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Thomas Jefferson University's New President Says Storm is Needed to Reform Patient Care for 21st Century.

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- America's health care system is in crisis and ripe for reform, Thomas Jefferson University's new president, Robert L. Barchi, M.D., Ph.D., said in his inaugural address during his investiture this month as Jefferson's new leader.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041014/PHTH042 )

Dr. Barchi told an audience at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia made up of representatives of nearly 60 U.S. college and universities, as well as Jefferson faculty, students and employees, that Jefferson must take on the challenge of defining the standard of clinical care in the 21st century, where there are too many patients, too little time, and too few resources.

"We face not only a crisis of cost and access, but also a crisis in the very nature of care," said Dr. Barchi. "America can provide the best medicine in the world, with the greatest concentration of health care services and a nearly inexhaustible potential. But health care costs are skyrocketing and access to quality care is dwindling.

"In a letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson said that 'a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.' Well, in health care, it's time for a storm," Dr. Barchi said.

The crisis is evidenced by the 44 million Americans without health insurance in 2002, the largest annual increase in 15 years, Dr. Barchi said. In Pennsylvania alone, more than half of the citizens report problems with medical access or affordability.

Dr. Barchi said it will be Thomas Jefferson University's challenge to define the standard of clinical care in the 21st century.

"Clinical care has undergone fundamental changes within the memory of virtually everyone in this hall," he noted. "At the beginning of my own career in clinical neurology some 30 years ago, the chief diagnostic tools were the history and the physical exam. There were no CAT scans, no MRIs. In those days, we had too few tools...but what we did have was adequate time to look, to listen, and to care for our patients...But while we have more tools [now], we have less time. Providing the kind of personal care to which most of us aspire has become increasingly difficult, even for the most dedicated physician. We are better craftsmen. But are we delivering better care?"

Jordan J. Cohen, M.D., president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, who gave the keynote address at the investiture, concurred with Dr. Barchi's assessments, saying that old assumptions about how best to educate health care professionals, how best to do medical research and how best to care for patients are no longer adequate. Dr. Cohen said the medical community needs visionary leaders like Dr. Barchi "to free institutions from outmoded assumptions and to ensure their continued success in the face of new realities.

"Thomas Jefferson University has found such a leader in Robert Barchi and is poised, as it has been so many times in its 180-year history, to pave the way toward the future for the rest of the country," Dr. Cohen said. Dr. Barchi was installed as Thomas Jefferson University's fourth president at a morning ceremony at the Kimmel Center.

An academic procession began the event with delegates from other colleges and universities, as well as Jefferson's own faculty, wearing the colorful academic regalia of their own institution and marching into Kimmel's Verizon Hall.

Interspersed with musical selections by the Philadelphia Singers, were greetings to the new president from representatives of the alumni, faculty, students and staff, as well as messages of good wishes from government leaders. Rosemarie Greco, director of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Office of Health Care Reform, was on hand to offer greetings to Dr. Barchi from Governor Edward Rendell.

Dr. Barchi was then presented with the university charter and the presidential medallion by Brian G. Harrison, chair of Thomas Jefferson University's Board of Trustees.

The President's Medallion, worn by the President at all convocations of the University, was originally created for the inauguration of Lewis W. Bluemle Jr., M.D., the second president of Thomas Jefferson University on September 7, 1977. It consists of the four previous official corporate seals of Thomas Jefferson University and the predecessor corporation, the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. These seals were used to mark diplomas, certificates and other official documents and have been gold-plated to form the Presidential Medallion.

After a luncheon in Dr. Barchi's honor at the Kimmel Center, investiture guests attended an afternoon scientific symposium: "A Vision of Science: A Look at Jefferson's Research in the Twenty-First Century." The symposium highlighted Jefferson's research accomplishments.

Dr. Barchi comes to Jefferson with a dynamic depth of experience as an educator, administrator, clinician and scientist. He became Provost at Penn in 1999, after having spent much of his academic career in the university's School of Medicine. In addition to his clinical activities as a neurologist specializing in neuromuscular diseases, Dr. Barchi is also a dedicated teacher and a molecular neuroscientist with a strong history of discovery in ion channel research that has been supported by nearly 30 years of continuous NIH funding.

Thomas Jefferson University is composed of three schools -- Jefferson Medical College, the Jefferson College of Graduate Studies and the Jefferson College of Health Professions. The three colleges enroll more than 2,300 future physicians, scientists and health care professionals. Founded in 1824, Jefferson Medical College is one of the largest private medical colleges in the nation.

Editor's Note: Dr. Barchi resides in Narberth, Pa. For the complete presidential address or to read more about the Investiture, go to: http://www.jefferson.edu/investiture .

CONTACT: Jeffrey Baxt, e-mail: jeffrey.baxt@jefferson.edu, or Phyllis Fisher, both of Thomas Jefferson University, +1-215-955-6300 or After Hours: +1-215-955-6060

Web site: http://www.jefferson.edu/investiture http://www.jefferson.edu/
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Date:Oct 14, 2004
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