Episode 166

A Conversation with Harris Health CEO Dr. Esmaeil Porsa

October 31, 2023
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President, CEO, physician. Dr. Esmaeil Porsa has a big job. He runs Harris Health, a system that oversees thousands who provide health care to millions of uninsured and underinsured people.

But his leadership style is unlike most CEOs. In fact, it’s so unorthodox, his team once tried to get dissuade him from using a simple three-word sentence.

During this episode, Dorothy and Dr. Porsa discuss this philosophy, how it has made an impact on his employees, and why November 7th is an important day for Houstonians.

Help us grow the show by leaving a review on your podcast platform and sharing with your family and friends. And please consider supporting our mission at Your donation could help save the life of an uninsured woman.


Dorothy: [00:00:00] President, CEO, physician. His is a big job. Dr Esmaeil Porsa runs Harris Health. He is the boss to thousands who provide health care to millions of uninsured and underinsured people. But the one thing he believes that’s important about leadership philosophy is something few people at the top would ever say.

Harris Health is a safety net emergency and medical system to all of Harris County and you might be surprised to learn how many physicians, maybe even your own, have trained at Harris Health. Hear what Dr. Porsa says about leadership, about who has access to quality health care and who doesn’t. And what we can do, any one of us, to help. Let’s talk about your breast. A different kind of podcast presented to you by The Rose. The Breast Center of Excellence and a Texas treasure. You’re going to hear frank discussions about tough topics. [00:01:00] And you’re going to learn why knowing about your breast could save your life. Join us as we hear another story and we answer those tough questions that you may have.

We are so glad to have you here today. And I don’t know that everyone knows what Harris Health is. We used to call it Hospital District. We used to call it Ben Taub. We still call it Ben Taub and LBJ. So just give me that big overview of what is Harris Health.

Dr. Porsa: Sure. So Harris Health System is a safety net hospital system for Harris County.

Uh, we are the largest one in Texas, the fourth largest in the country. You know, you mentioned our hospitals, Ben Taub Hospital, our adult level one trauma center hospital. LBJ is our adult level three trauma center hospital. Uh, between the two of them, every year they have about 150, 000 ER [00:02:00] visits, about 30, 000 discharges from the hospital.

But what I always emphasize is that Harris Health System is really about the community. And to exemplify that, I mentioned the fact that for our 40 clinics, including some freestanding uh, outpatient surgical centers, outpatient oncology services. Last year, we had 1. 6 million encounters in our outpatient setting.

So vastly different than a 30, 000 hospital discharges. Uh, just to emphasize the fact that we are really focused on health promotion, disease prevention, and being part of our community.

Dorothy: Well, I know here at the Rose and Dr. Porsa we’ve been in this business about the same amount of time. Uh, only you’re a lot younger than me.

So, but I know how much the Rose. has depended on Harris Health for so many of our patients. [00:03:00] Once we, once we have them through the whole process and we have a diagnosis of breast cancer, that’s when we’re looking to Harris Health to help us get them into treatment. So, we’ve always been indebted to Harris Health and have always known that it Is overloaded from from the get go and give now, where did you did not come from hospital district?

Dr. Porsa: I did

Dorothy: you did. Okay.

Dr. Porsa: So I actually did my training Almost 30 years ago here at harris health system as a member of the ut mcgovern medical school. I was a chief medical resident After that, I worked as a faculty with University of Texas Mcgovern Medical Schools, but delivered care inside the Harris County Jail.

I actually took care of inmates for 10 years, uh, before moving to Dallas in 2007 and joined Parkland Health and Hospital System, which reflects that hospital for Dallas County. [00:04:00] And I was there just several things, uh, before moving back to Houston in my current role Officially on March 2nd 2020 the week that we had our first COVID patient

Dorothy: Oh my gosh, I was looking at some of your uh other Statements in podcast and thinking I know everyone has asked you that but how on earth did you manage?

I mean you start this brand new job And then you walk into COVID. It, it had to be beyond anything, any kind of situation you could have dreamed.

Dr. Porsa: Yeah, definitely unexpected. Right. I mean, nobody, nobody knew anything about COVID 19 definitely. No one was expecting a global pandemic. And it was interesting because I had taken a couple of weeks off between my previous job and this role.

