It is my pleasure to announce that Alice A. Tolbert Coombs, M.D., will serve as the interim chair of the Department of Anesthesiology in support of Dr. John Butterworth’s transition from department chair.
Board certified in critical care, anesthesiology and internal medicine and Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, Dr. Coombs brought her extensive knowledge, experience and passion to the VCU Department of Anesthesia three years ago. Prior to her arrival at VCU, Dr. Coombs served as chair of the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at South Shore Hospital, a Brigham and Women’s affiliate and as the Medical Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Tufts University New England Medical Center. She has also recently served as medical director of VCU Vibra Critical Care Medicine Group, where she helped implement respiratory protocols that improved ventilator weaning rates and decreased ventilator-associated events, re-admissions and length of stay.
After her residency training in internal medicine and anesthesiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Coombs completed fellowships in critical care medicine at MGH and cardiothoracic anesthesia at Tufts Medical Center and practiced in Massachusetts for more than 30 years.
Holding a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, Dr. Coombs has extensive public policy experience focusing on the impact of the ACA and MACRA on practicing physicians and their patients. As a Medicare Payment Advisory Commissioner for the past six years, she makes recommendations to Congress regarding Medicare payment to physicians, hospitals and other providers. Additionally, she has tremendous experience in working with the CMS-directed Merit-based Incentive Payment System.
Long active in organized medicine, Dr. Coombs serves as a delegate to the American Medical Association and was elected to its Council on Medical Services in June 2019. Her previous experience in the AMA includes more than 10 years with the Commission to End Racial and Ethnic Healthcare Disparities. During that time, she spearheaded the development of the Health Care Diversity Educational Toolkit to be utilized throughout the community. Dr. Coombs is also a driving force behind the AMA’s Doctors Back to School Program, which brings physicians into elementary, middle and high schools across the country to interest young people, particularly in minority communities, in health care careers. Locally, Dr. Coombs currently serves as a director to the Richmond Academy of Medicine and an alternate director with the Medical Society of Virginia.
With a passion for serving minority and vulnerable populations, Dr. Coombs has also been on multiple commissions and boards that address racial and ethnic health care disparities. As a member of the Massachusetts Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System, she helped evaluate the health care payment system and recommend reforms that provide incentives for cost-effective and patient-centered care.
In 2005, Dr. Coombs received the Massachusetts Medical Society's Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health, an annual award recognizing a physician’s demonstration of creativity, commendable citizenship, initiative, innovation and leadership in the public health and advocacy fields.
We thank the outgoing chair, John F. Butterworth, M.D., for his service as chair of the department. See more about Dr. Butterworth and his and his longstanding commitment to his field, department and our School of Medicine.
Please join me in offering a warm, grateful welcome to Dr. Coombs in her new interim 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