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A Charles Hurwitz Company

Hurwitz/MAXXAM Gift Supplements Diabetes Care to Evacuees

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."

Diabetes Facts

  • Overall, people have a risk of death twice as high as those without the disease.
  • Diabetes is an important risk factor in health disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, dental disease and lower-limb amputations.
  • Some people with diabetes require insulin through injections or a pump to survive.
  • Others may control the disease with diet, exercise, weight loss and oral medications or insulin. Many people with diabetes must also take medication to control their blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Approximately 8.4 percent of Louisiana residents over age 20 have diabetes. 16.3 Louisianans 75 and older are diabetics. (2000 Louisiana Health Report Card)
  • As of 1996, Louisiana had the highest death rate due to diabetes of all U.S. states. (Louisiana Office of Public Health)
  • African-Americans are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Latino whites.
  • African-Americans have a higher risk for stroke, are more likely to lose their foot or leg to diabetes, and are more likely to suffer from diabetes-related blindness or kidney disease.

St. Luke's Episcopal Health System comprises the flagship St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, founded in 1954 by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas; St. Luke's Community Medical Center-The Woodlands, opened in 2003; St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities, a charity devoted to assessing and enhancing community health, especially among the underserved; and Kelsey-Seybold Management, LLP, overseeing 21 area clinic locations. St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital is home to the Texas Heart® Institute, founded in 1962 by Denton A.Cooley, MD, and consistently ranked among the top 10 cardiology and heart surgery centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Affiliated with several nursing schools and two medical schools, St.Luke's serves as the primary private adult teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine. St. Luke's was the first hospital in Texas named a Magnet hospital for nursing excellence, and the Health System has been recognized by FORTUNE as among "100 Best Companies to Work For" (2002, 2004 and 2005) and by Houston Business Journal as a top employer in Houston for three consecutive years.

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