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UMC, EPCH, TTP El Paso urge recovered El Pasoans to donate Convalescent Plasma to fight COVID19

University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC), El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) and Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso (TTP El Paso) urge any individuals who have fully recovered from novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to donate convalescent plasma as a key weapon in the fight against the virus.

Vitalant, the nation’s largest independent blood provider, has launched a program to treat COVID-19 patients with blood plasma donated by people who have recovered from the disease. Known as “convalescent plasma,” this blood component contains antibodies that may give patients an extra boost to fight their illness. In coordination with local hospitals, Vitalant is working to identify willing donors who qualify for this type of donation.

“We are specifically looking for volunteers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have now recovered,” said Bradford Ray, director of Blood Management at UMC. “They have the antibodies that sick patients need to, hopefully, recover.”

Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso and its physicians, residents, students, are also urging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate. “People who’ve recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies to the disease in their blood which is called convalescent plasma,” said Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and chief of cardiovascular medicine at TTP El Paso.

“We hope that convalescent plasma can boost the ability of patients with severe COVID-19 to fight the virus. If you’ve had and recovered from COVID-19, consider donating blood through Vitalant (West: 544-5422; East: 849-7389) and help patients in our own community with severe COVID-19 infections.”

Currently, there are no vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19 because the virus is so new. Although trials for a vaccine are underway, it is expected to be many months before one is approved.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified and approved convalescent plasma treatment as an “emergency investigational new drug.” It is currently the only antibody treatment available to COVID-19 patients and, as such, is a promising new tool.

“Whether individuals have already recovered or will recover from this virus in the future, we want those who are able to donate, to think about helping others fight this disease,” said Cindy Stout, CEO of EPCH.

This form of investigational treatment may provide the body more fight against COVID-19 by using antibodies that are active against the disease. With the help of our local communities, hospital partners and extensive research experience, Vitalant is gearing up to help patients fight this novel infectious disease with the help of willing recovered COVID-19 patients.

Vitalant is seeking convalescent plasma donors to help patients. Eligibility criteria are:

· Prior diagnosis of COVID-19, documented by a laboratory test

· Complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days

· Meet all other current FDA donor eligibility requirements to donate plasma

Those who meet that criteria and want to donate plasma are encouraged to apply through the Vitalant website. For more information, please call the numbers above or 866-CV-PLSMA (866-287-5762)

U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirms UMC / EPCH Plan; Both side share statements

After many months of litigation and a filing for bankruptcy protection by El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH), U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Mott today confirmed a plan that will result in a new affiliation with University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC), will bring about the emergence of EPCH from bankruptcy.

“This is a tremendous victory for all of the families in El Paso who were concerned that the vision of voters to have a first-rate Children’s Hospital in El Paso would disappear forever,” said Steve DeGroat, UMC Board of Managers Chair.

DeGroat continued, “Many people, from our legal team to board members to hospital administration and staff, put in countless hours yet never lost hope that we would be able to rescue Children’s Hospital from its financial tailspin. The plan we agreed on is the foundation of a new era and relationship between our two hospitals.

“Today’s confirmation solidifies a willingness of both hospitals to do the right thing for our community,” he added.
As part of the plan, the UMC Board of Managers is responsible for nominating the majority of seats on the EPCH Board. This has already occurred and becomes official with today’s confirmation.  

In a press conference held this afternoon, EPCH Board Chair Rosemary Castillo issued the following statement:

“The Board of El Paso Children’s Hospital thinks it fitting for us to make a statement as we come to this juncture in the history of El Paso Children’s Hospital. 

In 2007, El Paso taxpayers passed a bond for a separately licensed and separately governed Children’s Hospital.  From the beginning, the Children’s Hospital board took to heart its responsibility of governance and to fulfill that taxpayer mandate. The Children’s Hospital board has always been dedicated wholly and entirely to the mission and vision of maintaining a separately licensed, separately governed Children’s hospital, and to the support of the clinical services and excellent care that is being provided by its dedicated medical staff and employees. 

When the hospital opened, we were optimistic about the future. We believed that UMC shared our goals to ensure a successful launch of the hospital, and we believed that UMC would honor its promises to not profit from El Paso Children’s Hospital. A true partnership with a shared vision would have allowed the parties to negotiate in good faith and to remedy the loss of Medicaid revenues when changes in reimbursements occurred. Unfortunately, this spirit of cooperation and shared goals with UMC was lost along the way. 

Bankruptcy was this Board’s last resort. We sincerely believe that the financial dispute could have and should have been resolved early on, and we made every attempt to do so. It is unfortunate that those who had the ability to cure it, did not.  After unsuccessful mediations, protection within the bankruptcy court became the only option to correct our debts and to restructure our financial obligations. We knew this process wasn’t going to be easy, but it was the right thing to do. 

As a board we made a commitment to the families and patients that we serve, our staff, and our physicians, that the Children’s Hospital would continue to maintain its high quality of care and remain a place of hope and healing for the sick and injured children. We committed to emerging from this process by the end of the year, and that our financial obligations would be corrected and rightsized as a result of bankruptcy. 

We have delivered on each of these commitments. 

