Drs. Chung and Thongkham Receive 2019 Adopt-A-Resident Award

July 23, 2019

by Mohsina Yusuf

aarThe winners of this year’s coveted Adopt-A-Resident grant are R3 residents Charlotte Chung and Dean Thongkham. Their winning proposal is “Clarkston Imaging Project: Improving Healthcare for the Uninsured Through Establishing Radiologist-Driven Imaging Services.”

Over the past year, Drs. Chung and Thongkham helped facilitate Emory University’s donation of an ultrasound machine to a free clinic in Clarkston. They now envision a program that would take advantage of that donation to help uninsured patients receive much-needed imaging studies. This ultrasound clinic, including the backend radiology workflow and IT solutions, would be staffed by volunteer ultrasound technicians, radiology residents and attendings, drawn primarily from the Emory Radiology department. 

“We thought about working with patients and the idea of a bedside doctor. In radiology, that interaction can easily be overlooked,” says Dr. Chung on what led them to choose this project in particular. “Part of our desire was to add value by interacting with patients in an immediate vicinity.” 

While in medical school, both Drs. Chung and Thongkham volunteered with free clinics to provide medical care. However, they quickly saw how cost prohibitive and inaccessible medical imaging seemed to be. As they progressed in their residency training, they again saw the challenges free primary care clinics faced in not being able to utilize radiology for patient care. That’s where Drs. Chung and Thongkham, along with their faculty advisors Drs. Sadhna Nandwana, Nabile Safdar, and Smyrna Tuburan, are stepping in to bridge that gap.

“Existing efforts from organizations such as RAD-AID focus on international outreach to low-resource developing countries. We’re trying to address a need in our local community. Clarkston is an incredible, diverse city, serving as a popular relocation center and home for refugee and immigrant communities,” they shared.

But that’s not all they’re trying to improve. They hope to put radiologists at the forefront of patient care. “This project is trying to go where the patients are, to bring medical imaging to the patient,” explains Dr. Thongkham. “With the combination of educational service, excellent medical care, and patient engagement, we create a difference in an area of obvious need.”