Jefferson Surgical Solutions


A December meeting, led by Stephen Spinelli, Jr, PhD, President of Philadelphia University, and Charles J Yeo, MD, Chair of Surgery at Jefferson (seated, 3rd and 4th from left), gave faculty and staff from both institutions an opportunity to brainstorm about future collaborations.

On the surface, the proposed merger of Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University will create one comprehensive institution focused on professional education in health, science, architecture, design, fashion, business and engineering. In practice, it will integrate different models of thought and diverse approaches to studying and solving problems — enabling us to reimagine a new kind of education for the jobs of the future.

The Combination Agreement was signed by both institutions’ Boards of Trustees in September 2016. Although the merger isn’t expected to be completed until later this year, the Department of Surgery isn’t waiting to initiate collaborations with Philadelphia University. With Gerald Isenberg, MD, FACS, Professor and Director of the Surgical Undergraduate Education Program and Colorectal Residency Program, serving as the Department’s liaison, the team is already identifying innovative ways to blend resources and expertise.

Dr. Isenberg recalls the first “road trip” that department clinicians and researchers took last December to the Philadelphia University campus in the East Falls section of the city: “The facilities were amazing, and there was a palpable excitement as we toured the campus. Philadelphia University works with huge companies around the world. They have the ability to make virtually anything right there on the campus.”

He sees tremendous potential to apply those capabilities to further refine the field of surgery — from process workflows to physical instruments used to operate. In fact, one of the ideas under consideration is a oneyear Fellowship in which a Department of Surgery resident would spend his or her research year studying surgical process and design problems at Philadelphia University.

“This would be an opportunity to infuse fresh perspective to steps that we take for granted,” Dr. Isenberg explains. “We want to be challenged — to strip away ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ thinking.”

Building on work already underway at Jefferson, Scott Cowan, MD, FACS, Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Quality, is working with Philadelphia University on rethinking patient rooms. The team is tapping into Philadelphia University’s expertise in architecture, design and building materials to analyze patient room design and workflow. Combined insights and recommendations could help on a number of fronts — from improving prevention of healthcare-acquired infections to reducing patient fall risk.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to work together to improve the environment of care for our patients,” he says. “Philadelphia University’s expertise clearly complements what we’re doing here in the hospital in terms of achieving the highest quality of care.”

Dr. Isenberg notes that the merger will also benefit Philadelphia University students, with unprecedented access to the surgical world helping them learn how surgeons approach and solve problems.

“An integrated Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University allows us to reimagine education in a way that launches students into the careers of their passion in a bigger, bolder way,” says Philadelphia University President Stephen Spinelli, Jr, PhD. “We will prepare students for careers of the 21st century, with an emphasis on scientific and applied research, design thinking and discovery.”

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