MUSC Psychiatry Chair Update | August 26, 2021
August 26, 2021
MUSC Psychiatry Chair Update
Thomas W. Uhde, M.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Institute of Psychiatry
FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine
On Monday, August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. [Today’s] milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”
To stay up-to-date on data and trends in our area, please follow MUSC's COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project. Faculty and staff members from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences are leading this project and we greatly appreciate their continued efforts during this pandemic!
MUSC's COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project Team
  • Michael D. Sweat, Ph.D., professor, MUSC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; director, Division of Global and Community Health; and faculty director, MUSC Center for Global Health – Project Director
  • Veronique Whittaker Vanacore, MPH, research coordinator, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Global and Community Health
  • Virginia “Ginny” Fonner, Ph.D, MPH, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Global and Community Health
  • Eric Meissner, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Kathleen Ellis, executive director, MUSC Center for Global Health
  • Claire Bailey, MPH, RD, program coordinator, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Division of Global and Community Health

With special thanks to our medical student volunteers:

  • William “Alex” Parler, MUSC College of Medicine student
  • Gregory "Brian" Elmore, MUSC College of Medicine student
Dr. Donte Bernard has been invited to present at the 2021 Youth Mental Health Disparities Conference, “Identifying Opportunities and Priorities in Youth Mental Health Disparities Research.” This conference is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in partnership with National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
The purpose of this conference is to discuss the state of the science and to identify areas and opportunities for advancement and innovations to reduce mental health disparities among youth.
Dr. Bernard also recently published a paper with his colleagues in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities entitled, “Rumination as a Mediator of the Association Between Racial Discrimination and Depression among Black Youth.” The results of this paper revealed that the association between racial discrimination and depressive symptoms can be explained by rumination among a sample of Black pre-and-early adolescents. 
Congratulations to Dr. Michael de Arellano on his appointment to the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center's Board of Directors! Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center is the region's leading resource to prevent abuse, protect children, and heal families. Dr. de Arellano will serve a three-year tearm on the Board.
Do you know an employee who has gone the extra mile recently? Nominate them for the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences' MVP Award! This award will be given quarterly to an employee nominated by their peers for going above and beyond in the workplace. For more information or to nominate an employee, please visit our Employee Recognition Page on the Horseshoe.

Update: August 17, 2021


A recent ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court confirmed that public institutions of higher learning are not prohibited from requiring all individuals to wear masks in campus facilities to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

As you know, masks have continued to be required in the hospital and in all MUSC Health facilities. With this recent ruling by the highest court in the state, the university is now able to be aligned with the mask requirements of MUSC Health and in agreement with recommendations from the CDC and DHEC.

For the safety of all of us at MUSC and for those we serve, we are implementing a mask mandate for all students, staff, faculty, and visitors on MUSC’s campus indoors in the presence of others (classrooms, conference rooms, other shared spaces) until further notice. This mandate is effective immediately.


A reminder that if you have any symptoms, even if mild, you must stay away from work/school and get tested for COVID. Common symptoms of the Delta variant are sore throat and runny nose, so don’t mistake this for the flu or a cold. You must get tested.


Please continue to be safe and stay apprised of the MUSC University Directives.


Join the MUSC Psychiatry Team at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Charleston Area Walk!


So far, the team has 12 participants and

has raised $535.00 towards our team goal.


Shout out to team members from the

Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs (CDAP)

for having the highest participant registration in the department so far!!!



Date: 10/24/2021
Riverfront Park 
Event Time: 
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Updates related to COVID safety protocol: At this time, the event is still planning to be in-person; however, the planning committee is closely monitoring the trends and this may change to accommodate participant and staff safety. We are strongly encouraging masking during the event (and masks will be available at the site) and will follow city regulations on masking at the time of the event. We are also encouraging anyone who feels unwell to remain at home for the safety of others. AFSP National is working on a virtual ceremony option in November for those who are not comfortable attending in person or who are unwell on the date of the event. We will also be working on reduced contact with t-shirt pick up and have a shorter ceremony, as well as spacing out walking groups to reduce crowding. Team members are welcome to fundraise online, attend the event, or a combination of both - whatever feels most comfortable in these unusual times.


To register for fundraising and participation:


Questions? Email Meg Wallace at
MUSC Executive Leadership has extended the Faculty Annual Leave cutback date to December 31, 2021. Based on the December 31 faculty cut back extension, all unused annual leave in excess of 360 hours, regardless of future leave approvals in the kronos system, will be cutback to 360 hours in January 2022.

We encourage you to review the annual leave balances for the faculty members in your areas and determine if you have individuals who stand to lose leave when the automatic reduction occurs, and if so, we ask that you share this information with them. We also ask that you update all leave records as necessary to ensure we have the correct leave balances on file before the automatic reduction occurs. Leave balances can be viewed directly using MyRecords, found on the Horseshoe under the Employee Corner,

Faculty members are eligible to donate annual leave to the catastrophic leave pool per the HRM Policy 48: Catastrophic Leave policy. Due to the extension, the Leave Donation Form must be completed and sent to the HRM Leave Administrator ( or Fax 843-792-9533) by December 15, 2021.

If you have questions concerning annual leave cutbacks or accruals, please contact Monique Robinson at or 843-792-7225.

Supervisors are asked to distribute this information to the employees in the area in which they are responsible. Thank you.

