State Health Commissioner to Present 2009 McGehee Lecture at U.Va. School of Nursing on Wednesday

April 14, 2009 — Virginia State Health Commissioner Karen Remley will deliver the University of Virginia School of Nursing's annual Catherine Strader McGehee Memorial Lecture on Wednesday. Remley will address "Health in the Commonwealth: Two Pressing and Interrelated Issues: Infant Mortality and Childhood Obesity. What Can Bedside Clinicians Do?"

Her presentation will be in McLeod Hall Auditorium at noon with a reception to follow. The lecture is open to the public and parking is available (for a fee) in the 11th Street Parking Garage on 11th Street just south of Main Street.

The McGehee Lecture was endowed in 2002 in memory of Catherine Strader McGehee by the School of Nursing BSN Class of 1975 and McGehee's family and friends. She had received her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from the School and was pursuing her Ph.D. when she died in 1999 after a courageous battle with breast cancer.

Distinguished speakers are selected for the lecture series who demonstrate McGehee's commitment to excellence in nursing education and practice, her demonstration of exemplary leadership, and her service to the community at large.

Prior to her appointment as State Health Commissioner by Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine in January 2008, Remley served as vice president of medical affairs at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk and as a community faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics and Public Health at Eastern Virginia Medical School. She also has served as medical director of external quality at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia and as chief executive officer of Physicians for Peace.

In addition to her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, she also holds a Master of Business Administration, Health Services Management Certificate from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Some background on Remley's topic:

Infant Mortality
•    Infant mortality deaths in Virginia are seven times greater than those killed in motor vehicle accidents, numbering 839 in 2007 or 7.7 per 1,000 live births.
•    Among African American babies, the mortality rate was more than double that of Caucasians (15.5 per 1,000 live births versus 6.0).
•    Gov. Kaine has set a target of reducing the state's infant mortality rate below 7 by 2010.
•    The commissioner has appointed a statewide working group of health professionals and community and civic leaders to address the problem, including Emily E. Drake, assistant professor of nursing and director of the baccalaureate program at the U.Va. School of Nursing.

Childhood Obesity
•    In Virginia, according to Center for Disease Control data, about 62 percent of adults are overweight or obese and 30 percent of children (age 10-17) are overweight.
•    Figures from the Virginia WIC program, 16 percent of children ages 2 to 5 who participate in the program are overweight and another 12 percent "at risk" for overweight.
•    In response to increasing obesity rates, the Virginia Department of Health has launched an innovative initiative, based on proven strategies, to address the issue and its attendant health risks. CHAMPION is the Commonwealth's Health Approach and Mobilization Plan for Inactivity, Obesity and Nutrition.

About the University of Virginia School of Nursing

The University of Virginia School of Nursing stands among the top 5 percent in the nation, ranked 19th by US News & World Report magazine; two of its graduate programs are currently listed in the U.S. News Top Ten and two more among the top 20. With a vigorous research program that includes studies in rural health care and disparities, oncology, gerontology, complementary therapies and nursing history, the school also has implemented new programs and strategies to address the national nursing shortage and the concurrent need for more highly educated nurses to deliver increasingly complex health care. For information about the U.Va. School of Nursing and its programs, visit