Bascom Palmer, Albert Einstein name chairmen

August 15, 2009

Two prominent cornea specialists have been appointed chairmen of ophthalmology departments in Miami and New York City.

Key Points

Two prominent cornea specialists have been appointed chairmen of ophthalmology departments in Miami and New York City.

"There's a responsibility, [but] putting it in perspective, not much more than taking someone whose only eye needs to be repaired surgically and that whole person's life depends on you making the right decision. To me, that decision is a whole lot more important in the [scheme] of things," Dr. Alfonso said.

Although Bascom Palmer prides itself on its research and residency opportunities, he said it all begins with a commitment to providing patients with the best care possible.

"We want to continue to render the best clinical care we can and, in the process of doing that, we want to, number one, provide the correct infrastructure . . . for those who come here for their care, and for those who want to practice their profession of giving care, so they can find the right environment for doing that. I will continue to develop clinical care as the number one mission of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute," Dr. Alfonso said.

He pledged to continue recruiting top-notch residents and fellows to the school as well as concentrate on translational research with the addition of 40,000 square feet of research space now under way, which will allow the institute to hire at least six basic scientists to interact with clinicians. He also acknowledged a commitment to provide opportunities for international ophthalmologists to come to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

With former U.S. Health and Human Services chief Donna Shalala as president of the University of Miami and at work on health-care reform for the Obama administration, Dr. Alfonso said Bascom Palmer is committed to doing its part to reshape the health-care system. He described plans to introduce an electronic medical records system that could be used throughout ophthalmology and to improve on evidence-based medicine initiatives.

"We will continue to look at ways to do what we do better but at the same time be cognizant that we have to reduce the cost of what we do," he said.

Although Dr. Alfonso found a smooth transition from Dr. Puliafito's tenure, at Albert Einstein, Dr. Chuck inherits a department that has not had a chairman for 8 years. In fact, Dr. Chuck is only the third full-time chairman in the department's history. He also was named holder of the Paul Henkind Chair in Ophthalmology at Montefiore Medical Center.

Dr. Chuck, 45, is one of the youngest ophthalmology department chairmen and one of only five Asian-Americans to hold such a post. He previously was director of the refractive surgery service and the Tom Clancy Professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and he recently stepped down as president of the Chinese American Ophthalmological Society.