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2018 President’s Cabinet Awards recipients announced as part of organization’s 25th anniversary
News Release
Monday, October 22, 2018

Eight programs to benefit Galveston community and beyond

GALVESTON, Texas Programs that prepare health care students to assist in catastrophic events, classes that teach at-risk Galveston residents how to build and maintain backyard and neighborhood gardens, and a pediatric clinical service that supports new mothers who experience pregnancy-related mood disorders are just a few of the programs funded by President’s Cabinet awards as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Fifteen University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston faculty and staff and 10 students earned President’s Cabinet awards worth more than $237,000 this year.

Annual contributions from President’s Cabinet members are pooled to create the awards. President’s Cabinet members have contributed more than $6 million since 1993, with awards given to more than 150 innovative community programs. For more information about the President’s Cabinet, visit

The 2018 awards are:

“UTMB League City Campus Patient Navigation and Health Resource Center”

Barriers to health care such as lack of transportation and health insurance, unfamiliarity with the hospital systems or being unable to afford medication may lead to poor health outcomes and a diminished quality of life. To improve hospital accessibility, the UTMB League City Campus Patient Navigation and Health Resource Center will provide patient education, dedicated navigation team support, community outreach, enhanced communication and increased access to multidisciplinary care. Awarded to Sylvia Campbell, director of Patient Navigation and Support in Hospital Administration, and Savannah Parks, patient resource specialist in Nursing Program Development.

“The Care Closet”

An unexpected health crisis often means patients and their families are unprepared for hospital stays, finding themselves in need of food, clothing, laundry services and personal hygiene products. The Care Closet in the John Sealy Hospital Annex in Galveston ensures patients will have access to these necessities. This project will be sustained through partnerships with the Galveston County Food Bank and the Salvation Army of Galveston County. Awarded to Rebecca Castro, supervisor of Ambulatory Social Work, and Savannah Parks, patient resource specialist in Nursing Program Development.

“Disaster Day – Preparing for Community Safety”

Disaster Day is a student-led exercise that recreates an emergency scenario in which health care students and members of the community act as first responders and patients, respectively. This simulation prepares students for disasters, enables them to practice health care skills and fosters interprofessional teamwork. President’s Cabinet funds will be used to purchase simulation supplies and related equipment for a two-year period. Awarded to School of Nursing students Kelsie Carpenter, Ashley Kwartler and Kaitlyn McMahon and Shelley Smith, director of Interprofessional Education.

“UTMB Stroke Program Proposal – Advanced Stroke Life Support Classes”

Since 2016, more than 100 nurses and emergency medical services staff have attended the Advanced Stroke Life Support class. Due to the program’s success, President’s Cabinet funds will support the training of another instructor and educational materials to certify an additional 200 EMS and hospital providers. Awarded to Brenda Yanez, nursing program manager in Service Line Operations; Julia Anderson, nurse clinician in Neuroscience Critical Care Unit; Jennifer Higgs, clinical educator in Victory Lakes Emergency Services; Georgia Emily Motter, stroke registrar in Nursing Service; and Briana Sowell, clinical educator in Emergency Services.

“Realizing UTMB’s Institutional Vision through 100 Kitchen Gardens and Door-to-Door Compost”

Food insecurity rates in Galveston exceed national and state averages. A partnership between UTMB, UTMB Greenies Gardening Club and Seeding Galveston will work with at-risk residents to build and maintain backyard and neighborhood gardens. The program also will establish a compost pick-up program to generate a cost-effective alternative to conventional garden fertilizer. Awarded to School of Medicine students Anna Fields, Mercedez Hernandez, Jessica Stauber and Daniel White and Dr. Victor Sierpina.

“The Mother and Babies Course”

To provide mental health care for new mothers who may experience perinatal depression, a new clinical service will be launched within UTMB’s pediatric clinics. Psychologists, nurses and lactation consultants will facilitate this course. President’s Cabinet funds will purchase instructor manuals, equipment, supplies and marketing materials. Awarded to Souby George, nurse clinician and School of Nursing faculty member, and Sara Nowakowski, faculty member in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: The St. Vincent’s/Luke Society Preventive Dental Health Clinic Collaboration”

In 2014, the President’s Cabinet supported the creation of St. Vincent’s Dental Clinic to provide basic dental services to people in Galveston who are indigent, uninsured or underinsured.  This project will expand services by establishing a new preventive dental health clinic that will offer oral health education, dental exams and cleanings, fluoride varnish and seal applications for adults and children. Awarded to Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student Jaspreet Sodhi, Dr. Jay Truitt, School of Medicine student Anthony Nguyen and Barbara Slusher, School of Medicine Physician Assistant Studies faculty member.

“De-escalation and Response to a Violent Event”

Workplace violence incidents are on the rise, but employers and employees are often ill prepared despite the fact that proper training and access to medical resources can lead to a reduction in fatalities. This project will work with Galveston Police Department Sgt. Destin Sims and the UTMB Department of Nursing Education, Advancement and Resources to provide training for emergency staff on recognizing, de-escalating and responding to aggressive behavior. Bleeding management kits will be distributed to 80 UTMB clinics, and staff will be trained on how to use the kits. Awarded to Katherine Golden-Beck, director of Professional Practice in Clinics Administration and Support and Jennifer Bledsoe, clinical educator in Ambulatory Nursing Support Services.

Remembering Jim Guidry M3 Global Medical Missions

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