Working Wonders

Nov 20, 2017, 11:17 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford
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Several UTMB employees received President David Callender’s Way to Go Award during the Nov. 1 Town Hall. Lonnie Winston and Seth Grimes, materials handling techs, were recognized for their actions going above and beyond to ensure a young patient at Jennie Sealy Hospital received a special package. The patient, who collapsed during a high school football practice, was flown by helicopter to UTMB in critical condition. The J.J. Watt Foundation found out about the player and arranged for the Houston Texans to send a special package; however, it was addressed to a family member of the patient, not the patient, so UTMB could not deliver the package. Winston and Grimes came in on a Saturday, their day off, to locate the package in the Materials Management Warehouse and ensure its delivery to the young man and his family.
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Dr. Leah Low, lead physician advisor and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine; Rebecca Castro, social work practice manager; and Yvette Castellanos, utilization review manager; received President’s Way To Go Awards for leading the efforts during and after Hurricane Harvey to get the inpatient status down to appropriate levels so there was capacity for patients who needed hospitalization. The community resources for discharge support were strained, but Low, Castro, Castellanos and the care management team worked to get the job done, and were key in ensuring the successful discharge of more than 50 patients a day to safe locations that had resources available to them when they arrived.
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Tia Jaynes, a pediatric social worker at Bay Colony, received a President’s Way To Go Award for providing support and comfort for a family after the death of their young child. Not only did she help the family deal with their grief, she also secured financial resources so they could bury their son. The parent of the patient expressed sincere gratitude for Jaynes and all the help she was given. “It brings tears to my eyes,” said Callender. “Great work, thank you so much. This is exactly what we want to see every day in support of our patients.”
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Whitney Vrba, a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, and Dr. Alison Vargo, an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Professions, recently participated in a freelance dancers screening event developed by the USA Task Force on Dancer Health as a part of Dance USA. Vrba and Vargo, along with local clinicians and physical therapy students, screened more than 50 dancers in Houston, providing physical assessments and expert health information to professional performance artists.


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Dr. Thomas Geisbert, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was awarded $4.3 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to develop a vaccine against Lassa virus and to evaluate a first-in-class immunotherapeutic antibody cocktail to protect against the disease and to treat it after exposure. Lassa fever is an often-fatal viral hemorrhagic fever that has no approved treatments or vaccines. The study will be conducted with Dr. Robert Garry and colleagues at Tulane University.

DonateLifeAwardIn recognition of UTMB’s outstanding support of organ, tissue and eye donation, Donate Life presented UTMB with a 2017 Donate Life Champion award. The award is given to members across the country who have inspired others to give the gifts of life, sight and mobility. Thanks to UTMB’s efforts, 33 lives have been impacted. The Donate Life Champion award is part of a national initiative to increase organ, eye and tissue donation. For more information or to join your state’s donor registry, visit www.donatelife.net.


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Shannon Guillot-Wright, a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Biomedical Science’s Institute for the Medical Humanities and fellow in Health Policy and Legislative Affairs, created a short video about migrant health in Texas that was accepted to the National Academy of Medicine’s “Visualize Health Equity” nationwide community art project. Her video was on display as part of a pop-up gallery during the National Academy of Medicine’s national stakeholder meeting on Nov. 9 in Washington, D.C., as well as part of a permanent online gallery. To view her video, “Anonymous Health,” go to https://vimeo.com/223525507.