And I was reading a book called the first 90 days that was recommended to me, kind of like planning what I’m going to do. And of course, you know, You have to throw it out the window, uh, [00:05:00] because I saw it and all of a sudden we’re in the middle of a pandemic. But, you know, I say that and I always have to qualify that, you know, as a physician CEO, the first physician CEO that Harris Health System has had in the 60 years of existence, it really provided an opportunity for me to, uh, in a way to really rely on what I know, uh, best, uh, which is, you know, how to take care of patients that respond in emergencies, you know, I didn’t tell you that after my chief medical residency year, I actually was in charge of the LBJ emergency room, uh, for a year before I started working at Harris County jail.

So, so in a way it was kind of a, uh, an interesting situation for me to be able to draw on what I know, uh, obviously, you know, this was my first CEO. position. Uh, and you know, another thing that I always talk about is the fact that it allowed me to force me to really [00:06:00] get to know the other hospital system leaders in this community.

There were a couple of hospital CEOs. Who didn’t know what Harris Health System was. I mean, they are hospital CEOs in Harris County, city of Houston. And they were not already sure of what, what Harris Health System was. They had never met the previous CEO. Uh, but again, out of necessity came a lot of, uh, came a lot of positive things .

Dorothy: And, and I, I remember you saying that, uh, hospitals had to share supplies. I know we were looking for supplies. That was, of course, the number one thing, but you were also treating people who were incredibly ill. Oh my gosh, it was. It was beyond anything healthcare has ever, ever known in my lifetime.

Dr. Porsa: My lifetime too.

A lot of people’s lifetimes.

Dorothy: Oh yes, oh yes. And, and the one thing that I always wonder about, now you were at Parkland, and you’ve been in some [00:07:00] other larger areas. But what makes, what makes Houston and Harris County different? Or is there a difference?

Dr. Porsa: There is. And you know, people, you know, in other venues, people have asked, you know, what makes Harris Health special?

And it’s kind of like the same question. And to me, it sounds so cliche, but it is so true. There is something different about the people who serve. Uh, Harris Health System and the city of Houston and Harris County, it’s, there’s something special about the resilience and the heart of the people who serve this community.

You know, if I were to talk about, you know, what is different about Houston and Harris County. And again, this is going to sound. Uh, I don’t know, uh, cliche or, or made up, but it’s true. We actually have, and I’m not political, this is not a political statement, but it’s a reality. We have a county judge who is really focused on addressing some [00:08:00] of the non medical determinants of health, the social determinants of health.

You know, things like addressing poverty, unemployment, housing. You know, people who are, who may not have lived anywhere else, they may think that well, that’s just what happens everywhere else, but it doesn’t. Uh, so that, that I think that really distinguishes City of Houston, Harris County, Harris Health System from anywhere else.

And in addition to that, You know, yes, we are home to the largest hospital and health system complex in the world at the Texas Medical Center, but I do have to give credit to the hospital system CEOs in this area that, uh, they, they truly partner. They, they truly, uh, want to be part of the solution. Uh, which is uh, which is not always the case in other municipalities So that’s also the question.

Dorothy: So now now tell me what is your philosophy in in [00:09:00] leading this huge organization?

Dr. Porsa: You know, it’s interesting you should ask Uh soon after I started working here, of course, you know We were in the middle of the pandemic and everything else and you know people were stressed out as you can imagine And uh, you know, I had read a book And, uh, you know, I was, I was thinking about, you know, what, what distinguishes me from the previous leaders at the Harris Health System, to your point.

What is my philosophy in leadership? And I still remember clearly that, uh, I was sending out monthly statements, uh, to our employees and medical staff. And, you know, I started rounding the hospitals every Sunday that I have continued. So every Sunday I walk both hospitals. And I started having a monthly, uh, town hall meetings, one at noon and one at 5 am. Uh, and I’ve continued to do that, uh, since I arrived here. And, and part of that, one time, one of the statements that I was, [00:10:00] that I had written, uh, I ended it with, and I felt compelled to say it, I said, I love you. Uh, to all of my, uh, employees and medical staff. And I remember sending that notification to our, uh, corporate communications saying, you know, I want to send this out to the system.

And, you know, and he says, they all came. I said, timeout, Dr. Porsa you can’t say that. And they actually tried to change that statement. And I remember like going back and forth, really struggled with it. You know, initially I changed the statement and it’s just like, it was really bothering me. And I went back to them.

