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Advancing Health Care Delivery

Advancing Health Care Delivery

A Heart Doctor’s First Love

Dr. Ken Fujise
Dr. Ken Fujise

What drew Dr. Ken Fujise to the field of cardiology was the potential to change lives through the most advanced patient care and the research that makes such care possible. “We have to constantly be making discoveries, otherwise we will have nothing new to offer to our patients and coming generations,” Fujise says.

Born and educated in Japan, the head of UTMB’s Cardiology Division chose to do his residency in the United States in order to learn the latest techniques and technologies. The first time he administered thrombolytic agents to a patient, he experienced the real and gratifying impact a cardiologist can have on a person’s life. “I witnessed the patient’s chest pain disappear right in front of me,” he says.

Today, post-Hurricane Ike, Fujise and his colleagues have the chance to improve the lives of more people than ever. In addition to seeing patients in Galveston, they are working alongside Mainland Hospital’s well-established cardiology department to provide specialized services and consults, seeing patients in the UTMB clinic in the adjacent physicians building.

Triple board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine for general internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases and interventional cardiology, Fujise’s accomplishments as a researcher are equally impressive. He has achieved Established Investigator rank with the American Heart Association, and his research has been supported by numerous funding agencies.

When he came to UTMB in 2007, Fujise brought 14 years’ worth of NIH-funded research with him, much of it surrounding a gene he discovered related to the cell death that causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart failure. Before the hurricane, his team had made a breakthrough, using an advanced technique to eliminate the gene in mice. That research was lost to the storm surge, but now the team is growing a new colony of these mice. The end result, Fujise hopes, could be a life-changing medication that would stop heart disease before it begins.

But when all is said and done, Fujise says his “true love” is seeing patients. His goal? For UTMB’s Cardiology Division to be recognized as offering the best patient care in Texas within 10 years.

If there is a silver lining to Hurricane Ike, it is the countless ways in which the storm underscored the importance of UTMB’s many contributions to the health and well-being of the island, the region and Texas as a whole. In fact, fiscal year 2009 marked steady growth for the UTMB Health System as it restored and expanded primary and specialty care services and resumed planning for a proposed new hospital tower.

  • Since reopening John Sealy Hospital with 200 beds in January 2009, total bed capacity in Galveston had reached 370 by the end of fiscal year 2009 and had grown to approximately 400 available beds by December 2009. The average daily bed occupancy rate by December was 86 percent.
    John Sealy Hospital
  • A four-bed pediatric intensive care unit opened by the end of the 2009 calendar year, with plans to remodel a portion of an existing unit to permanently house the pediatric intensive care unit.
  • Since UTMB’s Trauma Center reopened in August 2009, it has recorded more than 10,000 visits. Our Level 1 Trauma Center was ranked #1 in the nation in survival rate just before the hurricane, and we are working diligently to return to Level I status.
  • During the past fiscal year, the number of communitybased clinics grew to 58. As of August 2009, 28 such clinics were serving 10 Texas communities in Galveston and Harris counties. And, UTMB’s Regional Maternal & Child Health outreach clinics continued to provide much-needed services in 30 communities across Southeast Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
  • The Health System returned to profitable operation in February 2009, after incurring several months of large operating losses following Hurricane Ike. The total support from UTMB’s hospital and clinic operations to the School of Medicine was $59 million in 2009 and is expected to be $77 million in 2010.
  • Quality initiatives remain a priority for UTMB.
    • The Health System continues to score well in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Core Measures.
    • UTMB’s innovative Crew Resource Management program—which is based on an airline-industry-derived safety protocol program for operating rooms—has already trained more than 1,700 faculty, residents and staff. The end result is a positive cultural change in our operating rooms, an increase in communication among members of the OR team, and a decrease in “routine” errors.
    • In 2009, UTMB won the Quality Improvement Achievement Award from the TMF Health Quality Institute. Looking ahead, the Health System leadership team will remain focused on quality improvement to ensure that our staff continue to perform as capably and efficiently as possible.
  • In 2010, UTMB will open:
    • a new Imaging Center in Pearland
    • a new Dermatology clinic at Bay Colony in League City
    • new clinics in Ear, Nose and Throat, Oral Surgery, and Physical and Occupational Therapy at Brittany Bay in League City and,
    • a new 110,000-square-foot Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes in League City, which will provide a convenient location for outpatient services in a community considered one of the fastest growing in the region.
    • Construction of new corridors to enhance pedestrian flow and wayfinding, including materials on the first floor of the complex capable of withstanding flood waters.
    • Updating UTMB’s internationally recognized Blocker Burn Unit to provide new outpatient facilities and six state-of-the-art patient rooms for burn intensive care.
    • Extensive modernization of the labor and delivery unit.
  • Planning for the growth and modernization of clinical facilities on the Galveston campus continues. Over the next five years, UTMB’s John Sealy Hospital will be a major focus. Key components of this all-important renovation project include:
    • Remodeling and expanding patient care rooms to provide patients and visitors with a more comfortable experience and to ensure that doctors, staff and students have the space and equipment needed to practice and learn today’s (and tomorrow’s) medicine.
  • Finally, the hurricane presented UTMB’s faculty group practice with new opportunities to partner with mainland health care providers, including Mainland Medical Center, St. John Hospital, Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, Bayshore Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center. Physician Practice Plan revenue grew 10 percent in fiscal years 2007 and 2008; despite hurricane damage to UTMB’s clinical facilities, our doctors generated 83 percent of fiscal year 2008 totals and are on track to exceed that amount by $6 million in fiscal year 2010.

Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes

Spring 2010 will mark the opening of UTMB’s outpatient specialty care and surgical center at 2240 Gulf Freeway South in League City. Encompassing 110,000 square feet within two levels, it will offer and house a multitude of much-needed specialty services in the area, including:

  • advanced imaging services,
  • an outpatient surgery center,
  • a comprehensive breast health center,
  • a center for obesity and metabolic surgery,
  • an orthopaedic and rehabilitation center,
  • a multidisciplinary pelvic health and continence center, and
  • surgical specialty care.
Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes

UTMB currently operates 28 community-based clinics in the greater Galveston Bay Area and has worked with area health care providers for years to bring the services of Texas’ first academic medical center to the residents of the region. This new facility will help serve patients, employees and their families in a more convenient and efficient manner.


Looking Forward

These are tumultuous times for health care state- and nationwide. New leadership, a retooled organizational structure, a clear vision for expanding on UTMB’s clinical excellence, and a renewed commitment to improving service will position UTMB to address challenges and take full advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead.