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Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center


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Here's the president's speech:


President Bush Attends Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for Dr. Michael Ellis DeBakey

11:33 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, Mr. Leader, members of Congress, fellow Texans, distinguished guests, Dr. and Mrs. DeBakey: I'm honored to join you on this day of celebration. Throughout our nation's history, the Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded sparingly, in recognition of the tremendous accomplishments that it takes to earn this high honor. The recipients of this medal who have come from the world of science are few, but they are iconic -- they include Thomas Edison, Walter Reed and Jonas Salk. Today we gather to recognize that Michael DeBakey's name belongs among them.

I appreciate the members of the Texas delegation -- Senator Hutchison, Representative Green, and others who sponsored this legislation.

As the chancellor emeritus of the Baylor College of Medicine and the director of the DeBakey Heart Center, Dr. DeBakey has given the citizens of the great state of Texas one more reason to be proud. It's a good thing, too, because we're usually such a quiet bunch -- (laughter) -- unassuming people.

In the year that Michael DeBakey was born, Theodore Roosevelt sat in the White House, Henry Ford produced the first Model T automobile, and the average American's life expectancy was a little more than 51 years. That last point is worth noting, because the number today is nearly 78 years. Our lifetimes have been extended by more than 50 percent within the course of a century, and the man we're honoring today is part of the reason why.

It was Hippocrates, the author of the doctor's sacred oath, who said, "Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there also is love of humanity." Truer words could not be spoken of Michael DeBakey. Growing up in the small town of Lake Charles, Louisiana, he learned the power of compassion at an early age. Every Sunday, as the Speaker noted, Michael's parents and siblings would load the family car with clothes and food for children who lived in an orphanage on the outskirts of town. One weekend, the donations included one of his favorite ball caps. When Michael complained, his mother simply told him, "You have a lot of caps. Those children have none." It was a lesson that he never forgot. And Michael DeBakey has been giving to the world ever since.

The other gift that Dr. DeBakey's parents gave him was a love of learning. In fact, young Michael's mother and father required their children to check a book out of the library every week. One week, Michael returned home frustrated and he told his father that he had found a fascinating book, but that the librarians refused to lend it to him. The book was actually part of a series -- called the Encyclopedia Britannica. (Laughter.) And when his father bought the set for him, Michael read every word of every article in every volume.

The charitable spirit and disciplined mind that Michael developed in his youth have lasted throughout his life. It was his selflessness that caused him to volunteer for World War II even though he was a successful surgeon and professor. It was his intellect that caused him to help develop the idea of the MASH unit during his service. It was his power of his mind that led him to become one of the pioneers of the heart transplant, bypass surgery, and the artificial heart. And it was his sense of compassion that led him to help create a magnet school in Houston for young people pursuing careers in science.

It's been nearly 40 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Dr. DeBakey the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At that point, four decades ago, he'd already proven himself to be one of the great scientific minds of his generation. In the years since, that status is being reaffirmed by the many honors he has received, including the National Medal of Science, induction into the Health Care Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement award from the United Nations, and a "living legend" citation from the Library of Congress.

But that was most interesting in another distinction -- it is this: that Dr. DeBakey was the first foreign physician made an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. That took quite an act, to get into the Russian Academy of Sciences -- all it took was him saving the life of a president. (Laughter.) In 1996, only five years after the Cold War ended, Dr. DeBakey traveled to Moscow and arranged Boris Yeltsin's quintuple bypass. President Yeltsin spoke for many of Dr. DeBakey's patients when he called him, "a man with a gift of performing miracles."

Dr. DeBakey has an impressive resume, but his truest legacy is not inscribed on a medal or etched into stone. It is written on the human heart. His legacy is the unlost hours with family and friends who are still with us because of his healing touch. His legacy is grandparents who lived to see their grandchildren. His legacy is holding the fragile and sacred gift of human life in his hands -- and returning it unbroken.

For nearly a hundred years, our country has been blessed with the endless talents and dedication of Dr. Michael DeBakey. And he has dedicated his career to a truly noble ambition -- bettering the life of his fellow man.

Dr. DeBakey, on behalf of all those you've healed and those you've inspired, we thank you. May God bless you.

And now, I ask the Speaker and Senator Reid to join me for the Gold Medal Presentation. (Applause.)

(The Congressional Gold Medal is presented.)

