The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at HoustonThe University of Texas Medical School at Houston
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Oct. 3, 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 are all in the mood for some ice cream this afternoon served up by your chairs and deans. I have invited each department to host an ice cream social for their employees, and I am hosting one for the dean’s areas and students, as well as the Department of Pediatrics. I thank Dean Pat Starck, from the School of Nursing, for this great idea to help our Medical School family take a break and get back to normal following Hurricane Ike.

I was pleased to join the Office of Faculty Affairs yesterday during the new faculty orientation lunch. The event was very well attended, and I think we had more scientists than clinical faculty in the audience. Our new faculty are a young, energetic group who come to us from some of the best institutions in the country. Dr. Henry Strobel and Dr. Kate Loveland presented tips on mentoring and guidance for career development, and Dr. Jon Tyson showcased two testimonials from new faculty members participating in the Clinical Research Curriculum who also have been funded by the Center for Clinical and Translational Research with K12 grants. These faculty drive their future and careers, and they cannot fail here – there is too much support, too many mentors and experts. Dr. Strobel described our Medical School environment as “froggy” – that we jump on good ideas. He said it was up to our faculty to decide how high they can jump. I agree.

I left you last week with a question – what will you do this year that is different from last? Please feel free to send me your replies. I have received several responses this week. On the clinical side, I have heard that we want to be more dedicated to service and ensure our patients have a good experience.  One thing that I want us to focus on is the continuing improvement of our clinical billing system. Kevin Dillon, Andrew Casas, and Elisabeth Duhon will assemble a special team to meet weekly, focusing on billing operations and restructuring our navigation and flow of billing issues – also called revenue cycle. Our goal is to optimize the capture of our physicians’ charges and have a well integrated team (UT and McKesson) working on the only measurable – our gross collection rate.

Dr. Ken Shine, executive vice chancellor for health affairs and interim chancellor of the UT System, reported this week on the devastation of Galveston that he has seen firsthand. We continue to lend our hand to UTMB, and I want to thank Allison Ownby and David Kusnerik, in the Office of Educational Programs, for their outstanding work in placing our “adopted” students and residents in their new departments and home here.

I also want to point out the good work by our colleagues staffing the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center. They have come to the aid of those most in need during and following the hurricane by opening their doors to Mental Health, Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA) patients whose clinical facilities are not yet open. They also are housing some MHMRA eligibility workers, case managers, and others to ensure a continuity of care for patients.  This is a shining example of putting patients first.

You may have heard that Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center just was named the sixth top-performing academic hospital in the nation by the University Health System Consortium. The ranking is based on quality outcomes and patient safety – two areas that we have focused on prioritizing. I applaud our outstanding physicians for their invaluable contribution to this success. Patient satisfaction and clinical safety are more than opportunities for awards or accolades – they are a top priority for the Medical School. We must continue to work with Memorial Hermann to prioritize, invest in, and improve our already strong outcomes so that our patients may reap the rewards.

One easy way to promote patient safety is through hand washing. This simple act is important and can save our patients from infection and complications. Especially as influenza and RSV season approaches, I encourage everyone to help your patients and colleagues to stay healthy by washing your hands.

I received another nice kudo this week – this one about the UT Physicians Bellaire clinic. You may have seen, or visited, the building at the South 610 Loop and Bellaire. UT Physicians are available there in the specialties of primary care, bariatric surgery, and spine and general orthopaedic care. One patient contacted me and said she was so happy to visit her physician at this location, which is close to her house, is a great facility, and has free parking.  Call 1.888.488.3627 or see to make an appointment and for more information.

Our meeting of the Health Science Center deans this week marked the last such meeting for Dr. Guy Parcel. We will miss him, and we thank him for his work and promotion of collaboration with the Medical School. Unfortunately, he didn’t share any tips with us on how to retain a deanship for as long as he did. Following a sabbatical to Australia and Europe, Guy will take a faculty position at UT-Austin. With Guy’s departure, we welcome Dr. Roberta Ness as the new dean of the School of Public Health, and we anticipate she will continue the good, collaborative work that Guy began.

I continue to be involved with the student interview days. I enjoy presenting an overview of our school to these applicants, and I let them know we are a young, growing medical school ripe with opportunities. The applicants are thrilled to be here to see our facilities and meet the authors of the medical textbooks and journals. The success of the interview process is made possible by Dr. Judianne Kellaway and Dr. Margaret McNeese, in the offices of Admissions and Student Affairs. We welcome Dr. LaTanya Love, who also leads the student health clinic, to this group as special assistant to the dean for admissions and student affairs.

We had a very good visit and tour this week with Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis, who was very influential in securing tuition revenue bonds for our institution’s recovery from Tropical Storm Allison. He had the opportunity to see what those funds accomplished – our new facilities on the ground floor and new building. He also saw the everyday miracles that our faculty make happen at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center. I think he appreciated seeing firsthand the good that his support of stem cell research, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and psychiatric programs at UT HCPC has done. After all, the constituents he has been fighting for in the state Senate are our patients.

I met with Chris Schneller, president of the Student Senate, this week. He is interested in transforming the role of the Student Senate and wants to see the organization open to all students and embracing open communication. I have invited him to attend the next meeting of the Medical School Faculty Senate, so that he can see an open and engaged senate in action, and I plan to attend one of his upcoming meetings.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the State Employee Charitable Campaign kickoff in the Leather Lounge 2-4 p.m. Oct. 8. This campaign is a wonderful opportunity to show the community our UT spirit.

I hope you have the chance to enjoy some of this fantastic weather.

Have a great weekend,


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