EPCH, UMC, and El Paso County Commissioners reached a compromise for El Paso, the taxpayers, and our children. Today, the Federal Court approved the confirmation of the Joint Plan, allowing the Children’s Hospital to exit bankruptcy and start anew. We challenge our community to hold UMC and the El Paso County Commissioners Court accountable to protect what the voters approved in 2007. 

On January 8, 2016, El Paso Children’s Hospital begins a new chapter and will have a new partnership with UMC.  Both hospitals need to work more closely together, and make the best use of shared resources, while keeping intact a separately-licensed hospital that continues to provide excellent pediatric healthcare. 

The new Board Members will take the helm of an excellent children’s hospital that has been a source of pride in this community. They will have the honor and privilege of overseeing a children’s hospital that saves lives, a children’s hospital that helps children heal and live normal lives, and they will hear countless stories of families who benefit from having this Children’s Hospital in the borderplex.   

They will assume the responsibility of a hospital that is home to highly-skilled, caring physicians and nurses who function in a first-rate medical center dedicated “exclusively” to children.  A hospital that has reduced outmigration of infants and children by 80%, when going out of town was the only option before we opened. 

A hospital that is an Institutional Member of the Children’s Oncology Group. A children’s hospital that has adopted numerous protocols for hard to treat and resistant cancers, as are available at facilities such as St. Jude’s, and M. D. Anderson and Sloan Kettering. The only children’s hospital in the borderplex that has achieved this distinction. They will meet all of the excellent neonatal and pediatric subspecialists caring and treating our children.  They will appreciate that seven of our physicians have been recognized as Best Doctors in America®, and that only five percent of doctors in America earn this prestigious honor. 

They will witness the care that is first in class, as evidenced by national quality standards. They will know that the hospital that they are serving to protect has been cited for Excellence by the Joint Commission, has been granted Institutional Membership by the Children’s Oncology Group, has been accredited in MRI by the American College of Radiology, has been accredited by the College of American Pathologists, and has earned the Quality Respiratory Care Recognition by the American Association for Respiratory Care. 

We have no doubt, the new Children’s Hospital board will embrace what we have been working so hard to protect. We recognize the new board has a big responsibility to implement what was agreed to by all parties in the Joint Plan, and to continue to grow programs and services offered by El Paso Children’s Hospital, where miracles happen every day. 

From its inception, El Paso Children’s Hospital has faced tremendous adversity and throughout that time we have seen the emergence of strong leaders in support of EPCH. I want to thank the current and former El Paso Children’s Hospital Board members for their tireless and voluntary dedication to protecting the independent operation of the children’s hospital. 

We thank the countless supporters we have had throughout this process.  Thank you to our courageous Medical Staff and the community pediatricians, who despite personal and professional risk defended the mission of the El Paso Children’s Hospital in the press and in federal court. They spoke with great conviction and stated the things that only they could say about the future of El Paso’s only dedicated Children’s Hospital. 

Thank you to our staff and employees for their commitment to quality and to the care of their patients. We are aware that you could have left Children’s Hospital, and perhaps El Paso, for certainty in your lives and profession, but you didn’t. Instead, you chose to stay and work to make El Paso Children’s Hospital what it is today. Thank you to the families who wrote letters of support asking how they could help. Thank you to the patients in our Hematology Extremely Awesome Teens program, who wanted to help.  Thank you to the children in our community who called and wanted to donate their piggy banks. You have all proven that even the smallest voice can make a large difference. 

Thank you to the many social media writers who emerged to correct the inaccurate reporting and biased stories portrayed by certain media outlets.  Thank you to the group of community members who formed to hold our elected leaders accountable. 

To all of you, our army of supporters, who stood behind us and supported us, thank you.  Because of you, El Paso Children’s Hospital and its mission continues. Now, we look to the future with a renewed sense of purpose and focus.”  

Author: University Medical Center/El Paso Children’s Hospital

UMC seeks candidates to serve on EPCH Board

University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) seeks candidates to fill four (4) seats on the El Paso Children’s Hospital Board. UMC will appoint four members to the new EPCH Board; the new board will begin functioning January 2016.

“We want this process to be as efficient and expeditious as possible as we have an urgent need to fill these seats,” said UMC Board Chair Steve DeGroat. “We want to throw our net far and wide in hopes we can find a few truly outstanding candidates eager to serve on the EPCH Board.”

Candidates interested in applying for one of the four seats being appointed by UMC to the EPCH Board, should review the application packet at (top right of the home page)

Highly desired (though not required) qualifications of ideal candidates:
·        Visioning and strategic thinking ability
·        Policy leadership
·        Understanding of governance roles and processes.  
·        Dedication
·        Sufficient time and energy to serve on the EPCH Board
·        Financial and business experience
·        Integrity
·        Ability to evaluate managerial skills
·        Corporate and civic leadership
·        Involvement in the community
·        Flexibility and Creativity
·        A bachelor’s degree from an accredited educational institution of higher learning or the equivalent in work or business experience shall be required of all Board appointees.
·        Prior board experience

Absolute disqualifiers shall include the following:
·        Unpaid and uncontested local property taxes
·        Unpaid child support
·        Any history of suing the hospital as a plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney
·        Conviction for a crime of moral turpitude or official misconduct
·        Any revocation of professional license held by the potential appointee

Author: University Medical Center

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