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Division updates for the Department of Medicine, December 2020

A number of divisions in the Department of Medicine shared their updates for the department’s December 2020 newsletter.

Divisions featured this month are:

Endocrinology and Diabetes

Andrea Manni, MD, chief

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Shyam Narayana

Shyam Narayana, MBBS, MPH

New and noteworthy

Under the leadership of Shyam Narayana, MBBS, MPH, assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, the newly established Multidisciplinary Cystic Fibrosis (MDCF) clinic held its first session Sept. 15, 2020. Moving forward, four-hour clinic sessions will be held twice per month.

At each session, multiple providers, including the endocrinologist, nutritionist, diabetes educator, pulmonologist, respiratory therapist and nursing coordinator, are available simultaneously to provide coordinated, user-friendly care to the approximately 125 adult CF patients within Penn State Health. The MDCF clinic will facilitate and improve the care of CF patients which otherwise requires asynchronous visits with multiple providers. Both the American Diabetes Association and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recommend the care of CF patients by a multidisciplinary team. Dr. Narayana was able to establish this valuable resource in the institution through the support of the Junior Faculty Development Program.

On the horizon

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Ayesha Siddiqui

Ayesha Siddiqui, MD

The Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes is pleased to announce that the 19th annual Diabetes Symposium will be held as a live virtual event this year. This CME event is for health care providers and will feature various speakers on current diabetes topics. See details and register here.

Spotlight on our people

Shyam Narayana, MBBS, MPH, has been accepted as a scholar in the Health Systems Science Academy for the 2020-2021 academic year. In this role, Dr. Narayana will promote the clinical, educational and research activities of the Multidisciplinary Cystic Fibrosis Clinic he established under the auspices of the Junior Faculty Development Program (2018-2020).

Ayesha Siddiqui, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, has been selected as associate medical director of the upcoming Cocoa Outpatient Center practice site. One of her goals will be to optimize the application of diabetes technology for improved care of patients with diabetes as well as for creating educational and research opportunities for faculty and trainees.

The cover of the October 2020 edition of the academic journal Gastroenterology.

Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Kofi Clarke, MD, chief

New and noteworthy

Dr. Thomas Ma and his research team made the cover of Gastroenterology, which is one of the preeminent journals in the specialty.

Read their featured article here.

In addition, Dr. Clarke was the senior author on a recent collaboration with multiple other institutions published in Gastroenterology as well.

Read that article here.

On the horizon

The Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology is excited to be nearing the completion of the extensively renovated and repurposed endoscopy unit.

These photos show a preview of the work.

Two photos show an endoscopy unit. The first is of a station for providers and the other shows an endoscopy room. There are no people in the photos.

The newly renovated endoscopy unit will be opening soon.

A room with cabinets and workspace on counters is visible. It is part of a new endoscopy unit.

This photo shows another view of the renovated endoscopy unit.

Spotlight on our people

Mary Maiolo: “For exemplary leadership in revising work processes in a rapidly growing division to accommodate administrative staff and ensuring adherence to COVID-19 protocols.”

Mark Spangler: “Our extraordinary operations manager for his work on all logistic support and administrative details in hiring and onboarding new faculty and staff.”

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Mary Maiolo

Mary Maiolo

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Mark Spangler

Mark Spangler


Nasrollah “Nasr” Ghahramani, MD, MS, chief

I am delighted to introduce you to the Division of Nephrology. For an introduction in an inaugural newsletter, it is perhaps customary to present the clinical work, the teaching, the research and the service that members of a unit provide. However, I think our division is defined, more than anything else, by its people and their enthusiasm.

Nephrology consists of 12 faculty (two research faculty and 10 clinical – of whom two are adjunct), three physician assistants, four clinical fellows and two phenomenal administrative staff.

We are a happy, hardworking, cohesive and productive group and we take pride in the diversity of our members; in addition to English, members of our division speak 10 other languages (Arabic, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Irish Gaelic, Mandarin, Punjabi, Turkish and Urdu); members of our division were born in Algeria, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, Pakistan and the United States. In future department newsletters, I look forward to introducing you to each one of the extraordinary members of Nephrology!

New and noteworthy

I am pleased to announce that Penn State Nephrology recently completed a successful two-year partnership with the International Society of Nephrology’s Sister Renal Centers Program. In this program, we served as a supporting center for emerging nephrology programs in the developing world in their educational, research and clinical endeavors.

