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 2021 Winners:

Image Here

Breast Reconstruction Program

Sumeet S. Teotia, M.D.

Professor of Plastic Surgery

Nicholas T. Haddock, M.D.

Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery

UT Southwestern’s Breast Reconstruction Program is at the forefront of its field and is greatly regarded for and committed to providing the highest quality of breast reconstruction care for patients who undergo mastectomy surgery.

Led by Drs. Teotia and Haddock, the program is distinguished not only by its sheer volume –with more than 2,100 microsurgical reconstructions over the past 10 years – but, just as importantly, by its quality with improved outcomes, lower length of stay following surgery, reduced dependency on opioids in recovery, and a 99% microsurgical flap success rate.

The program “has invented innovative surgical approaches and created opportunities for patients who have been turned away from multiple other institutions,” wrote one nominator. “Drs. Teotia and Haddock have worked incredibly hard to develop new and better techniques for patients, making the reconstructions safer, more efficient, and with impressive cosmetic outcomes.”

Their approach focuses on the process, said another nominator. “They have broken down the components of preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care and targeted ways to be more efficient and effective.”

The numbers certainly support the success of their efforts. Complications after breast microvascular reconstruction surgery have decreased by 73%. The standard length of stay after flap-based surgery (DIEP flap) has dropped by 30%, with postoperative opioid use falling by 58%. In addition, Drs. Teotia and Haddock are co-pioneers of the “efficient DIEP flap” surgery. Their technique has reduced the average operative time for the procedure to just less than four hours when operating as a cohesive co-surgery team – versus nearly nine hours nationwide. The program has also achieved numerous other “firsts” in microsurgical reconstructive techniques and combination flap-based surgeries. All told, the program has enabled breast cancer patients who are ineligible for some procedures to have reconstruction with excellent outcomes.

“The Breast Reconstruction Program has been a committed partner in our overall breast care program at UT Southwestern,” said another nominator. “For our plastic surgeons, breast reconstruction is not a sideline or a chore, but rather a calling to provide excellence in reconstruction performed in an empathetic way for our breast cancer patients.” The nominator added: “With the increase in genetic testing, more young women are identifying their risk for breast cancer and electing prophylactic mastectomy. The availability of excellent, innovative, reconstructive surgery makes that decision less traumatic.”

The Breast Reconstruction Program advances and accelerates the science, technique, and art of this creative and difficult discipline. The extensive experience and clinical innovations impact not only UTSW patients but patients worldwide. “Program leaders have worked tirelessly to create a standout breast reconstruction program,” another nominator added. “Their work is evidenced by over 100 peer-reviewed publications, more than 200 abstract presentations, and scores of regional, national, and international talks.”

In their words: "We are delighted to have our Breast Reconstruction Program be recognized by our leadership and collaborative colleagues involved in nationally recognized multidisciplinary breast cancer care at an NCI-designated cancer center. A decade of intense, highly focused, and dedicated effort toward developing this program reflects a team-based approach well-suited now to offer safe, world-class reconstructive microsurgical options for patients rarely performed in aggregate elsewhere. We are fortunate and humbled by this recognition as our program reflects refinements at all levels of clinical, educational, and research endeavors. Our UT Southwestern Breast Reconstruction Program highlights the freedom required by the artistic spirit of our creative efforts, supported by the equally creative microsurgical engineering that it demands, with its ultimate mission of caring for patients from all aspects of life and backgrounds.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Breast Reconstruction Program

COVID-19 ICU Response Teams

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, it was an unprecedented event that demanded immediate response from faculty and staff at both William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and Parkland Memorial Hospital.

New teams and processes were forged in record time, and the critical work began.

To see the massive effort come together was to witness the personification of UTSW’s core values – excellence, innovation, teamwork, and compassion – writ large.

UTSW is honored to bestow a Program Development Award to the COVID-19 ICU Response Teams – an amalgam of four different ICU programs and teams that were fundamental to our patient care response throughout the pandemic. They are:

  • CUH COVID-19 ICU Team, led by Kristina Goff, M.D., and Corey D. Kershaw, M.D.
  • Parkland COVID Tactical Care Unit, led by Matt Leveno, M.D.
  • COVID ICU Communications Team, led by Kala Bailey, M.D.
  • Parkland COVID ICU Family Outreach Program, led by Padmaja Reddy, M.D.

These winners are representative of dozens of dedicated team members who continue to face the many challenges of COVID-19 with urgency and resolute commitment – both on the front lines and behind the scenes in vital supporting roles. They work tirelessly to save lives, and when lives are lost, they ease the burden for families with empathy and grace, supporting our community in profound ways in its time of need.

The COVID-19 ICU teams epitomize the word “multidisciplinary.” From the onset of the pandemic, the teams have created synergies to focus on the extraordinary and unexpected health care challenges. Unique from each other and from other programs across the state, the COVID-19 ICU at Clements University Hospital and the Tactical Care Unit at Parkland were created to address the health crisis in real time as it was still unfolding.

