El Paso Connected 

El Paso Connected

Thomason Hospital


El Paso County Hospital District

Friday Letter from the President & CEO

May 2, 2008

Radiology Residency Program:  Texas Tech-El Paso Founding Dean Manuel de la Rosa and I called a news conference this week to officially announce what can only be described as fantastic news for the community.  The school has received the green light from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to launch a brand new residency program.  Beginning this summer, physicians who want to specialize in radiology can do their post graduate training right here in El Paso! 

The Radiology Residency Program is yet another important milestone in Thomason’s evolution into a University Medical Center.  It is the first new residency program to be approved on our campus in 15 years!  The initiative was the brainchild of Dr. Arvin Robinson, the Medical Director of our Diagnostic Imaging Department and the Chairman of Texas Tech’s Department of Radiology.  Dr. Robinson came to our campus three years with a vision to better meet the community’s needs.  One of the ways he is doing that is through this new residency program.  Those who complete it will help alleviate the region’s shortage of radiologists. 

To help ensure that Dr. Robinson’s vision became a reality, Thomason has committed significant funding for the initiative.  We are investing close to two million dollars over the next four years to fund the residents and an estimated $20 million for capital equipment. Among the new technology Thomason is making available for the physicians are:

  • Three MRIs
  • Three CT Scanners
  • Four Direct Radiography Units
  • C Arm and Portable Radiographic Units
  • Mammography Upgrade
  • Ultrasound Equipment
  • Nuclear Medicine Camera

 Additionally, as part of Thomason’s Master Site Facility Plan, the hospital will increase the size of its Imaging Department, including our facilities in Northeast El Paso, by more than 50%.  The existing department is 20,445 square feet.  When the construction is complete, the department will occupy 31,382 square feet.  We are excited about this initiative and are looking forward to welcoming the new radiology residents in July.

Emergency Department Changes:  Texas Tech tapped long-time emergency medicine physician Dr. Brian Nelson to chair its Department of Emergency Medicine this week following an announcement that Dr. Robert Woolard had decided to step down for personal reasons.  Dr. Woolard, a Professor in the department, will now focus on research and clinical care.  Dr. Nelson is no stranger to the post.  He served as the department’s first chair and remained at its helm for 11 years.  He also serves as the Medical Director of Thomason’s Emergency Department and Level I Trauma Center.  He has worked in Thomason’s Emergency Department for 25 years.

In addition to Dr. Nelson, the department’s leadership team consists of Dr. David Bryan, who has been name Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine, and Dr. Veronica Greer, who is the new Medical Director of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program.  Thomason fully supports this team and all of our Emergency Medicine faculty and we have complete confidence in their ability to build upon the department’s strengths and to enhance patient care.

In fact, these are very exciting times in Emergency Medicine.  As part of Thomason’s Master Site Facility Plan, the hospital is investing millions of dollars to double the size of our existing Emergency Department and Level I Trauma Center.  And we are committed to expanding the Emergency Medicine Residency program from 24 to 30 resident physicians by next year.  Additionally, another faculty physician will be joining the department on June 1st.

Lastly, I want to welcome Rellon Powers, RN, to his new position as Nurse Manager of our Emergency Department.  Mr. Powers comes to us from Sierra Medical Center where he worked for nearly 10 years, most recently as the Administrative Director of Emergency Services.  He has a Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Texas at El Paso and is an inductee into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society and the Phi Theta Cappa Honor Society.  Welcome Mr. Powers!

 WBAMC Commander:  Col. John Powell, Commander of William Beaumont Army Medical Center, relinquished his command this morning during a special ceremony in his honor on the hospital’s grounds.  Col. Powell is being deployed to Iraq where he will be assigned to the Multi-National Security Transition Command as Assistant Chief of Staff, Health Affairs Lead Partner.  During his 22 months of service here, Col. Powell was extremely successful in moving the Beaumont campus forward in preparation for the influx of troops Ft. Bliss will receive under the Base Realignment and Closure Act.  His departing comments were very complimentary of the El Paso community and of the soldiers under his command.  I enjoyed working with Col. Powell and wish him nothing but the best.  I’m also looking forward to continuing the strong partnership Thomason has developed with William Beaumont as Acting Commander Col. Karen Gausman assumes her new role.

 Volunteers Honored:  Thomason hosted a luncheon this week in honor of the hospital’s 150 volunteers as part of the festivities surrounding National Volunteers’ Week.  Our corps of ordinary El Pasoans who give of their time and talents are among the most dedicated volunteers in the city.  Each month, they spend an estimated 1,300 hours “on the job” manning our Information Desk, providing pastoral care, rocking babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units, escorting visitors to their destinations, etc.  Our team would not be complete without them and we thank them for their service.

 Diabetes Program Re-certified:  Thomason received word this week from the American Diabetes Association that the hospital’s Diabetes Education Program has been re-accredited for another three years.  Applicants for accreditation are assessed as to whether their programs meet stringent national standards for diabetes self-management education.  Thomason’s program makes the grade, which is especially important in this community where so many people suffer from diabetes.  Our certified Diabetes Educators provide individualized training and support to hundreds of patients in an effort to help them understand and manage their disease and prevent potentially serious complications.  Congratulations!

 MHMR Board:  Carol Smallwood, Vice President of the El Paso County Hospital District and CEO of El Paso First, our wholly-owned, not-for-profit insurance company, has been named to the Board of El Paso’s Mental Health/Mental Retardation agency.  Ms. Smallwood will work with her colleagues to help the agency fulfill its mission of ensuring that recovery-based services are available for persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

 Weekend:  The 134th running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing’s coveted Triple Crown, is tomorrow at Churchill Downs and I’ll be watching with even more interest than usual.  Family friends have a horse in the race!  Denis of Cork, owned by the Warren family, is in the 16th post position.  He’s said to be a long shot, but it will be exciting to watch.  Have a great weekend! - Jim


James N. Valenti

President & Chief Executive Officer

El Paso County Hospital District

4815 Alameda

El Paso, Texas  79905