Fall 2005 President's Cabinet Award recipients announced
Awards support innovative programs that benefit Galveston area, state
GALVESTON, Texas — Sixteen University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston faculty, staff and students recently received President's Cabinet Awards for their novel programs to benefit the Galveston area and beyond. The six funded projects, which were presented during a banquet at the Tremont House Hotel’s Davidson Ballroom, were selected from a pool of 31 proposals.
The President's Cabinet was established 12 years ago to provide financial resources to help advance the mission of UTMB, home of the state’s oldest schools of medicine, nursing and allied health sciences. Its 346 members include community and business leaders from the Houston-Galveston area, UTMB faculty and staff, and alumni from across the state and nation. President’s Cabinet awards provide seed money to launch initiatives designed to improve the quality of life in the Galveston region. This funding may also lead to grants from foundations and other philanthropic organizations to further develop and maintain these projects. Annual contributions from President's Cabinet members — at least $1,000 for individuals and $5,000 for corporations, foundations and other organizations — are combined to make the awards possible. Since 1993, President's Cabinet members have contributed more than $3.4 million.
Dr. John D. Stobo, UTMB president, saluted the President's Cabinet members for their dedication to the university. “I can’t tell you how grateful we are as an institution for your support,” Stobo said.
The awards were given to:
Cheryl S. Randle, nurse clinic manager, for “Interdisciplinary Clinic-Based Perinatal Bereavement Program.” Parents who grieve over a miscarriage, stillbirth or loss of a newborn shortly after birth often struggle with their pain alone. Even family, friends and caregivers sometimes do not understand that such loss is a unique, lifelong bereavement experience. Although numerous UTMB departments and staff members work to help the approximately 200 families who annually experience perinatal loss at the university, there currently is no campuswide approach to this vital aspect of emotional healing. President’s Cabinet funding will allow the UTMB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to develop an interdisciplinary, holistic program that will establish a common standard of excellence for supporting grieving families. The program will provide training to support staff, caregivers and the community, as well as educational materials for families. It will also create a comforting environment in the clinical setting where parents can receive the news in private and begin their grieving with the support of trained caregivers.
Dr. Mark D. Holden, scholar, John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine; Dr. Rebecca Saavedra, associate vice president for student support services; and second-year medical students Jennifer F. Barnhill, Jacquelyn M. Powers and Laura J. Umstattd. Their project, “SUCCESS — Students Unite to Collaborate, Contribute, Excel and Speak Spanish,” asserts that effective communication between patient and caregiver is essential to good health care. In Galveston, where 25 percent of the population is Hispanic, health sciences students have the opportunity to learn the Spanish language. SUCCESS will allow students to increase their fluency in Spanish through peer tutoring sessions, bimonthly lessons and low-stress evaluations. Students will also gain experience using their new Spanish skills in real-life clinical experiences in such settings as the student-run St. Vincent’s Clinic in Galveston and Frontera de Salud, a UTMB student outreach program in the Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. David W. Niesel, J.P. Saunders Professor, vice dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Dr. Norbert K. Herzog, associate professor of pathology; and Chris Packard, director of marketing in the Office of University Advancement. They received a President’s Cabinet Award for “The ‘Medical Discovery News’: Educating the Public about Biomedical Science.” Complicated biomedical science topics like stem cells, genetic engineering, biosafety labs and emerging viruses are often covered by the media, and yet the general public’s understanding of scientific advances is often minimal. Such misunderstanding can undermine support for research that advances the future of medicine. Niesel, Herzog and Packard will work with a multidisciplinary team to create a series of short radio spots, collectively titled “Medical Discovery News.” The program will present timely scientific topics in an engaging and entertaining way to the public. The focus is to educate a lay audience about biomedical topics and how such work will benefit their health. Episodes will first be offered via the Internet, but producers intend to offer them to National Public Radio and commercial stations, as well as educational programming for Texas high schools and universities.
Anjie B. Bolster, pediatric nurse practitioner, and Dr. James L. Lukefahr, professor of pediatrics, for “Renovation of the ABC Center Child Abuse Examination Suite.” UTMB’s ABC Center offers expert medical examinations and support for children who may have been abused or neglected. About 350 children visit the center each year. Though usually painless, the exam can be uncomfortable and lengthy for the patient. The center’s staff members work to create a comforting, safe, child-friendly environment, but many families and investigators have mentioned that the physical surroundings can seem impersonal and sterile. With President’s Cabinet funding, the ABC Center will be able to create a space that makes vulnerable children feel safe and welcome. Simple improvements — such as covering the walls with soothing colors and murals, adding child-sized furniture, and providing activities and toys to help relieve anxiety and stress — can help make a child’s visit less traumatic and help develop necessary trust between the patient and caregivers.
Dr. L. Kristen Welker-Hood, assistant professor of nursing, and Sandra Garvock, director of special programs in the School of Medicine’s Office of Student Affairs, for “Providing Preventive Care through Service Learning.” More than 250 UTMB students annually seek community-based learning experiences from The Jesse Tree, a nonprofit social services organization with offices in Galveston and Brazoria counties. The students offer such services as visiting at-risk seniors in their homes and giving health screenings. They also see the face of poverty and can better comprehend the challenges involved in linking people with the help they need. President’s Cabinet support will enable UTMB to develop a standard orientation process and handbook for all participating students, as well as create an online catalog of student volunteer opportunities. Once established, the project will not only better equip UTMB nursing and medical students to connect needy patients with available community resources, it will also allow researchers to collect and analyze data to determine the effectiveness of student volunteers in improving health outcomes.
Cyndi A. Mann, volunteer services director, and Timothy W. Raeke and Vickie Y. Ladner, volunteer services coordinators, for “Revitalization of the UTMB Volunteer Services Coffee and Clown Programs.” Coffee and clowns are important components of UTMB’s efforts to create a healing environment. A simple cup of coffee, served by a caring and sympathetic volunteer, can bring great comfort to patients and their families during a health crisis. Subscribing to the theory that laughter is the best medicine, the Caring Clowns of UTMB provide a healthy dose of humor to patients, employees and members of the Galveston community. President’s Cabinet support will provide an essential subsidy for these programs during a time of institutional budget cuts and widespread campus construction projects that have limited Volunteer Services' fund-raising opportunities. The Volunteer Coffee Project will continue service in University Hospital Clinics waiting rooms, intensive care waiting rooms in John Sealy Hospital and waiting areas in Children's Hospital. Caring Clowns will continue to meet growing demands by training new members of the troupe and purchasing necessary supplies.
For more information about the President's Cabinet or how to join, contact Marie Marczak at (409) 747-4876