Ensuring better access to health care has long been a goal for policy makers. The…
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center has created and filled a new position in homeland security. Lieutenant General Paul K. Carlton, Jr., M.D., who served most recently as Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force, is filling the role of Special Assistant to the President to address homeland security issues related to human health.
Dr. Carlton is in the process of establishing and overseeing a Homeland Security Initiative for the Health Science Center. He is responsible for directing the homeland security efforts of the Health Science Center and its components; assisting in procurement of funding for those efforts; interacting with Texas A&M University and the emerging State of Texas Integrated Center for Homeland Security; and seeking additional partners and collaborators in homeland security efforts.
The position Dr. Carlton holds gives the Health Science Center the capability of providing a professional “second response” (the group of professionals to whom casualties, in any kind of emergency involving threats to life or health, are brought by “first response” personnel such as police, fire or other emergency workers) for biological or bioterrorist emergencies involving Texas.
Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., president of the A&M Health Science Center and the A&M System’s Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, agrees with Dr. Carlton regarding the need for the Health Science Center to develop this capability. “This is an important and appropriate role for the A&M Health Science Center to fill for the citizens of Texas, and I am delighted that Dr. Carlton is here to guide the tasks involved in making that role possible for us,” she said.
Dr. Carlton’s first priority, in his new position, is to help create a clear and coherent plan that will deal with biological / bioterrorist threats to Texas in a logical fashion. Though both Texas and the federal government have well-developed response plans for many types of emergencies, biological threat responses are still in the very early stages of preparation. As Dr. Carlton notes, “We need to integrate our actions, and optimize resources, so we can provide the best response possible to biological threats.” He intends to work closely with other departments and agencies, both within The Texas A&M University System and elsewhere in state government as well as the national level, to develop the means for such a coordinated response for Texas. By the end of his first year in the position, he hopes to have a coherent plan, including education, training, equipment and a proposed funding stream – to present to state authorities for approval.
In addition to his responsibilities regarding the A&M Health Science Center’s homeland security initiative, Dr. Carlton is also working to develop and implement programs to define and measure professional competencies at the professional, post-doctoral and continuing education levels, with particular emphasis on medical specialties. Reflecting the health science center’s existing focus on rural and underserved areas of the state, he plans to explore a Skills Verification Program to assist in keeping professionals up-to-date on emerging technologies and research findings in medicine.
Dr. Carlton holds a B.S. in Life Sciences from the U.S. Air Force Academy and received his M.D. from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He has served in the armed forces since 1969. Most recently, before becoming Surgeon General of the Air Force, Carlton was Chief Executive Officer of one of the service’s medical centers, one of several such positions he has held.
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components, located in communities throughout Texas, are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.
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