Lisa Barnhart, department administrator in neurology; Marcia DeCaro, a program technician in Undergraduate Medical Education, and Sue Simmons, director of accreditation in Graduate Medical Education, are all retiring Sept. 30. Amy Garcia, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and assistant dean for student affairs, Undergraduate Medical Education, is leaving OHSU to join her family in Minnesota. She will continue in her assistant dean role through Dec. 31.
"OHSU could not achieve and serve at the level it does if it were not for the dedication and know-how of our outstanding professional staff and faculty leaders. The stories of their careers become the story of the school,” said Dean Sharon Anderson. “Congratulations to Lisa, Marcia and Sue on your retirements and thank you for your diligence and service over so many years. Amy, your support and leadership with our medical students is deeply valued and appreciated, and I wish you the very best as you make your transition."
Ms. Barnhart joined OHSU in 1987 as administrative assistant and fiscal manager in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy and became the fiscal manager for the Department of Neurology in 1989, remaining in the department the rest of her career. She was promoted to stroke center manager, director of research administration, and finally department executive administrator in 2004. A note of distinction: she was the first person in neurology to have an email address.
Accomplishments include teaming up with colleagues to form the Fiscal Manager’s Group to share updates and learnings, dialogue with leadership, and improve practices; creating a centralized Research Support Unit in Neurology, supporting growth in research from $6.5 million in 1998 to nearly $26 million in 2019; co-leading formation of the OHSU Neurosciences Critical Care and Neuro-hospitalist programs and bringing Westside Neurology into OHSU Health at Hillsboro Medical Center in 2017; negotiating a new partnership with St. Charles Health System, expanding high quality, acute neurological care to Bend.
Ms. Barnhart noted how much she valued mentoring others “which helps me to remember why I became the person I did and why I chose this career. And it keeps me connected with the new ideas and perspectives of younger people. I cannot imagine having experienced a more satisfying career than being a part of OHSU and the Department of Neurology. You are my family.”
Both Helmi Lutsep, M.D., interim chair of neurology, and Dennis Bourdette, M.D., former chair and professor emeritus of neurology, revere Ms. Barnhart.
“Lisa and I formed a great team,” Dr. Bourdette said. “She was critical to the growth and success of our department. For Lisa, no challenge was insurmountable. She solved problems and effected change with a smile and kindness and was universally admired and appreciated.”
Ms. DeCaro joined the School of Medicine in 1990 as Dr. Dutch Reinschmidt’s and then Dr. Walt McDonald’s assistant. She staffed the Graduate Studies program and then briefly took on M.D. admissions before taking the lead on scheduling students during their clinical years. “Marcia’s Dining Room Table,” be it in a conference room or at home, is where she built schedules from students’ paper requests. She handled a similarly arduous process for the residency match. Among her major accomplishments was helping UME move from paper to digital.
Ms. DeCaro also supported multiple curriculum revisions, including the move to the competency-based YOUR M.D., and LCME site visits, including the January 2020 visit.
Ms. DeCaro said she’s most proud of “the number of students that we all have helped get through medical school and out into the world practicing medicine. I enjoyed working with past graduates who are now teaching our students, either here at OHSU or in the community.”
Tomo Ito, Ed.D., assistant dean for Undergraduate Medical Education curriculum, said, "Our students and faculty have greatly benefited from Marcia's long-standing service, skill and knowledge of the M.D. program over many years. We have made many changes and improvements as a program and could not have done it without her institutional memory and dedication. We wish her the very best in her retirement."
Ms. Simmons has served the School of Medicine for 30 years under seven deans. She came to OHSU in 1990 as officer manager in the Division of General Internal Medicine and moved to the Dean’s Office in 1994 to do administrative and financial work. In 1999, she moved to Graduate Medical Education as director and went on to serve under three associate deans.
