Friday, May 30, 2014

American Fitness Index Ranks Nation’s 50 Largest Metro Areas by Health

Only one of Texas’ four main metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) scored high on this year’s American Fitness Index. The survey ranks the health of citizens in the nation’s 50 largest cities and surrounding towns. The Austin/Round Rock/San Marcos MSA ranked 14th, while the MSAs of Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and San Antonio scored near the bottom at 35, 38, and 45 respectively.

The American College of Sports medicine, which published the results, looked at federal reports and past studies to determine ranking. Health indicators that helped determine the scores included health behaviors (smoking, diet, exercise), chronic health problems (obesity, diabetes, heart disease), recreational facilities (playgrounds, sports centers), and physical environment (parks, public transportation). The last two health indicators were the main culprit behind Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio’s rankings. While Austin boasts an abundance of parkland and swimming pools, the other three cities fell below the target goal for number of public spaces where its citizens can keep fit.

The top five fittest cities were Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Portland, Denver, and San Francisco. See where your closest metropolitan area ranks.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Treating Patients Like Family

Physicians know the immense responsibility they have to improve patients’ lives. That’s why Beaumont physician Ray Callas, MD, views each patient he sees as an extension of his family and delivers the quality of care he knows they deserve.

“I treat every one of my patients like they are a family member,” says Dr. Callas. “I feel privileged and honored to take care of patients.”

Watch the video.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month

By Katharina Hathaway, MD
Austin Family Physician

Hepatitis C has been in the news a lot lately.

For an excellent overview of what hep C is and why it is important, read this.

Last fall, two new drugs for hep C were approved by the Federal Drug Administration. The new drugs have higher cure rates and shorter treatment durations than previous therapies. And there are even better medications coming down the pipeline. This will come as great news to those patients with hep C who have taken Interferon-based therapies without being cured, or those who have heard of the side effects of Interferon (such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and depression) and have opted to forego treatment.

But patients will only benefit from the new therapies if they get the new therapies.

As the article above points out, these new treatments can be very expensive.  For those individuals with hep C who find the cost of the drugs, or even the copays, to be prohibitively expensive, the drug manufacturers have low or no-cost patient assistance programs.

Austin/Travis County is on the forefront of hepatitis C care. Travis County’s Community Care Collaborative received federal funding to expand capacity for specialty care. As a result, a pilot program was started to treat hep C in our safety-net clinic population. In addition, local Hepatitis stakeholders (doctors, nurses, community health workers, and hep C treatment advocates) have started a Hepatitis Workgroup to keep us connected in order to improve access to care.

Texas patients: If you were born between 1945 and 1965, ask your doctor for a one-time hep C antibody screening test, as is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. And if you already know you have hep C, talk to your doctor about your options for treatment.

Texas doctors: Now is the time to review your patient panel and start those conversations.
Start Testing. Start Treating. Start Curing.

If anyone is interested in hearing more about what we are doing in Austin/Travis County, or would like to learn how to become Hep C ExCeptional, contact me through MeAndMyDoctor. I'd love to hear from you.

Katharina Hathaway, MD

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TMA Stands Up for Seniors

Peggy Russell, DO, an Austin geriatric specialist, testified for the Texas Medical Association at the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging. Dr. Russell explained how Texas needs to improve access to care for seniors, especially those who depend on Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

“Seniors must have the ability to receive timely care when they need care,” said Dr. Russell. “When cuts are made to [Medicare and Medicaid], or when new regulations divert us from patient care and add to the cost of running our practices, it jeopardizes our ability to care for elderly patients.”

Dr. Russell pointed out the need for graduate medical education and geriatric fellowships, noting that many young doctors don’t go into geriatric care because of low Medicaid and Medicare payments.

“It’s hard for physicians to pay off their school debt because of the gross disparities in payment for this population,” said Dr. Russell.

