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Virtual Town Hall for the Medical Community

Travis County Medical Society President Nancy Thorne Foster, M.D., and Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., co-host the weekly series. CME credit is available for a limited time as noted below.

Past Town Halls

June 7: COVID-19 Vaccination Effort: Challenges & Opportunities

Elizabeth Douglass, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of Internal Medicine at Dell Medical School, provides an overview of challenges and opportunities related to the COVID-19 vaccination effort, including the progress of the rollout, prospects for herd immunity, challenges related to hesitancy and more.

The event is moderated by Belda Zamora, M.D., TCMS Executive Board Member, and Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., Dean of Dell Medical School. 

April 29: COVID-19: Looking Ahead to Life Beyond the Pandemic

Although the pandemic is not yet over, attention is beginning to turn to the future. Hear from Lauren Ancel Meyers, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and professor of integrative biology in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, whose scientific work during the pandemic has played a critical role for health and policy leaders from Central Texas to the White House. 

Her team’s modeling has helped detect, project and combat COVID-19 cases, and new data will frame the future outlook as we open schools and workplaces, return to travel, attend public events and festivals and learn more about variants and vaccines.

Mar. 25: Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome: A Case Study

W. Michael Brode, M.D., assistant professor of Internal Medicine, and Esther Melamed, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology, will provide an overview of post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 syndrome followed by review of two case studies, illustrating key concepts of the disease. Specialist panelists will provide perspectives from pulmonology and behavioral health as well as rheumatology and neurology.

Participating Dell Med-affiliated panelists include Melamed; Kevin Hackshaw, M.D., associate professor of Internal Medicine; Donna Shanor, LCSW, LCDC, director, Clinical Social Work; and Michael Shapiro, M.D., affiliate faculty and co-partner at Pulmonary and Critical Care Consultants of Austin.

Mar. 4: COVID-19 & Health Policy: Post-Election Outlook

Featured panelist Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D, explores a range of health policy issues including the post-election outlook regarding COVID-19 response, where the U.S. is heading in terms of additional policy priorities and care delivery innovations, the health policy landscape given current political dynamics, and the ways that the pandemic response may reshape or accelerate changes to how we deliver and pay for health care.

Feb. 25: COVID-19: An Update on Inpatient Treatment

Expert panelists W. Michael Brode, M.D., and Kristin Mondy, M.D., review the emerging evidence for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The discussion provides a conceptual framework of understanding the three stages of acute COVID-19 illness, a practical evaluation on hospital presentation, and addressing the published literature and controversies in therapeutic management in each stage of illness.

Jan. 21: COVID-19: From the Latest Science to Administering Vaccines

Panelists Amy Young, M.D., chief clinical officer for UT Health Austin and vice dean of professional practice at Dell Med, and Parker Hudson, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases at Dell Med, provided an update on results and implications of vaccine clinical trials, as well as the latest information on quickly evolving vaccination distribution efforts.

Dec. 3: COVID-19 Vaccines: What You Need To Know

Public health leaders discussed preparation for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Austin and Travis County, including coordination among health care systems and providers, planning for efficient and equitable distribution and more. Panelists included Stephanie Hayden, LMSW, director of Austin Public Health, Mark Escott, M.D., MPH, interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health.

Nov. 5: The Spectrum of Post-COVID-19 Health Issues

This town hall featured an expert panel discussing the growing body of evidence and practice related to the chronic condition referred to as “post-COVID syndrome,” which affects adults and children — known as “long-haulers” — who haven’t fully recovered weeks or even months after contracting the virus.

Panelists included Dell Med faculty members Coburn Allen, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics; Esther Melamed, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology; and Rama Thyagarajan, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine.

Oct. 1: COVID-19: Health Equity Amid & Beyond the Pandemic

This town hall featured Jewel Mullen, M.D., MPH, associate dean for health equity at Dell Medical School and an associate professor in the Department of Population Health and Department of Internal Medicine.

Mullen discussed a wide range of issues related to health equity, including the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups, preparing for a vaccine, systemic barriers to health and more. Her insights came from decades of experience in public health, including serving as acting assistant secretary for health and acting director of the National Vaccine Program Office in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and her participation in an effort by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to develop a framework for the equitable allocation of a vaccine for COVID-19.

Sept. 17: COVID-19: Exploring Current Issues & Trends

An expert panel led an open discussion on the wide range of health issues amid the pandemic, including testing and vaccine development, safely opening schools, local epidemiological trends and more.

Panelists included John Abikhaled, M.D., TCMS president; Richard Condit, M.D., professor emeritus at the University of Florida College of Medicine; Mark Escott, M.D., MPH, medical director of Travis County EMS and interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health; and Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., dean of Dell Med.

Sept. 3: COVID-19: Addressing Social Need in the Primary Care Setting

This town hall featured People’s Community Clinic leaders Celia Neavel, M.D., FAAFP, FSAHM, director of the Center for Adolescent Health and director of the GOALS Program (Generating Outcomes and Liaisons for Students); Cherelle Vanbrakle, M.Ed., CWH, CPST, director of health promotion and community advocacy; and Keegan Warren-Clem, J.D., LLM, director of the clinic’s Medical-Legal Partnership, who discussed the integration of social needs screening into primary care delivery amid the pandemic.

