When Dr. David Callender arrived at the Beaumont Complex on June 2 for a CMC Town Hall on the Road meeting, he got a firsthand lookat the extraordinary work UTMB CMC employees do on a daily basis—and during disaster situations.
About 22 buses carrying 740 offenders from the Stringfellow and Terrell facilities in Brazoria County arrived at the Stiles Unit over Memorial Day weekend. Historic flooding of the Brazos River caused evacuations of several units, with more than 5,000 inmates being transferred to other prisons in East Texas.
Callender talked with employees about the new Jennie Sealy Hospital in Galveston and the innovative vaccine research being done at UTMB. He also toured the facility and visited the gyms where additional offenders were housed. Senior Warden Christopher Carter and Assistant Warden Virgil McMullen, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, joined the tour with Callender and described the intake process for evacuees.
Pinkee Patel, senior practice manager at the Beaumont Complex, said it was great to have Callender visit and see how the unit managed going from 3,000 inmates to more than 3,700.
“We worked day and night to successfully intake the evacuated offenders,” said Patel. “The Stiles Unit leadership team efficiently and effectively communicated to ensure medications were on hand and continuity of care was met. Dr. Callender saw how we handled a challenging situation and was really appreciative of our staff.”
Callender said he was genuinely impressed with how seamless the effort was.
“Accepting an additional 700 high-acuity patient offenders during an emergency is not a simple task. Yet, our employees, in collaboration with their TDCJ colleagues, handled the situation professionally and with care, compassion and grace under pressure,” he said.
As water levels started to recede, problems remained. Units that had been flooded were inundated with water moccasins and mud, requiring extensive cleanup. Dr. Owen Murray, UTMB’s vice president of Correctional Managed Care, said CMC was responsible for writing a snake-bite protocol just in case cleanup workers or others were injured.
Murray said he was proud of CMC employees for rising to the occasion and highlighted two employees who worked incredibly long hours during the floods: Paul Brown, a regional nurse manager, was involved with creating the snake-bite protocol, evacuating patients and making sure medications were moved; and Dan Arrowood, CMC’s Patient Evacuation Command Center manager, was responsible for moving all infirmary patients out of facilities and coordinating their transfer.
“We also had to relocate nursing staff to take care of patients who were moved, but everyone chipped in and made the best of it,” said Murray. “This is one thing we do incredibly well—we manage a crisis and we work with our partners in TDCJ to ensure that not only are patients taken care of, but staff are taken care of, too. Fortunately, we didn’t have any adverse outcomes.”
As of June 20, all offenders had safely returned to their assigned units.