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NEOMED’s Second Season of VITALS Begins with Mental Health Focus

Former U.S. Rep Patrick Kennedy to talk advocacy to advance treatment

Northeast Ohio Medical University will launch the second season of its health care leadership speaker series titled, “VITALS: Visionary Health Leadership in Action,” at a new time (noon) on Sept. 2. Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy will be the first show’s featured speaker.

Kennedy was the lead author of the landmark Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Federal Parity Law), which requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders no more restrictively than treatment for illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. Kennedy served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2011 in Maine’s first district. Following his time in office, Kennedy co-authored the New York Times Bestseller, “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.” He also served on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

“Patrick has been relentless in his efforts to bring positive change to the way mental illness is treated, isolated and reimbursed,” says Rick Kellar, president of Peg’s Foundation, a longtime funding partner of NEOMED’s Coordinating Centers of Excellence. “He’s a great friend and advocate for those with mental illness and their families.”

Kellar will serve as a guest moderator for the Q&A portion of the program.

The monthly series features a diverse range of innovative leaders in the medical sector. Each speaker has 17 minutes ― the same length of time of the average physician-patient visit — to offer disruptive solutions to health care’s biggest problems. Approaches may cover any of the six components of VITALS: Value-based, Innovation, Technology, Advocacy, Leadership and Service. The speaker then engages in discourse with attendees for the remainder of the hour.

Previous featured speakers on VITALS range from Northeast Ohio health leaders ― Akram Boutros, M.D., MetroHealth; Cliff Megerian, M.D., University Hospitals Health System; and Bill Considine,

Akron Children’s Hospital ― to national health innovators and advocates, including Rajeev Venkayya, M.D., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.; Mark Paul, Stryker; and Toyin Ajayi, M.D., CityBlock Health.

Free continuing education credits are available with Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the sponsorship of Northeast Ohio Medical University.

VITALS will be available live as a Zoom webinar. It is free and open to the public. Visit to register and learn more.


Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) harnesses diversity, innovation and collaboration

to create transformative leaders and improve health through education, discovery and service. The University values leadership, excellence, advocacy, diversity, equity and respect and offers Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees, in addition to master’s and doctoral degrees and research opportunities in other medical and life science areas.

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