University Medical Center

A student cyclist was transferred to the University Medical Center after being struck by an automobile on the corner of Whitis Avenue and 27th Street in West Campus.

Martha Rey, who was present as first responders tended to the victim, said the victim was struck by a female motorist. Rey said the motorist stopped to render aid. 

“I was coming from Dean Keeton when I saw people gathered around a person on the ground,” Rey said. “Her windshield was completely shattered. There was a gash on the side of his face and his arm appeared to be caved in.”  

According to Rey, bystanders tried to stop the victim’s bleeding before Austin EMS, the Austin Police Department and UTPD arrived at the scene. 

Cpl. David Boyd, an APD spokesman, said the victim was conscious and breathing at the scene. There was no indication that the injuries were serious.

Warren Hassinger, an Austin EMS spokesman, confirmed that the victim had “non life-threatening injuries.” 

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said UTPD was able to confirm that the victim was a student but was unable to provide specific details. 

According to Rey, several bystanders at the scene took pictures of the victim with their cell phones. 

“It was heartless,” Rey said. “It absolutely disgusted me. They didn’t even ask if he was going to be OK. Five or six of them went up to the victim, took their pictures and left.”  

 

More than 400 Austin-area doctors have signaled their support for a Nov. 6 ballot initiative that would increase property taxes in Travis County to help fund a new UT medical school and teaching hospital.

If approved, Proposition 1 would increase property taxes to Central Health, a political subdivision that administers health care services for underserved citizens in the Travis County area, by 5 cents, from 7.89 cents to 12.9 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Central Health proposed the ballot initiative in August to fund the school, hospital and other health initiatives.

Although the UT System Board of Regents approved preliminary funding for the school, no timetable for completion has been released.

Dr. Guadalupe Zamora, treasurer for Keep Austin Healthy, a political action committee formed to support the increase, said the initiative would attract experienced residents and faculty and would introduce students to the medical profession.

“Being able to bring fantastic new minds into the field would be a feather in Austin’s cap,” Zamora said.

Dr. Christopher Garrison, program director of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency at University Medical Center at Brackenridge, said the school would expand medical research and care for citizens.

Lynda Rife, spokesperson for Keep Austin Healthy, said the revenue from the proposed tax increase would fund primary care, specialty care and trauma care for patients at the new hospital. The Seton Healthcare Family of Hospitals has pledged to contribute $250 million to the hospital. In August, the Austin American-Statesman reported that the school would cost an estimated $4.1 billion over 12 years.

Rife said without the tax increase, the hospital would not be able to provide adequate medical care.

“It’s an investment,” Rife said. “If you vote yes, you will get something for your money.”

In addition, Rife said the federal government will provide $1.46 for every dollar raised through property taxes to go toward the hospital. She said the hospital and school would create about 15,000 jobs and raise an estimated $2 billion annually. In May, the UT System Board of Regents approved the allocation of $30 million in annual operating costs toward the school. The board also pledged $5 million a year for eight years for laboratory equipment.

Don Zimmerman, founder and treasurer of Travis County Taxpayers Union, a political action committee that opposes the increase, said he does not see the need for a tax increase.
“We’re being taxed out of our homes,” Zimmerman said.

Last week, the Austin City Council approved a budget that includes a separate increase in property taxes and utility fees. Effective Oct. 1, the property tax rate collected by the city will increase from 48.11 cents per $100 of assessed property value to 50.29 cents.

Zimmerman said he does not see why the UT System needs to open and operate another medical school.

The UT System currently operates six health institutions in Dallas, Houston, Tyler, San Antonio and Galveston. The UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas also sponsors a residency program specializing in internal medicine at University Medical Center at Brackenridge. Some schools, including the UT Southwestern Medical Center and the UT Health Science Center at Houston, use a local hospital funded by property taxes collected by the cities they are in as their primary teaching hospital.

Printed on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 as: New medical school tax increase proposal prompts discussion

On Sunday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that the Seton Family of Hospitals pledged up to $250 million for a new Austin hospital to replace the University Medical Center at Brackenridge. Brackenridge is operated by Seton under a lease from its publicly-funded owner, Central Health. This new hospital could serve as a teaching hospital and offer support for an Austin-based medical school operated by the UT System.

The UT System currently operates six health campuses in Dallas, Houston, Galveston, San Antonio and Tyler. Four of these have associated medical schools that in total enrolled 912 medical students in 2011, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. A new Austin medical school operated by the UT System would move Austin off the list of largest U.S. cities without a medical school.

It would also help alleviate a problem noted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in a recent report on medical education in Texas: A looming lack of Texas residency program capacity for graduates of Texas medical schools.

The board, at the request of the 82nd Legislature, examined residency programs in Texas and concluded that 63 graduates of Texas medical schools will have to leave the state to complete residency programs by 2014 if no new programs are added, according to The Texas Tribune.

The board further noted that medical students who leave the state for residency programs are unlikely to return.

According to a survey conducted by the American Medical Association and cited by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in its report, physicians generally prefer to practice in the state their residency was completed in.

This should worry the Legislature and governor because the state currently spends $168,000 supporting the education of each medical student who graduates from a Texas medical school, including the private Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The state’s commitment to medical education in Texas should not end at graduation. A new medical school in Austin with expanded capacity for residents would give the state another opportunity to give every medical student an opportunity to stay.

Greg Hartman, president and CEO of Seton Medical Center Austin and University Medical Center Brackenridge, said that the agreement Sunday to construct a new hospital “was not about UT at all,” according to The Daily Texan. But the deal has implications for UT and the prospects for a future medical school here. In a non-binding letter signed Saturday, members of the Central Health Board of Managers agreed to collaborate with Seton to, among other things, “support a medical school under the auspices of the University of Texas at Austin,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The construction of a new medical school in Austin and an associated increase in residency programs at a new Seton-sponsored hospital would improve the quality of healthcare for Central Texas residents. Higher education in Texas would also benefit from increased capacity to train future doctors in a rapidly growing state. The deal between Seton and Travis County as well as the commitment from Central Health to work to create a medical school in Austin are welcome and important, both for students and for residents of Austin.