Texas Children’s Hospital Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark Kline returned as special guest speaker on November 20, 2014, for The Forum Luncheon The Woodlands, held once again at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. The Forum topic was one of international importance and intrigue — infectious diseases.
Dr. Kline presented an informative overview of the most critical historical instances of infectious diseases, from the Plague of Justinian in the 6th Century A.D. to the HIV virus and most recently the Ebola virus.
He recounted the history of the Ebola virus, from its mysterious origins in the Ebola River region in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo to its identification by the World Health Organization as the worst public health emergency in modern times. Though it is more difficult to contract than the flu, it takes only one microorganism of the Ebola virus for the disease to be transmitted. And as with other infectious diseases, increased access to transportation — especially air travel — has made the virus’s spread worse.
The audience learned that even though contracting Ebola in the United States is less likely than being struck by lightning, Texas Children’s Hospital will be prepared no matter what the scenario. “We have the greatest researchers in the world studying some of the least understood diseases,” said Dr. Kline.
Dr. Kline highlighted Texas Children’s rapid response team of experts, ready to deal with any possible infectious disease emergency. He noted that the hospital’s protocols currently in place to treat infected patients — from state-of-the-art equipment to highly specialized training — have garnered praise from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). He also announced the construction of an eight-bed advanced isolation unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The unit, designed in collaboration with the CDC, will be fully equipped to care for children with highly contagious infectious diseases, making Texas Children’s the first line of defense against these illnesses.
Dr. Kline closed by stating that initiatives such as the construction of this special unit and of the new Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands mark further steps that Texas Children’s is taking to ensure that world-class pediatric health care will be available in every part of this city, the region and the country.