During her tenure, Graduate Medical Education has grown from 550 residents and fellows to 860 and the number of ACGME-accredited programs grew from 43 to 85. She led preparation for three institutional site visits, all of which resulted in accreditation with commendation. The last site visit was in 2010 and the next is scheduled for 2031, attesting to the ACGME’s confidence in the school’s programs and OHSU as an institution.
Ms. Simmons collaborated across OHSU with health system leaders and central services teams as well as with partner health systems to open up opportunities, advocate for and meet the needs of residents and fellows. She teamed up with others to create a professional development course for residency and fellowship program coordinators and played a role in creating the Resident and Faculty Wellness Program in 2004. She even donned a hardhat to help oversee call-room construction projects.
Ms. Simmons received an OHSU Golden Rose Award and was nominated for a President’s Award in 2016 for her service to a fellow in need. She served as ACGME designated institutional official in 2016-17 during the search for new associate dean. In 2019, she became director of accreditation for GME.
"Sue has been the heart and soul of OHSU GME for more than 20 years,” said Christopher Swide, M.D., associate dean of GME. “One of the first things I learned when I became a program director was to ‘call Sue’ if I needed help or advice. Sue has been integral to the amazing success and growth of OHSU GME programs. I most admire her compassion for our residents and fellows. Sue was always there to answer a question, celebrate their accomplishments and help with their struggles. Her counsel and mentorship to our house officers was exemplary and will be missed. I wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement. And if I need anything going forward, I will always know I can still call Sue.”
Ms. Simmons expressed her appreciation.
“I am so grateful for having been in a position in which I have gotten to know and support the resident and fellow physicians at OHSU, facilitating their next phase of education as they provide excellent and compassionate patient care,” she said. “I have also fully enjoyed being of service to the remarkable GME team at OHSU, including the extremely hard-working and dedicated program directors, coordinators and faculty. I will miss you all, yet I am excited for this next phase of my life.”
Dr. Garcia joined the OHSU faculty in 2012 in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, after completing her training in New Mexico and St. Louis. Her clinical areas of interest have included cystic fibrosis, intestinal rehabilitation and nutrition. She developed and ran the GI portion of the Hormones and Digestion (HODI) block for medical students from 2014 to 2018 when she became assistant dean for student affairs.
As assistant dean, Dr. Garcia launched the successful addition of UME Diversity Navigators to complement the overall work done in the School of Medicine and the university to promote diversity initiatives and to create a welcoming, and inclusive environment for all M.D. students. She helped create a new support structure for medical students who are parents, providing personal mentoring as a physician mother of two young sons, as well as tirelessly working to identify additional resources for student parents.
She also provided curricular support to students, serving as a trusted and knowledgeable advisor. In addition, she was instrumental in helping UME faculty make learning more engaging and “sticky” for students, teaching and modeling the use of “concept maps” for teaching effectiveness.
"Dr. Garcia is an invaluable addition to our leadership team in UME,” said Tracy Bumsted, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. “Her thoughtful and effective advocacy for students and her ability to connect with and channel their needs and ideas has strengthened the program and the teamwork between students and the administration. I am happy for her and her family and know that she will go on to make many more contributions to medicine and medical education, even as I am pleased that we can continue to partner with her as an assistant dean through this calendar year."
Dr. Garcia explained her departure in a personal message to colleagues and students. She noted the confluence of COVID-19, which interrupted plans for her to travel monthly between Oregon and Minnesota where her husband and sons are now living, and George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, which occurred in Minneapolis as her family was moving into their new home in late May.
“That was the week I decided I really needed to reevaluate our situation and my priorities,” she wrote. “I have taken time to reflect on the many different aspects of my life and ultimately have decided that, given the unlikely speedy resolution to COVID, I need to find a way to be closer to my family. Leaving OHSU is not a decision that I have made lightly. I love the various aspects of my job and have gained so much in working with the students, faculty and staff of the UME program. But this is not yet good-bye. We still have several months together virtually, and I want to make sure you all know that I am still here to support and help you.”