The University of Texas Medical School at Houston The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
June 19, 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.

Imagine my surprise and pride when I saw one of our own physicians and his patient on the Today Show Wednesday morning. Dr. Richard Andrassy was featured for the amazing work he did on a very lucky young man who was punctured by a stick as the result of a motorbike crash. You’ve got to see it to believe it. This young man was so fortunate to be in the hands of one of our very skilled UT Physicians at the only pediatric Level 1 trauma center in the city – Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

We had two outstanding presentations at the clinical chairs meeting this week. Dr. Carin Hagberg, chair of anesthesiology, told us about the tremendous shift of her department, with several new faculty hired, including Dr. Krishna Boddu, who will be leading the pain management program. She also showed us compelling data regarding the competitiveness of the anesthesia residency program and the strong commitment to improve efficiency of the operating rooms, which is critical in light of the expansion of all of our surgical programs. Dr. Martin Citardi, chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, showed his sophistication in marketing, IT, and business development – as he has totally revived a department that nearly vanished a year ago. I appreciate that he spoke candidly about areas that need improvement, such as marketing, communications, and co-branding. I am grateful and proud of what these two chairs are doing to improve our culture and morale through their different leadership styles, which, above all, show dedication to our mission.

I appreciated attending the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences meeting Tuesday evening. Surrounded by good friends and partners, I felt comfortable at this very cordial meeting, where I answered questions about protected time for academic activities and the somewhat difficult financial situation of the department. The tough budget has to do with two contracts not providing the resources they need – we do not have any concerns related to faculty productivity and revenue cycle. I assured them that we will represent them well in our hospital negotiations so that hopefully we can rectify this situation. Protected time for academic pursuits is difficult for us all as our funding from the state has dwindled to now just 8 percent of this department’s budget. Nevertheless, the ob/gyn department enjoys a nationally known reputation and is a major contributor to the field. They are strong and dedicated physicians and educators, and we value what they do.

I have to share with you an example of professionalism and commitment. Despite four fractured ribs, we could not deter Dr. Kyle Dickson from performing three complex orthopaedic repairs this week. This speaks to the high level of care and dedication to patients, hospital, and our school. Thank you, Kyle.

Although I missed it, this week marked the official opening of the UT Physicians noninvasive cardiology clinic and lab at the Bellaire location. This is another example of a very successful initiative aimed at the community outside of the Texas Medical Center.

I spent time with President Larry Kaiser at the Memorial Hermann Board meeting Wednesday. This is always a very informative meeting, as the Memorial Hermann System looks ahead. Dan Wolterman gave an overview of the current health care environment and a detailed analysis of key challenges and risks we face by continuing to practice the way we do. He predicts we will move from a current philosophy of growing and growing to one that is characterized by operating more efficiently and protecting our “razor-thin” margins. It is great to hear that Memorial Hermann recognizes the tremendous value the TMC hospital brings to the whole system – not just the academic contributions but also the quality and financial accomplishments achieved under Juanita Roman’s leadership.

I attended the first Memorial Hermann Advisory Council meeting this week, which was led by Dan Wolterman. This is a strategic attempt to genuinely involve physicians in decision-making and strategic planning, which is important during this era of health reform. This is a unique opportunity for physicians and the Memorial Hermann system to come together as partners in aligning vision, which will positively impact the community.

Dr. Guy Clifton was in town Wednesday talking about models of care. He gave a very sophisticated overview on his recommendations for the future of health care reform. He says it will require a collaborative effort of physicians, hospitals, and payors committed to efficiency, improving quality, and lowering costs. Our Medical School should be one of the institutions to facilitate and lead such pilot programs to prepare academic medical centers for the new world of medicine. It is a challenging, complex, and interesting opportunity.
At the Medical School deans meeting this week, Faculty Affairs reported that morale is up and turnover is down. I thank the chairs, who are committed to stability and controlled growth, for this good news. Due to our increase in recruiting faculty, I ask for your patience in processing faculty appointments and requests to recruit. We are looking at adding resources to expedite this process. The Office of Admissions and Student Affairs is very excited about our competitive students, who will be joining us this fall. And, Dr. Gary Rosenfeld let us know a robust Summer Research Program is under way. Matching these young students with good mentors and allowing them to be engaged in scholarly activities is what makes this program so special.
Mentoring and growth is important not just for faculty and students, but for staff as well. We have so many dedicated staff who love this place and want to grow in their capabilities. I encourage our leaders to allow our staff to grow, advance, and reach. They are the backbone of this institution.

In our continuing efforts to value teaching, we are asking chairs to recommend the best teachers in their departments so that they may lead the clinical preceptorship program for second-year students. We want to renew the students’ interest in the lost art of physical examination. Our top faculty need to be involved in preceptorship – the students want this, their parents want this, I want this, and I am sure our president, Dr. Larry Kaiser, does as well. Please e-mail Dr. Patricia Butler your recommendations of top clinical faculty to participate in this very important course.

Thursday night, I had the opportunity to attend the pediatric residency graduation ceremony. I want to thank the chief residents and especially Dr. Sharon Crandell for dedicating 20 years of her career to the education of our residents here at UT. This is resident graduation season, and I know all of our graduates are prepared with the right values as they move forward in the profession. We all are very proud of them and as alumni, I know they will represent us well. 

This week we continued our space utilization discussion at the UT Professional Building. Again, it may not be popular to reallocate space, but our intention is good as we aim to redistribute resources carefully and efficiently to those who need it most. We do not want our departments to be landlords of underutilized space.

I want to tell you about a special visit from a patient of mine, who has made inspirational progress since I met her 13 years ago. At age 5, this young girl was the size of an 18-month-old baby. Now at age 18, she is healthy and doing great in her schoolwork and orchestra pursuits – this outcome would have not been possible without her wonderful parents. She reminds me of why I chose medicine and why we are passionate about teaching and guiding the next generation of physicians.

Have a great weekend,


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