Interdisciplinary National Conference


Hyatt Regency Savannah, GA
October 13-15, 2021


National, interdisciplinary conference for healthcare professionals, attorneys and general public to inform and update on the current trends in health policy and clinical practice. This conference will focus on federal and state initiatives in multiple chronic conditions, pain practices, patient involvement and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Continuing education credits will be offered for: medicine, nursing, physician assistants, physical therapy, chiropractor, pharmacy, social work and law. Open to general public.


Overall Conference Objectives:

  • Examine legislative and clinical trends in addressing the complex care needs of patients living with multiple chronic conditions (MCC).
  • Review policy and practice perspectives on shared decision making, social determinants and their influence on patient outcomes.
  • Discuss federal and state legislation and clinical collaboration on improving acute and chronic pain practices.
  • Engage in health policy and clinical practice discussions with legislators, clinical thought leaders and experts on best practices for the largest, fastest growing and costliest patient populations.

Wednesday October 13, 2021

Registration 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Welcome Reception 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Thursday October 14, 2021

Session Objectives:
  • Discuss current state and federal legislative trends in pain, shared decision making and quality care.
  • Examine legislative initiatives intended to promote best practices and ensure safe, patient-centered care.
  • Review the role of the patient and their impact on clinical decision making.
  • Describe the multiple disciplines involved in the effective and safe management of acute and chronic pain.
  • Evaluate the interface between social determinants and patient centered outcomes.
7:00 am - 8:00 am Registration
7:30 am – 8:30 am BREAKFAST
8:30 am – 9:00 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dean Linda McCauley PhD
Emory University
9:00 am – 9:30 am Legislative Initiatives: The Future
Legislator TB
9:30 am – 10:30 am Federal Practice Improvement and Research Perspectives
Dr. Arlene Bierman MD, MS
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
10:30 am – 10:45 am BREAK
10:45 am – 12:30 pm It Takes a Village to Care for the Pain Patient: Panel Presentation & Case Discussion
Spinal Intervention, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Care, Pharmacist, Legal, Behavioral Health, Attorney, Nursing
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm LUNCH
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm Where the Rubber Hits the Road
Patient Report, Mack Kitchens
1:45 pm – 2:45 pm Wait a Minute, I am the Patient
Dr. Nicole Ruggiano PhD
Health & Aging Policy Fellow
University of Alabama
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm Social Determinants: Why They Matter
Sarah Slocum MA
Altarum Institute
3:45 pm – 4:00 pm Closing Remarks and Comments
Dr Armin Oskouei MD
Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians

Friday October 15, 2021

Session Objectives:
  • Review federal initiatives in meeting the complex care needs of the largest U.S. patient population – those with two or more chronic conditions.
  • Examine the U.S. demographics of patients living with symptomatic multiple chronic conditions.
  • Describe best practices in self-management, shared decision making and advocacy when empowering patients to achieve optimal patient-centered outcomes.
  • Review the role of the patient living with multiple chronic conditions and navigating the healthcare system.
  • Discuss the integration and implementation of palliative care or aggressive symptom management to maintain and promote physical functioning and quality of life
7:00 am – 8:00 am Registration
7:30 am – 8:30 am BREAKFAST
8:30 am – 8:45 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Armin Oskouei MD
Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians
8:45 am – 9:45 am Multiple Chronic Conditions: Overview, Initiatives and Future
Dr. Arlene Bierman MD MS
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
9:45 am – 10:30 am Empowering the Patient – Improving Outcomes
Sarah Slocum MA
Altarum Institute
10:30 am – 10:45 am BREAK
10:45 am – 11:45 am Patient and Provider Shared Decision Making
Dr. Nicole Ruggiano PhD
Health & Aging Policy Fellow
University of Alabama
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


12:15 pm – 12:30 pm Quality Improvement Project: Provider Knowledge vs Patient Satisfaction on Acute Pain Practices
Nick Daneshvar
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Patient Navigation and Mapping
Dr. Glenna Crooks PhD
CogentSage Group
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Implementation of Palliative Care: Preventative Management
Dr. Carolyn Clevenger DNP
Emory University
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Moving Forward: Meeting the Needs
Dr. Jane Pederson MD
Health & Aging Policy Fellow Stratis Health
4:00 pm – 4:15 pm Closing Remarks
Dr. Armin Oskouei MD
Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians



Dr. Linda A. McCauley Ph.D.