I said, guys, you know what? I want to say this. I feel compelled to say this. This is who I am. So we did. So I said that and after since then Every town hall session, every new employee orientation, which is every two weeks, every statement that I send out always ends with, I love you. And I mean it. I truly feel, uh, [00:11:00] like the Harris Health System employees and medical staff are part of my family.

And when I say I love you, I really mean it. So, what is my philosophy? We actually started this journey, uh, that I’m calling it Leading with Love. And really the whole premise is to provide psychological safety for all of our employees and medical staff so that people can bring their true, genuine self to work, not what you want for the public, uh, to view you as, but you know truly who you are.

And I feel, uh, empowered and comfortable and confident to express yourself and speak up. So, so that’s my philosophy. Leading with love. Uh, I want to be known as a love CEO. So, so there you go.

Dorothy: I have never heard that. Ever. Oh my gosh. So, did, did your employees, did they have any pushback? Now I’m talking about the people on the corridors and working [00:12:00] and…

Dr. Porsa: Yeah, so, so that was the amazing thing, right? So, it was nothing but positive feedback. Uh, so when I, you know, soon after that when I started walking to hospitals… Nurses would come to me and, you know, they hug me. And, you know, they said, I need a hug today. Uh, and no, it’s, it’s been really positive side. They end up the, uh, new employee orientation and I love it when it happens organically, but I end by telling, you know, however, 50 or a hundred new employees in the auditorium, I tell them, I love you.

Some of them shout back. We love you too. And that’s amazing, right? This is a new employee to Harris Health System. What a great start. Oh my God. That the CEO tells them I love you. And they yell back at the CEO We love you too.

Dorothy: Oh, that just makes me wanna cry. It’s so, so special.

Dr. Porsa: It it, it’s been, it’s been very, very special.

But thank you for saying that I’m

Dorothy: very curious about who most influenced you. Who is your hero when you were growing up? Were you always going to be a doctor? [00:13:00]

Dr. Porsa: Yeah. So, you know, people, there’s like icebreakers, you know, people ask, you know, what did you think you wanted? Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in a workshop and they asked the same question from all the audience.

You know, what did you think it was going to be when you were six years old? And I always tell people I’m a terrible example of that. Because as long as I remember, I wanted to be a doctor. Uh, I never thought about being anything else. Uh, I think one of the earliest memories that I have is maybe that I wanted to become a doctor.

And I think the reason for that is my mom, uh, all my life, you know, she struggled with her health. You know, she had congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, she lost her life uh, to complications from congestive heart failure. But I remember her being in and out of the hospital and in and out of the doctor’s office.

And I think… It has to be, uh, because it just really made me want to be a doctor. Not only that, uh, I wanted to be a doctor who dealt with, with patients. Really, [00:14:00] uh, you know, nothing against radiologists or pathologists or even surgeons, but I really wanted to be close to my patients. So no, I’ve always wanted to do that.

And, uh, it’s been a blessing that I’ve been able to, uh, to work towards that goal and, uh, and achieve it. And, you know, one of these days, when we have maybe more time, I can actually tell you the story of how I ended up in the United States. Uh,

Dorothy: Oh, tell us.

Dr. Porsa: Okay. So, you know, I always also ask people, you know, for them to guess where I’m from, because I wasn’t born in the United States.

I was born in Iran and actually migrated to the United States in 1984, uh, after high school. Came here alone, did not speak English. And, uh, came here on a, uh, a student visa and admission for English as a foreign language program, uh, to Our Lady of the Lake University, very small Catholic college in San [00:15:00] Antonio.

And, you know, the story that really what makes this special is that when You know, so this was 1984, you know, you may know that in 1979, there was a revolution in Iran. And soon after that, you know, the hostages were taken, uh, from the U. S. embassy. So there was no U. S. embassy in Iran. So for me to, uh, get a U. S. visa, I had to travel somewhere else. And it just so happened that I chose to go to Zurich, Switzerland. Uh, to go to the American embassy and, and get a U. S. visa. The ambassador at the time, the person in charge of issuing visas, you know, interviewed me and all I had at the time was just my grades from school and my admission paper to Our Lady of the Lake University.

And, you know, he’s interviewing me through a translator and he asks the questions, you know, why is a Shiite Muslim? Going to a [00:16:00] Catholic college. And my answer was, what is Catholic? And he started laughing. He realized that honestly, I was just very, very naive. And he started laughing because you know what, I think you’re okay.

