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
Dec. 4, 2009 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed every other Friday via e-mail to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's regular update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback through this two-way communication.

These are busy times as we continue to support the bold growth of our Medical School, and I am thankful for the support and participation of our chairs, leaders, and clinical partners.

The Administrative Council meeting this week provided an update on many Medical School initiatives, including Dr. Patricia Butler revealing the outcome of recent residency program site visits – pediatric neurology and dermatology both received full-five year accreditation; Dr. Jeffrey Katz giving an elegant presentation on Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center quality measures, noting the need for physician leadership; Dr. Steve Brown providing a comprehensive report on the growth of clinical services at LBJ General Hospital; and our tremendous strength in admissions, as detailed by Drs. Skip Gleason and Sheela Lahoti, who asked for help from faculty in staffing the last few interview days for student applicants.

I want to thank Dr. Walt Lowe, our new chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, for his outstanding, honest, and inspirational presentation of his department at this week’s chairs meeting.

We recently reviewed the report card for the Medical School with President Kaiser - it measures on areas of efficiency, growth, education, quality, research, and patient care. I am pleased to tell you that you got very good marks and are all doing a fantastic job. Our grades are determined by year-to-year results, and all of our numbers are going in the right direction.

At the Executive Council Meeting, our President also revealed the top priorities of the UT System. These strategic goals include:

  • Pursue opportunities to recruit and retain researchers, educators, and clinicians
  • Strengthen strategic relationships with hospitals and clinical partners
  • Strengthen new clinical and research funding opportunities
  • Continue to expand access to comprehensive financial resources

We are heavily dependent on chairs to review areas and provide support for these types of initiatives while at the same time reducing expenses so that we remain strong and stable in this precarious environment.

Congratulations to Dr. Bela Patel, who was named Physician of the Year for Memorial Hermann- TMC and to Dr. Galit Holzmann-Pazgal, who was selected Physician of the Year of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. What shining stars.

Dr. Patel and others were among the 2009 graduates of the Physician Quality and Safety Academy, who presented their outstanding work at a symposium before Dr. Shine and other leaders. I was very proud to be there with President Larry Kaiser to showcase our faculty and quality initiatives.

Through her project, Dr. Patel showed it was possible to have zero ventilator-associated pneumonia cases in the Medical Intensive Care Unit for 26 months. Such quality initiatives will be the single most important way to decrease costs in this challenging health care environment, and they must be data-driven. The great part about this joint MH-Medical School academy is that the information is shared with not only our patients but used in our primary mission, teaching the next generation of physicians. 

As Dr. Shine said, health care is a team sport. “Let’s aim for perfection and get our team together, or else, we’ll be in trouble.”

MSIT Holiday

I had an enjoyable lunch meeting with our Medical School Information Technology team yesterday. What a very large and diverse group of talented individuals we have that install, run, protect, maintain, and advance these very important "machines." These people have from all over the world – Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Mexico – but now they are all Texans and play a very important role in our technologically dependent environment. I applaud their great leadership: Bassel Choucair, Dr. Bill Weems, Rick Miller, and thank all of them for playing such an important part in the life of our Medical School community.

While I can assure you I make the best pasta in Houston (I have the data to prove this), I have no idea how to bake cookies. Nevertheless, I invite you all to attend the Dean’s Cookie reception at 11:30 a.m.,  Friday, Dec. 18 in the Leather Lounge so that I may wish you all happy holidays. You also will have a treat of seeing the new portraits of our department chairs unveiled at that time. I hope you will join me. After the pin handed out to the chairs earlier in the year, this will count as their second incentive.

I want to say a heartfelt thank you and farewell to Diana Browning, who as vice president for clinical operations for UT Physicians for the last 10 years implemented policy, procedure, vision, and leadership. I am pleased she will share her expertise with our sister institution, UTMB, and I am sure she will enrich their operation. Andrew Casas, COO of UT Physicians, said, “Diana created a infrastructure that has brought UT Physicians where we are today, and for that we are grateful.”

I had a great meeting with Dr. Charles Van Buren, director of the Division of Immunology and Organ Transplantation. I am appreciative of his leadership and his dedication to mentoring faculty.

Charlie Figari, vice president and chief auxiliary enterprise officer, is someone else whose leadership I applaud. He is always helpful, positive, and creative - just a phenomenal individual that the Health Science Center is fortunate to have. You can read more about this remarkable man in Kevin Dillon's latest issue of UT Matters.

Dallas was the latest stop of my outreach visits to meet with alumni and parents of students. We had a good turnout the week before Thanksgiving, and everyone enjoyed seeing Dr. Henry Strobel at the dinner.  It was the first such event for our new director of alumni relations, Danny Kahalley, and I want to also thank student Zane Martindale and Dr. Lowell Ku, an alumnus who emceed the evening and did an outstanding job. I look forward to more such visits to take our message on the road.

UT Talks

UT Talks was a wonderful event this week to announce a new center, the Frank C. Arnett, M.D. Center for Immunobiology and Autoimmunity and the Linda K. Finger Lupus Clinic, which will be a component of that center. I was honored to sit next to our First Lady, Lindy Snider, who we hope felt at home in Houston. Linda Finger met Dr. Arnett when he was a young faculty member, and his drive to seek a cure and his dedication to research caught her attention. She searched the world for the best treatment for her autoimmune disease, and chose Dr. Arnett. His persistence, despite limited resources and initial challenges, has made him the world authority that he is and the idol of many patients. He has been able to change the history of disease and the lives of his patients.

It is so important to have patients and friends like Linda Finger who share their stories, thereby helping physicians and other patients. Linda has shown that health care is a team sport – and the patient is the most important member of the team.

Have a great weekend,


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