Dr. Linda A. McCauley Ph.D.Dean of Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Under her leadership, the School of Nursing is recognized as a center of academic and scientific excellence, innovation, and achievement. The school’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s "Best Graduate Schools" ranks 4th in the country. During her tenure, the school’s research program has grown into a $17 million enterprise, earning distinction as the nation’s top-ranking nursing school for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. McCauley holds a secondary appointment in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and is internationally recognized for her scholarship in environmental and occupational health. McCauley is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), where she was recently appointed as a member of the Membership Committee. Her work has been published in hundreds of peer review journals and featured in national publications and broadcasts including Time, Business Week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, National Public Radio, and the Weather Channel.


Dr. Arlene Bierman MD, MS

Dr Arlene Bierman MD, MSDirector Center for Evidence & Practice Improvement at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She oversees 5 agencies: The Evidence-Based Practice Center Program; the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Program; the Division of Decision Science and Patient Engagement; the Division of Health Information Technology; and the Division of Practice Improvement, as well as the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research. Dr. Bierman is a general internist, geriatrician, and health services researcher, whose work has focused on improving access, quality, and outcomes of health care for older adults with chronic illness in disadvantaged populations. Dr. Bierman has also developed strategies for using performance measurement as a tool for knowledge translation and has conducted research to increase policymakers’ use of evidence.

Dr. Caroline Clevenger DNP

Dr. Caroline Clevenger DNPA gerontological nurse practitioner and Associate Dean for Clinical and Community Partnerships at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. She is the Clinical Director and a practicing nurse practitioner at the Emory Integrated Memory Care Clinic. The new model of care has been recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee on Quality Assurance.

Dr. Glenna Crooks, Ph.D.

Dr. Glenna Crooks, Ph.D.Co-Founder of The CogentSage Group, LLC, a digital health company. Former appointee of President Ronald Reagan, in a senior health post, was head of Merck&Co, Inc.’s policy group and global vice-president for Vaccine Business. As Founder and CEO of Strategic Health Policy International, Inc., served as strategist and trusted counsel to government and business leaders. She received the Congressional Exemplary Service Award for Orphan Products Development and the first civilian to receive the highest award in public health, the Surgeon General’s Medallion.

Dr. Jane Pederson MD, MS

Dr. Jane Pederson MD, MSChief Medical Quality Officer, Stratis Health, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Geriatrician, Allina Senior Health and American Political Science Association Congressional Health and Aging Policy Fellow. Dr. Pederson provides clinical leadership to Stratis Health’s health care quality and safety initiatives. She has worked on a wide variety of local and national projects focused on long-term care settings. As a geriatrician providing primary care to residents in assisted living settings, she experiences firsthand the real-life implications of the interactions between quality improvement, safety and policy.

Dr. Nicole Ruggiano PhD

Dr. Nicole RuggianoIs an associate professor and Doctor of Social Work Program Director at the University of Alabama School of Social Work. Her research focuses on decision making and management of care for older adults with chronic conditions. Currently, she is conducting research that is developing and testing health information technologies aimed at improving care and caregiving for adults with dementia. Dr. Ruggiano is a John A. Hartford Geriatric Social Work Scholar and an American Political Science Association Congressional Health and Aging Policy Fellow.

