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Edward B. Clark, M.D., Receives Top Pediatrics Leadership Award

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Edward B. Clark, M.D., chair of the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics and chief medical officer at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, has received the 2011 Frank H. Morriss, Jr., Leadership Award, presented by the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa School of Medicine.

This award recognizes Clark, who’s also Wilma T. Gibson Presidential Professor, for his outstanding leadership in an academic health center that has resulted in improved health or well-being of children through innovation in clinical care, investigation of children’s diseases and problems, advocacy on behalf of child health or facilitation of collaborative efforts.

 “Dr. Clark is an incredibly skilled collaborator,” said Joe Mott, Chief Executive Office of Primary Children’s Medical Center. “He has built trust and participation between the University of Utah and Primary Children’s to an unprecedented degree. His efforts have been invaluable in advancing our program development, patient safety, and resident and fellow education.”

Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., University of Utah interim president and senior vice president for health sciences, said Clark is remarkable for his leadership in many distinct areas.

“He marshaled scarce resources and created a compelling vision for a complete transformation in how we address the health of children in our community,” Betz said. “He has built both an outstanding academic department of pediatrics and developed a nationally recognized hospital for children, while simultaneously implementing a new collaborative paradigm for research.”

Clark, also Wilma T. Gibson Presidential Professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine, is a board-certified pediatric cardiologist who has been pediatrics chair at the U and chief medical officer at Primary Children’s since 1996. The award really honors the work of the pediatrics team at both institutions, according to Clark.

“This award recognizes the efforts of the entire pediatrics team who have worked tirelessly to improve communication, revamp systems to improve care delivery, and lower costs,” Clark said.

He explains this team has developed a model for delivering pediatric health care in Utah that:

  • Is a true regional pediatric system – and not just a collection of hospitals,  
  • Provides real-time analysis of patient care,
  • Uses treatment models for common conditions that have reduced costs and shortened inpatient hospitalizations, and
  • Developed a system for managing the health care of high-cost chronic complex patients.

Among Clark’s team accomplishments that were recognized by the award:

  • Developing new research strategies

Clark pioneered the transition from stand-alone investigators to team science.  He implemented research teams guided by experienced Ph.D. scientists, supported by a research infrastructure that includes grant-writing retreats, technical writers, and study design, epidemiology, and statistical support.  As a result, the department’s funded research portfolio has grown from $800,000 to $120 million, with grants from both federal and non-federal sources. This collaborative approach to biomedical research has been emulated in other departments at the University of Utah and throughout the country.

  • Organizing systems, collaborating and advocating

Clark has led the integration of clinical care for children throughout Primary Children’s referral area­ –a five-state, 400,000 square-mile region in the Intermountain West. His collaborative approach has brought together Intermountain Healthcare and the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics to elevate Primary Children’s to one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the United States. He coordinates the pediatric care for a $4.4 billion, 23-hospital system for Intermountain.

“Dr. Clark has provided invaluable leadership as the medical director of the Pediatric Clinical Program for Intermountain,” said Joseph Horton, senior vice president of Intermountain Healthcare. “Before he became engaged, this was a failing effort, plagued with mistrust and a negative history. He brought mutual respect, credibility, and a truly collaborative leadership style to this effort, resulting in a strategic approach to pediatric service throughout Intermountain’s system that benefits children and encourages productive consultation and collaboration.”

Clark worked with hospital administration and physicians to establish an innovative academic pediatric hospitalist program to coordinate patient care. Hospitalists are physicians whose primary focus is hospital medicine and who have principal responsibility for patient care, education, quality, and patient safety. His pursuit of excellent pediatric care led him to conduct an analysis of conflict between patients and care providers to determine important factors that can improve patient/care giver communication. That analysis was the genesis of a mediation team that augments the hospital’s traditional ethics committee. This team of health care professionals is available 24/7 to respond to conflicts arising in the hospital, providing expertise in dispute resolution and ethics. This approach has reduced complaints, improved care quality and is now receiving national attention.

  • Excellence as an innovate clinical scientist

Clark established the discipline of biomechanics of cardiac development while at the University of Iowa, where he was a pediatric cardiologist and professor of pediatrics from 1980-1985. As one of the founding members of the National Institutes of Health cardiac embryology research community, he developed measures to assess embryonic cardiac function. His current research investigates origins of preeclampsia and premature birth.

“I can think of nobody whose vision, innovation and leadership have had a greater impact on the health of children,” Betz said.

The award was presented May 6 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.