She told committee members that one of TMA’s top priorities is to reverse the payment cut for care physicians provide to Texas’ many elderly and vulnerable citizens.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Young Physicians Choose Less Intervention at End of Life, Too

We’ve written on this blog before that physicians choose a different kind of death from many of their patients — one with less medical intervention and more palliative care. A survey reported by The New York Times’ health blogger Paula Span reveals these views are held not just by older physicians but by younger ones as well.
“Doctors see a lot,” Dr. Periyakoil told me later that day. Resuscitation attempts are so aggressive — likely to break an older patient’s ribs but unlikely to restore them to their previous state of health or function — that after witnessing several, “you know too much and you’re much more wary,” she said.
Opinions varied slightly between gender, ethnicity, and specialty, but the consensus was the same: Most physicians (88.3 percent of those surveyed) said they would forgo resuscitation efforts and heroic measures if diagnosed with a terminal illness. Read more at The New Old Age blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Video: Family Doctor Treats Patients Like Family

For Pflugerville family physician Travis Bias, DO, the patients who come through his office every day are cared for the same way he would care for his family members and his best friends. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I really think that’s the only way to care for people,” Dr. Bias says. “That’s where most physicians’ hearts lie.”



Watch the video at YouTube.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Austin Physicians Provide Athletic Physicals to Uninsured Students

Each year, the Travis County Medical Society (TCMS) and the Austin Independent School District (AISD) join together to give free athletic physicals to AISD middle school and high school students who are uninsured or do not have affordable access to health care. The physicals allow students to participate in extracurricular activities in the coming year. For many, this is the only time they see a physician for a well-visit.

Chris Ziebell, MD, (foreground) and Craig Kuhns, MD,
         provide orthopedic exams to student athletes            
This year, the program provided exams to more than 850 students — that’s 150 more students than seen in 2013.

“I have done these exams for many years, and it is very rewarding to provide a needed medical service to the mostly underserved population,” says Tom Coopwood, MD, veteran volunteer and retired general surgeon. “The smiles on the children’s faces when the exam is done are priceless. This program is one of the many reasons why I am proud to say I am a member of TCMS.”

Austin pediatrician Ellen Howard, MD, says volunteering for the program gave her a chance to connect with her community. “I enjoy talking with the middle school and high school students. The physicals are done in the student’s environment versus a doctor’s office, so you really get a different perspective and get to see more of the students’ personalities. This even gives a chance for those without a medical home to have a positive experience with a group of physicians.”

Andrea Diebel, MD, performs an ear, nose,
and throat exam during the TCMS/AISD
athletic physicals program
In all, 95 TCMS physicians volunteered their time — a number of them committed to providing exams on multiple days and/or shifts over the course of four nights in April and May. Many long-time volunteers worked alongside first-timers. Special recognition goes to Joseph Spann, MD, and June Spann, MD, who worked tirelessly all four nights.

The program would not be successful without the participation of AISD and Dell Children’s Medical Center nurses, student nurses, and health educators, in addition to the physicians from numerous specialties. TCMS staff were joined by volunteers from the Lend a Hand program at The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas to keep the students moving smoothly among exam stations.

Through the generosity of the University Federal Credit Union and Austin Radiological Association, the students received healthy snacks and bottled water.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Legal Documentation in Demented Patients: Why it is important to have the conversation early.

By Eddie L. Patton Jr., M.D., M.S.
Sugar Land Neurologist

I remember when I first started seeing this particular patient. Her daughter, who was her primary caregiver, always accompanied her to her visits. Mrs. X. was a little combative at times, but I could always make her smile. Her diagnosis was a probable moderate Alzheimer’s-type dementia. Her memory loss and dementia had progressed to the point where she could no longer take care of herself at home, and her daughter was finding it increasingly more difficult to provide the care her mother needed at her home. Collectively we decided that it was time for her to move into an assisted living facility with a special memory-care section. At first there was resistance from Mrs. X, but with continuous efforts and support, she started participating at the assisted living facility and interacting with her neighbors. Everything regarding her care was going as well as could be expected until a series of events turned the case upside down. In spite of a few discussions about the subject in clinic, this particular patient had never officially established her daughter and caregiver as her health care proxy under a durable power of attorney.  A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows for a person to designate someone else to act on his or her behalf if the person becomes disabled or incompetent.

