"I Ain't As Good As I Once Was..."
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
July 21, 2005

Country-Western Singer Toby Keith in his latest hit sings "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was". As time moves on for us in life we find challenges we never before experienced. Yet we all want to be as good now as we ever were.

What Toby Keith is referring to is the effects of aging on health. You should be happy to know that in Bexar County, your County Hospital, the University Health System (UHS) wants each of you to be as healthy as you can possibly be. Against the array of health challenges such as diabetes and the effects of excess weight, our UHS is working to be the best possible place to provide for the health of our community.

The UHS website says that evidence of this is that for the 6th consecutive year, University Health System is ranked as one of U.S. News & World Report's best hospitals. The annual study of 6,007 U.S. hospitals this year, found University to be one of just 176 hospitals – or 3 percent – to meet the rigorous criteria required to be recognized as a Top 50 hospital in at least one of 17 key medical/surgical specialties. The rankings will appear in the July 18 edition of the magazine, which hits newsstands on Monday, July 11.

University Health System, in partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is recognized as one of the Top 50 hospitals in the nation in three specialties – Respiratory Disorders, Kidney Disease and Hormonal Disorders (endocrinology, including diabetes care).

What does it take to be one of the best? Hospitals must meet standards that are mostly driven by hard data. The facility must be a member of the Council of Teaching Hospitals, be affiliated with a medical school or offer at least nine out of 18 select technological services to patients.

U.S. News & World Report then asks 200 board-certified physicians in each specialty to name the five hospitals they consider best in the field. Numbers of cases performed, mortality rates and technology are also key factors. According to U.S. News, "It's an elite group. Unlike other hospital rankings, "America's Best Hospitals" looks at entire specialties rather than at specific procedures. That's because we try to identify hospitals that excel in a variety of tough cases across a specialty."

The 176 hospitals ranked in the 2005 report:

There are other areas that UHS could improve upon in my opinion. They are:

  1. Prevention
    1. Partner up with the Metro Health District and award a "Blue Ribbon Restaurant" status to those offering healthy foods.
    2. Campaign for healthy habits constantly!
  2. Healthcard or Smartcard - a code on our driver's license magnetic strip or a fingerprint process that would allow medical professionals to access participating persons' medical history so as to rapidly and carefully treat injuries or ailments. This could eliminate some of the 500,000 annual deaths nationally that result from misdiagnoses. This should also eliminate the unnecessary filling out of basic patient data over and over again at the doctor's office every time you appear for an appointment.
  3. Healthchart (electronic or paper) - This should allow for computer access or paper forms to lay out the basic checklist of health indicators over time to be noted by the patient. This just puts the patient into a better position to be educated and informed on an ongoing basis as to what may be changing for the good or otherwise by keeping a basic medical history on themselves.

Whatever your health condition is, I do hope that you can be as good not just once but many times as good as you ever were!

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