Navigating Houston's wonderful world of medicine
Even though I've lived in Houston for nearly three decades, I have barely set foot in the Texas Medical Center. Except to report on an occasional story or to occasionally visit a sick friend, I've steered clear of the massive complex. It's too big and confusing, and even a little bit scary. If you're there, it probably means you're sick — or know someone who is seriously ill.
But when my partner unexpectedly contracted a life-threating virus and was hospitalized at Methodist Hospital in February, the TMC became my home-away-from home. I discovered another world — a self-contained city-within-a-city where real-life drama surpasses anything on a TV medical series and where miracles happen every day.
Sealed off from much of the real world for nearly three weeks as I practically lived in the hospital, I was reminded of the advice Tommy Thompson — the author of the classic Houston novel, Blood and Money, andHearts, a heartstopper about the rivalry between Drs. Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey at the dawn of the heart transplant era — once gave to young writers seeking to hone their craft. Hang out at the medical center, Thompson told them, because there were great stories to be found everywhere.
And, indeed, there still are.
I'm especially excited that our theme for July is "Rx in the City," because over the coming month, CultureMap writers will explore the world of medicine in Houston — at the Texas Medical Center and beyond.
Our mission is twofold. We plan to scour out some of those great stories. We will profile medical specialists who are making tremendous scientific advances in Houston, hang out with doctors and patients at the Ben Taub Hospital emergency room and ask physicians around the city about their toughest cases. We will offer practical information on how to navigate the Texas Medical Center and devise mini-guides to the major hospitals.
In addition to examining what's going on locally, we'll talk with medical leaders about the massive Obama health care overhaul bill and how provisions that unfold over the next four years will affect insured and uninsured Houstonians. How to fix the health care system remains a contentious issue. Recent polls suggest that Americans are still unsure about the Obama plan but are starting to look upon it more favorably. At the same time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that the bill is is unlikely to curb the federal budget.
We intend to sort it out — while praying that everyone remains healthy. It sure is comforting to have the latest medical experts and technology in Houston. Let's just hope we don't have to use them.