What happened in this case is this: One of Mrs. X’s other children, a son, decided that he wanted to assume the care of his mother. Unfortunately, there appeared to be some financial incentives for him to do so. Since no official durable power of attorney was in place, he was allowed to move his mother out of her assisted living facility into a nursing home closer to where he lived. By this point I had received several calls from my patient’s daughter seeking my assistance to stop her brother from what he was doing. I even received calls from their personal banker because the brother was trying to draw the majority of the mother’s estate. Lawyers got involved, but unfortunately I couldn’t do much more than declare that the patient did not have capacity to make her own decisions and let the courts handle it. Capacity is a medical term that has to do with a person’s ability to understand his or her medical condition and to make good decisions regarding his or her health care. Competency is a legal term and must be established by the judge.  In the meantime, my patient was being moved to a new environment in which I had little oversight into her care. Though this patient was not competent enough to make sound medical and financial decisions on her own, because the appropriate documentation was not in place, she was taken advantage of.

I share this story to bring up an important point. In my neurological clinic, I see a number of patients with dementia or other memory impairments. It is important that we begin the conversations early on regarding medical-legal documentation. When people have a neurological condition that causes their memory and decision-making capacity to slowly deteriorate, they will eventually need someone or some entity to assist in making sound health care and financial decisions. It is for this reason I begin the discussion earlier rather than later. By asking questions early, I help the patients themselves retain much more power and influence over their own affairs. The most common complaint I hear from families and from patients is that I am trying to take away patients’ independence. It’s actually my goal to do the opposite. The goal of these conversations is to help them maintain their independence by documenting their wishes and fully communicating with whoever they would like to make health care decisions for them if they are no longer able to do so. Doing so could cut back on future conflicts involving family and friends. Having a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is serious enough and causes many challenges for the patients and their families. Having these conversations regarding a person’s wishes and documenting them in the appropriate way provides a layer of security, decrease stress, and creates an environment for the best long-term care. I wish in this case I had pushed the issue more. Then potentially this long and drawn-out legal battle could have been avoided.

In summary, to avoid situations like this and provide the best long-term care for my patients, I have incorporated discussions about legal documentation early in my clinical relationship with patients, particularly in situations where I feel a lack of documentation could pose an issue later on. We owe it to our patients to make sure that we discuss all aspects of their care, even ones as difficult as this.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

It’s OK to Miss Them

By Anonymous, MD

I counsel my patients to embrace their memories when grieving; through our memories, our loved ones live on. I figured it was time again for me to do the same. Since I was very young at the time, I only have a few memories, and the details unfortunately get fuzzier with time, but here they go.

Growing up, our backyard had this rusted, squeaky swing set. I don’t remember the rubber on the seats ever not being cracked, but we adored it. My brother wasn’t into the usual little sibling beat down, at least that I remember. No, he was more subtle about it. He instead created the sideways swinging game. You walk the swing laterally as far as you can and then let go and swing into the other person. Whoever rebounded farther lost. I was four, he was 12, I never had a chance. I ended up with a huge bruise on my hip since I still didn’t get the physics of why I kept losing. I thought my brother was the most powerful man alive.

I really wanted to play his Atari, but I was banned due to a tendency to leave unknown sticky substances on the control afterwards. Didn’t stop me from sneaking into his room to watch him play, perched on the corner of his bed behind the pillows, pretending I blended in like a plush teddy bear. Unfortunately, teddy bears are not supposed to gasp when Frogger dies. “Get out, I can hear you breathing, and it’s messing me up.” Busted...

I have two memories of the hospital. “Paint It Black” playing on the TV for some promo and the smell of antiseptic mixing horribly with harsh fluorescent lighting of his room. The other was the parking lot the last night my parents stayed with him. My little brother and I stayed with some family friends that night. I had trouble sleeping and drank way too much warm milk. Threw it up later that night.