So he gave me a visa. So that’s how I ended up actually, uh, in the United States, uh, and it was just a blessing. All my teachers were nuns, and, uh, it was, uh, it was quite a struggle, uh, to go through everything and, uh, get admitted to the medical school and, uh, all that, and that’s another long story. But, you know, just…

I wanted to make a point that I, I wanted to be a doctor. Not only that, I wanted to be a doctor, uh, in the United States. In the United States. And, uh, it, it all worked out, uh, with God’s blessing.

Dorothy: What, what an immersion, though, into… A whole different world. Not just language, but everything. Everything.

Everything. Oh my goodness. [00:17:00] And you still made it.

Dr. Porsa: Yes, I did.

Dorothy: Yes, you did.

All right, talk to us. Let’s, let’s talk a little bit about what’s really going on in Harris County and our uninsured, our underinsured, uh, what would be really. need from a healthcare perspective to take care of so many people.

Dr. Porsa: Yeah. So, you know, some of it we already have in place, you know, you mentioned, uh, the fact that, uh, in your organization, you know, people who at some point ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer.

You know that you have the ability to refer them to Harris Health System and take care of them. And that’s true for a lot of other entities who are currently providing health services in Harris County. And we have a lot of them. We have a lot of federally qualified health centers. We have some faith based clinics, non faith based charity [00:18:00] clinics.

And all of those have created the web. of providing services to the unfortunately large number of uninsured and underinsured in Harris County, the city of Houston. And, you know, you know, somebody asked me, how is the competition with FQHS? There’s no competition. We are partners. Their sweet spot is primary care.

Uh, they do provide some specialty services, but it is very uncommon on Harris Health System to step up and provide that layer of services, specialty services, but that is not to say that we’ve got everything covered. You know, unfortunately, Harris County is the home to the largest percentage and the largest number of uninsured in the country.

And, you know, when you consider the fact that, you know, one out of ten people in the city of Houston are undocumented. One out of every four Houstonians was born [00:19:00] outside of the United States. You know, people think, talk about, well, you know, if we just, uh, expanded Medicaid, that will solve their problem. It would definitely help.

It would definitely help. But even expanding Medicaid, especially as limited, and restricted, our Medicaid laws are in Texas, the regulations around Medicaid. It would potentially help maybe 20 percent of the uninsured population in Harris County. So there would still be a large number of folks, uh, who would not be, uh, able to access care.

So, what, what is it going to be, what is it need, what is needed? Uh, I think expansion of our services, not just Harris Health System. But other providers of services, expansion of Medicaid would go a long way and also other, uh, kind of innovative outside of the box, uh, ways of providing people with coverage.

Uh, you know, at [00:20:00] Harris Health System, you know, we’ve been doing this. I can’t take credit for this. This is started before I got here. I can only say that I’m supporting it and we’re trying to expand the program. Harris Health System are providing, uh, we are paying for the premiums. Uh, for almost 25, 000 Houstonians, so they have access to private health insurance.

Dorothy: Obviously, I think that’s brilliant

Dr. Porsa: and what makes it brilliant is this, you know, if they come to us, that’s great, right? We’ll take care of them and now we have a somebody who’s got a payer source And and that actually just that portion who comes to us Obviously, we have a capacity issue you mentioned at the top of the hour that we have a huge capacity issue Uh, there are way more patients, uh that need our services that we are able to provide services for But just the fraction that come to us more than pays for the cost of providing the private health insurance, the premiums for that 25, 000 people.

Majority of those [00:21:00] people actually seek care at other health care institutions for non for profit or for profit hospitals. That brings millions of dollars of insurance payments to these hospitals for our community. Now, that is not a direct benefit to Harris Health System. But that is a direct benefit to our community.

And we’ll take it as a win.

Dorothy: This is One of those you there’s no real answer, but in our lifetime or especially yours Do you think we’ll ever really move to a preventive type approach to medicine?

Dr. Porsa: uh if you mean that like as a As a culture change like, you know the entire health system moving towards it.

I don’t think so, but you know, i’m also happy to say, uh, and believe this to be true, that we are taking steps, not just Harris Health System, but I think the entire country, that everybody is at least talking [00:22:00] about the importance of health promotion and disease prevention, not just because of the fact that it is better for our patients, it improves outcomes.

