Governor Abbott named a com- mission to head up infrastructure re- building post-Harvey and to oversee the response and relief eff orts between the state and local governments. John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, is the leader of that eff ort. In the final week of September, Lt. Gov.

Dan Patrick issued the Senate’s interim charges related to the state’s response to Harvey.

The lieutenant governor’s charges to

the Health and Human Services Com- mittee included a review of the local and state public health response to Harvey, including an analysis of vector control, the use of health-related volunteers, im- munization needs, emergency medical network adequacy, and government co- ordination. He also asked the Agriculture, Water,

and Rural Aff airs Committee to study “how to move forward with water infra- structure projects in the State Water Plan to help mitigate floods” and evaluate plans for a possible third reservoir in the Houston region to accompany the Ad- dicks and Barker reservoirs.


The response: Texas physicians ‘world-famous’

At TMA’s 2017 Fall Conference in September, TMA President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD, moderated a panel discussion on the relief response to Harvey. It included David Teuscher, MD, Dallas regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Kirk Cole, senior advisor to the commissioner of the Texas Depart- ment of State Health Services (DSHS). The panelists recounted how federal, state, and local authorities worked together to battle the storm’s impact. Because Texas is a home-rule state, local governments are in charge of disaster

response until doing so goes beyond their capabilities. Federal authorities were “pre- positioned with an incredible amount of eff ort,” Dr. Teuscher said. “We can’t, as federals, go anywhere without the state asking for assistance, and

the state can’t go anywhere without the county judges asking for assistance,” he ex- plained. “So the county judges are kings; [with] home rule, that’s the way we have our state government set up. Some of our county judges have said, ‘We don’t need assistance.’ Okay, fine, that gives us an opportunity to deploy assets elsewhere where assistance is needed. And this thing ramped up extremely fast and made landfall.” Dr. Teuscher praised TMA’s work during the storm. “I can tell you … that Texas physicians and the TMA are world-famous right now,” Dr.

Teuscher said. “They don’t want to hear any more in the secretary’s operations center about the TMA, because that’s all they talk about: ‘TMA’s doing this, TMA’s doing that, TMA’s identified this problem. How can you help?’ And the secretary basically told them, ‘Look, if Teuscher calls, you just fix it. Be helpful.’ That’s really important.” Q

Joey Berlin is associate editor for Texas Medicine. You can reach him by phone at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1393, or (512) 370-1393; by fax at (512) 370-1629; or by email at

November 2017 TEXAS MEDICINE 35

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