My mom stood me on the side of the bed and dropped to her knees in order have us eye to eye. She told me he was gone. For some reasons, I relive that memory as an outsider looking down at us. Her hugging me while I cried because the world isn’t fair.

He died at age 12 of AIDS. He would have been 38 last week.

Feel free to share your memories in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vaccine Denialism Is Dangerous

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, columnist Michael Gerson takes a bold stand against the barrage of vaccine misinformation that has infected the Internet. He writes vaccines are responsible for preventing a host of deadly diseases, and choosing not to vaccinate yourself or your child is not only wrong, but also dangerous ― for yourself and others.
In most health matters, defying medical authority mainly has individual consequences. Those who believe that cancer can be treated with coffee enemas are only killing themselves. But communicable diseases are different. Some people can’t be immunized for medical reasons, or their protective response to a vaccine is weak. They depend on the immunity of others to avoid infection.
For herd immunity to work, 90 percent of the community must be immunized. The United States for the most part boasts high vaccination rates, but pockets of less immunized communities are popping up across the nation, making their residents vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

Vaccination for individuals without medical exemptions shouldn’t be a choice, says Gerson. Vaccination, he argues, is a social responsibility. Read the article at The Washington Post.

Monday, May 12, 2014

TMA Honors Physician for Founding 20-Year Program to Keep Kids Safe

TMA Vice Speaker Susan Strate, MD, and Speaker Clifford Moy, MD,
present Larry Driver, MD (center), with a special plaque in recognition of
founding TMA's award-winning Hard Hats for Little Heads program.
A bicycle accident 20 years ago gave Houston physician Larry Driver, MD, an idea that has since saved countless children from serious head injuries across Texas.

Dr. Driver was practicing in San Angelo in 1994 when a neighbor girl fell off her bike. Because she wasn't wearing a helmet, she suffered a concussion and passed out. Although she recovered after spending a night in the hospital, the experience moved Dr. Driver. Knowing a bicycle helmet easily could have prevented her injury, he organized the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Hard Hats for Little Heads program.

Since then the Hard Hats program has grown, won numerous awards, and protected nearly 175,000 little Texans from brain injury and possibly even death. TMA physicians, TMA Alliance members, and medical students took up the cause and hosted or volunteered for more than 1,100 Hard Hats events in cities and towns across Texas, often partnering with businesses and community groups to make these events possible.

In gratitude for his work to keep Texas children safe, TMA’s House of Delegates recognized Dr. Driver earlier this month at the association’s annual conference with a standing ovation and a special award.

"Hard Hats provides an opportunity for physicians to get out of the office and into the community to educate children and adults about injury prevention," said Dr. Driver. "The good folks in white coats are providing hard hats for kids, especially those who are disadvantaged and likely don't have helmets."

So far, the Hard Hats program has covered half of Texas’ 254 counties. The goal is to cover the entire state. This year, TMA hopes to give away its 200,000th helmet. During the annual conference, physicians from across Texas came together to support this goal, donating enough to the TMA Foundation (TMAF) to protect more than 1,600 little heads. Annually, TMAF raises upwards of $125,000 to support Hard Hats for Little Heads.

Read more about the Hard Hats for Little Heads program.


Friday, May 9, 2014

TMA Awards Scholarships to Minority Medical Students


Nine minority students entering Texas medical schools this fall each will receive a $5,000 scholarship from the Texas Medical Association (TMA). Students were recognized at TexMed, the association’s annual conference, in Fort Worth for their academic achievement, commitment to community service, and deep desire to care for Texas’ increasingly diverse population.

The TMA Educational Scholarship, Loan, and Awards Committee chose winners from a competitive field of promising future physicians.

TMA created the Minority Scholarship Program to help diversify the physician workforce to fulfill the needs of Texas’ diverse population. The scholarship encourages minority students to enter medicine by lightening their medical school financial burden. Since 1999, TMA has awarded 92 scholarships totaling $460,000.

