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    Bascom Palmer takes top honors for 3rd year


    Clinical care

    Figure 4
    Care of patients always has been the prime mission for Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, which has retained its No. 1 rank in this area all 15 years. Led by Dr. Alfonso, the institute views research and residency training through the lens of patient care, which has a decidedly international flavor. Because of its proximity to Latin America, the institute draws patients with diverse cases to what might be the world's largest ophthalmic campus, with three locations around south Florida in addition to its Miami base.

    Wilmer Eye Institute swapped ranks with Wills Eye Institute in this category as well, moving up to No. 2 this year. Thanks to the new building added last year, Dr. McDonnell said the department has been able to add 16 faculty members, reducing delays experienced by patients seeking appointments.

    "We now offer same-day appointments at our facility," Dr. McDonnell said. "That's been a challenge in the past. Often people had heard of Wilmer Eye Institute and our reputation, but when they called, we were quite booked up."

    With what Dr. Haller calls the largest clinical practice in the country, Wills Eye Institute has focused its efforts on community outreach— taking the clinic to inner-city areas to treat underserved populations via its new Wills-on-Wheels diagnostic bus—and telemedicine to reach those in outlying areas. The institute is especially interested in helping children, the elderly, and African Americans with diabetic eye disease.

    Dr. Lichter
    The biggest change on this year's clinical care ranking was the improvement by W.K. Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from 10th to 8th, and the reappearance of Emory Eye Center, Emory University, Atlanta, this year at No. 10.

    Paul R. Lichter, MD, who has chaired Kellogg for 32 years, said the school's newly expanded eye center, with three floors of clinics, has increased its patient-care space by 50%. The addition of ocular oncologist Hakan Demirci, MD, to the staff has allowed the department to develop a more formal ocular oncology service compatible with the University of Michigan's cancer center.

    Dr. Lichter said he recently recruited a clinician-scientist and a number of his colleagues to establish a center for diabetes research that he expects will become the country's pre-eminent center for diabetic retinopathy research and treatment.

    "We emphasize patient care, education, and research, and I would say we emphasize them equally," he said.

    At Emory Eye Center, work has begun on a 3-year plan to update the patient-care areas to improve clinical experiences. On the main clinical floor, the space was redesigned to provide an imaging center, a technician-centered core area, and a visual field core area.

    "It's a more efficient design for patient flow," said Timothy W. Olsen, MD, department chairman, the F. Phinizy Calhoun Sr. Professor of Ophthalmology, and director of the Emory Eye Center.

    Designers consulted with physicians as well as patient groups to determine the most comfortable and efficient ways to help patients.

    "We were fairly sensitive about how we redesigned this, because we don't want people to feel they're being herded like cattle," he said.

    Focus groups revealed that patients wanted windows, an outside or atrium space, and an efficient system that will help them get in and out more quickly.

    Although Emory has appeared on top 10 lists in previous years, the school ranked just below the top 10 in every category last year. Dr. Olsen said he had plans to update and revive every area of the department, beginning with the resident education space, when he became chairman 2 years ago.

    "We're kind of shaking things up here," Dr. Olsen said.

    The department is going through a transition, with some senior faculty members retiring and some energetic junior faculty coming on board, he added.

    "It's a thrill to think that we are in the top 10 clinically," Dr. Olsen said. "I'm obviously biased, but I think we're pretty good clinically."


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