The CPCS office is currently taking referrals for youth and adults for outpatient therapy and/or medication management. The CPCS office is located at 26 Bee Street and is seeing patients either virtually or in the office. All patients are self-pay at the time of the appointment and will be provided with the necessary paperwork to submit for reimbursement from their insurance companies. All department of psychiatry faculty members are eligible to see private patients in CPCS.


To make a referral or schedule an appointment, call 843-792-9396.


For more information about making a referral or joining the practice, feel free to contact Hilary Bernstein, LISW, DHA at


Check out our website:

Like our Facebook page: Comprehensive Psychiatric Care Specialists

The Medical University of South Carolina's values are the heart of the institution and each day these values are exhibited by employees who help to fulfill MUSC's vision statement, leading Health Innovation for the Lives We Touch.
Each year, the President's Values in Action award recognizes five deserving employees who demonstrate MUSC's five values: compassion, respect, innovation, collaboration, and integrity.
Award Submission Process
  • Fill Out the Nomination Form
    • Nomination information must include:
      • Sponsor Name, Email, Department
      • Nominee Name, Email, Department
      • Value Demonstrated: Compassion / Respect / Innovation / Collaboration / Integrity
      • A letter of recommendation from the sponsor, addressed to President Cole, explaining why the nominee is worthy of the award.
  • The deadline for nominations is October 19, 2021.
  • Nominees will be notified upon receipt of nomination. Sponsors will be copied on this notification as well. All nominees receive a certificate of nomination; sponsors of the five individuals selected for awards will receive a separate notification and details about award presentations in early November 2021.
  • Winners will be chosen by President Cole based on the award criteria outlined below:
    • Nominations are submitted to recognize an individual who has demonstrated one of the five institutional values within the course of the current calendar year between February and September 2021. Only five winners will be chosen during this time; one winner per MUSC value.
    • Nominees can be submitted from any department across the MUSC enterprise, including the MUSC Regional Health Network.
    • Nominations for individuals will be accepted. Self-nominations and team nominations will not be accepted.
    • Diversity, equity and inclusion is a priority for the criteria of the Values in Action award, as the aim is to offer an award and recognition opportunity to all department and team members. This will provide an inclusive opportunity to recognize values that are demonstrated from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets.



For specific questions regarding the Values in Action award, please contact Heather Woolwine.


Addiction Sciences Division


Open Rank/Assistant Professor (UNIV, Full-Time): The successful applicant for this position will have either an MD or a PhD degree and will be expected to have an established and independent research program that will interface with the multidisciplinary NIAAA P50 Charleston Alcohol Research Center at MUSC. 


Open Rank/Professor (UNIV, Full-Time): The successful applicant for this position will have either an MD or a PhD degree and will be expected to have an established and independent research program that will interface with the multidisciplinary NIAAA P50 Charleston Alcohol Research Center at MUSC.





The use of the powerful opiate drug, FENTANYL is on the rise, accounting for a large share of overdose deaths in SC, and the greater US.


Previously, urine drug testing at MUSC could not detect Fentanyl use. The Clinical Neurobiology Laboratory has recently completed an extensive validation of a qualitative (positive vs negative) urine test for the presence of Fentanyl which can be used to distinguish this drug from other commonly used/abused opiates such as oxycodone, buprenorphine and morphine. This test should aid clinicians in the evaluation of patients in multiple clinical settings, especially when illicit drug use is suspected.


Simply order: “Fentanyl, Urine, Qual (IOP LAB)” or “LAB9066”


Program for Researchers Affected by Pandemic


COVID-19 Voucher Program

The College of Medicine, Hollings Cancer Center, and South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute (SCTR) are pleased to offer a new funding opportunity open to all MUSC tenured and tenure track faculty members whose research has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding of up to $2,000 is available to help investigators gather preliminary data for inclusion in a grant proposal by covering the cost of supplies and/or core and laboratory services; pay for publication costs; or develop a translational focus to their research. Vouchers cannot be used to fund computer purchases, PI or staff salary, or travel. These funds will be distributed through SCTR. A total of $200,000 is available to support these awards.


Who is eligible?

To be eligible to receive a voucher an individual must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member and serve as PI on an active research grant. A faculty member can receive only one COVID voucher.



To apply for a voucher, select the COVID-19 Voucher Program in SPARCRequest. Awards will be made on a rolling basis until all funds are expended.

Individuals needing to contact the MUSC COVID Vaccine Call Center can utilize the information below:

The COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force will be posting updates on the COVID-19 Vaccine intranet site, including information about the vaccine safety and efficacy, so our care team members can make an informed decision.


**Updated University Directives can be found here.** 



The following resource provides MUSC Health lab and testing options pertaining to COVID-19. Included on this page is information regarding drive-thru and “pop-up” mobile COVID testing locations, antibody or serology tests, drive-in lab and nurse visits, and original/classic lab testing.


MUSC Health Lab & Testing Options



Due to the activity of COVID-19 within the hospital and community, all employees, residents, fellows and students within all MUSC entities are directed to begin daily self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. This applies regardless of whether you have been working remotely on a full-time or intermittent basis. You need to continue daily self-monitoring, even if symptoms are not present.




In addition to updates provided by MUSC Enterprise, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences will also provide updates through our employee intranet, The Horseshoe. Updates will be provided regularly as new information becomes available. For your convenience, direct links are provided below.

If you would like to submit content to include in next week's Chair Update, please submit to Dr. Jamie Fisher by 12:00 pm on Monday. Thank you.
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