2014 TMA Minority Scholarship Recipients

  • Brittany Carter of Winnsboro graduated from Rice University in Houston and plans to attend Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine to become a pediatrician. Her scholarship was made possible by Charli and Jim Rohack, MD, Galveston; Susan M. Pike, MD, and Harry T. Papaconstantinou, MD, Georgetown; Libby and Bruce Malone, MD, Austin; Dallas County Medical Society (CMS); and physicians and their families.
  • Claudia Martinez of Houston graduated from the University of Houston. She will attend The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to become a pediatrician or neonatologist. Her scholarship is funded by Gregory R. Johnson, MD, Pearland, and H-E-B.
  • Brian Mbah of Euless graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and plans to attend The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He plans to become a family physician caring for patients in a low socio-economic urban area. C. Enrique Batres, MD, Sugarland, and Mark J. Kubala, MD, Beaumont, funded Mr. Mbah’s scholarship.
  • Victoria Mitre of Spring is a graduate of Texas A&M University. She will attend Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to become an obstetrician-gynecologist. Ms. Mitre’s scholarship is provided by donations from Sarah and Alan Losinger, Dallas; Pamela and Art Klawitter, MD, Needville; the Khushalani Foundation; McLennan CMS; Harris CMS/Houston Academy of Medicine; and physicians and their families.
  • Jo-Anna Palma of El Paso graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and will study obstetrics-gynecology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso. Her scholarship is funded with gifts from the Hidalgo-Starr and El Paso CMSs.
  • Luz Rodriguez of Laredo graduated from the Texas A&M International University in Laredo and will attend Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center-Lubbock. She plans to become a primary care physician. Contributors to Ms. Rodriguez’s scholarship include the Nueces and Travis CMSs; Sukie and Andre Desire, MD, Wichita Falls; and Rose D. Jackson, Palestine, in memory of J. Don Jackson Sr., MD.
  • Maria Ruiz of Dallas graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas and will attend The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to become a primary care physician. Her scholarship was funded with a gift from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.
  • Grecia Sanchez of Houston graduated from Texas A&M University and will attend The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She will study to become an obstetrician-gynecologist. Her scholarship is provided by Drs. Rajam and Somayaji Ramamurthy of San Antonio and H-E-B.
  • Ruben Solis of Buda graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and will attend the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. He plans to specialize in family medicine. Contributors to Mr. Solis’ scholarship include Irvin Robinson, MD, Fort Worth, in memory of Libby Robinson, and in honor of Gilbert Coats, DDS; Dana and Jaime Ronderos, MD, Frisco; Tarrant CMS; and physicians and their families.

The TMA Minority Scholarship program is supported by the TMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of TMA, thanks to generous major supporters and gifts from physicians and their families.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

11 Ways to Make Your Visit to the Doctor Smoother

By Michelle Rodriguez, MD
San Marcos Family Physician

  1. If you are a new patient, ask to fill out your medical history forms ahead of time and get your old records or last set of labs before the visit.
  2. Know which pharmacy you want your medications sent to, including your mail-order company and member number.
  3. Bring your meds with you, including supplements.  Even vitamins are considered medicines.
  4. Be early or at least on time.  When everyone is five-10 minutes late to his or her visit, it is very hard for a doctor to not fall 45-60 minutes behind
  5. Cancel within 24 hours so that your appointment slot can be opened to someone with an acute issue.  When no-shows become frequent, clinics start double-booking, which makes everyone unhappy.
  6. Write down your top three questions.  In our current system, time is limited, often to 15 minutes, so even if your doctor manages to get to all three items, it will not be in the depth that they likely deserved.
  7. Your wellness visit is not the same thing as a med refill visit.  It is meant to catch undiagnosed issues, review screening recommendations, and get vaccines.  It is not the time to fine-tune your diabetes.  If your primary care physician covers both in a single visit, do not be surprised that the visit became a “worried well” or “wellness plus chronic conditions” visit.  It is insurance fraud if the physician does not charge you for the services performed.
  8. If you are coming in about a knee issue, please wears clothes that make it easy to examine the knee.  Otherwise you might get put in paper shorts that flatter no one.
  9. Be patient with the staff.  They often handle 20 calls in an hour while scheduling follow-ups, getting referrals processed, and scanning in records. They are amazing at what they do, but they are often overworked.  Please be understanding if you have to wait while they address an issue for another patient.  One day the frantic person on the other line could be you.
  10. Keep an open mind.  Sometimes you are seeing us because something needs a pill; sometimes it just needs time or nonpharmaceutical treatment.  Your insurance is paying for our expertise and medical opinion when it is an office visit instead of a procedure.  A visit is not a guarantee that we will prescribe medications if we do not feel they are medically necessary.
  11. If your clinic offers an email portal, sign up and check those messages. Many offices do not give their doctors administrative time for phone calls anymore, so we depend on email to communicate with patients faster than if they had to wait for a phone call that requires a quiet room and guarantee of no interruptions for the MD.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TMA Physicians Award Outstanding Science Teachers