A collage of three head-and-shoulders professional photos of faculty in Penn State College of Medicine's Department of Medicine.

Division of Nephrology faculty, from left, Drs. Margaret Fitzsimons, Amanda Karasinski and Ronald Miller were recently honored for excellence in patient care.

Shining and memorable moments

Our clinicians provide exceptional care every day. Recently, three of our faculty were recognized for providing exceptional patient experiences. I am thrilled to share the following patient comments:

Margaret “Muriel” Fitzsimons, MBChB:

  • “Dr. Fitzsimons was, as always, concerned, pleasant, knowledgeable, thorough and caring. I know that I am in good care when I see her.”
  • “Dr. Fitzsimmons is the best! She is very knowledgeable and caring. I would highly recommend her.”
  • “Dr. Fitzsimons is a kind and compassionate doctor who listens to what I have to say and addresses all my concerns.”

Amanda Karasinski, MD:

  • “Everyone was kind and courteous even the people outside checking your temperature and asking you questions. I especially like the doctor Dr. Amanda Karasinski. She was very nice and understanding to me and I was very common and very answered all my questions very carefully. I was very happy.”
  • “Dr. Karasinski, nephrology, is very knowledgeable and made me feel like she puts time into learning about her patients and explains things in a way that are clear and understandable. I can’t thank her enough for what she does to help me stay as healthy as possible under my circumstances!”
  • “I was very impressed with Dr. Karasinski. This was my first visit with her and I am convinced that I chose the correct nephrologist.”

Ronald Miller, MD:

  • “I love Dr. Miller and have extreme faith in him as a physician. Always a gentleman. Always kind and never rushes me through.”

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Aida Wilkinson

Aida Wilkinson

On the horizon

We had initiated the design and implementation of designated specialty clinics for hypertension and glomerulonephritis. The pandemic has delayed the full implementation. We are optimistic that in the next few months, we will be able to launch those clinics in Cocoa.

Spotlight on our people

As we are completing our fellowship recruitment season, I would like to use this opportunity to introduce Aida Wilkinson, our administrative support for the Nephrology Fellowship.

The unique circumstances of this interview season presented many challenges with a very steep learning curve for all of us.

Not only has Aida navigated the process commendably, she has accommodated and greeted each of the candidates with her usual kind and caring demeanor – kudos to Aida!

Odds and ends

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Naman Trivedi

Naman Trivedi, MBBS, MPH

I am excited to share with the department that Naman Trivedi, MBBS, MPH, will serve as the associate medical director for nephrology as we transition to Cocoa Outpatient Center.

We are looking forward to working alongside our colleagues in general internal medicine and endocrinology as we relocate our clinics to Cocoa Outpatient Center in January 2021!

Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

Margaret “Peg” Wojnar, MD, MEd, interim chief

New and noteworthy

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Sarah Hochendoner

Sarah Hochendoner, MD

Shining and memorable moments

  • All of the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship trainees (Drs. Iwona Dziewa, Paul Faybusovich, Lauren Kaminsky, Catherine Popadiuk and Sebastian Sylvestre) had abstracts accepted for posters at this year’s ACAAI annual meeting.
  • Fellows Dr. Lauren Kaminsky and Dr. Paul Faybusovich passed their ABIM exams last month.

Spotlight on our people

  • Hunter Smith, RN, BSN, was selected as our November “Super Star.” Smith was leaving work for the day when a delivery person collapsed in the hallway outside of Room C5860. He triaged assistance while remaining with the individual until emergency services arrived. His compassion and quick response were amazing.
  • The week of Nov. 9 was Nurse Practitioner Week! Our division is successful because of our wonderful nurse practitioners and their talents. Thank you Bev Azemar, Dawn Carpenter, Victoria Durf, Linda Farling, Jen Gramley, Cheri Smith, Jackie Thoryk and Franklene Williams for all you do!
  • Kudos to Dr. Sebastian Sylvestre and Dr. Gisoo Ghaffari for their exceptional patient experience moments. Together they received feedback that includes “both were incredible providers, couldn’t have been nicer, more compassionate…or have been more caring,” among numerous other individual positive comments. Excellent work!

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Viktoria Elkis

Viktoria Elkis, MD


Nancy Olsen, MD, chief

New and noteworthy

Santosh Bhusal, MD, and Viktoria Elkis, MD, are new faculty members.

Joni Stringer will join the office staff later this month.

Welcome to all of our new Department of Medicine members!

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