VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS)

VA Section of General Internal Medicine

The Section of General Internal Medicine at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) is based in Oakland. Physicians in the section provide a wide variety of clinical care to veterans from Pittsburgh and surrounding referral VA medical centers in western Pennsylvania. Almost all section members have faculty appointments within the University of Pittsburgh Division of General Internal Medicine.

For information about the VAPHS, click on www.pittsburgh.va.gov/about/.

About Us

The Section of General Internal Medicine at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) is part of the Primary Care Service Line and is one of the largest physician groups involved in the care of veterans. Section members provide clinical care in the inpatient and outpatient settings, and their services range from primary care through highly specialized consultative care.

The section is highly active in academic general internal medicine. It has a productive research center, the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP). It also has a large number of clinician-educators who are involved in didactic and case-based training for medical students, housestaff, general medicine fellows, and allied health professionals. Many of its senior faculty members have leadership roles locally, regionally, and nationally in the Veterans Health Administration.

Faculty

Faculty members in the Section of General Internal Medicine at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) are involved in an extensive array of academic and scholarly activities. These include health services research and other research directed toward common clinical issues. Research efforts in the section are conducted through the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP). In addition, section members lead or are involved in numerous educational programs for medical students, interns, residents, fellows, and allied health professionals.

Clinical Services at the VAPHS

Overview of Inpatient and Outpatient Services

Members of the VA Section of General Internal Medicine, along with housestaff from the University of Pittsburgh Internal Medicine Residency Program, provide the following clinical services to veterans:

  • Primary care for over 32,000 veterans at primary care sites located on the Oakland, Highland Drive, and HJ Heinz (Aspinwall) campuses and at community-based outpatient clinics located in three sites in Pennsylvania (Monaca, Greensburg, and Washington) and one site in Ohio (St. Clairsville).
  • Women’s health care from a VA National Center of Excellence based at the Oakland Division.
  • Urgent and emergent care from the Emergent Care Center at Oakland.
  • Substance abuse intervention through the Substance Abuse Detection and Early Intervention Program based at Oakland.
  • Medical preoperative evaluations for veterans who have chronic medical conditions and are considering major surgery based at Oakland.
  • Inpatient general medicine care to veterans admitted for acute medical illnesses at the Oakland Division.

Additional information for veterans can be found at www.myhealth.va.gov.

Telephone Numbers for Primary Care

Patients currently seen by VA primary care providers can contact their primary care team at the following numbers:

 

  • University Drive Primary Care (Oakland), including the Women’s Health Program: 412-954-5158
  • Purple Team (Highland Drive): 412-954-5158
  • Green Team (Aspinwall): 412-954-5158
  • Greensburg, PA: 724-216-0317
  • Monaca, PA: 724-709-6005
  • Washington, PA: 724-250-7790
  • St. Clairsville, OH: 740-695-9321 or 3721

Patients with clinical questions after usual business hours can speak with a nurse at 1-866-4VAPITT (1-866-482-7488) and follow the prompts.

Driving Directions to VA Facilities

 

The administrative offices of the Primary Care Service Line are located at the University Drive Division of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in the Oakland region of Pittsburgh. Driving directions to these offices can be found by following this link.

Links to other VA facilities in Pennsylvania, including driving directions, can be found here.

Physicians at the VAPHS

Education and Training Programs

The Section of General Internal Medicine at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) is an integral part of the University of Pittsburgh’s training program in internal medicine. VA faculty members assume key teaching and administrative roles in the education of residents, medical students, and postgraduate fellows.

Residency Training

The ward services at the VA are a major site of inpatient medical education for University of Pittsburgh residents, and the majority of teaching attending coverage is provided by VA section faculty. Teaching rounds occur 6 days a week. Many section faculty also participate regularly in a full range of didactic conferences for housestaff. These conferences complement the hands-on clinical training and include Morning Report, Chief’s Conference, and the Noon Conference Lecture Series.

Dr. Visala Muluk oversees the Medical Consultation Service, which provides training for residents in consultation and perioperative medicine. Housestaff have the unique opportunity to learn preoperative evaluation skills in the Medical Preoperative Evaluation Clinic under the direction of Dr. Visala Muluk and Dr. David Macpherson. Housestaff also perform inpatient consultations on surgical patients under the supervision of section faculty.

The VA Emergent Care Center (ECC) provides a major portion of the residency training in emergency medicine. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Dresser and section faculty, six or more residents per month staff the ECC and care for patients with a full range of emergent and urgent care problems.

Section faculty members also provide an enormous amount of teaching in ambulatory medicine for residents. The VA Primary Care Clinic, under the direction of Dr. Erika Hoffman, is the continuity clinic training site for about half of the medicine residents. Housestaff care for their own panels of patients, supervised by dedicated teaching attendings. The Women’s Health Program, overseen by Dr. Melissa McNeil, provides education for residents in gender-specific care and has been designated as a National Center of Excellence by the VA in recognition of its fine quality of care and teaching. Section faculty members also teach an outpatient medicine curriculum in didactic pre-clinic conferences, coordinated by Dr. Ruth Preisner and Dr. Robert Brooks.

