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Communications from the Dean

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
October 28, 2011 | from the Office of Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo

Distributed via email to all Medical School employees, students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows, UT 2 Me is Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo's update of news and items of interest. He also welcomes feedback via email or comments.

With our fall semester well under way, education and innovation are in the spotlight across our campus. Last week we recognized the leaders of our educational programs with the induction of the second class of the Academy of Master Educators. Dr. John Ribble presented 50 years of medical education as the keynote speaker and implored the new Academy members to continue the hard work of integrating our rich history with new models of education and learning.

We also have an impressive team, led by Dr. Patricia Butler, preparing for the upcoming LCME visit. Our infrastructure is second to none, and our faculty is committed to modernizing our already competitive curriculum. Many thanks to the outstanding people supporting our educational programs—I am confident that the LCME visitors will be pleased with the standards of our programs.

I would like to take a moment to thank our faculty for their continued engagement in the planning and administration of the school. Last week’s Faculty Senate meeting was standing room only, leading to a productive discussion and exchange of ideas. I am tremendously grateful for this critical two-way communication and believe it is an essential element in the long-term success of this school.

I have had several important and informative meetings with our chairs and would like to share some of the news and developments from our departments. Dr. Theresa Koehler recently gave me an update of her first 60 days as leader of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. She is working diligently with all faculty on new programs, including the initiation of Friday Faculty Aims, a forum for faculty to review critiques and brainstorm new grant ideas. I also would like to recognize the leadership of Dr. Kevin Morano, who will continue to direct the very successful New Investigator Development Program.

I have been discussing short- and long-term plans with the Department of Pediatrics and its interim chair, Dr. Brent King, and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and its interim chair, Dr. Sean Blackwell. The recruitment of additional maternal fetal medicine specialists is building upon the existing strengths of the fetal center and several of our departments and increasing the national visibility of new services offered at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. The presence of our first-class genetic counseling program, led by Claire Singletary, Dr. Hope Northrup, Jennifer Hoskovec, and their outstanding faculty and staff, makes UT a truly unique environment for patients and students alike. The search for permanent leadership for these departments is under way, and I am certain that we will attract spectacular candidates for both positions.

Congratulations to Dr. Carin Hagberg and the Department of Anesthesiology, which had 23 abstracts accepted this year—the highest number in the last 20 years—to the Annual American Society of Anesthesiology Conference. They are doing an exceptional job in showcasing their innovative approaches to patient care and “medically challenging cases” on the national stage.

At the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center leadership meeting, Dr. Jair Soares and Lois Moore talked about their outstanding faculty recruitment to this department and the challenging search for a new model to address our community’s great need for mental health services.  This remarkable facility is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year thanks to quality initiatives, exceptional leadership, and a commitment to the community. HCPC was originally designed to care for 2,500 patients annually, but the needs of Harris County have far exceeded that estimate and this past year alone the facility has provided outstanding care for 7,600 patients. I know the entire community is grateful for the critical services provided at HCPC and will rally to preserve its vital mission. I am appreciative of the employees of HCPC, especially the 30 who have been there since the start – showing an incredible personal and professional dedication to helping those who would not have otherwise have had access to mental health care.

Dr. Carmel Dyer recently planned a meeting with the medical directors at LBJ General Hospital to prioritize efficiency, safety, and patient experience, and I am very pleased with the strong response from our faculty and the hospital’s administrative leadership.

The recent Serious Safety Event Summit held at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center revealed that we are making great progress in patient safety. Reviewing data from the past three years, we have experienced an improvement in our safety metrics and reductions in serious safety events, thanks in large part to a new team approach involving nurses, faculty, and housestaff. Recently we have implemented the Red Rules, which include specific steps of patient identification, time outs, and provider checks to achieve 100 percent compliance – I encourage all of our faculty, housestaff, and health care team members to strive for perfection.  I will be attending the upcoming national AAMC meeting with Craig Cordola to learn and implement the latest innovations so that we can keep our patient care second to none.  

Last week I attended the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System annual board meeting, where Dan Wolterman discussed the need for greater alignment between physicians and the hospital network. As health care shifts from volume to value, we must shift from fragmented practice models to integrated care. This can be done with the phenomenal expertise of our academic minds, creating solutions to address the new challenges of our health care environment.

The Medical School Advisory Council and UTHealth’s Development Board also both met last week, giving us the opportunity to interact with the volunteers and community leaders who work diligently on our behalf. We are fortunate to have such engaged, dynamic members on our Advisory Council and Development Board—they are our voices and supporters in the community, and I am enormously grateful to each of them for their time, energy, and service.

Earlier this month, the School of Public Health hosted the Fleming Center Panel on the topic of health care quality and costs. The discussion was informative and very relevant to the work being done by leaders within our school, such as our High Risk Comprehensive Children’s Clinic led by Drs. Ricardo Mosquera and Jon Tyson. We continue to be active in the development of new models of health care delivery and will soon open additional pilot clinics focusing on the aging population and patients with chronic disorders.

The Medical School community recently said goodbye to second-year student Natalie Kjar. Natalie was an outstanding student who dreamed of being a dermatologist. At her memorial service, with many Medical School students in attendance, her family shared that as a little girl Natalie was an avid planner and always strived to achieve her goals. We are fortunate to have known Natalie, even if it was just for a short time, and we will continue to be inspired by her determination, intellectual curiosity, and passion.

Have a great weekend,


For archives of this newsletter, visit the Dean's Communications homepage.