The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
September 27, 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.

We are all trying to move forward after Hurricane Ike – whose presence is still making itself known in our daily activities. I know many of you are still without power, we all are fighting the traffic nightmares, and some of you have suffered great devastation to your homes and property.

It hasn’t been easy, but our Medical School family has been resilient and generous. I have witnessed an outpouring of help to one of our employees, who suffered tremendous damage to her apartment. And, it has been difficult for our students, who have experienced an interruption in their education. I am sorry if we have not made everyone happy with the new test schedule, but we tried our best and must be in compliance with our curriculum.

As a medical school, we are reaching out to our friends at UTMB, who are going through a terrible ordeal. I feel strongly that they will rebuild and survive these dark times, and we are happy to help. I met with a delegation from UTMB, including Dean Garland Anderson, Wednesday. We have offered to help place their students and residents into our programs – and have accepted 94 residents and 30 students. I encourage everyone to make these students feel at home and welcomed into our special UT environment. Thank you to those who have reached out with housing offers for these students. We also are offering clinical space for UTMB faculty, as well as research space so that their lab work may continue. Our partners from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center also have been very responsive to UTMB’s needs, and I thank them for that. We will do all that we can to ensure the clinical, educational, and research missions of UTMB continue seamlessly.

During these past few weeks we have experienced a significant interruption at our UT Physician clinics. Kevin Dillon, executive vice president, chief operating and financial officer, and his staff are analyzing the financial impact of this, and we are carefully monitoring our clinical operations.

I applaud our new residents and fellows who are adjusting to our environment in the midst of their first hurricane.  I have to tell you about one new critical care fellow on whom I called the evening of Sept. 12 for coverage at TIRR. He accepted the challenge, taking his wife and young infant with him to TIRR to help critically ill patients during the storm, staying there for three nights. These are the types of dedicated people in our midst, and we are most grateful for them.

Even though the storm is over, I still have a vivid picture in mind: Our UT faculty sitting on the tiered steps of the Memorial Hermann basement during our daily meetings with Memorial Hermann-TMC leadership. We are so proud of them, and we have shown how our partnership with Memorial Hermann should work. There is something new about this relationship between these institutions, and we are grateful to have the partnership of Juanita Romans, CEO of Memorial Hermann – TMC.

Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean for Harris County Programs, reminds us that 68 faculty and residents stayed at LBJ General Hospital during the ride out and recovery phases of the storm. He writes:

“I am grateful to the service chiefs for their excellent organization and planning that allowed smooth operation of virtually all clinical services at LBJ General Hospital during the crisis. Monday after the storm, the LBJGH ORs were completely open and staffed and the elective schedule was completed without difficulty, despite limitations in water supply, electrical capacity, and air conditioning. Similarly, all outpatient clinics were open and some primary care clinics agreed to see some of the increased volume of patients entering our system from the emergency center. Also, I commend the physicians and staff of the Community Health Programs for rapidly creating an urgent care center at LBJGH to see the increased number of emergency patients between 5 and 11:30 p.m. this week. Finally, I am grateful for the Harris County Hospital District for providing gasoline free of charge onsite to UT-H staff during this week to ensure that our medical staff were able to reliably come to LBJGH and provide care without spending hours in line at one of the few functioning gas pumps.  In summary, a terrific team effort between UT-H and the HCHD kept the hospital open, functioning, and allowed immediate recovery after the winds passed.”

I am proud of everyone’s hard work and efforts during the storm and recovery phases – indeed, we do have a terrific team.

Looking ahead, we are planning a retreat for our educational programs. Faculty, course directors, and curriculum committee members will be encouraged to attend to review our educational program and make recommendations to make our educational program very competitive, including adding technology and resources. We will be looking at creating an educational environment that is attractive to students, residents, and junior faculty. We will be reviewing residency rules, especially regarding duty hours, which is a rule we must respect. Another topic we will address is screening our students for their test readiness. Our intention is for all of our students to do well and succeed – we are fully committed to this. New plans already are in the works to strengthen our educational offerings, including granting student access to a practice test question bank for the USMLE and providing First Aid study guides for all students.

We will begin meeting with the department chairs and their DMOs next week as we carefully monitor departmental performance each month. The leaders of our departments have responsible budgets, and they have spent a lot of time on them. We are here to help and will work quickly to identify issues and implement changes when needed. I expect our chairs to be proactive in the management of their department – not just reporting numbers, but accounting for any sway in either direction. We will analyze, plan, and act.

We have been working closely with Memorial Hermann – TMC on clinical services, specifically critical care and the hospitalist program. We will be meeting soon with Dr. Brent King and Dr. Jeffrey Katz on these topics as we look to develop new patient flows in these areas and prioritize our quality of care, length of stay, patient satisfaction, and communication among all providers and with the patients and families. I am pleased with the progress we have made on this front, especially with the support of Juanita Romans.

I am back today from a two-day visit in Dallas, traveling with members of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. This was our first attempt taking our Medical School’s message “out on the road” to our alumni, and I think it was a success. I met with many alumni and parents, including Ken and Carolyn Raney, whose son, Ken, is a 2008 graduate of our school and is in residency at UT Southwestern. In addition, I met with Dr. Karen Meador, one of our graduates, and graduate Dr. John McDonald and his wife, Dr. Joan Bergstrom, hosted an alumni association board dinner for us Thursday night. I cannot thank our Dallas host committee enough for helping make this such a special event. I also want to thank former Dean John Ribble, students Allison DeGreeff and Camden Tissue, as well as Dr. Judianne Kellaway and Dr. Margaret McNeese for coming out and bringing their unique perspectives to our alumni. I was pleased to meet Dr. Hisashi Nikaidoh, the father of Dr. Toshi Nikaidoh, who traveled all of the way from Oklahoma. You might remember Toshi, the 2004 winner of the Medical School Gold Cane Award for his humility, humanity, and fidelity. Soon after graduation, he was tragically killed in an accident at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was a resident. Toshi embodies the best qualities of our Medical School family – qualities that I have seen shining in everyone during these difficult times.

As we delve into this new school and fiscal year, let’s ask ourselves: What are we going to do this year that we didn’t do last year? This is the time for us to make improvements and constantly strive to get better.

Have a great weekend,


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