June 04, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I first joined UTHealth back in 1987, through the referral of a friend, Dolores (Deedee) Chamberlain, wife of Jim Chamberlain who was the VP for the Medical Practice Plan at the time. Deedee and I worked together for a pedodontist in Webster, Texas.
Tell me about your work history here.
I came to UTHealth in a position as accountant, in the Payroll Department, in 1987. I worked there for about 3 years and had to leave to get married and relocate to California. After living in California for 3 years, I missed Houston so much, particularly UT Houston, I convinced my husband to leave the sunshine state for a hot and humid city of Houston. As soon as my husband agreed, I immediately applied to UT Houston for a position as an accountant II in Financial Operations, headed by David Richards, who was the director of Finance at the time. After a 1.5 hour telephone call with David and a trip back to Houston for an in-person interview, I got the job and quickly uprooted my family from California and headed home — that was in 1993. After working in Financial Operations for 4 years, in 1997, I was offered an opportunity in UTMB as financial manager. When I came to this new position at UTMB, all the financial reporting was done manually, which took weeks to complete. I quickly developed an automated system, which reduced the time to 2 days to complete. Six months into this new position at UTMB (1998), I was recruited back to UTHealth for a position as administrative service officer, by Sylvia Cantu, who was the director of management operations for Department of Anesthesiology at the time. In 2002, the Medical School went through management consolidation, which resulted in the cutting of several DMO positions. Each of the remaining DMOs was in charge of multiple departments. Anesthesiology and Surgery were under one DMO, Jeff Reinhart, and I continued my role as the administrative services officer supporting Anesthesiology. As both departments grew, the need for the two departments to have their own DMO became necessary. In 2004, I was promoted to the DMO for Anesthesiology and have been in this role since. In 2012, I was given an awesome opportunity to take on another responsibility, to assist with onboarding the Advanced Heart Failure team (ACTAT), co-chaired by Drs. Igor Gregoric, Biswajit Kar, and Pranav Loyalka. Initially, it was supposed to be for 6 months, but the service was growing fast and furious and the challenges became exciting, so I ended up continuing to support this team for another 2.5 years as their interim DMO.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
To be able to face any challenges that come to me with a positive attitude and be confident that the result will be great. Contributing to the Department’s growth has been one that I’m most proud of. The Department of Anesthesiology has grown from 40+ (MD and PhD) faculty to now almost 120. Our residency/fellowship programs have increased from 62 residents and 6 fellows to now 127 residents and 14 fellows. Our advanced care providers have grown from less than 30 to now about 80. Also, assisting with bringing on the Advance Heart Failure team is my other pride and joy as that was the very first time I learned to start a department from the very beginning.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
Besides the change in footprints and landscapes around the medical center, the number of departments have multiplied, clinical services and research activities have expanded throughout McGovern Medical School, and the number of providers has increased — not just faculty but advanced care providers as well. Most of my colleagues of 30+ years have retired! Most have changed, except the spirit of cohesiveness among the people within our institution, which is the reason why I was determined to come back from California and to remain here until, hopefully, retirement.
Why have you stayed?
I feel very blessed to be surrounded by the best of the best! The best bosses who are the rocks that I can lean on always; the best faculty who are kind and supportive; the best colleagues who are always flexible and helpful to our needs; and the best staff who work tirelessly in such harmonized team spirit. We spend so much of our day at work, so it is very important that we feel good about our workplace, and this place has always motivated me to bounce up from my bed every morning happily and ready to face any challenges.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
I’m a workaholic. If no one reminds me to get off of my PC, I could probably sit there for 12 hours, 7 days per week! LOL. Outside of work, I love to spend time with my husband doing yardwork, and cooking/baking is my stress reducer.