“The extremely high level of functioning for both of these ICUs, caring for our system’s most desperately ill patients, stems directly from these collaborative structures built into the framework of the ICU teams,” their nominator noted.

Of course, what makes structures truly effective are the people operating them. “All members of the COVID-19 ICUs place our patients above themselves, above their own families, and above most of their individual academic aspirations,” wrote their nominator. “The work has been physically and emotionally draining, and at this point, is still far from over.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: COVID-19 ICU Response Teams

Image Here

Kristina Goff, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Management

In her words: “We developed this program with no real idea of what we would be facing. The past 18 months have been challenging in ways none of us could have predicted, and working on this team has required tremendous dedication, adaptability, and self-sacrifice. Although this is not a traditional example of program development, we do believe it is an example of program development at its finest, with high-quality patient care and collaboration across specialties and profession lines at its very core. It is an honor for the work of this team to be recognized by our colleagues and by the institution.”

Image Here

Corey D. Kershaw, M.D.

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

In his words: “I am honored to share this award with all of our collaborative associates who have sacrificed so much since the COVID-19 pandemic came to our institutions last year. Our success in managing these very sick and complicated patients has only been possible because of their hard work and dedication. When our understanding of how to treat severe COVID patients was changing daily, this group demonstrated a level of professionalism and flexibility that can only be characterized as world-class. Although the past year and a half has been a truly dark and terrifying time, being part of this team will remain one of the highlights of my career. I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve together.”

Image Here

Matt Leveno, M.D.

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

In his words: “I am honored to represent the numerous and varied individuals who accepted and overcame the many challenges COVID presented to our medical community. Their dedication, determination, and sacrifice will serve as an inspiration for the rest of my career.”

Early in the pandemic, UT Southwestern medical teams caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients quickly discovered that the patients and their family members had different and more specialized needs than most other hospitalized patients – notably, families could not see their loved ones or receive daily updates at the bedside as physicians rounded.

As the ICU teams became busier and less able to make daily calls to a growing number of COVID-19 families, the need for a streamlined communications plan for all COVID-19 ICU patients became clear. Thus, the idea for the COVID ICU Communications Team was born.

“Psychiatry and palliative care were a natural fit for the team, given the strong emphasis on communication in both specialties,” the group’s nominator wrote. “Both departments reworked schedules to provide one faculty member each at any given time for the Communications Team.

“The COVID ICU Communications Team provides innovative, high-quality – indeed, invaluable – support to patients, family, and staff,” the nominator continued. “ICU leadership is clear that it would not be able to provide the level of care required for COVID patients without the support of the Communications Team.”

Image Here

Kala Bailey, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

In her words: “Honoring the COVID ICU Communications Team with this award highlights the great work that our clinicians at UT Southwestern do when our departments work together. This team has been an invaluable collaboration between palliative care, our Critical Care teams, and Psychiatry in our hospital's fight against COVID-19. The team's existence is also an excellent example of the ways in which UT Southwestern demonstrates a level of care for patients and their families that goes beyond just treating what ails them medically. We are truly humbled to receive this award, and we look forward to future collaborations between departments.”

By using volunteers – including residents, fellows, and faculty – the program helped liberate the primary ICU team from both the time needed to communicate with families and the emotional burden associated with it.

“I am convinced it allowed our teams to continue working hard for months and to avoid a massive burnout,” one nominator wrote. “Resident volunteers learned to distill incredibly complex clinical scenarios into digestible and compassionate daily briefings. Overall, this program is innovative both in terms of clinical care and teaching,” said another nominator.

Every single member of these incredibly valuable teams is owed infinite gratitude. We salute both those honored today and all those who stepped up to play a vital part in UT Southwestern’s tremendous response to the most challenging health care crisis of our time.

Image Here

Padmaja Reddy, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
Palliative Medicine Section

In her words: “It is a gross understatement to say that our UT Southwestern and Parkland communities were tested over the past 20 months. I cannot deny that there were dark days when the multidisciplinary team that assembled to care for Parkland's sickest COVID patients feared we'd be overrun. But even on the darkest days, I took comfort in knowing that I was surrounded by a team that prioritized compassion at all costs and that treated our patients like they were family. I am grateful to my palliative care colleagues, whom I've seen commit a thousand acts of kindness, both before and during this pandemic. I am grateful to my Critical Care partners; I watched them fight through fear, isolation, grief, hope, fear of hope, and exhaustion under combat conditions, and then come back the next day for more. They define strength of character. Lastly, I am grateful to the dozens of physicians – residents, fellows, and faculty – who volunteered to assist our service in maintaining a pipeline of communication with our patients' families. They were our invisible army, and we will forever be in their debt.”