Sarah Slocum MA

Sarah Solcum MASarah Slocum, Co-Director, Altarum, Program to Improve Eldercare. She received her MA in Bioethics from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She served 13 years as Michigan’s State Long Term Care Ombudsman, leading advocacy for Michigan citizens living in long term care facilities. She has led policy change efforts in the state Medicaid program, long term care regulations, the Certificate of Need program, and with the Michigan legislature. Ms. Slocum has testified on nursing home quality before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and has been a board member of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care and a board member of the National Association of State Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs.


Dr. Armin Oskouei MD

Dr. Armin Oskouei MDDouble board-certified physician with specialty training in Interventional Spine-PM&R (Physiatry) and Anesthesia. He is a pioneer in the advancement of interventional techniques for pain control and led research teams in both basic science and clinical pain research. Presenting his findings at national and international meetings including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. As an interventional spine physician, he specializes in cutting edge treatment of pain utilizing advanced techniques and imaging modalities. He is the Founder and Owner of Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians with multiple practices throughout Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Dr. Jess Arcure MD

Jess Arcure MDPracticing physician at Ortho Sport and Spine Physicians in Savannah, Georgia. He completed a fellowship of musculoskeletal medicine and interventional spine and was faculty at the University of Kansas. He was chief resident at and graduated residency from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Prior to his medical career graduated as a chemical engineer from West Virginia University. He is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Association of Academic Physiatrists, as well as the Spine Intervention Society.

Dr. Eric Bull PT, DSc

Dr. Eric Bull PT, DScA St. Louis native who earned master’s degrees from St. Louis University and University of Western Australia and his dissertation investigated functional outcomes from hands-on intervention in unstable lumbar spine patients. He has helped to advance the evidence-based care of Physical Therapists through clinical research, advanced clinical practice, and orthopedic Physical Therapy residency programs. He is the Regional Manager for CORA Physical Therapy, with over 220 locations, primarily throughout the southeast.

Dr. Chris Connelly DC

Dr Chris Connelly DCPracticing chiropractic and therapeutics in Stone Mountain Georgia for 20 years. He served as a member of the Georgia Opioid Task Force. He is certified in the 5th and 6th editions of the AMA Guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment ratings and certified in the Official Disability Guidelines as a certified independent examiner. He has performed over 3000 independent reviews, impairment ratings and claim reviews and seen over 7,000 injury cases. He has taught over 50 seminars on: injury causation, MRI reading, diagnosis, patient care, coding and billing.

Melanie W. Clark, MSN, APRN, NP-C

Melanie W. ClarkMs. Clark is a certified family nurse practitioner who manages the clinical care of patients with neurologic and musculoskeletal conditions. A Georgia native, she attended the University of Georgia and Emory University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. She received her master’s degree of science in nursing from University of North Georgia. Certified Nurse Practitioner (NP) by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners since 2004. She has worked with neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and pain management physicians in all aspects of patient care, ranging from assessing and diagnosing patients to performing office-based injections, and assisting in spinal surgery. She currently manages the care of patients with various musculoskeletal disorders with a focus on treating patients with acute orthopedic injuries and spine related pathology. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the Georgia Nurses Association, and serves as a mentor and preceptor for NP students.

Dr. Marisa Strychalski, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP

Dr. Marisa Strychalski, PharmD, BCPS, BCACPAssistant professor of pharmacy practice at South University School of Pharmacy in Savannah, GA. She grew up in Indianapolis, IN and attended Purdue University, where she earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She then completed two years of post-graduate residency training at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC, where she specialized in ambulatory care. In addition to teaching, her current position includes spending half days at the Savannah VA clinic as a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist. Her interests are varied and include hepatitis C, heart failure, and non-opioid pain management.

Attorney Robert “Cap” Russell JD

Attorney Robert “Cap” Russell JDAssociate Attorney with Jones, Osteen & Jones Law Firm in Hinesville, GA. Graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Georgia. His firm has over 60 years of experience in representing individuals, and their families, who have suffered injuries or death because of automobile and trucking accidents.