UT Southwestern provides lab space for scientists and long-term care for Hurricane Katrina evacuees

DALLAS - Sept. 16, 2005 - UT Southwestern Medical Center is continuing its efforts to provide long-term assistance to those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, including sharing laboratory space with Louisiana scientists, offering families mental health-care counseling and accommodating students, residents and fellows so they can continue with their medical careers.

Dr. David Mangelsdorf, professor of pharmacology at UT Southwestern, opened his laboratory this week to Dr. Steven Hill of Tulane Health Sciences Center. A professor of structural and cellular biology whose research focuses on breast cancer, Dr. Hill lost many of his research samples, such as cell lines and chemicals stored in refrigeration units.

Dr. Mangelsdorf is providing space and resources to help Dr. Hill store new materials and rebuild his research program.

In addition, researchers from Tulane and Louisiana State University working in the fields of microbiology and immunology are making arrangements to set up temporary operations in UT Southwestern laboratories.

Health care by the numbers

After working around the clock with colleagues from every major hospital system in the Dallas area at the Dallas Convention Center Medical Unit (DCCMU), UT Southwestern personnel helped close the field hospital Friday where thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees were treated during the past two weeks.

The DCCMU medical operation offered services in routine care, urgent care, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, podiatry, ophthalmology, dentistry, mental health and chiropractic services. With bed and seating capacity for more than 80 patients, the unit was approximately 16,000 square feet in size. From Sept. 1 to Sept. 13, the DCCMU and two smaller ancillary medical sites (Reunion Arena and Decker) provided more than 8,000 treatments to evacuee patients.

During the 13-day period, the DCCMU operation provided care to 3,015 urgent cases, 3,364 routine cases, 711 pediatric cases, 138 obstetrics/gynecology cases and 461 mental health cases. On average, the medical staff saw 615 patients each day, according to Dr. Raymond Fowler, associate professor of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern and deputy medical director of operations and quality assurance for the Dallas Area BioTel (EMS) System. Dr. Fowler oversaw the Dallas Convention Center Medical Unit.

"This was a remarkable countywide and citywide cooperative effort of which I was proud to be a part," Dr. Fowler said.

Ophthalmology provided prescription glasses or vouchers for prescription glasses to 670 people. In addition, 80 pairs of reading glasses were dispensed. Dental services inclusive of extractions, appliance repair/replacement and dentures were provided to hundreds of evacuees.

Two separate, dedicated transportation resources also were established to provide access to local emergency departments and scheduled subspecialty healthcare services (dialysis, chemotherapy, etc).

Free counseling for families

Meanwhile, the Department of Psychiatry's Family Studies Center is offering free counseling services for evacuated families. The center, founded in 1973 as an independent non-profit counseling organization, became a division of UT Southwestern's psychiatry department in 2004.

"Our goal, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is to work with families impacted by the disaster and in particular, to help parents assist their children in dealing with their feelings and emotions related to the recent traumatic changes in their lives," said Dr. Wayne Denton, associate professor of psychiatry and the center's director. "We feel families are better able to recover and move on with their lives by working through things together."

Families who are Katrina evacuees can make an appointment with the center by calling 214-648-6945.

Care for the youngest victims

A toll-free number - 800-876-2112 - streamlines follow-up care for children. Patients can arrange subspecialty visits at Children's Medical Center Dallas or primary care visits at convenient locations in the community. UT Southwestern, Children's and Parkland Memorial Hospital's Community Oriented Primary Care health centers are working together to coordinate locations for primary care appointments.  

The toll-free number will be staffed by the Children's outpatient contact center and will be manned from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Student starts anew in Dallas

Educational assistance for displaced medical and graduate students, residents and fellows also is available at UT Southwestern.

UT Southwestern Medical School is making spaces available for a few third-year medical students. The medical center also is prepared to accommodate residents and fellows as space becomes available in various departments.

Elizabeth Miner, 23, is one of the students taking advantage of UT Southwestern's offer.

A student at Louisiana State University, Ms. Miner has been accepted into the physical therapy program at UT Southwestern. The New Orleans native was a third-semester occupational therapy student when Hurricane Katrina devastated her hometown. The health sciences New Orleans campus where Ms. Miner attended school has yet to reopen. Her family's home also was destroyed and her parents had to relocate to Baton Rouge.

Ms. Miner has a 4.0 grade-point average. She graduated with honors from the University of Georgia where she majored in sport science with a concentration in pre-physical therapy.

Click here for additional Hurricane Katrina news from UT Southwestern



Media Contact: Connie Piloto
e-mail: connie.piloto@utsouthwestern.edu

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