August 10, 2017
Our medical students are back on campus and starting the fall semester. I had the honor of welcoming our new students at orientation in late July and have been saying farewell to a number of residents and fellows who’ve stopped by my office, sharing appreciation for wonderful training experiences.
In addition to meeting our new students, I’ve had the chance to meet a number of new faces and longtime faculty members over the past few weeks. Dr. Steven Sherman is the senior vice president and chief academic officer ad interim at MD Anderson Cancer Center. I went to his office to say hello and was delighted to learn that we went to the same high school in NYC—small world. I look forward to continuing the strong relationship we have with MD Anderson. Dr. Tim Garson, director of the TMC Health Policy Institute, and I met to discuss a number of areas of shared interests including an exciting new seminar course on the components and controversies of health policy that will start in January and be open to the public. Drs. Myron Allukian and Susan Wootton are the medical school faculty leading our participation in the course. I also met with Dr. John Reveille, the George S. Bruce, Jr. Professor in Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Diseases and Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neuroimmunologic Disorders. I continue to be impressed by his dedication to patients, his love of discovery, and his loyalty to our medical school. Dr. John Harvin, assistant professor of surgery, and I discussed his innovative research, which involves emergency abdominal laparotomy as well as better understanding of exception from informed consent in emergency settings (EFIC). I also met with our first department vice chair for diversity, Dr. Omonele Nwokolo, assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology. Dr. Holger Eltzschig told us about a similar program at the University of Colorado and volunteered to have the Department of Anesthesiology initiate a pilot program at UT. Dr. Nwokolo and I started what I hope will be an ongoing conversation about how departments are addressing issues of diversity and inclusion.
Many of you know Lynn Cutrer. She joined the medical school in 2001 as manager of patient and community relations to provide individualized support to patients and their families. Over these 16 years she has helped guide hundreds of patients through our complex medical system. Lynn is a wonderful bridge to our patients and ambassador for the medical school. Please join me in thanking her for all she does.
We’ve welcomed Devan Santora back to our office. We are delighted to have Devan back at work after the birth of her daughter, Adeline, on June 9.
Hard to believe we are already starting to think about annual reviews for faculty. I had my first meeting of the new academic year with Karen Spillar, associate vice president of planning, and Devan Santora, to plan this year’s department chair reviews. I must admit it seems like we just completed these. Dr. Kevin Morano’s office oversees the annual faculty review process—very important for faculty and program development.
I’ve been spending my recent weekends doing homework, preparing for a meeting I attended last week at the Gates Foundation in Seattle. The foundation is reviewing its portfolio in maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) and asked me to join a conversation on the future direction for innovation/new tools and health system strengthening. The meeting was an exciting two days—with many of my old friends from the global MNCH community. I was honored to be a part of this distinguished group.
Congratulations to UT Physicians Bayshore Family Practice Center on being our first primary care family medicine clinic to earn NCQA level III Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) status. In this nationally recognized model, each patient’s care is overseen by a clinician-led team that coordinates treatment across the healthcare system, optimizing care for the unique needs of the patient. Our other UT Physicians primary care clinics also will submit for NCQA recognition in the coming years. Thanks to Dr. Tom Murphy, assistant dean for community affairs and health policy, for spearheading this effort, and to all of the clinicians, front-line caregivers, and those working behind the scenes who provide the very best care to our patients.
I know many of you have watched the white coat video. Dr. Michelle Barratt gave a beautiful speech at our ceremony that she graciously agreed to share.
Finally, we bid farewell to Craig Cordola, senior vice president and president of the west region for Memorial Hermann Health System, who is leaving Houston to become senior vice president, Ascension Healthcare, and ministry market executive, Ascension Texas. He sent a lovely letter to his UT friends and colleagues that I’ve attached. We wish him well as he moves to Austin for a new career adventure.