Note: There were technical difficulties during the first presentation. These clear up after that presentation, around 19 minutes in.

Aug. 20: COVID-19: Updated Modeling for Austin & Travis County

This town hall featured Lauren Ancel Meyers, Ph.D., epidemiologist and professor of integrative biology at UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences, on her team’s efforts to detect, project and combat COVID-19 cases. She also provided updated modeling for the Austin area.

Aug. 6: COVID-19: Preparation & Planning for Reopening Schools

This town hall featured Mark Escott, M.D., MPH, medical director of Travis County EMS and interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, and Tom Leonard, Ed.D., superintendent of Eanes Independent School District, who provided an update on wide-ranging efforts to prepare and plan for the opening of schools in the Austin area amid the coronavirus pandemic.

July 23: COVID-19: Outpatient Care Management

This town hall featured Tony Aventa, M.D., the immediate past president of TCMS and current internal medicine physician in private practice at Capital Medical Clinic, and Nichole Perez, M.D., medical director for primary care for the Ascension Seton Family of Doctors and the Ascension Seton University Physicians Group. They spoke about the latest strategies and protocols for outpatient care of patients with confirmed COVID-19.

July 16: COVID-19: Developing a Vaccine

This town hall featured a presentation from Jason McLellan, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biosciences in the College of Natural Sciences at UT Austin, whose lab is on the front lines of developing a vaccine for COVID-19. His team made a critical early breakthrough by creating the first 3D atomic scale map of the part of the virus that attaches to and infects human cells.

July 9: Austin’s Collaborative Response

This town hall featured Austin Mayor Steve Adler talking about the latest collaborative efforts to prepare for and respond to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Austin.

July 2: COVID-19 Medical Treatment & Care

This town hall focused on what’s known and what’s being learned about treating patients with COVID-19.

The presenters were William Michael Brode, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Dell Med; Brian Metzger, M.D., MPH, partner at Austin Infectious Disease Consultants and medical director of infectious diseases at St. David’s Medical Center; and Jeff Yorio, M.D., medical oncologist and hematologist at Texas Oncology-Austin Central.

The Dell Medical School COVID-19 Manual and the Therapeutics and Informatics Committee Consensus Recommendations provide additional information on COVID-19 medical treatment. While these documents are specific to Dell Med and Dell Seton Medical Center, much of the information is general and can be adapted to fit other organizations’ needs.

June 25: COVID-19 Preparation & Response From Local Hospitals

This town hall featured presentations from Samson Jesudass, M.D., MBA, chief clinical officer for Ascension Texas; Kenneth W. Mitchell, M.D., chief medical officer for St. David’s HealthCare; and Robin Watson, M.D., chief medical officer for the Austin-Round Rock region of Baylor Scott & White Health, about how Central Texas hospital systems have prepared for and are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was moderated by John Abikhaled, M.D., TCMS president, and Amy Young, M.D., vice dean of professional practice at Dell Med.

June 18: The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Black & Latinx Communities

This town hall examined how Black and Latinx people in Central Texas have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts underway to support these communities.

The presenters were Brion Oaks, MPA, chief equity officer for the City of Austin; Kellee Coleman, business process consultant with the City of Austin Equity Office; and Jason Pickett, M.D., MPH, deputy medical director of Travis County EMS.

May 28: Testing for COVID-19 in Austin & Travis County

This town hall focused on rapidly evolving issues related to testing for COVID-19 in Austin and Travis County, including current challenges and opportunities.

The presenters were Brian Metzger, M.D., MPH, partner at Austin Infectious Disease Consultants and medical director of infectious diseases at St. David’s Medical Center; Jason Pickett, M.D., deputy medical director with Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services; and Rama Thyagarajan, M.D., infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of internal medicine at Dell Med.

May 21: COVID-19: Modeling for Austin & Travis County

This town hall featured Lauren Ancel Meyers, Ph.D., epidemiologist and professor of integrative biology at UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences, and Mike Pignone, M.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Dell Med.

The presenters discussed how nationally recognized epidemic modeling from UT Austin is being used to project the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and to assess the potential impact in the Austin area.

May 14: COVID-19: Contact Tracing & Cluster Investigation

This town hall featured a presentation on collaborative efforts in Travis County to implement contact tracing and to respond to COVID-19 clusters.

The speakers were Mark Escott, M.D., MPH, medical director of Travis County EMS and interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health; Parker Hudson, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases at Dell Med; and Darlene Bhavnani, Ph.D, MPH, infectious disease epidemiologist in Dell Med’s Department of Population Health. Hudson and Bhavnani are also leading the contact tracing team for UT Health Austin through a partnership with Austin Public Health.

April 30: COVID-19: Insights From the Front Lines in NYC

Hospitalists and Department of Internal Medicine assistant professors Hemali Patel, M.D., and Jaison John, M.D., traveled to New York City in early April to work alongside colleagues responding to a surge of cases in the city. They shared insights from their experience, including what they learned about COVID-19 and how NYU Langone reorganized its workforce and units to handle the influx of patients.

April 23: Austin Public Health COVID-19 Response Update

Travis County EMS medical director Mark Escott, M.D., MPH, and deputy medical director Jason Pickett, M.D., provided an update from Austin Public Health on the local response to COVID-19.