Things might be a little quiet on pep talk after today; I’m headed to see my family for the holidays. I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and joyful end to their year, a wonderful holiday season, and a great start to 2007. I’ll drop y’all a note if when I can find a wireless connection.
Archive for December, 2006
I was trolling this morning’s news clips and came across the following. I thought the Chronicle story was really done in a clever way. And although I don’t know her personally, I know Dr. TK by reputation, and it’s all good.
A Dickens Christmas, circa 2006 Houston Chronicle
A great Christmas story, as Charles Dickens demonstrated, is constructed of bad fortune, villainy, redemption and a happy ending. This year we have BP in the role of Scrooge, a company so focused on profits that it skimped on safety. The result: One of the worst American industrial accidents in modern times, the March 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery that killed 15 and injured scores. They included the burn unit at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which had treated 23 victims of the blast. BP had made previous donations to the burn unit, which had responded well to earlier plant accidents. Read more…
Breast Imaging KUHF, Dec. 19, 2006
Mammograms to detect breast cancer are recommended for women over the age of 40. It’s up to breast imaging specialists to read the results to detect cancer. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker reports the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston is trying to increase the number of radiologists who specialize in breast imaging. Read more…
UTMB fellowship program could reduce breast cancer deaths
Guidry News Service, Dec. 19, 2006
As the second leading cause of cancer death among women, breast cancer is a concern for every woman. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 40,000 U.S. women died of breast cancer in 2005. To alleviate those odds, a UTMB doctor who has dedicated her career to the early detection of breast cancer, has given a generous cap-stone gift to complete an endowment that will allow the training of breast imaging specialists. In her state-of-the-art clinic, Dr. Tuenchit Khamapirad directs the breast imaging section of the department of radiology at UTMB and provides compassionate care to women facing the possibility that they may have breast cancer. Early detection is key to surviving the disease but according to Khamapirad ― known to her patients and colleagues as “Dr. TK” ― few radiologists specialize in breast imaging. Read more…
I didn’t really get tuned in to the evils of trans fats until about six months ago, and that eye-opener came as a result of something Russell LaForte said at a meeting. Since then I’ve scoured labels on everything I eat and feed my family. It’s bad stuff and we eat a lot of it (see what the FDA says, or google “trans fat”). So, it was with great interest and pleasure that I read a story in Sunday’s Galveston County Daily News “Trans fat and Texans: A parting of ways?” It says New York City ordered restaurants to eliminate trans fat from all the meals they serve. The FDA warns that there is “no safe amount” of this artificial fat in packaged goods at your grocery. If Brad Chandler has his way, Texans will be eating healthier; at least those who dine at UTMB’s cafeterias or who receive meals while patients here already do. “We banned trans fats from both cafeteria and in-room meals about seven months ago,” said Chandler, our director of nutrition services. Read the whole story…
…to get the first negative comment about “I love my UTMB Care Giver because…” It came indirectly, from someone whose beloved doctor is hitting the trail. I understand the cynicism, feel your pain in more ways than you may realize. Even when things are perfect and great, people move on, following promotions, opportunities, spouses or family, the “dream” job. But when there’s unrest, that departure magnifies, becomes more symbolic, seems preventable, makes us feel more angry. So along comes this vehicle to highlight some of the good stories, the good guys and gals at all levels in our hospitals and clinics, and it seems like whitewash. But here’s why, from my perspective, it’s not.
I respect my disgruntled colleague’s right to feel ticked off. I’ll lament alongside him the loss of any good person. Presumably, the reason he’s upset is because he’s gotten great care, made a bond, with this person that’s leaving. A lot of those people providing great care are still around, putting in a tremendous effort, demonstrating skill, compassion, maintaining and restoring health. Now more than ever, I feel they deserve a pat on the back, a well-earned thanks from us, the people they serve, and in some cases, save. And that’s what this is about: Thanks. It’s genuine. The stories are heartfelt and from real people. Reading them is often the highlight of my workday, and I look forward to sharing more of them with you. As for my friend, maybe this humble effort might provide some ideas about his next provider?
…But I’m glad it’s Friday. I’m always glad when it’s Friday. I’ve posted this week’s news highlights. UTMBintheNews.Dec152007.pdf
It’s been gratifying and heartwarming to see some of the stories coming in off “I love my UTMB Care Giver because…” I’ve posted some examples of what people have sent in for you to peruse.