TMA Foundation President G. Sealy Massingill, MD (left), and Don Read, MD (right), present awards to teachers Rebecca Williams, Janet Jones, and Betty McCulloch.

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) named three Texas science teachers first-place winners of the 2014 TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching. The prizes were awarded at TexMed, the association’s annual conference, in Fort Worth. These educators help create tomorrow’s physicians by inspiring students in the field of science. Top recipients each are awarded a $5,000 cash prize, and their school receives a $2,000 resource grant toward its science programs.

TMA believes awards like this are important, as just 32 percent of Texas eighth-graders have achieved proficiency in science, according to the National Science Foundation’s “Science and Engineering Indicators 2014” report. Through this award, TMA hopes to help improve these numbers by recognizing innovative teachers and providing them resources to continue motivating and engaging students.

Science professionals from The University of Texas Charles A. Dana Center chose finalists from all the nominees, and physicians from TMA’s Educational Scholarship, Loan, and Awards Committee selected the winners.

Rebecca Williams — Elementary School Winner
Mrs. Williams teaches fifth-grade science at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Denton. She earned a bachelor of arts degree and a master of science degree in science education from Texas Women’s University. Teaching “is a calling similar to ministry or healing,” said Mrs. Williams, whose classroom is filled with objects, sounds, creatures, books, and stories to spark young minds. “I cannot imagine a more meaningful occupation, or one more critical to the well-being of our communities.” During her 23 years at Wilson Elementary, Mrs. Williams made lasting impressions on her students, many of whom are now adults studying in a field of science. Past student Kathryn Hokamp, an evolutionary biology major at Rice University, said of Mrs. Williams, “I never met a teacher more universally influential … her excitement was contagious.”

Betty McCulloch — Middle School Winner
Mrs. McCulloch teaches sixth-grade science at Clear Creek Intermediate School in League City. She learned to love science from her mother, an elementary school science teacher. Mrs. McCulloch inspires students through many means, once promising to eat live worms if they passed state tests. She involves the community in her lesson plans, creating a school Science Night and securing a grant to expand the event district-wide. “Betty McCulloch is a master teacher, impacting the lives of our children, staff, and her community every day,” said Greg Smith, PhD, superintendent of Clear Creek Independent School District. Mrs. McCulloch earned a bachelor of business administration degree from The University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Janet Jones — High School Winner
Mrs. Jones teaches biology, honors biology, and clinical health studies at Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas. With more than 40 years in the classroom, Mrs. Jones counts both the school’s principal and president as her alumni. “I have no idea how many of her former students are now serving as doctors in their communities, but I know that number is formidable,” said alumnus Thomas Garrison, who now is principal of Jesuit College Preparatory School. She created the Jesuit Medical Society, a club where students explore the possibility of a career in the medical field. Each year, Mrs. Jones coordinates a medical mission trip to Guatemala, where students care for patients alongside volunteer physicians. Mrs. Jones graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Mount Marty College-Yankton in South Dakota.

The TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching are supported by the TMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of TMA, thanks to an endowment established by Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler of Austin and a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, which has generously supported this program for 10 years.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

TMA Elects Abilene Physician President


The Texas Medical Association (TMA) has elected Austin I. King, MD, of Abilene as its 149th president. TMA’s House of Delegates, the association’s policymaking body, elected Dr. King today during TMA’s annual conference in Fort Worth.

“I am honored to lead and advocate on behalf of the more than 47,000 physicians of TMA,” said Dr. King. “I look forward to working with our members to find ways to improve Texas’ health care.”

The Abilene otolaryngologist — an ear, nose, and throat specialist ― described priorities for his year as TMA president.

“Physicians and patients both are challenged by a dysfunctional health system, which tends to drive us apart,” he said. “It is only by working together that patients and their physicians can improve the system and make it work.”

As America’s health care system evolves, Dr. King said he believes TMA must continue to preserve the autonomy of physicians and the integrity of the patient-physician relationship. “We often cannot control change,” he said, “but we can control how we respond. I believe patients and physicians must come together to reclaim health care. Only together can we face the challenge of improving health care for future generations.”

Dr. King expressed concern that physician organizations have been increasingly marginalized in health care policy decisions. As TMA represents physicians who ultimately are responsible for all medical care, Dr. King believes it is critical physicians participate in all medical care and health care delivery discussions.

That type of involvement is routine for Dr. King, who has dedicated more than 30 years to improving the health of Texans. He is board-certified in otolaryngology and has practiced medicine for 35 years. He cares for otolaryngology, head, and neck surgery patients in his private practice in Abilene. He operates a clinical voice research lab in Abilene, and helped to build one of the first ambulatory surgical centers in Texas.

Dr. King is a member of the TMA Board of Trustees and has served as its secretary. He has chaired TMA’s Council on Legislation; served on the Executive Committee of TEXPAC, the TMA Political Action Committee; and served as a trustee of the TMA Foundation (TMAF), the association’s philanthropic arm. Currently, Dr. King is a member of TMAF’s Leadership Society, having donated his time and resources to charitable endeavors the foundation funds.

He is a past president of the Taylor-Jones-Haskell-Callahan County Medical Society and has represented the society as a delegate to TMA’s House of Delegates. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, and participates in several national and state organizations dedicated to otolaryngology, head, and neck surgery, and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

In his community, Dr. King has served as vice president and long-time board member of the Presbyterian Medical Care Mission, an organization that provides health and wellness services to thousands of people lacking access to basic care. Dr. King also is a Paul Harris Rotary Fellow, an Eagle Scout, a past member of the Abilene Chamber Military Affairs Committee, and was named Honorary Hospital Commander for Dyess Air Force Base.

Dr. King received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed residencies in general surgery and otolaryngology. Between completing medical school and his residencies, he completed an externship at the Royal Institute of Laryngology and Otology in London, England. Dr. King began his studies at Trinity University in San Antonio where he received a bachelor’s degree in biology.

He is married to Rep. Susan King (R-Abilene), a surgical nurse. They have been married for 36 years, and have three children and three grandchildren.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Fort Worth Leaders Honored by TMA Foundation

Leaders Honored for Healthy Now, Healthy Future Initiatives

The Texas Medical Association Foundation honored two Fort Worth health advocates with its prestigious Health Leader Award today. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Project Access Tarrant County (PATC) received their awards during the TMA Foundation’s 21st annual gala at the Omni Fort Worth.

“These outstanding Fort Worth health leaders show us what can be accomplished when medicine, business, and community come together — the health of Texans can measurably improve,” said G. Sealy Massingill, MD, Fort Worth OB-Gyn and TMA Foundation president.

Individual Health Leader Award Winner: Mayor Price will receive the Individual Health Leader Award for promoting active lifestyles and creating a citywide environment that encourages healthy choices. She has implemented many health promotion programs that improve the health of the community. She was instrumental in developing and implementing FitWorth, Walk! Fort Worth, and the Blue Zone urban project.

