“Gentlemen, start digging”
Construction of the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL)—a largely federally funded, state-of-the-art infectious diseases laboratory on the UTMB campus—began in May.
The university broke ground on the lab upon receiving an e-mail from federal officials that confirmed approval of the project’s environmental impact statement. The e-mail’s subject line: “Gentlemen, start digging.” The facility, which includes biosafety level two, three, and four labs, is being built adjacent to the Keiller Building and on the site of the former Gail Borden Building.
After demolition of the Gail Borden Building, the initial stages involved driving seven hundred pilings, each sixteen inches in diameter, one hundred and twenty feet into the ground. These pilings will help stabilize the six-story structure, which is scheduled for completion in summer 2008.
A ceremonial groundbreaking took place August 10, 2005, attended by local, state and national officials.
The $167 million project, supported by $110 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will help implement the NIH and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases agenda for threats from emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism.
For a complete summary of the project, as well as ongoing construction updates, visit the Galveston National Laboratory web site at www.utmb.edu/gnl.
Last spring, UTMB opened its new, nearly ten thousand-square-foot Women’s Health Center at the Bay Colony Town Center in League City. The facility is home to a full range of women’s services, including annual gynecologic screenings and general obstetrics. The center also houses doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating reproductive infertility, gynecologic cancer, incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, and problems associated with menopause.
The opening of the Women’s Health Center allows the UTMB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to be more accessible to women in northern Galveston County. “This is a fast-growing community, and we want to provide more convenient service to our patients near Dickinson and League City,” says Terri Gately, senior practice manager for the UTMB Women’s Health Center.
Taking telemedicine to SA
Supported by a $150,000 grant from the SBC Foundation, UTMB physicians are using telemedicine technology to bring health care to the workplace of employees at Morningside Ministries in San Antonio, a non-profit outfit that operates retirement and assisted-living facilities.
Since last January, thanks to two-way audio-video communication, a patient accompanied by a staff nurse at Morningside Ministries has been able to see a doctor in Galveston. With medical instruments in the on-site telemedicine stations, physicians can interview and examine patients, diagnose their illnesses, and then refer patients to specialists or prescribe medications.
Nearly two hundred employees and members of their families have used the service. Ultimately, plans are to provide services to residents of Morningside’s facilities.
“The ability to provide comprehensive, quality health care in this age of limited access requires advanced technologies and community partnerships,” said Glenn G. Hammack, assistant vice president and executive director of the UTMB Electronic Health Network. “Combining our strengths allows us to provide that care and continue to explore even more innovative ways to serve the needs of this growing population.”
Doing our level best
On March 23, 2005, an enormous explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City rattled windows at UTMB, killed fifteen people, and resulted in Life Flight and ambulances ferrying nearly twenty-three seriously injured and burned patients to UTMB’s emergency room. Within minutes of the blast, trauma teams were on the scene caring for the critically injured.
Dr. Karen Sexton, vice president and chief executive officer of the UTMB Hospitals and Clinics, said that UTMB’s status as a Level I Trauma Center, conferred by the American College of Surgeons after a lengthy review of the hospital’s constant readiness, contributed to its success in handling the emergency.
In a guest column published in the Galveston County Daily News, Sexton said the Level I status was “earned through the dedication and expertise of physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers and other health care professionals who work in our emergency room, operating suites, intensive care units, blood bank and all other areas of our health care complex—and through the commitment of administrators who have enabled us to preserve this community resource, even through challenging financial times.”
Higher and higher
Last year the UTMB School of Medicine received 250 research awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—its highest total number of grants to date from the federal health research funding agency and seven more awards than it received last year.
The total dollar value of the NIH awards for the federal fiscal year ending September 30, 2004, was $104,312,000—over $31 million more than UTMB’s School of Medicine has received in any year except 2003. That extraordinary year the total was $202,864,000, a sum inflated by more than $150 million in awards earmarked to build the Galveston National Laboratory and fund the Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infections.
In fiscal year 2004, UTMB’s School of Medicine ranked thirty-ninth in the nation in NIH funding—its best ranking any year save the exceptional one ending in 2003. Aside from 2003, the UTMB School of Medicine’s previous best national ranking for NIH awards was in 1997, when it scored forty-fourth in the nation.
“This highest-yet number of NIH awards for studies undertaken at the School of Medicine and very impressive national ranking is a credit to the remarkably high quality of the research being pursued here,” said Dean of Medicine Valerie Parisi.
After years fof work, UTMB Hospitals and Clinics achieved elite “Magnet Recognition” from the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Nurses Association. Only two percent of the six thousand hospitals in the United States have won such recognition. Just twelve other Texas hospitals share it.
According to the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, “Recognizing quality patient care and nursing excellence, the Magnet Recognition Program provides consumers with the ultimate benchmark to measure the quality of care they can expect to receive.”
Hospitals seeking magnet status must exhibit a high quality of nursing leadership, professional models of care, quality of care, and a commitment to quality improvement. Demonstrated benefits to patients include improved patient outcomes, shorter lengths of patient stays, and lower patient death rates. Magnet hospitals also enjoy an advantage over non-magnet institutions in recruiting and retaining nursing and other medical staff.
Said David Marshall, UTMB’s chief nursing officer, “Magnet recognition shows that patient care in UTMB hospitals meets the widely accepted gold standard for excellence in nursing and quality patient care.”
Done for a decade
The School of Nursing’s baccalaureate and master’s degree programs received accreditation good for the next ten years from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CCNE accreditation process assesses the quality and effectiveness of nursing education programs.
“We are particularly pleased that our accreditation was awarded for the longest time period possible for a school of nursing,” said SON dean Pamela G. Watson. “This endorsement of our programs is testimony to the standard of excellence we have achieved.”