Tomorrow is June 1, the first official day of hurricane season. That means my blood pressure will go up about 10 points and stay there through November. In our public affairs shop, we work with people across campus to try and ensure that we can still communicate with you, whether you are here on campus or scattered to the wind (poor choice of words, huh?). There are some interesting new things happening at UTMB this year. We’re reaching out to partners (some new, some old) across the state to piggyback on their systems and resources should our own go down. We’re embedding new technology into our plans, things like dedicated satellite phones for voice and data and a third-party-hosted institutional information blog. We’re working more closely than ever with state, county and city officials on a coordinated response. I think we’re as ready as we’ve ever been. Let’s hope it’s all for naught. Remember: the SOM’s Hurricane Laboratory Preparedness meeting is on Friday, June 9, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Clinical Sciences Auditorium, Room 362. The meeting targets the UTMB research community but there’s useful information for everyone. The presentations from the May 22 all-staff preparedness meeting are also now online. The scary one was the one done by the National Weather Service speaker. If you’re brave, take a look. I’m off to check on my supply of plywood and beanie weenies.
Archive for May, 2006
I had a Coke today. I normally don’t care much for carbonated soft drinks, but this can hit the spot. I know some people take their soft drinks seriously. A few years ago we changed vendors and Dr. Pepper disappeared (temporarily) from our campus soda machines; people were ready to go get their pitchforks and torches. I saw a doc use a very effective prop once, a plastic soda bottle empty except for sugar, an amount about equal to what the drink actually contained. It was a lot, certainly more than what I’d want myself or my kids to consume with any sort of frequency. Why bring it up? There’s a pilot project being kicked around to put some healthier choices in a few of the drink vending machines on campus, primarily those in areas where there are a lot of children. The idea is to offer more water and flavored waters, non-sugary juices and diet drinks. Given the national problem we’re facing with childhood obesity and all its health problems and complications, it would seem like a smart–if small–step. But I’d be interested in how people on campus feel about it. Let me know…
I hope you and yours had a safe and enjoyable holiday. (If you worked, I imagine it was busy, particularly in the ER and hospitals, given the big crowds and the rough surf.) But all good things–like this long weekend many of us enjoyed–come to and end. There’s a short but busy week ahead. Stay tuned…
Thursday evening we hosted the Galveston Town Meeting to talk about UTMB’s future plans and finances, and to engage members of the community in a dialogue about their experiences and perceptions. There were maybe 100 people in attendance, probably more than half were from UTMB. It was a good meeting, although if you’ve been tuned in to our campus Town Meetings and other Navigant-related communication, there really wasn’t anything new. Dr. Stobo spoke for about 20 minutes; he talked about the three-part mission of an academic health center, the importance of good people and our commitment to service excellence, our sources of revenue, a little about Navigant, a little about campus construction and the new facility at Victory Lakes. That was followed by about an hour of Q&A and discussion, with Drs. Sexton and Parisi participating frequently in the responses. There were questions about billing, about the pharmacy and the new federal drug program, about where we stand with telemedicine, about what happens to the uninsured as we try to change our “payer mix,” about fundraising as a source of revenue, about staffing and reorganization, about our move to electronic medical records, and a few others. It was a frank and open discussion; the time passed quickly. The next campus Town Meeting is set for June 29. It’ll be the one where we get a report on Navigant’s recommendations.
Some of you may be seeing something new in the masthead above; others not. With the help of my technical guru Matt Havard, we figured out how to substitute images and change the style sheets on the template for this blog. But there’s an issue with the cache (a feature that “stores” or remembers content to increase efficiency) that’s creating problems on some PCs, like mine at home. At home I still see the green grassy field with blue sky. Hopefully you’re seeing a photo of a fishing pier strecthing off toward a misty horizon; it’s a photo I took from my kayak this past winter with a cheap digital camera. The pier is behind Sea Isle, the west end subdivision where I live. I’ll try and post fresh images from time to time.
This is why “pep talk” is unofficial: officially, we would have never announced a lane closure on the causeway until it was cast in stone, for sure, cones on the highway and flagman waving you over. Things change and, they have. Originally, the southbound lanes on the causeway were going down to two lanes after Memorial Weekend, for a few days, to redirect all traffic onto the new bridge while the old spans get dismantled. That plan’s on hold for now; just expect your standard slowdown. If we hear more we’ll pass it along.
OK, acording to “reliable” web sources and my web sleuthing officemate, today is National Escargot Day. Isn’t that exciting? I haven’t been able to find the official source on this, but there are references a-plenty, which makes me think about other bits of trivia and information that make their way onto the web. While it’s likely this day of distinction was “cooked” up by purveyors of fine snails or the “butter people,” how do we know? How can we tell when something on the web–be it information or some great bargain–is the real deal? We often can’t. The lesson: on the net, be careful and cautious, always. As for me, I’m off to find a slug to hug. And some garlic.
Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics recently rolled out a new web site. Dr. Dolphin features prominently, and there’s even a section for kids with games and activities. Take a look…
Gov. Rick Perry today ordered flags at state buildings to be flown at half-staff for five days in memory of Lloyd Bentsen, who represented Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives for six years and in the U.S. Senate for 22 years. “Today we mourn the loss of a war hero and true Texas leader who earned the respect of the nation with his dedication to public service,” Perry said. Flags will also be flown at half-staff on the day of his burial services.
Mike Megna and Dr. Joan Richardson hosted the all-campus hurricane meeting this afternoon. As one might expect, there was a good crowd. One of the speakers was a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, and he was armed with all sorts of scary facts and figures about the 2005 season, the records that were broken, the costs that were incurred, the damage that was done. I was on campus during Rita, but had the “wisdom” to evacuate my wife and two young kids to safety well inland…in Jasper (100 mph winds, eye went right over them. I’ll never live that one down.) There was one image from the weatherman’s presentation that has stayed with me, an aerial of a neighborhood not too much unlike my own out on the west end, before and after. I’ll probably take an extra couple of seconds to enjoy the salt breeze and watch the sunset tonight. If (when?) I find myself returning to a handful of pilings and rubble some day, I want to remember that breeze and those skies. If you missed the meeting, the next Impact will be the annual hurricane issue. The Emergency Plan has also been updated, and remember you need to get in your updated employee acknowledgement forms.