Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas — Around 4:30 on Thursday morning, a number of people – I don’t know how many exactly, but my rough guess is 500 million – received a note from my personal email account.
It told them that, to everyone’s surprise, I was in England for a Seminar (capitalized, for no reason). It also said that everything was going fine. Fine, except for the fact that I’d lost my wallet, credit cards and money, was stranded in another country, and was so desperate that I was apparently emailing 500 million or so people for help.
(By the way, how great must everything else in my life be going for me to have such a terrible emergency in a foreign country, and yet for “everything” to average out to “going fine”? Maybe the Baylor Women’s Basketball team is still undefeated and just claimed the outright Big 12 Title. Or maybe it was really, and I mean really, a great Seminar.)
The email then asked each and every reader to send me $2,800 to help in this time of need. And it was signed “Richard,” which I guess is the name I use when I’m stuck in another country and hitting folks up for money. Or it could be the name I used to register for the Seminar.
I’m thinking that computer hackers need better proof-readers.
Yeah, someone hacked into my account. It took pretty much the whole day and a rather exquisite amount of pain to get things back to normal. I truly am fine now.
The good – or maybe bad – news is that this experience revealed who my friends are. And, judging by the lack of response to this urgent request, I’m frankly disappointed in everyone.
I mean, sure, it turned out to be a scam. But how could you have really known that at the time? It seems a little unseemly to hide behind that sort of excuse in my alleged time of need.
And let me be clear: if, at some point, you get a request from, let’s say, my re-election campaign asking for money – no excuses. It’s for real.
Catching up on the med school
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the new playbook we’re putting together to build a medical school, teaching hospital and other vital healthcare resources in Austin. And I’ll have more to say over the next couple of weeks about questions that have come up about this effort and what we’re doing to answer them.
Today, I want to make sure you saw a few pieces that have run over the last couple of weeks on why medical education is so important and the progress we’re making in Austin.
First off, the Houston Chronicle ran an editorial a couple of weeks ago noting the severe lack of doctors in the state and the need for programs to ensure there are enough providers to give Texans the healthcare they need.
The editorial notes we should embrace every alternative that’s available: new medical schools, more residencies for graduate med students, efforts to improve quality and efficiency while steering folks with routine medical issues away from emergency rooms … you name it.
That’s an important point that no one should lose sight of: as much as a medical school, and all of the resources that come with it, would mean to our health, economy and quality of life here in Austin and Central Texas, not building one would actually hurt the state.
We simply need more doctors – in this region and across Texas – and we need to make the proven investments that will make sure we have them.
Progress amid the work
Fortunately, the region continues to make progress and add assets that will make a medical school that much more effective – and make Central Texans that much healthier.
First, we cut the ribbon last week on a new North Austin clinic that’ll provide healthcare to thousands of Travis County residents. It really is the kind of thing that makes you proud of what we can accomplish in this community.
It’s also the kind of development that will help us achieve the 10 Goals in 10 Years we’ve set out for our health, our neighborhoods and our economy.
On top of that, the Seton Healthcare Family, together with the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School, has announced that it will launch Austin’s first residency program in emergency medicine, bringing eight doctors to University Medical Center Brackenridge and other local facilities to treat patients and train.
These sorts of residencies are the backbone of medical education in Austin, and they’re something we already have a lot of.
Right now, there are about 100 third-year and fourth-year University of Texas Medical Branch students in Austin full-time to complete their training and help treat patients. And we have another 200 residents in our community through the affiliation agreement between Seton and UT-Southwestern.
Think of it this way: with these programs, Austin has many pillars needed for a medical school. We just don’t have the building or the ability to offer things like a four-year degree and joint-degree programs.
It’s time – it’s past time – to build out these programs, connect them to the research and training that’s already going on at the University of Texas, and create the vast resources that will help Central Texans live longer, healthier and more prosperous lives.