In 2011, I challenged our community to transform healthcare and our economy by laying out 10 goals we would need to accomplish in 10 years –10-in-10 – to achieve that transformation.
Just three years later, the progress toward 10-in-10 has been nothing short of amazing. Our transformation is underway, largely because Travis County voters embraced the challenge in 2012. They had faith that this transformation could happen. And that faith is being rewarded, remarkably quickly.
You’ve probably heard by now that the LIVESTRONG Foundation is giving The University of Texas $50 million to create the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas.
Our public commitment and endorsement of the 10-in-10 vision sparked this new partnership between two great Austin institutions — LIVESTRONG, a premier cancer foundation, and UT, a top tier research university.
Together, they’ll create the next generation of doctors capable of providing world-class, patient-centered cancer care for all patients regardless of ability to pay. Here’s video from the announcement. My comments start around 9 minutes.
The rest of the transformation
We’re well on our way to completing the rest of the 10-in-10 vision, too.
Dell Medical School
The corner of 15th and Red River Street is awash in activity as the site is prepared for building the new medical school, research and related buildings. We are on schedule to welcome the first class of medical students in July 2016.
Groundbreaking for the Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas is just around the corner. Seton’s parent organization is funding $245 million of the anticipated $295 million cost and fundraising for the final $50 million is well underway. The new hospital will remain an integral part of our healthcare safety net.
Uniquely Austin Health Clinics
The transformation of our safety net healthcare system involves programs that focus on patient outcomes — getting people the right care at the right time in the right place so illnesses are addressed earlier and fewer people end up in the hospital. The $59 million in annual tax revenue that voters approved in 2012 has enabled Central Health to draw down almost $83 million in federal funds to make this happen.
The goal is to develop specialized labs and other research facilities to foster public and private healthcare innovation and commercialization. An Innovation Zone Advisory Committee has been looking at what we have, what we need and how other communities have been successful so that our innovation district is done right.
Both the medical school and the teaching hospital have been designed to foster that innovation and create a sense of place.
Improve psychiatric services and facilities
The region’s first Psychiatric Emergency Department opened this spring and provides patients in serious crisis a treatment space designed for their needs and staffed by professionals specifically trained for this purpose. It also provides law enforcement a place to bring individuals in need rather than taking them to jail, as so often happens.
Austin Travis County Integral Care last month announced the creation of a short-term psychiatric care center, a place for folks to transition back into the community or perhaps into other locations for long-term care. The St. David’s Foundation will provide nearly $9 million for construction and the first two years of operational costs.
There is still a lot of work to be done. But I’m confident that it will come together because look at how much we’ve already accomplished.
Some people say I’m all wet…
In honor of a longtime friend and to help draw some attention to another important health issue, I accepted the challenge of a friend to let some people throw ice water on my head.
If you haven’t heard about it, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral in recent weeks. It has helped raise millions for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. And I was happy to get doused and make a contribution to this great cause.