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Event celebrates VUMC’s strong community ties

May. 10, 2018, 9:03 AM

Among those attending the reception were, from left, Ana Maria Rivas, Alejandro Rivas, MD, Jordyn Spann, Matt Spann, Carey Haynes and David Haynes, MD. (photo by Anne Rayner)

More than 300 members of the Canby Robinson Society and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center community joined Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, and his wife, Melinda, last week at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens for a reception celebrating the community of supporters who help VUMC in “redefining personalized care.”

The event’s program celebrated the Medical Center’s mission and the donors who partner with VUMC to make it possible. The group heard from patients, both in person and through moving videos, who told of the “redefining moments” in their lives.

“Since 1874, we’ve been part of this community. Our role has grown and evolved, and today is multifold. As one of American’s 10 largest centers of NIH-supported research, we are passionate about finding cures and discovering new treatments — for people around the world, and for people right here in Nashville,” said Balser, President and CEO of VUMC and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We are also committed to being the place that people in Nashville can rely on to have the answers, to provide the extraordinary treatments, when your needs are more than just routine, even life threatening.

“In recent years, we’ve been working just as hard at finding ways to be available for all of your needs. To be your complete health solution, whether the issue is rare or routine. Our walk-in clinics are increasingly popping up all over Nashville, and under Dr. Wright Pinson’s fantastic leadership we continue to build and grow more ways for you to access your everyday health care needs,” Balser said.

But beneath all of that care is a relationship, he added. “Tonight is about celebrating the relationship we build with you through providing your care. Many of you have heard me say that VUMC is becoming recognized as the No. 1 institution in the U.S. at what is known as ‘personalized medicine.’ In the popular media, that means using your DNA to guide your care. Well, we ARE leading the country in DNA-guided care, but the truth is, personalized medicine is far more than knowing your DNA sequence. It’s knowing you as a person. And it is that understanding — knowing you and building a relationship — that we believe creates the best possible health care experience. And it is these relationship-based health care experiences that people describe as redefining moments in their lives,” Balser said.

Attendees viewed two videos from the new VUMC digital-first storytelling campaign, the first, about transplant recipient James George, who had two transplants almost 10 years apart. He and one of his physicians, Roman Perri, MD, attended the event.

Another video, about patient Jordyn Spann, highlighted the care she received for a skull-based brain tumor at VUMC. Spann and her husband, Matt, attended the event. Also attending was one of her surgical team members, Alejandro Rivas, MD, an otolaryngologist who specializes in hearing.

The group also heard about 15-year-old Yasmeen Ibrahim, who attended with two of her doctors, oncologist Scott Borinstein, MD, and surgeon Jennifer Halpern, MD. Last April Ibrahim was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, and she joined her physicians on stage for an informal question-and-answer session.

There was also an update about construction at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which is adding four floors and more than 100 beds to help more families like Ibrahim’s. When completed, Children’s Hospital will be one of the largest hospitals for children in the country, Balser told the group.

Balser said he hopes the stories shared at the event illustrate how generous support makes “what can be” truly possible at Vanderbilt, and essentially changes the world for people.”

Grammy-award winning songwriter Gordon Kennedy closed the event by singing his hit song, “Change the World.”

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