It’s a better quality, but because at the end of the day, actually, that is the only thing that is going to save us this entire country, this entire health system, uh, because of our runaway healthcare costs. Uh, as long as we pay for volume, as long as we pay for the new gadgets and the new this and that, only meant to, uh, it really is crazy when you think about it.

You know, we spend millions, if not billions of dollars focusing on the last few days, weeks, maybe months of life, uh, really completely missing the boat of, uh, realizing that, you know, for a fraction of that cost, if you really move the interventions towards, you know, early childhood, uh, and adolescence and early adulthood.[00:23:00]

Uh, if you’re able to prevent diseases, if you’re able to postpone diseases, how much better the entire society would be because of that, and how much lower the cost of care would be. You know, those few weeks of life at the end, uh, that takes billions of dollars, we would actually add months, if not years, um, to our longevity.

Uh, you know this, and I’m, and I’m, I’m preaching to the, to the choir here, you know, United States spends more per capita than any total of dollars. In our annual healthcare expenditures, and we are not even close, uh, to the top of the, uh, life expectancy, you know, I think that the country that is on top of the food chain when it comes to life expectancy, Japan, uh, spends less than half.

per capita and total number of dollars the United States pays. I mean, there is a reason for that, and I think the reason is clear. Everybody knows it, but unfortunately, the way the system is set up right [00:24:00] now, uh, the entire system is incentivized to focus more on, you know, the high end, uh, medical interventions that pays really well.

Now, Harris Health System, us, you know, you know, the good, the bad news is that we are a public health system. The good news is that we are a public health system. So, every service that we provide is an additional cost to us, right? We don’t, we don’t provide services because we receive revenue. So, it actually makes sense for us if we know we have X number of dollars, uh, it makes, if we are incentivized to actually focus more on disease prevention and health promotion, we can, we can serve more people, uh, with the number of dollars that we have.

So, to answer your question, in my lifetime, yes, I think I’m already seeing the movement towards Uh, this is prevention and health promotion. Do I think we’re going to get to the level of some of the more progressive, you know, uh, Western [00:25:00] countries? Uh, probably not, but there’s hope.

Dorothy: There’s hope. Yes. Yes.

Absolutely. Talk to us about why the expansion of LBJ is so important.

Dr. Porsa: Since you brought it up, let me, let me. Uh, talk to the folks who are listening, you know, Harris Health System has requested and the Commissioner’s Court has approved a 2. 5 billion bond proposal for November 7th. Couple of interesting facts.

This is the first time in the history of Harris Health System in the 60 years that Harris Health System has gone to the public for a bond proposal, which when I first learned that, it really blew my mind because as a public health system, that should not happen. Right. I mean, when you think about the other municipalities, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio County, you know, every 10, 15 years, they go to the public for a bond referendum because they invest that in the infrastructure.

Our Harris Health System has never done that. So part of that infrastructure expansion, like you mentioned, is the new level one trauma center hospital on the [00:26:00] LBJ campus. Why a level one trauma center? Because this county desperately needs more level one trauma facilities. We currently have two of them.

Both of them in the Texas Medical Center attached to one another, basically one large level of trauma center for the entire county. So outside of the Texas Medical Center, northeast, west, south, no matter where you are, if you are a victim of a severe motor vehicle accident, if you’re a victim of a gunshot wound or stabbing wound, you have to be driven or flown into the Texas Medical Center to receive that care.

The future hospital on the LBJ campus will not only expand the capacity of that hospital to twice what it is today. But it will be able to provide level one trauma services for the northeast corridor of Harris County and actually north and northeast Harris County because it will be a lot closer than the Texas Medical Center.

And you know why LBJ Hospital? Why that campus? Because Like I just mentioned, it is the only hospital serving the [00:27:00] entire Northeast Corridor of Harris County. There is a large population that requires those services. In addition to that, unfortunately, there is a large population of uninsured and underinsured.

Currently, and as we have looked into the future, as part of our strategic plan, that number seems to only go up. So it really makes sense for that facility to remain on that campus. But of course, we… Increased capacity and capabilities. Uh, and that’s that’s the reason.

Dorothy: And you’re you’re actually going to continue services While you’re building is that what I understood?

Dr. Porsa: That is correct And actually that’s one of the one of the other reasons, you know, why LBJ campus because we are blessed to have enough uh land enough property on that campus that we can build a new hospital while the current hospital continues to function.

