2020’s medical staff leaders and innovators honoured

News / General / Internal Medicine Care / Mental Health Care / Stroke and Neurological Care
By Christine Maloney

The winners and nominees of this year’s Medical Staff Association awards demonstrate outstanding contributions to KHSC’s medical community and patients

Every year, Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Medical Staff Association (MSA) recognizes the leaders and dedicated clinical-care providers whose achievements stand out and are noteworthy. In addition to the yearly award granted to an Outstanding Clinician, this year, an award for Clinician Innovator was added.

Throughout the summer we will be introducing you to the 2020 award winners and nominees, starting with the recipient of the inaugural Clinician Innovator of the Year award, Dr. Ramana Appireddy, stroke neurologist and medical director at KHSC’s Stroke Prevention Clinic.

Clinician Innovator of the Year

Dr. Appireddy’s innovative work providing virtual patient care through electronic visits or eVisits began two years ago with a pilot project to connect patients and families to their specialists for follow-up care after a stroke. His experience was invaluable when his leadership was called upon to help set up over 450 physicians in a very short time to provide virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am honoured to receive this recognition from my colleagues, and it was my pleasure to guide many of them in their adoption of eVisits,” says Dr. Appireddy. He added, “Whenever we can address the barriers people face, we are putting patients and their families at the centre of their care and improving their access to health care.”

The physical environments of health-care settings are often significant barriers for people with chronic neurological conditions, who may experience cognition and mobility impairments. When appropriate, eVisits allow people to receive care from the comfort of their homes.

During the pandemic, the physical environments of KHSC’s hospital sites became barriers because access to them were restricted in order to slow the spread of the virus and be able to respond to a surge in patients needing hospital-level care.

Dr. Appireddy’s innovation and leadership has helped KHSC’s medical community to completely transform to provide virtual care and meet the clinical needs of patients, not only during COVID-19 times, but in the post-pandemic era as well.

Outstanding Clinician of the Year

For 20 years, Dr. Mariana Silva was the sole pediatric oncologist providing care in Kingston for young patients. Since 1988, she has been involved in developing the Queen’s Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, which she has been the head of since 2009.

Despite her busy clinical practice, including working in general pediatrics and in urgent care at the Children’s Outpatient Centre (COPC), Dr. Silva has also been extremely active in administrative service. She was head of the COPC from 1995-1999, and was chair of the Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s Kingston General Hospital site’s pediatric oncology program from 1997 to 2005.

She has also served on numerous hospital, provincial, and national committees to advocate for her patients and colleagues; as well, has participated in clinical trials through the Canadian Oncology Group.

Clinician Innovator of the Year nominees:

Dr. Nazanin Alavi, a psychiatrist in KHSC’s adult mental health program at the Hotel Dieu Hospital site, has demonstrated tremendous innovation that has enhanced the care provided to patients. She has improved patients’ access to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) through an online CBT clinic and an in-person clinic for individuals who cannot access online or group therapy.

The online CBT clinic offers targeted therapy for specific needs such as, obsessive compulsive disorder, managing chronic pain and coping with cancer, and has expanded access to this care for patients in remote areas, where resources have been limited. Recently, she was awarded SARS CoV-2/COVID-19 research funding from Queen's University to explore opportunities for online CBT to support people facing mental health challenges during the pandemic. She has also received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant to help correctional officers cope with mental health challenges through an online psychotherapy clinic offering them diagnosis-specific psychotherapy.

Dr. Alavi has been instrumental in working with the emergency department to develop streamlined protocols to provide consistency in care, as well as a rapid therapy program to offer short-term supportive therapy for patients in crisis.

Dr. Donatella Tampieri, a diagnostic and interventional neuroradiologist, is passionate about improving and innovating patient care. This dedication, along with her leadership, was instrumental in developing a Neurointerventional Radiology program at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. The program uses minimally-invasive techniques to successfully treat diseases such as brain aneurysms, blood vessel abnormalities, and other conditions including stroke. Additional benefits of these techniques include lower risks to patients, shorter hospital stays, and improved health outcomes.

Dr. Tampieri also worked with neurosurgery colleague Dr. Chris Wallace and the regional director of the stroke network of southeastern Ontario Mrs. Cally Martin to make aneurysm coiling available to KHSC patients, providing a less-invasive alternative to brain surgery. As a result of this collaboration, KHSC was designated an Aneurysm Coiling Centre by the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Siddhartha Srivastava, a physician in the Medicine program, is being recognized for his dedication to finding collaborative, efficient and effective ways to improve and transform care for patients. During the pandemic, Dr. Srivastava has worked with others to use virtual care technologies – such as video visits, virtual conferencing software, and wearable vital signs monitoring devices – when caring for patients with COVID-19.

Dr. Srivastava’s innovative work to improve the experiences of isolated patients admitted to COVID-19 units and ensure they receive equitable care has also improved patient and staff safety, and optimized clinical work to make the best use of personal protective equipment supplies. The lessons learned from his innovations will help define how medicine is practiced in the future.

Transplant nephrologist Dr. M. Khaled Shamseddin’s clinical innovation and leadership has significantly influenced southeastern Ontario’s living donor kidney transplant service, enabling people with kidney failure to live longer and have a better quality of life. 

Dr. Shamseddin has also dedicated his time to ensuring the nephrology portion of the organization’s competency-based medical education is beneficial for learners and a model for other nationwide training programs. With his guidance, the adult nephrology training program has garnered the reputation of being a top program, and attracts increasing numbers of trainees each year. 

Outstanding Clinician of the Year nominees:

Dr. Christopher Smith’s leadership and internal-medicine expertise has been invaluable throughout the COVID pandemic. He worked with the emergency department, intensive care unit, and medical and surgical leaders to take the lead on creating space at the Kingston General Hospital site to care for COVID-19 positive patients, including the creation of the isolated COVID-19 unit.

As always, Dr. Smith has given generously of his time and advice to support his colleagues during this unprecedented time. Demonstrating true, visible leadership, he put himself first on call when the pandemic began. 

Dr. Gerald Evans, in his role as medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, has provided important infectious disease insights and clear daily/hourly infection prevention guidance to help everyone who works, learns, volunteers and receives care at KHSC deal with COVID-19.

Dr. Evans has shown remarkable leadership when engaging with the local public health authority, serving on a number of COVID-19 provincial tables and working groups throughout the pandemic, and answering thousands of questions from colleagues, hospital administration, nursing and other hospital staff, patients and the public.

Challenging times are more easily managed when leaders like Dr. Joanna Dion, a KHSC anesthesiologist, are willing to go above and beyond to help others keep calm and carry on. Her collaborative leadership and commitment to clinical excellence make her a terrific role model for the physicians and learners with whom she works.

Dr. Dion’s exemplary contributions include her passion for improving patient care. She is currently working on a study of screening tools designed to help prepare patients to be in the best shape they can be prior to surgery and to reduce post-surgical complications.