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Appointment of New CEO of UP Physician Practice

May 14, 2021

TO:All Faculty, Staff and Students

FROM:Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine

SUBJECT: Appointment of New CEO of UP Physician Practice

George Russell

I am pleased to announce that Dr. George Russell, professor and James L. Hughes Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, has agreed to step out of his role as chair of the department and transition to the position of chief executive officer University Physicians physician practice effective July 1, 2021. In his new role, Dr. Russell will report to Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs.

As CEO of UP physician practice, Dr. Russell will oversee and manage UP practice plan operations and finances. He will work with department chairs and ambulatory administration to drive quality and efficiency in all of UMMC’s ambulatory sites. He will oversee the development and implementation of a medical staffing plan, identify and implement strategies for growth and collaboration both in the Jackson market as well as statewide and identify areas for standardization of operations and processes.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Russell received his MD from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where he had a general surgery internship and residency training in orthopaedic surgery. He then completed an orthopaedic trauma fellowship at the University of Washington/Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Dr. Russell served as an assistant professor and chief of orthopaedic trauma, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, at the University of South Alabama, Mobile, before joining the Medical Center faculty in 2000 as an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation. He earned promotion to associate professor in 2002 and became medical director of the department in 2009. He obtained his executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, in 2012, served as vice-chairman of the department for two years before ascending to the chairmanship in 2013, and was ultimately named the James L. Hughes Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery in 2014.

A diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners, Dr. Russell is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Orthopaedic Association, the National Medical Association and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association. He also has served as president of the Mississippi Orthopaedic Society.

Listed among America’s Best Doctors on numerous occasions and a three-time UMMC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Professor of the Year, Dr. Russell is the author or coauthor of more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed professional publications, six book chapters and more than 15 abstracts. A manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, he is a well-sought speaker, having given innumerable invited presentations at scientific meetings regionally, nationally and internationally. Chair of the UMMC Council of Clinical Chairs, the UMMC Physician Compliance Subcommittee and the UP Physician/Staff Hiring Committee, he serves as president of the UP Board of Governors.

Portrait of Dr. Kellie Leitch

Dr. Kellie Leitch, associate professor of orthopaedic and rehabilitation surgery and chief of pediatric orthopaedic surgery, will take the reins as interim chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Staffed by 28 full-time faculty and six advanced practice providers, the department offers 20 residency positions and three fellowships: Orthopaedic Hand, Orthopaedic Trauma and Pediatric Orthopaedic. It serves patients statewide at four clinical practice locations - the UP Pavilion, Merit Madison, the University Rehabilitation Center and Grants Ferry - and pediatric patients at outreach locations in Tupelo, Meridian and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The department boasts the state’s only Level I Orthopaedic Trauma Center and only Orthopaedic Oncology Program.  

Upon receiving her MD from the University of Toronto, Dr. Leitch earned her MBA at Dalhousie University and completed the Surgical Scientist Program at Toronto General Hospital. She had residency training at the University of Toronto and fellowship training in pediatric orthopaedic surgery at the University of Southern California Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. After completing the Public Executive Program offered by the School of Business at Queen’s University, she was selected as an American Orthopaedics Association/Japanese Orthopaedics Association traveling fellow in orthopaedics and completed a pediatric orthopaedic surgery/limb deformity reconstruction fellowship at the Paley Institute.

An associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto since 2009, Dr. Leitch was a member of the Parliament of Canada from 2011-19 and served in various roles in the Canadian government, including as Minister of Labour and Minister of the status of women. A pediatric orthopaedic consultant for the Canadian Centre of Orthopaedics, she joined the UMMC faculty in 2019 as an associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation surgery. She also serves as an associate professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine.     

Recipient of the 2020 Ronald J. Kendig Professor of the Year Award from the UMMC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, Dr. Leitch is an active member of several professional organizations, including the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She has served on numerous institutional committees and has volunteered on several overseas health missions. The  author or coauthor of 30 articles in peer-reviewed professional publications, seven books and five book chapters, she has given more than 50 invited presentations at scientific meeting regionally, nationally and internationally.  

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Russell and Dr. Leitch on their appointments and supporting them in their new roles.