So everything goes well. We built a new hospital. We opened the stores in 2028. The idea is that we move all operations from the current LBJ [00:28:00] hospital to the new hospital and then we can refurbish the existing LBJ hospital into providing some of the services we currently don’t have, such as inpatient psychiatric care, emergency psychiatric care, and outpatient psychiatric care, uh, long term rehab, things that we currently do not have and things that our patients and this community desperately needs.

Dorothy: Oh, you know, you see so many campaigns about, let’s add this, let’s add that. You’re talking about people’s lives and you’re, and, and this, I’m not sure that our listeners always understand what capacity means and not having that capacity. Can you put it into something that we can get our arms around?

Dr. Porsa: Yeah, I’m happy to.

And you know, I actually, uh, I brought this up a couple of times at the commissioner’s court and the examples that I’ve used is this, you know, like LBJ hospital. has 80 or just maybe a little more than 80 rooms or hospital bays to take care of folks in the emergency room. Every morning when I listen to our morning huddle, they say that there [00:29:00] are 30, 40, sometimes 50 patients waiting for a hospital bed in the emergency room.

So almost half of the total capacity of the emergency room every morning. is already taken up by people who have already been admitted to the hospital, but there is no hospital bed for them to go to. And then when it gets really tough, when, you know, push comes to shove, and, you know, everything backs up until emergency rooms, out of necessity, we actually take people down the stretchers, upstairs to the hospital, but because there is no hospital rooms to put them in, we put them in the hallways of the hospitals.

That should not be happening. That should not be happening anywhere. That should not be happening in Houston, Texas, in this day and age. Again, home to the largest hospital complex in the world. So having patients in the hallways, having patients boarding, for sometimes days, in the emergency room, should not be happening.

In addition to that, it’s not just capacity, but also capabilities. Even today, somebody walks into our emergency room at the LBJ Hospital with a, [00:30:00] with a heart attack or a stroke. All we can do is to stabilize him and transfer him out because we are not able to provide those services. We do not have the capabilities nor the space, uh, to do that.

Somebody asked me recently, uh, why don’t you just build on top of the LBJ Hospital? It’s not that easy. When the hospital was built 30 some years ago, unfortunately, there was no thought. into, you know, what would happen, you know, if we need more capacity, can we build on it? It doesn’t work like that. We looked into it.

Uh, and it would actually two things. One, as soon as you start doing some, uh, construction inside the existing LBCI hospital, you have to bring it up to today’s code, uh, which would dramatically reduce the capacity of the hospital, you know, LBCI hospital, unfortunately, even today. Has double occupancy rooms.

You have two patients to every room. Uh, well, that’s not code. That’s against today’s code And i’m glad it is, you know, if we don’t learn anything else from COVID is that that is not a good idea Uh, so if we were to [00:31:00] do anything to the LBJ Hospital, all of a sudden we would lose half of the capacity, which would be just a disaster.

So I’m glad you asked that question. So yeah, it’s just more than, more than just capacity, it’s also capability.

Dorothy: Right. Right. And I do understand that. We’re, we are in a 40 year old building and, and every time I talk about renovation, it’s like, no, no, you can’t do that. You don’t know what you’re up against here, but, and I’m starting to, to really understand it.

Thank you. So thank you so much for giving us this, this really inside look at what’s going on there and why it is so important that we, that we support it. I mean, this, this is part of our community. It is about taking care of our community and it’s about building a healthier, more resilient. I, I just, I can’t even come up with the right descriptions of what this will mean.

I, because of what we do, you know, the only, and, and this is a horrible statistic, but it, it [00:32:00] is one that I see every year. For the last seven, eight years, the only stage four breast cancer that we have diagnosed has been in uninsured women. We take care of you know, twice as many insured as we do uninsured.

And still, that’s the only group that has it. I mean, if we, whenever people say, Oh, what’s all this diversity stuff? What’s all this health inequities about? I just say that, that should not be happening.

Dr. Porsa: You already hit the nail on the head, but that’s exactly right. And, you know, and people argue, well, what does that have to do with me?

You know, it has everything to do with all of us. You know, it’s, this is not about the indigent. This is not about just the uninsured. The fact of the matter is that, you know, the, the, the, the others, uh, that, you know, some people think of them, those are the people who are in our everyday lives, the people who are in our groceries and our gas stations and our mechanic shops, you know, that there.

