were involved in making the Governor’s Grand Rounds such a success, including Karah Gunther from VCU Government Relations who was our primary point of contact with the Governor’s office.

To commemorate the event, we presented the Governor with a framed print of the iconic Egyptian Building that symbolizes our commitment to the health and wellbeing of Virginians that stretches back to 1838. In this year that we celebrate the 180th anniversary of our medical school’s founding, the day the Governor visited to deliver Grand Rounds is a remarkable moment in our storied history.

Warm Regards,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System