  • FitWorth is a citywide initiative promoting active lifestyles and healthy habits in both kids and adults.
  • The Walk! Fort Worth Pedestrian Transportation Plan is under development and aims to make walking around Fort Worth safer and more convenient.
  • The Blue Zone urban project is a citywide wellness program with the goal of helping residents improve their health and live longer. Using the Blue Zone Project model, the Greater Los Angeles Area reduced obesity by 14 percent and smoking by 30 percent, and increased exercise and healthy eating by 10 and 9 percent, respectively.

Under Mayor Price’s direction, Fort Worth has become a prominent bicycling community with miles of new bike lanes and trails. She also promotes health and safety prevention by supporting the work of the Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance, who brought TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads program to Fort Worth Independent School District and who annually  vaccinate an average of 5,600residents through the Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County.

“Being a healthy and productive city starts at the top,” said Mayor Price. “I’m proud to be the mayor of a city that is passionate about promoting active lifestyles. Healthy citizens mean a thriving city and a strong workforce.”

Program Health Leader Award Winner: PATC will receive the Program Health Leader Award for providing free health care to uninsured Tarrant County patients. Project Access was created by Tarrant County Medical Society (TCMS) in 2010 to ensure low-income individuals who lack insurance and do not qualify for public assistance have access to care.

Project Access patients see specialty physicians and receive all other needed health care services (hospital inpatient and outpatient services, lab work, imaging, rehabilitation, medications, etc.) at no cost.

Patients turn to PATC for their medical needs instead of using area emergency rooms. To date, Project Access has qualified more than 350 individuals for participation in the program. Currently, it has 160 active patients with an additional 60 patients waiting to be matched to volunteer physicians. These services have resulted in more than $3.5 million in donated health care from physician volunteers, hospitals, and ancillary providers. Other founding partners include Catholic Charities; Diocese of Fort Worth, Inc.; Sid W. Richardson Foundation; and the Amon G. Carter Foundation.

Joe Todd, MD, a Fort Worth orthopedic surgeon who helped get the program up and running, says, “Project Access is about giving back to the community we live in. We have a lot of people who need care in Tarrant County, and this is an effective way to pool resources and deliver affordable health care to folks who really need it."

Past TMAF Health Leaders Award Winners

  • H-E-B and its president, Scott McClelland, who are known for their strong commitment to improve Texan’s health and well-being through community outreach. 
  • Joel Dunnington, MD, Houston, known for his lifetime work to stop the devastating health effects of tobacco use.
  • Gracie Cavnar, the founder and pro-bono CEO of Recipe for Success Foundation (RFS), which takes a hands-on approach to nutrition education aimed at tackling childhood obesity and helping families make healthy eating choices.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

ZDoggMD Fires Up Texas Physicians in Fort Worth

Modern health care has become a monstrous system filled with baggage and regulations, but physicians can turn the tide by experimenting with new models of care that put the focus back on the patient-physician relationship. That’s the crux of the message Zubin Damania, MD, will share with physicians attending the Texas Medical Association’s annual conference, TexMed 2014 in Fort Worth tomorrow.

In his presentation, Redefining the Culture of Medicine, he’ll delve into the ethical challenges to delivering excellent care in a troubled health care system while proposing new ways to revitalize it. “None of us intended to have the system that we have,” says Dr. Damania. “Patients all know it’s a horribly dysfunctional system.” He wants to create a new system that will allow doctors to retain their passion for patients.

What sets Dr. Damania apart from other speakers is his alter ego, ZDoggMD, a rapper well known in physician circles for his musical antics, dope beats, and fresh lyrics about health care topics. ZDoggMD has attracted thousands of Internet viewers by transforming catchy songs by Miley Cyrus, Usher, Notorious B.I.G., and other popular artists into side-splitting music video parodies about infections, first aid, pharmaceuticals, and the joys and headaches of medicine. Viewers can tune in to Dr. Damania’s presentation via tape-delayed stream at 5:30 pm CT tomorrow.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Repost.Us