EDUCATION PREPARING THE COMMUNITY FOR A NEW DISEASE THREAT Probably the biggest health news of 2016 was the threat of the Zika virus, and the growing alarm about the risk of birth defects and fetal deaths that accompanied it. University Health System began preparing physicians and staff for Zika even before the first Bexar County case was confirmed in January in someone who had traveled to a country where the virus had spread. As you know, we at University Health System are serious about preparing for emerging disease threats; Dr. Bryan Alsip, executive vice president and chief medical officer, wrote in an alert to staff. If we are fortunate, those threats may not materialize. However, being ready is a commitment we make to our patients, our staff and our community: The virus is transmitted mainly by the Aedas-type mosquito, which is found in abundance in South Texas. Because of that risk, the leadership team at University Health System decided to take a lead role in making sure the entire community was informed and ready. Dr. Alsip and other members of the medical staff, including Dr. Patrick Ramsey, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist; and University Hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Dr. Jason Bowling - both with The University of Texas Health Science Center -were interviewed throughout the year by media organizations. Both Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Bowling were panelists along with Dr. Anil Mang la with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in a community forum about Zika virus at the UT Health Science Center, sponsored by Texas Public Radio in late August. The Health System also created a Zika virus education website for the public, easily accessible from its home page, universityhealthsystem.com. The site includes easy-to-understand information about the virus, its risks, ways to reduce the mosquito population and why using repellants is important. In addition, the Health System has been working with other local organizations in a Zika Virus Community Planning Group to coordinate preparedness, and formed its own internal Zika Response Group that met regularly to discuss clinical protocols, testing, blood safety, communications and other issues. As of November, two patients had been diagnosed by University Health System healthcare providers - both of whom contracted the virus outside the United States.
2016 See How We See Annual Report
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