February 19, 1999
Volume XXXII No. 7

Speedy Internet access in store for 65 health facilities

Multimillion-dollar state grant will help HSC coordinate hook-up of rural, underserved clinical sites

The Health Science Center's Center for Distance Learning and Telehealth (CDLTH) will coordinate delivery of high-speed Internet access to dozens of South Texas health care facilities in 1999-2000, thanks to a $2.9 million state grant awarded in January.

As a public service the Health Science Center will administer the funding from the Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF). Grants of up to $45,000 per site will be used for computer equipment, networking materials and related telecommunications costs. The grants will be distributed to 65 facilities receiving Internet access. Funding support to develop site-based computer training materials and courses is also available.

"This initiative will serve mostly rural health and other unconnected facilities," said Dr. Helen Cronenberger, CDLTH director. "The grants will provide them high-speed Internet connections to medical informatics resources such as our Briscoe Library or the National Library of Medicine. The facilities will also have the technology to develop telehealth applications, such as remote physician consultation."

No administrative costs will be paid the Health Science Center. "This is truly a public service to these sites," Dr. Cronenberger said.

The Health Science Center and the 65 partners have formed the UTHSCSA Internet Collaborative. The goal is to incorporate high-speed Internet access as a research, communications and health care delivery tool.

"We are in the process of training our people to use high-speed Internet to deliver video of continuing education conferences, grand rounds and more," said Tom Bickford, CDLTH assistant director of special projects, who is coordinating the TIF grant project.

Currently many health facilities across the state are connected to the Internet via telephone lines considerably slower than the technology to be installed. The state, backed by legislative mandate, is building a high-speed network utilizing the Internet-related resources of the Health Science Center and other academic health science centers statewide.

Sites dot the South Texas/Border Region, including facilities in McAllen, Mission, Harlingen, Laredo, Uvalde and Kerrville, Bickford said. Each site collaborated with the CDLTH to write its own grant proposal. A list of the sites is available online.

"Our first goal is to answer the how- to-do-it, when-to-do-it and how-to-pay- for-it questions at each site," Bickford said. "We have to get T1 line (a high-speed telecommunications technology) installed to all the sites. We have to negotiate contracts with Internet service providers, mostly through the Texas higher education network called VNET. Then we will start purchasing $2 million dollars worth of equipment."

"One of the Health Science Center's main roles is to train personnel at these sites," Dr. Cronenberger added. "Many individuals do not know how to use computers or how to access health informatics databases. The Briscoe Library and its director, Dr. Virginia Bowden, are planning training efforts."

Last summer the TIF Board announced the Telehealth Internet Connectivity Initiative, an effort to improve health care delivery and modernize Texas' public health telecommunications infrastructure. Some 330 public and not-for-profit health care facilities partnered to form 21 collaborative organizations for the purpose of submitting funding applications.

Fifteen of the Health Science Center's service sites are in the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. Two of the sites are public school health clinics.

The UTHSCSA Internet Collaborative is one of several Center for Distance Learning and Telehealth programs aimed at improving the quality and accessibility of health care education and health care delivery in South Texas. More information about the TIF Board is available on the Web.

The CDLTH also has a Web site.


Hospital preceptors help HSC's nursing students learn the clinical ropes

nursing program

Twenty undergraduate nursing students are participating in a unique partnership program with the Methodist Healthcare System--a collaboration that will provide a full complement of clinical skills experiences and help future nurses hone critical decision-making skills.

Dr. Nancy Girard, R.N., associate professor and chair of the Department of Acute Nursing Care Department, oversees the program that is now in its second semester.

Under the agreement, student volunteers receive almost all of their clinical training at Methodist Hospital, studying at the hospital for four semesters. This program differs from the usual practice of assigning students to one or more health care institutions each semester where they learn clinical skills such as giving injections or assessing and managing patients' respiratory status.

Sometimes opportunities for hands-on skills training do not materialize--students can spend weeks in a clinical environment and never have an opportunity to give an injection, for example. Such skills would be taught in a campus lab environment.

"This program practically guarantees that students will learn all the required clinical skills in a patient setting, rather than in a learning lab," explained Dr. Girard. "The ultimate goal is preparing students to give the highest quality care possible to their patients. This program helps prepare students to address the big problems, 'think on their feet' and make crucial decisions in a minute. We have many student volunteers for the program."

Each semester eight to 10 beginning students, working under the guidance of a faculty clinical instructor, are assigned to a registered nurse "partner" (or preceptor) at Methodist Hospital. "One of the best things about the program is the availability of partners on the floor," said Dawn Cummins, one of the first student volunteers for the Methodist program last fall and a return participant to the program this semester. "They are always willing to answer our questions and provide supervision as we perform various procedures.

"Also, they periodically quiz us and ask questions that enhance our clinical experience. Besides providing us with a wide variety of clinical experiences, the program helps me learn more about nursing specialties and career possibilities. I also like the idea of being with the same group of students for all four semesters--the situation facilitates teamwork in a big way."

