Veterans Honor Dr. Richard Merkin During Research Week

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The West Hills/Northridge Veterans Administration will honor Dr. Richard Merkin, President of Heritage Provider Network, for his contributions to the health of American war veterans. The VA, in collaboration with Heritage Medical Research Institute (HMRI), is conducting a clinical research study aimed at examining diabetic ulcers in veterans. Dr. Merkin will receive his honor at a ceremony to be held during Research Week, May 2008, at the Northridge VA location.

The West Hills/Northridge Veterans Administration will honor Dr. Richard Merkin, President of Heritage Provider Network, for his contributions to the health of American war veterans. The VA, in collaboration with Heritage Medical Research Institute (HMRI), is conducting a clinical research study aimed at examining diabetic ulcers in veterans. Dr. Merkin will receive his honor at a ceremony to be held during Research Week, May 2008, at the Northridge VA location.

Diabetes mellitus is one of the most serious problems facing the health of the general US population. This year over 7 percent of the population, or 21 million people, will be diagnosed with diabetes and among these individuals, 15 percent-25 percent will develop a Diabetic Foot Ulcer ("DFU") during their lifetimes. This is a very serious problem since DFUs are the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation. Since over 20 percent of patients with a DFU require an amputation, it is expected that between 650,000 to over 1 million unfortunate individuals will face having an amputation each year. Moreover, these patients also face a higher risk of additional amputations and a higher 5-year mortality rate of 39 percent to 68 percent. Dr. Merkin and the Heritage Provider Network consider this an unacceptable catastrophe for patients and their families and a significant cause of rising healthcare costs.

The Heritage Medical Research Institute confirms that this is an even more serious problem among this country's veterans who are three times more likely to have diabetes as compared with the general population. Not only do veterans account for over half of all hospitalization for LE ulcerations, but almost two-thirds of all hospitalization for LE amputations in the VA healthcare system is among veterans with diabetes. The 64 percent LE amputation rate among veterans with diabetes is considerably higher than the 50 percent amputation rate among diabetes in the general US population. It is therefore not surprising that the costs of treating diabetic patients with LE amputations have steadily increased in the VA system from 1989 to 1998 and is expected to increase unless we are able to prevent DFU.

The study is being conducted at two VA hospitals in California: the Long Beach VA and the West Hills/Northridge VA. The principal investigators at each site are Ian Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. and Aksone Nouvong, DPM.

Heritage Medical Research Institute was established to actively conduct medical research in conjunction with nonprofit hospitals. Its TRIP Program (Translating Research into Practice) aims to apply research findings into measurable improvements in patient care.    

Dr. Richard Merkin is the President of Heritage Provider Network, one of the largest physician-owned multi-specialty physician groups in California. The company consists of medical groups and IPAs with 21 satellite medical facilities serving Southern/Central California and New York, comprised of 3,500 primary care physicians, 13,000 specialists, and 36 hospitals.

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Kristin Flannery
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