I heard a rep from Press Ganey talking to the clinical folks about our scores, which have been generally good all summer and continue to rise. She said a few things that really stuck with me. One was the impact and importance of the “simple things”–like smiling and being friendly–on a patient’s experience and subsequent satisfaction. Another was the correlation between satisfied employees and satisfied patients. I recall that one of the luxury hotel chains used to say that its primary interest was keeping its employees happy. They reasoned that if employees were happy, the guests would be happy, and if the guests were happy, then the shareholders would be happy. I think that’s a lesson we can all take to heart.
Hope everyone has a great weekend. I’ll be on the water, carving my way through this fog.
Laura Elder and Chad Greene with the Galveston County Daily News collaborated on a great page 1 feature about a survivor of the 2005 BP explosion in Texas City, and of our Blocker Burn Unit. It’s a great overview of UTMB’s program, one of the world’s best. The article also addresses some of the physical challenges presented by burns to its victims, and talks about the progress that’s been made in the last few decades in burn care and survival, lots of it done at UTMB and Shriners by the faculty and researchers we share.
The article talks about Eva Rowe, a young woman who lost her parents in the same explosion that injured the subject of the GCDN feature. Part of the settlement with Eva led to a $12.5 million donation from BP to support work and research in the Blocker Burns Unit, with a matching gift opportunity to raise another $4 million. Eva will be on campus tomorrow to meet with UTMB leadership and visit the unit.
The old bridge demolition and corresponding Sunday morning closure of the Galveston Causeway is back this weekend. For those that don’t remember, Traylor Brothers, the contractor working for DOT, is using underwater explosives to blast out pilings and remnants of old bridges, in preparation for the building of a new second span. The explosions send rubble, water and probably some unlucky fish rocketing skyward, and you wouldn’t want any of it landing on the hood of your Buick. So they’ll close the causeway for about 40 minutes, starting just before 8 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17. Stay in bed if you can.
One of you asked me a few weeks ago if I knew what sort of explosives they use. Unfortunately I don’t. I know it’s waterproof, and it works, guessing from the photos that have run in the local paper.
Georgia Leisey in Human Resources put out a call for volunteers in the Administration Building this morning, to help her finish stuffing envelopes with the last 800 SECC “thank you” lanyards. I ran into her at the coffee machine and was enlisted. It was utterly mechanical and mindless, and I loved every minute I was able to do it. The best part was peeling and sticking the mailing labels, each with an employee name and mail route. Does anyone remember the toddler TV show Romper Room, where the teacher would look into her swirling psychedelic mirror and say to the kids on the other side of the camera: “I see Timmy, and Jane, and David…” I was peeling those labels and seeing names and faces of people I know and have worked with over many years, and it felt good. Thanks for helping us have another great SECC year. Thanks for helping those in need. It you felt some good vibes this morning around 9 am, it was me sending them to you. Your lanyard’s in the mail.
We took a somewhat painful, public and demoralizing beating this past summer over our shortcomings, and I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I felt a disconnect, how my experiences as a health care consumer at UTMB have always been pretty good. I’m not being Polly Anna; I know there’s room to improve and that—like anywhere else—unfortunate things sometimes happen. But as I’ve been talking to people and they’ve been sharing their generally good and often great experiences, I’ve been wondering if there wasn’t some way to give people a voice, a way to share their own stories, a way to say thanks to clinical staff who really care and go the extra mile. And hence “I love my UTMB Care Giver because…” was born. If you’ve got a great story, share it. We’ll help get the word out.
Have you ever stopped to notice how much information bombards each of us every day? I’m sure I’m not unusual, but the last time I counted email I was averaging 1000 “real” messages a week, after the spam filter stripped out most of the junk. It’s information overload; it hits us driving, at home, in our mailboxes, TV, radio, this pesky web. Which is why I’m never surprised when I hear someone lament—out of real interest and concern—that they never see/read/hear anything (or maybe they mean anything good) about UTMB in the news. We are out there; our clinicians and researchers and educators are doing good work, and their work is making news. Marsha Canright, one of my colleagues in Public Affairs, spends a few minutes each Friday recapping some of the week’s highlights and previewing what’s ahead. She sends that document out to a distribution list she manages. (I’ve posted the one from this week for you to see a sample: UTMBintheNews.Dec.8.06.pdf) We’re thinking this might be of interest to a wider audience, so considered yourself warned: there might be one more thing bombarding you. I hope you find this one useful.