Disasters to Disease Outbreaks: Four Health Commissioners Discuss Texas’ Readiness for Next Threat

January 9, 2019

Current, Former State Health Officers Highlight TMA Distinguished Speaker Event  

WHAT: Is Texas ready for the next big public health threat like Zika, Ebola, or another Hurricane Harvey or Katrina? What can the state learn from these disasters to guide us today? 

Every Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) commissioner from this century will describe the biggest health crisis they faced while tasked with protecting Texans’ health, and share what they consider to be our greatest present threats, during the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) third Distinguished Speaker Series event. Current and former Texas DSHS Health Commissioners John W. Hellerstedt, MD; David Lakey, MD; Eduardo Sanchez, MD; and Patti Patterson, MD, will make a rare appearance together on this panel. 

TMA’s Distinguished Speaker Series aims to inform Texas legislators and their staff members about urgent health issues in Texas. 

Health commissioners lead the state’s public health and prevention division tasked with protecting Texans from health threats including outbreaks of exotic diseases and seasonal flu, avoidable maternal deaths, vaccine-preventable diseases, and health dangers from hurricanes and other natural disasters. The distinguished panel will discuss these hazards, as well as what Texas needs to be better prepared to address them in the future.  

TMA physicians and other public health experts support adequate state funding for public health and prevention efforts, and urge lawmakers to allocate sufficient resources to keep Texans safe. 

WHEN: Monday, Jan. 14, Noon-1:30 pm

WHERE: TMA building, 401 W. 15th St., Thompson Auditorium, first floor


 Noon — Welcome/Introduction

  • John Carlo, MD, Chair, Texas Public Health Coalition; CEO, Prism Health North Texas

12:10 pm — Panel Discussion: Disasters, Diseases, and DSHS – The State of the State

  • John W. Hellerstedt, MD – Texas Commissioner of Health, 2016-present

  • David Lakey, MD – Texas Commissioner of Health, 2007-2015
  • Eduardo Sanchez, MD – Texas Commissioner of Health, 2001-2006
  •  Patti Patterson, MD – Texas Commissioner of Health,  2000-2001

1:10 pm — Audience Questions

1:25 pm — Closing Remarks by Dr. Carlo 

Following the panel discussion, attendees will tour TMA’s exhibit, “When Disaster Strikes: Six Catastrophes That Shaped Texas Medicine” in the Robert G. Mickey History of Medicine Gallery outside the auditorium.

TMA’s Distinguished Speaker series is supported by the TMA Foundation, TMA’s philanthropic arm. The TMA Foundation raises funds to support the public health and science priority initiatives of TMA and the family of medicine. To learn more, visit the TMA Foundation website.  TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 53,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear@texmed.org 
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper@texmed.org 

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Last Updated On

January 09, 2019