They are [00:33:00] everywhere. These are the people who are the foundation of Harris Health, of Harris County’s economy. If we don’t take care of them, the entire economy collapses and it’s just a fact and people just need to understand it. And the other thing, really important, uh, folks talk about, you know, so what, why does it matter that, you know, so Harris Health doesn’t have enough capacity?

We are more than just a place where the indigent receive care. You know, as part of being a trauma center, we take care of the entire Harris County and the state of Houston. In addition to that, really important, we are the major training site for our medical schools, UT McGovern Medical School, and the other College of Medicine.

You know, when I have… presented to different groups and I asked them, you know, how many of you received your care at Harris Health System? You know, a few hands go up, but I tell them I am willing to bet that if you were to ask your doctors, no matter where you’re receiving your care, where they received their training, at least half of them received their training at [00:34:00] Harris Health System.

Currently, almost half of all the doctors who are licensed to practice medicine in Harris County receive their training at Harris Health System. So just because you don’t come to one of our clinics or go to one of our hospitals, it doesn’t mean that you are not receiving direct services. Chances are your doctor is trained at Harris Health System.

Dorothy: And one of the things that I have seen over all these years, many of our patients went to Ben Taub Harris Health for their treatment. Those same doctors that took care of our patients 30 years ago are the ones who today will take one of our patients, even within their private practice. They understand.

I mean, it is not… At one point, our physician network had about 500 physicians in it, and people would say, How do you do that? And I’d say, We just ask, and these are the same people that helped us back when. So you’re absolutely right. And you know, I know you’re coming from that medical excellence, but I’m also coming from folks [00:35:00] just don’t realize how important that is to understand what really happens in the community.

You know, we, we do no longer can live in this isolated solo type world anymore. It’s just doesn’t work. And, and they, they get it, they really get it. So yes, that’s, that’s, that’s quite a great way to. Look at it. You’re getting care from someone who was trained there. Well, I’m going to, I’m about to close this up, but I want to ask you one more question, unless there’s anything else that you want to share with our listeners.

Dr. Porsa: No, go ahead.

Dorothy: All right. It’s 50 years after your death.

Dr. Porsa: Okay.

Dorothy: If you were to come back, what do you hope is still here that reflects something you did? What, what part of you would you want to see here?

Dr. Porsa: Well, you know, going back to your earlier question I really would like to see that um the focus that i’m trying to bring to really shifting Uh, [00:36:00] our attention away from, uh, being almost, uh, to a fault hospital centric and becoming more and more engaged with our community.

I really hope that that continues to grow to a point where, you know, when, when people talk about Harris Health System, the first thing that comes to their mind is not Ben Taub Hospital or LBJ Hospital. It’s really our role in the community. And, and potentially not just necessarily, you know, health promotion and disease prevention, but perhaps other things that we know are really important, uh, in maintaining the health of our community.

Uh, that, that’s on the health system, and I really like to think that, you know, 50 years from now. You know, every self system is known across the country as the, uh, as the system of love, you know, I, uh, I always make this comment that a few months ago, you know, you mentioned all this new hospitals and, uh, structures going up and, you know, there was a comment.

made about a [00:37:00] recent hospital construction saying that this is going to be the smartest hospital, uh, ever created. And, you know, the comment that I made is that I’d really like for us to be able to say that when the new hospital in the LBJ campus or when the replacement Bent Up hospital is created, what I would really like to hear is that it is the kindest hospital.

ever created. Uh, I would love to be known for that. To, for Harris Health System to, to have that reputation. The kindest hospital system.

Dorothy: The kindest hospital system. That is a great close. That is what we wish for our community also. And we certainly know that this community is going to step up to the plate and do what we need to do.

Come November.

Dr. Porsa: I hope so.

Dorothy: Thank you so much for being with us today.

Dr. Porsa: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Dorothy: So that wraps it up for today. And don’t forget we’re doing a episode every single day. You’re gonna get your daily dose of Let’s Talk About Your Breast [00:38:00] during the month of October.

Post Credits: October’s the month of pink.

And for the Rose, a breast center of excellence. That means we’ll be airing podcasts every day in October. To celebrate breast cancer awareness month, you’ll be hearing from longtime firefighter, senior captain, and breast cancer survivor from the Houston Fire Department. You’ll hear how making clay heads was part of her treatment.

Be sure to share with family and friends because there’s a little something for everyone. To find out ways to help the Rose visit our website at And remember, self-care is not selfish. It’s essential.

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