Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards

Program Development Award

This award celebrates the innovation and collaboration that are foundational to the success of UT Southwestern Medical Center. It recognizes a group of clinical faculty and staff who have partnered to create, develop, and sustain an innovative program that significantly advances our ability to improve patient care.

See our Past Clinical Excellence Award Winners

The 2020 Winners:

Abdominal Transplant Program

Steven Hanish, M.D.

Associate Professor of Surgery and Surgical Director of Liver Transplantation

Jorge Marrero, M.D.

Professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Director of Liver Transplantation

Parsia Vagefi, M.D.

Associate Professor of Surgery and Chief, Division of Surgical Transplantation

David Wojciechowski, D.O.

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Surgery and Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation

UT Southwestern’s abdominal transplant programs are still relative newcomers to the kidney and liver transplant landscape, having performed their first transplants in 2007. However, in that brief amount of time, they have quickly grown from local to regional – and now national – market leaders through a commitment to preeminent clinical quality, enhanced patient access, and cutting-edge translational research.

In the last three years alone, the kidney program has grown from 55 transplants a year to an expected 240+ procedures in 2020. During that same time, the liver program has grown from 57 transplants a year to an estimated 115+ this year. Alongside the rapid growth, quality has remained an utmost priority, with outcomes for both programs now exceeding both expected and national benchmarks. Both programs also have some of the shortest lengths of stay in the country, with a median post-transplant stay of five days following a liver transplant, and three days following a kidney transplant.

Both the kidney and liver programs have seen their volumes increase through physician outreach efforts and the establishment of satellite clinics across Texas, which enable UTSW transplant specialists to deliver pre- and post-transplant care to patients at a location closer to their homes. Both programs also offer living donor options, effectively expanding the donor pool of available organs. Additionally, both programs use cutting-edge medical and surgical techniques to help patients achieve transplantation, including the use of hepatitis C-positive organs for transplant.

Research and innovation also have driven the abdominal transplant programs to greater recognition and success. Both liver and kidney transplant programs are enrolled in an NIH-sponsored trial examining HIV-positive-to-HIV-positive organ transplants, with the UTSW liver team being the first program in Texas to perform this type of transplant. In addition, both programs are evaluating novel technologies to optimize pre- and post-transplant care, investigational immunosuppression regimens, artificial intelligence in donor and recipient organ matching, and avenues to allow the increase in the number of donor organs. Indeed, the liver transplant program, through a nationwide clinical trial, has developed one of the largest experiences with normothermic machine perfusion of donor livers to allow for improved assessment and enhancement of livers prior to transplant.

As an academic medical center committed to educating future transplant practitioners, the abdominal transplant program offers active educational programs for medical students, residents, fellows, and advanced practice providers. Notably, the program is the only one in the region to provide fellowship training in transplant surgery, transplant nephrology, and transplant hepatology.

Ultimately, as program leaders point out, transplant is a team endeavor, and it is the collaborative efforts of a multidisciplinary team that enables the abdominal transplant program to provide patients state-of-the-art care at every step of their journey.

In their words: “It is an honor and privilege for the Abdominal Transplant Program to be recognized with the Program Development Award,” said Dr. Parsia Vagefi, Chief of the Division of Surgical Transplantation.

“We are grateful for this recognition by our peers and for support from the UTSW Health System leadership that has allowed our team to deliver the highest quality of care for those patients with end-organ failure. Transplant is a team endeavor, beginning and ending with countless individuals who comprise this team – an incredible staff of nurses, administrators, pharmacists, social workers, financial counselors, dietitians, advanced practice providers, and physicians who work to fulfill our critical mission in the clinics, operating rooms, ICUs, and medical/surgical floors. Indeed, at every facet of transplant care delivery there is a dedicated individual doing his or her best to ensure that a donor's generous gift of life is passed forward. Thank you for this honor and for the UTSW community's support in allowing us to deliver the future of transplantation, today.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Abdominal Transplant Program

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Care of the Vulnerable Elderly (COVE) Program

Namirah Jamshed, M.D.

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Family and Community Medicine

UT Southwestern’s COVE program (Care of the Vulnerable Elderly) was established in 2015 to serve patients ages 65 and older.

Led by Dr. Namirah Jamshed, Associate Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Family and Community Medicine, COVE provides primary care for patients both at home and in assisted living facilities. These patients are referred by a UTSW clinic because they have difficulty performing daily activities or are challenged to come to their providers’ offices for medical appointments. COVE-provided care also helps alleviate some caregiver burdens.

Started with just 70 patients, the program today delivers care to nearly 350 seniors who live within 10 miles of UT Southwestern’s campus. Care is provided by an interdisciplinary team that includes geriatric-trained physicians, nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a licensed social worker, and a clinical coordinator.

Proof of the program’s effectiveness is shown in the numbers: a reduction in Emergency Department visits, hospitalizations, and outpatient visits. One analysis indicated that compared to similar patients who did not receive home visits, UT Southwestern COVE patients had 12 percent fewer emergency room visits, nearly 35 percent fewer hospitalizations, almost 17 percent fewer readmissions, and 29 percent fewer specialist visits.

Because of its impressive success, UTSW’s COVE program has been invited to help develop national benchmarks for elder care, one of only nine programs tapped to participate in the effort by the Learning Collaborative for Home-Based Medical Care.

In her words: “The COVE team is humbled and honored to receive this award. We aim to provide high-quality patient care to the most vulnerable of our patient population. This requires not only an interdisciplinary approach but also significant collaboration with our specialists and patient caregivers. The program’s success is a reflection of hard work among the team and support from leadership. Central to this success are our patients and caregivers, who trust us with their care and allow us into their homes. The COVE team will continue to work above and beyond to provide the highest-quality care to our patients, as a reflection of the care provided throughout UT Southwestern.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Care of the Vulnerable Elderly (COVE) Program