Medical Student Training

The VA section faculty contribute greatly to the clinical training of medical students at the University of Pittsburgh. Many first-year and second-year students rotate through the VA during their clinical skills courses, learning history and physical examination skills under the tutelage of VA section faculty. The VA site coordinator for these courses is Dr. Ruth Preisner. Many students then return to do their core third-year medicine clerkships and fourth-year acting internships on the VA wards, sharing the inpatient teaching rounds and conferences described above for medicine residents. Several elective courses are also offered to medical students by section faculty, including courses on substance abuse (Dr. Adam Gordon), women’s health (Dr. Melissa McNeil), and advanced outpatient internal medicine (Dr. Robert Brooks).

VA faculty also contribute to undergraduate medical education as mentors through the Faculty and Students Together (FAST) Program and through small group facilitation or lectures in courses on topics such as medical decision making.

Postgraduate Fellow Training

The VA offers one postgraduate general medicine fellowship position each year, in a program overseen by Dr. David Macpherson. It also offers a women’s health fellowship position under Dr. Melissa McNeil. The Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), a large research institution and VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center of Excellence, is based at the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia VA medical centers. VA section faculty, under the direction of Dr. Michael Fine, contribute to the education of research fellows at the University of Pittsburgh as project mentors, as collaborators, and as instructors in programs sponsored by the Institute for Clinical Research Education (ICRE). Section faculty members also teach in programs designed for fellows interested in careers as clinician-educators.

Research

Research at the VA Section of General Internal Medicine is carried out by the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP). In July 2001, the VA designated CHERP as a national Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center of Excellence.

Mission

The mission of CHERP is to promote equity and quality in health and health care among veterans. Research focuses on vulnerable veteran populations, including those facing potential discrimination due to race, ethnicity, or social status and those at risk for disparities in health or health care because of other physical or mental conditions.

CHERP research is guided by a framework that recognizes three generations of health equity research: (1) detecting disparities in health and health care, (2) understanding the causes and mechanisms of the disparities, and (3) developing and testing interventions to reduce or eliminate the disparities.

Leadership

CHERP is based at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (PVAMC) and is under the leadership of Michael J. Fine, MD, MSc, in Pittsburgh, and David Asch, MD, MBA, in Philadelphia.

Investigators

CHERP’s core faculty base includes 41 investigators: 20 MDs (3 with PhDs and 13 with master’s degrees), 19 PhDs, and 2 PharmDs. An additional 10 affiliate investigators from the VAPHS, the PVAMC, the University of Pittsburgh, RAND Health, and the University of Pennsylvania collaborate with core faculty to achieve CHERP’s strategic goals.

The core faculty consists of general internists as well as investigators from several clinical specialties, including nephrology, nursing, pharmacology, psychiatry, pulmonary care, rheumatology, surgery, and women’s health. Academic disciplines represented within CHERP include psychology, medical anthropology, communication, sociology, health services research, epidemiology, biostatistics, health economics, and health policy. Together, the clinical and academic investigators provide broad expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodology, including geocoding, bioinformatics, clinical trial development, quality improvement, community-based participatory research, clinical epidemiology, large database analysis, pharmacoeconomics, psychometrics, econometrics, decision and cost-effectiveness analysis, meta-analysis, and technology assessment.

Funding and Dissemination of Information

CHERP has leveraged generous core funding from the VA HSR&D, the Veterans Integrated Service Network 4 (VISN4), the VAPHS, the PVAMC, and the academic affiliates (University of Pittsburgh and University of Pennsylvania) to successfully compete for new investigator-initiated research support from the VA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and private foundations. The overall funding increased from $19.3 million in 2009 to $24.3 million in 2010.

In fiscal year 2010, CHERP’s core investigators published 160 peer-reviewed articles and made 144 presentations at national scientific meetings.

Commitment to Future Research and Training

CHERP’s Competitive Pilot Research Program has funded 49 projects to date, resulting in 38 peer-reviewed publications and contributing to successful applications for over $21 million in intramural and extramural funding.

In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, CHERP hosts postdoctoral health services research training programs sponsored by the VA Office of Academic Affiliations.

To read more about CHERP, click here.

Contact Us

Primary Care Service Line Administrative Offices
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
130-U, University Drive C
Pittsburgh, PA 15240
Phone: 412-954-5158

Contact Us

Division of General Internal Medicine Academic Offices

UPMC Montefiore Hospital
Suite W933
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-692-4821

Patient/clinical inquires

412-692-4888

Administrative office

412-692-4889