Patricia Davidson, R.N., M.S.N., C.S., and Dr. Florence Crawford, R.N., Department of Family Nursing Care, are the clinical instructors for Cummins and the other nine students this semester. Last semester the group studied with Dr. Margaret Bell, R.N., assistant professor in the Department of Chronic Nursing Care.

The skills competency tests given to students at the hospital were developed by Dr. Dorothy del Bueno, R.N. "Dr. del Bueno is an international leader in skills testing, and Methodist has been very generous in sharing this program, which it purchased for its own nursing staff," Dr. Girard said.

"Students are tested the same way that practicing nurses at Methodist are tested. Each student carries a notebook that lists the required skills. When the students get opportunities to perform skills, they check them and date them. At the end of the fourth semester, they'll know exactly what they've accomplished."

Other student volunteers, who are not participating in the new program, are undergoing the competency skills testing at the end of every semester. Dr. del Bueno, Methodist partnership leaders and faculty will compare the two groups' skills competency levels and further evaluate the outcomes of the partnership venture.

"We're interested in forming collaborations that help both the health care institutions and our students," said Dr. Girard.

Under the agreement, co-developed by Dr. Mary Jackle, R.N., at Methodist Hospital, students will have multiple hands-on training experiences. The hospital will have an opportunity to offer jobs to well-educated nurses who are familiar with the hospital system.

"This program doesn't guarantee they'll have a job," Dr. Girard said, "but they will have a better opportunity.

"I think this is an exciting project and the wave of the future," she said. "It calls for learning on both sidesfaculty are adapting new teaching strategies to work more closely with the partners in the hospital, and the partners are learning how to teach and evaluate the students. Students, faculty and partners are very enthused by its early success."


Campus computer store is moving

The UTHSCSA Computer Store, which opened in July 1993 in computing resources' room 417, was scheduled to be relocated to the second-floor Bookstore of the Health Science Professions on Friday (Feb. 19), officials said.

Computer Store employees Ben Smith and Hank Gath have joined the bookstore staff, and colleague Bob Sabia has moved to the Department of Pathology as technical support representative. Gath was named the interim bookstore manager in January as the bookstore transitions from the leadership of longtime Manager C.A. Austin, who is retiring effective April 30.

"To make things more convenient for our customers, assistance for both hardware and software purchases will be available in one place on campus," Gath said. "We will relocate the Computer Store on Feb. 19 and reopen in the bookstore on Monday, Feb. 22."

Customers of the Computer Store will be able to select hardware off the appropriate Web site of Apple or Compaq, based on special contract pricing for UTHSCSA. Gateway contract pricing likely will be avail-able soon, Gath said. The customers will submit LYNX requisitions to the Purchasing Office for departmental purchases, or make credit card purchases for personal orders.

In a related organizational change which took effect Jan. 11, overall fiscal oversight of bookstore operations was assigned to the director of purchasing, Wayne Reed. "Advantages should be gained through use of emerging technologies, and through synergies of more closely aligned bookstore, Computer Store and Purchasing Office staffs," Reed said.

"These changes bring together two operations previously reporting separately," Reed said. "The bookstore was assigned to Executive Director of Financial Services Steve Lynch, and the Computer Store was assigned to Larry Shipley, director of desktop customer services. The means of acquiring computers for departments on campus should be significantly streamlined with this realignment."

Faculty, staff and students are invited to visit the new addition of the Computer Store within the bookstore starting Monday (Feb. 22). For more information about the changes, call Gath at ext. 2842 or Reed at ext. 6038.


Newly Granted

The following new and competitive-renewal grants and awards were recorded in 1998 by the grants management office. Many are ongoing in 1999.

Cellular & Structural Biology

Endodontics

Family Practice

General Dentistry

Hispanic Center of Excellence

Laboratory Animal Resources

Medicine

Ophthalmology

Orthopaedics

Pathology

Pediatrics

Pharmacology

Physiology

Prosthodontics

Psychiatry

Radiology

Restorative Dentistry

Surgery


Grant workshop set for April 17

Researchers, mark your calendars! A workshop titled "Do You Want to Learn How to Write Winning Grants?" will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 17, in lecture hall 3.104A.

The course fee is $10 and includes lunch; deadline for registering is March 31. For more information, call Rosie Marti, medicine, ext. 4978.

The speakers are Drs. Stephen Russell and David Morrison, active NIH-funded investigators who are experts on writing grants.


HealthWalk organizational meeting Feb. 23

The 16th annual March of Dimes HealthWalk for Healthier Babies will be held at the Health Science Center track on April 8. Every year, participating health professionals and support staff take two laps around the track, the triumphant culmination of their drive to seek donations for the fight against birth defects.

A HealthWalk kick-off meeting for departmental representatives is scheduled for noon Tuesday, Feb. 23, in room 1.284T of the Dental School building. This is the best opportunity for representatives to obtain sponsor forms, posters and other materials for their areas.

The 1999 HealthWalk chairman is veteran volunteer Anna Uriegas, biochemistry. Anyone with questions may call her at ext. 3769.

