Dr. Marylee Kott, president of the Alumni Association, presents the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Arlo Weltge, '78.
Dr. Marylee Kott, president of the Alumni Association, presents the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Arlo Weltge, ’78.

Dr. Arlo Weltge,’78, is the 2013 winner of the Distinguished Alumnus Award of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Weltge is a clinical professor of emergency medicine at the Medical School.

Established in 1987, the purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding contributions of alumni in the areas of medical science and education, or the prevention and treatment of diseases, as well as continued interests in the Medical School and its students.

“Dr. Weltge epitomizes service to the state through delivery of health service and community relationships,” wrote his nominator. “He is always down to earth, friendly, approachable, and supportive.”

Weltge completed his residency at Baylor College of Medicine and an emergency medicine faculty teaching fellowship with the Emergency Medicine Foundation, American College of Emergency Physicians. He received a master’s of Public Health degree from the UT School of Public Health.

He joined the medical school faculty in 1989 as the first emergency medicine boarded physician hired at the Medical School as the school began developing an Emergency Medicine residency program.

“I started my clinical practice three months before emergency medicine was recognized as a clinical specialty in September of 1979. Ten years later, Aug. 1, 1989, was to be my first day at the Medical School, but my boss Jim Heffner called me to say , ‘Don’t come in, a hurricane is supposed to hit,’” he recalled.

Weltge also serves as medical director of both the Houston Community College System Program in EMS and the American Medical Response Ambulance Service. He is the founder and served as director of Southeast Texas Emergency Physicians.

Weltge plays a major role in organized medicine in the county, state, and national levels, culminating in serving as speaker of the House of Delegates for the national American College of Emergency Physicians.  He is an active member of the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, TEXPAC, Harris County Medical Society, and the American Heart Association.

“I was attracted to the Medical School when I first interviewed,” Weltge recalled. “They had just had a big flood, and they were having the first of three major medical malpractice crises in the state. But our class was the first to take classes in the new Medical School Building, and there was wonderful opportunity that existed not only in the school but throughout the Texas Medical Center. That was true 35 years ago and today.”

The changes in medicine over that time period, he said, have been “miraculous.”

“My colleagues from the class of 1978 are doing incredible work that has changed dramatically over the past 35 years. Paula Plummer practices family practice medicine in the community as part of the primary care system, which was once a mainstay and is now probably the biggest visible gap in health care today. When George Richardson was learning surgery, reimplantations of extremities were just taking hold – now they are routine; Jonas Garcia now does invasive cardiology through needle insertion in the groin, which for a long time required surgery to open the chest. And the cancer treatments that my wife Janet and I learned – high doses of toxic chemicals – have now moved to designer molecules to interrupt specific pathways and antibody treatments.”

Weltge received the honor during an Alumni Dinner held June 22 at Trevisio’s.

“I had been a life member of the Alumni Association since graduation, but it wasn’t until I heard Alumni Board President Dr. Marylee Kott talking about the incredible things that the association does to support the school and students, that I fully appreciated its contributions,” he added.

-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School