Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards
The President’s Award for Diversity and Humanism in Clinical Care
This award honors clinical faculty who exemplify the humanistic spirit of patient-centered medicine, both through clinical excellence and in outstanding compassion in the delivery of care.
More in 2022 Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards
The 2022 Winner:
Mehari Gebreyohanns, M.D.
Associate Professor of Neurology
There was no word for “stroke” in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, until Dr. Gebreyohanns partnered with the Ethiopian community to develop the phrase “ye-angol tikat,” literally meaning “brain attack.” From there, he began to educate his homeland on a condition he has dedicated his career to understanding and treating.
Dr. Gebreyohanns specializes in stroke, telemedicine, and global health. He became a stroke specialist, he said, because he was drawn by both the challenges and rewards of working with this complex and potentially devastating disease, whose outcome can vary so widely depending on the speed and efficiency of treatment.
He became involved with the telehealth aspect of stroke because he wanted people across North Texas, even those hundreds of miles away, to have access to the first-class care available at UT Southwestern.
With a visit to the city of Bahir Dar in Ethiopia in 2016, the scope of Dr. Gebreyohanns’ outreach expanded from hundreds of miles to 8,000 miles. The latest visit to Bahir Dar, which was organized by Dr. Gebreyohanns, included neurologists, ER physicians, and physiatrists. They visited the Tibebe Ghion Specialized Hospital, which serves 7 million people, for a series of classes, lectures, and neurological consultations. At these hospitals, this year a stroke unit was opened and for the first time, patients were able to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – the stroke medication that is given intravenously.
With no imaging technology available at the hospital, diagnosis of neurological illnesses at Felege Hiwot Referral Hospital had previously been done solely by physical examination.
Dr. Gebreyohanns wanted to change that. Upon returning to Dallas, he launched a program he called Bahir Dar Outreach for Neurology Education (BORNE). Working with the Ethiopian community in Dallas and with other physicians and technicians, he quickly secured two electroencephalography (EEG) machines. Physicians in Bahir Dar are now able to use these EEG machines to diagnose epilepsy, and telehealth technology allows them to consult with UT Southwestern staff on difficult cases.
Dallas has a large Ethiopian community – Amharic is the fourth-most common language spoken by patients at Parkland Memorial Hospital – so his creation of an Amharic word for stroke expands opportunities for stroke education in Dallas as well as Ethiopia.
Dr. Gebreyohanns’ work in Ethiopia has put UT Southwestern at the forefront of efforts to treat brain disease in less-developed parts of the globe.
Dr. Gebreyohanns, who received his medical degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, is also active in mentoring medical students. Immediately upon arriving at UT Southwestern, he became involved with such programs, including the “Gotcha Covered” program for underrepresented minority first-year medical students and the “First Generation” student program.
Meanwhile, the BORNE initiative continues to grow.
“Through his personal efforts, UTSW has entered into a partnership agreement with Bahir Dar University to facilitate collaborative clinical, research, and educational activities,” said his nominator. “Giving and serving is part of Dr. Gebreyohanns’ DNA.”
In his words: “It is an incredible honor and a great privilege to receive this award that recognizes a quality at the core of being a physician: 'exemplify the humanistic spirit of patient-centered medicine, both through clinical excellence and in outstanding compassion.' As a stroke specialist, striving to meet the challenges of the huge burden of this disease equitably here in our community and across the globe in countries with limited resources, takes working in a world-class institution like UT Southwestern and the support of leadership, colleagues, mentors, and family.”