END 11:50 A.M. EDT

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Does anyone know what is going on at the VA Medical Center?

Starting about a week ago, they removed about 5 of the old oak trees that didn't survive the draught. However, over the last two days, they've now removed an estimated 30 beautiful old live oaks and they are still out there this morning tearing down even more.

Since I can't find anything online, my best guess is it will be for another surface parking lot.

Really sad to see so many healthy trees come down after the last year we had. Will be worse if it's just another parking lot going in. The surface parking already stretches from Alameda to Cambridge St. and Old Spanish Trail to just short of Holcombe.

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When I was at the VA Hospital back in February I was reading their monthly newsletter and it said they had plans to build structured parking. If you've never been then you may not know how miserable the parking there is, but I assure you it is horrible! I wish I could remember more details of what it said but sadly I don't. Hopefully that is what is beginning now.

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Thanks for the link although it didn't mention anything about the area where the trees are being mauled.

Also, there is absolutely ZERO evidence of a garage being built near the Almeda entrance. At the very least, that project is way behind schedule considering the blog mentions a Dec. 2012 opening.

I called the VA this morning and found out they are indeed building a new surface parking lot. This lot will be located several football fields away from the main hospital and I cannot see how it will adequately serve wounded/sick veterans. I sure as hell wouldn't want to walk that distance in August (assuming the vet will be able to walk).

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Plumber- This is the area they've now completely destroyed. In total, 70+ mature trees have come down. It used to house a golf course and officer's housing. The golf course went a long time ago but the grounds remained. Now, the last bit of greenery is officially gone. It's really disgraceful that a governmental entity would do this. I cannot wait until I move out of here at the end of June so that I don't have to watch it actually get paved over.

I've lived in The Spires for two years. This is the second time I've witnessed massive tree destruction to build surface parking at the VA. I guess it is safe to assume that the garage is off the table. The worst part of it all is that the veterans deserve better.

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structured parking

When they passed that law to name all roads "parkways" they must have likewise decreed that parking garages be called "structured parking". I suppose it must sound more grand or something.

Doesn't a huge surface lot in that area have major runoff implications for the bayou? Also... this might sound crazy... can't parking lots sometimes have trees?

There are permeable parking surfaces that can help with runoff, although I never saw them used in Houston.

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The Trevino Group is building this in the northwest corner of the VA complex in a parking lot. Seems dormant to me based on the weeds around the building but this company is also the Bering Omega @ 2920 building which also seems dormant. I wonder what is up with this company? Anyone know?





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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center expands mental health services to help local veterans

By Shanley Pierce, May 3, 2019





A mental health care center at The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC) is expanding much-needed services for Houston-area veterans including same-day appointments.


“There’s so much care that went into the designing and building of this building. It really comes from our care and respect of our veterans,” said Laura Marsh, M.D., executive director of the Mental Health Care Line at MEDVAMC said during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday to celebrate the opening. “We wanted it to be a calm and welcoming place of healing—not so much like a hospital, but a place where there’s work to be done together where mental health is good medicine.”


The new facility at 2002 Holcombe Blvd. will house a variety of mental health programs including a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) program, neuropsychology, veterans justice outreach and behavioral health as well as the newly added marriage and family counseling.


In the past year and a half, the institution has added more than 400 nurses, 55 physicians and 90 mental health providers.


“We take our mission with the utmost commitment and seriousness because delivering health care is very complex,” said Frank Vazquez, MEDVAMC medical center director. “It’s up to us here at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center to keep up the promise and the commitment we made to you—the veterans—when you signed your name on the line that we are going to care for you for the rest of your life. We’re going to offer you world-class care. We’re going to strive to get better each and every day.”


Plans to build a new Houston VA mental health facility began in 2009 when Marsh joined as the executive director, but the initial design was based on past mental health care models rather than future ones. By 2012, Marsh and her team developed a new program to “make sure we weren’t providing redundant services. We needed to make sure we had access and people received care as soon as they needed it and enough of that care. We came up with a collection of teams in this building because it really is going to [provide] the most seamless care,” she said.



Part of the VA campus showing the location of Building 108.



Slideshow info from 2018's State of The TMC.
















Edited by ekdrm2d1
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  • The title was changed to Dozens of Mature Oaks Chopped Down At The VA Medical Center
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