HOUSTON, (September 8, 2005) - St. Luke's Episcopal Health System has opened a diabetes clinic at the Reliant Astrodome complex, thanks in large part to a gift from Charles E. Hurwitz, chairman and CEO of MAXXAM. Hurwitz requested that his $350,000 gift be used by St. Luke's to make an immediate and substantial difference in the evacuees' health status.
Many evacuees from Louisiana - which has an extremely high diabetes population per capita - are diabetics who have been without medication and proper nutrition and hydration for days, and have had to live in dangerous, unsanitary conditions. Untended, diabetes can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, high blood pressure, blindness, nerve disease, leg and foot amputations, pregnancy complications, and even death.
"Unfortunately, many of these patients were forced to walk through a stew of infectious agents to find shelter, making wound care a priority," explained Glenn Cunningham, MD, medical director of the Diabetes Program at St. Luke's and professor of Medicine and professor of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "We encourage all evacuees with diabetes to seek assessment and care as needed."
The diabetes clinic supplements the outstanding efforts by the Harris County Hospital District to take care of the medical needs of the evacuees who are diabetic. Medical assessments are being made by physicians from Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, nutritional assessments by dietitians and diabetic education by nurses. The clinic will provide patients with needed blood glucose testing strips and insulin. Those in need of additional treatment of complications of diabetes, such as diabetic wounds, will be medically assessed and referred, as needed.
"I wanted to help St. Luke's in its efforts to help meet a critical medical need of Hurricane Katrina evacuees," said Hurwitz. "After meeting with leadership from St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital over the Labor Day weekend, who then conferred with city and county officials, we identified diabetes treatment as a critical need." He added, "No one could fail to be touched by the misery and hardship evacuees have faced - it inspires us all to help in the ways we can. I encourage other community leaders to get involved, as I know many are."
"Mr. Hurwitz's contribution is an excellent example of the generosity of Houstonians and Houston's business leaders to those in need," said David J. Fine, president and CEO, St. Luke's. "In addition, Medline, Abbott Labs and U.S. Food Services have offered donations of medical supplies and nutritional supplements. With these gifts and support, we expect to provide approximately $1 million worth of medical services to evacuees whose health has been compromised by Hurricane Katrina."