Last year's HealthWalk raised $18,200 for research programs supported by March of Dimes.


Physical plant send-off

Atkins

Tommy Atkins (right), longtime director of physical plant, visits with electricians John Elliott (left) and Garland Coble during a Jan. 21 reception honoring Atkins' retirement. Atkins was the subject of good-natured kidding by a number of speakers at the reception, including his longtime friend, Vern Hine, audiovisual services. Steve Lynch, financial services, noted that square footage of the physical plant was increased by 1.7 million during Atkins' 21-year tenure. At the same time, the annual physical plant operating cost per square foot actually decreased, from $4.34 in 1978 to the current $3.87. Lynch said that was quite a testimony to Atkins' program of utility retrofitting and to his overall philosophy of fiscal conservation. Atkins' wife, Annetta, and daughter, Linda, accompanied him at the reception. Retirement plans include visiting their son, Jim, in Wisconsin and taking a vacation to Big Bend National Park.






Greetings from Tajik ambassador

ambassador

The Health Science Center was privileged to host a visit Feb. 8 by The Honorable H.E. Rashid Alimov, the United Nations ambassador from the Republic of Tajikistan. The republic is a mountainous nation north of Afghanistan in Central Asia. Alimov was in Texas for a Houston conference with ambassadors from other Central Asian countries. He also visited UTSA during a two-day side trip to San Antonio. His wife, ear-nose-and-throat physician Dr. Zamira Asimova, accompanied him. Pictured from his visit with Dr. John P. Howe, III, president, are (L-R) Lyudmilla Lapshina, executive assistant to the ambassador; Jerry Gomez, Mexican American Physicians Association vice president for sales; Ambassador Alimov; Dr. Howe; Dr. Asimova; and Liliya Santalova, a Tajik exchange student in her junior year studying international business at UTSA. Gomez's family is hosting Santalova during her stay in San Antonio.




Committee calls for early nominations for Employee Excellence in Service Awards

Nominations for the Employee Excellence in Service Awards will be accepted several months earlier than usual this year--from March 1 to June 30 instead of the traditional June 1 to Aug. 31. The change was approved recently by the Employee Excellence in Service Award Selection Committee.

"Two things were wrong with the previous timing," said Tony Ramirez, director of the Office of Human Resources and chair of the Award Selection Committee. "The nominations were invited just as the university was trying to wrap up the fiscal year, and most of the faculty from the School of Nursing were not on campus due to contractual requirements."

Nomination forms are available from the Employee Development & Training Office or from the human resources Web site. Ramirez urges everyone to read and follow the directions contained in the nomination package. "By following the directions for the program, we ensure that all of the nominations submitted are given equal consideration for this prestigious award," he said.

The Award Selection Committee streamlined the nomination form this year. "We hope the changes made to the form by the committee will make it easier for people to complete," Ramirez said.

Dr. John P. Howe, III, president, will present the awards to this year's winners during a fall ceremony. Up to five Health Science Center classified and/or administrative and professional (A&P) employees may win. The award comes with a $1,000 stipend and plaque.


In Memoriam

'Red' Schulmeier was a cowboy at heart

Schulmeier

Loyd "Red" Schulmeier, automotive mechanic II in the Physical Plant Department, died Feb. 2 on the Old Chisholm Trail Ride in Stockdale. He was 58.

As was the case a number of other times over the years, his destination was the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. According to a story in the San Antonio Express-News, he went to his motor home to rest after a full day of riding and never awoke.

"Almost always in a cowboy hat and jeans and straddling one of his horses, Schulmeier was the picture of a Texas cowboy," the Express-News article said.

"Four years ago a man died on the trail ride," remembered his physical plant colleague, fellow rider and good friend, Marcus Falcon. "Red said, 'If I have to go, that's the way I want to go--on a trail ride.' He was doing what he loved and was where he loved doing it."

Schulmeier started his employment at the Health Science Center on Nov. 1, 1987. He worked on all university vehicles. "He was set in his ways and you weren't going to change them," Falcon said. "We went on at least 12 trail rides together over the years."

Red, born and raised in San Antonio, lived with his sister, Darleen, and her husband in St. Hedwig for the past 17 years. He enjoyed the company of his two horses, Baby Doll and Misty, and his dog, Patches.

Funeral services for Schulmeier were held at the Sunset Memorial Park and Funeral Home on Austin Highway. Survivors include three daughters, two sisters and a brother.


Making the rounds


University Health System Research Department provides assistance

The University Health System (UHS) Research Department on the 11th floor of University Hospital was developed to help Health Science Center researchers implement their protocols.

The department, located in room 1148/1150, provides administrative assistance to researchers using the University Health System. All Institutional Review Board-approved protocols, including those classified as "exempt" or "expedited," that make use of the University Health System must have approval from the office before start-up.

For more information, call 358-4815. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Index of issues



THE NEWS is published Fridays by the Office of Public Affairs for faculty and staff of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
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