It is my great pleasure to announce that following a highly competitive national search, our colleague and friend, Harinder Dhindsa, M.D., MPH, MBA, who has been serving as interim chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, will assume this role permanently effective August 1.
Dr. Dhindsa received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine degrees from the University of Maryland and completed his emergency medicine residency at Georgetown and George Washington Universities. Following his residency, he completed a two-year fellowship in emergency medical services (EMS) in Washington, D.C. and earned an MPH degree from George Washington and an MBA degree from VCU. He also has completed extensive training and professional development through executive fellowships in physician leadership and patient safety.
Dr. Dhindsa joined our School of Medicine faculty in 1996 and rose through the ranks to professor. Throughout his career, and most recently while serving as interim chair, Dr. Dhindsa has taken his greatest satisfaction and pride from building strong, high performing teams. It is through this teamwork that the Department of Emergency Medicine has improved efficiencies to raise the level of care patients receive thereby improving key quality and safety metrics. He also created and oversees the LifeEvac transport program, which provides lifesaving critical care air and ground transportation.
In addition, Dr. Dhindsa and his colleagues provide exemplary training. Dr. Dhindsa has worked diligently to ensure that future physicians, EMTs, paramedics and other hospital personnel are well trained, developing a curriculum around patient transport. Under his leadership, the department created fellowships in EMS, pediatric emergency medicine, ultrasound/resuscitation and education.
During his time as interim chair, the Department of Emergency Medicine has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in remarkable ways, adapting the way it triaged patients with a split-flow model and reorganizing the geography of the department to accommodate the pandemic-related needs of the health system and its patients. Additionally, the team opened an 18-bed negative pressure unit in the Emergency Department to accommodate patients potentially infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. To preserve inpatient capacity and improve the care of patients with COVID-19, the team implemented remote oxygen monitoring for COVID-19 outpatient management (ROMCOM) in collaboration with others. This program follows COVID-19 positive patients whose illness could progress to COVID-19 pneumonia for 14 days. This provides a safety net to ensure that if their symptoms do worsen, they can return to the Emergency Department for further evaluation. This was done in addition to standing up virtual urgent care clinics for adults and children.
Since the reactivation of the breadth of our clinical services, the department has rebounded to 100% capacity on the adult side. Remarkably, throughout the pandemic and over the past year, the emergency medicine team has achieved zero diversions, supporting our health system’s access goals.
Even while navigating the challenges of the pandemic, the Emergency Department opened the first and only freestanding emergency center in New Kent, expanding the reach of our emergency expertise into this rural community. Also at the same time under Dr. Dhindsa’s leadership, clinical ultrasound transitioned from a section to a division. The Clinical Ultrasound Division offers real-time bedside ultrasounds, which as an evolving tool in medicine, enhances and expedites bedside diagnosis and resuscitation in select patient populations. All these accomplishments demonstrate the strength of our emergency department team and Dr. Dhindsa’s leadership.
Dr. Dhindsa has demonstrated his leadership in many other ways, including previously serving on the MCVP Board of Directors, actively participating in several committees of the VCU Health System Board of Directors and serving on national committees developing standards for critical care transport.
Our thanks go to the search committee, chaired by Dr. Steve Kates and Dr. Greg Hundley, and to all the department members who were involved in the search.
Please join me in congratulating Dr. Dhindsa on his new role.
With all good wishes,
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Interim CEO, VCU Health System, and Senior Vice President, VCU Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System