The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
November 14, 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.

By now I am sure you have heard of the news announced by the UT System Board of Regents Nov. 12 concerning the future of our friends at UTMB Galveston. The UT Health Science Center and Medical School leadership has met with UTMB officials and faculty, and we plan to stretch out our arms to assist them in pursuing their missions of education and research. We will discuss further with President Larry Kaiser how we can accept and integrate UTMB into our clinical programs. I ask you to please help and welcome our UTMB brethren as they continue to face tough challenges.

We have received word from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) that the Medical School has received a three-year accreditation. One of the issues we have been discussing at our regular meetings on the educational program is the resident duty-hour mandates. Several medical schools around the country are having trouble adhering to these. But, that is no excuse. I encourage our faculty and residents to help in these situations – ask for help and make your superiors aware before duty hours are exceeded. We have asked the residency program directors to provide a detailed analysis on any violations, and hours will be monitored by the program directors and the faculty. It boils down to communication, structure, and accountability. This is an issue, among others, we will be addressing at our Dec. 2 curriculum retreat for our educational program.

It was standing room only at the Ernst Knobil lecture Wednesday, which was given by Nobel laureate Dr. Phillip Sharp, of MIT. It was an exceptional scholarly event that brought the Texas Medical Center together, with many attendees from Baylor and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. This lecture series is a great opportunity for our researchers, faculty, and students to be exposed to renowned investigators.

We said farewell this week to Dr. Keith Hoots, professor of pediatrics and division director of pediatric hematology. After 29 years with The University of Texas Health Science Center and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Hoots is joining the National Institutes of Health as the director of the Division of Blood Diseases and Resources National Heart Blood Lung Institute. He has a love for hematology, and it is a great honor for our school that he will be a leader at the National Institutes of Health, where I am certain he will make positive changes for the profession.

We always talk about the surgeons, the researchers, but often there is one group left out – the anesthesiologists. They are steady in the background and always there for us – the physicians, the residents, the hospital and the patients.  Anyone who has had surgery owes much to their anesthesiologist! Our Department of Anesthesiology is growing in many ways with the leadership of Dr. Carin Hagberg, and I am enthusiastic about this group’s future. We are grateful for all of the programs they help support, their commitment to our educational programs, and their incredible work ethic without the option to anonymously file duty-hour violations.

Richard St. Onge, associate vice chairman for health affairs at the UT System, brought the new UT System compliance officer Larry Plutko for a visit this week to discuss the issue of compliance. This meeting was preceded by one with Kevin Dillon, Brent King, and Lois Pierson, assistant vice president of internal audit. Although compliance may seem time consuming and somewhat “complicated," it is a requirement, and we need faculty and staff to help our school develop a model for other schools.

At a planning session organized by President Larry Kaiser and Kevin Dillon this week, we discussed our financial state and strategies to reduce expenses. We have a large group practice, so we have some flexibility – with your hard work and productivity, we will be in good shape to face this new economic environment. I encourage each of you to be efficient with expenses and share equipment – if we all do this, our school will continue to do very well. I will have discussions with Andrew Casas, chief operating officer of UT Physicians, and Kevin Dillon to make positive changes in order to better integrate UT Physicians and the Medical School, which will help our bottom line.

Space, recruitment, and plans for growth were the topics of the basic science chairs’ meeting yesterday. Our chairs want information on how to grow their programs, which will be done strategically. I expect the Medical School Expansion to be full of funded investigators by the end of the fiscal year.

Another attendance record was set this week in MSB 3.001 for the Internal Medicine town hall meeting yesterday. This speaks to the interest and support of Dr. David McPherson’s leadership. Faculty and staff filled the room, and Kevin Dillon, Andrew Casas, and Juanita Romans, chief operating officer of Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, also attended. Dr. Philip Orlander, who had served as interim chair of the department, received a standing ovation for his good work. Incoming chair Dr. McPherson shared a new structure of the department, with Dr. Carmel Dyer as the vice chair and five associate chairs: Dr. Bela Patel for LBJ, Dr. John Reveille for research, Dr. Philip Orlander for education, and Drs. Kevin Finkel and Philip Johnson for clinical programs. There are 500 employees in this department, and their clinical charges have grown by 20 percent since last fiscal year. The faculty are engaged and focused on productivity, and we expect growth to continue. I look forward to seeing this department strengthen under this new structure.

Our own Dr. Pedro Ruiz, professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has been elected the next president of the World Psychiatric Association. This is the premiere international association for psychiatrists, with more than 140,000 members. His goals for his presidency include elevating the ethical standards of the practice, improving access to mental health care, encouraging parity of care, and maximizing collaborative research efforts. We wish him the best in this amazing leadership position.

We have another new leader in our midst -- Juanita Romans recently was named to a three-year term on the Texas Hospital Association (THA) board of trustees. In this position, she will work to pursue THA goals, including reducing the number of uninsured, improving state funding of Medicaid and CHIP, and pursuing quality and patient safety data collection. She will provide tremendous leadership and vision addressing these highly relevant issues, and we look forward to working with her to lead changes in our health care environment. This is a very well deserved recognition considering where she has taken the Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center in the last seven years.

Have a great weekend,


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