Statement from Texas Medical Association President Gary W. Floyd, MD:
The Uvalde, Texas, school shooting was shocking, and hit me at my very core as a pediatrician, father, and grandfather. I can’t put into words the emotions I felt at the time. But I can tell you the first action I took was to call my Texas Medical Association Board of Trustees colleagues and Michael Darrouzet, executive vice president of TMA, to say, “We have to do something for the Uvalde community. We need to take action to prevent these violent acts from ever happening in Texas again.” Ray Callas, MD, chair of the TMA Board of Trustees, did the same. Together we called for action.
I know you can relate to our reaction, because as physicians, we fix problems – we are trained to diagnose, treat, and heal. And that is exactly the approach TMA took in its response to the Uvalde crisis.
TMA went to work immediately to create the Mental Health Rapid Response Team, a coalition of 20 organizations ranging from state medical specialty societies, statewide leaders from community health centers, and social work and psychology organizations to state government resource leaders, such as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC), Texas Division of Emergency Management, and Texas Department of Public Safety, to name a few. See the entire list of participants below. The coalition is co-chaired by Dr. Callas and me.
TMA already had its first meeting with the Mental Health Rapid Response Team to learn what resources are being deployed in Uvalde, what is needed, and how we can collectively help with the response without overwhelming the community or interfering with ongoing efforts by the state. We also started establishing short- and long-term goals for the coalition, focusing on the needs of the Uvalde community, first responders, communities all over Texas that also are dealing with this tragedy, and new legislation we can put before our legislators in January 2023. Being proactive is TMA’s primary goal, in the hope our efforts will prevent such situations from occurring again.
What we know: Uvalde currently is overwhelmed with offers to help with counseling. TMA’s goal will be to look longer-term, finding in-person counseling for Uvalde during the next year or two. HHSC has asked TMA to create a list of people who are willing to provide long-term counseling services in Uvalde. Eventually, we will need telemedicine services as well. TMA will soon publish information about how to get involved. Please keep an eye out for this.
TMA learned one valuable lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic: When we work together and learn from each other, we can be much more effective. We are taking that same approach now. This is not a problem we can fix quickly but one that will take time to properly diagnose, treat, and heal.
Please join TMA as we help the Uvalde community and our state to detect, prevent, and start fixing the many problems affecting our children and families in Texas.
Gary W. Floyd, MD
Texas Medical Association
Mental Health Rapid Response Team
- Child Psychiatry Access Network (CPAN is part of TCMHCC) – Laurel Williams, DO, CPAN medical director; Nhung “Noon” Tran, MD, Texas Pediatric Society liaison to CPAN and CPAN pediatric consultant; and Luanne Southern, TCMHCC executive director
- Federation of Texas Psychiatry – Phillip Balfanz, MD; Eric Woomer, lobbyist and government affairs consultant; and Courtney Williamson
- National Alliance for Mental Illness Texas – Greg Hansch, executive director
- National Association of Social Workers Texas – Will Francis, executive director
- Texas Academy of Family Physicians – Tom Banning, CEO/executive director
- Texas Association of Community Health Centers – Jana Eubank, executive director
- Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians – Nicole Abbott, executive director
- Texas Counseling Association – Jan Friese, executive director
- Texas Hospital Association – John Hawkins, president/CEO; Steve Wohleb, general counsel; and Sara Gonzales, vice president, advocacy and public policy
- Texas Medical Association – Gary Floyd, MD, president, and Ray Callas, MD, chair, board of trustees
- Texas Nurses Association – Julia Menegay, interim CEO, and Dawn Webb, director of nursing practice and professional development
- Texas Pediatric Society – Stacey Mather, executive director, and Clayton Travis, director of advocacy and health policy
- Texas Psychological Association – Angie Guy, interim executive director
- Office of the Governor – Heather Fleming, advisor
- Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium – David Lakey, MD, chair
- Texas Department of Public Safety – Steven McCraw, executive director/colonel, and Lt. Charles Havard
- Texas Department of State Health Services – John Hellerstedt, MD, executive commissioner, and David Gruber, associate commissioner, regional and local health operations
- Texas Division of Emergency Management – Nim Kidd, Chief
- Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Cecile Young, executive commissioner, and Sonja Gaines, deputy executive commissioner for intellectual and developmental disability and behavioral health services
This statement was originally published by the Texas Medical Association on June 2, 2022.