“Doctors On Call” celebrates 700 episodes

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As WVU Hospitals’ Ruby Memorial celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, another impressive milestone has been reached. This week marks the 700th episode of “Doctors On Call” (DoC), a statewide program on West Virginia Public Television that features WVU Healthcare physicians and other health Ruby-25-logo.jpgprofessionals.

When “Doctors On Call” debuted on Jan. 14, 1993, it was instantly popular with viewers throughout the state. But no one would have predicted that the live, medical call-in show would still be on the air more than 20 years later, as few things last that long on television. Today, the phone lines still ring off the hook, and doctors donning makeup sit under the set’s bright lights to answer as many viewers’ questions they can fit into a half-hour show.

“Doctors On Call,” a joint production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, WVU Healthcare and WVU Health Sciences, began as a way to reach people in the far corners of the state with up-to-date medical information.

“It really took off immediately because people were so hungry for information about their health,” Amy Johns, producer of DoC and director of public affairs for WVU Healthcare, said. “Now, even though there are so many more options readily available for such information, the program is still relevant. I think one of the reasons is the interactive nature of the show. Another is the positive reputation of the healthcare experts at WVU.”

“The program has provided a great forum to enhance awareness of health issues throughout West Virginia,” Bruce McClymonds, president and CEO of WVU Hospitals, said. “It has enabled West Virginians to learn and ask questions about critical issues impacting their health.”
“Doctors On Call” wasn’t the educational institutions’ first foray into television. Since 1990, WVU doctors have been sharing their wisdom on the WVU Health Report, first on WCHS-TV in Charleston, then a few years later on evening news broadcasts throughout the state. The health reports now appear on West Virginia Media stations in Clarksburg (WBOY-TV), Charleston-Huntington (WOWK-TV), Beckley (WVNS-TV), and Wheeling (WTRF).

Both television efforts initially featured former WVU Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the WVU School of Medicine Robert D’Alessandri, M.D., who became popularly known as “Dr. Bob.” Dr. D’Alessandri considered the television programs “natural extensions” of the mission of the health sciences at WVU. Current WVU Chancellor for Health Sciences Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., agrees.

“As a way to bring medical and health information to the citizens of West Virginia, ‘Doctors On Call’ and the health reports have been a tremendous success.  From Dr. Bob to Dr. Rolly (Sullivan), all of the WVU hosts and their experts have been focused on one vision – to transform lives and eliminate health disparities,” Dr. Colenda said.

Many WVU Healthcare doctors, even those initially reluctant about appearing live on television, have become comfortable in front of the camera and consider the television shows to be a valuable way to communicate with patients.

“It is a real honor to be invited into the living rooms of so many West Virginians each week as we try to do our part to help improve their health and wellness,” Arthur Ross, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the WVU School of Medicine, said.DOC-recent.jpg “We value these partnerships and look forward to many more episodes to come.”

Rolly Sullivan, M.D., an addiction specialist for WVU Healthcare, hosts the WVU Health Reports and “Doctors On Call.” Other hosts for Doctors On Call are pediatric cardiologist John Phillips, M.D.; pediatric infectious disease specialist Kathy Moffett, M.D.; orthopaedic surgeon Joe Prudhomme, M.D.; and gynecologist Mahreen Hashmi, M.D.

The topic for this week’s 700th “Doctors On Call” is lung problems. The show airs at 8 p.m. on Thursday nights. Upcoming topics are vascular problems, breast cancer and joint problems. Recent WVU Health Reports focus on spinal deformities in children, travel vaccines and heart health. All shows and reports are posted to WVU Healthcare’s YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/WVUHealthcare.

Viewers of DoC can learn about upcoming topics and provide feedback and requests on the program’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DoctorsOnCallWVU.

Photo captions:

Top photo – The first episode of “Doctors On Call” aired on Jan. 14, 1993, and featured a discussion of children’s health problems. Dr. Norman Ferrari, current vice dean for education and academic affairs and chair of the Department of Medical Education in the WVU School of Medicine, is seated at far right. To his left is former WVU Family Medicine physician, Dr. Kristin Crosby.

Bottom photo – Dr. Mahreen Hashmi (center) recently hosted an episode of “Doctors On Call,” which focused on HIV and AIDS. Dr. Arif Sarwari, infectious diseases specialist, and Dr. Scot Remick, director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, served as the show’s experts.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
alj: 07-25-13