The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
August 8, 2008 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed on Fridays via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's weekly update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

I am pleased to officially welcome Dr. Larry Kaiser as the new president of our UT Health Science Center, as he has completed his first week in his new position. He is a very energetic leader and is charged with a tremendous job. He says he wants a strategic agenda from us – not strategic goals. We have been providing very clear summaries of where we as the Medical School are and will be discussing our top priorities for the future. We will have to put initiatives into place over the next few years and ensure they are strategically linked to our budget. Dr. Kaiser brings his great expertise and a surgical approach to his job – he wants to get things done right and fast.

Tuesday’s Tropical Storm Edouard gave us the opportunity to have some in-depth meetings with Dr. Kaiser and the leadership of the UT Health Science Center. Our school was effectively closed in the best interest of our patients, faculty, staff, and students. We tried to be conservative with the closure and to avoid patients coming to clinic in unknown conditions. Half of our patients called to reschedule their appointment that day – which shows the great improvement in two-way communication with our UT Physician clinics. I was quite impressed with the measures Andrew Casas, vice president and chief operating officer of UT Physicians, has in place. With our flood doors and gates and the near completion of the work in Webber Plaza, as well as precautionary measures such as these, our Medical School and UT Physician clinics are very well prepared for storms.

On the topic of our UT Physician clinics, we have received more e-mails, phone calls, and letters than ever from our patients and their loved ones expressing gratitude for our high standards of care. I am proud of our people, who are providing the best care and the best experience for our patients. UT Care – this is how our community will come to know us.

I have spent much time this week meeting with chairs and being involved in faculty recruitment. Dr. Kaiser attended his first chairs meeting with us this week and heard the description of department budgets in the context of our new AMS and AOA agreements. I am very pleased with how FY09 will look with the growth and stability of our departments. It is important for each department to grow, which is dependent upon the strength of our group practice.

Dr. Kaiser also joined us for a meeting about the “structure” of our operating rooms, which have been very challenged due to the high case volume and shortage of physician and nursing staff. In partnership with Juanita Romans, chief executive officer of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, we are making resources available to our operating rooms. We also have given the authority to Dr. Carin Hagberg, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, and Dr. Dong Kim, the new chair of the Memorial Hermann Operating Committee, to create a more efficient operating room. Dr. Kaiser shared with us his experiences of the operating rooms at Pennsylvania – they never cancel a case. We expect improvements and do not want average outcomes. This is our opportunity to become a model for the Texas Medical Center.

We had our third meeting this week with Memorial Hermann leadership to explore our “new partnership.” We are encouraged to have these discussions so early in the academic year and are looking at the practices of other academic health centers, specifically the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University. It is important for us to review our partnership as we move forward to bundled billing, which is on the horizon in the next few years. I want to thank Dr. Osama Mikhail, senior vice president for strategic planning, for his leadership in many of our strategic initiatives.

I met with the Health Science Center deans this week to discuss opportunities for renewed collaborations and integration. Each school discussed its growth plan in the context of the Health Science Center and plans to use available space efficiently. Dr. Peter Davies, executive vice president for research, is helping us to make accessibility to research and technology a reality.

Collaboration is key for an executive health plan program that we are working on in partnership with Dr. Thomas Caskey, director and chief executive officer of the Institute for Molecular Medicine, UT Physicians, and Memorial Hermann. Our goal is to build something truly unique, targeting early diagnosis and therapeutics in concert with the latest in genomics. I’ll keep you posted.

Philanthropy is another topic that involves a united front – carefully linking the image of UT Physicians, the Health Science Center, and connecting our development board members with the advisory council of all of the schools. Fund raising is vital for our five-year plan, and a very ambitious, official request for a half a billion-dollar campaign will be discussed in the near future.

I met this week with the leadership of Admissions and Student Affairs to discuss the addition of a board-review course into the curriculum. This is a course the students have asked for so that they can be better prepared. We also are looking at expanding our preceptorship between the first and second years of the curriculum, which will be linked to our scholarly concentrations. I am cautiously optimistic that we will expand the preceptorship programs and develop the concentrations next year. We will schedule meetings with students and our educational programs to get their input and make it happen.

We will have a half-day retreat with the basic science chairs Aug. 14. I am looking forward to hearing proposed five-year plans from each of our chairs and input from their faculty. We will be addressing issues of faculty morale and promotion and will encourage collaboration among our scientists. I would like our faculty to think of not being just beholden to a department but to think outside of the box – across several departments and in fact in our larger context of the Medical School, where big ideas can become reality. I encourage all of our chairs to think of their priorities and to develop realistic initiatives linked to budget – ambitious and high-risk projects will be carefully reviewed and strategically funded.

And on Aug. 18, Dr. Kaiser will spend the day at the Medical School, meeting with our chairs and other leaders. This will be a great opportunity for us to ask questions and share the good news of what is going on at our great school. Dr. Kaiser is planning to attend the town hall meeting that day at noon, and I encourage everyone to attend. I also want to remind our faculty and chairs to attend our quarterly MSRDP meetings.

We must facilitate and develop leadership at any level. Our goal is to always improve, to see what others do not, and to plan what others are not planning. And collaboration is the way to get things done.

Have a great weekend,


For archives of this newsletter, visit the Dean's Communications homepage.