The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
January 23, 2009 | 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.

This week has been a busy one working with our clinical partners.

Since our annual operating agreement last year, we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with Memorial Hermann. Over the past year we have seen new facilities blossom – from the Memorial Hermann Plaza, the Heart and Vascular Institute, the Mischer Neurosciences Institute, the new wing of the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, our UT Physician building at Bellaire to our Medical School Expansion for research. These new spaces help us to better align our vision for growth with that of Memorial Hermann –Texas Medical Center. We have done joint recruitments on the clinical side and expect to be able to further grow these areas of patient care together. Improving transparencies between the institutions and creating a strong alignment of our clinical services will allow us to pursue a new direction together.

Co-branding is another topic that we have been discussing. We are in the very early stages of creating one brand to promote to the community, and this is an area where we can show our combined strengths. It presents an opportunity for us to improve and really work together.  The continued success of our educational and research missions is critical for maintaining the status of preferred provider in the community. Our strengths are our people. The community and our patients benefit from our nationally known and respected physicians. Our researchers are the ones making breakthroughs every day – and it is our aim to take these breakthroughs to those who need them.

We have set out goals and strategies, and now the hard work begins – how do we actually get there. I will keep you posted.

I also attended a strategic meeting with President Larry Kaiser; David Lopez, president and CEO of the Harris County Hospital District; Beth Cloyd, executive vice president of clinical operations at HCHD; and Dr. Steve Brown, associate dean for Harris County programs. This administrative team has had tremendous success in the growth and direction of LBJ Hospital, which speaks to the commitment of community and quality. LBJ is experiencing significant growth with many clinical services and has posted great accomplishments on core measures. Our opportunities for this facility include improving access, expanding services and beds, and reviewing efficiencies as we look to protect the educational program in light of this growth spurt. LBJ is looking to be a full-service environment for care and is planning to grow various "super specialties." We look forward to continuing this important partnership for the Medical School and helping to serve the community through our support of LBJ and the HCHD.

The meeting we had with program directors on the topic of resident duty hours this week was well attended and productive. Organized by Dr. Patricia Butler, the group came to a consensus on the problem – we seem to lag behind new ACGME regulations and need a plan for action. We, and our clinical partners, must realize that residents cannot see all of our patients, especially as our clinical institutions are planning expansions. It is clear we need to increase communication, redefine the concept of service, and re-establish the relationship between program directors and residents. We need help from the hospitals and administration to support new rules related to residency education. The advancement of our residency programs goes way beyond round and writing notes. It will not be easy during this new economic area to protect residents as we will need to have more resources for extenders. I don’t believe having a swipe system (or time-clock system) will resolve this issue. We must have accurate data, prioritize, and establish changes. I thank the residents and program directors for their attendance and input. I know that with their help, real changes will occur.

Working with Juanita Romans, Dr. Jeffrey Katz, and Dr. Brent King, we are in the final stage of developing a nonteaching hospitalist program at Memorial Hermann to improve the flow of patients, assist with duty hours, and to improve quality. We are proposing that this be a UT-driven program where Memorial Hermann will need to trust the quality and drive of our physicians, and we will need to deliver a high level of care and be open to change. This is our opportunity to do it better this time, and we are committed to the success of this program.

With our nationally known programs, coupled with new facilities and partnerships, we continue to attract a very large number of faculty applications from around the country. We have recruited only two faculty members from UTMB – one in basic sciences and one in clinical. As a sister institution, it is important that we share these types of discussions and negotiations with UTMB. Let us know if you are approached by UTMB faculty so that we can ensure the proper parties are notified.

Speaking of faculty, we have been looking into the issue of improving the credentialing process for new faculty. We cannot afford to have faculty on the payroll who are not credentialed and therefore cannot see patients.

I had the opportunity to address the West University Rotary Club International for a breakfast meeting this week. I was surprised at how many of these successful business people know about our school and have had a great experience with us. I was very pleased to hear about their physician encounters and how they love our doctors.

There also was great attendance and discussion at the student forum. I thank the students for organizing this dialogue and for their participation. They brought up such topics as communication, video streaming, third-year electives, the student health clinic, and parking. We need to listen to these quality students, and I expect these talks to lead to improvements.

It takes all of us, students, staff, faculty, clinical partners, working  together to make improvements to the Medical School. This reminds me of the next book on my list to read, “Polio An American Story” by David Oshinsky. It tells of the history, the collaboration, and the drama that ended a national nightmare by eradicating a dreaded disease. 

In the book, Dr. Hilary Koprowski , creator of the first polio vaccine, is quoted, “Protection of man against disease is obtained at a price. Nothing in nature is given free, and all efforts should be made to reduce the cost of this payment.”

This sentiment is the foundation of our research and translation of those new discoveries to our patients. I am so proud of this Medical School, which does so much to help and protect others.

Have a great weekend,


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