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The role of the post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) medical director has evolved over the years. However, talk to any member of AMDA — The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine who fills this role and you will hear passion, commitment, and energy. You will hear a love for their patients and their work, and loyalty to their teams. Yet the role of a facility’s medical director is often a better kept secret than Superman’s identity. If you were to ask a resident or family member to name the medical director, you often would get a blank stare. In 2006 the Society established the Medical Director of the Year (MDOY) Award to help showcase the medical director as the facility’s clinical leader and to recognize outstanding physicians who are innovative, visionary, and set high standards for quality care.
As always, this year’s MDOY nominees are among the most innovative, inspiring practitioners in the field.
Charles A. Crecelius, MD, PhD, CMD
St. Louis, MO
Dr. Crecelius is everyone’s go-to for education, information, advice, guidance, insight, and more. He is committed to promoting PALTC, and as a clinical instructor of medicine and geriatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, he exposes fellows to the management of common geriatric medical problems and related issues. In conjunction with the Sinclair School of Nursing, he initiated and helped coordinate a Healthcare Decisions Day at Delmar Gardens, where he has been the medical director for 20 years. He recently helped establish the PAC/LTC Consortium, a collaborative effort among post-acute care representatives from local hospitals and accountable care organizations, representatives from local skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and other stakeholders. The consortium provides a forum for professionals across the care continuum to share views and develop universal clinical care pathways. Dr. Crecelius is a past president of the Society and the Missouri state chapter. He has chaired and served on numerous committees, and he is a frequent and highly knowledgeable speaker on legislative and regulatory issues (and other topics) at the Society’s annual conference.
Fred Feinsod, MD, CMD
Colorado Springs, CO
Dr. Feinsod, in addition to being a strong team leader, has been a passionate advocate for his patients. He initiated conversations in Colorado about distributive justice, concerning the lack of available specialist support for residents with complex medical needs. He chaired a forum in Colorado Springs that involved several long-term care communities’ councils and federal, state, and local-level bipartisan candidates. He chairs and co-chairs ethics committees, and he provides numerous in-service programs and informal consultations on best practices or emerging thoughts through articles and presentations on topics ranging from falls to antibiotic stewardship. He is a proud practitioner serving rural communities and often travels hundreds of miles each week to see patients and work with facilities in remote areas. He frequently presents on topics related to rural medicine at the Society’s annual conference. Dr. Feinsod also plays in the Grand Army of the Republic Band, using a mountain dulcimer he made himself.
Tsewang Ngodup, MD, CMD
Dr. Ngodup is passionate about education and has led countless programs on topics ranging from substance use disorders and immunizations to hearing loss in older adults and residents’ right to refuse care. Dr. Ngodup implemented an antibiotic stewardship program that led to a decrease in urine tests and improved documentation regarding urinary tract infections and other infection-related issues, which has contributed to quality care and outcomes. He targeted polypharmacy, and his efforts have led to decreased antipsychotic prescribing, lower rates of narcotics use, and better medication reconciliation. He has served as president and board member of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota and has been active in the Asian Pacific Endowment and the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans. He has volunteered as a physician for community events in the United States and abroad in India and elsewhere.
Zachary J. Palace, MD, FACP, CMD
Dr. Palace embraces change and meets both challenges and opportunities head on. He aided in the development of a groundbreaking Domestic Violence Prevention and Assistance Program that educated staff and senior management across the care continuum in his region about the signs, symptoms, and prevention of domestic violence. He won the Society Foundation’s Quality Improvement Award for his innovative project, “Development of an Outpatient Transfusion Program to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations,” which not only kept patients out of the hospital but also had a positive impact on quality of life and costs. Most recently, he and his team established an innovative program regarding medical cannabis in his facility. This program not only enables the use of this therapy to improve pain and symptom management (as well as quality of life), it also ensures compliance with federal and state laws. He described the program in an article in the January issue of JAMDA. He is a frequent speaker at the Society’s annual conference and other regional and national programs.
Jennifer Riedinger, MD, CMD
Dr. Riedinger is a team leader in the truest sense possible. She created a robust and meaningful training program for advanced practice providers, and she has mentored several physicians, all of whom have gone on to pursue their Certified Medical Director designation. She works with staff on establishing best practices, educates them on a wide array of topics, and shares her expert-level knowledge on the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and other regulatory issues. Dr. Riedinger established a forum for medical directors to offer support and discuss best practices. Additionally, she created a urinary tract infection protocol and other clinical learning tools to standardize care, and she developed a clinical documentation tool to review readmissions and contributing factors to rehospitalization and monitor antibiotic stewardship. She led an integrated medicine program connecting hospitalist and post-acute care teams to enhance continuity of care. To maximize quality and the patient experience, Dr. Riedinger created and implemented an effective patient satisfaction survey.
James Rider, DO, CMD
Valley Falls, KS
Dr. Rider is a natural educator whose presentations on Clostridium difficile, antipsychotic use, and opioids have informed and empowered practitioners, caregivers, and other stakeholders throughout his state and beyond. He is a wound-care certified physician who uses his skills to help others. He also has been a leading advocate for palliative care programs. Dr. Rider developed an innovative pediatric palliative care program and was instrumental in creating a wound-care coalition that involves quarterly meetings with local wound-care nurses to mentor and educate others. He has provided wound-care education to hospice and nursing home staff, and he offers monthly staff in-service training on a wide variety of topics. He also worked to set up the McGeer criteria in his facilities to help prevent unnecessary treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria. Dr. Rider is an expert resource for surveyors, and he is always happy to share his insights and knowledge with medical, advanced practice nursing, and other students. In addition to his commitment to his work and his patients, he is a community leader who is active in the Rotary Club and his local church.
Loveleen Sidhu, MD, CMD
Bethlehem, PA/Phillipsburg, NJ
Dr. Sidhu is a strong communicator who holds monthly residential council meetings with veterans and their families, provides an introduction to hospice and palliative care to all facility employees, and conducts in-service training on a variety of issues, including sleep hygiene and noise control, nonpharmacologic pain management, and new devices for respiratory rehabilitation. Dr. Sidhu’s commitment to patients is exemplary. She provides an annual remembrance ceremony for all bereaved families, and she holds an annual fall festival and a spring dinner for veterans. Always concerned about quality of life, she started a “happy hour” for nursing home residents. She serves as a liaison with community hospice programs under a hospice–veteran partnership, and she implemented a No Veteran Dies Alone program via hospice.
An interdisciplinary panel will assess the nominees on their contributions and accomplishments in long-term care medicine — specifically, their clinical expertise, contributions to staff education, leadership, and community involvement. This year’s award recipient will be announced during the Opening General Session at the Society’s annual conference on Friday, March 8. An interview with the winner will appear in the April issue of Caring for the Ages.
Senior contributing writer Joanne Kaldy is a freelance writer in Harrisburg, PA, and a communications consultant for the Society and other organizations.