The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Sept. 19, 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 hope you and your family successfully weathered Hurricane Ike and are well on the path to recovery and normalcy. Hurricane Ike caused a great amount of devastation along the Texas coast, but I have been more amazed at the good that has resulted from this storm.

Countless members of the Medical School and UT Physicians families put in numerous hours during the last week – securing and cleaning up damage to the Medical School, caring for the ill and injured, keeping watch over our research animals, and ensuring our lifeline systems – technology, communications, electricity – continued unimpeded. We never lost power, and we never went on our emergency generators. I know we all thank these unsung heroes who kept our missions alive during these trying times. I applaud our faculty, fellows, and residents who stepped up to last-minute needs at our clinical venues all in the name of excellent patient care and teamwork. So many of our employees put their needs second as they came to the aid of our school and our patients.

The Medical School building did sustain minor water damage in some of its basement classrooms. Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center sustained significant damage to its Heart and Vascular Institute roof, which will have to be repaired. Some of the county community health clinics that we staff sustained water damage. Other than these setbacks, our institution was relatively unscathed by this storm – thanks to structures and plans put into place following Tropical Storm Allison. We can all take pride in how our school and its people have performed during this tragedy.

I want to give credit to Dan Wolterman, president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. His leadership during this crisis showed that patient care and the needs of this city come first. With 11 hospitals in the Houston area in the potential path of the hurricane, Dan evacuated Southeast Memorial Thursday and prioritized the other hospitals so that those most needed by patients had the power and resources to operate. When we saw our LifeFlight helicopters return on Sunday morning after being evacuated due to high winds, it was a good feeling that the good guys were back – ready to take care of our community. Dan’s commitment and leadership – evidenced by not sleeping for three days – reminded me of the sentiment: “You don’t need organizations; you need individuals and a few people/one person who steps up to say: let’s get it done!”

Another such leader is Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean for Harris County Programs. I have been in contact with him during this time, and I compliment him and his staff on their accomplishments during this storm. LBJ was on emergency power at one time for approximately 12 hours, and they still did an outstanding job, keeping patients first – despite the loss of their only functioning CT scanner. They also did a great job with the challenge of delivering 700 gram twins during the storm.

Our top priority continues to be patient care. Second, it is imperative that people take care of their families and homes. Once power resumes in the city, we will be able to discharge patients back into the community. We must be sensitive to the flow of patients into our community and be efficient in discharging patients so that we can ensure space and care for the sickest of our community. We have treated several severe cases of illnesses that are the result of our post-hurricane environment, such as carbon monoxide poison with hyperbaric therapy – the only facility in town to provide such care.

I encourage all of you to continue helping your neighbors and sharing your resources. Be on the lookout for announcements regarding an upcoming blood drive at the UT Physicians Building. We are extending our aid to our sister institution, UTMB, which suffered major damages from Ike. We will be adopting several of their students and residents for the next month or so as our friends get back on their feet. If you have a spare room in which to host one of these trainees, let me know.

These times of trouble prompt sharing and caring. I would like to share an excerpt of a poem by Edgar Guest sent to me by two of our Medical School students this week:

I'd rather see a sermon
than hear one any day.
I'd rather you walk with me
than merely show the way.

The eye's much better
and more willing than the ear,
As fine words are confusing,
but an example is always clear.

The best of all teachers
are the men who live their creeds.
For to see deeds in action
is what everyone needs.

I can learn how to do it
if you'll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action
and see legs that run.

The lectures you deliver
may be very wise and true,
But I'll get the lesson more
by seeing what you do.

The community, our students, and our patients will continue to rely upon us and see us in action as we deliver the care, research, and educational experience for which we are known.

Have a great weekend,


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