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The Cutting Edge - Michael Zenilman, Vice Chair and Regional Director of Surgery

Cutting Edge Spring 2012

Michael Zenilman, Vice Chair and Regional Director of Surgery

Date: March 1, 2012


Michael Zenilman has a huge undertaking ahead of him. A significant portion of his role as regional director of surgery includes boosting referrals to Hopkins surgery and to leading surgical growth around the health system’s other regional hospitals.

Zenilman received his medical degree from SUNY Downstate and completed his residency training in surgery and a fellowship in gastrointestinal surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. His first academic appointment was in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as an assistant professor of surgery, from July 1991 through 1994. He has also held appointments at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. Before rejoining Hopkins in January 2011, he was the Clarence and Mary Dennis Professor and Chair in the Department of Surgery at Downstate, where he’d been on faculty since 2001.

How did you spend your first year here at Hopkins?

My first goal was to figure out each of our hospitals’ strengths and needs. The first six months I spent most of my time traveling to Sibley Memorial Hospital, Suburban and Howard County General every week, meeting physicians, surgeons, coordinators and administrators, and getting to know them and the surrounding communities. The second six months we assessed each hospital’s surgical services needs.

What did you learn?

I found out that there are two different types of surgical models in this community of hospitals. One is a regionalized surgical program, in which all the care for a specific disease should be done regionally—for instance, pancreatic, bariatric, cardiac and transplant surgery, which should be triaged to Johns Hopkins centers of excellence because the outcomes are best at high-volume hospitals. Then there are other surgeries that any one of these community hospitals can do well and have their own high volumes in performing, such as breast and orthopedic surgery, which can be overseen and led by Hopkins faculty. To bring the Hopkins brand to these hospitals, we need to unify credentialing, quality assurance and patient safety processes.

What about your work with community physicians?

We have outstanding surgeons in the community who want to align with Hopkins. To do so we have offered participation in the educational programs. Our surgeons are now viewing Surgery Grand Rounds by teleconference, and have participated in CME activities. Our faculty members have come to the community hospitals to give talks in pancreatic, geriatric and colorectal surgery. Our patients want Hopkins physicians taking care of them near their homes, and our job is to provide outstanding care for them in our hospitals.

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